First attempt at an audio post - podcast

Check out my First Podcast! I simply read the last post to see how the audio sounded. What do you think? I'm hoping to use this to interview chefs and professionals in my field, so let me know if this seems like a good forum?


Updating Personal Information

I was updating my Facebook "about" page today, and I found that I had written this:
I'm a culinary arts student learning mad skills to try out in the kitchen. I write for a living. No really. So we rely on Josh's income. I write for Livestrong, the Pike Place Market News, and Examiner. I also maintain my blog http://www.peasonmoss.com. I want to go into R&D.
I have loved food all my life, studied nutrition in college, served in several jobs in the Air Force, helped edit a news-magazine, ran a nutrition consulting business, moved to Seattle to do some nutrition consulting and recipe development, taught some classes, and so on. Finally going to culinary school to do what I've always wanted to do. Then I hope I can get into R&D as a chef!
I found this really interesting for a few reasons, and maybe you've already started noticing. Looking back 5 years, it seems that I can say that I have been blessed to stay on the path that I had dreamed of pursuing, and it has turned out to be a path whose journey I enjoy plodding.

Now, as the adage (sort of) goes, "behind every successful (wo)man stands a surprised (--)man," I will say that much credit must be given to Joshua, the best partner in life. The strength he showed when I floundered around post- Air Force and the resolve he shared supporting my career path make him the most valuable partner and biggest stakeholder. I literally would not be doing this if he didn't buy into it.

When I posted that paragraph, Josh had just started at REI, a company he loves working for. He was paid roughly $10/hour. I made $0.15 per word on my writing. In 2009-2010, I think we netted less than $30,000. The only reason I didn't meltdown more often - I did so quarterly - was because he believed that this period in life was an investment in our futures.

I think Josh was right.

Joshua has been able to see that the efforts of schooling and training were building up credit in relationships, in networks, and in skills. I am so grateful.

What have you thought of this journey?


Personal Development: Career Development through Personal Growth

Lately, I've been focused quite a bit on personal development, and I've been feeling that I should share this mental shift and journey with my readers. This year, I started following podcasts and studying classes on EDX to gain knowledge, and one podcast changed my whole focus.

I was listening to Chris Burnham's Lean Leadership podcast to learn more about LEAN, Six Sigma, and continuous improvement. He invited his friend and fellow podcaster Geoff Woods to talk about The Mentee podcast, a series of interviews with Geoff's mentors and successful entrepreneurs, documenting his journey to entrepreneurship and financial freedom. I was listening to the podcast while driving to Sacramento, but I had to re-listen to the podcast when I got back to Chico so that I could write down the observations and tips that Geoff and Chris discussed.

That got me started on a journey in personal growth and development that I wasn't even planning on starting yet. I mean, I was deliberately looking for ways to expand my knowledge, to bring more to the work table than culinary professionalism, leadership and management, and strong organizational skills. What I hadn't bargained for was discovering that there was a strong desire to develop my entrepreneurship and the next level in leadership.

I followed Geoff to his podcast and then followed him to other podcasts when he was a guest on their shows. Those interviews would discuss topics and other resources, which I would then seek. Now, tw weeks later, I'm following The Mentee, The Art of Charm, Entrepreneur on Fire, The Tim Ferriss Show, and Marni's Wing Girl Method - all because I felt compelled by Chris Burnham's interview with Geoff, and Geoff's subsequent connections with other podcasters.

I started a notebook jotting down notes and nuggets of wisdom I hear on the podcasts. I also use it to take notes on some of the leadership books I've been reading. It's somewhat a tried-and-true method for really remembering information, and it's the way that I want to share that learning with you.

An aside: If you actually click on each of the links to those podcasters, you'll probably notice something that was obvious to me very quickly: most of the podcasts are geared towards guys. Yeah, males, men, dudes, dads, boyfriends, husbands, lone rangers. Not surprising that I would find those types of messages interesting - a lot of entrepreneurship seems to target males. I'm disinterested in the social implications and socializing that has seemingly led to this, but it was an observation I made within seconds of listening to the interviews. I've tended towards the assertive, career- and money-inspired aspirations, so the messages can still be understood and applied regardless of the listener's gender.

One strong theme that each podcaster discusses - especially those discussing mentorship - is the issue of mentees wanting to take but not give anything in return. Geoff's method is to honestly approach the potential mentor/current expert, tell the expert what he appreciates about that person's expertise (usually given in the form of a presentation at an event), and ask the expert what Geoff can do to add value to the expert's work. Geoff has pointed out that you don't have to come to the expert with an offer of "here's how I can help you" but to acknowledge that a friendship/relationship is needed to understand how you could help that person. That's the give for the take in a relationship.

The Art of Charm guest Kevin Kermes discussed the key characteristic that mentors wish their mentees would have: action! Taking the advice given and applying it to their lives - or at least giving it a try. Some of the advice is to work hard - put your head down and run hard up the hill. Kevin said that this was a key differentiator between him and competitors. He was willing to put in the hard work to accomplish a task, and when he got to the other side, he saw that few others had done the hard work to get there too.

I have a favorite soccer player on the Sounders, and he's my favorite for his playing style - Lamar Neagle. When he is running down the pitch to get ahead of a pass so that he could set up the next shot on goal, he tips his head down and zooms towards the spot where the ball will be. His eyes are still moving, he's still assessing the play, but he's hauling to the location where he and his teammates agreed that the ball will be next.

And that's what I'm committing to doing: Run hard up that hill or across the pitch to where the ball will be next. I am taking notes. I am reaching out. I'm preparing for the summit and for the next play.


Wine Improves with Age... Do Careers, too?

yes, that's a BDU patterned apron
Over the past year, I've been targeting continued education. If you've followed this blog, you'll know that I have had a varied background and transitioned into food product development in the past five years.

Air Force --> Thrive Lifestyles (nutrition business) --> teaching nutritional science --> Seattle Culinary Academy --> Modernist Cuisine --> Beecher's Handmade Cheese --> Lundberg Family Farms

Along this pathway, I've met some incredible entrepreneurs, chefs, and dreamers. It's been wonderful. I've now started on a pathway of moving upwards in the product development career path, and I love it.

Lundberg Family Farms
From a casual glance, it seems like I play with recipes all day. A closer look will show that I spend a lot of time crunching numbers in spreadsheets and attending meetings about the numbers crunched in spreadsheets. A portion of my time is spent cooking.

Now, as a culinary crossover and now food science crossover, I carry a unique and nontraditional set of skills into my job. I like to market myself as bringing new skills to a team and automatically thinking outside the box, since I wasn't trained to think inside it. The internal dialogue often goes a little differently, but I imagine everyone's does.

from the RCA website

In an effort to fill in some of the gap in food science, I sat for the Research Chef Association Certified Culinary Scientist exam, an exam designed to evaluate and verify one's knowledge base in both culinary arts and food science. I was sure glad I had gone to culinary school and had also asked questions of mentors and friends! I passed the exam at my first attempt, and that sure felt good!

Andrea and Yvonne (back) prepare samples for a tasting
Lately, I've been working on filling in some smaller gaps. I finished an EDX course on statistics - I (heart) Stats, taught by Notre Dame professors - and am completing a DMAIC training course for Quality Engineering. It's been really great to get my brain back into algebraic math - that took a while - but it's also been exhilarating to exercise my brain differently. If you haven't taken an EDX course, you should. It is a program that offers college level courses in topics ranging from Astrophysics to Introduction to Public Speaking. The courses are taught by renowned universities across the globe, and some courses offer certificates of completion, for a small fee. I search it every season for a course or two that I can take to sharpen my knowledge or refresh a past training.

Wine may improve just by sitting around in a bottle (sorry to my sommelier friends for such a dumb analogy), but career improvement takes deliberate steps. This was my first step.

Soon: my next step - mindset changing. Making the leap from young manager to senior manager.

The R&D Team 2014 - Hassan Dwidar, Yvonne Garrett, me, Andrea Zeng