Category Archives: life

Navigating the corporate waters, a look back at the past 15 years

Here I am sitting at a Starbucks, finishing up a 10 day vacation back in Boston, MA and doing a bit of reflecting on the past 15 years. My younger brother, Andrew Ivanov, has just graduated from Boston University.

To think that 15 years ago that was me getting my BU diploma, 2000 was also the year I went on my 1st interview (wearing white socks and becoming the laughing stock of my whole office), landed my 1st job with Raytheon (on June 5th, 2015 I’ll hit my 15 year milestone).

To make it 15 years with the same company is quite something in this day and age and it hasn’t been without ups and downs, but if you put your mind to something you will marvel at what can happen (not at once, I don’t think there are many shortcuts). I now find myself living in Redondo Beach, CA working in a city I knew no one just a couple of years ago.

I have learned a lot of the past 15 years, and am now positively addicted to non-stop learning whether it be from people, books, videos you name it. Commit to bettering yourself and you will be amazed at the heights you can reach. I am proud to say I have been able to overcome my shyness, go from fearing public speaking to absolutely loving it, and am now excited to share with you the tips and tricks I use to better myself in all facets of life.

As I set out to blog on a regular basis I will share with you my story, the things I’ve learned that you might find of use. For those of you that have met me, if you have ideas on what you’d like to see my write about please leave a comment.

Spend less time shopping at Costco or any other store

After several trips to the store where you invariably forget that thing you were supposed to buy or constantly trying to re-write shopping lists I decided enough was enough so I spent probably no more than 30 minutes putting together 3 notes (1 for Costco, 1 for Trader Joe‘s and 1 for the Russian store) in Evernote. Mind you I always on the lookout for strategies on how to most effectively use this powerful tool and have read numerous books on Evernote. As a side note I tagged each note with the shoppinglist¬† tag to make it easy to find my 3 lists any time I need to. A picture of a Costco shopping list put together in Evernote.Having created this once, I now have several things going for me to save valuable time in the future. I print a new copy of this list every time I need to go to the store and underline those items we need. This makes it easy to review what we usually buy and quickly determine what is needed this time around (a peek into the fridge helps as well).

1. Organization by store of what I should buy where. By having a single list in Evernote I can go back in and update it anytime I want to, needless to say I’ve figured out what is cheaper (without sacrificing quality) and more effective to buy at Costco, versus Trader Joe’s and likewise the Russian store which basically summarizes the 3 stores at which we do all of our grocery shopping.

2.  The number of items on each row stand for the locations of where the items are in the store. This becomes yet another time saver, as I always tend to go to the same store and organizing the shopping list in the order of how I walk through the store and taking into account how the items are organized spells even more time savings. For example Fish, Chicken and Bagels are the 1st items I would walk by as I start to make the circle around the store and thus they show up on the 1st row of my shopping list.

3. By having all my lists in one place, I know exactly where to make an update the next time I need to add an item to the list. No more re-creating notes from scratch and forgetting that one main thing I was supposed to get. Today having run out of scotch moving tape, I’m updating my Costco list as this is where I would grab some more or if I can wait a few days Amazon is always a superb alternative (I have Amazon Prime which means FREE 2 day shipping on numerous items amongst other perks).

Having implemented this method for tracking our shopping lists I am happy to say this is one area I find myself quite efficient in, and the more efficient you can become in all aspects of your life the more time you have to spend on that which is most important to you.

Kicking and screaming, sometimes that is the nudge we need

With 2015 upon us I was reflecting on it being 15 years (give or take a few months) since I started working for Raytheon, making this my first real job after graduation from Boston University. If we go back in time 4 years earlier to when I started as a freshman at BU, I was hit with the stark realization that the $20 allowance my parents were giving a week wasn’t going to cut it for making ends meet at college, especially given the fact I was commuting each day and didn’t have the luxury of a meal plan at school.

Shopping Cart

So what was I to do, I had to find a part-time job. I walked into Stop & Shop that was close to my parents house and filled out my 1st job application, with the interview ensuing right after. Back then I was a shy kid who wanted to avoid being put into social situations where I had to talk to strangers, so in my mind I was open to stocking the shelves or doing something other than being a cashier (which I was certain was the one position I could not handle at the supermarket). After the 15 or so minutes that I spent talking to the manager and explaining to him for no good reason why I didn’t want to be a cashier he said he knew the perfect position for me: deli clerk.

In retrospect being a deli clerk not only forced me to talk to strangers but I was also subjected to dealing with very demanding customers who had specific constraints on the size and weight of fish or meat they wanted. Having social interactions as part of my work day turned out to be a blessing in that time went by considerably faster and despite the few less that stellar customers I met some really great people.

The moral of the story here is that sometimes you need to be forced or nudged in the direction that doesn’t seem like it’s the best for you, and in my case this was very fortunate early on in my career before I had a solid understanding of the type of work I was cut out for. As you gain more experience in various things it will become easier for you to make the call on what brings you joy & excitement versus those things that others think you should be doing.

Things happen for a reason, you just don’t always connect the dots.

Earlier this week I stopped by Starbucks for my usual morning iced coffee and something odd happened. I went to pull out a straw from the container of unused straws and this is what I unwrapped. Picture of a defect in a straw.If you look closely you will see that it’s already bent in two places. Instead of tossing it out and grabbing a new one I figured this would be a good topic for my next post (the one you are reading now).

The idea here is that things always happen around us and it’s those things that are out of the ordinary that actually make the biggest impact. Where is the fun in always doing & seeing the same thing. The story gets even more interesting, because before I had a chance to write about my quirky experience I was asked by my daughter to give her the apple juice that she had bought earlier in the day with her mom (my lovely wife).

The weird thing here is that the apple juice carton was missing the straw it should have come with. Now lucky dad (me) happened to have an extra straw in the car waiting to be featured in a blog post. Needless to say the excitement on my kids faces when I showed the straw I had in the car so they could share the apple juice.

The moral of the story here is that wonderful things are always happening around us, if you pause and notice them it’s amazing how things all of a sudden start clicking. I didn’t get to where I am today by accident, but in retrospect it has been a lot of hard work and continuous search for the little things and one day all of a sudden just start adding up when you least expect it.

No matter where you are right now, I recommend you take a break and take in those little things that can make the biggest difference when you least expect it.