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The focus of busy

July 8, 2011 1 comment

What is busy?  Each of us have our own personal definition.  It could be getting up and rushing out the door to your job in the morning feels “busy”.  Or it could be the stay at home mother (or father) with a couple of children who has to juggle appointments, nap time, lunch, play dates and a myriad of other daily ventures is equally busy.  Whatever your flavor of busy might be, you’re busy because you’re doing something.  Try to be busy with something you love though.

Focused and busy

When I was deployed to Iraq, I was fairly busy.  I would wake up, run 3 to 6 miles, get cleaned up, eat and then walk around and visit a bunch of Soldiers or prep for a convoy mission.  I was always checking out something.  In the heat of the day after lunch I could probably relax for a little bit, to read a book or catch a nap.  Then I would check out the command center in the afternoon and evening, have a meeting or two, eat, catch a movie and then do it all over again for about 400+ straight days.  Those were long days, some longer than others.  The busyness of those days has taught me that I can handle “busy” and nothing is busier than a houseful of children I’ve come to find out.  Not even a wartime deployment could adequately prepare me for the energy of mutiple children under the age of five.  And that’s okay.

Being busy has the ability to focus you on what is important.  You have no choice but to utilize your limited amount of time and resources in a manner that not only supports the task at hand but your entire life.  Being busy is a good thing.  It gives you focus.  If your busyness is focused on a task that you love to do, you’ll probably feel time just melt away as you conduct your business.  Focus your energy and time on the things and people who you love and you won’t have to toil a day in your life.

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To the class of 2011, Choose debt free! Part Two

June 8, 2011 2 comments

This is part two of the blog, To the class of 2011.  It picks up with my predictions for what the class of 2011 might expect now as they move forward with their lives over the next couple of years.

Here’s how the scenarios might look to a majority of you.

A.  You go away to college and have no idea how much it costs.  Tuition, room and board, gas, phones, utilities, rent, cable, internet etc.  No idea.  That’s okay!  You have a $500 scholarship and your FAFSA application.  You’re covered!  (Not really.)  Let’s continue; You are doing great at school and you are secretary of the student council, volunteer at the local animal shelter and have a fantastic 3.45 GPA in Political Science.  Once you take off that silly hat, you need a plan.

You are doing an amazing job and continue to do so for the next couple of years.

Fast forward to college graduation and now you are one of the lucky who made it all the way through unlike some of your roommates who just have thousand of dollars of debt and no degree.  You’re different because you have tens of thousands of dollars of debt WITH a degree.  You’re in great shape! (Not exactly.)  At 22 years old the world is yours for the taking.  If you’re going to work for your Uncle’s Firm and have a job all lined up you are in the minority.  Congratulations.  Most people don’t have a good job lined up.  Most people have to go out and look for a job.  The funny thing is, that after four/five years of college, you failed to learn how to write an effective resume and how to interview.  Uh oh.

So now you’re broke, don’t know how to interview and your resume consists of one line of education and work experience totaling assistant shift supervisor in the cafeteria.  With 9% unemployment nationwide (it’s still going to be rough in four years from now) what sort of rock star job to you think you’re going to get?  For a large number of people who aren’t engineers and computer science majors you’re probably going to revert back to what you know.  A job that you probably held BEFORE you left for school.  You’ve moved back in to your parents place because you can’t afford rent right now.  Good thing they kept your bedroom the same.  There is one big difference though, now you have fifty thousand dollars worth of student loans to pay off making $10-$15 an hour.  Ouch!

You see, the debt you incurred changes your mindset.  Instead of being able to do the unpaid internship across town, now you have to go and work in an unrelated field.  Instead of getting married to your college sweetheart you hold off because he is also living at his parents house because of his student debt.  You’re entire life changes because of that debt.  Keep that in mind when you sign on the dotted line.  Your choices have consequences.

This is not 10 years or even 15 years ago when my contemporaries were securing their first jobs outside of college.  It’s going to be much harder for you not just because of the job market but because of your debt load.  Student loan debt is one of the only debts that you can NEVER get rid of, not even through bankruptcy.

All this is yours forever (or what will seem like forever) if this is the path you take.  You’ll be hitting 40 years old and still paying the same tired old bill because your 18-year-old self signed up for it.  So, high school graduate, don’t you think it’s time to take another look at how you’re actually going to pay for your education?

Or you could consider this.

B. You work.  You work like you’ve never worked before.  It won’t kill you, trust me.  You’re 18 and healthy.  In this scenario you may work at a job or trade that requires you to work your way up and pay your dues, all the while they pay you while you earn valuable experience.  Great!  Keep doing that.  Just keep saving and paying with cash.

If you still want to go to college great!  You can do it.  Here’s what I propose.  Go to work.  Get two jobs.  Live at home.  You’re parents probably wouldn’t mind especially if you keep doing chores.  It’s a great deal you’ll soon find out.  Save for that first semester and go to the local community college.  Do that for two years.  You heard me TWO years.  During that time you’ll have done a couple of things.  You will have learned how to WORK and how to SAVE.  You’ve personally funded your first two years of school AND you’ve saved enough to move on to a four-year school to graduate.  You are putting yourself through college and you’re only making about $25k a year for the last two years.  Great job.  You also wont’ be afraid to pick up a part-time job while you are at your new university either.  Because at this point, just working one part-time job while taking fifteen credit hours is a breeze.   Now this route may have taken you more than four years.  That’s okay.  Maybe it took you six years and now you are twenty-four years old with a college degree and ZERO debt.  Not only that, you have YEARS of work experience under your belt in a myriad of different industries.  You had the freedom to switch jobs because you could!  You followed your passion one, $13 dollar an hour job at a time while you fit in class and studying.  You have a new appreciation for hard work and what your efforts are worth.

The difference between these two scenarios in easily quantifiable.  It’s a debt load equivalent to a starter home or a brand new 5 series BMW.  It’s massive, ugly and will be a part of every decision you make until you are at least forty years old.  That debt isn’t going to go away when you get married or have kids or try to buy a house or a new car.  All the time the debt load will be there for the person in Scenario A.  The people in Scenario A followed the masses and didn’t realize it was leading them down a path chained to a massive bill that they can never get rid of.  Education at any cost is silly.  Do it smart, don’t learn the hard way and pile on the debt.  The group in Scenario B worked hard, saved and paid for cash at the tender age of 24, they are debt free.  They are free to follow their hearts and dreams without the burden of an extra, interest bearing bill every single month for the next fifteen or more years.

You decide which one makes more sense.  You’re an adult now.  You can do what you want.

Keeping your confidence

May 27, 2011 2 comments

“I have the best idea in the world”.   We’ve all heard that from a close friend before. 

“This idea is going to change everything!”  Maybe you discuss the way ahead over drinks and after a few cocktails you both are worked up into a frenzy because you just know that this is going to be bigger that Apple.  The future is limitless, until you wake up the next morning with a headache. 

You can do anything!

Businesses have the potential to be a little bit like that.  You have an idea and some plans.  You chart your course and start to move forward with some saved capital (or heavens forbid, some borrowed capital) and the future is bright.  So bright in fact that you’ve convinced yourself that everything is going to be rosy.  It can’t fail.  

Then one day, three, six or eighteen months later you realize that this process is a slow grind.  Instant mega-success has eluded you.  So now what?   You keep plugging along but now the path ahead in a muddy path, not a gilded one.  Most people get stuck in the mud.   They are no longer looking forward because their eyes are fixed on their feet, all muddied.  Confidence has began to wane. 

Confidence is a funny thing.  Either you have it, or you don’t.  There isn’t much, if any, in-between.  So where did your confidence go?  At one point your idea had a lot of promise and you met that promise with unlimited energy and vigor.  As you moved ahead the big gains or massive break through didn’t materialize the way you thought it would. 

And you know what, that’s okay.  Take time to really assess your situation.  Are you stagnate or are you going backwards?  They are not the same thing.  Are you stuck working IN your business or are you working ON your business?  There is a big difference between the two.  You need to figure out which one you’re doing.

If your initial premise was sound and you’re still moving ahead, even if it is at a slow pace, keep going.  If it was going to be easy, everyone would be doing it.  They aren’t, but you are.  Good luck on your journey.

Little things matter, you can be Really Good

March 11, 2011 1 comment

What do you do that others don’t?  Do you go the extra mile for a customer or coworker?  Do you treat people better than the competition?  Are you willing to get up in the middle of the night to answer a question for a customer who might be on the other side of the planet?

These people love you

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Unlocking your superpowers

March 10, 2011 4 comments

Take stock of your skills. 

That is easier said than done.  You may not perceive what exactly counts as a “skill”.  Some of your skills may actually be personal gifts.  You may be very good at something and not consider that skill/gift as an asset. 

We tend to believe that only skills/gifts that we can have are quantifiable.  Take physical attributes and sports for instance.  It’s really easy to see the difference between a 5’8” basketball player and a 6’4”.  That’s easy.  Most of us would assume that the taller player has a gift.  The gift of height.  Similar with  a baseball pitcher and the ability to throw a baseball accurately and faster than another person. 

You just made my day.

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5 steps to go from Dreamer to Do-er

March 8, 2011 2 comments

You need to dream big.  I’m not here to squash your dreams.  If you’ve read half a dozen of my blog posts you’ll see that you need to have dreams.  You are only limited by your own fear.  Conquer that fear.  Visualize your success.  This is a very powerful exercise.  See yourself being successful and you will start to believe that you can achieve greatness.

What are you going to do with that idea?

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Your good and bad choices add up.

March 3, 2011 6 comments

Most people make good decisions.  The person in the cubicle next to you isn’t a complete idiot.  Neither is the lady down the hall, your neighbor or people in general.  They know not to play with fire, run with scissors or bungee jump without a bungee cord.  And for those that don’t they make the Darwin Awards list.

Your choice. Only one is correct.

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