Please do yourself a favor and watch this 10 minute video from Ron Finley:
He is a representation of everything that is good and right about humanity.
He is the guerrilla gardener of South Central LA.
I love this guy for many reasons.
First, he’s an amazing public speaker. If you are into speaking, watching good ones is crucial. Just like a professional athlete studies his sport, public speakers need to study their sport. This guy is great.
Secondly, and more importantly, he is a guy that is looking at possibilities. Not problems.
I can’t tell you how rare that kind of person is in the world.
I believe people will tell you all the reasons your idea will fail because it’s the only way they can contribute. They don’t have any ideas of their own. So their “idea” is to tell you why your idea sucks.
One of the benefits to heavy drinking was that I would subject myself to a regular self inflicted flu-like conditions. Hangovers are hell. I was usually out of commission the entire next day. Week after week after week.
But at least it kept me occupied.
I’m going on 10 years of not drinking. I feel so much better. I highly doubt I’ll ever go back.
The amount of kinetic energy I have these days is palpable.
I’m always looking for the next “thing.”
I have significantly more energy than I ever used to.
It makes me look for something to fill my time, to give me a buzz.
This is the entrepreneur’s curse. I’m not the only one to feel this way. I know many entrepreneurs who feel the same way I do. Starting things gets in your blood. The new project is so compelling. Most entrepreneurs need the fix. The new business.
But the ennui, the restlessness, it weakens you. It diversifies your attention. It steals your persistence.
That becomes the serial entrepreneur’s greatest threat. Boredom.
But we know this: Everything succumbs to persistence.
Discipline and dedication are the keys to the entrepreneur’s success.
Don’t walk away. Don’t get distracted. Keep your focus.
Do what you have to do to stay in the game you’re in.
Change roles. Set high goals. Expand your market. Just don’t leave.
And if things become too unbearable figure out how you can sell. Don’t walk away until you get something for your effort.
I know it’s hard. I know you don’t want to be where you are anymore. And I know you are the kind of person that takes big, drastic actions. Just don’t walk away.
I see people do it all the time. Get something for your efforts. There are plenty of other people who don’t like the “thrill” of starting something new.
So bloggers seemed a bit surprised to read that the Microsoft co-founder and his wife have limited their 10-year-old daughter to 45 minutes per day of total screen time for games and an hour on the weekends, plus whatever time she needs for homework,
The debate, however, is not intelligently discussed, in my opinion.
If we are going to talk about screen time, I think we need to start at the beginning. Just to set the record straight, we have to ask: “What is a screen?”
I believe this concept came up based on experiences like mine being raised in the 70’s and 80’s.
This Zenith looks quite similar to what we had:
When I think of a “screen” this is the first thing that comes to mind.
This is a CRT-type screen.
The important thing to know about CRT is that it “paints” the picture on the screen.
The image is created by light moving in lines across the screen.
In this figure, the blue lines represent lines that the electron beam is “painting” on the screen from left to right, while the red dashed lines represent the beam flying back to the left. When the beam reaches the right side of the bottom line, it has to move back to the upper left corner of the screen, as represented by the green line in the figure. When the beam is “painting,” it is on, and when it is flying back, it is off so that it does not leave a trail on the screen
This is the kind of screen that I believe most people think of when they consider a screen. So could we define a screen as something that paints pictures by quickly making flickering lines across a surface?
But that’s not what most of us are looking at today.
Today, most of us are looking at LCD screens.
That technology is quite different. It doesn’t paint the screen. Nor does it emit its own light. LCD’s are either backlit or reflective.
A common LCD wrist watch is reflective. It has no light. It simply uses the light in the room.
For example, if a Cathode Ray Tube computer monitor’s vertical refresh rate is set to 60 Hz, most monitors will produce a visible “flickering” effect, unless they use phosphor with long afterglow. Most people find that refresh rates of 70–90 Hz and above enable flicker-free viewing on CRTs.
So, flicker can’t be the defining factor. Nor can the fact that these images are made up of pixels, or tiny dots.
Newspaper and magazine photos use the same type of dot structure.
So, if dots don’t define a screen and flicker doesn’t define a screen what does? Is it that it’s electronically lit? Is it because it’s not organically created?
I don’t believe simply lumping everything that plugs in as a “screen” is accurate.
It would follow that if you wanted to read a book at night, and had to use a light, it now is more like a reflective LCD screen and therefore should be classified as “screen time.” The light you are using is man made. It’s synthetic. So therefore it becomes electronic. I don’t think we want to begin determining if something is a screen based on the type of lightbulb you choose to use. “A filament lightbulb is natural but a florescent or LED lightbulb is electronic.”
The Chinese invented paper in 105 A.D. At that time it was the state of the art medium. Before then the medium of choice was silk… something only the rich could afford. They were able to place ink on a much cheaper medium and therefore communicate with a much larger audience.
We are now in an era of “electronic ink.” So now instead of permanently displaying ink forever on a medium like paper, we can now shift the ink electronically so the medium can be rewritten instantly over and over.
Electronic ink further decreases the cost of publishing which will put the cost even lower which further extends the reach of books and media as a whole.
Not writing permanently on paper saves resources and reaches a greater audience. I can’t see much negative in that. But is it a screen and therefore something that should be limited?
I think it is quite reasonable to imagine school books being given to students using electronic ink. School systems will save incredible amounts of money. Further, electronic ink allows you to have your entire library of books in your backpack or purse… since you began reading. It will also include all of your highlights and notes you took. The electronic ink medium surpasses most uses of books in almost every way.
But does it fall into the realm of a screen? It requires electricity to run. And it is “digital.”
Electronic ink is closer to ink than you might think:
the three components of both electronic inks that give them the ability to rearrange upon command:
Millions of tiny microcapsules or cavities
An ink or oily substance filling the microcapsules or cavities
Pigmented chips or balls with a negative charge floating inside the microcapsule
Electronic ink can be applied to the same materials that regular ink can be printed on. In the case of a digital book, the pages would be made out of some kind of ultra-thin plastic. The ink would cover the entire page, separated by cells that resemble the cells on graph paper. Think of these cells as pixels on your computer screen, with each cell wired to microelectronics embedded in this plastic sheet. These microelectronics would then be used to apply a positive or negative charge to the microcapsules to create the desired text or images.
So now the question arises: is a thin piece of plastic a “screen?”
a film of organic compound which emits light in response to an electric current.
We are now entering a phase where organic compounds are being organized electronically to display images on surfaces that are closer to paper than they are to glass.
Is that a screen?
If you could display OLED imagery on a piece of paper, is a piece of paper a screen?
And if so, should we be discussing limiting “paper” time?
The conversation is worth having.
Ultimately, limiting “screen time” is an outdated discussion.
The discussion needs to be around the content and not the device.
A mindless episode of Dukes of Hazard will likely be able to be watched on a thin piece of plastic in the next 5 years.
It’s the Dukes of Hazard that is crap. It’s not the plastic.
Limiting activities should be the discussion. Otherwise talking about limiting screen time is going to push you into an absurd corner.
But even that is complicated.
Did you ever have a limit on “phone time” as a teenager? If not, why would you have a limit on FaceTime?
Did you have a limit on the amount of time you could spend with your pen pal?
What if you child’s best friend lives in Beijing? Or what if they go to another school across town?
Do you really want to limit the social interactions of your child simply because that’s not how you did it when you were a kid and it’s on a “screen”? Are those relationships less real because they take place on some sort of electronically charged surface? If they sent them a letter written with a ball point pen, is that a higher quality experience?
“Why don’t they call them on the phone, like I did?”
I’m quite sure your parents thought you were insane too.
We spent a few days at a local water park for the President’s Day weekend. My niece and sister in law also came.
The kids (both 8) are really into Minecraft Pocket Edition. It’s a little like Legos except you play it on a tablet or phone.
It’s interesting because you can collaborate with other people who are playing on the same wireless network you are on. So Indy and Alexandra were working together to build houses, make tools and dig for various minerals to make more things.
This is an example of the kind of things people make:
It’s highly imaginative and a perfect example of learning through gaming. It’s an almost perfect example of the gameification principle.
A problem arose this weekend because we were playing at a water park on President’s Day weekend. Other kids were playing too.
The pocket Edition of this game is simpler than the main edition that is played on a computer.
In order for my niece and son to play together they had to make their game “visible” on the park’s wireless network. That meant any other kid at the park that was playing could see their world as well. There is no way to kick people out or password protect your world. The developers just didn’t plan for a water park, is all.
So what did the other kids do: They immediately came into our world and destroyed everything. This tore up our house. They took all our supplies and food. They were marauders.
This is interesting on many levels. If left to our own devices, with no controls or authority, the instinct appears to be to steal and destroy. It seems that we are probably much closer to our animal instincts than we like to think we are. This seems to be a strong human instinct that we are born with. No one is teaching any of these children to opportunistically steal and destroy.
Because what did my “dear sweet child” want to do after that happened? He immediately wanted to go into their world and kill them. He didn’t want to just steal there stuff and destroy their houses. He wanted to kill them.
There are 2 points to this story:
1. Don’t play an unpassworded networked game at a water park and expect all the anonymous kids to just get along.
2. Realize that the Internet is the wild wild West. It’s unmonitored. There are no laws against being mean and cruel. People will tear anyone and anything down because no one is watching.
As parents and a species this gives us an interesting opportunity. We can all talk about doing what’s right and being kind not because we’ll get in trouble if we don’t. There is no God or police looking out and penalizing you for cyber bullying.
The conversation can be around how being mean hurts and makes us all less. “Haters gonna hate,” is easy to say. But the ramifications are much deeper. It slows us down and injures us.
This all gives us the potential opportunity to evolve. Can we become altruistically kind? Can we become kind not because we will go to jail or even feel bad if we get caught? But because we are helping someone else to rise up.
What if the experience had been other kids coming into our world and they helped us build? What if people stopped going on YouTube and thinking new ways to be cruel?
These are conversations we as a society all need to have.
The core essence of the HP Way consists of five fundamental precepts.*
1) The Hewlett-Packard company exists to make a technical contribution, and should only pursue opportunities consistent with this purpose;
2) The Hewlett-Packard company demands of itself and its people superior performance—profitable growth is both a means and a measure of enduring success;
3) The Hewlett-Packard company believes the best results come when you get the right people, trust them, give them freedom to find the best path to achieve objectives, and let them share in the rewards their work makes possible;
4) The Hewlett-Packard company has a responsibility to contribute directly to the well-being of the communities in which its operates;
5) Integrity, period.
And now look at them. Or should I say, look at this:
We woke up this morning to find Marty-the-Cat dead.
He was resting comfortably on my kid, Indy’s bed.
He was young. About 2.
Indy and Marty played a fun game yesterday where Indy pretended Marty was one of the characters on the new game he got for Christmas, “All Star Battle Royale.”
Indy was Marty’s favorite human.
But even that was a stretch. Marty never really connected well with anyone, animal or human. He was pretty much a loner.
As I wrote that last sentence I was tempted to take this article in the direction of social media being a social outlet for people that have a hard time connecting in the “real” world.
But that wasn’t my intention when I sat down. And so I’ll stick with plan A.
Death surrounds us.
January could probably be renamed Death Month. It’s cold, dark and literally, most everything in nature is dead.
If you ask a Floridian, however, they will often tell you that the lack of a Death Month like January up north causes things to grow out of control. Huge bugs. Huge plants. Huge alligators. Life takes life for granted.
The death defines us. It shapes our lives.
Death gives you a minute to realize tomorrow isn’t a right. Tomorrow is a gift. And not a guaranteed gift, at that.
As they do for me when others say them, these words ring hollow unless you’ve had a recent death of your own. These kinds of words have the most meaning for anyone who has experienced death recently, I suspect.
The message is simple: Are you living the life you want to live? Are you living up to your own expectations?
Someday I will likely end up dead on a bed the next morning.
As will you.
Because this is a business blog, I’ll keep it on the topic of business:
Do you like your job?
Do you ever think about a better job?
Do you ever think about starting a business?
Do you ever think about starting another business?
Are you what you desire to be?
Two of my greatest life heros, Martin Luther King Jr. and Gandhi, both died without getting to their mountain top.
Stanley Wolpert has argued, The “plan to carve up British India was never approved of or accepted by Gandhi…who realised too late that his closest comrades and disciples were more interested in power than principle, and that his own vision had long been clouded by the illusion that the struggle he led for India’s freedom was a nonviolent one.”
And I’ve looked over. And I’ve seen the promised land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the promised land. So I’m happy, tonight. I’m not worried about anything. I’m not fearing any man. Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord.
There’s always more to do.
There’s always something else you could accomplish.
And so I imagine the more you push, the more you look to achieve greatness, the more likely it is that you will die in the middle of a great project… to never see the promised land.
But to never see it and to never try for it are two wildly different things.
The trying is where greatness enters your life.
Marty-the-Cat was not great at life. He didn’t like being pet. He wasn’t confident. His brother, Kai, was a powerful shadow on Marty’s lesser life.
But he tried.
He would sit on your lap for a time. But just please don’t pet him. It’s too much.
While his brother, Kai, often sits on the highest shelf he can find in the house, Marty preferred a hole in the box spring fabric of Indy’s bed to hide in. But he would occasionally jump on your desk to show he could do it too.
And that’s all we can ask of any of our human peers. That’s all we can ask of ourselves. To try.
We all have barriers and walls put up in our own lives. They are our walls. Most of us will never attempt to climb a wall as tall as King’s or Gandhi’s.
But that doesn’t make them less important. All we can do is try. Try to get over one more wall that is our wall.
That’s what God wants, I think.
He put us on this planet for a reason. And the reason, I believe, is to try.
Marty tried. It wasn’t great on the standard of great cats. But his challenges were great to him. And he faced them.
He was a good cat. He touched my life and made it more furry and purry. That’s a great thing in itself.
I love traveling. I love seeing new things. I love experiencing new things.
I’m not sure why I love it so much.
From the negative perspective maybe it’s because I’m not happy with myself so I’m always searching for a better place.
From the positive perspective maybe it’s because I love life and want to see as much of it as I can. The less time I spend doing maintenance like going to work the more true to life I feel.
It’s probably a mix of both those things.
But either way, the greatest benefit of traveling is being able to get out of my head.
I never realize how little I am actually seeing about my life until I get out of the day to day operations of my life.
I once read that you never get to see your own country clearly until you look at it from another country.
It’s the same way with your life and your business.
You can see it so much more clearly stepping outside of it for a while.
Most vacations of a week can do that for you. Take a week off and I pretty much guarantee you will be able to look back on your day to day situation and see things much more clearly.
There are also times when you can instantly push yourself outside of your life. I’m talking like within a couple hours.
These kinds of excursions can be so powerful that they throw you so far outside your life that for a moment you lose almost all care for things that seemed so important moments before. Your car, your house, your business… Irrelevant.
For those moments you almost can’t even imagine why you ever cared about superficial things.
New perspective pushes the boundaries of your life. New perspective gives you the opportunity to become wiser and more knowledgeable.
I bring this all up because this very thing happened to me yesterday at the Inauguration.
For me, the concepts presented resonate so deeply with my personal values.
The troubles and divisions of the Civil War were so much more “insurmountable” than the divisions we have today.
The safety net we have in place allow us to take great risk as individuals.
Government is not the answer to all of our problems.
Our suspicion and doubt of a central authority is American as apple pie.
These values, for me, are the core of all my strongest beliefs.
For me, Barack Obama amuses me because the left and right extremists think he is talking about some socialist utopia. But the majority of people hear his whole message. That he is a complicated centrist. He is not a simple MSNBC or FOX talking point. I think that’s what makes him so dangerous to his political adversaries. He speaks for the majority. The left and the right just refuse to hear that message. And therefore it rarely makes for good news coverage.
But that last paragraph is irrelevant and not of consequence to the point of this post.
If Barack Obama isn’t your cup of tea then find what is your cup of tea.
Find what means something to you.
Drinking water in Africa
The local needy in your community
You have values that are bigger than how much money you make.
I can’t recommend enough how life changing it is to spend a little time with what means something to you. It makes life bigger. It might make you rethink the path you are currently on.
I don’t know what the meaning of life is. There probably isn’t one, which makes the question frustrating. But having a bigger perspective can’t hurt.
Finally, I’ll tell you this: These kinds of journeys are hard and difficult. They are nothing like an all inclusive vacation resort. And while I’m also a fan of those, these kinds of journeys are almost always worth the effort. You are never too old, too young or too poor to make this kind of effort. You will always see people older and poorer and younger than you at events like these. That in itself is inspirational.
Search out things that mean something to you. And move towards them. You don’t have to dedicate your life to it, unless you decide you want to. Just take some time and energy to do it. Your life will be impacted for the better for it.
My New Year’s resolution this year: Sell like hell!
I’ve always told myself that I’m a terrible sales person. That I don’t like sales. That it’s too much pressure.
But after doing this business for 12 years or so, I know one thing: The best person to sell this stuff is me.
No one can sell it quite like I can.
That certainly has nothing to do with my sales skills, which truly are poor, it just has to do with the fact that I’ve been here the longest, I’m usually the front face of the organization and people often want to talk to me.
But I’ve always been the reluctant sales person: Until 2013.
This year I am determined to be a great sales person.
The two biggest weaknesses in my sales process have been:
Finding new people to talk to.
Following up on proposals.
The middle part: determining needs, being helpful – I feel pretty satisfied with my abilities on that front.
It’s the beginning and end that are my weaknesses.
As I think about “Sell like hell” year I’ve been thinking about why it is that I avoid finding new people and following up on proposals.
I’m pretty sure it comes down to one thing: Fear of rejection.
I was having lunch this week with a friend of mine who I consider an ideal salesperson. He’s
He’s a professional salesperson.
But during lunch I was shocked to hear that he really doesn’t look forward to picking up the phone. He doesn’t like the first thing I don’t like: Finding new people to talk to.
Why? Fear of rejection.
He actually said those words.
I was shocked that was something that was even on his radar.
So if he is afraid of rejection, we all must be afraid of rejection.
In fact, sales people tend to be extroverted people. If there is one thing I know about extroverts it’s that their self-worth is often highly wrapped up in what other people think of them.
That makes the fear of rejection even worse.
There are plenty of articles addressing how to get over the fear of rejection. Here’s a few:
I guess that kind of information can be helpful. But I kind of wonder if this is something you never really get over. I’m not sure those words of advice ever really sink in.
I suspect that if we wait for ourselves to feel OK with being rejected we’ll never get anything accomplished.
I’ve learned something in life: Things you really want are hard and often-times hurt.
You will indeed feel hungry as you lose weight.
Training for and running a marathon is downright painful.
Becoming a professional-grade musician is tedious, disciplined work.
And I suspect:
Becoming a great salesperson bruises your ego quite a bit.
Finding new prospects to talk to opens you up to all sorts of potential hurt and rejection. But I know this: If you want to get more sales you have to find more people to talk to.
There is no other way around it.
And on the other side: If I avoid talking to people who have proposals out I’m giving them all the power. They are making decisions based on no input from me. They are making decisions based on what other sales people are telling them and what they are thinking all by themselves about a topic they probably don’t know much about.
I guarantee being a good sales person is going to hurt. I will get rejected over and over and over.
But it’s the path. The hurt is telling you you are doing what you are supposed to be doing.
I suspect that it’s possible that an optimistic person could even see the rejection as something they come to look for.
The more rejection you have the closer you are to finding someone who won’t reject you.