The Launch of My Two New Projects

This site started off casually enough. I launched a free Word Press blog about a year and a half ago. It was basically a trial, to see if I had the perseverance to start an online project and stick with it. Since that time, I’ve written 36 blog posts, had an active Twitter presence at @Self_HelpJunkie, in which I’ve written nearly 1,100 tweets, and learned a lot along the way.

Well now the time has come for the next stage. I’m launching two new projects Friday August 24th, 2012. The first one is called “Smash Your Limits“. This site will be a continuation of this blog. It will also grow into something much more! It was eventually be the launch site for a manifesto I’ve begun writing, an online store, and the single point for all the resources regarding lifestyle design, travel, personal improvement, investing and anything and everything else of interest I can think about. I hope you’ll come check it out!

The second site is going to be a specialty project which will be part of the “Smash Your Limits” platform. This project will be called “My 40 Project“. This project is a 2 year adventure I’m undertaking revolving around my coming 40th birthday. It will be all about undertaking new adventures, learning new skills, giving back to charitable and other worthwhile causes, making money, becoming physically fit, and just having a Hell of a lot of fun!!!

So with the official launch of both of these new sites, I will be discontinuing maintaining this site. It will remain up, but I would encourage you to come visit me at the two sites listed above. This way you can keep up with the “Self Help Junkie” and see and hear what’s new, what I’m doing, and what progress I’m making toward growing my presence online and offering better content to my readers.

I don’t want to lose anyone, so I hope you’ll stay on this ride and see where it takes us! Otherwise I wish you well and hope you find what you’re looking for. Thank you for your interest and your support!

Posted in Goals / Fulfilling Dreams, Lifestyle Design, Travel / Adventure | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

How the World Domination Summit Inspired Me to Action!!!

When my girlfriend and I flew to Portland this past week, to attend the 2nd annual World Domination Summit, I had some semblance of what I was getting into. I had been following Chris’s blog “The Art of Non-Conformity” for a couple of years. I had read his two books, “The Art of Non-Conformity” and his recently released “The $100 Startup“. My girlfriend just thought it was a vacation and was along for the ride. She knew we’d be attending the event, but didn’t know what to expect, and I wasn’t quite sure how to explain it to her!

To be honest, I didn’t know what to expect either. The biggest thing I was hoping to get out of the event was to meet some interesting people and hope for some inspiration to jump-start me into action!

With an opening night street party of 1,000 people that included skee ball, ping pong tables, sumo suits, a marching band and food carts, I had a feeling things were going to get interesting!

When the World Domination Summit opened, Chris Guillebeau took the stage and after some opening remarks, described the event as follows:

“How to live a remarkable life in a conventional world.”

This is what I was looking for!!! I wanted to know how to live a remarkable life. I’ve always believed I was destined to live a remarkable life, and though I’ve had several interesting adventures so far, I felt deep down inside, that I wasn’t at that “remarkable” level yet! Worst of all, I didn’t know how to share that feeling with people around me.

Yet here I was, in Portland, surrounded by 1,000+ other people looking to be remarkable! This was the place I wanted to be!

The three main themes of WDS which were emphasized all weekend were:

1) Community

2) Adventure

3) Service

Keynote Speakers…

The keynote speakers for the event represented a wide variety of backgrounds, and each was inspirational in their own way.

  • Dr. Brene Brown talked about vulnerability. She had many memorable quotes and led a 1,000 person Glee-inspired rendition of “Don’t Stop Believing” by Journey along with Chris Guillebeau.

  • Scott Harrison, a former nightclub promoter and now founder of the organization Charity: Water, talked about how a little thing like clean water can make a HUGE difference in people’s lives! His organization in 5 1/2 years has raised $65 million with 100% of the proceeds going to help people and 2-3 million people  provided with clean water. At the end of his presentation, all 1,000+ people in the theater stood up and pledged to donate their next birthday to help fund clean water. Here’s the link to my pledge!

  • Scott Belsky of Behance and the 99% spoke about “Making Ideas Happen”. He said making ideas happen involves 1) Organization & Execution, 2) Communal Forces and 3) Leadership Capability. He recommends you keep the ship of your organizaiton moving by asking annoying questions and making people make decisions to avoid bureaucracy. His statement that resonated with me was “Nothing extraordinary is ever achieved through ordinary means!”

  • Chris Brogan talked about superheros and how they represent the traits inside of us that we admire! You have to entangle yourself from other people’s scripts of who they think you are. The question you should be asking yourself is “Who am I?” Some of Chris’s more memorable comments included “The weirder you are, the more you get noticed!“, “Define your secret identity. It’s not who you say who you are, it’s what you do.”,Be playful and fun“, “Sometimes you need rage and need to go insane!” and “Use your powers for good!

  • Audrey Scott & Dan Noll of Uncornered Market talked about their years of traveling together as husband and wife, the exotic places they’ve been to, “Embracing regret avoidance” and learning how human connections can transcend borders.

  • Cal Newport who has a PhD in Computer Science, talked about how the traditional advice of “Follow Your Passion” is the wrong advice to take! He describes how most people, the longer they’re doing something, the more they tend to see it as their calling. He recommends instead that you get good at something that is rare and valuable! Then use those skills as leverage to pursue the traits and lifestyle that you do want. The example he used was Steve Jobs, cited in his official biography “Steve Jobs“, and how you should do what he did, not what he said. Steve Jobs wasn’t passionate about technology. He was passionate about many other things, but grew to embrace technology and applied his passions to make Apple and other companies what they are today!

  • J.D. Roth of Get Rich Slowly gave the closing keynote speech which you can read verbatim here. His message was to practice the power of “Yes!” Have focus and say “Hell yeah!” to those things which excite you most. His 3 keys to change are 1) the Power of Yes, 2) the Power of Focus and 3) the Power of Action!

Lessons Learned…

So given all the great information being shared, and the moving and inspirational stories being told, what is my takeaway from the event? Well I wrote an article titled “Would You Give Away $100,000 to Change the World?” about Chris’s investment of $100 in each and every one of the attendees to go out and do something big! See his speech at the end of the event below.

– WDS 2012: The $100 Investment

I think the key lessons I learned and took with me after the 2 1/2 day event were the following:

  • To be remarkable you have to do remarkable things to inspire yourself and others!
  •  Ask myself every day… “Are you telling a good story with your life?”
  • People will be interested in you if you are telling a good story.
  •  Don’t settle for what other’s have planned for you. Play, have fun and say “Yes” to things even if they scare the Hell out of you!
  •  Giving back and paying it forward is as important, if not more so, than doing things for yourself!!!
  • Do Something… Do Anything! Take ACTION!!!
  • People will pay for knowledge and value you can provide them.
  • Do something bigger than you think you can! Ordinary people don’t change the world!!!
  • The weirder you are, the more you get noticed!
  • Make things fun, easy to remember and first, care!
  • Don’t compare your inside, to someone else’s outside. MAKE SHIT HAPPEN!!! — [thanks to Jenny Blake]
  • Think… “Fuck it, we’ll do it live!” — [thanks to Adam Baker for this one]
  • Always have a big dream to inspire you!
  • Money is NEVER an issue!!!
  • Change yourself and change the world!

My Call to Action…

I’ve been wanting to take on a major project for some time, but just wasn’t sure what I could do to match my interests as well as giving back to others. So after several days of thinking it over and wondering how to change the world in my own way, I’ve come up with an idea. I’m creating a project called “my40project.com“. This will be a 2 year undertaking based on this… I’m currently 39 years old. In the year leading up to and the year of my 40th birthday, I will be taking on 40 tasks revolving around “40” in some way! Some of these tasks are BIG and frankly I’m not sure how I’ll accomplish them. Some are small but something I’ve wanted to do. Others are about giving to others in both big and small ways. ALL revolve around the theme of “40”. Right now this project is still in the planning and development phase. I’m hoping to have something up and running with more details in the next few weeks. Once I do, I’ll be providing more information about the tasks, and what the project will entail. For more details follow me on Twitter at @my40project.

I’m very excited about this project because I think many people can relate to the notion of reaching a milestone in their life, and what they do about it! This project will also be associated with a new site I’ll be launching called “Smash Your Limits“. This site will built upon what I’ve started with this blog, as well as how I intend to continue to grow and expand both myself and what I contribute to the world as a whole. You can also follow this project on Twitter at @smashyourlimits .

I hope you’ll come back soon and share along with me my journey to launch a new site as well as my 2 year birthday project!!! I’m looking forward to both of these journies and honestly believe without the inspiration and role models I took from the World Domination Summit, neither one of them would have happened!

Additional Resources…

I can’t possibly do justice to all the awesome content that occurred during the 3 days of the World Domination Summit! I’ve tried to summarize as best I can everything that happened… what I saw and what I gained from it. I HIGHLY recommend you Google “WDS 2012” or “World Domination Summit” and check out all the FANTASTIC blog write-ups of the event and the incredibly inspirational, awe inspiring and selfless stories of those 1,000 attendees who will be changing the world!!!

  • Stephanie who decided to donate to a different charity every day for a year.

  • Nate who thought it’d be fun to walk from one side of America to the other to inspire folks to go after big dreams.

  • Chantelle who started One Girl, a charity to provide education to young girls in Sierra Leone.

  • Brandon founded Kids of the Gulf to document the effects the gulf oil spill has had on kids, and give them a venue to speak out.

— What will you do to change your life and change the world?

Posted in Goals / Fulfilling Dreams, Inspiration / Happiness, Life Hacking, Lifestyle Design, Travel / Adventure, Volunteerism | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Would You Give Away $100,000 to Change the World?

To most this would probably seem like a strange question. If you asked 1,000 people they’d probably say something like the following:

“I don’t have a $100,000 to give away! “

Or

“How can I change the world?”

Well this past weekend, in Portland, Oregon I had a chance to witness this very question first hand! On the final day of attending Chris Guillebeau’s second annual World Domination Summit, standing on stage in front of 1,000+ people, Chris asked himself this very question.

After J.D. Roth gave the final keynote presentation in the Newmark Theater, and after Chris Guillebeau took the stage and thanked his small army of “ambassadors” who had all volunteered their time to make the event a success, he told a story. His story was the following parable paraphrased below.

A king is going on a trip so he calls together three servants. He tells the servants he’s giving them each $100 to use wisely. The first man spends his $100 on food and entertainment and when the king returns later, he has nothing to show for it. The second man saves his $100 under the mattress of his bed, so when the king returns he has the original $100 still. The third man invests his $100 and manages to grow his money immensely. When the king returns from his trip, the third servant shows him what he has built. The king is very impressed and rewards the man even further!

So what does all of this have to do with the question I initially asked you might be thinking? Well, while on stage Chris talked about how the World Domination Summit had managed to bring in a small profit this year after covering all its expenses. So what to do with this money? Well after discussing some options, and mentioning an anonymous donor, Chris announced that he was giving each and every one of the 1,000+ paid attendees at the summit an envelope with a crisp $100 bill tucked inside to do with as they wished! That’s right… he was giving away $100,000!!! To say we were all in shock would be an understatement! Some people cried. Everyone in the theater stood up and applauded! This was one of the most selfless but also inspirational acts I think I’ve ever witnessed.

However, this $100 came with a condition. His charge to each of the attendees was this…

GO OUT AND CHANGE THE WORLD!!!

That’s right! Each of us in attendance was to go out and try to make the world a little better than they found it. Whether that involved starting a business such as is described in his new book, “The $100 Startup”. We could donate the money to charity. On Day 1 of WDS, Scott Harrison of Charity: Water spoke about the wonderful work they are doing to bring clean water to some of the poorest countries in the world. We could pay down debt. We could use it to travel. Each of us was now $100 richer to try and use wisely.

What Do I Do With $100?

So as I left the theater, with that envelope in my hand, several possibilities ran through my mind. What should I do with my $100? To be honest I still don’t know yet. Some of the things I’ve thought about included:

  • Donate the money to charity such as Charity: Water, Wounded Warrior Project, American Cancer Society or some other worthwhile organization?
  • Use it to start a business. I’ve been considering starting an online business for some time and I could buy a domain name, and get a business started?
  • Put it towards future travel funds to go out and see the world?
  • Put it towards registering for World Domination Summit 2013? (I registered for this anyway for myself and my girlfriend for next year!)

One thing I did learn that day was that generosity knows no limits. There is no age limit for changing the world!  Anyone can launch a project or start a business or do something to help themselves and help others leave the world a little better off than we found it!

So ask yourself this…

What would you do with $100 to Change the World?

– Please let me know and spread this around! I’d love to hear what you would do!

Posted in Goals / Fulfilling Dreams, Inspiration / Happiness, Lifestyle Design | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

4 Conferences On My “To Do” List

Has there ever been an event on your “To Do” list that you really wanted to go to? Maybe a festival such as Lollapalooza? Maybe an artistic event like SXSW? Maybe it’s just attending a film premiere or being in the audience for American Idol?

For me, there are several events on my “to do” list that I very much want to experience to better myself and broaden my horizons. I want to learn about lifestyle design, the latest new technologies, the latest ways people are improving the world around them, and how to improve my own life in the process! Though there are many places and experiences on my bucket list, there are four specific events, four conferences that I very much want to attend! The four are:

  • World Domination Summit
  • Unleash the Power Within
  • TED
  • Black Hat Briefings

You may be asking, what’s so special about a conference that I would write about them, much less want to attend them? After all, aren’t conferences the things nerds with pocket protectors go to, or something your job sends you to, in some obscure corner of the country?

THE ANSWER IS A RESOUNDING NO!!!

Here’s some brief information about what each of these events brings to the table and why they are on my list.

“World Domination Summit”

— In 2011, Chris Guillebeau, the founder of the Art of Non Conformity website, established an event in Portland, Oregon for lifestyle designers, entrepreneurs, non-conformists, and those who judge themselves as not quite fitting into the box society has placed them in! This event, a 3 day immersion, includes topics such as travel hacking, writing your first book, living and working overseas, how to start a small business, and how to express yourself! It’s also a chance to meet with 500+ like-minded bloggers, artists, business owners, world travelers and more.

For more information about the WDS, check out Chris Guillebeau’s blog post “Save the Date! Announcing the 2012 World Domination Summit” over at AONC.

I’m proud to say, I will be attending this event this summer!!! Looking forward to meeting a whole group of non-conformists in July!

“Unleash the Power Within”

— Tony Robbins feels like a friend to me, based on how much of his coaching and lessons I’ve immersed myself in over the years! I own several of his products including “Get the Edge“, “Power Talk“, “Awaken the Giant Within” and “Giant Steps“. I listen to his interviews with other outstanding people, and his sessions on my iPhone while at work. I’ve watched him on TED and the OWN network. To me, he is a true statesman and person who makes you truly think about what’s important in life, and how to get it!

I want to experience one of his live events to see the man in person. I want to do the fire-walk experience and bust through my own limiting beliefs!!! I want to be surrounded with other people who can also inspire me to be more than I currently am. Most of all, I want to learn to “LIVE WITH PASSION!!!

“TED”

— As a technology fan and person interested in learning about the latest developments in areas such as technology, science, healthcare, human development, and much more, TED is a smorgasbord of information! Of the 1,000+ speakers who have participated at TED, some of the ones I’ve found most interesting have included Tony Robbins, Dan Pink, Derek Sivers, Bill Gates, Seth Godin, Dr. Robert Ballard and Sir Richard Branson. For a review I wrote about the TED conference and why I want to be there, check out my earlier post, “What I Learned from TED“.

In this video, a statement is made that I think perfectly summarizes why I want to attend this conference and why others should to.

“… it’s about solving the problems of the world, and using really creative solutions to do so.”

“Black Hat Briefings”

— As an engineer and technology geek with an interest in computer security, and someone who probably saw Hollywood depictions of hackers a few too many times, Black Hat represents the misfit’s playground! It is a chance to listen in on what the underground hacker community as well as those charged with the Internet’s protection are doing. Plus the fact that it takes place in Las Vegas certainly doesn’t hurt!

For information on what Black Hat is and what kinds of things the underground community is doing, check out the Black Hat Briefings website. Just beware what you click on!!!

There you have it. Four of the biggest events on my “to do” list that I’m hoping to be able to scratch off in the not too distant future. I’m already attending the World Domination Summit this summer. So with a little planning, I should be able to make the others happen in the next few years. Stay tuned for my feedback on WDS and what I gained from it in a future post later this summer!

— What events are on your “to do” list that would make a lasting impact on your life?

Posted in Goals / Fulfilling Dreams, Inspiration / Happiness, Internet / Technology, Lifestyle Design | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

How $49 Helped Me Learn to Build a Real Estate Business

If you think education is expensive, try ignorance.” – Derek Bok

Think back… what did you spend your last $49 on? Tank of gas maybe? Dinner for 2 people at a decent restaurant? Couple of hardcover books from your local bookstore?

This past weekend, I attended the 3 day “Real Estate Investment Academy” event in Orlando, Florida. Due to a special promotion a few months before, I was able to register for the event for $49. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but knowing the organizer Chris McClatchey, I was pretty sure it would be money well spent!

The first lesson of the day, and one of the biggest keys to success, can be summarized in four very simple words:

IF NOT NOW, WHEN?

Here’s a simple little exercise that we all did first thing in the morning.

  1. Take your age in years (in my case 38)
  2. Multiply that number times 365 (13,870)
  3. Subtract that number from 28,200 (14,330)

This number is a rough estimate, based on average lifespans today, on approximately how many days of your life you have left. Puts things into perspective doesn’t it? When someone shows you that in the sliding scale of life, the numbers are counting down, it makes you kind of want to make the most of the days you have left!

So what kinds of things did I learn you’re asking? Here’s a quick summary of most of the presentations and speakers that were at the event.

Speaker: Michael Everett, Author of the bookRecessions’s End”

  • There are 4 phases of economic cycles: Recession, Sludge, Stock Run, Real Estate Run
  • The last recession technically ended in June 2009
  • We are at the beginning of the next likely stock run, probably based on “green” technology

Speaker: Charles Fischer, Past President CFRI

  • 10 Tips for Rehabbing Properties
  • (1) Think like a builder, (2) Learn the basics, (3) Build your team, (4) Have a “Jack of all trades”, (5) Get quotes on big $$$, (6) Have a plan, (7) Use quality materials, (8) Know your competition, (9) Use licensed trade people, (10) Special feature / stage
  • Bonus: (1) Turn off water @ the meter, (2) Turn off power @ the panel EVERY DAY!!!

Charles also spoke on “Sandwich” Leasing:

  • “Lease cheap, rent retail”
  • Key 1: Find an owner who has lost interest in renting property; lease it below market with right to sub-lease
  • Key 2: You need the right forms: Fair Housing Laws, Lease w/ sub-lease rights, Property Information Sheet, Resident Lease, Legal Disclosures
  • Key 3: Common mistakes to avoid: Not limiting repair dollars ($200 as a guideline), Under exposure to renters, Determine accurate rental rates, Poor record keeping
  • Key 4: Finding leads: Code enforcement notices, Divorce filings, Rental advertising, Eviction records, Websites, etc.

Speaker: Lee Phillips, Attorney & Asset Protection Specialist

  • The biggest threats to what you own are: Divorce, Medical, IRS / Govt. Agencies, Natural Disaster
  • Asset protection is one of the most important aspects of your business!

Speaker: Lisa Kay Hansen, CFRI

  • Marketing is a very important aspect of your business
  • Learn how to write a long copy sales letter

Speaker: Chris McClatchey, MyRealWealth & Organizer of RE Investment Academy

  • “It’s Not About the How, It’s About the Why!”
  • Replace lead generation with lead capture using automated systems
  • There is never a no-win scenario!
  • Cash flow strategies: (1) Sell lease options to potential home buyers, (2) Include wholesale fees when borrowing money from private lenders, (3) When lending private money, get a stake in the asset

Speaker: Jason DeBono, NuView IRA

  • You can open self-directed retirement accounts such as traditional IRAs, Roth IRAs or 401(k) plans
  • Your investment choices can include: Residential & Commercial Real Estate, Mortgage Loans, Promissary Notes, Limited Partnerships, LLCs, Tax Liens & Deeds, Precious Metals, Foreign Exchange Investments, Stocks, Bonds, Mutual Funds, etc.
  • With a Roth IRA, you can withdraw your principal at anytime without penalty.

Speaker: Scott Whaley, Master Trainer, Anthony Robbins Organization

  • The ultimate resource is resourcefulness and emotions!
  • 3 steps for inner game mastery: (1) Thinking, (2) Mastering your emotions, (3) Taking Action
  • The Real Wealth Formula for Success: Want => Info => Action => Feel Good => Achieve
  • Work on reclaiming 1 hour of time a day via “chunking” – breaking a big problem into tiny little pieces

Speaker: Chris Krimitsos, eMarketing Groups

  • 15 ways to build traffic and cash flow online
  • (1) Start with the Pain – set up a LinkedIn group to solve pain points, (2) Trojan Horse – provide free content with resources to affiliate links, (3) Crowdsource, (4) Google+ – achieve automatic ranking on Google via SEO, (5) Facebook
  • (6) Meetup.com – create focus groups, (7) Groups, (8) LinkedIn Groups – answer questions and appear as an authority, (9) Twitter, (10) Blogging
  • (11) Create a Google+ Biz page, (12) YouTube, (13) Amazon Video – people will buy videos or rent them, (14) Amazon eBooks, (15) Craigslist
  • Bonuses: Enter a local political race to spread your message; Send out a printed newsletter to subscribers

The biggest things I learned from this event were that you can learn any type of “How” such as rehabbing, wholesaling, owner financing, lease options, etc.; without taking action, you’ll never reach your goals or financial freedom! Action is what separates those who only dream about success versus those who actually have success! Building a business such as real estate investing, even in one of the worse economic periods in the past 25 years, is very much possible as many of the people I met have proven. With a little bit of education and learning, a lot of drive, and the willingness to follow through on what you learn, is what separates the “haves” from the “have nots” or “never will haves”. The choice is entirely up to you!

– What will you do to better your financial future?

Posted in Education / Learning, Goals / Fulfilling Dreams, Leadership / Business / Management, Money / Investing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

25+ Quotes to Inspire ‘No Regret’ Living

People post them to Facebook and Twitter all the time. Entire books are written on them. Movies inspire certain catch phrases that we remember. Most of us have one or two written down on a Post-it note and stuck to our computer or up on the fridge.

Everyone of us has a few favorite inspirational quotes that inspire us or lift our spirits a little bit. Usually however, after a brief smile or a few moments of feeling slightly uplifted, we tend to get caught up in the monotony of our day again, the inspiration forgotten, and nothing ever really changes in our lives.

Every once in awhile though, one or two phrases, a simple collection of words, really touches a nerve! Something that causes you to take a true look at your life or inspires some sleepless nights! You might not know or even care where it comes from, you just know that the sound of those words sends chills down your spine and rings in your ears like the lonely tone of a church bell, that you can still hear long after the sound ends!

I’ve spent many years reading books and articles and stories to inspire! This list is a collection of some of the most profound and memorable quotations I’ve ever come across. These quotes are ones that have stuck with me long after I first read them in print. May they inspire you to live a life of fullness and remarkable richness! May they cause you sleepless nights while you ponder them over and over and think how you can apply their wisdom to your own scenario. May they inspire no regret living and cause you to seize the day!

  • To former Pepsi Co. executive John Sculley, whom Steve Jobs was trying to woo to Apple:Do you want to spend the rest of your life selling sugared water, or do you want a chance to change the world?” — Steve Jobs
  • It’s better to be a pirate than to join the Navy.” — Steve Jobs
  • When you discover you’ve been leading only half a life, the other half is going to haunt you until you develop it.” — Phillips Brooks
  • Failure is not an option!” — Gene Kranz
  • The only way to discover the limits of the possible is to go beyond them, to the impossible.” — Arthur C. Clarke
  • If we all did the things we are capable of doing, we would literally astound ourselves.” — Thomas Edison
  • And in the end, it’s not the years in your life that count. It’s the life in your years.” — Abraham Lincoln
  • Do or do not. There is no try.” — Yoda
  • Procrastination is like masturbation; in the end you’re just screwing yourself.” — Unknown
  • One day your life will flash before your eyes. Make sure it’s worth watching.” — Unknown
  • Your life is like a book. The title page is your name, the preface your introduction to the world. The pages are a daily record of your efforts, trials, pleasures, discouragements, and achievements. Day by day your thoughts and acts are being inscribed in your book of life. Hour by hour, the record is being made that must stand for all time. Once the word ‘finis’ must be written, let it then be said of your book that it is a record of noble purposes, generous service, and work well-done.” — Grenville Kleiser
  • Wouldn’t it be Hell if God showed you what you could have been – and what you could have done?” — Fred Smith
  • I would rather be ashes than dust! I would rather that my spark should burn out in a brilliant blaze, than it should be stifled by dry rot. I would rather be a superb meteor, every atom of me in magnificent glow, than a sleepy and permanent planet. The proper function of man is to live, not to exist. I shall not waste my days in trying to prolong them. I shall use my time.” — Jack London
  • A smooth sea never develops a skillful sailor.” — Ancient proverb
  • There aren’t any rules around here! We’re trying to accomplish something!” — Sign in Thomas Edison’s laboratory
  • There is a legend that when God was equipping man for his long life journey of exploration, the attendant good angel was about to add the gift of contentment and complete satisfaction. The Creator stayed his hand and said, ‘No, if you bestow that upon him you will rob him forever of all joy of self-discovery.’” — Orison Swett Marden
  • The greater danger for most of us is not that our aim is too high and we miss it, but that it is too low and we hit it.” — Michelangelo
  • Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.” — Dr. Seuss
  • Entrepreneurship is living a few years of your life like most people won’t so you can spend the rest of your life like most people can’t.” — Unknown
  • Life doesn’t have a remote. Get up and change it yourself.” — @idillionaire
  • Why fit in when you were born to stand out!” — Dr. Seuss
  • It’s kind of fun to do the impossible.” — Walt Disney
  • Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. — Margaret Mead
  • If we did all the things we are capable of doing, we would literally astound ourselves. — Thomas Edison
  • “If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?” And whenever the answer has been “No” for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything — all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure – these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.” — Steve Jobs
  • Somebody should tell us, right at the start of our lives, that we are dying. Then we might live life to the limit, every minute of every day. Do it! I say. Whatever you want to do, do it now! There are only so many tomorrows.” – Pope Paul VI

This final quote is one which I hold the most important in my life. It’s a simple combination of 10 words, that when strung together represent the philosophy I strive to live my life by! It’s a simple statement that every time I repeat it to myself makes me realize, our time on this Earth is short… make the most of it!!!

Live your life so your epitaph can read ‘NO REGRETS!’

– What quotes inspire you the most?

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Don’t Live Your Life Like the Movie “Groundhog Day”!!!

We’ve all seen the movie “Groundhog Day” with Bill Murray. It occurred to me, with the official Groundhog Day coming up in a couple of days, this might be a good time to discuss the theme of the movie. How many times do we go through life, just going through the motions, living virtually the same day over and over again?

I have to admit, I’m guilty of this myself sometimes! I wake up in the morning, go through the same routine, go to work, sit at a desk for 9 hours, come home, eat some dinner, watch a little TV or read to relax, and then go to bed.

Does this sound similar to your life?

Maybe your routine is a little different because you have kids that you get ready for school in the morning. Maybe your job requires you to drive around, or stand all day helping customers, or doing some kind of manual labor. Then you get home and maybe have a beer to unwind, or sit with the kids a little while, or work on a hobby.

We don’t have a lot of time on this earth. We weren’t meant to spend it this way. Human beings were not meant to sit in little cubicles staring at computer screens all day, filling out useless forms and listening to eight different bosses drone on about mission statements.” – Peter Gibbons, Office Space

How many of you out there want to get off the “work-eat-sleep” treadmill of life and really do something different?

  • Do you have a business idea that you talk about with your friends but never follow through on?
  • Did you promise yourself this past New Year’s, that you’ll get in shape or lose weight, and just a few weeks later, you’ve already given up on it?
  • Is there a new hobby or sport or skill you want to learn that you keep promising yourself you’ll get to “someday”?
  • Is there a vacation destination you’ve always wanted to go to, that you just haven’t found the time for, or put off saying “maybe next time”? Even worse, do you repeatedly not even take the vacation time you’re allowed because you’re worried about what they might say or think at work?

If you answered “Yes” to any of these, what are you waiting for? No matter how many promises we made, how many To-Do lists we have, or New Year’s resolutions you made, there’s one remedy for the repetitiveness of Groundhog Day in your life. Are you ready for the deep, philosophical cure for apathy? Well here it is…

DO SOMETHING!!!  

TAKE ACTION!!!

That’s right! The answer is get up off your ass and make something happen! Want to learn a new skill, whether it be computer programming, automotive repair, or a foreign language? Go down to your community college or career center and sign up for a class. Need to lose a few pounds? Go out for a 10-20 minute walk during your lunch break at work. Do 3 sets of push-ups and sit-ups during a 5 minute break in your office. Sign-up at a gym with a personal trainer. Just start moving! Want to increase your education level? Take some free courses online. There are courses available from Stanford and MIT and about 100 other schools all available for free. Want to make more money? Look into the ways to make additional income such as starting a blog, investing in the stock market or real estate, start a business part time, etc. There are many businesses you can start for as little as $100.

Even if you’re on the right track, you’ll get run over if you just sit there.” – Will Rogers

In order to improve your situation and better your life, just try to take small steps in the right direction. Don’t shoot for new highs every day. Just try to improve yourself by 1% each day or each week. If your goal is to learn a foreign language, focus on learning 10 new words a week. If your goal is to lose 50 pounds, focus on doing 2-3 more reps or adding 5 lbs to the weight your lifting, or doing just 5 more push-ups per set. If you want to earn more money, focus on cutting your expenses just a little bit, maybe by bringing lunch to work rather than going out to lunch and investing the difference. Want to take a nice vacation? Put aside just $2 dollars per day, every day. In two years, you’ll have enough for a nice 7-10 day vacation almost anywhere in the world!

If you remember from the movie, once Bill Murray’s character decided he wanted to better himself and use the time wisely, he learned how to play the piano, how to ice sculpt, emergency first aid, poetry, and speaking French, among other things. We all have the ability inside of us to use our days more productively and more richly. Time is the one great equalizer in all of our lives! We all have the same 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year that Einstein, Mozart, Hawking, Lincoln had in their lives. The difference is they made the most of their limited time on this Earth and left an extraordinary legacy behind!

Ask yourself each day, “What will be my legacy that I leave behind? How did I better myself or better someone else’s life today?”

What will your answer to these two questions be?

Posted in Education / Learning, Goals / Fulfilling Dreams, Health / Fitness, Lifestyle Design | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Book Review: “Screw Business as Usual” – How to Make a Difference in the World!

You have to hand it to Richard Branson for coming up with a title and a book on unorthodox business practices, leadership, innovation and creativity, that is as unconventional as he is! Richard Branson is one of the most fascinating business leaders and individuals to me, in recent years. He is an author, business entrepreneur, humanitarian, adventurer, and all around celebrity, who is anything but ordinary!!!

For those living under a rock or in a cave the last decade or so, Richard Branson is the founder of the Virgin brand of organizations.  Among some of his more well known companies have been Virgin Records, Virgin Airlines, Virgin Galactic, and recently Virgin Unite. He is also the author of the books “Losing My Virginity“, “Screw It, Let’s Do It“, “Business Stripped Bare” and now “Screw Business as Usual“.

Screw Business as Usual” was a fascinating look into the mind of a man who enjoys challenging the status quo, and believes whole-heartedly in social entrepreneurship and combining the power of businesses in raising money, providing jobs, raising people’s standards of living, and providing rewards to their founders; with doing good for the betterment of man and the environment. As a self-made billionaire, in multiple industries, Branson has not only drawn a great deal of attention to himself via a wide variety of publicity stunts for his various Virgin brands, he has also lent his name and financial resources to a variety of social causes that he believes in!

Branson discusses in the book the founding of the organization Virgin Unite in 2004, whose purpose was to be a foundation which would combine business entrepreneurs with worthy social causes. Several of the causes which obviously are close to his heart and are mentioned throughout the book include healthcare, HIV/AIDS, global warming, and poverty. Branson discusses his philosophy of “Capitalism 24902” which refers to the 24,902 mile circumference of the Earth, and the impact business has on the entire planet. Read the first chapter titled “Capitalism 24902” of the book here.

One of the key ideas throughout the book that I applaud Richard Branson for is the idea that to best help people you should not necessarily just throw money at a problem! People need, want, and should, work to help themselves. Many of the initiatives that are discussed in the book and are the focus of Virgin Unite are not just charity, but providing resources to help people pull themselves up and better their lives. Among some of the programs discussed in the book are the following:

  • The Branson Centre of Entrepreneurship in both South Africa and now the Caribbean, which provides funds to budding business owners , as well as business skills training to individuals to help them better themselves and their communities.
  • The Elders, a philanthropic organization which includes as its founding members and board of advisors, former U.S. President Jimmy Carter, former South African President Nelson Mandela, and Archbishop Desmond Tutu. Their purpose is to serve as an advisory organization in humanitarian work, and world issues.
  • Virgin Unite, which is the not-for-profit arm of the Virgin conglomerate, and which provides funds to aspiring entrepreneurs, and organizations to provide solutions in the areas of business, healthcare initiatives, environmental causes, homelessness, poverty and unemployment.
  • Support for WildAid which is calling for a ban on shark fin soup to prevent the needless slaughter of millions of sharks strictly for their fins! Check out the film “Sharkwater” for more information.
  • The Peace Parks Foundation in Africa which supports the protection and free roaming of endangered animals such as elephants and rhinos across country borders.
  • The Carbon War Room which was co-founded by Richard Branson to harness the power of entrepreneurs to find market-driven solutions to climate change. Their initial focus has been on improving energy efficiency and reducing CO2 output in the commercial shipping, biofuels, building energy, and industrial emissions areas.

Margaret Mead, a cultural anthropologist, is quoted as saying the following, which is the underlying message of Branson’s book:

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.

In fact, through many examples, Richard Branson describes how small groups of people, and even individuals, have made significant impacts on the world in meaningful ways. They’ve inspired entire organizations to change business practices, they’ve inspired nations to change cultural practices, and they’ve inspired entire changes in philosphy on a world-wide level! That is a significant achievement to say, and just goes to show, that people can still make a difference in this world, whether on a micro or macro level.

I found myself highly inspired by this book! While I’m trying to find a sense of myself, and a purpose going forward, I feel works like this are inspirational, serving as excellent examples via the case studies, of how to combine business and social philanthropy. In fact, I would encourage readers of this article to purchase a copy of the book, whether through this site, your local bookstore, or some other means. Richard Branson and Virgin Unite are donating 100% of the proceeds from the book to Virgin Unite’s various causes. Here’s a chance to do some good while educating yourself and learning about some very valuable business skills and entrepreneurial mavericks via the dozens of case studies!!!

Check out more information about Screw Business as Usual via social media and this video presented at TEDxOxbridge.

Facebook: www.facebook.com/VirginUnite

Twitter: @virginunite #sbau

Posted in Biographies, Green Technology, Leadership / Business / Management, Movie / Book Reviews, Science / Medicine, Volunteerism | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

What I Learned from TED

For those who are not tech geeks like me, who are always browsing the Internet or browsing their smart phone looking for something new and interesting to check out, you may not have heard of TED. TED stands for Technology, Entertainment, Design and is a series of international, regional and virtual conferences in which various speakers talk about  a wide variety of topics.

When I first found out about TED, I was curious, but didn’t think much of it. After I downloaded the TED app on my iPhone, and also started following it on Twitter (@ted_com), I learned there were some very interesting presentations that have been given. The TED conferences bring out both top of the line, nationally known speakers, business leaders, and well known people, as well as obscure, lesser-known speakers who are fascinating none the less!

So what kinds of speakers and topics can you find at TED? Some of the topics I find the most fascinating include the areas of innovation, motivation, open source technology, research in healthcare, leadership, and personal development. Of the 1,000+ speakers who have participated at TED, some of the ones I’ve found most interesting have included Tony Robbins, Dan Pink, Derek Sivers, Bill Gates, Seth Godin, Dr. Robert Ballard and Sir Richard Branson.

A few examples of some of the more interesting presentations related to advancements in medicine, technology, and personal development include the following:

“A Prosthetic Arm That ‘Feels'”

Physiatrist and engineer Todd Kuiken is building a prosthetic arm that connects with the human nervous system — improving motion, control and even feeling. Onstage, patient Amanda Kitts helps demonstrate this next-gen robotic arm.

“Open-Source Cancer Research”

How does cancer know it’s cancer? At Jay Bradner’s lab, they found a molecule that might hold the answer, JQ1 — and instead of patenting JQ1, they published their findings and mailed samples to 40 other labs to work on. An inspiring look at the open-source future of medical research.

“Try Something New for 30 Days”

Is there something you’ve always meant to do, wanted to do, but just … haven’t? Matt Cutts suggests: Try it for 30 days. This short, lighthearted talk offers a neat way to think about setting and achieving goals.

“A Life Lesson From a Volunteer Firefighter”

[NOTE: This one is particularly meaningful because I was a volunteer firefighter for 5 years!]

Volunteer firefighter Mark Bezos tells a story of an act of heroism that didn’t go quite as expected — but that taught him a big lesson: Don’t wait to be a hero.

“The Big Idea my Brother Inspired”

When Jamie Heywood’s brother was diagnosed with ALS, he devoted his life to fighting the disease as well. The Heywood brothers built an ingenious website where people share and track data on their illnesses — and they discovered that the collective data had enormous power to comfort, explain and predict.


These are just a few samples of some of the wonderfully fascinating, informative and educational presentations over the years that have been held at the TED and TEDx independently organized conferences. These presentations and speakers are well worth listening to and viewing and getting inspired by!!!

What are some of your favorite TED presentations?

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My Addiction to Barnes & Noble and Amazon.com

Last night, I got a message from my girlfriend asking me if I would mind going to Barnes & Noble on my way home from work, to pick up a book she had ordered. That’s like asking a chocolate-a-holic if they’d mind watching the chocolate fountain at Golden Corral!!! As I left work and was on my way to “Barnes” as I call it, I had a little twinkle in my eye, and I was already thinking about what section would I browse in first. You see it was Tuesday, and Tuesday is when the bookstore gets their new selections for the week. I guess that makes me a nerd for knowing that!

Anyway as I pulled into Barnes & Noble, I entered the store and broke right. I checked out the 50% off tables first to see if there was anything good. I found a couple of titles that looked interesting, but I told myself “Patience grasshopper!” I then strolled down to a section on healthcare, because I have an interest in books about medicine and the healthcare industry. Finding nothing new there, I perused the “New Releases” section, and one I was expecting to see, wasn’t there. DAMN!!!

Recently, my store completely moved all the shelves around, and I still haven’t quite broken the habit yet of my methodical pattern sweep approach to browsing. So even though I walked to where I would usually go to search “Current Affairs“, “History“, “Business” and “Biographies“, there was nothing there except a new “Teen Romance” section and kids toys. AGGHHHH!!!

Continuing my counter-clockwise migration, I came to “Christian Inspiration“, “Current Affairs” and “History“. Every once in awhile now, I’ll browse the Christian Inspiration section, because there’s some good books I’ve found there. But not today. I looked in “Current Affairs” and found a couple that looked interesting, but lately my interests just aren’t there. You see, my reading appetite changes quite often, and right now I just don’t feel like reading about politicians lying about themselves, Republican vs. Democrat nonsense, or how miserable the economy is. DUH… I know!!!

Next is “History” and a few more interesting ones there. I tend to prefer more modern history and a few catch my eye, and I check out the inside jackets or back covers, but tell myself, not today! I have a whole shelf of books at home… I have a whole shelf of books at home… repeating it to myself over and over like some recovering addict!

I ALWAYS skip over these sections unless something miraculously catches my eye:

  • New Age
  • Music
  • Movies / TV

I just don’t care about them! I see all the programming and technical books next, but being an engineer already, I just don’t focus on them. I get enough of that crap at work! Doing my counter-clockwise march of the store, I’m now at about 9:00 in terms of location, having circled 3/4 of the Starbucks cafe in the middle. I’ve had brief thoughts of a Chai Tea tonight since its cold outside, but it quickly passes.

Next up on deck are the business & management books. I like this section because I like to read about personal investing, unorthodox management styles, the changing market forces and leadership in general. I’ve found many excellent books in this section over the years including:

I find a few books that look interesting, several on my Amazon.com Wishlist, and look at their jackets. Which reminds me of my other addiction. If you can’t already tell, I’m a voracious reader! Several years ago when I discovered Amazon.com, I found the “Wishlist” feature and set one up. I don’t share my Wishlist with anyone, it’s just a personal memory storage area for me. When I find things that look interesting while browsing through Amazon, I add them to my Wishlist for safe keeping. My earliest Wishlist book was added by me November 16, 2005! As of this writing, I have 648 items on my Wishlist!!! I have books about airplanes; books about the military; fiction and non-fiction books; books on politics, science, medicine, computers, business and everything in between. I have best sellers and ones nobody’s heard of. Now with my iPhone I can take my Wishlist with me, and scan bar codes to add things to it on the go. I’ve gone hard-core mobile nerd now!

I maneuver through the management books taking mental note of titles that peak my interest, and scan one or two into my Wishlist. On the back side of these racks are the “Science / Technology” books. I look these over quickly and then begin hitting the bargain racks. These are near the front of the store and I check to see if anything is new here, or anything looks like a good deal. Nothing today. So now that I’ve made my round of B&N, I bounce back and forth a few times between “History“, “Current Affairs” and “Management“. These are my favorite sections of the store, and are usually the ones I buy from most!

After about 1/2 hour, I settle on a title that peaked my interest on Amazon.com the day before. The book is titled “Start Something That Matters” by Blake Mycoskie. The book is in the area of business and social entrepreneurship, which I’ve been feeling inspired by and more and more interested in lately. The description on Amazon.com describes it as:

What matters most to you? Should you focus on earning a living, pursuing your passions, or devoting yourself to the causes that inspire you? The surprising truth is that you don’t have to choose—and that you’ll find more success if you don’t. That’s the breakthrough message of TOMS’ One for One movement. You don’t have to be rich to give back and you don’t have to retire to spend every day doing what you love. You can find profit, passion, and meaning all at once—right now.  

“In Start Something That Matters, Blake Mycoskie tells the story of TOMS, one of the fastest-growing shoe companies in the world, and combines it with lessons learned from such other innovative organizations as method, charity: water, FEED Projects, and TerraCycle. Blake presents the six simple keys for creating or transforming your own life and business, from discovering your core story to being resourceful without resources; from overcoming fear and doubt to incorporating giving into every aspect of your life. No matter what kind of change you’re considering, Start Something That Matters gives you the stories, ideas, and practical tips that can help you get started.

The only problem is I feel like Burgess Meredith in the Twilight Zone episode called “Time Enough at Last.” I have all the books I could want to read, but not enough time!

Needless to say, with my one choice in hand I head to the front of the store to ring up my order and to pick up my girlfriend’s selection. I pick up her book, proceed to hand the cashier my Barnes & Noble Member Card, a $25 gift card with a $2.17 balance on it, and a credit card. Gotta get my 10% discount, and save a few extra bucks if I can. With books in hand, I head out the door and on my way home. The funny thing is afterward I tell my girlfriend that for me to leave after just an hour is good for me! She agrees and tells me she had planned dinner to be an hour later or so, to account for me doing the “Round the B&N Store” tour!!! Guess she knows me too well!

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