Alyssa J Freitas

October 18, 2017

How To Guard Your Time Like A Minimalist

Weekdays: 5:40. Wake up. Shower. Makeup. Hair. 6:10. Pack lunch. Eat breakfast. Get dressed. 6:40. Walk to the bus stop. 7:30. Arrive in the city. Walk to work. 8:00. Sit down at desk and start the day. 1:00. Maybe take a lunch break, maybe eat at desk. 5:30. Walk to the bus while calling mother. 6:00. Sit in traffic. 7:00. Eat dinner. 8:00 FaceTime friends and boyfriend. 9:00. Collapse into bed and read. Repeat.

Saturday: 7:30. Wakeup. Browse social media. Eat. Shower. 9:30. Go out with boyfriend for the day in the city.

Sunday: 2:00. Get on the train. 2:30. Get picked up. Go to the market. 3:30. Get home. Freshen up. 5:00. Meet up with a friend for dinner. 8:00. Arrive home. 9:00. Collapse into bed and read.
Click to read now or pin to save for later! Do you find yourself running around without a second of rest? It may be time to reassess how you spend your time and take a look at your schedule through the eyes of a minimalist
I have a strong feeling that many of you will look at this schedule and think to yourself, "Yep, looks about right." We're no strangers to packing our days with appointments and work and hanging out with those we love. But so often we are missing essential time to ourselves. The precious hours to browse our favorite blogs or take a walk or just exist with the absence of an impending "next thing to get to."

Very quickly we get to the point where we don't have a single second to reset and relax, leading to exhaustion and lowering our ability to be effective in our work and present in our lives. Especially if you're in the same boat as me with a good amount of travel (my schedule above didn't reflect those weeks where I'm flying, too!), it is impossible to maintain this pace without there being consequences on your performance.

This doesn't have to be an inevitable cycle. Instead, by evaluating how you spend your time and what actually contributes to your life you can guard your time and insert necessary whitespace. While I am extremely good with being a minimalist with my possessions and online life, it's a lot harder to admit that I can't go, go, go 24/7 and actually need some time to rest. Here's how I have started to come to make adjustments.

Assess your schedule

There's no denying that I live by my calendar, but being a slave to your schedule isn't beneficial. In fact, it's downright damaging. Start by taking a look at what you do on a daily basis and determine what is contributing to your personal growth and happiness. Figure out if the rest can be eliminated (I know that picking up dry cleaning isn't making you a better person, but there is some stuff that is necessary, even for a minimalist) and make adjustments accordingly.

Get creative

I've already written an extensive post on making the most of your commute, and can't stress enough how important it is to make the necessary parts of your day work for you. You can also get creative by rearranging and merging your calendar. For example, I normally wait until I get home after work to call friends, but have recently started to walk to a park and FaceTime them during a lunch break. Yes, I've actually started to take my lunch break (sometimes...) because the fact of the matter is that working relentlessly without taking a break damages my productivity and effectiveness and isn't worth it.

Book time that is just for you

I decided that every weekend I needed at least one morning or afternoon to myself. No meeting up with friends. No running errands. No expectations. During this time I do whatever I feel like, which is most often writing in my journal or reading or blogging or going in circles on the internet. This is my time where I can reset my mind and do whatever my heart desires and it's glorious! Maybe you need a whole day or just an hour, but we all need some solo time and if you have to schedule it, so be it.

While some weekends I can't find the time, or end up making plans despite my best intentions, I try to come home a little earlier or say no to an after work activity during the week. It's hard to stick to 100% of the time, but when I do carve out that alone time I am happier and more well rested. I have a feeling you will be too. 

Embracing a minimalist mindset for your schedule (does this actually improve my life? why am I spending my time on this?) takes some getting used to, but helps you to be a happier and more effective professional, friend, daughter, girlfriend, person. 

How do you make time for yourself? What helps you to stay sane and recharge?

-AJF
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October 11, 2017

IBM Summit Program: Weeks 15&16

Check out weeks 1&2, 3&4, 5&67&89&1011&12, and 13&14 here!

A quick note before jumping into the post. As you know, I’ve been blogging every two weeks throughout my training. After this week I’m going to switch to every three weeks because that will work best with my travel schedule and bring us to the end of my Summit experience nicely. I know it will be incredibly hard to have to wait a whole three weeks to hear from me again, but I have confidence that you’ll make it.

The last two weeks have been mostly landing team focused (more on that in a second!) with some of my formal Summit responsibilities mixed in. I love the way the program is designed to get you started on the team you’re working with in phases, while continuing your general sales training.
Click to read now or pin to save for later! These past two weeks included a data center tour, accepting a position on a landing team, and meeting Pepper! Check out how the IBM summit program is progressing
Last week my partner John and I did a presentation on the book Getting to Yes for our Summit manager. We’re learning about negotiation skills in preparation for our next in person Global Sales School (GSS) role plays. This exercise also helped us to work on a remote team and do a virtual presentation (my first!). It was fun to pick a scenario and discuss how different negotiation tactics would be helpful. When I was in college (back in the day) I took a course where Getting to Yes was the textbook, so it was awesome to dive into the principles again and get an even better understanding of how it can be applied in the professional world.

Next week we’ll be going to Dallas for a course on communication and presenting based on financial research. In preparation each team was assigned a company and had a discussion with the IBM client executive (the person in charge of managing the IBM relationship) on the account. Learning about the organization’s priorities and goals from the client exec was helpful and I’ll be interested to see how it all plays out when it’s our turn to communicate these imperatives next week.

Another GSS task for this week was turning in and presenting the work we did on developing a solution for a client scenario. We had to choose the technical elements to include and create supporting documentation to show the client that we had the best offering for their needs. It’s always good to get a closer look at the technical side that I don’t have as much experience with.

Speaking of the technical side, we went to visit the IBM data center in Poughkeepsie. To say I was impressed is an understatement. First off, when we walked in we met Pepper (although she wasn’t turned on to talk, she was just quietly hanging out) and were introduced to our guides for the day. We got to tour two separate data center buildings, as well as the manufacturing center and the client center.

It wasn’t quite like I imagined a data center to be. In my mind I was going to enter an actual warehouse, with high ceilings and be able to look out into rows of mainframes. Instead, it was a maze of mainframes, with different temperature controls, all humming away. Still impressive, although different than my imagination.

The manufacturing center was my favorite because we got to see exactly how certain elements of our mainframes are produced and I loved hearing about how the process has changed over the years. Our guide, Glenn Podgurski, told us that when he joined over 25 years ago there was a major production line and the process was run by countless people. Now when a mainframe is built, it take a matter of days to assemble by a small team. I also think it’s great that during the busiest month of December, other employees with technical roles in the data center will come back to where they all started in manufacturing to help out with the extra volume.

As part of our data center day, we also got to have a discussion with Jose Castano, the VP of IBM z and LinuxONE. It was great to hear from someone who made a career at IBM in different functional areas and to ask all manner of questions, from career advice to the future of certain solutions. We also participated in quick sessions about storage, cloud, z hardware, and Spark that were great continuations of what we saw during the day.

The big news of the past two weeks is that I am on a landing team and know what market I’ll be selling to after Summit is over! I have accepted a position with the Watson Financial Services team and am very excited to be part of an emerging group in IBM. Looking forward to keeping you all posted on what I learn and experience now that I've narrowed down my focus. Have a great weekend, and I’ll be back in three weeks!

-AJF
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October 4, 2017

College Fashion Night With Spindrift

This post is outside my usual topics because I just had an unusual experience (at least for me). I was invited to College Fashion Week by one of the sponsors, Spindrift sparkling water, and found myself surrounded by fashionable girls and trendy brands on the West side of Manhattan.
Check out my experience at college fashion week with Spindrift! #sponsored #realfruittastesbetter #collegefashionweek https://www.pinterest.com/spindriftfresh/
Luckily, Austen was able to join me (you'll remember my friend Austen from way back in the day with this story, and can check out our collaborations here and here, as well as our adventure auditioning for the Bachelor. Spoiler: we didn't make it on to the show) and she was the perfect companion. From teaching me how to use Instagram stories (yes, that is something I am still learning), to helping me snag a front row seat (note: there were only two rows), to upping our cool factor by having girls recognize her from her blog, I was so grateful she was there.   

After a catchup dinner beforehand, we walked over to the venue and got to skip the line because we're VIPs, don't ya know. With my press badge and our gift bags in hand, we entered the space that included sponsor stations, bright lights, and some of the best dj-ing I've heard in a while, compliments of Taela Naomi.

Our first stop was the Spindrift bar that housed their seven flavors of real fruit infused sparkling water. As some of you may know, the only beverage I drink is water (or a milkshake or hot chocolate, but those are desserts) so this was right up my alley. Their station looked like a perfect shot out of their Instagram, which if you're not already following you should check out for recipes and colorful photos! Austen and I spent the rest of the VIP hour collecting goodies from all of the sponsors and sipping on our Spindrift drinks out of the adorable straws. The emcee of the event said it best "It's hard to find a more Instagram-able product than this."


I love the story of Spindrift's name. The founder Bill was a sailor (!) and named the company after the whitewash of breaking waves, to invoke the idea of refreshment and the bright, real flavors that are hallmarks of their products. To give Spindrift a try, you can use their store locator here.

I ended up gathering far more beauty products than I know what to do with and had such a good time running around taking photos. It's amazing how just putting on a "press" badge made me feel like an insider. Oh, also, I learned from Austen that the background above is called a "step and repeat." Not quite an insider yet, but I'm getting there haha

Other highlights of the night included ice cream from Shake Shack (my FAVORITE burger place) and of course, the fashion. I loved that the models were all real college women and that the looks were accessible and I could envision them on a campus.

A big thank you to Spindrift and Her Campus Media for sponsoring this post and inviting me to an awesome night. And a huge shout out to Austen for being my fashion show sensei.

-AJF
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September 27, 2017

IBM Summit Program: Weeks 13&14

Check out weeks 1&2, 3&4, 5&67&89&10, and 11&12 here!

Last week I went back to school. Well, not exactly, but it certainly felt like it. Fresh pencils, workbooks, and highlighters lined the tables in the conference room where my fellow summits and I spent the entirety of last week. It was our first “Top Gun” training session in the Palisades, NY where we learned about systems and platforms, including both what IBM offers and the landscape of the marketplace.
Click to read more or pin to save for later! The first Top Gun training is under our belt! Learning about systems and platforms this time around, as well as meal planning and how to maximize your impact on your territory
Sitting in the front row, my usual territory to make sure I am engaged the entire time, we began with a pretest. Although I was slightly above the mean, let’s just say that we were all starting out with a long way to go and would have to study for our daily quizzes and final exam. The first day we covered z Systems (mainframes) and power systems, as well as heard from a summit graduate who is a tech seller about his role and from an executive speaker.

On day two we moved into storage, compliance, technology support services, and dipped our toes into cloud. The following day we completely dove into cloud, learning about our cloud infrastructure and platform portfolio, our managed services, and hybrid cloud (which was my favorite presentation). Our presenter for hybrid cloud showed us how you can easily use APIs offered on Bluemix (IBM’s cloud) to create apps with sensors and natural language and translation and a whole host of other capabilities.

On the fourth day, we went into analytics and big data. IBM’s solutions and corresponding services were presented, rounding out the final information we were tested on. It was fun to put on my favorite study playlist from college (oh college, the good old days of 4 months ago) and get ready for the exam. I know it may seem strange to use the word “fun,” but when you are going over information you are actually interested in, I find studying to be quite enjoyable. Sitting in my room in the conference center where we’d all been eating and learning and staying together, I felt like I was completely immersed in IBM. Not to mention it was like a campus with a lake and walking paths through the woods and recreation space.

After the exam we all went out on the town to celebrate and I had such a good time talking with my peers (when the main subject wasn’t systems and platforms any longer). Interacting with people from across the country, with all different backgrounds, always makes for wonderful conversation. I especially loved talking with Austin (subtly slipping in a shout out here) about how work ethic and dedication will play such a big role as we continue to learn the technical side of our role. And how, at the end of the day, everything is going to work out just fine in our careers even when we are feeling especially challenged.

On the last day we had another executive speaker and learned about critical situations that sellers have to face when things go wrong for our clients. We parted ways, but not before taking the picture above using Paul’s drone!

This week was pretty packed each day, which is exactly how I like it. I’ve been listening to webinars more frequently to learn tips and tricks for the CRM (customer relationship management) system IBM uses in anticipation of being in the field and living by tracking my sales activity. On Monday night I did take a bit of a break from my usual work to go down to Astor place to learn about a wellness app that IBM makes available to employees called Zipongo for meal planning. While I don’t think I’ll start using it any time soon (with all of my travel and visiting friends I’m not home nearly enough to do this. Also, I have a feeling that ice cream for breakfast wouldn't really fit in a meal plan and I need to have the flexibility for those sort of days), it is good to know about for the future. I appreciate how IBM doesn’t just say that they want employees to lead a healthy lifestyle, but actually enable us to improve.

Much of this week has been spent in preparation for upcoming training. With a presentation next week on negotiating tactics and a financial selling workshop with prerequisites on the horizon, I’ve been checking off many items on my to-do list. Much of my energy has also been dedicated to working with a few sales teams to maximize their in-territory impact through account research, prospecting, and identifying ways to partner with other teams for mutual benefit with complimentary solutions aka building lots of spreadsheets and loving every second of it.

I’ve also been continuing to connect with new people regularly, including sitting down with one of the presenters from Top Gun to ask a whole host of questions. It’s great when you can talk in person, and I love coming into the office every day. Some of my fellow summits and I formed a team to suggest how our office space can be improved to promote collaboration and made a video with our ideas to enter a contest. Wish us luck that we win some money to make it happen!

-AJF

September 20, 2017

Public Transportation Etiquette

Since graduating and starting work full time in the city a good amount of my time is spent in transit. From bobbing and weaving as I navigate my daily walks through midtown, to the bus, to the subway, I am constantly surrounded by other people. I am a self proclaimed city lover and adore being where the action is, but when you spend 3+ hours a day commuting (my claim to fame as I live at home in Jersey with my parents to save money. Those student loans aren't going to pay themselves, ya know. Check out how to make the most of your commute if you're in the same boat as me), you just want everyone to abide by the rules of etiquette. I doubt that the worst offenders will find their way to my blog, but for those of you who want to make everyone else's commute enjoyable, or at least more bearable, here are my top etiquette tips for public transportation!
Click to read now or pin to save for later! Here are the top etiquette tips you need to know when embarking in to the crazy land of public transportation

Please, my goodness, do not play your music out loud

I was on the subway, early on a Sunday morning, and there was a man playing loud trap music through speakers. He wasn't performing, he wasn't taking song requests, he was just behaving obnoxiously. I mean, there were children around and he's there casually playing music where the f-bomb was continually dropped. I wasn't the only one bothered by this; once he got off the subway a woman made two new friends right in front of me as they all complained about this rude man. Soooo don't play your music out loud, please and thank you. 

Take up as little space as possible

There is nothing quite like the subway at rush hour when everyone and their mother are trying to get home. That means that you are required to take up as little space as possible, no excuses. Hold you bag close to your body, file into the subway completely (no lurking at the door), and make as little noise as possible.

When it comes to stairs and escalators, leave the left side open to the power walkers

Being in the city makes me want to walk as fast as possible and find every short cut and weave through people like someone is chasing me. I know not everyone feels this way, but to make space for those who do, please stay to your right if you are going to go slowly and leave the left open to the speed demons.

Let people get off before you push your way in

It seems simple enough to understand that when you let people out there will be more room for you inside, but for whatever reason, this continually seems to escape the most stubborn of subway riders.

Don't stop moving, or if you have to step toward the wall

People moving through a subway, bus, or train station is a carefully orchestrated dance and you destroy it when you stop in the middle to consult directions and signs or who knows what. Simply step to the side and get out of the main flow of traffic.

Use common sense

When it comes down to it, just use your common sense and our golden rule of etiquette: always strive to put others at ease.

What are your etiquette rules for public transportation? Do people do anything that drives you mad?


-AJF