Saturday, February 21, 2015

Men and Women

I am big fan of gender equality, be it in wage compensation, recognition, and respect, but even if we do ever achieve these, men and women will always be different..and viva the difference!! Yes, men are men and women are women and never the twain shall meet, except when the fall in love.  With that said, I feel women do have to be extraordinary JUST to be recognized by most men, and that is sad.  But why? Well, it is because men have TOTALLY different priorities to women, and I think this story will explain why.
One day a man decided to retire...

He booked himself on a Caribbean cruise and proceeded to have the time of his life, that is, until the ship sank.

He soon found himself on an island with no other people, no supplies, nothing, only bananas and coconuts.

After about four months, he is lying on the beach one day when the most gorgeous woman he has ever seen rows up to the shore. In disbelief, he asks, "Where did you come from? How did you get here?"
She replies, "I rowed over from the other side of the island where I landed when my cruise ship sank."

"Amazing," he notes. "You were really lucky to have a row boat wash up with you."

"Oh, this thing?" explains the woman. "I made the boat out of some raw material I found on the island. The oars were whittled from gum tree branches. I wove the bottom from palm tree branches, and the sides and stern came from a Eucalyptus tree."

"But, where did you get the tools?"

"Oh, that was no problem," replied the woman. "On the south side of the island, a very unusual stratum of alluvial rock is exposed. I found that if I fired it to a certain temperature in my kiln, it melted into ductile iron I used that to make tools and used the tools to make the hardware."

The guy is stunned.

"Let's row over to my place," she says. So, after a short time of rowing, she soon docks the boat at a small wharf.
As the man looks to shore, he nearly falls off the boat. Before him is a long stone walk leading to an exquisite bungalow painted in blue and white. While the woman ties up the rowboat with an expertly woven hemp rope, the man can only stare ahead, dumb struck. As they walk into the house, she says casually,
"It's not much, but I call it home. Sit down, please."
"Would you like a drink?"

"No! No thank you," the man blurts out, still dazed. "I can't take another drop of coconut juice."

"It's not coconut juice," winks the woman "I have a still. How would you like a Pina Colada?"

Trying to hide his continued amazement, the man accepts, and they sit down on her couch to talk. After they exchange their individual survival stories, the woman announces, "I'm going to slip into something more comfortable. Would you like to take a shower and shave? There's a razor in the bathroom cabinet upstairs."

No longer questioning anything, the man goes upstairs into the bathroom. There, in the cabinet is a razor made from a piece of tortoise bone. Two shells honed to a hollow ground edge are fastened on to its end inside a swivel mechanism.

"This woman is amazing," he muses. "What's next?" When he returns, she greets him wearing nothing but some small flowers on tiny vines, each strategically positioned, she smelled faintly of gardenias. She then beckons for him to sit down next to her.

"Tell me," she begins suggestively, slithering closer to him, "We've both been out here for many months. You must have been lonely. There's something I'm certain you feel like doing right now, something you've been longing for, right?" She stares into his eyes.

He can't believe what he's hearing. "You mean..." he swallows excitedly as tears start to form in his eyes,

"You've built a Golf Course?" 
So, now you know.

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Old Cunning Canine

When most people think of start ups they think of a couple of young kids working in a garage or basement (or now Starbucks), eking out a living until they are purchased for billions of dollars, but this is more fiction than reality. As published in Time's March 14th, 2013 issue, according to research by Vivek Wadhwa, an academic and tech entrepreneur, and the Kauffman Foundation, the average age of successful start-up founders of start-ups and other high-growth industries was 40. And high-growth start-ups are almost twice as likely to be launched by people over 55 as by people 20 to 30. How can that be? 

Well firstly, most startups take founders with multiple skill sets and know-how. Yes, dreaming is important, but execution is paramount to success. As an example of this, I thought I would share a story about an old dog and if you can draw the conclusion about age.
A wealthy old lady decides to go on a safari in Africa, taking her faithful aged poodle named Cuddles along for company. One day the poodle starts chasing butterflies and before long, Cuddles discovers that he's lost. Wandering about, he notices a leopard heading rapidly in his direction with the intention of having lunch. The old poodle thinks, "Oh, oh! I'm in deep trouble now!" Noticing some bones on the ground close by, she immediately settles down to chew on the bones with her back to the approaching cat.

Just as the leopard is about to leap, the old poodle exclaims loudly, "Boy, that was one delicious leopard! I wonder if there are any more around here?" Hearing this, the young leopard halts his attack in mid-strike, a look of terror comes over him and he slinks away into the trees. "Whew!", says the leopard, "That was close! That old poodle nearly had me!"

Meanwhile, a monkey who had been watching the whole scene from a nearby tree, figures he can put this knowledge to good use and trade it for protection from the leopard. So off he goes, but the old poodle sees him heading after the leopard with great speed, and figures that something must be up. The monkey soon catches up with the leopard, spills the beans and strikes a deal for himself with the leopard.

The young leopard is furious at being made a fool of and says, "Here, monkey, hop on my back and see what's going to happen to that conniving canine!"

Now, the old poodle sees the leopard coming with the monkey on his back and thinks, "What am I going to do now?", but instead of running, the dog sits down with his back to his attackers, pretending he hasn't seen them yet, and just when they get close enough to hear, the old poodle says: "Where's that damn monkey? I sent him off an hour ago to bring me another leopard!"
Moral of this story...

Don't mess with old farts...age and treachery will always overcome youth and skill! Bullshit and brilliance only come with age and experience!

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Most Overused Marketing Terms

A few years ago, Jason Cohen posted in his blog (A Smart Bear)  "Authentic" is dead, in which he goes on to say that some words have been used so often, that they have actually lost all meaning.  Well, that got me thinking, since I help a lot of start ups, and do a lot of marketing, branding, and word-smithing along the way, I thought I would build upon Jason's observations and do my own little survey.  So, I compiled a list of 43 words (see THE LIST below) that I see used over, and over, and over again, and asked my little network of people (colleagues, friends, business partners, etc.), what they though were the most overused.  Well, 1351 people responded, and out of the list of 43, there are five that stand out as the most overused. With 1351 respondents the percentage indication is in parenthesis.  The most overused terms  include: Innovative (54.5%); Cost Effective (43.0%); Low Hanging Fruit (42.8%); Out of the Box (42.6%); and Best of Breed (41.8%).

Most of the other terms highlighted as being overused between 33% to 10% of the time. The least overused terms include WOW, Single Source, Prestigious, Maven, Craftsmanship and Fanatical Support.  Needless to say, these results are not at all what I expected, but are interesting nonetheless.

Click here if you want to see the spreadsheet.

Best of Breed
Convergence of ____
Core Competency
Cost Effective
Fanatical Support
Generation X
Insight / Insightful
Low Hanging Fruit
One Stop Shop
Out of the Box
Paradigm Shift
Rock Star
Single Source

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Life in the 1500s

The great thing about history, is that we do NOT necessarily need to repeat it and many of the customs, traditions and idioms come directly from a history long ago forgotten. Like, did you ever wonder where the phrase "Piss Poor" come from? 
A long time ago, they used to use urine to tan animal skins, so families used to all pee in a pot. And then once it was full it was taken and sold to the tannery. If you had to do this to survive you were "Piss Poor". But worse than that were the really poor folk who couldn't even afford to buy a pot. They "didn't have a pot to piss in" and were the lowest of the low.

So....The next time you are washing your hands and complain because the water temperature isn't just how you like it, think about how things used to be. Here are some facts about the1500s:

Most people got married in June because they took their yearly bath in May, and still smelled pretty good by June. However, they were starting to smell, so brides carried a bouquet of flowers to hide the body odor. Hence the custom is still used today of carrying a bouquet when getting married.

Baths consisted of a big tub filled with hot water. The man of the house had the privilege of the nice clean water, then all the other sons and men, then the women and finally the children. And last of all the babies. By then the water was so dirty you could actually lose someone in it. Hence the saying, Don't throw the baby out with the Bath water.

Houses had thatched roofs-thick straw-piled high, with no wood underneath. It was the only place for animals to get warm, so all the cats and other small animals (mice, bugs) lived in the roof. When it rained it became slippery and sometimes the animals would slip and fall off the roof. Hence the saying. “It's raining cats and dogs” was used during a downpour. There was nothing to stop things from falling into the house.

This posed a real problem in the bedroom where bugs and other droppings could mess up your nice clean bed. Hence, a bed with big posts and a sheet hung over the top afforded some protection. That's how canopy beds came into existence.

The floor of the hut or house was dirt. Only the wealthy had something other than dirt. Hence the saying, “Dirt poor.” The wealthy had slate floors that would get slippery in the winter when wet, so they spread thresh (straw) on floor to help keep their footing. As the winter wore on, they added more thresh until, when you opened the door, the thresh would all start slipping outside. A piece of wood was placed in the entrance way. Hence the term threshold was used.

(Getting quite an education, aren't you?)

In those old days, they cooked in the kitchen with a big kettle that always hung over the fire. Every day they lit the fire and added things to the pot. They ate mostly vegetables and did not get much meat. They would eat the stew for dinner, leaving leftovers in the pot to get cold overnight and then start over the next day. Sometimes stew had food in it that had been there for quite a while. So came the rhyme, “Peas porridge hot, peas porridge cold, peas porridge in the pot nine days old.”

Sometimes they could obtain pork, which made them feel quite special. When visitors came over, they would hang up their bacon to show off. It was a sign of wealth that a man could “bring home the bacon.”

They would cut off a little to share with guests and would all sit around and “chew the fat.”

Those with money had plates made of pewter. Food with high acid content caused some of the lead to leach onto the food, causing lead poisoning death. This happened most often with tomatoes, so for the next 400 years or so, tomatoes were considered poisonous.

Bread was divided according to status. Workers got the burnt bottom of the loaf, the family got the middle, and guests got the top, or the “upper crust.”

Lead cups were used to drink ale or whiskey. The combination would sometimes knock the imbibers out for a couple of days. Someone walking along the road would take them for dead and prepare them for burial. They were laid out on the kitchen table for a couple of days and the family would gather around and eat and drink and wait and see if they would wake up. Hence the custom of holding a wake was established.

England is old and small and the local folks started running out of places to bury people. So they would dig up coffins and would take the bones to a bone-house, and reuse the grave. When reopening these coffins, 1 out of 25 coffins were found to have scratch marks on the inside and they realized they had been burying people alive. So they would tie a string on the wrist of the corpse, lead it through the coffin and up through the ground and tie it to a bell. Someone would have to sit out in the graveyard all night (the graveyard shift.) to listen for the bell; thus, someone could be “saved by the bell” or was considered a ”dead ringer.”
And that's the truth...Now, whoever said History was boring!!

Friday, January 16, 2015

What Makes a Great Boss?

As a young boy, I was sent away to Military School and there began my journey on discovery of what makes a good leader, and what does not.  Of course we had to study many of the great leaders of history, but more importantly, when put into positions of power, I discovered that just having rank, did not necessarily give your power over individuals. From that time until now, I have realized that in order to get anything done, and done well, involves leadership, and being a boss is no exception.  Of course, good bosses have strong organizational skills, are smart, creative, have solid decision-making skills and they get things done; exceptional bosses have that and something more. 

It is not the what, but the how, that make good bosses great bosses.  It is how they take care of the people around them, the esprit d corps they create, the joy they bring to any endeavor and the passion they instill to all they meet.  Great leadership makes ordinary people into extraordinary people, and being a great boss is no different. Yes, a good boss can hit the numbers consistently, but a great boss will make you feel like you can conquer the world no matter what obstacles are in your way.

I am a big believer in what separates people’s success is leadership.  And being a great boss is all about mastering leadership skills, and leadership is all about what you can do for the people who work for you.  Every endeavor, large or small, rises and falls on leadership. “The ultimate leader is one who is willing to develop people to the point that they eventually surpass him or her in knowledge and ability,” as Fred A. Manske Jr. said some time ago.

Still, an exceptional boss does not see it as a popularity contest, but does recognize that their success is directly tied to the people that work with him/her.  In this article, I will list what are the “10 things” an extraordinary boss gives or does to develop and promote others and sets them apart for all those other bosses you wish you never had, and we ALL have had a few of them.

1.  Gives freedom and power
I like to say a great boss gives love, yes, love, and what is love but giving freedom and power, not extract control and possession.  This might seem like an odd concept in the button down world of corporate America, since most organizations are built on optimizing profits, processes, efficiencies and procedures. They are about the tangible, and I am talking about an intangible.  While a skilled boss can maximize the tangibles better than most people, they trust the fact that micromanagement is the worst thing you can do to promote those around them.  Employees are best engaged and empowered when there is a large sense of trust, autonomy and independence.  Elements that are essential in, well love.

Bosses that expect conformity and toeing the corporate line may initially get short term goal results, but as John F. Kennedy said, “Conformity is the jailer of freedom and the enemy of growth,” and over the long haul, those gains will be lost to employee dissatisfaction.  True autonomy and freedom breeds innovation, even in heavily process-oriented industries like manufacturing and piece part assembly. No matter what the task, people can always find a more eloquent way to do a thing if they are given some incentive or an environment to do so.

So, a great boss first and foremost trusts himself and has the confidence to trust those around him. This trust is then imparted to her employees by giving them the autonomy and independence to work the way they work best, not the necessarily the way she (the boss) does, and those empowered employees will find ways to do their jobs better than possibly could have been imagined.

2. Does not give or except excuses
If you want to be a great boss, you should head the words for the founder of the American Red Cross, Florence Nightingale, said, “I attribute my success to this: I never gave or took any excuse.”

A great boss really does walk the talk.  Vince Lombardi, the fabled football coach once said, “If you'll not settle for anything less than your best, you will be amazed at what you can accomplish in your lives.”  A great boss gives her best all the time, and leads by example.  She will not expect an employee or colleague to do anything she would not do.  At the same time, she accepts responsibility for failures, and understands all people makes mistakes, but will not tolerate excuses, but will appreciate appropriate corrective action and effort. 

In addition, as Arnold Glasow stated, “A good leader takes a little more than his share of the blame, a little less than his share of the credit.”  An exceptional boss is willing to give undo credit to others when there is success, and take the responsibility when failure does happen.

3.  Gives clear goals and expectations
As Henry Ford said when asked about the difficulties in starting Ford Motor Company, “Obstacles are those frightful things you see when you take your eyes off your goal.” And while a good boss realizes that real autonomy and independence is important in every job, but without clear stated goals and expectations most employees would be like a ship adrift on the sea. A great boss sets specific achievable goals and a gives a clear vision of how those goals can be achieved, and encourages those individuals to do so. 

 And of course, change happens! When an exceptional boss changes, a goal, or a standard, or a deadline, or a guideline, she communicates the change beforehand.  And when that is not possible, she takes the time to explain why she made the decision she made and what she expects in the future.

4. Stretches Your Potential
One of the most important aspects of being a great boss is setting goals that stretch a person, but at the same time are achievable. As Harriet Braiker says, “Striving for excellence motivates you; striving for perfection is demoralizing,” is probably the best way of saying that setting a goal that is out of reach, can have the opposite effect.  Almost everyone is competitive; and you will find often the best employees are extremely competitive, especially with themselves. Meaningful targets can create a sense of purpose and add a little meaning to even the most repetitive tasks.

Plus, stretch goals can be exhilarating. Without a meaningful goal to shoot for, work is just well, work; and no one likes just working.  Still, a great boss will remember the wisdom of Thomas Aquinas, “If the highest aim of a captain were to preserve his ship, he would keep it in port forever.” You need to discover new lands if you want to get anywhere and be successful.  An exceptional boss is one who makes work more like a pirate adventure than an trip on the Bounty.

5. Gives a true sense of purpose
President Richard M. Nixon has a great quote about purpose, “Until he has been part of a cause larger than himself, no man is truly whole.” Everyone likes to feel a part of something bigger than themselves. Everyone loves to feel that sense of teamwork and esprit de corps that turns a group of individuals into a real team, and that team into a winning team.

Great bosses understand that the best missions of a team or organization involve making a real impact on the lives of the people you serve. They let employees know what they want to achieve for the business, for their customers, and even their community. And if they can, let them create a few missions of their own. Feeling a true purpose starts with knowing what you stand for and to care about and, more importantly, why to care, and that you want to build something unique and long lasting. This is echoed by John D. Rockefeller when he said, “I had no ambition to make a fortune. Mere money-making has never been my goal, I had an ambition to build.”

6. Makes everyone feel important
“Pretend that every single person you meet has a sign around his or her neck that says, ‘Make me feel important’,” so says Mary Kay Ash the founder of Mary Kay cosmetics and responsible of creating more women millionaires than anyone. This sentiment not only works for customers, but for your employees and teammates and great bosses know this empirically.

I believe a great boss needs to treasure the people who are willing and able to help you reach your goals. Engaged employees have ideas; take away those opportunities for them to make suggestions, or instantly disregard their ideas without consideration, and they immediately disengage. On the contrary, a great boss will listen to those ideas.  As Bryant McGill states, “One of the most sincere forms of respect is actually listening to what another has to say.”

That's why exceptional bosses make it incredibly easy for employees to offer suggestions. They ask leading questions and they probe gently for clarification and insight. They help employees feel comfortable proposing new ways to get things done or in abandoning the old ways that no longer do. When an idea is not feasible, they always take the time to explain why it will not work at this time, and encourage them to keep making suggestions. Great bosses know that employees who make suggestions care about the company, so they ensure those employees know their input is valued and appreciated.

7. Focuses on the team more than the tasks
Andrew Carnegie knew a thing or two about teamwork and stated, “Teamwork is the fuel that allows common people to attain uncommon results.”  While everyone works for a paycheck, it does not mean they do not want to work for something more. In actuality, they want to work with and for team of people they respect and admire, and with and for people who respect and admire them.  Great leadership fosters that teamwork in the form of leadership.

One of the greatest football coaches of all time, Vince Lombardi talks about this when he stated, “Leadership is based on a spiritual quality; the power to inspire, the power to inspire others to follow.” He knew want it took to make a championship team work. That is why a kind word, a quick discussion about family, an informal conversation to ask if a colleague needs any help may be much more important than group meetings or formal evaluations. Teams are personal, and a well running team creates a true sense of connection. Exceptional bosses have that leadership ability to appreciate the person, not just the worker, and the individual effort that makes the team work.  This is where the concept of a force multiplier comes to play.

8. Acts more like a servant than a tyrant
One of my favorite quotations on leadership is from Lao Tzu, “In wishing to be above men, put yourself by words below them, and, wishing to be before them, place yourself behind them.” What this means, is that in order to get employees to serve you, you must first be a servant to them.
Most people can understand a boss who is strict, demanding, and quick to offer (not always positive) feedback, as long as he or she treats everyone fairly. While great bosses understand everyone is different, and act accordingly, they also realize that showing consistency and fairness is the key to getting the respect and agreement from the rank and file.  Bosses who play favorites and politics, will never elicit the respect or effort out of their team, no matter what they try to do to encourage them since they see it as self-serving.   

 9. Praises in Public, Mentors in Private
Nobody is perfect, and few are exceptional. Every employee needs constructive feedback. Good bosses give that feedback but great bosses understand something more.  That in order to motivate they understand that praise is what raises the bar.  In the words of Dale Carnegie, “Be hearty in your approbation and lavish in your praise, and people will cherish your words and treasure them and repeat them over a lifetime.”  They also know that if criticism is warranted, that you ALWAYS do it in private and does not just criticizes, but as a mentor who encourages whenever possible.  As the old saying goes, give a dog a good name.

Everybody, even a relatively poor performer, does something well. Every employee deserves praise and appreciation.  To quote Ovid, “The spirited horse, which will try to win the race of its own accord, will run even faster if encouraged.” It is easy to recognize the best employees because they are continuously and consistently doing awesome things. The trick that great bosses and leaders do is make ordinary people into extraordinary people with a bit a praise and constant encouragement.

It might be difficult to find reasons to recognize an employee who simply meets standards, but that is not the point. The object is to make them feel valued, and a few words of recognition, both in private and especially in public, may be the spark an average performer needs to start becoming a great performer.

10. Always has YOUR future in mind
I believe the greatest ability to possess is the ability to find, develop, and promote abilities in other people. A good boss realizes that every job should have the potential to lead to greater things, be it in the group or elsewhere. Exceptional bosses take the time to develop employees for the jobs they someday hope to land, even if the jobs are with another company.  They not only support their employees, but give them personal insight on how to further their OWN careers.

As the late great actor, Tony Curtis said, “Service to others is the rent we pay for time on this earth.”  So, how can that great boss serve the greater well being of their employees?  Well, a good start is to ask what he employees hope to do someday. Employees will only care about you and your business after you first show you care about them. One of the best ways to do so is to show that while you certainly have hopes for your company's future, you also have hopes for your employees' futures as well.  A good boss might pay lip service to this, but an exceptional boss will go out of her way to help in the development and expansion of every person’s potential.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Traits of an Entrepreneur

I will begin and end this article with two quotations. The first is from Edward Rogers:

"You don't deserve to be called an entrepreneur unless you've mortgaged your house to the business."
--Edward S. (Ted) Rogers 

This one sentence pretty much says it all. Entrepreneurs are not necessary gamblers, but they are willing to put everything they own, or go all in, in order to make it happen. In the classical sense an entrepreneur is define as anyone who has possession of a new enterprise, endeavor, venture or idea, and assumes significant accountability for the inherent risks associated with the development, growth, and outcome. He or she is an organizer who combines land, labor, material resources, and/or capital to create and market new goods, products, or services. The term "entrepreneur" is loaned from the French and was first defined by the Irish economist Richard Cantillon, where the term was applied to the type of persona who was willing to take upon themselves a new venture or enterprise and accepts full responsibility for the outcome.

I have read hundreds of articles about what constitutes an entrepreneur or what training you need to be an entrepreneur or what classes will make you an entrepreneur. Well, I have to tell you that being an entrepreneur is a little like combining an artist, athlete, general, and magician. In my humble opinion, entrepreneurship, just like creativity, cannot be taught. Entrepreneurship is not about a class you take in college or a course at some training center, it must be experienced. It must be learned through the trial and error of starting, growing, nurturing, and hopefully succeeding in a undertaking that has never been done before, and even then, not everyone is cut out to be an entrepreneur. Some people mistake having characteristics of an entrepreneur as being an entrepreneur, but that does not make you an entrepreneur. That is like saying all tall people are good at basketball. It might give them an advantage, but does not necessarily make them a basketball player no more than owning a piano makes you a pianist.

In addition, if you are starting a business that involves just doing something that someone else has already done does NOT make you an entrepreneur. Case in point, franchisees Lawyers, Doctors, etc. Sorry, it does make you a businessman or woman, but not an entrepreneur. Entrepreneurship, by its very nature, implies and demands that you are creating something that has not been done before.

A former Senator from South Carolina, Jesse Helms, once quipped about pornography, "I cannot tell you what pornography is, but I will recognize it when I see it." So too in a great way, is this true for entrepreneurship. Many people consider themselves entrepreneurs, when in fact, they are just business people, or worse yet, employees. I am not saying that these individuals cannot possess the characteristics of an entrepreneur. They can. They are just not entrepreneurs.

So what are these characteristics? A good friend of mine, Suzy Drapkin, who has worked in human resources for numerous years and runs a career placement firm in Austin, TX, made a presentation about the profile characteristics of an entrepreneur that was pretty inclusive. In her presentation she stated that the more of these characteristics an entrepreneur has, the better their chances for success, but that even having all of these characteristics does not guarantee your success. While all these characteristics do not mean you are necessarily an entrepreneur, they are essential to the success of an entrepreneur. They include being:

Results Oriented

Not having these characteristics does not mean you will not be successful (wow, three negatives in one sentence), it just means you might have to surround yourself with someone who does have them (this gets into another topic of team building, which I will not go into here).

While these characteristics help an entrepreneur when they have to wear the multiple hats of salesman, leader, confessor, cheerleader, foreman, scientist, accountant, and artist; two other characteristics of entrepreneurs that should be included are the ability to endure failure (resilient) and the ability to go the first mile alone (fearless). There is a big difference from being able to endure criticism and failure. No, failure is something entirely different. Incredibly, most successful entrepreneurs failed a lot, in a large part because they were trying something that was never attempted or done before. The successful entrepreneurs learn from their mistakes, take those lessons, adapt, and then try again with something new and difference. Failure is just a mile marker on their way to success.

While in some way, each of the characteristics can be honed through practice, training, and experience, there is one that cannot, but almost without fail, every successful entrepreneur says that needed in order to be make whatever they were doing a reality. It is a intangible characteristic of an entrepreneur but it is one that actually entrepreneurs believe they possess and that is the ability to be lucky. Yep, luck, just being at the right place at the right time, coincidentally running into someone you needed to meet, or just getting noticed by someone important, is probably the biggest factor in being an entrepreneur which cannot actually be controlled but is vitally important. Some studies have been conducted that actually say that some forms of luck can be "helped" to happen, and as a rule, successful entrepreneurs overwhelming believe they are lucky.

So, there it is. Entrepreneurship is an experience to be learned, and helped along if you have a certain set of characteristics, and is really dependent on luck. Still interested? Maybe this quotation can help sum it up:

"Entrepreneurship does not build character; it reveals character."
--Jeffrey Fry

Thursday, January 1, 2015

The Non-New Year's Resolutions

I know it is that time of the year when EVERYBODY makes New Year’s resolutions about how to have a better year.  I have my own resolutions, but they are not about having a better year, but a better life in general.  Of course there are 10 of them… but I think if you can adapt them into your daily regime, you will see that

1. Get Rid of Toxic People
You know how Superman has his Kryptonite? Well, toxic people in your life are just like that.  Oh, and they may be people who are very close to you: your father, mother, girlfriend, boss, husband, etc.  If you really want to succeed and be happy in this life, you have to get rid of those who are poisoning you.  As I like to say, if you want to lift yourself up, see who is bringing you down, and get rid of them.  I know this may sound harsh and callous, but if you really want to get on with your life, you first need to go through a detox.

As a curative to this, Ben Glass has a solution, “You are the average of the five people you hang out with the most.” What this means is that you need to see who those

2. Keep Drama Out of Your Life
Very close to getting rid of toxic people in your life, you have to realize when you are being pulled into what is called double bind situations, or as I like to call it, drama.  A double bind is a situation where there is NO right answer, but whatever you answer is the wrong one, such as: Have you ever been caught stealing?  See? Yes means you are a thief that was caught, no means are a thief that has not been caught.

Drama usually comes from people who are not particularly interested in your well-being and are only focused on petty or trivial facts and events. They usually emotionally stunted and insecure and tend to talk about “thinks that are happening to other people” or rehash events that cannot be resolved, and just want to such the emotional good will out of you.  Think of drama feeders as emotional vampires.  They suck all the joy and happiness out of any meeting, and seem to keep you from getting where you want to be.

Drama in your life can ONLY exist if YOU decide to participate in it. So, if someone brings up some old hurt, or starts gossiping about someone, or starts spreading a rumor, just cut if off right then and there.  Do NOT participate, and you will be amazed how much more time you have and how less stressed you feel.

3. Realize you Cannot Control People, or Really Much of Anything
This might be the most important advice I can give: You cannot control what other people do, only how you react to it.  You really need to read that sentence again.  You cannot control anybody.  With that said, you really should not fret about anything you cannot control.

Worrying about things you cannot control is folly. Focus only on those few things you have any control over, and your life becomes much simpler.  It is amazing how much time, effort, and brain-power we expend trying to change things we have absolutely no control over.  What you need to do is figure out the few things you can control, and master them.

4. Go to the Gym Every Day
This is ALL about committing to actions NOT goals.  Most people say I want to lose 10 or 15 or 20 pounds and then after the first week of going to the gym, they give up.  Instead, commit to go to the gym every day, and exercise every day, and cut out junk food every day.  And the weight will come off.

This also has to do with ANYTHING you do. Committing to a goal does not always bring action, yet committing to an action will invariably bring you to your goal.  So, whatever it is you want to do, be it becoming a singer, or entrepreneur, or chef, do the action every day, and your will eventually reach your goal.

5. Eat Well
Open your refrigerator and freezer.  How much packed or process food do you have in their?  How many boxes of food do you have in your cupboard? You should have none.  If you really want to live well, then eat well.  That means getting rid of processed foods (most anything that comes in a box), and eating more fruits, and vegetables and less sugars, dairy, and breads.  Eat more fish and chicken, and less red meats. This goes pretty much with committing to an action. 

Notice I said nothing about becoming a vegan or foregoing things you might like to eat every now and again. The trick to feeling better is eating better. If you can just get rid of processed food, your life will improve immeasurably.

6. Be giving, Especially to Other Givers
Adam Grant wrote an excellent book titled “Give and Take.”  What this book talks about is that there are three types of people: Givers, Takers and Matchers. In his book, he talks about the most and least successful type of people. The least successful are givers, the next, takers, the next matchers, and the most successful are givers. So, naturally, you ask: How can givers be the most and least successful?  Well, because there are two types of givers: Givers who give indiscriminately and those who give with a purpose.  The long and short, givers who give to other givers are successful.  So, be giving, but be judicious on your giving.

7. Be Happy to See Anyone and Everyone
Why do people love dogs?  Because they are ALWAYS glad to see you.  When you treat everybody you meet as an equal and give them your full attention and warmth, you will find that life becomes a very simple place. Do this not only with the people you know, but with new people you meet.

Sadly, most people believe that a person’s status in life equals their worth as a person, but it does not.  Most people are good, caring, kind and intelligent, and regardless of that status in life, have something to give and share.  To pigeonhole a person as a Democrat, or Janitor, or Conservative, or Muslim, or Hispanic is to do a disservice that you cannot imagine. 

Every person is unique, and valuable.  Why judge someone before you ever meet them?  Yes, most you will not bring into your circle, but if you eliminate any new or odd or different person, how will you ever grow beyond your safe little circle.

8. Do Things You Never Thought You Would Do
So, closely aligned with being happy to meet people is having the ability to get out of your comfort zone. I firmly believe you need to go to where you do not know what you do not know. That is where you will find all your opportunities.  So, how do you do this?

First, go to a Meetup group that you think you would have absolutely no interest in going to; Meet that person who is asking for your help; help that non-profit you feel deserves some help; call that girl you thought you had no chance with.  Trust me, being rejected and feeling awkward is a small price to the upside of connecting with that unknown opportunity, or great connection, or perfect boyfriend you thought you would never find.

9. Be the Person You Want to Be With
Ok, yes we ALL want to be with someone, but it is amazing how often with sell ourselves short and settle with a less than desirable mate or partner. Oh love, what a foolish thing, but if you live by the creed that you will first be that person you want to be with, you will eventually attract the person whom you will be happy with.  Yes, this sounds like magic, but I truly believe that an open mind and heart usually lead you to those who have the same. And after all, what do we want more than to be with someone who loves and appreciates us?

10. Remember Everyone’s Birthday
This might be the simplest and easiest thing to do, but sending a Happy Birthday care or email will pay dividends way beyond anything you can imagine.  As Mark Twain once stated, The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why,” so at least recognize one of these days.

So, hopefully you will be able to apply a few of these to your life.  In doing so, I can guarantee that you will so a much more fulfilling and happy life. And, is that not what we are all striving for?

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

World's Best, Greatest, Most, & Least

Of course it is the end of yet another year. The sun still shines in the sky, the Earth still circles it and life goes on, but would it not be nice to know some fun facts about this beautiful blue planet we live on? In any case, here are a bunch of number one's that you might not have known about.

The world's hottest place: Death Valley National Park
The highest air temperature ever recorded on Earth was 134 degrees Fahrenheit, at Death Valley National Park on July 10, 1913.

The world's coldest place: East Antarctic Plateau
On the high ridge of the East Antarctic Plateau, the temperature can drop to as low as -135.8 degrees Fahrenheit, recorded in August, 2010.

World's most populated city: Shanghai
At a whopping 24,150,000 permanent inhabitants, Shanghai is the single city that is home to the most people in the world.

World's least populated city: Vatican City
With a paltry population of 842, the city-state of Vatican City is the smallest city and state in the world.

World's wealthiest city: Tokyo
That tower might as well be made of gold, since Tokyo tops the charts with a GDP of $1,520 billion (only beating New York by a mere $310 billion).

World's poorest city: Kinshasa
Kinshasa is probably the poorest city in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the poorest country in the world, at a GDP of $55 billion. Many of its residents live on less $1 a day.

Highest point in the world: Mount Everest
Towering 29,029 feet in the air, the top of Mount Everest is the closest you can get to touching space, while still standing on Earth.

Lowest point in the world: Challenger Deep
The lowest known natural point in the world is Challenger Deep, 35,797 ft below sea level at the bottom of the Mariana Trench. Only three people have ever made it to the bottom, one of which was filmmaker James Cameron.

Most photographed place: The Guggenheim
Photos have always told stories, but in today's world of cell phone cameras and social media, that story is relayed as data to companies who monitor everything we do. Geotagged data was culled by Sightsmap using a Google-based image sharing software, and can now show us the most photographed places in the world, right down to the landmark. The Winner? The Guggenheim in New York.

The world's most popular country: Germany
The results of the annual BBC World Country Rating Poll are in, and Germany came out on top as the most positively viewed country in the world among people probably under the age of 85 (at a 59% positivity rating).

The wettest spot on Earth: Mawsynram, India
Rainwise, anyway. In Mawsynram, India, it rains an average of 467.35 inches per year, and with a record of 1000 inches in 1985.

The driest spot on Earth: The Atacama Desert
The 600 miles of South America's Atacama desert is the driest place on Earth, no contest. The Desert sees an average of 4 inches of rain every thousand years. Yes, you read that right.

Sunniest Place on Earth: Yuma, Arizona
In Yuma, Arizona, the sun shines for an average of 11 hours a day. Its forecast is sun for 90 percent of the year, averaging a total of 4015 daylight hours a year.

Most expensive city to live in: Singapore
The new champion of the world, Singapore has recently beat out Tokyo for the title of "most expensive city" for 2014. Cars can cost between 4-6 times in Singapore what they cost in the US or UK (for example, a Toyota Prius actually costs about $150,000.00 there).

Least expensive city to live in: Mumbai, India
At the other end of the spectrum, Mumbai, India, is the cheapest place to live in the world, according to the Worldwide Cost of Living Index 2014. For some perspective, a loaf of bread that would cost $3.36 in Singapore, would only cost $0.91 in Mumbai.

Country that consumes the most food: United States
I suppose there must be a reason why Americans have a food-related reputation when it comes to other countries: we eat an average of 3,770 calories a day each.

The world's oldest city: Damascus
There's quite a bit of controversy over which city gets to officially claim the title of "oldest continuously inhabited city." With evidence of civilization that extends back over 11,000 years, Damascus in Syria is probably the safest bet.

Youngest country in the world: South Sudan
The people of South Sudan were formally recognized as an independent country in 2011, making it the youngest country in the world to-date.

The world's most visited city: London
After a several-year bout with Bangkok, London has regained its place as the world's most visited city (according to MasterCard's 2014 Global Destinations City Index). The city sees about 18.69 million international visitors annually, generating $19.3 billion in revenue.

The world's least popular country: Iran
On that same rating scale, Iran has come in dead last (at a 59% negativity rating). Only 15% of people polled viewed Iran in a positive light.

The world's most dangerous city: San Pedro Sula, Honduras
In San Pedro Sula, Honduras, there are over 3 murders a day. The violence stems from the city's role as a major hub for illegal drug and arms trafficking.

Most caffeinated country in the world: Sweden
The coffee in Sweden will put a spring in your step, and hair on your tongue. The Swedes consume an average of 388 mg of caffeine in coffee per person, per day (that's almost 5 Red Bulls).

Most drunken country in the world: Belarus
In Belarus, each person above the age of 15 drinks an average of 4.62 gallons of alcohol every year.

The most bicycle friendly city in the world: Groningen, Netherlands
By comparing cities along the criterion of average number of bicycle trips made daily, one city reigns supreme: Groningen in the Netherlands. In Groningen about 50 percent of the population commute via bike daily, making it the city with the greatest proportion of cyclists on the planet.

World's most energy efficient city: Reykjavik, Iceland
All of the energy and heat used by the citizens of Reykjavik Iceland come from geothermal plants and renewable hydropower, making it the most sustainable and energy efficient city in the world. On their mission to be completely free of fossil fuels by 2050, the city has also been replacing traditional buses with hydrogen-fueled buses, from which the only emissions are water.

Most cat friendly country: United States
With a pet cat population of 76.43 million feline friends, the United States dominates the world stage for most cat friendly country in the world.

Most dog friendly country: United States
Similarly, America more than doubles the amount of pet dogs any other country has, with a dog population of 61.1 million.

Most sexually satisfied country: Switzerland
Switzerland might just be the most progressive and least sexually repressed country in the world. Between liberal views on pornography and prostitution, and sex ed that starts in Kindergarten, over a fifth of the population consider their sex-lives "excellent." They even recently opened up a very successful array of tax-funded drive-in sex boxes in Zurich. Bonus, in spite of all this, Switzerland also holds the title as one of the lowest teen birth rates in the world.

Least sexually satisfied country: Japan
With its extreme conservatism, Japan is the country with the least sexual satisfaction, as only 15% of individuals reported having a fulfilling sex life. Furthermore, over 45% of Japanese women report being either uninterested in, or actually despising, sexual contact.

Most emotional country in the world: Philippines
Polling citizens in 150 countries over the years of 2009-2011, researchers found that the people of the Philippines were the most likely to respond emotionally to simple questions about their day.

Least emotional country in the world: Singapore
That same study revealed that Singaporeans experience the least emotion on the day-to-day. Only 3 out of every 10 reported having any emotional reactions to basic scenarios or when describing their days.

Country with the longest life expectancy in the world: Monaco
According to the World Health Organization's study from 2013, Monaco tops the charts for longest living citizens, with an average life expectancy of 87.2 years. Men in Monaco live an average 85.3 years, and women live to an average of 89 years.

Country with the shortest life expectancy: Sierra Leone
On the other side of that coin, the population of Sierra Leone live to an average of 47 years. The men of Sierra Leone live to an average of 47 years old, whereas women live an average of 48 years.

Sexiest country in the world: Brazil and Australia
There will always be a debate about which countries are home to the most attractive people, in part because who's to say what is objectively attractive? Though the means are hardly scientific, a recent poll found quite a disparity between which countries men believe are the sexiest, and which countries women find the sexiest. For men, Brazil tops the charts for the most attractive people. For women, it's about the thunder down under in Australia.

Most stressed-out country in the world: Nigeria
By looking at the dimensions of Homicide Rate, GDP per capita, Income inequality, Corruption, and Unemployment, one thing is clear: Nigeria is hands-down the most stressed out country in the world.

Least stressed-out country in the world: Norway
Along the same dimensions, Norway was at the far-end of the other side of the spectrum, and is deemed the least stressed-out country in the world.

Country with the highest average IQ: Hong Kong*
There are a lot of factors that can affect an IQ score, ranging from national and personal wealth to simply who makes the test. As a result, these findings are highly controversial, but seem to suggest that Hong Kong is the country* with the highest IQ, at an average of 107 points.
*Hong Kong is a special administrative region of China meaning that it falls within the sovereignty of the People's Republic of China, yet does not form part of Mainland China, and has it's own government.

Country with the lowest average IQ: Equatorial Guinea
According to "IQ and the Wealth of Nations," Equatorial Guinea caps the low end of the global IQ range, with a national average of 59 points.

World's most well-connected city (for internet): Seoul, South Korea
Surprisingly, despite it's 618 million internet users spending an average of 18.7 hours a week surfing the net, China didn't even make the top 10. Along the dimensions of average connection speed, availability (weighted towards free access), openness to innovation, support of public data, and privacy/security, Seoul in South Korea is the champion of internet-connectedness. With 10,000 government supported free WiFi spots dotting the city, and an internet speed that goes unchallenged globally, Seoul is an internet junkie's paradise.