Author: Jess

My Journey

Probation to Promotion


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Hello! Wow, it’s been a while since I have written, so welcome back! I felt like today’s topic was extra important because my one year anniversary of being promoted to a finance manager just passed. It still blows my mind on the daily that I am a finance manager at 29 years old!!! The journey has not been an easy one, but rather one filled with a lot of tears, dragging myself through the muck of life, and finding the courage and bravery inside of myself to use my voice in a corporate environment.

In November of 2010 I was a recent college graduate embarking on her first ever career job. I began as a staff accountant at the former gaming company, THQ. I was surrounded by some amazing, hardworking individuals who to this day I am extremely thankful for. They helped shape the beginning of my career and saw something in me that I, at my young age, didn’t fully see in myself. Sometime around spring of 2012 things started to shift in the company. THQ was heading towards bankruptcy and a lot of upper management was leaving the company. With that came a change in my management chain. For a while things were great, but then I came back from vacation and was called into my manager’s office. I was being put on probation. My world crumbled beneath me. What I had I done? It turns out that during our year end close I made a mistake on an accrual. A mistake that came from the information I received from the finance department. A mistake that my reviewer didn’t catch, the manager didn’t catch, the controller didn’t catch and the auditors didn’t catch. With the demise of our company in sight they needed someone to place the blame on and that blame fell on my shoulders.

As part of my probation, weekly and bi-weekly meetings were set in place with the Sr. Accountant and my Manager. During our weekly meetings the Sr. Acct. would tell me that I was progressing and was doing great work, but then during our meetings with my Manager the complete opposite was said. I was making more and more mistakes and I wasn’t picking up on simple tasks. I just wasn’t cutting it. I felt betrayed by this person. I confided in a couple of people at work, those who saw the best in me. They were shocked and told me that it was the Sr. Acct. who was in fact struggling. In their opinions I was the stronger asset out of us two and I was a threat to job security.

After a couple of months on probation HR called me down and gave me an ultimatum. I take a job in the AP department or I pack up my things and leave that day. Man, that was a really hard decision to make. On one had I was miserable and didn’t want to take a $15,000 pay cut, but on the other hand I had student loans and no job on the horizon. I ended up taking the job, which shocked everyone in the company. I was pulled into many closed door meetings to ask me why I was taking a job beneath me, my skill set, and one that wasn’t projecting my career. Lying through my teeth I grinned and said I felt it was the best move for me.

What stung the most was the people who put me on probation told me that they were glad I took this job because I would straighten the department out and that I would be manager of the department in months. They knew I had the skills to make it. How do you go from putting me on probation to rooting me on?! To make matters worse, HR and my old manager promised to pay me my higher pay while I was training my replacement, but when it came down to getting my paycheck they told me I wasted time and took longer than needed to train this person and so I didn’t deserve the pay. My only saving grace was the upper management who saw my strengths and and pulled me onto projects that were needed for the bankruptcy, despite the objection from my old team. I was favored above them and so it felt nice to give them a little slap to the face.

Two months later I found a job, that included a promotion to Sr. Financial Analyst, at Universal Music Group and I began working there at the end of January 2013. I am coming up close to my five year anniversary here and I can say that without a doubt this company has been the greatest step in my career. Since day one the people on my team push me, pick my brain, and teach me more than I could have ever imagined. Amazing things are happening at this company for me and I am shedding more and more of the pain leftover from my THQ days.

I remember after my first year here I got called into one of my manager’s offices. I was beyond nervous that I was going to get into trouble for something. To my relief she wanted to tell me that after all of my hard work and dedication to my job over the last year she wanted to give me a raise. I kept my cool, but inside I was having a solo dance party! Immediately I ran to a friend in the company and told her what happened. She proceeded to tell me that I had the highest paid discretionary bonus in our group. This company was seeing something in me!! Could it be true? Could all of my doubts and and fears be behind me? The positive feedback I was getting from my coworkers solidified the feeling that I wasn’t the problem at THQ, but rather I was just a threat.

Since my first year here at UMG many changes have taken place. Our payroll accountant left the company and I was gifted the responsibility to manage our payroll systems. Then our department went through an outsourcing transition and I was tasked with training our team in India on our overhead entries. Both of these transitions allowed me to take on more of a leadership role, preparing me for my biggest role to date.

About a year and a half ago our VP was replaced and our central team was split down the middle between accounting and finance. This split was probably our most difficult change within the organization since I started. What came out of it though has been better than I could have ever imagined. Fall of 2016 was a very stressful time for me. My mom was diagnosed with cancer and in the midst of chemo, and I was working crazy amounts of overtime (80+ hour weeks). Everyone at work was working a ton of overtime and we were picking up the slack for one employee who was constantly gone due to family and medical struggles. Then one day, November 7th, we all came into work from a restful weekend to a note from her saying she resigned. No goodbyes, no chance of being trained on her duties, just poof, gone. This was my chance!

For the few months leading up to this moment I had been in talks with our VP about a pay raise. I knew a promotion wasn’t possible at that point in time, but I had been with the company for 4 years with barely any pay increase for the duties I had taken on. I felt like I deserved something. The day our Sr. Manager left I walked into our VP’s office and asked her what her plan was. I was ready to ask for that promotion, but she beat me to it. She told me she was going to promote me to Manager because she believed in me. I still had some things to learn to get to the Sr. Manager title, but I would get there soon enough. A few weeks later I went into her office to discuss pay with her. She suggested a salary and I felt I deserved more, but we compromised in the middle. Then something truly amazing happened. The following week she called me into her office and said she discussed my salary with her boss. He agreed to the number I wanted!! Wow, I had just scored myself a 42% pay raise all because I stood up for myself. I was blown away by this and left her office feeling extremely grateful!

A year ago I was promoted to finance manager and was provided a new endeavor in my career. This year as manager has been filled with learning curves, opportunities to voice my thoughts and opinions, and daily gratitude for what life provides when you put in the work. I am not perfect and am still learning how to be a better manager, but what I can say is that I went for it and I am being rewarded!

Life is never going to be perfect. You will go through your highs and lows and sometimes in those lows you get so down on yourself that you can’t possibly see how things could get better. My story is one of many that show that persevering, believing in yourself and being surrounded by people who see what you are capable of will get you places in life. Don’t ever give up on your dreams in life because you will get there, I promise!

Love Always,

Jess

My Journey

Injuries, setbacks, and the whole shebang


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Injuries and setbacks have been a part of my life since a young age. At 7 years old I broke my femur while rollerblading in PE and I ended up in traction for a month, a body cast for a month and on crutches for 6 weeks. From that point on I’ve always had what my family calls “femur fear.” This has often kept me from fully participating in any recreational sport. I would participate in almost any activity, but within my own mental limits. It was engrained in me that physical activity of any kind could lead to injury, which in turn holds you back from fully enjoying life.

As I have gotten older and become more physically active I have realized injuries are a part of the game. Obviously the whole point is to avoid injuries as much as possible, but that doesn’t always happen. Within the past year I have had quite a few injuries. I slammed my femur on a rock while mountain biking and now have a massive hematoma in my leg. I got glass stuck in the bottom of my foot and had to get it cut open. I have had my ribs broken and my most current injury is turf toe. I would have to say this is by far my worst injury. This is the one injury that scares me. When I tell people what my injury is the common reactions tend to be “huh?” from girls, because they don’t know too much about sports, and then the guys tend to cringe and tell me how they’d rather break bones than ever get turf toe.

Why does this one particular injury scare me the most though? Because it is a career ender for top athletes. Coaches hate hearing their star player has turf toe. Now, as I am beginning my Spartan lifestyle I have been handed over an injury that could potentially end my career right when it is starting. Trust me, I am not one to back down easily. When I slammed my femur on the rock last August, everyone told me I was crazy to even consider racing my half marathon 6 weeks later. I was showing up to the gym with crutches and pushing myself every day because I wanted, no needed, to cross that finish line. Not only did I cross that finish line, but I ran the entire race and crushed my records. I was determined! I was being beat down by the enemy and so I fought. I fought like hell, and I am going to do that now. I currently have to wear a metal plate in my shoe to prevent a lot of movement, but that isn’t going to stop me. I have received permission from the doctor to run. I stressed to her how much this race meant to me and so she is going to help me get back out there. I have this dream for my future, and racing is a BIG part of it. A lot of people around me just tell me to give up. To sit myself down on a couch and prevent further injury, but I can’t do that. For 24 years of my life I lived an unhealthy, under active life and I refuse to place myself back there again. Injuries come and go, they are easy to fix, but health is something you only have one shot at and health to me includes racing.

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There are other setbacks besides injuries. One of the things I have been struggling with is my weight loss. Prior to this year I had lost 65 pounds, but for some reason 2014 has gotten the best of me. I wasn’t motivated. I didn’t have my why clearly defined. However, over the past few months the Spartan races have changed my mindset completely. I have found my why. I have found a reason to continue to lose weight and get into shape. Since my last Spartan race up in Monterey I have been trying my damnedest to get back on track. This week I prepped all of my meals. I stuck to my daily workouts. I ate every 2-3 hours. I drank a ton of water. I stayed on track. This morning on my way to the gym I was feeling so excited to step on that scale and take my measurements. All week long I had been feeling energized, I wasn’t starving, I was back to my old motivational self. How could I not be feeling pumped to go to the gym? When Jason pulled out the scale and I stepped on it I was imagining the high-five I would receive for a job well done. Instead the scale read 144.0. Slowly I could feel my excitement slipping away. Next he took my measurements and with each one I could just feel the energy drain from me. The confidence I had left my every pore.

At the end of it all I had gained 4 pounds since June 4th, with a 2% body fat increase. How could this be? The tears came. The disappointment came. The feeling of letting myself down and letting all of those around me down. Internally I was calling myself a hypocrite, racking my brain around what had just happened; trying to find out what I had done wrong. Clearly none of this was adding up in my head. I have a feeling this has to do with the timing of my period as I have seen this type of jump before in my measurements, but any type of setback hurts regardless of the reasoning behind it. I still have no answer as to what happened, but it’s life and I have to move forward and leave this behind.

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I wrote the above yesterday as a reminder of how many days left until each event I have this summer. This was meant to be motivation and to keep me on track. It still is, but with these two recent setbacks (turf toe and weight gain) I find it hard to believe I can accomplish anything. If there is one thing I have learned though, it’s that I can do anything I set my mind to. I’ve lost 65 pounds. I ran a half marathon 6 weeks after a mountain biking injury. I have made myself a stronger, healthier me and there isn’t going to be a single thing that gets in my way from becoming a life long Spartan. Things happen in life, but it’s how you allow those things to affect you that determines the outcome. I won’t let today’s weigh in or this injury prevent me from reaching for the stars. I will come out on top no matter how hard I have to push!

As my family would say:

“suck it up and be a Jessica.”

“You’re a Trapp.”

“No pain, no gain.”

“Pain is weakness leaving the body.”

“Pain is good. Extreme pain is extremely good!”

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Love always,

Jess

My Journey

Trifecta Baby!


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10391392_10100205358402480_5424275242538612880_nThe day finally came. Four months of planning, four months of training, four months of creating friendships and memories with people I had only met the day of my first race. I was finally going to be receiving my Trifecta at the Spartan Beast in Monterey along with my four amazing friends Kelsea, Dustin, JT and Jesse. Along for the ride was McKenna who was doing her second Spartan race, as well as Cass and Brenden who were doing their first ever Spartan. Talk about tough guys, not only making the Beast their first race, but also doing one of the hardest obstacle locations known within the Spartan community. To say I was excited was an understatement. I was surrounded with people I love; running the course with people who have come to inspire and motivate me. I was ready for this!

I had spent Friday volunteering and setting up the final touches for the course. Because of this early preview to the course I thought I had a pretty good handle on what was to come, but what I wasn’t prepared for were the hills. I had been told over and over again that the hills were hard and to take it easy. They weren’t joking! The climbs were brutal!!

The start of the race was like every other race. The MC gets you pumped up, gets you into your Spartan mentality. These are the last few seconds you have before you throw your body into whatever extreme journey the Spartan builders have prepared for you. My team of 8 had been running late that morning so none of us had any time to stretch, we were being thrown into the unknown with partially cooled bodies. Our warm-up was going to be the sprint out of the starting line. The second the race began we were off, over the 5ft wall (thankful JT made it over without face planting this time), and on to the U-O-U-O-U and U-O-T (U=under, O=Over and T=Through). I was pumped! In prior races I had difficulties getting OVER the walls. They are puny walls, but I am short and have little upper body strength, which resulted in me “cheating” and getting yelled at as I went over. However, this time was different. I got over the walls with no struggle at all! All of the other walls I needed help getting over, but at least I was making progress!

As the race continued on we were soon thrown into the hills. At first I tried running up them, but that proved to be pointless. Why exhaust myself this early in the race when we hadn’t even made it to mile marker 1? This was the point in the race that our group of 8 split off. Some went ahead and others fell behind. Despite us being separated as a group we were racing together in spirit. The Spartan Raiders had hit the trail and nothing was going to stop us! The thing I love about my group is we each, individually, have our strengths and weaknesses. We have come to learn what these are about each other, so we push each other through the hard times and cheer each other on through everything. There is no judgement in our group, but rather solidarity in knowing that we are capable.

As Dustin and I continued on through the hills we hit some traffic jams. There were runners up ahead who were on crutches. This excited me because that could potentially mean that Amanda was ahead. Amanda is a girl I am following on Instagram. She has become so inspirational to me in all that she has accomplished even with her setbacks. She doesn’t let them get in her way though. Could Dustin and I have made our way around the traffic jams to get in the lead? Sure, but that poison oak wasn’t looking too appealing to us, and with Dustin wearing shorts it wasn’t the smartest idea to take the risk of being itchy the next day. As soon as we got off the mountain we saw Amanda and her team and that motivated me to no end. My goal had been to see her during the race and I just had!

We rounded the next corner and there sitting before us were the rolling mud hills and the monkey net! The monkey net was still in full operation, woot! woot! The excitement coming from Dustin when we saw that was pure joy. As we waited in line we both assessed how much worse the ground underneath had gotten from the previous day and we knew they would be shutting the obstacle down shortly as the morning race continued. Climbing the platform I let Dustin go first. He did the obstacle with such ease and made it across, rang the bell and dropped into the water. Goal “No Burpees” was still in check! Me however, my height disadvantage got the best of me. I couldn’t reach the netting. I tried swinging up to the net and I tried stretching, but to no avail. Eventually I gave in and swung off the platform into the cold water below. After I got out of the water I walked over to burpee-ville and punched out my 30 burpees. For every set of burpees I did (90 total – 3 failed obstacles: Monkey Net, Rope Climb and Spear Throw) Dustin was the cheering me on and giving me a high-five after each set of 30. He may have made it through without doing any burpees, but we both knew that wasn’t going to be the case for me, so it goes back to our team knowing each other so well and cheering each other on through the nitty gritty!

Back to the hills we went. We had no idea how long these hills would go on for. We would be climbing and think we had reached the top, but then turn a corner or come up over a crest and realize there was still more to climb. They were never ending! Thankfully we both had our Reebok All-Terrain shoes on. These shoes were specifically made for the Spartan races, and they worked beautifully. We had so much traction on those hills that it made it easy to make it up and around people as they struggled while slipping off some of the steeper sections. As the race continued we were faced with obstacles such as the bucket brigade, demo carry, cement block pull, sandbag carry and walls varying in height. When it came to the walls I was extremely thankful that Dustin allowed me to step on his shoulder for a little extra boost, otherwise I would have struggled getting over them. There were a couple of obstacles that I had surprised myself with. In previous races I had struggled with the balance blocks and the tire flips. For the balance blocks I had frozen half way through and broke down crying from fear of breaking my femur at the Sprint and for the tire flips I always received help from one of my teammates. However, this race I was able to complete both!! It is such an amazing feeling when you complete obstacles that once challenged you to the point of failure.

There are always a few of my favorite obstacles out there on the course and they include the barbed wire crawls, rolling mud hills and the inverted wall. Rolling around and splashing in mud are just such fun activities I don’t see how anyone could hate them! The first time my parents saw the mud on the course at the first race they knew from that instant on that I would be hooked and they were right. I haven’t looked back since. The inverted wall scares the living hell out of me. You are hanging backwards and trying to swing your body up and over a wall. My femur fear gets to me every time and it has been a consistent obstacle that terrifies me, yet I complete it with such ease that I have to love it! Another new obstacle they had out the course this time was the Yoda Tires. Basically tire swings. Seriously, what I love about this race is that it is your chance to play on a grown up playground. There are challenges, there are difficult obstacles to get you to quit, but you get to play in mud, swing on tires, climb ropes, hop walls. How could this not sound like the best thing ever?!

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When all was said and done and I crossed that finish line I was ecstatic! I had just received my Trifecta and I was surrounded by people I love. We all came out here with one goal in mind and we did it! All 8 of us received our Monterey Beast Medal!!!! I am extremely thankful to my teammates, those who have been with me at every race, those who I have come to know from one weekend spent with each other, those who go along on this wonderful journey with me. I am thankful Dustin helped me out as much as he did, he was such a true sport, and even though we both had our setbacks we made the best of it. Thank you to the Spartan Raiders for making this weekend one of the best weekends. Road trips will never be the same without you guys! Thank you to every single person I met out there on the trail. Thank you for letting me, a stranger, massage your knots out of your backs, legs and arms. Thank you for cheering me on during my struggles and for allowing me to cheer you on. Thank you to the Spartan team for letting me volunteer and help make this race possible. Thank you Joe and Andy for creating this amazing obstacle course race. Thank you to every single person who has been on this journey with me, whether in person, in spirit, or in reading my posts. There aren’t enough thank you’s, so in general THANK YOU!

This isn’t the end for me, but rather the beginning. I have found something I love, something that challenges me, forces me to grow. I have received my first Trifecta in a matter of four months and I have so many other goals and aspirations within Spartan racing that it will keep me going for years to come. I am looking forward to my next race in Temecula on September 13th, 2014. Until then I look forward to sharing with you my journey leading up to it and all the goals I wish to accomplish!

AROOOOOOO!!!

Love always,

Jess

My Journey

Step out of your comfort zone…


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I have fallen in love, not with a human, but with myself. With my potential. With my future. With my strength, my abilities, my failures and triumphs. I have found a meaning in my life that pushes me, challenges me, and allows me to ask myself everyday if I am doing enough. I have found and fallen in love with the Spartan inside of me!

Fear and excitement pumped through my veins as we headed towards the starting line of my first ever Spartan race. I had no idea what was coming up ahead of me. I saw people milling around everywhere, I heard the announcer at the starting line, I felt the paint drying on my face. There were a couple of thoughts fleeting through my mind: I have no idea who the people in my racing group are, other than the fact that they are my brother’s friends. What if I hold them back? Am I ready for this? What if I break my femur again? That lake looks refreshing!

So many things challenge you at Spartan races, but the point of the race is to take you out of your comfort zone and test you. You have no idea what is coming at you. You may see bits and pieces of the course as you walk to the starting line, but there is much more hidden behind the hills, down in the valleys, through the woods. It really is an adrenaline rush not knowing what is ahead. You have to mentally prepare yourself for whatever it is that the course throws at you. I remember at the Spartan Super in Vegas I totally thought I had an advantage because I had volunteered to work the course, so I had seen a map. I memorized the obstacles, the order they came in. What I wasn’t prepared for was the distance between each obstacle. The terrain can throw you off at a moments notice. The weather can change in a split second. One second you are running up a rocky hill and the next second you are hunkered down on the same hill bracing yourself from the gust of wind, dirt, and rain coming at you.

There are obstacles I don’t like because they tend to conquer me, but my all time favorite obstacles are the ones with mud. At my first race my parents saw the barbed wire crawl ahead of me on the course, I had no idea that it involved mud, but my parents did. The looked at each other and said “well this is going to be the point that Jessica falls in love with these races” and boy were they spot on. I get the biggest smile on my face rolling, crawling, sliding, trudging, swimming, and being dunked in mud and muddy water. Take a look for yourself…

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If that smile doesn’t say anything, I don’t know what does. This was also right after I had my hair ripped out of my head after getting caught on a barb.

I have done two races so far: Sprint on January 25th, 2014 in Temecula and Super on April 5th, 2014 in Vegas. My next one is the Beast on June 7th, 2014 in Monterey. I will be getting my first Trifecta this year. I am planning three other races to get a second Trifecta this year, but I have my sights set on more. My goal is to one day be an Elite Spartan and be standing on that podium in the first place spot. I am giving myself until the end of 2016 to accomplish this and I know that I will. When you put your mind to something you can succeed and I have set my mind on this great feat! Here is to living the rest of my life as a Spartan! AROOOOO!!!!!!!

Love always,

Jess