Why I Live Every Day The ‘Steve Jobs Way’

I had made up my mind. I knew exactly what I wanted to do after graduation. I was going to start my full-time career in Texas with a company I had co-oped with previously.

Then. One quote changed everything,

“If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I’m about to do today. Whenever the answer has been ‘no’ for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.”  – Steve Jobs

After reading the article about Steve Job’s 2005 Stanford Graduation Address, featuring this quote, I started to reflect on my past work experiences to see if I could relate. After some soul searching, one theme kept coming to me – I was never given the opportunity to be me.

There were a lot of restrictions that hindered my ability to be creative.

This all got me thinking – if you can’t be yourself for at least 40 hours a week, are you really doing what you want to do?

NO!

Enter AMEND.

I met with Paul Delaney, AMEND’s Chief People Officer, and Matt Murphy, an all-star analytics specialist. What they shared about AMEND blew me away.

AMEND is growing, loaded with opportunities, and united in delivering way more than consulting services – they’re changing lives, strengthening communities, and transforming businesses.

Right then and there I knew AMEND was where I needed to be. I made my pitch to Paul…landed an interview…and, ultimately, my dream job!

Now I live every day the “Steve Jobs Way.” I no longer have to down five cups of coffee to make it through the day. I never say, “I don’t want to go into work tomorrow.” I love the work I’m doing and the impact I’m making. It’s addicting in many ways.

“Whatever you want to do, do it. There are only so many tomorrows.”  – Michael Landon

How about you? Are you living every day the “Steve Jobs Way?” Are you excited to dive into each day or has it all become a bore and a chore? If you’re stuck in ho-hum land, now’s the time to start making new choices! Start right now – today – this minute. Begin to reconnect with the things that ignite you. Take one step, then another, then another. We only get to live this life in one direction – FORWARD!

 

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Change Your Mind To Change Your Results

Change is hard. Change is something most of us avoid. But accepting and embracing change – learning to use it to your advantage – can be incredibly rewarding.

Our lives are filled with many points of change. The many firsts we achieve as babies. All the additional changes that follow as we grow up and mature.

The transition from high school to college seems to be one point of change that causes many to struggle. It certainly was a struggle for me.

It was easy to get distracted by things that really didn’t matter – getting caught up in the college atmosphere for example. These distractions and poor choices often led to students finding themselves in tough spots later on. For me, this tough spot was after my freshman year. It was a time where my morale was low, my sense of purpose and direction was lost, and, overall, I just wasn’t happy.

I wanted to make a change but didn’t know where to start.

Want Different Results? Do Something Different!

I began a period of reflection in the fall of 2005. A time where I immersed myself by listening to Ted Talks, reading books, attending leadership conferences, and seeking out mentors. It was during this time I came across a transformational idea – you are the average of the five closest people to you.

Bam! This was the change in thinking I needed. Now I knew exactly what to do…I found friends and mentors who had similar priorities, values, and ambitions, or who had taken similar journeys. I also found ways to challenge myself and my truths. Some of my inspiration came from Kobe Bryant. He once shared how he would sharpen his skills by playing against mates that were four or five year older than him. I also drew inspiration from ‘Steve Jobs 2005 Stanford Commencement Address.’ His wisdom about not wasting your short time here living someone else’s life hit me hard. It inspired me to lead my life even if it takes me off the well-worn path.

I came across much insight and wisdom during my journey, all of which helped me grow. Ultimately, I kept coming back to this idea of being the average of the five closest people to you…it became my new center.

Enter AMEND.

I came to know of AMEND as most come to know of it – through the endlessly positive, (almost) unbelievable things my roommate, Jacob Whyle would share with me every day. He just could not shut up about the amazing work he was doing. Then, in talking to several other friends, AMEND, popped up again – still nothing but great things.

I was blown away. I had to learn more.

My first meeting was with Paul Delaney, AMEND’s Chief People Officer. Talk about refreshing! It wasn’t about my resume – it was about me – who I am, my background, values, dreams, and ambitions. He took a genuine interest in my story.

Then I talked to some of the other partners and employees and grew more impressed. They had a highly talented core team and an even more powerful network. Whether they decided to hire me or not, I knew AMEND was special. They lived out their purpose of changing lives and transforming businesses.

AMEND + The Average of 5 = A WIN FOR ME!

I looked at the AMEND team. I thought about how they are a team of A-players. Any combination of five would bring out the best in me. I had no doubt.

And I work everyday to do the same for them. I am excited to share my passion and drive with AMEND’s clients and my teammates. I hope to challenge them just as they are challenging me.

The Power of Average

Coming across the idea that you are the average of the five closest people to you has been truly transformational for me. I guess you could say, in this rare case, average has been exceptional.

Using this principle to guide my decisions, both personally and professionally, has brought overwhelmingly positive change to my life. Much of my current success and happiness is directly connected to my decision to live through this truth.

What new ideas can you bring into your life? What new truths might drive change and transformation for you? Maybe it’s the average of the five closest people. Maybe it’s trying to do something you didn’t think possible. Maybe it’s saying yes when you normally say no.

No matter what new choice the ‘power of five’ inspires, any new choice is a choice for change!

 

Own Your Change – Be The Captain Of Your Ship!

I am a planner. I have my schedule mapped out digitally as well as in my paper planner. I have an Excel document that contains my plans for past/future classes and study abroad experiences. I track all of my financials and am budgeted out until the end of 2018. The point is, I love to plan! I am aware that plans can change and do not fear that but I was not prepared for what happened to my plans after taking one…simple…class…

Where I Was Headed

I was down in Jacksonville, Florida with a large manufacturing corporation. It was my second rotation and I figured I would go back in the Spring of 2018 without considering anywhere else. I was comfortable and familiar with the way the company worked and enjoyed my time with them, so it made sense to stay on for the rest of my rotations. Why change what’s working?

During the Fall Semester of my fourth year at the University of Cincinnati’s Carl H. Lindner College of Business, however, one class changed everything.

I was taking a course called Field Studies in Operations Management. The entire idea behind this course is to go out into the real world and visit various companies to see what an Operations Management degree looks like in the scope of these different industries.

I thought it would be a simple, relaxing, yet intriguing course to take with some of my friends. It turned out to be so much more. This class was how I first came to know of AMEND Consulting.

How AMEND Changed Everything

I walked in to friendly faces – recognizing a few from UC. I was greeted and shown around the office then taken to a large conference area for a presentation.

This visit, from the start, was different.

Other stops on our tour took us to factories that made automobile parts or shops where clothes were being cleaned. We even visited a casket manufacturer! These were all full of machinery and process that the class could follow. It was clear why we were there.

AMEND didn’t have any of this and we were all worried because it seemed we were in for two hours of…presentation – yuck.

Time for my first change – a change of perspective.

Matt Murphy and Paul Delaney began to talk about the AMEND team and the work they do. I was captivated.

AMEND’s approach was impressive. (I had worked with a large consulting firm in the summer who did not put the effort and care into their work like AMEND.) They talked about the various industries and types of people and problems they deal with. Their passion was inspiring. I was amazed.

I left the presentation with goosebumps. It was then I knew – I HAD to work at AMEND!

Owning My Change – Stepping Off The Edge… – *GULP*

That evening, I went home to craft my thank you letter and to let Matt know I was interested in AMEND. It was a Friday night, so I contained my excitement and waited until Monday morning to send the thank you. He answered with an invitation to breakfast to talk about AMEND and my work experience.

As we sat down for breakfast a week later, I felt my interest in AMEND grow stronger as Matt talked about the culture and ambience within the company. The fact that I could talk to anyone freely, including Craig or David (the founding owners), was further proof that this was an amazing company that provided valuable work experience and mentors to aid in becoming the best version of oneself.

After this meeting was a meeting with Paul. His passion and love for AMEND Consulting was evident with every word he spoke. His belief in AMEND and its purpose was electrifying. I was hooked.

I was willing to move my school schedule around and flex my plans to make this change happen! I knew working for AMEND was worth the course change!!

Creating My New Future – Captaining My Ship!

Receiving my offer to join the AMEND Consulting family was thrilling. I could not remember the last time I had been so excited to jump into something new, especially when I had not prepared for it.

I thought I had the rest of my college career planned out when I started in that Field Studies in Operations Management course. Little did I know how much that one class would change my life’s course.

As much as I love a good plan, sometimes, the best things happen without a plan. I thought I was taking a simple class to fulfill my credit requirements and learn about different industries I could work in. I never thought I would find such amazing opportunities that would make me question my plans.

AMEND threw me for a loop and challenged my plans, which is why I am more than pleased to join the team and start this next chapter in a direction I never thought I would take.

Explore, Discover, Transform

This past Christmas, I was met with the typical holiday-time questions:

“How’s school going?” Oh, it’s going well, Aunt Susie.

“When do you finish the semester?” Two weeks ago, Aunt Marge.

“What’ve you been up to lately?” Just the usual, Aunt Kathleen.

As always, grandma came in with the question about the most exciting change that would be coming in my life over the next few months: “What are you doing next?”

Excellent question! (Truth is, I couldn’t wait to tell everyone I was returning to AMEND Consulting to further develop my skills and help their clients transform their businesses.)

She wanted to know more, “Oh wow. How are you feeling about working there?”

I’M EXCITED!

I worked at AMEND for a bit last spring. I was able to experience the culture, gain an understanding of the services they offer, and meet the team. I worked in the office then, developing pitch decks and helping with future strategy by creating a list of potential centers of influence.

Working there helped me develop an appreciation for the people and the culture, which is important to me. I believe where you work and the people you surround yourself with become part of your identity. A place that values hugs over handshakes will surely help me further define myself.

Previously, I interned at Kroger Technology and Kroger Supply Chain, which were both amazing experiences. They helped me learn how a large company functions and taught me soft and hard skills related to their fields. But after working part-time with AMEND earlier in the year, I’ve been intrigued by what it would be like to work with a smaller, tighter group.

This time around, I’ll be involved in more direct client work – helping mid-sized companies become more competitive by strengthening their people, optimizing their processes, and super-charging their thinking.

AMEND gives me exactly what I’m looking for…a place to explore what’s out there, discover the possibilities, and transform myself and others all while doing meaningful and impactful work.

I know I will be met with real-world business problems and challenges in an environment that will push me and help me grow. The opportunity to be a part of a high-performing team that is dedicated to changing lives and transforming businesses is one I couldn’t pass up. It’s why I chose AMEND.

I’m Glad I Chose ‘Different’

I have been blessed with countless opportunities and surrounded with good people throughout my life. However, those opportunities don’t arise out of thin air. In fact, opportunities come about from a constant state of sense of self-awareness.

Understanding where you are and where you want to be is critical but knowing how to make that happen isn’t. Stay focused, work hard, and always be self-aware.

Stay The Course Or Go A New Direction?

After a multitude of experiences with Fortune 500 companies, I still felt that something was missing. I understood that the current path wasn’t headed in the direction I ultimately wanted to end up.

I had to make a decision.

Stay on the path to a corporate job at a large company or chase what I was looking for. Find a place that I felt challenged to be more, to be the best version of myself.

Thankfully I chose the latter.

Did I Choose Wisely?

I chose AMEND because I knew it was going to be different. I understood the time spent with AMEND would fall outside my comfort zone, it wasn’t going to be easy, and I knew I was going to learn a lot. I saw an opportunity to grow professionally, and I took it.

The reason I came, however, isn’t necessarily the reason I continue to stay.

I came for the challenge, I stay for the people.

I DID Choose Wisely – and I’m Better For It!

What I didn’t expect is that AMEND provides so much more than the opportunity for professional growth. With leaders who prioritize their people first , AMEND fosters a culture of personal development that I have never experienced before.

The bottom line is that the AMEND team cares about each other. Along with transforming the lives of our clients, the team transforms the lives of each other. From the top down, each member of the team genuinely acts in your best interest and pushes you to be a better brother, a better friend, a better son, and so much more.

I continue to love my time with AMEND because while I show up to work every day to “change lives and transform businesses,” my life, in fact is being changed and transformed – for the better.

Nothing Ventured, Nothing Gained

I had never worked a stereotypical “40 hours a week” job. I didn’t know what one looked like, what was expected – it was all new…and exciting.

Before AMEND, my only real-life work experience consisted of working at a snack bar for a local swimming pool and working as a valet parker. Each gave me invaluable life experience in their own way but absolutely nothing compared to what AMEND Consulting has given me.

Consultants Are….Well…We All Know What Consultants Are!

I never imagined myself as a consultant.

My idea of consulting companies stemmed from stereotypes that are seen in the media: wearing a suit and tie every day, walking into different companies with a narcissistic demeanor because ‘you’re the big bad consultant who can fix any problem you are tasked with.’ This role didn’t seem like one I could (or would want to) fill.

I admit, I was hesitant when given the chance to visit AMEND. But, I decided to take a chance on them just as they were taking a chance on me. I committed to giving them the benefit of the doubt, to not rush to judgement.

I put on a suit and tie – made myself look exactly how I envisioned a consultant “should” look – and drove to the office. When I got there, I was shocked to discover I was the only one wearing a suit. Everyone in the office was wearing jeans and a polo with steel-toed boots. That was the first indicator to me that AMEND was not your run-of- the-mill consulting company.

AMEND: The Anti-Consultants

I was right. AMEND isn’t your run-of-the-mill consulting company. In fact, they aren’t your run of the mill anything.

They care deeply about the success of all their clients. They get in there, side-by-side with their clients, and don’t stop until there’s a solution. They don’t walk in and say ‘I know it all.’ They walk in and say ‘I know we’ll find a way together.’

During my time at AMEND, I have learned more about consulting and manufacturing and have gained more real world experience than I ever thought was possible. I’ve also learned a lot about myself along the way. I’ve discovered things like who I work best with and how I can best leverage my skills in a professional setting.

And Here’s The Best Part

The best part about AMEND is not the jeans and polo attire or the office ping pong table. It’s the people you get to work closely with every day.

On day one I was thrown into the fire and tasked with action items that most analysts would never receive in the entirety of their rotation. A lot of responsibility was put on my plate to drive value for the clients and with that came a lot of trust and resources. The entire AMEND team pushed me to put my best foot forward and was always extremely eager and excited to help whenever necessary.

I’m Glad I Said Yes!

AMEND is not a traditional work environment in any sense of the word, mainly because of the close-knit relationships you are able build within the organization, which I know will last throughout my lifetime. I have been blessed to have been given the opportunity to work and grow with AMEND. I have been challenged and pushed outside of my comfort zone but I have done it knowing I have the support of an entire family behind me.

I am extremely excited to see how this experience helps to shape the rest of my professional career, as I know AMEND has played an extremely important role, and will continue to play that role in the future.

Why AMEND? Because Excellence Isn’t An Accident

My answer is fast and simple when people ask me why I chose to work at AMEND, “because excellence isn’t an accident.”

 

What Drives Excellence? Skills? Planning? Strategy? YES!

Scoring a buzzer beater in the final seconds of a playoff game? Lucky shot.

Getting straight A’s throughout school? My teachers must have liked me, I guess.

I believed success was achieved by chance, until recently.

It took me a while – up until this year, actually – to realize that excellence is not an accident.

The formula for achieving success is clear to me now, thanks to the work I’ve been doing here at AMEND:

Hard Work + Focused Effort + Consistency = Excellence.

The AMEND team has helped me see what it takes to achieve excellence and just how much goes in to delivering excellence at all times. They’ve also helped me to see how the results of this hard work and commitment is invaluable to our clients.

 

“Excellence is never an accident. It is always the result of high intention, sincere effort, and intelligent execution; it represents the wise choice of many alternatives – choice, not chance, determines your destiny.”

– Aristotle

 

AMEND Pushes Me The Same Way They Push Their Clients

AMEND was out of my comfort zone.

I was used to working in a large corporate office every day. Crunching numbers on Excel from eight to five and staying in my cubicle for the majority of the day.

At AMEND, I was immediately immersed in a completely different culture, one filled with a tight-knit but powerful team of A-players, 5 am mornings, steel-toed boots on the ground of fab shops, and tough yet rewarding discussions with all types of clients, from the front line to the C-level Executives.

Joining the AMEND team took me FAR out of my comfort zone, but, in any given moment, we have two options: shrink back into safety, or step forward into growth.

I chose the latter, and because I did, I’ve grown.

 

Excellence Is A Choice

Every day I have to be committed to achieving excellence for myself and our clients.

Driving results does not come by accident; rather, it comes from intensity and deliberate decisions to work diligently, strategically, and fervently towards achieving excellence.

So that winning buzzer beater during a playoff game? It was the culmination of countless hours of practices, mental preparation, and bearing under pressure.

The good grades earned throughout school? Those were the consistent affirmations of late nights of studying, revising essays, and time management throughout my four years of education.

I am thrilled to be at a part of a team that inspires me to drive results every day.

AMEND values the challenging yet rewarding journey towards excellence, one that takes time, effort, and a commitment to stepping outside your comfort zone.

Real Work – Day One – That’s Why I Love AMEND!

Uncommon, yes.

But just because something is uncommon doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist.

Black swans are out there.

 

AMEND Consulting is my black swan. The place I needed to find even though I wasn’t looking for it. I was looking for a job…for a place where I could add some value. What I found in AMEND, and what AMEND brought out in me is so much more than expected.

 

Tangible Responsibility & Real Ownership
Tangible responsibility and real ownership of projects are two characteristics that every employee wants when searching for a job. And they are both handed over on Day one at AMEND Consulting.

My first day on the job was spent at a client where I learned exactly how I could make an immediate impact by learning their business and leading a big project.

I did not have to wait to prove myself in the company, or to show anybody that I had what it takes. I was given full ownership from the very beginning and it has enabled me to truly believe in the work I am doing.

 

Real Ownership = High Expectations
With real ownership also comes high expectations. Consulting is a field where you have to be on your game at all times because your relationships and results are what keeps the business running.

Fortunately, a by-product of this expectation is that I am always creating value while on the job.

The days of waiting for new assignments, checking personal emails during the day, and being bored at work are well over.

I am now responsible for the success of our client’s business, and that responsibility leaves no room for activities that do not create value. I have found myself to be more productive and accomplished as a result of having real ownership over my work. 

I know that my role at AMEND is important.

 

Now I’m Convinced!
I started this journey thinking “I might want to be a consultant.”

Now I’m convinced it’s what I want to do for a very long time. My experience so far, being given the responsibility of generating results without having to wait to prove myself, being given ownership over my work has given me even more confidence in my choice of this profession.

It is easy to see why the work at AMEND is meaningful. You can easily measure progress on a day-to-day basis, and you watch both yourself and your clients develop and grow as leaders.

 

I LOVE Changing People’s Lives In Positive Ways
The solutions we create are truly changing people’s lives in a positive way, and that in itself motivates me to stay focused.

When you know that your work is meaningful and you can see the immediate impact, a job becomes less of a “job” and more of a “goal.” Achieving goals and improving lives are very fulfilling to me, which is why I feel that consulting is not only a strong career choice, but also a vehicle for continuous personal development.

It’s True! Great Things DO Come In Small Packages.

“Where do you work?”

“I work for AMEND.”

(long pause followed by a confused look…)

“What’s that!?!”

That’s the conversation I have every time someone asks about my work.

AMEND Consulting. That’s where I work, and I’m thankful for some of the many things it’s not.

It’s not a huge Fortune 500 company with thousands of employees split into different teams in a variety of departments spread out over a 40-story building.

It’s not the company everyone has heard of and wants to work for (at least not yet).

It’s not filled with know-it-alls who refuse to help or act like you don’t exist.

It’s not a place that tolerates better than. We are strong individuals who make an even stronger team.

It’s not somewhere to get lost in the crowd. You make a difference and have an impact on day one.

 

“I’ve Already Learned More…”

Three client projects PLUS internal AMEND sales support, that was my ‘welcome aboard’ assignment my first week at AMEND. While my friends were getting coffee, or filing papers, or making copies, I was working on meaningful work that had to get done. Four businesses would be effected if I failed.

I accepted the challenge and dove in. I had little exposure to manufacturing, sales, operations management, or the world of consulting when I came here. I can’t say that any more.

My skills had to develop and improve to deliver results. I’ve had to improve my leadership skills and take charge of my projects. I’ve had to learn to trust myself as an individual and my co-workers as teammates. I’ve had to sharpen my problem solving skills to create new ideas for solving internal and external problems.

All the hard work has paid off. In just two month of working at AMEND I’ve already learned more than I had at any previous job, and I can clearly see the ways my work adds value here.

 

Culture Matters

It didn’t take me long to figure out how important culture is to the workplace. And, now that I’ve worked at a company with a strong culture, it’s easier for me to see it’s often lacking from other companies.

AMEND’s culture is what makes me and every other member on the team want to come to work. I know everyone I work with and that is not something employees at a larger company can usually say.

The team aspect here is so strong. I don’t feel like just an intern or a co-op student here. Instead, I know I am a valuable and important member of this team. Everyone works hard and is always there to support each other when it comes to delivering for our clients, and we’re there for each other when it comes time to enjoy some downtime at the end of a long workweek.

 

Making A REAL Difference

I’m surrounded by incredibly successful people who are striving to make a difference in our client’s businesses every day.

The AMEND team challenges me to learn new things, move outside of my comfort zone, and grow as a young professional. I’m a more effective worker and leader as a result.

Working for AMEND gives me the chance to be a part of a team of people who create real results and drive valuable change for many other companies. I can clearly see the value of all of the work I do here, and for that, I am excited and grateful.

Millennials & Mentors – A Sure Path To Success

Millennials love feedback – they like it frequently, directly, and immediately.

Feedback is something Millennials have grown up with, receiving almost constant advice and input from their parents, teachers, and friends.

Millennials grew up with information and knowledge at their fingertips, connecting to experts through their blogs, learning from thought-leaders through TED.com, and taking charge of their education and skills development with tools like Khan Academy and Lynda.com.

If they don’t know how to do something, they know how to find someone who does, and they know how to learn from them.

It’s this combination of constant feedback and access to information that makes mentors so important to Millennials.

Millennials need to hear how they can improve. And they need to hear it frequently.

Boomers are fine with monthly, quarterly, or even yearly feedback. GenXers don’t care if you ever give them feedback (since they were raised in a more hands-off, latch-key-type approach, they are more independent overall). Millennials sit at the other end of the spectrum – needing at least daily feedback on steps they can take to improve and add value.

It’s this need for regular, almost constant feedback, plus their love of learning that makes mentoring or shadowing a perfect solution for growing Millennials’ skills and talents.

“I was so impressed with Ankur’s (an incoming AMEND analyst) drive for improvement and betterment. He wasn’t even on our radar screen until he put himself there. He met us, then sent us 10 ideas for immediately improving our marketing. He took the initiative to follow through on a daily practice he picked up from one of his mentors – to think about at least 10 ideas for improvement every day. He has been doing this, writing down at least 10 ideas for improvement every day for a long time. Even if he only follows through on one idea each month, he will improve more than most people who aren’t even thinking this way. It’s this thinking, this drive for continual improvement, that will make him a great fit here at AMEND.

Paul Delaney, Director of Talent
AMEND Consulting

Can’t match up all your Millennials with a mentor? Here are two things to keep in mind when giving feedback to your Millennial team members:

1) Give CLEAR feedback so there’s no misunderstanding. It doesn’t matter if it’s positive or negative so long as it’s clear and specific around how they can improve. Tell them what they did, WHY it doesn’t work or fit, and ways they can do it better next time. Also encourage them to think about ways they can improve, and ways you and the company can improve. What can be done differently? What can we change on the company level to make things better?

2) Connect it to the purpose or mission of the work or company. Millennials need to know their work is valuable and impactful. Connect what they do, or what you want them not to do, to the mission or purpose of the work or company. Connecting the changes you want to a higher purpose will help your Millennial team members see how and why the changes you want are important.

Millennials are open to feedback, willing to change, and eager to learn. Give them what they need in these areas and you will be amazed at the impact they can have at your company.