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Improving is Improving

The company I work with is doing what it does best: Improving is improving!

We have recently finalized a partnership with ProSource Solutions, a management and information technology consulting firm headquartered in Ohio. This merger will continue growing the value we can bring to our clients, our services, and adds great expert Improvers. Those new Improvers significantly strengthen the breadth and depth of our technical consulting services, and training offerings.
 
Furthermore, it will expedite efforts for Improving to pursue its strategy to grow vertical technology specializations, through the delivery of Microsoft and cloud computing based solutions. ProSource is a preferred Microsoft Partner and has been awarded 5 consecutive “Top U.S. Partner of the Year” awards from Microsoft.
 
With similar company values and a focus on culture, we see significant alignment in business strategy and overall approach. It remains our top priority to establish and maintain trust not only with each other but with our clients, partners, communities, and others.
 
We welcome ProSource Solutions to the Improving brand and look forward to our future collective growth together!
 
To read more about this acquisition, please visit http://improving.com/thoughts/improving-acquires-prosource-solutions

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What opinions are worth sharing?

In the last 40 days or so, I’ve published 20 posts (including this one). That’s my biggest number of posts ever! A personal goal I’ve had in the last two or three years has been to make this blog more active, and that’s what I’m doing.

The high number of posts has been motivated by my realization that I’m often asked about my opinion on a number of things, so I might as well share my opinions through this channel, as it may be of interest to a wider audience. Also, I can always point people to a blog post in case I ever get asked the same thing again.

Now, what opinions are worth sharing? I’m sure the answer to that question varies from person to person. In my case, I’ve been sharing both requested and unrequested opinions on things I care enough (at least at the time) about.

Of course, opinions can change. If I change my opinion on something, I’ll probably blog about it.

My bottom line is: since I started writing down my thoughts on a number of things people ask me, I haven’t run out of ideas on what to post about. People can always ignore/delete a post. I can always go back to my posts to think about my progress on certain aspects of things I do. Some of my posts may get my readers to think about things they weren’t thinking of before. If one post is ignored by 1000 people, but helpful to a single person (which could even be myself!), then post was already worthy.

And the next time I’m thinking whether something is worth a blog post or not, I’ll think of this piece of Internet Wisdom:

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My Morning Ritual

I’ve introduced morning rituals in my life a long time ago. These rituals change over time, based on whatever’s going on in my life, as well as what constraints I have, what resources, etc.

Currently, here’s what my morning ritual looks like (starting after hitting the snooze button a few times – a bad habbit I need to break! – and going to the bathroom):

  1. Stretch: I stretch my body, mostly using a foam roller like this one, to roll my legs and back and get things back into place;
  2. Water: After so many hours without drinking or eating anything, I like drinking about a glass of water so that my body can flush its system; 🙂
  3. Protein shake: I don’t feel like having a large breakfast in the morning, so I at least try to get some protein, which will help me not feel hungry way before lunch time;
  4. Meditate: I’ve blogged about how meditation is paying off. I’ve been meditating for 15 minutes for several months. I’m thinking about going up to 20 minutes soon. 
  5. Journaling: For many years I’ve been writing down things I’m grateful for. For the last several months I’ve been using the 5-Minute Journal, which just adds a little more structure to it;
  6. Watch to short inspirational video or listen to song that gets me going:  I may either watch a video off the QuickTalk YouTube playlist Short, or listen to a song off my Morning Songs playlist;
  7. Organize my day: I first review things that I know are going on that day and then set up my Daily Execution note, which drives my day;
    8. Quick email scan: this happens real quick! I barely skim over email subjects, specifically looking for anything that could somehow mess up with my plans for the day (set in #7). For instance, maybe a meeting got cancelled last minute, or something urgent has come up and I must include in my agenda for the day. 
  8. Go to work!

Seriously, I do NOT read emails in the morning. I ONLY go through subjects and see if there’s anything that could change my agenda for the day. I’ll only spend more time checking email once my main activies have been put in motion at work.

Also, I do NOT check any social network in the morning.

Important: I set my cellphone to “flight mode” when I go to bed, and I only set it back when doing step #8 above; that way, I don’t hear and dings for new messages in the middle of the night, and I don’t take the risk of seeing updates on my cell phone when I pick it up to run my meditation app, so I don’t get any interruption.

I’d like to add workout to my morning ritual, but I haven’t found a way to make that work with my current constraints. Anyway, as it is now, my morning ritual is helping me get ready for the day and get a sense of being productive since early in the morning.

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Come checkout the new Improving Houston office

We are celebrating the opening of our newly designed office space. We would love for you to join us On Thursday, June 15th from 4pm to 7pm. We will have the Houston West Chamber of Commerce in attendance for the ribbon cutting. Come out and see what Improving is all about. Please register here

 https://improvinghoustonribboncutting.eventbrite.com

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Fun with C#: ForEach for everyone!

Whenever possible, I like using a ForEach method, instead of a for-each block. Take the code below for example:

The iteration part could be rewritten like so:

Or, even better, since the AddToPizza method takes in one parameter with the same type of the items we’re iterating over…

The iteration could simply look like this:

However, not every thing we iterate has the ForEach method. For example, regular arrays don’t. So, if our items source looked like the one below, we wouldn’t have a ForEach method:

So how do we get a ForEach method that works on Lists, Collections, Arrays, etc? Just create the extension method on IEnumerable<T>, like so:

Make sure to import the namespace for your extension methods (using statement) wherever you’re trying to use them!

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Time for me to improve

From time to time I like to embrace new challenges in my professional life and it’s happening again now, as I start a new full-time job at Improving!

I’ve known several folks at the company for many years now from speaking at conferences and user groups. In the last two years I’ve done some gigs with them as a contractor at clients in Brazil and Argentina. I’ve had a lot of fun and was very fortunate as they offered me a full-time job as I move back to the US.

I’m looking forward to working with several like-minded guys I’ve known for years, taking on new challenges, and as it is bound to happen, Improving myself as a professional and a person (yes, pun intended!).

Full-time <-> Independent cycles

I started my first full-time job 26 years ago. Since then, I’ve alternated between full-time and independent jobs, but always staying at least a couple of years on each. Doing so has helped me both working on my own as well as working with others. As a hobbyist musician, I can relate this with making music in a band or as a solo artist (but I’ll save this to another post…).

Five years ago I’ve blogged about the fact I was going to work on my own, after solid 9 years on a full-time job. At the time I really needed that change both from professional and personal points-of-view. Now, five years later, I feel I’ve succeeded on that change and am ready to do it again. Working on my own during this time was great as I managed to be involved in some great projects, and it has also allowed me to go on with some big changes in my personal life.

Back to speaking…

I’m also going back to doing presentations at user groups and conferences. I’ve been missing those things, so I did a presentation last month in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and will be doing two presentation at the Houston Tech Fest 2016. I’m looking forward to hanging out with a bunch of my old buddies out there.

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2015: Annual Review

Inspired by James Clear’s “Annual Review”, I decided I should to mine, too. Heck, I do that on the projects I work on, I might as well do it to my own life as well.

So, the famous 3 questions that get the ball rolling:

  1. What went well in 2015?
  2. What didn’t go so well?
  3. What am I working toward?

I will be brief on this post, and later write up posts to detail more of each item. There are things that worked well in 2015 that I won’t list here, but will write up dedicate posts later this year.

1. What went well in 2015?

Defining goals, writing them down, and tracking them: at the beginning of the year I had defined goals, outlined them with key motivations, and kept reviewing them (at least once a week) in order to make sure I was tackling them as time went by. This has not prevented me from NOT accomplishing some of the goals, but it DID help me accomplish most of them, as well as it helped me reflecting on my failures.

Workout habit, results, and side-effects: I wanted to get in better shape. I don’t want to run a marathon or look like a bodybuilder. I just want to feel better about myself. Working out is boring for me. Tracking workouts and building the habit has made me find out how I can make this fun and harvest some benefits as side-effects.

Filing my taxes on time: Over the last several years I was always filing for an extension because I just couldn’t file my taxes by Apr 15. Well, in 2015 I’ve filed exactly on Apr 15. Huge improvement from previous years!

2. What didn’t go so well?

Make my professional blog more active: this post you’re reading is published to what I consider my professional blog. This is where I post things related to how I make a living (mainly, software development). I ended up only writing two posts last year, despite the fact there are many things I’d like to write about.

Personal project related to my experiences living in the US: this is something I want to do because I always have people asking me about this, so I figure I should share this with a wider audience somehow. I have some very specific ideas on what I want to do, I’ve picked a name for it, created the channels, the logo, but just didn’t start delivering the content. 

Personal/Professional secret project: this is a somewhat secret project just because I want to keep it low before it is all confirmed. What bums me on this one is because I did everything I could do on my end, but there are things that are just outside of my control. But, in order to cope with that, a Plan B is on the works.

3. What am I working toward?

Less ideas, more action: I think I’ve been very good at keeping track of ideas. And there are quite many ideas that keep popping in my head. I think I’ve finally started to take action on a few hand-picked ideas. I’m turning those into projects, putting effort into them, tracking it, and at this moment I’m feeling good about them. 

Take one day at a time: Having ideas flowing and figuring out some sort of a plan is good, but I need to learn to focus on taking one day at a time, live in the moment, make the best off of it. There’s only so much one can do.

Get better: I feel like at one point I was better than I am today. I also feel like I can get better than I was before. Working on that!

Conclusion

There are a couple more things I could add to each one of those bullet points, but I’m still thinking through it, figuring out the good things I want more of, the bad things that need to be addressed, and the things I just need to let go.

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