The Man Behind the Cuff Links

My father has always been my role model. Teaching me everything from how to change oil in a car to giving me a great example on how to treat a woman, everyday I learn something new from him. As I get older I am starting to learn how to become a professional and how to conduct myself in the work environment and who better to turn to then my father. He has successfully accomplished many of the goals I have set for myself. One of these goals is being a successful businessman and owner of his own business. I plan on going into business with my younger brother later on in life and to start a company just like my father has done. Even though we are in different fields there is so much I need to learn from him about forming, owning, operation my own business.

Before the Office

Growing up in a middle class area he had a great life growing up in Toledo. He grew up as the baby boy in a house with an older sister and two loving parents that taught him all of his morals. He grew up in the Lutheran church where his mom sang in the choir and his dad gave sermons. They worked extremely hard to provide for both he and his sister. But the bigger impact they had was teaching him how to interact with and treat people. “My father was big into Christmas because it allowed him the opportunity to reach out, care for, and have and impact on more people.” His father was a plant manager for Dixie Crystal Sugar Company and was a very disciplined man who understood how to be work with and manage people but remain humble. I believe this is where he gets his ability to speak with people and make them feel comfortable. This characteristic of interacting is what allows him to be such a great salesman, business owner and perfect example for my brother and I.

He attended an elementary school that was within walking distance from his home and later a high school that was only blocks away. He graduated from Owens Community College, a local university, where he received his Radiological Technologist degree. “I got one B,” he said jokingly but with a twist of regret. He began to talk about the constant competition he was in with his classmates in college. “We had just come out of a test and we started to compare test scores. I always would beat my roommate and on this particular day it was only by a few points. He got so mad he threw all of his papers and pens down the hall way, cursing up a storm, and all I could do was sit there and laugh.” He started to chuckle about half way through that story. But this was just a microcosm of his drive and competitive fervor. He wanted to be the best at what he did and set out to do it. This is one of the many reasons he has been so successful in the business world with no business degree. When he wants something he knows how to put his head and work to attain it.

A Surprise Career

I have always been told surprises are opportunities in disguise. “I really stumbled into the field,” he told me as I asked him how he got started in the x-ray field. He went on to say, “I originally wanted to go into physical therapy but once I found x-ray I realized I loved it. And turns out I was pretty good at it.” He ended up turning that into a solid career path that allows him to provide for his family and brings him great joy. “Love what you do and it will be easy.” He told me to keep that close to me if I, or anyone else, wants to be truly successful at what you do.

His career as an x-ray technologist began in 1982 at Toledo Hospital. There he began to hone his skills and make many valuable relationships that he still has today. This was one thing he had stressed to me “always treat people with respect because you never know when you are going to run into them in the future.” This principal holds true to this day as he runs into people he knows at almost every place he enters. It is evident in the conversations as he engages other people with genuine interest and with the laughs he shares with them. He said that this is something that he implements with people he bumps into or interacts with in the office.

Ten years later in 1992 he began his sales career and E.G. Baldwin as a account manager. “Eighteen months later I was the top salesman,” he stated. This was a significant financial boost for him, my mother, and their new son, me. After he worked his way up through that company he was presented with the opportunity to own his own. In 2001 one he was an owner of Mikron Digital Imagining. This was another opportunity derived from hard work and dedication to achieve the goals he had for himself and his family. “It wasn’t easy but I knew the end result would be with it,” he stated.  He continued to say “that sometimes you just have to do things scared to achieve some of the best outcomes.”

Day in the Life of a Boss

Aside from being a master at soft skills he has an incredible job with in an office that was described as “friendly and like a small family.” He is the president of sales and partner at his company Mikron Digital Imaging. His company sells and installs x-ray equipment into hospitals all across Michigan, Wisconsin, and Ohio majorly. With this wide sale area he has to travel a lot and often refers to his work truck as his “second office.”  When he is in the office he is dealing with and managing “scheduling issues, sales people not wanting to sell, service people having to run home to their wives right at five.” We both started to laugh about that last part. Living this life can be made a little easier however because “business owners can make well into six figures, and a good salesman can make fifty thousand plus commissions.” Immediately following that statement he said, “the money isn’t what gets me through it though, it’s about making the customer happy and providing the best service I can and the best solutions to their problems.”

Once I got passed the background questions and started asking about his day to day the air about him changed. It got lighter and looser as the questions began to get closer and closer to what he does everyday. When asked what was the best part about what he does for a living and faster than I could finish the question, “fire people,” he said in a joking tone. But he then followed that up with “watching my sales people close their first big sales deal and seeing their excitement.” I could feel and see the joy that this brought him and it wasn’t from anything he had accomplished. For as much as he talked about how some of his people drive him crazy, the moments they figured out and succeeded all he wanted to do was celebrate with them. It was evident how much time, energy, and knowledge he puts into others that when they don’t “get it” it’s frustrating but when they do “its complete validation.” There is something to be said for that type of attitude.

Running a business is hard tedious work but when you have had a background of leaders like my father has, it is easy. From early childhood to now he has grown and learned from all of those around him starting with his father and my grandfather. He taught him to be a man of the people which has helped to propel my father in his business ventures. Along with all of the soft skills, talking to people and engaging with them, that he has mastered over time in combination with his drive to succeed makes him the businessman and owner he is today.

“I stretched myself and tried sales and found out that I was good at that too. Next thing you know I was owning four companies.”

-Donald Dotson

Enjoying The Powder

Do you ever dream of flying through the air feeling weightless, hurling through trees and backwoods, or feeling the wind in your face as you pick up speed? If you want to experience any of those feelings try snowboarding. Strapping in for an adventurous ride on each run down the hill is a feeling that never goes away. Snowboarding is the perfect combination of hobby and thrill that makes entices improve, despite all of the wipeouts early on. It is composed of a rich and unique past, tremendous evolution, and an element of self-expression makes it so popular around the world.

The First Snow

snurfer
http://www.phnxboards.com

The roots of snowboarding start in the 1960’s when a surfer from the east coast wanted to know hat would happen if he could put his surfboard on the snow. Sherman Poppen decided to cut down a surfboard to a slightly smaller version to use on the snow. Dubbed the “Snurfer” (snow-surfer) it was a wild success that started a movement. Over the next twenty years the development and distribution of snowboards took off. By this time skateboarders had began to influence the sport and help add dimension and diversity to the culture of snowboarding. To read more about the evolution of snowboarding click here. As the sport gained international attention the need for competitions arose. According to the Olympic webite “The United States held its first national championships in 1982 and hosted the first World Championships in 1983.” It goes on to say “The International Snowboarding Federation (ISF) formed seven years later and the International Ski Federation (FIS) introduced snowboarding as a FIS discipline in 1994.” Later in the article the 1994 Olympics are stated as the first games snowboarding was featured in.

In todays world you have events like the X- Games and the Mtn Dew Tour, which take place all over the world. They also provide events for professional to ride and compete year round. These events give you tremendous access to the riders in a fun spirited atmosphere as well as highlighting some of the world’s best mountains and courses. Many of the snowboarders who partake in these events are from all cross the globe. This helps to expand the sport internationally and encourage people from around the globe to pick up a board and try it for themselves at a mountain or hill nearby. While the best of the best compete in these events, there are smaller competitions at each mountain for non-professionals to compete in. Many times these events will give birth to the next big rider.

What to Wear & Ride

The apparel has advanced significantly from the early days of snowboarding. In the 60’s snowboarders and skiiers had to dress in layers upon layers of sweaters to stay warm. Now with the advancements in fabrics all people need is a snow coat and snow pants. Companies like Burton, Spyder, and Oakley have emerged as leaders in this market. I personally have always trusted Burton and Oakley for all of my outerwear. These brands are improving everything from goggles to socks or from head to toe in every color and style. The clothing industry has lengthened the skiing season tremendously and has become a method of expression for riders. Adorning yourself with the brightest colors and unique outfits has become a norm on mountains everywhere.

http://www.burton.com/default/clash-snowboard/W15-106951.html
http://www.burton.com/default/clash-snowboard/W15-106951.html

After all of the clothes are selected it is time to make an even bigger decision what board to ride on. Advancements in technology have brought snowboards light-years ahead of anywhere the snurfer could have dreamed of. Boards and bindings in today’s market are made of stronger and lighter composites and are built to handle all different sorts of environments. The bend of the board is also important when selecting a snowboard. Burton has a video explain all of the terms and explanations of the types of board bend types. I have always ridden on Burton boards. They are responsive, light, and extremely durable. I still have my first snowboard from ten years ago and ride on it on occasion.

Just as selecting a board is important so is selecting the bindings and boots because they are what connects rider and snowboard. The boots differ from the hard, stiff ones skiers wear because they provide for more movement of the ankle do to the bending that snowboarding requires. These types of boots are much easier to walk in and are often much warmer in colder temperatures. There are stiffer boots for snowboarders but are mainly used in down hill racing. The bindings come in a range of styles and sizes depending on the rider’s preference. Traditionally there are two straps that come over the toes and the ankle that have to be fastened before each trip down the run. To speed things up some bindings allow the rider to disengage the back of the binding with a lever and simply step out of them.

The Process

My start in this sport felt like a gigantic failure. I was twelve and trying to maneuver done some of New Yorks biggest mountains. Needless to say I came down the runs very slow, with a sore backside, and covered in snow. As the years went by and I improved slowly but I still was falling more than necessary. I thought to myself “this has to be better if I can stay upright for more than fifteen seconds.” From that moment on I began to gain more confidence in my snowboarding abilities and I never looked back. Now I can enjoy the destinations my family and I travel to and the incredible feeling each run has to offer.

Snowboarding allows you to embrace your inner daredevil or simply enjoy the scenery as your cruise down the mountain. Getting to enjoy a modern version of a sport that has seen so much change and incredible growth has an infectious energy. It allows people to express them selves with their talent and vibrant colors. It also exposes people to a supportive environment of growth and encouragement. Even though there is a leaning curve in the beginning, once you have mastered it there is know feeling quiet like snowboarding.

Conserving a Creature

Conserving a Creature

Do you ever wonder what animals you never get to see at a zoo? Many animals never make it to a zoo because they become extinct due to a variety of reasons and the Amur Leopard is no different. Also known as the Far East Leopard, the species is listed as critically endangered. This means this species has a high chance of becoming extinct in the wild due to its decreasing prey population and fur poaching. There is an active force of people trying to save this animal while another is trying to harm it. Discovering how and why both groups are making these decisions allows us to peer into the leopard’s environment. As well as practical ways for the public to do their part and help to write a better story for these animals.

Get to Know The Animal

Image from WWF Website

Leopards do not only exist in the rolling plain of the savannah. The World Wildlife Fund (WWF), a leader in the conservation of animals, has a lot to say about the Amur Leopard. These unique subspecies leopards are located in southeast Russia and northeast China. More specifically the Primorye region and the Jilin Province respectively is the small are you can find this small number of leopards. These climates are mixed forest climates with a mix of broad leaf and temperate. This type of an environment provides the Leopard with plenty of roe deer, sika deer and hare to prey on. These nimble yet strong creatures can grow to be seventy to one hundred five pounds and can run at about thirty five miles an hour. In captivity they can live about twenty years and in the wild only ten to fifteen years. If you feel compelled to learn more about these leopards the Denver Zoo has a quick fact sheet that can fill you in.

Why Are They Disappearing

In The Art of War it was said “we must know our enemy.” Everyone understands that poaching is cruel, unnecessary, and harmful to animal species. There has to be more influence on people to commit such heinous acts other than collecting fur, right? According to the Amur Leopard Tiger Alliance (ALTA) the accessibility to the forest that this species inhabits plays a large factor. Natives can can come in and hunt for sport or food with relative ease. They also state that employment in that region contributes largely to the poaching of these beautiful animals.

MAP
Image from the ALTA Reintroduction

“Many local industries in Southwest Primorye collapsed after the fall of the Soviet Union. Collective farming of deer and salmon was reduced, and fur farming and cereal production were discontinued. As a result, many local villagers lost their jobs and turned to the forest as a source of income and food to feed their families.”

This article continues on to discuss the impact of Chinese nationals who “strip the forests of wildlife and other non-timber-forest-products.”

Poaching is not the only problem that these animals are facing. Another major issue is deforestation of the habitat they occupy. This cuts down on area for the leopard to roam but also less room for the prey species. Not only are man and animal competing for space they are also competing for food. Both the WWF page and ALTA page state this to be a problem. These civilizations hunt the same types of prey animals as the leopards do. Because of this skewed food chain it is hard for an endangered species to sustain growth.

Bringing Back the Cats

Benjamin Franklin once said, “By failing to prepare, you prepare to fail.” This was not ALTA’s case what so ever. Their plan of action was astounding and immediately caught my attention. ALTA gave a detailed plan to increase the population of the Amur Leopard into old territories. Contained in this plan were the short-term goals, long-term goals, and the steps necessary to accomplish the long-term goals. The group’s short term will hope to occur in the next few years. They believe with the right funding and political backing that they could have their facilities on the ground and in an operable state. The main long-term goal they have is to release a group of these leopards into an area around the Lazovsky Nature Reserve in Southern Sikhote Alin. The leopards are currently extinct in this region but thirty years ago this was one of their natural habitats. This would take place ten to fifteen years in the future. The primary outcome desired from these actions is to see the population double from thirty to forty animals to eighty. Also have an additional group of thirty leopards form in another area. To accomplish this conservation effort they have mapped out the following steps:

  1. Identify optimal reintroduction areas and release sites.
  1. Build a reintroduction center with breeding/release enclosures and creating the conditions required for breeding, adaptation and successful reintroduction of leopards.
  1. Form a breeding group of captive leopards that will become the founders of the reintroduced wild population.
  1. Take actions to maintain the quality of the leopard habitat including additional protection of prey species and leopards against poachers.
  1. Breed leopards, preparing cubs for life in the wild and releasing them into the wild.
  1. Implement a monitoring system and follow the movements of released individual leopards and the development of the reintroduced population as a whole.
  1. Conduct an educational outreach program targeted at local citizens in order to increase their support for the program, and develop a compensation and conflict resolution program in order to ease tensions when leopards do cause damage.
  2. Ensure international co-operation and support for the program.

This was the start of a one hundred page plan to bring this species back to a healthy population for years to come. To see this plan in its entirety please click here.

What the Public Can Do

Both ALTA and WWF have easy ways for the everyday person to contribute. Each of these organizations has a donations page where you give money, write a message, and receive a small gift as a thank you for your donation. WWF even has the option for you to adopt a Amur Leopard. For a certain price a month you can ensure that that animal is cared for. They even have an option to support a ranger who is protecting these animals. Your donations would go to providing them with the tools and shelter they need while they are out on patrol.

If you want to contribute to stopping poaching and protecting these beautiful animals please click on the link below to take you the respected organizations donation page.

WWF Donations

ALTA Donations

           

Product Review: Jordan Melo M10’s

Photo Above

Finding the Perfect Fit

As someone who has played basketball since kindergarten my feet have been subject to several pairs of shoes. Each pair of new shoes has provided insight to help select the next pair I purchase. The Jordan Melo M10’s has exceeded my expectations. This premium sneaker conforms to the foot and performs well in competition. These are two major factors I look for when selecting basketball shoes.   The M10’s prove that with the right combination of materials, support system, and traction pattern they are premier basketball shoe.

Time to Lace Up

These shoes are classified as “mids” because the main body of the shoe partially covers the ball of the ankle. What I particularly enjoy is that there are upper ankle supports. For a player like myself who has rolled my ankles several times, these pieces add stability to the ankle give the player more confidence when driving or cutting. Working down the shoe, we come to the main body. This is composed of light and rigid materials to keep the overall weight down but remain stable. On the inside of the shoe the cushioning is first class. From the moment I placed my feet in the shoes it felt like they were already broken in. Normally this process of breaking in your shoes normally takes several practices and may result with blisters. To have this feeling from the start is what made me buy the shoes. Continuing down to where the rubber meets the hard wood, the soles. The bottoms of these shoes are unlike anything I have ever felt beneath my feet. It is broken into two main pads connected my a rigid “flight pad.” The pad underneath the toes is wide and incorporates a slightly raised pad because basketball players are constantly on their toes. The heal pad is rigid and adds stability to the ankle.

Who Stacks Up

The M10’s closely resemble the framework of the Jordan XX8 and XX8 SE. The two older models utilized the same rigid structure and a similar lacing pattern to that of the M10’s. These models were strong in design but lacked the advanced materials to really take off. An improvement in the anatomy of the new model was where the most drastic changes could be seen.

Try Them On

Kicksologists writer, Reece Chau’s review gave the shoes an A-. In his over all review, he highlights the exceptional cushioning, support and traction. These factors were key points mentioned in several reviews. Gymrat Performance Reviews page mentioned the premium materials used in the making of this shoe. They also discuss how these materials are implemented into the performance and fit of the shoe.

With these exceptional qualities there were also areas that people did not enjoy. The ventilation was a reoccurring issue in many reviews that I read. This was cause by the use of neoprene, a material that absorbs sweat rather than vent it. Another matter to be aware of is the design of the traction pattern. Many reviews raved about the impressive traction on both indoor and outdoor surfaces. Nightwing2303’s video review highlights that using them on outdoor surfaces can burn down the traction pattern exponentially faster. I agree completely with his assessment of the product and his video appeals to all of the visual learners out there, including myself.

Cost

When the M10’s came out they were priced for one hundred sixty to one hundred seventy dollars. The premium materials throughout the shoes construction warranted the high price. This price fits into the upper price range in todays market for basketball shoes. Sites such as Dicks Sporting Goods, Foot Locker, and Champs have the shoes going for one hundred thirty dollars. Ironically enough over the creation of this entry the Melo M11’s came out. This explains the sudden price drop of the M10’s.

Personal Notes

I have enjoyed this pair of sneakers for over a year now. I have yet to have an issue with ventilation but to some players this is very important. Each time I put them on I am amazed at how locked in my feet feel. I have become increasingly pleased with the use of the inner heal cup. This piece of cushion runs along my Achilles tendon and prevents the back of my foot from sliding or shifting. My feet blister easily and with this extra support it allows me to play more aggressively without having to worry about the future foot pain. I would recommend this pair of shoes to any current or former basketball player looking for a great balance between cushion and rigidity.