Apprenticeship Week 8

I’m constantly amazed by how long I’ve been in my apprenticeship. It’s the end of June already?
Crazier still, my birthday is in two weeks, so I’m almost 19! It’s almost time for another post reflecting on the past year, like I did when I started my blog last July. Tuesday marks this blog’s anniversary.
I have two months at Original One Part, 10 months into my Praxis experience, two days shy of a year blogging, and two weeks shy of 19 years I’ve been alive.

Projects This Week

Last week Josh assigned me a project tracking APS representative visits to body shops. I have to put reps’ recent visits in the sheet so we can see the average number of visits and decide which reps to keep and which reps are not worth the money. (The reps send month-end reports and do tracking with us to ensure we’re getting our money’s worth, too.)
Additionally, I have to make sure the account information is up to date in Salespad, Hubspot, and also listed in the market shop lists. In the spreadsheet document with the APS visits tracker, there are sheets with lists of all the bodyshops in that market that have or are being visited by the reps.
Right now I’m focusing on recording all of the visits from reps that are not already logged and ensuring every shop they visit is on the market shop list. Once that is complete it’ll be easier to go through Hubspot and Salespad and have up to date account information on all sides.
So far I’ve gotten through all the emails from three reps, excluding any emails that came in for this coming week. There’s still countless emails to go through and it’s crazy tedious.
There’s a second part of the project that I haven’t even started, Action Alerts. There’s a whole email folder to go through for that. I have to ask Josh what to do for that, because it’s unclear to me from looking at the emails what I’m supposed to do with them. I still have so much of the first part that I haven’t talked to Josh about this yet.

Challenges This Week

On Tuesday our systems went down for a couple hours. We couldn’t use Salespad or the customer service portal, and the program on Parts Trader that does our auto quoting went down. We had to manually write quotes on Parts Trader using the inventory from our website. The phones still worked, so we had to use old order history to get pricing for people over the phone. We couldn’t give Ted, the warehouse manager, hand written or printed our orders because he couldn’t find the parts to pull with his scanner. Once everything was back up I had three or four orders to put in from Parts Trader, and total we had about fifteen orders go in the log all at once.

Apprenticeship Week 7!

This was not supposed to come out before the post I’m writing about week 6/FEEcon. But here we are.Last week I only worked two days and the rest of the week was spent at or preparing for FEEcon. This week I worked about 8:40 or 8:45-5 and today I worked 8:40ish to 6.

Projects:

I have some work and “personal” projects happening this week and going forward.

Work:

Before I went to Atlanta I was assigned a project inputting old customer feedback into the Salespad CRM tab. There were probably close to 300 lines in the spreadsheet. Now there are about 10, all instances that I couldn’t find the account it went to. I searched using the name of the body shop first, but some, like Fender Mender, Caliber, Service King, and ABRA have too many shops to find with the main part of their name. Then I tried searching the invoices using the shop name and looking at the invoices from around the time of the feedback. Nothing matched. Everything that did match is up to date and recorded.

Today the main manager, Josh, showed me a new project he needs me to do. It’s massive and will take me quite a while to get through. He connected me to a folder in his inbox containing lists of shops that APS representatives visit in the various city-specific markets we’re targeting. I have to record the number of shops visited in the market on the specific day and update the information we have about each shop in the APS spreadsheet, Salespad, and Hubspot.

I’ve decided to tackle the project in what is hopefully as efficient a manner as possible.

  1. I sorted the emails by sender so I’m only dealing with a certain set of markets at a time. I check if it’s a days list or a weeks list of visits. I count the number of shops and divide by the days if necessary. I put the number(s) in the correct box(es) on the APS visit count sheet.
  2. Then I go to the sheet with the market’s shop list, find each of the shops from that email and check them against Salespad for information. I’m not creating the missing accounts yet.
  3. I categorize the email in Outlook with the green “Complete” I created as well as the market label. If/when someone else becomes the owner of this project in the future, it will be easier for them to see what was put in the sheet and which market the information belongs to. The Complete label also prevents me from forgetting which emails I’ve already processed the information for.
  4. When I finish the emails about APS visits and possibly the other emails that I need to ask about Monday, this will be the next or last step: Go through each of the market shop lists and make sure there are matching, up to date Hubspot and Salespad accounts for them.

Personal:

I realized the other week when the creator of Blurt, Corey Gwin, was the guest speaker for the Praxis Wednesday call that I needed to get back to writing regularly.

Then at FEEcon, I lamented the fact that I had not been working toward my writing goals while taking notes in the Creative Track breakout sessions I attended. (More on that to come in my post specifically about FEEcon.) I also got an idea for a new blog. I haven’t talked about my idea for that blog with anyone yet, so while I definitely plan on starting it, I want to get some feedback first.

I’ve also decided to take a different approach to writing my novel — I want to try writing a bunch of short stories that take place at various points of the story and then stitch them together. With this I could either publish it as a sort-of-disjointed-but-connected set of short stories or use this to circumvent the problems I’m having with what comes next. I have some idea what needs to happen, but I’m struggling with the immediate next steps for the characters. This would allow me to skip to wherever I want to write and come back.Basically, I will be getting back into writing.I’m probably going to do some design work for a media business my dad and cousin are trying to start. They have a flier my cousin paid someone on Fiver to make, and I told my dad about Easil. Once I get a hold of making writing a habit and becoming more productive, I want to practice design again by making my own blog post images.

Other Updates:

I found out on Friday that my car totaled so I’ve been taking the MetroLink to get from IL into St. Louis almost right next to where I work. I learned today that it’s more dangerous than I realized. I knew there were some questionable stops, but at the station nearest my work, someone was shot recently. So I will definitely not be taking the Metro any longer than I need to. Because I was rear ended a couple weeks ago, I’ve had to learn a lot. I interacted with insurance, an ABRA from a customer side, applied for a loan, looked for a car, and tomorrow I’m going to look at some cars I found.

Conclusion:

It’s been a really crazy week, but it’s been good. A lot is happening, and while it can be a mixed bag sometimes, I’m enjoying the ride and looking forward to the adventures that await.

Apprenticeship Week 2

Yesterday I finished my second week at Original One Parts!

Learning Inbound Calls

This week I started learning how to take inbound calls.

Monday I read the training material but didn’t actually answer the phone. Tuesday I took my first couple calls. Wednesday through Friday I took more calls and got more comfortable. I still have a lot to learn but I’ve learned from listening to the rest of the team take and make calls and taking some calls myself.

I was not walked through our process for recording the calls we take, but I figured it out. Tuesday and Wednesday I hadn’t been told I needed to put the calls I take on the log, but Thursday and Friday I realized it’s a great way to show my work in addition to it being important for the team.

We put in our initials, the name of the person who called, the insurance company they’re associated with (if it’s an insurance company rep calling us), the part they called about, the price of that part, and any notes from the call.

Hubspot and Salespad Account Information Project

I continued last week’s project of going through old orders and updating accounts in Hubspot and Salespad accordingly. I’m almost finished going through the previous sales team member’s papers to complete this project.

When I find duplicate accounts in Salespad, which happens frequently, I was emailing Tim, who is able to merge them. There’s a high volume, though, and sometimes he is unable to merge accounts because they’re both/all connected to CCC (a parts ordering platform) and have different ID numbers. To make it easier for him to see what needs done and keep track of what’s been merged and what the new account numbers are, I made a spreadsheet. I have the company name, the new account number, the accounts that need merged, and a spot for notes about the accounts or why they can’t be merged if they can’t.

Other Places I See to Create Value

I found out this week that our marketing “team” is just Kyle. He was working in the sales office some this week and I learned that he gets anything somewhat marketing related put on his plate and he’s the whole department. Once I master my position and am great at taking inbound calls and possibly starting to learn outbound calls, I want to leverage myself to take up some of Kyle’s extra work. I wanted to find a marketing position for my apprenticeship and this could be a good way to get my feet wet and start learning while also freeing up Kyle to do more of his more important tasks.

Learning Japanese with Duolingo – 1 Month

Alyssa Wright shares what she has learned in Japanese using Duolingo for just over a month.

I’ve been learning Japanese on Duolingo for about a month now. I’ve taken it slow, taking my time so what I learn sticks.

I’ve learned some handy basics so far, but the coolest thing I’ve done is make this meme:

I shared in on Twitter when I created it, and actually received correction to the text I had. I had a mistake before, but I also had a chance to learn from and correct that mistake.

I remember reading that Japanese fluency requires knowledge of about 2000 kanji the last time I started learning some Japanese. With Duolingo, in just a month a learned 19 to get me started.

  • 水 (water)
  • 食べ (eat)
  • 中国 (China)
  • 日本 (Japan, can be paired with 語 to be Japanese)
  • 飲む (drink)
  • 人 (used in constructions to say someone is from a place)
  • 学生 (student)
  • 先生 (teacher)
  • 私 (I)
  • 語 (language)
  • 何 (what)
  • 英 (English)
  • 名 (name)
  • 一 (one)
  • 二 (two)
  • 三 (three)
  • 時 (time)
  • 今 (now)
  • 分 (minutes)

There should be one more on the list but I forgot what it meant and how to use it. So I have some review to do to there.

Japanese is definitely a difficult language to learn, but I’m making progress. In one month I learned how to talk about being from certain places, how to talk about time, and how to talk about food. Now I just need to learn how to ask about the bathroom and I’ll be all set!

This was just my first month of learning Japanese using solely Duolingo. As I progress I plan to incorporate other resources such as Tofugu, Youtube videos teaching Japanese, and videos from Japanese people in Japanese.

Recap: Forward Tilt Ep 40

This is part of a series of posts called Recap. In it I will share my notes on the content I consumed followed by my response. The content could vary from a podcast to an article to a Youtube video to a book I read. When applicable, I will link to the content.
I’ve also responded to Episodes 9, 29, and 36.
Episode 40 is called the Rough Draft Mindset. I’ve listened to this episode twice, first early on in Praxis and again now that I’m entering Placement.

Notes

Having raw material to work with is easier than starting from scratch. Early in the program, Praxis participants build some beginning things. First instinct is to ask open-ended questions for ideas. Once there is a rough thing, it’s easier for people to give feedback for improvement. It’s so much easier to edit when you’ve got something started. Before you seek input and advice, have a rough draft. Difference between surveying people, which is abstract, versus creating a prototype and offering something tangible. Isaac Morehouse’s son wanted to start sandwich business. The first attempt got one order, so he brought free samples and got 30 email addresses of people who liked his sandwiches and wanted to order next time.
When you want info and/or feedback, come with a rough draft. Don’t schedule a call about your idea. Have the first draft, have something tangible created and ask for feedback on it. If you get a bunch of generic feedback, you’ll be less likely to act on and talk yourself out of it. If you do a bit, you get a taste, you’re more likely to be able to adapt, respond, and not get analysis paralysis before you’ve even started.
When you have real tangible problems you can get real tangible feedback. Don’t just present an idea, ask for feedback on a rough draft.

Response

It was easier for me to build my pitch deck from a template than from scratch. When I got stuck, I looked at some of the other participants’ decks to see how they approached the deliverable. Before I shared my deck for feedback, I talked with Hannah Frankman, the pre-program advisor about an aspect I was struggling with. After I had feedback from other participants, I edited and refined my deck. Having a template and examples of what I was building (a rough draft of sorts) made it easier for me to build my pitch deck.
I’ve started from scratch on a lot of projects and had to build the base for them myself. In creating N’Zembe, I first had to decide how many planets there were, what they were called, and which of them supported life. Then I was able to expand to the size of each, the length of their rotations and revolutions. From this base I can create the geography and figure out where people live in order to create the history. To go with the history, I am creating the first language, the origin story of the language and the writing systems, etc. I keep building on and with what I’ve already created in order to create more.


Social Media and Attention

We all know that social media can be a time suck. That we should spend less time on it. That it can ruin our attention spans.
I’m finding that to definitely be the case.

I stopped using Discord because I was wasting a lot of time whenever I logged in. I had been spending hours talking to people, reading messages, etc. Then I stopped. Not even intentionally, but I got so busy with Praxis and everything I was doing I never thought to log in.
I went on yesterday and remembered why I quit.

I stopped using DeviantART sort of accidentally, similar to my unexpected unplanned leave from Discord. I got busier, so I didn’t have time to go on. I wasn’t posting, so I wasn’t wondering if people were commenting or favoriting my posts.
I was on briefly the other day and was surprised by how many comments I had as well as how many people were still interacting with some of my posts.

I’ve been spending more time on social media. Not on purpose. I go on and scroll. I read the posts, look at the pictures, sometimes hit the like button or leave a comment. On Twitter sometimes I’ll read a thread on a controversial post, or something I find fascinating. On Facebook sometimes I’ll look at the comments and it’s either a huge fighting mess or people say some fun things.
Either way it’s wasting my time. And I can tell that it’s making me more prone to distraction.

I’m trying to read through Breaking Smart Season 1 (for Praxis, but I also want to read it). I keep getting distracted. When I got to that piece of content, I wished it was a video series instead of articles. Reading articles felt like it would take so much more time.
That could be because I’ve gotten into the habit of using watch time to also do something else, like knit, color, or draw. I love that I can consume content while doing something else I want to do. In fact, I don’t knit or color unless I’m consuming some kind of content, be it for entertainment or information.

I can see the correlation to social media, because when I’m getting distracted, it’s with a desire to open Facebook or Twitter or Instagram.

I’m not going to quit all social media, in part because I use it to promote this blog and connect with people. I am going to cut back. By paying attention to the time I’m spending on social media and being tactful about when I allow myself to go on, I can limit the amount of distraction it gives me.