Getting in the Spirit

It’s Christmas Eve eve! Can you believe it? This year has gone by so quickly.

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We started celebrating early in the month when we had our Optima Customer holiday party, which was a nice break from our long days and busy schedule. Ever since this project started in October, it has consumed my life. I missed out on several things that I had planned on attending/completing the latter part of the year namely, the First Contact Resolution workshop in San Antonio, Six Sigma Yellow Belt training, the CRC and C&I joint Christmas party, and the team building and volunteer service day at the Wichita Art Museum that I organized. And those are just the big things, I’ve missed pretty much every Rotary meeting since our October project kickoff (although I did get to participate in the Andover Caring & Sharing volunteer activity) and I’ve had to bow out of several other obligations (thankfully, I’m getting great support from my teammates and boss). I guess my life will just have to be on hold until we’ve seen this project to fruition.

The hours are long and the work often seems overwhelming but at least the people I’m working with are amiable and fun. Everyone is super knowledgeable and I’m learning a ton which is really exciting for me. I thoroughly enjoy learning new things so when we began current state interviews immediately after the project kick off I remember telling everyone it feels like Christmas because I’m learning something from every single person I come in contact with. I’m like a really dry sponge just absorbing everything. Anyway, fast forward two months and now it really is Christmas.

I’m still really excited about everything I’m learning but I am starting to get bummed about missing out on stuff. And, I really miss having a routine. I guess I’ll just have to make new routines.

I missed Customer Service Week festivities (which we celebrate in the CRC during the week of Veterans Day) and other fun stuff in the CRC. I remember being at work late one evening to take care of stuff and we stopped by Faith’s office because I just had to show Brian her elaborate Christmas decor. She happened to still be in there making even more decorations. We got to visiting and Brian saw the photo booth pictures we had taken last year that were up on Faith’s cabinet walls and I made a comment about how we didn’t have a photo booth this year for Customer Service Week. Faith told me that we did have one and showed me a punch of the pictures she and others took in the photo booth. I just happened to be in Topeka that day and missed it.

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Here are some pictures of Faith’s amazing Christmas decorations.

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Recently, we had a holiday decorating contest at work. I pretty much missed most of it too but I did take pictures while I was at work late one evening.

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The participation this year was so much more than we had seen in previous years and the level of creativity was out of this world. Everyone really got into it. It was great to see and helped get in me in the spirit because up until then I really wasn’t feeling the magic of Christmas. Probably because I’ve just been so busy.

In years past I’ve usually got my trees (one upstairs and one in the basement) up by Thanksgiving and I’m usually done with Christmas shopping by then too. This year I’ve been so busy that I decided to only put one Christmas tree up (the one upstairs) and I’ve really started to question the whole gifts situation. I know of others who only get presents for children in the family and not any adults. I’m pitching that idea to Brian for next year because that would really save us a lot of time and stress.

This year I wanted to crochet presents for everyone but severely underestimated the time it would take to complete each present. Since I started later based on this incorrect assumption I was only able to complete three crochet projects and then had to come up with a backup plan for the rest of our giftees. That left us scrambling for presents last minute. Well, it feels last minute for me anyway, since I’m usually ready well ahead of time. Christmas seems to have snuck up on me this year (I suppose that’s what happens when you’re busier than usual) and I feel completely unprepared.

Here’s one of the three completed projects. Maybe next year I’ll be able to complete more. Or, if Brian goes for the “no Christmas presents for adults” idea then I may not have to make any at all except for the ones that I wish to make. That would be less pressure for me to get these crochet projects done. LOL.

Anyway, it’s nice to finally be off work. I’m still working a little to stay caught up but I’m grateful that I can just work remotely and whenever I feel like it (which is usually at odd hours of day). Since I’m on vacation, technically any work I do is just extra. For now I’m done checking email until after Christmas so I can finally start truly getting into the Christmas spirit. I hope you guys get a good long break from work and have a wonderful holiday season!

Fun With Friends – Old and New

Jay and Becca hosted a super fun Super Bowl XLIX party last weekend. We wouldn’t have been able to attend were it not for our bowling league (we’ve been bowling in a league with my parents on Sundays for almost a year now) being canceled that night.

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The funny thing is that we play through on most holidays but they actually canceled bowling on Super Bowl Sunday. I don’t care what people say. Super Bowl Sunday is a national holiday in the US. They should just declare it as such. LOL.

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We were all smiles because we knew our team was going to win. 😉

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They sure made it exciting, though.

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Jenni joined us and had a lot of fun playing with the kids.

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I came dressed appropriately for the event in my one and only Pats shirt and my most patriotic earrings (acquired a few years ago when we visited the East Coast and toured Sam Adams with the Dills).

Our friend Rune was like, “Are you really a Pats fan or are you just trying to be nice to Jay?” To which I replied, “I don’t know enough about football to have any real favorites, but I do like the Pats more than any other football team because their team colors coordinate with the colors of my other favorite team (Boston Red Sox and KU).” #trueconfessions

We had a great time. Thank you so much for hosting, Jay and Becca!

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Yesterday Brian, Jenni, Eleanor, Nicole, and I bowled in a fundraising event for the YMCA Strong Community campaign. Angie and her husband Cory bowled with us. It was my first time meeting Angie and Cory but they seem really cool and fun. And, they’re really good bowlers too!

Here are some pictures from the bowl-a-thon yesterday.

Here’s Jenni and Nicole, goofing around.

Angie looked so cute in her orange tutu!

Angie with our boss lady Kristen, the Group Exercise Coordinator at Andover YMCA.

And, yes. This happened.

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Brian and I had a great time. Don’t mind my greasy chin. The pizzas were really greasy yesterday but I couldn’t help myself. I ate a few slices. Who can resist AJ’s pizza?

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A J Sports Grill on Urbanspoon

If there’s one thing that Northrock Lanes has going for it, it’s that it’s got a pretty good sports bar on site. Most other bowling alleys just have okay food. AJ’s serves pizza that I don’t mind eating and that says a lot because I don’t like pizza.

Granted, it’s no Ziggy’s but the pizza is good and reasonably priced. Whenever I feel like bowling, I always think of Northrock first before any of the other bowling alleys because it’s just set up better all the way around.

The only other bowling alley that would be better would be the Alley but their prices are expensive. So if you want to bowl cheap and eat decent food, my recommendation will always be Northrock.

Time to Get Introspective

I don’t typically post blogs that are introspective because, most of the time, it just gives other people something to criticize. But this is my web site and I’m posting this for me, so I really don’t care what ya’ll think. LOL.

I know I am selfish. I do things for my own pleasure and satisfaction. Luckily, I’m not a sick, sinister person so the things that bring me joy also bring joy to others. I have said this many times before. I cannot deny how blessed I am to have the time and resources to pursue the things I want to do.

Some people talk about living life not necessarily following their passion or doing something with purpose, but simply going through the motions and doing the things you’re supposed to do. I’m lucky that I stopped doing things I was supposed to do a decade ago and I think my selfishness has a lot to do with it.

I have always been pretty straight-laced and nerdy. I followed the rules. When I was younger I really did things because I was supposed to… For instance, I got married because I was supposed to. I didn’t want to get married. I was perfectly content with my relationship with Brian. I didn’t feel like we needed to get married. We loved each other and that was enough for me. However, we were living together and when you’re living together you’re supposed to be married.

I dropped out of college after my four year scholarship ran out. Brian sort of tricked me into going back to school, but when I went back and got my undergraduate degree I mostly did it because I was supposed to. Both of my parents are college-educated so it didn’t make sense for me not to finish college.

However, in going through the motions of life and doing the things I was supposed to do, I found myself. I found that I really enjoyed going to school. I found a passion for learning. So I decided to stay in school and continue on to get my MBA.

I realized the power of doing something that you want to do vs. doing something you’re supposed to do. When you do something that you’re supposed to do, the effort is halfhearted at best. When you’re doing something you want to do, you can be really great at it. I’m not saying that I’m great at school, but if I pursued my MBA because I felt like I was supposed to do it then it probably would have taken me ten years instead of two. I got my MBA because it was something that I really wanted to do. Mom and dad didn’t ask me to do it. Brian didn’t ask me to do it. I didn’t need it for work. It was something I wanted for my own on pleasure and satisfaction.

Brian and I are supposed to have children. After we got married the pressure to procreate started. Having kids is something you’re supposed to do when you’re married and financially stable. We’re both decent looking. We would have made beautiful children. Neither of us wanted children. We’ve talked about it numerous times in the fifteen years we’ve been together and I feel like we’re on the same page, but I can truly only speak for myself. I knew I was supposed to have children and be a mom like most women, but it’s not what I want for myself so I know that I’d be terrible at it.

We would never have gotten out of debt if we didn’t want to do it. If it was something that we’re just supposed to do but not something we wanted to accomplish I think it would never have gotten done. And, we paid off $40K in debt in record time. That’s the power of doing something you want to do.

There are a lot of things that I do that are really just for me. I knew I was supposed to focus on my health and not be too fat, but I really didn’t lose weight until I decided I wanted to do it. I hired a personal trainer a few years ago to help me. When you do something you want to do, you put resources into it. You put money, time, and lots of effort in things that you want to do. As a side note, I’m up in weight right now and I’m not currently working with a personal trainer, but I think I’m pursuing too many things and just need to re-prioritize.

I teach Zumba because I want to. I’m actually licensed to teach several Zumba formats. I have all of these licenses not because I’m supposed to have them, but because I wanted to get them. I do volunteer work not because I’m supposed to, but because it really makes me happy. Of course, I didn’t have the luxury of doing all of these things before because of a lack of time and resources. I’m really lucky that I’m finally at a stage in my life that I can really pursue the things I want to do.

I’m not perfect and I’ve made some mistakes. I’ve been confused about what I wanted at times. I’ve learned and grown a lot from these missteps, but I’ll probably make some more mistakes and stumble along the way.

Just as Brian and I reevaluate our budget every year, I think it’s time for me to pause for a moment and reflect on the last decade. What is it that I really want out of life? Am I using the resources I have (skills, talent, time) to get there? I need to do a personal audit and commit more of my energy to becoming the person I want to be instead of letting a little bit of myself escape through various outlets because of a lack of focus.

The bottom line is that I’m living the exact life I want to live right now but it’s time to think about tomorrow. I’m the person that I wanted to be ten years ago, but now I need to think about who I want to be ten years from now.

It’s time to start moving in that direction.

Enjoying Life as a Stella & Dot Rep

I have to admit, the only reason I joined Stella & Dot as an independent stylist a few months ago is so that I could buy their jewelry at half off. I had no intention of doing trunkshows or selling jewelry. I just wanted the discount.

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My sponsor/upline Amanda convinced me to host a trunkshow/launch party in March. It was a huge hit and so I was able to earn some free jewelry and half off discounts which afforded me the ability to add to my Stella & Dot accessory stash or “sample inventory” as I like to call it.

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Now, every time I want something I just tell Brian I’m investing in “samples” for my jewelry business and he doesn’t hassle me about it. Not as much as he usually does, anyway. I wish I would have thought of this sooner! LOL.

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The best thing about “samples” is I get to wear them whenever I like… Yup. I love samples! Who doesn’t? If you’re interested in a way to get your husband off your back about owning too much jewelry and accessories or if you actually want to make some extra cash, contact me. Please also like my Stella & Dot page on Facebook. Have a fantastic weekend, everyone!

Stella & Dot Arm Party http://www.stelladot.com/ching

Social Media Spotlight

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About a month ago Corporate Communications sent me twenty questions to answer for a social media spotlight on our company Facebook page. Only a few of the questions made the cut so I’m posting all of the questions and answers on here for your reading enjoyment.

When did you start working here? I started working for the company on May 2002.

Briefly, what jobs have you had with the company? I have always worked in the Customer Relations Center (CRC) and see myself as a customer advocate. I started as a Customer Service Representative (CSR) in back then what was called the phone center. Two and a half years later I became supervisor of our team. When we reorganized in late 2009, I took on the role of Quality Assurance Manager. In 2011 we combined Training and Quality Assurance and that’s when I became Manager, Quality Assurance and Training, which is the position I hold today.

What would people never guess you do in your role? The one thing that people would probably never guess I do in my role is have fun. Most think of Quality Assurance work as monotonous and boring. It can be but I find it extremely rewarding. We don’t just evaluate service interactions for compliance. We also listen to catch people doing things right and we celebrate these successes. I find my job fulfilling and fun because I work with the most amazing group of people. They make it fun.

Tell us about your family (if you’re married, who’s your spouse, how did you meet, how long have you been married, your kids and their ages). My husband’s name is Brian. We met over 15 years ago and have been inseparable ever since. We were married on August 2002. I’m grateful to Brian for being supportive of all my goals and aspirations, specifically all the years I spent attending Wichita State for undergrad and grad school. He inspires me to be the best version of me that I can be and I’d like to think that I have the same effect on him. We do not have any children.

What is your favorite childhood memory? I will always have fond memories of the summers that my sister and I spent in my grandmother’s village. We lived in Las Pinas which is located in the island of Luzon in the Philippines. It’s the main island. As soon as the school session was over, we would ride the ship to the island of Negros. We couldn’t afford to go by plane. Once there my days were spent playing outside, swimming in the river, celebrating town fiestas, attending street dances, etc. The time I spent staying with my grandmother is how I learned to speak the local dialect Cebuano which I can still speak today. The primary language in Las Pinas is Tagalog, which I also speak.

What life dream is still out there waiting for you? I dream of traveling the world someday and being able to speak other languages (specifically Spanish) fluently.

At what time do you feel like work is the perfect place to be? This is true every day. I see myself as a customer experience advocate and in that sense I feel like I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be.

Where is the place you feel most at peace? I’m most at peace at home with Brian.

What are your hobbies or interests outside of work? I teach Zumba for the YMCA and Wichita Parks and Recreation in my spare time. I love Zumba because it’s the only kind of exercise I know that actually makes people happy. Everyone has a smile on their face in every Zumba class I’ve ever taught or attended. Zumba is so positive and uplifting that it brings me great joy to be able to share it with others. I feel like I’m making a difference in their day even for only an hour. I know it makes a huge difference in mine. I always feel better after Zumba class.

What’s one thing people are surprised to learn about you? People are most surprised to learn that I enjoy playing poker. Since I’m very expressive so people don’t think I can bluff, much less keep a straight face when I have a great hand. Texas hold ‘em is one of my favorite activities, second only to Zumba.

Five things you personally like: I like staying busy, learning new things, traveling, connecting with people, and achieving goals (personal and professional).

Three things you don’t like: I dislike being around grouchy, negative people; gaining weight; and being sick.

If you could spend one day with any contemporary person or person from history, who would that be? Why? I’d pick Sheryl Sandberg because I was captivated by her TED talk and I really enjoyed reading her book which my mentor gave over a year ago. I find her ideas inspirational and see her as a great role model. Within the organization, I’d pick Doug Sterbenz. In the 12 years I’ve watched him grow as a leader and speaker. I would love the opportunity to shadow/observe him for a day and find out how he got to be such an eloquent public speaker.

What are three things you cannot live without? Internet, my phone, and music. Having an internet connection was actually a condition of my moving in with Brian fifteen years ago. I wasn’t about to move to a place without internet.

What is your biggest pet peeve? There are things that drive me crazy but I don’t have a major pet peeve because I’m generally pretty tolerant (or so I’d like to think).

What is your favorite movie of all time? It’s hard to pick just one. I really enjoyed Pitch Perfect and watched it more than a dozen times last year. I’d play the ending of the movie just so I can hear the Barden Bellas perform their final song over and over again. Then it dawned on me that I could buy the soundtrack. Joke aside, my all time favorite movie is A Knight’s Tale because I find the idea of being able to “change your stars” empowering. I believe it. (The Pursuit of Happyness is really good too.)

If you could be a superhero, what would you want your superpowers to be? The superpower that I’d want to have is multiplicity. I want to do so many things and there’s just not enough time in the day to do them all. Sometimes I want to do things that are happening simultaneously and I can only pick one event or activity because there’s only one of me.

What is your favorite quote? “It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.” That’s a quote from my all time favorite children’s book, The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint Exupery.

What was the most interesting job you’ve had? I’ve only worked for one other company besides here so I don’t really have an answer for this one. I worked at Spiegel (catalog) for almost 7 years before the call center in Wichita closed its doors. I held various positions there including customer sales associate (front line), customer satisfaction specialist/help desk, OJT trainer/helper, lead sales associate, team lead/coach, interim supervisor – none of these are really exotic or interesting.

If you could buy any one thing, with price being no object, what would it be? A trip to space. That is the one thing in this world that my husband wants to do and if money were no object I’d want to help him fulfill that dream.

It’s the Little Things

A year ago I was invited to attend a super secret meeting with Don, Jim, and some hotel chain execs who were vetting Wichita as a possible location for their newest call center. I put on my best suit for the meeting but something was noticeably missing.

Don and Jim both had fancy name tags. “Don’t you have one of these?” Jim asked. I didn’t have one then, but guess what. I have one now — thanks to the Operations team. We were all given these fancy metal name tags at the Operations leadership conference that I attended this week.

Finally got an official looking nameplate. It only took 11 years. LOL.

I joked to coworker/friend Sally that they had to switch to the fancy metal nameplates in place of the sticker ones so that she wouldn’t feel people up under the guise of helping them keep their name tag sticker on. So she actually gets credit for getting us all fancy metal name tags. LOL.

Jokes aside, it’s the little things that make my day. Believe it or not, I was really excited to finally get my very own fancy name tag. I have arrived!

Summer Means Pedicure Season

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I love watching Brian get a pedicure because he’s really ticklish!

Putting Things in Perspective

Brian had some chest pain yesterday and decided to schedule an appointment with our doctor for this afternoon. He said he felt like he was having a heart attack so I was worried. I wondered if we should have gone to the ER. I had trouble falling asleep last night because I didn’t want to wake up to a lifeless husband the next day, but he said he was fine. I finally fell asleep.

When we woke up this morning, I told Brian I wanted to work a couple of hours over and stay until 6 pm. (We carpool and both go to work at 7 am.) He reminded me that he had a doctor’s appointment. Thinking that he was feeling better, I told him that was fine and to just hang out at home after visiting with the doctor (our family doctor’s office is in Andover) until it was time to come pick me up.

Around 2 pm this afternoon Brian called me to tell me he was on his way to the doctor and that he was scared. I told him that I changed my mind about working late and to just pick me up from work after his doctor’s appointment. He asked me why I changed my mind and if I’d gotten caught up. Honestly, I’ll never get caught up because there’s always plenty of work to do. I told him that I would rather spend time with him.

Around 4 pm he called to tell me that he was still at the doctor’s office. I told him that was fine because I had plenty of work to do and I would just work until he came to pick me up. I had originally wanted to work late anyway, but felt guilty about working late when Brian wasn’t feeling well. I should be taking care of him. Anyway, it was well after 5 pm by the time he got back downtown to pick me up so I got almost an hour and a half of extra work time.

I’m such a workaholic that sometimes I take for granted how much quality time I’m spending with Brian. It worked out today that I was able to get some extra work done. I’m also grateful that we are blessed with the opportunity to hang out and spend some time together this evening. However, today put things in perspective for me. I really need to spend more quality time with my husband.

Be A Role Model

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As we were leaving the rec center after my Zumba class yesterday, we walked by a mom and four kids getting out of their car. All the kids were very young. None of them were older than ten. I think the oldest kid was probably seven or eight at best. One of the kids had apparently left one of the rear passenger side doors open. The mom yelled, “Shut the fucking door!” This is what drew our attention to them. We would not have noticed them otherwise.

“That explains a lot,” I told Brian once we got in the car. I guess people grow up hearing that sort of language. They hear it so much that it becomes natural and eventually becomes part of their vocabulary. It’s so pervasive in their language that they don’t even realize that they’re saying it. Once they find themselves in a professional environment, it becomes a challenge to change and speak in a different manner and every now and then they end up slipping back to their natural tendencies.

I’m lucky that English is not my native language. I didn’t learn to cuss in English because my parents didn’t say or use those words. Actually, they didn’t cuss in our native language either. Cussing just wasn’t a regular part of our vocabulary. I’ve learned to cuss over the years, but it still feels gawky to me. You know when I’m really angry because then I force myself to cuss. However, it comes out sounding so strange that I (and the person I’m yelling at) just end up laughing at my awkwardness. Yes, I’m an awkward cusser.

Brian and I have no kids of our own so we have no business offering parenting advice. However, I can offer an observation. Actions speak louder than words so please be a role model to your children. You can preach against using foul language to your children but, if they grow up hearing you use foul language in everyday life and everyday conversations, chances are they’re going to follow your lead. Kids (or people in general) will often do as you do, not as you say.

They say that our attitudes, values, and beliefs form at a very early age. Corrupt your children if you must, but at least make the early years count. Wait until they’re older to start cussing around them. LOL. They will thank you for your great example later.

P.S. Thank you, mom and dad, for not teaching me to cuss.

I’m Talented at Being Annoying

Last night I shared with Brian some of the things I’ve learned in Leadership Elite over the last few weeks. I told him that talent is more important than experience, education, and intelligence when selecting someone for a job. I told him that even the most menial jobs require talent. He didn’t buy it.

I read him some excerpts from the book that we’re reading in class, First, Break All the Rules: What the World’s Greatest Managers Do Differently (much to his dismay). He was like, “I just want to play my video games and kill stuff.” LOL. I finally left him alone but resumed our conversation this morning in the shower.

    I asked him the following questions:

  1. Is there a 4th of July in Mexico?
  2. If the doctor gave you three pills and told you to take one every half hour, how long would they last?
  3. How many species of each type of animal did Moses take into the ark?

Guess what. He got all three questions wrong. I told him that it’s not him. It’s because of his filters. Our filters are the building blocks of our talents. He was like, “Not this again!” Did I mention that he really hates it whenever I go through training?

Anyway, I did get him to agree that he has a talent for organizing things. He can bring order to the most chaotic of environments. His desk is always neat and organized. He’s even helped me clean and organize my own desk. When there isn’t an organized process for doing things, he creates one. When I look at my messy closet, I am overwhelmed; yet he can organize everything within minutes. Organization is not just something he is good at — he’s talented at it.

I thought for a moment and asked, “So what’s my talent?”

“Being annoying,” Brian replied. After I glared at him and we laughed together, he admitted, “Actually, you are talented at learning things.”

I think he’s absolutely right. It explains why I learn choreo in Zumba really quickly. It explains why I love going to school. It explains why I’m always eager to receive training and acquire new skills. It explains why I enjoy getting up early on Saturday mornings and sitting in a Spanish class that I’m not even enrolled in. It explains why I embrace new information rather than rejecting it. It’s not because I’m gullible or impressionable, though I am at times. It’s because I’m an empty cup ready to be filled. I’m a sponge that just wants to soak things up. I am this way because I have a talent for learning (or so we’ve concluded).

You know what excites me most about this revelation? I just learned something new about myself.

FOLLOW UP:

While I was typing this post, the doorbell rang. Brian answered the door and talked to the guy outside.

I was like, “Who was that?” Apparently it’s some guy going door to door, offering lawn care services.

“That would suck,” he said.

“What?” I asked.

“Going door to door.”

“Not if you’re talented at it!”

And that, my friends, is the reason why talent is important when hiring someone to do a job.

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