Alyssa J Freitas

July 17, 2019

Best Quotes of Downton Abbey

I love Downton Abbey. So much. In fact, back in 2015 when I gave up television for a time, Downton Abbey was my only exception (so I suppose I didn't truly give it up, but anyway). What I love about the show is the wisdom and life lessons packed into every episode. In a previous post I went into detail about something Lady Sybil said: "No one hits the bull's eye with the first arrow," and today I thought it would be fun to share some more of my favorite quotes!
Click to read now or pin to save for later! Check out the best quotes of Downton Abbey to learn some life lessons

"My dear, all life is a series of problems which we must try to solve, first one and then the next and the next, until at last we die" - Violet

I wrote more about moving on to the next problem (the Freitas Family motto) in another post

"Life's altered you, as it altered me. And what would be the point of living if we didn't let life change us" - Carson

Ugh, love this, especially because I am resistant to change more often than not. Because we can't see the future, it's easy to look at change as a scary or bad thing. However, as Carson says, the whole point of living is to grow and develop so I am trying to embrace it more.

"The presence of a stranger is our only guarantee of good behavior" -Violet

Isn't that the truth? Although I write about etiquette and preach about always keeping others in mind, I am no where near to perfect on that front! I snap at my family or allow myself to get carried away with my emotions when I'm with those I'm closest with. It's a good reminder to always behave well, and to have strangers around if you are ever going to deliver news and are not sure how the other person is going to react ;)

"I remember my mother telling me, that in the end, happiness is a matter of choice. Some people choose to be happy and others select a course that only leads to frustration and disappointment" - Mabel

When I hear this quote, the first thing that comes to mind is dating. I dated for six years before meeting Joe and I would often choose a course (read: guys) that lead to frustration and disappointment. A combination of not being right for each other, along with thinking that I could control the outcome, made for a tough time. 

I've realized that trying to manage and control every aspect of my life is what leads to frustration for me. You may have a different attribute that causes you trouble, so whatever it is, identify it and stop choosing it!

"If you must pay money, better to a doctor than an undertaker" - Mrs. Patmore

As someone who always complains about having to pay doctors, I need to bear this in mind...

"Real love means giving someone the power to hurt you" - Branson

I wrote a long post in 2017 about vulnerability (not solely related to romantic relationships!) and it's so freeing once you get the hang of it. Goes along with that relinquishing control thing from earlier...

There you have it, my top favorite quotes from Downton! I am so excited for the movie to come out in September. 

What favorite quotes do you live by?


July 10, 2019

How To Change Jobs The Right Way

In my June monthly recap I included a photo of me in a new office and announced that I'd left IBM to join Looker. If you've followed along with my IBM journey (both my internship and full time experience) you'd probably think I would never, ever leave the company. And frankly, I thought the day that I'd hand in my resignation would be far in the future too. However, it was the right time for me to make a change and I'm so happy I did.
Click to read now or pin to save for later! Check out how to change jobs the right way. Whether you're looking for your second job out of college or are an old vet, here is what you should keep in mind

This post is going to be part story and part advice for how to navigate looking for a new role. I learned a lot through the process and want to share the things I did well and the things I could have done better. Settle in for a long post :)

First for some background. I was working as an Account Executive at IBM in the Watson Financial Services group. I was sourcing opportunities, working with clients to understand their needs, demonstrating how IBM could add value, creating and negotiating quotes, and closing business. I was working with some of the largest financial institutions in the United States and it was an incredible first opportunity for someone out of college. I am so grateful for all that I learned.

The role was not without its challenges, of course. I realized that I wanted to be in a less remote environment (I did not have an office to go to where I could see teammates, only an office for sales people from across the organization) and I wanted to sell a product that I was more passionate about. It look me a long time and countless conversations with Joe and my family and mentors to finally get to the point of being ready to look elsewhere. I was so attached to the idea of being an IBMer for life and proving myself at the company that I lost sight of my own personal growth, wellbeing, and happiness.

I approached my manager and explained my view and why I decided it was time for me to pursue something new. She was understanding and encouraged me to seek new opportunities internally and externally.

Soon after I spoke with a friend of mine who left IBM and went to work at Google. She suggested I consider a company called Looker. Not even a week later a recruiter reached out to me and I started interviewing. Within a month I had secured a job as an Account Executive and handed in my resignation at IBM. Not even a week later Google announced that they'll be acquiring Looker! So now I'll be working with my friend who turned me on to the company in the first place!

Ok, let's talk about what I did well first and then evaluate what I should have done better.

Transparency with my manager

When I called my manager to let her know that I accepted the job at Looker, it wasn't a surprise. I was looking around internally and externally for a little less than a month before I engaged with Looker, and I had already talked with my manager so she wasn't blindsided. 

Her support and encouragement made this process smooth and, aside from her being awesome, the reason I had this support was because of the strong relationship I'd built with her while in my role. Always trying my best, communicating clearly and consistently, and following through on what I said I was going to do set me up for a successful relationship with my manager. 

Clear criteria for what I wanted in a new role

Knowing what you want is hard and takes time. I was constantly battling the idea of not having enough experience to know what I wanted. However, you know the core things that are important to you. Once I understood what I needed in a new role I was able to communicate that to recruiters, managers internally, and those interviewing me. 

Aside from knowing how much you want to make and your skills, get clear on how you want to develop professionally and what is important enough to make a difference to you. 

Strong handle on how to sell myself

I am very proud that I was hired for my current role. There was a certain number of years of experience that the company had in mind, however through conversations to understand exactly what was needed in the job I was able to demonstrate why my experience was valuable and why the number of years was not as relevant. 

When you are faced with an opportunity where you are not the obvious fit, don't be afraid to ask more questions to understand why your interviewer may be hesitant and be ready to clearly lay out how you can address their concerns. 

One of the best things you can do is ask if they have any reservations. You want the interviewer to leave the meeting with no doubt of your capabilities and the more you can clear up immediately, the better.  

Alright, now it's time to take a look at what I could have done better.

Being upfront when there wasn't a fit

I took many opportunities to interview so I could learn more about what was out there and to continue to hone how I positioned myself. However, I could pretty quickly tell when it wouldn't be a good fit for me. I wish that I would have done a better job at communicating early and putting a stop to opportunities that weren't a match.  

It's not fair to drag out an interview process. The company ends up wasting time and so do you. When your gut tells you something isn't right, thank those interviewing you for the opportunity and respectfully withdraw.

Letting emotions run the show

I had so many high and low moments (mostly low) over the last 6 months when I was falling out of love with IBM, despairing over my crushed dream of being a life long IBMer, deciding to look for something new, and finally making a decision. Tears were shed, family and friends were forced to talk in circles, and I made the process more difficult than it needed to be.

I identified so strongly with my job and felt like a failure for leaving. However, I learned that the stakes are never really as high as we think and in the end you have to focus on what is right for you versus what you perceive others will think of you.

Changing jobs, especially for the first time, is daunting. But you will come out of the experience wiser and in a better position than when you started. 

Have you had a similar experience? I would love to hear what you've done when switching jobs. Are there any other topics you'd like me to delve into? 

-Alyssa J

July 3, 2019

June 2019 Monthly Recap

Summer is in full swing! There have been some big moments this month and some simple joys. Let's jump right in to the fun.
Click to read now or pin to save for later! Check out what I was up to in the month of June :)

At the very start of the month my family and Joe went bowling. My parents beat us all, and were very proud.

I FINALLY had my long awaited birthday Cinnabon...5 months later. What can I say? I was waiting for the perfect one and the perfect time.

I headed to Texas with Yukon Training (one of the jobs I mentioned in my How To Manage Multiple Jobs post) to attend a conference and represent the company. Working with Dennis for the past three years has taught me so much and allowed me to hone my sales and coaching skills, and I could not be more grateful for the opportunity. It was also awesome to see the materials I worked on in the flesh!

We took clients to a baseball game and this ended up being the first of two baseball games this month.

Baseball game number two was at the Mets stadium for Joe's friend's birthday. We saw the most draw-dropping sunset.

B R U N C H. Need I say more?

We went to Joe's family home for his little sister Emma's recital. She was fabulous and we got to see Maddi and Dylan, two of Joe's best friends.

I started a new job! So much more to come on this. I'm two weeks in and still trying to get my bearings, but there will be posts about what I'm up to now and some advice from my experience navigating the job search (and resignation) process.

Addison graduated high school and we headed up to MA to celebrate. It was awesome to see the family (all the grandparents!) and to see Addison go from a kid to a full blow adult. He went straight to his first gig the Monday after he graduated and I'm so proud and excited to see him pursuing his dreams.

Right when I came back I got to see Chrystalla and catch up on all the things going on in our lives, especially in the professional realm. It's great to have friends in sales at other companies who instantly understand what we are going through and we can provide each other insight and advice. I especially love Chrystalla's attitude and conversations with her are always a joy.

Sooo, this post was delayed because I was going to a Darling dinner and wanted to make sure it was included in the roundup post. Darling is a company that used to have a magazine (it's no longer being printed because the margins were no good) and has a mission that resonated with me. I went to one of the first Darling dinner's in 2015 and it was one of the greatest experiences of my life, no joke. Since this was just one interaction, as opposed to the full day I had in 2015, my expectations weren't quite aligned, but I'm glad I went.

I've been trying to leave my office to take a quick walk or to eat lunch outside (breaks are encouraged here and I'm seeing that it really does help me to refocus).

This weekend Austen and I met up for a breakfast picnic and it was fabulous. She is such a wonderful person to talk to because she is honest and driven and all around awesome. We both are always on the run, so it was great to find a few hours for us to enjoy each other's company.

Another solid month in the books. What have you been up to?! Check out more monthly recap posts here


June 19, 2019

Back in Time: Richard Somers

This past weekend I went with Joe to his home town to see his sister Emma perform in a dance recital. On the way there, I noticed a sign for the historic Somers Mansion. While we didn't have time to stop, I was curios to learn more about the Somers family, and boy do I have a story for you.
Click to read now or pin to save for later! Learn all about the many adventures of Richard Somers in his short life
Somers Point, New Jersey is named after John Somers and his son, Richard, built the aforementioned mansion. While I'm sure both of these men have interesting stories, today we're going to learn about the brief life of the son of Richard, grandson of John, Richard Somers.

Born in 1779, the youngest child, Richard came into the world at an exciting time. Apparently, his father was friends with Washington and as a boy he was looked fondly upon by the great man. In fact, one of his prized possessions was a ring with a lock of Washington's hair. I would have thought that was a bit strange if I hadn't seen lockets and other keepsakes with hair from Washington and Jefferson in Fraunces Tavern in Manhattan.

Richard went to school in Philadelphia and met Stephen Decatur, and they became best buddies. While Richard was reserved, Stephen was energetic and the two personalities ended up being a perfect match. On the same day in 1798 the two were appointed midshipmen in the navy.

While the friends were talking to one another on the ship, Stephen called Richard a "fool." Richard didn't think twice about it, but later five or six officers refused to drink wine with him. What the heck, he thought. He asked them why and was told that they looked down on him for not responding to Stephen's insult. He went to his buddy Stephen who proposed a peaceful plan for clearing up the misunderstanding, but at this point Richard was intent on proving his bravery and never being questioned on this matter again. He challenged the other officers to a duel, all on the same day and all challenges were accepted.

With Stephen as his second, Richard set out to prove his courage. In the first two duels he sustained injuries on the right arm and thigh. He lost so much blood, that for the third duel he needed to sit down and be supported by Stephen. Richard wounded his opponent and since all the officers were now assured of his bravery, the two or three other duels were done away with.

Richard's next adventure was aboard the Boston, commanded by Captain Daniel McNeill. I haven't been able to find nearly as much as I would have liked about McNeill, but there are a few stories I did uncover that give a taste of what sailing under him must have been like.

They were headed to Europe to meet up with Commodore Richard Dale in 1801 (Somers is 22 at this point). Dale was much younger than McNeill, and McNeill always seemed to show up too early or too late to rendezvous with Dale. For about two years he sailed around the Mediterranean, getting up to all manner of activities. At one point he was at a French port and wanted to test how quickly he could get under way. At the time three of his officers were ashore and three French officers were on board. He decided that was an even split and it was months before the French officers got back home where they had been labeled as deserters. In a more extreme circumstance, he sailed off with Italian musicians on his ship and it took years for them to make their way home.

But back to Richard. He was sent to Tripoli, along with Stephen and somewhere along the way an idea was born to fill a ship up with powder and blow it up among the Tripolitan fleet. And our boy Richard was to lead the way. At the age of 24. This was the plan.

12 men in total were to be part of this adventure (one deck hand stowed away, making 13 in total), with two getaway boats at the ready. His best friend, Stephen, would be in another boat that would support him for as close as they could get. In the darkness of night, Richard set off, but was soon spotted by the Tripolitan fleet and the fuse was set off prematurely, exploding his ship and killing all 13 men, without wounding or damaging the enemy.

In Somers' honor, a number of navy ships were named after him. One in particular was the site of a mutiny...let me know if you would be interested in hearing more about that! Somers, New York was named after Richard and there is a Richard Somers Day in Somers Point each year.

Check out more Back in Time posts here!


Great information from this post came from Naval Institute Proceedings, Volume 35, Part 2 and Heritage History.

June 12, 2019

5 Books to Change Your Life

If you can't tell, reading is a big thing around here. I've shared a few posts on my recent reads and today I wanted to share the best books I've read that have changed my mindset or helped me to become a better professional/friend/all around person. If you're looking for some books to pick up this summer to level up, I've got you covered.
Click to read now or pin to save for later! Check out these 5 books that will change your life for the better

How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie

This is by far the best book I have ever read on personal development and quite literally changed my life. My father bought this for me when I was in middle school and having trouble making friends, and I've read it countless times since then. I even wrote my college essay about what an impact this book had on the way I conduct myself.

One of the lessons I think of most often is how to handle a disagreement. It is best to always keep an open mind (duh), but it's even more important to put the other person at ease and make sure they realize they are being heard. Carnegie recommends using a phrase such as, "I could be wrong, I often am. Let us examine the facts." This puts you on the same team, seeking the answer together. 

Read this book. Highlight this book. And re-read it often.

Also by Dale Carnegie is How to Stop Worrying and Start Living. Definitely also worth checking out!

You Are a Badass by Jen Sincero

This book is my most recent read that my aunt recommended to me. I was talking with her about a big decision I needed to make and the self doubt I was feeling (more to come on this big decision soon!), and she pointed me to the audiobook narrated by the author. I liked it so much that I bought the physical book and read it again! 

While it can be a bit woo woo at times, I appreciated the messages of trusting in your abilities and how to maintain and really believe in a positive mindset.

Who Moved My Cheese by Spencer Johnson

This is another book that helps with decision making. One of my colleagues gifted this book to me and it was so insightful! It's a quick read that illustrates its points by telling the story of mice in a maze. You can think about which personality you relate to and figure out what your blindspots may be. 

The Slight Edge by Jeff Olson

This book is all about how slight adjustments make a huge difference in your results. It's another short book that gets you thinking with some examples and then leaves it to you to apply to your life. When I first read it I found myself thinking about my incremental improvements, but have fallen out of it. I think I'll pick it up again or refer to my notes as a refresher soon!

Simple Rules by Donald Sull and Kathleen M. Eisenhardt

Another recommendation from my father. Along similar lines as The Slight Edge, this book discusses how businesses and individuals can leverage "simple rules" to govern their life and decision making. While the rules are up to you, consciously considering and mapping out the rules that make sense to you can enable you to be more confident, timely, and get better results out of the decisions you make. While the authors could have gotten their points across in 50 pages instead of 200+, it's absolutely worth the read.

Check out some of my posts on decision making here and here

What books have made an impact on your life? Have you read any of these suggestions?