23 May 2018, Austin, Texas, USA
Good Afternoon. My name is Oukham Phommachanh and I'm with the Texas TIERS project. If you didn't know, Texas TIERS is the computer system that determines eligibility for welfare benefits, SNAP, TANF, and Medicaid for the Citizens of Texas. I've been with TIERS for twelve plus years, going on 13 now, and it’s the only project I've ever been on. Actually started out my career as an entry level Java developer with TIERS back in 2005 when it was with another consulting company that I will not name. 2 years later when the project went back to Deloitte in 2007 I continued on as a contractor.
5 years later, 2012 I joined with Deloitte AMS. 4 years later I was promoted to Manager 2016, and now I'm blessed to be here on this beautiful Friday afternoon, Spring Consulting Connect 2018. Given that I've been with the project for so long, I want to share with you some enlightenment that have discovered on my journey here. That enlightenment is the topic of my talk today. I call it the 3 disciplines to success, and it just so happens these 3 disciplines correlate perfectly to today's theme of body, mind, and purpose.
Discipline of body:
So let’s talk about the first discipline, the discipline of the body, or what I call the discipline of showing up to work early, or the discipline of getting your body to get up and go. I’m not going to spend too much time on the positive things about coming to work early. We heard all the sayings, the early bird gets the worm, better an hour early than a minute late, if you’re not first you’re last. But I do want to talk about why I chose the word discipline. You see everything in life begins with a choice. You either choose to eat the apple or the chocolate. You either choose to get up and go for a walk or sit and do nothing. Whatever choice you make, if you keep making that choice over and over again eventually it becomes a habit, but maintaining that habit over a long period of time, that's when it becomes a discipline. You see the difference is simple. A habit is something that you do. You can always change what you do, but a discipline is who you are, and when that thing that you do becomes who you are, you'll find it hard to change. Example of what I mean by this. You see I've been coming to work early at least 30 min every day, and I've haven't been doing this like a week ago otherwise I would have stopped already. I've been coming to work early over 5 plus years now. Every day I make that choice, I'm not going to hit the snooze button, I'm going to get up and go. It became a habit, then a discipline, now its who I am. You see there are days when I do question myself, I do want to change, and I want to quit coming to work early. I want to stop. Why do I do this, nobody sees me, the office is dark, the lights are off, there's no one to talk to. Why do I keep doing this? You see its our basic human nature if we don't like something, we quit. But I found that over time I didn't want to quit coming to work early. I couldn't give up. See I understand now why successful people say this, "don't give up, don't quit", they say. It's because they have some disciplines in their life. Its who they are. So my advice to you is choose to be early, get up and go, don't let this wonderful life pass you by. Keep doing until it becomes a habit, and then a discipline until that idea is planted in your mind that you never want to give up.
Discipline of mind:
Speaking of mind that brings me to my second discipline. The discipline of the mind, or what I call the discipline of focus, also known as paying attention, also known as being there mentally. You see I recently read a quote online that says "Wherever you are, be there". I'm sure it meant wherever you are, pay attention. Another personal example of how I developed this discipline, to make a long story short, it was actually a client of ours on the TIERS project that motivated me to be more focused. You see TIERS is Agile now, but back in the days we followed Waterfall methodology. That's when we first did requirements, then design, then we code, and then we tested. Once in a while we would always come up with questions to the business during the testing phase because we found "issues", so when we met with our business client, let's call her J.C. for now. When we had meetings with J.C., she would always say "why didn't you guys ask us these questions during requirements". After so many meetings, and so many times she said this, I realize she was right. Cause you see I was there, but I wasn't there. My laptop was open, I was multitasking, I wasn't focused, I wasn't there to ask the question. So from now onwards, every requirements meeting or discovery now cause its Agile, I always show up with my laptop closed. I never open it unless there's an action item that I need to find an answer to real quick. Sometimes I'm so focused now that people think I'm not paying attention. I have to literally tell them “I heard what you said. I'm processing it. I'm thinking of the question to ask.” So when faced with the decision of should I multitask or do one thing at a time. I choose to do one thing at a time now. Its basic math. In a fixed amount of time, if you're doing two things, you're only giving 50% to each task. But in the same amount of time, if you're doing only one thing, you're giving 100%. You'll see that quality will start improving once you do this. Give it a try. Make it your habit, make it your discipline, focus.
Discipline of purpose:
Ok, that brings me to the third most important discipline. The discipline of purpose, or what I call the discipline of being positive. Law of attraction. Success is something you attract by the person you become. Positive thoughts will attract positive things in life. To maintain this choice to always be positive all the time, requires what I call learning to remember a life changing event. You got to remember it, not forget, but remember it to let it motivate you. Everybody has one. If you haven't experienced it, you will eventually. See this life changing event will fall under two categories. It will be either a moment of desperation. Moment where you said, I've had it, enough is enough, I'm going to change. Or its going to be a moment of inspiration, a moment when you have that clarity, I get it, I understand, this is what I'm meant to do. So today I want to share with you that moment of inspiration that changed my life. But before I do, I also want to talk about how hard it is to stay positive in a negative world. You see life always throws negative things at us. That's why I said you got to remember that life changing event to let it motivate you. I've learned that you'll never get what you want when you're negative. Back in the days I want a lot of things. Remember when I said I was an entry level Java developer, well I was also making an entry level salary. I wanted a bigger salary, I wanted a promotion, I wanted a nice house with a media room, I wanted to live in a community where my kids go to great schools. I've found that once I started being positive, law of attraction kicked in, and stuff I wanted started manifesting. I got that raise, I got that promotion, I got that nice house, and it all started with remembering that life changing event. Develop simple positive habits in life such as saying good morning. "Good morning! Great to see you!" and the guy will say "good morning how are you doing" and I'll say "Great!" and he'll act surprise and say "why?"... why not there's a lot in life to be thankful for. Also after the end of each day, I would say thank you to everybody. These positive habits came because of that one life changing event. The moment you've been waiting for. What inspired me.
You ready... My moment of inspiration is... the day I joined TIERS. Hold on I know what you're thinking, "What!?"... spoiler alert, there is a plot twist, hang on. You see the first day on the job, they said welcome to TIERS. You're going to be working on EDBC. EDBC is the module that does all the eligibility determination for people, it will deny or approve them for benefits. So my first day on the job I opened up the TIERS app and I went to inquiry, it’s like a search function. I entered my son's name, and there it was. My moment of clarity. I saw my son's case. Medicaid approved. I clicked on it. It says eligibility begin date 9/15/05. His date of birth. Now you're probably wondering "what the... how did that happen?". You see back in early 2005 I was still a new college grad looking for my first job. In the meantime I was doing temp work at temp agencies doing manual labor making $10 an hour. When my wife discovered she was pregnant, we were not sure of how we would manage. See we didn't have health insurance, and financially we were not well off, so we went to Planned Parenthood, and it was Planned Parenthood who told us why don't you apply for Medicaid. It will pay for everything they said. So that's what we did. Went to an HHSC office. Submitted an application and the worker typed in the information. Little did I know that she was using TIERS. You're approved she said. So it was Medicaid was the reason why my son was born. After he was born, at the end of Sept 2005 that was when I joined TIERS. I think on that first day, I must have been starring at TIERS all day long, looking at my son's case. I was like wow, this is what I'll be programming? You see I'm a spiritual person, and I believe that day there was a higher power telling me, "ok, now it’s your turn. Go and help others". That thought still what motivates me till this day. So now you know why TIERS inspires me. TIERS saved my son's life. Its people like you all who saved my son's life... because its people like you all created TIERS and this thing called IE, Integrated Eligibility, that Deloitte has taken to multiple states that is helping so many other people like my family. So be proud of yourselves cause I'm proud of you guys. If you haven't found your moment of inspiration yet, then let today be that day. Let today be that day where if you're looking to make an impact, you realized you already made it. Let today be that day where you realize you're part of something bigger than yourself. Let today be that day where you realize you're part of something amazing. So I encourage you all to... be early, be focused, be positive. I want to end with a quote that I heard from a former Deloitte CEO back in 2012. I still remember to this day cause I think it summarizes my talk pretty well. It goes like this... What you think is what you become. What you think is what you become. Guard your thoughts because they become your words. Guard your words because they become your actions. Guard your actions because they become your character. And guard your character because in the end it will be your destiny.
Stay positive my friends. God bless. Thank you.