Category Archives: Passion

How To Fight The Quality Of Life Deamons and Win

While others are wasting time making new year’s resolutions to lose weight and fail, you can set a better new year’s resolution: to improve the quality of your life.

Say No To Others

People will always be offering you new projects (because you’re so good at your existing ones) or new social opportunities- just say no if you don’t want it.

Say No To Yourself

As a high achiever you will always want to do more. Just say no to yourself unless it directly helps you achieve your goals.

Set Aside Me Time

When you set aside time to do things you enjoy don’t give up that time. Don’t let your other tasks bleed into your time.

Watch Your Goals

At all times you want to keep on eye on your goals. In every action be mindful of what you ultimately want to accomplish.

Take Enjoyment From Everything You Do

Live in the moment. Look for opportunities to enjoy what you do.

Make The Best Of Your Situation

After years of hard work a friend was recently promoted to a senior role in his organization. Now he’s complaining the challenge is gone because the team he assembled can handle everything. So he’s thinking of going to another company so he start the fight again. Rather than moving on he should seek the challenges in his current role. Try to double revenue. Try to make the company better. Try to make the world better. With the machine he’s assembled he can achieve a lot more.

Happy New Year- beat those deamons.

The Right Way To Take A Vacation- Five Ways to Balance

We all look forward to vacation. It’s a time to relax and enjoy ourselves. There’s just one problem- we spend the week before vacation packing, making arrangements and making sure work is taken care of. Then we spend the week after vacation unpacking and catching up. So we basically sandwiched our relaxing vacation between two hyper, active periods.

So you’re saying “at least I’m enjoying my vacation”- right? Wrong! Some people spend their vacation running to catch every tour- how is that relaxing? Others may take a “relaxing” vacation on the beach. But let’s think this through. After working hard all year and being extra active the week prior to vacation, is sitting and doing absolutely nothing for a long time good? All their creativity and energy is wasted. And just sitting isn’t necessarily giving enjoyment. Energy cant be stored from vacation and brought into real life.

The problem is there’s no balance. No balance the week before- too much activity. No balance the week after- too much to catch up on. No balance on vacation- too much or too little activity during the vacation. The solution, of course, is better balance.

Balance With Smaller Vacations

Instead of going on long vacations consider taking numerous long weekends as vacations. It allows you to have frequent balances against your daily grind. Plus you wont miss much at “work” being out for a short time.

Balance Your Long Vacations

Include a day on each side of your trip to pack and relax at home (and/or do some errands). This will allow you to start your vacation leisurely and transition to real life at the end your vacation. This way you wont need a vacation after your vacation.

Balance Your Leisure

A resting vacation (e.g. sitting by the pool) doesn’t have to be all vegging. Challenge yourself to swim some laps or have other fun in the pool- giving you some exercise. (Plus if you keep eating out this will help keep the weight off). Also have a pad next to you at all times. Now that your brain has a chance to relax you’ll find yourself more inspired with more ideas than ever.

On my recent vacation I did this and came up with this article and other solutions to problems I’ve been working on.

Balance Your Itinerary

Just because you are in a foreign city it doesn’t mean you must spend every waking minute exploring it. Do touring as long as you enjoy it- you don’t have to see everything. Take some time to “relax” also. On relaxing vacation don’t sit at the beach till the last second which would cause a stressful run to catch your plane.

Balance Your Bad Days

If you’re feeling stresses by your day to day- just take a random day off. Just sleep late and treat yourself to some rejuvenation and fun. It will give you an instant productivity boost.

So relax and enjoy your vacation.

Getting Fun Done (GFD): Teaching Corporate (er Family) Values

Released to Public: Apollo 15 on the Moon (NASA)Corporate Values are taught by actions of leadership and stories that are passed down and around the company. Think of the pirate flag that flew over the Macintosh building when the software was being written. Isn’t that a precursor to “Think different“? Same with the “Don’t Be Evil” slogan that google used to inspire it in it’s fight against Microsoft. But how are family values taught? The same way, through stories. Because kids love stories It’s actually easier to teach family values and lessons through stories than teaching corporate values.

Where can you find appropriate stories?

  • Many classic children’s books teach good values. E.g. “The Three Bears” teaches don’t go into stranger’s houses. (Feel free to use “David in Diamondonia” which left a mark for me.)
  • Open your bible and you’ll see stories and lessons abound (any religion will have them). E.g. Abraham’s visit from the three angels and how he treated guests.
  • My personal favorite- make up your own story.

Making up your own story

The main advantage of making up your own story is that it can be tailored to the exact scenario you want. Kids are very forgiving so you can make up your own story it doesn’t have to be perfect. Make it interesting by throwing in facts that your kids can relate to such as the age of the characters being the same as your kids or the place that the story takes place is one that your kids are familiar with.

Reinforcing lessons

After the story ask your kids some questions to lead them to realize what the lesson was. Have them generate more lessons. Ask them what they would have done.

photo credit: pingnews.com

Who Is Destroying Your Happiness?

In his recent post “Destroying Happiness“, Seth Godin admits that he is! OK not him specifically but all marketers (he seems like a good guy personally).

Marketers trying to grow market share will always work to make their non-customers unhappy.

Seth Godin

We are living in a time of relative affluence where “Most people have a better standard of living today than Louis XIV did in his day” but people are not happier because marketers make them want more!

Who is rich? One who is satisfied with his lot.

Ethics of the Fathers, Chapter 4

Be happy with what you have and cut down the materialism. Notice I didn’t say cut out- you can have some fun.

Are you happy?

Don’t Give Up

PerseveranceYou can find inspiration anywhere. Steve Pavlina, in his Skill article writes “During my first six months as a blogger, I earned a whopping $167. That’s about 17 cents per hour…But about a year and a half later, my blog’s income was passing $10K/month…” (his unreleased book has cracked Amazon’s Top 100 books). Not everyone is as successful as Steve but it’s goes to show that perseverance pays.
Creative Commons License photo credit: dearbarbie.

How To Get Honest Feedback

FEEDBACKIn order to grow professionally you need to get good feedback and learn from it. Most people who give feedback have alternate agendas. Your fellow employees may not see the full picture. Your family members may not even understand your industry. Even your customer may want something specific for free, besides you don’t want them thinking of you in a negative way.

The best person to give you feedback is your former customers. They liked you enough to get started with you but then they disliked you enough to move on. Also they can compare you to someone else and have no reason not to be honest. Make it your point to touch base with them and ask “how can I do it better”? Make sure they don’t think it’s an attempt to win them back or they wont be genuine.

Feedback In Action

When I get a notification that someone unsubscribes from the success machine mail list I always ask them if they can provide feedback to make my site better. This week I got my second one. So why did Jean unsubscribe? He switched to RSS because it’s more efficient (a great reason). And he also sent words of encouragement which I really appreciated.

Thanks for the kind words Jean.

Evaluate Feedback

You’re not going to please everyone so be sure that you evaluate their feedback objectively. Does it apply to you? Is it a very specific issue- that only applies to this former customer? Is that the niche your going for?

Do you want to know the reason the first person unsubscribed? I want to know too! He never responded to my email. I’ll just assume he’s reading this on RSS also.

photo credit: Karl Horton

My Mother-In-Law’s Productivity Secret

Recently, my family went to my in-laws for for a few days to celebrate Passover as is our tradition each year. When it came time for cake she brought out sponge cake and home made brownie. This may not be significant to you, but it was to me and my wife. My wife looks forward to a specific brand of sponge cake that is only made for passover. No other sponge cake will do. Brownie is my favorite cake and the passover selections aren’t great. She bought the exact mix my sister (who always makes great cakes) recommended a year ago. It was not only thoughtful, it was delicious.

So what is my mother-in-law’s secret for getting us exactly what we want after a whole year? She set herself up for success. Last year (and every year) she wrote down all these specifics so she wouldn’t forget and put it with her passover recipes. This year as she sat down with her recipe books to plan what ingredients to buy she came across this list (I’m sure it has much more- she buys the kids their favorites too). At that point it was almost easy (especially if she wrote down the stores that sell it). She just added it to her shopping list and now has grateful kids (and grandkids).

Lesson: Make lists and keep it where you’ll use it

Some people go to hotels for passover but not me where could I get this kind of service!?!

The Day I Got Fired For Being A Mets Fan and What We Can Learn

It was a Wednesday like any other. I passed by my CFO’s office and we began discussing the Mets’ previous night’s victory.

The HR director walked in and interrupted our conversation. “I thought you were talking about work. Are you a Mets fan?” he asked.

After I confirmed it, he said “We like the Yankees around here. You’re fired”. He proceeded to turn to the CFO and have the same conversation.

Of course this conversation was all in jest. Now the three of us have something we can jibe each other about.

Wouldn’t it be great if other work disagreement could be discussed as candidly without each side getting defensive?

Next time you’re in an argument (or about to get in one) ask yourself “What’s the best way to resolve this?” Often you’ll find avoiding the whole issue or agreeing to disagree can save a lot of ill will and time.

In the meanwhile I’ll be plotting my revenge against the HR director.

Don’t Drop The Ball and Other Life Lessons From Opening Day

Opening days marks the beginning of a new baseball season. There’s something special about opening day. You’ll want to make everyday opening day.

Fresh start

In a new season everyone has a fresh start. The bad teams can show that they’re better. The bench players can show they’ve improved and the rookies can show they belong. Unfortunately real life doesn’t offer us the opportunities to start fresh without dramatic change (switch jobs). The answer is to do something different. Launch something new. Give people the opportunity to show something new. Look at an old situation in a new way. Start a new tradition like going out to lunch with a coworker.

Don’t Drop The Ball

In baseball one of the fundamentals is that you don’t drop the ball. Most of the time you don’t have to do anything remarkable, as long as you do what your supposed. Part of what made Cal Ripken Jr. special is he showed up every day- ready to play. That’s 2,632 straight games without sitting. Today too many people are trying to do too much and don’t get the fundementals done. Keep track of your outstanding tasks and get them done and you’ll be ahead of most people.

Practice, Practice, Practice There’s an old joke of a man lost in New York City he asks a women “How do I get to Carnegie Hall?”. The reply was “Practice, practice, practice”. In order to do anything well we must practice, practice, practice. Players who have been playing baseball for their whole lives spend six weeks practicing before the season start. Then they practice all season. In the real world we need to constantly learn, to refine our skills. This may

Make this your opening day. Give yourself a fresh start to improve. Give your coworkers, subordinates, family member and friends a chance to surprise you. Forget the bad from the past. Even my favorite team can put the memory of a historic collapse behind them and start a new.

Martin Luther King Jr’s Dream on Productivity

“If a man is called to be a streetsweeper, he should sweep streets even as Michelangelo painted, or Beethoven composed music, or Shakespeare wrote poetry. He should sweep streets so well that all the host of heaven and earth will pause to say, here lived a great streetsweeper who did his job well.”
— Martin Luther King Jr.

Martin Luther King Jr. excelled because of his ability to incite passion. The passion started within and extended to others through his speeches (e.g. I have a dream) and actions. His passion was so broad that it still inspires today.

The lesson continues- whatever we do, no matter how mundane, we should exhibit passion and do it right. Then we’ll have a lasting impact.