Friday, October 30, 2009

The Problem With Political Talking Points


Political talking points are more prevalent now than ever before. And with our heightened technological fluency and decreased attention span I imagine we will likely continue down that path. I found an article a while back that illustrates what damage can be done in an industry that I am quite familiar with; government acquisition.

The acquisition reform legislation passed by Congress is forcing major defense companies to sell subsidiaries so they don’t fall afoul of new restrictions forbidding manufacturers from owning companies that advise the government about acquisitions.

The most glaring example appears to be the pending sale by Northrop Grumman of TASC, a company with some 5,000 employees who provide the military and, especially, the intelligence community with technical advice on acquisitions and operations.

Loren Thompson, a defense analyst at the Lexington Institute, just said “yes” when I asked him if the TASC sale is largely being driven by language in the Weapons Systems Acquisition Reform Act drafted by Sens. Carl Levin and John McCain, the chairman and ranking member of the Senate Armed Services Committee. Several experienced space acquisition experts said independently that the TASC sale was being driven by the bill. The relevant text can be found in Section 207 of the bill, which requires the creation of regulations forbidding “organizational conflicts of interest.”


The long and short of it is that congress doesn't want large defense contractors advising the government on requirements while also profiting from the sale of weapons systems to satisfy those requirements. Sounds great right? Especially at a time when our national debt is higher than ever and we are spending such a large portion of our budget on defense. Not only does it sound great but it sounds a hell of a lot better when structured as a political talking point. When framed from a congressman, the tale is often told that the altruistic public servant is battling the large evil defense contractor in an effort to salvage taxpayer dollars that are greedily being hoarded. This is where those talking points can lead to legislation that gets us into trouble.

“You could get an ethically pristine arrangement that is bound to end in disaster,” with broad and ethically driven acquisition reform, Thompson said.

Thompson added that there are so few companies that know much about the technologies and operations of the NRO that restrictions could end up depriving the country of even the semblance of competition. “The problem with any one-size-fits-all approach to acquisition reform is that it leaves so little leeway for individual cases. In the case of the NRO there are only a handful of companies who understand reconnaissance satellites well, so if you start arbitrarily excluding players from the process due to conflicts that could have the unexpected result of creating monopolies,” he said.

Since Boeing’s disastrous management of the Future Imagery Architecture program, the NRO’s business has reverted to the companies that traditionally dominated the contracts issued by the Chantilly, Va. agency, leaving the industrial base there even smaller than it had been.

In addition to the possible creation of monopolies of crucial technologies, the new law may also dry up something that mey be even more precious, the experts say. That is the expertise possessed by companies such as TASC in helping ensure the government buys what it needs, builds it well and gets what it pays for. The government has largely lost the rare expertise needed to assess and analyze the acquisition of highly complex satellite systems, industry and government experts say.


The situation above is the problem with political talking points. "We need Acquisition reform!" However the problem is never as easy as the politicians package it to be. Then a "solution" creates so many second and third order consequences that a year down the road the government will legislate the other direction making efficient and timely acquisition impossible for the front line workers. Check out the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) if you need proof. I am all for creating a set of rules and boundaries that encourage integrity within business, but we cannot just use a political talking point as the basis for the entire problem. If we do then we will continue to get "solutions" that open the door for new and unforeseen problems as a result of the legislation.

The major weapons systems that the big players in the defense industry are designing are incredibly complex. The companies have incredible amounts of expertise and float an immense amount of capital investment and infrastructure in order to support what our country needs for defense. Those demands and barriers to entry have already limited the amount of competition available to design a new aircraft for instance. If Thompson's prediction of even more limited competition comes true you can bet that costs to procure what the war fighter demands will increase dramatically. Which obviously is the exact opposite intention of the talking point. I know I fell into the trap of listening to digestible sound bites especially around election time, but the problems that are being legislated are often much deeper than the talking point used to deliver them.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

How Do You Kill Email? Just Wave...


What is extremely difficult to describe, ethereal, innovative and on your doorstep? Well according to Lars and Jens Rasmussen the answer is Google Wave, the new product from google that is going to "kill email as we know it." The Danish brothers are the creators of what we know today as Google Maps. After their first huge success they set out to do something even more remarkable, and from the sounds of this story I think they may be on the right track.

In theory, the idea for Wave is simple. It's e-mail updated for the Internet age, Jens says.

E-mail as we know it is based on the snail-mail format: you send a message; your friend receives it. Wave makes mail collaborative and instant. When you type a message to a friend, he or she sees what you're typing as you type it. You can jump in and start drafting a reply before the initial message is complete. Wave also lets users collaborate on editable documents, called Wikis, share photos, update blogs, set appointments and chat in big groups. You can add conference calls to a Wave. A translation function called Rosy will translate chat messages between languages as you write.


Pretty cool and crazy stuff. Not too far away from computers being holograms displayed in mid air that operate on brain wave frequencies right? Seriously though I feel like this is a turning point in my life. Up until now I have grown up with most technologies or at least unaware of their impact on the world. Some are pretty cool and impressive. Mass cell phone usage has been pretty sweet. Obviously the Internet is a beauty. But this journey towards new ways of communication is the first time in my life that I have been aware of an innovation of this magnitude (cue all the examples I am overlooking in the comments section) that will affect the way people across the world communicate. I want to make sure that with things like this I stay current and quasi knowledgeable so that I don’t end up like many people today who can’t even use a computer. I feel like once you start to get behind, catching up is extremely difficult.

Regardless of whether you are into this kind of stuff the story of these two brothers is pretty impressive. They have an awesome theory of how they are going to maintain that start up style hunger to achieve that they had with what eventually became Google Maps. Now that they work for Google they were paranoid that their changed surroundings and life situations would limit their ability to create another successful innovation.

When the dotcom bubble burst in the early 2000s, the Rasmussen brothers were laid off within weeks of each other, both from a company called Digital Fountain.

There were virtually no jobs to look for in technology. So the brothers cashed in one of their pensions, sapped bank accounts and put their lives on the line to chase a kooky idea Jens had about map-making on the Internet.

Without the risk and the pressure, they wouldn't have been able to do it, the brothers said.

"I do believe that you can achieve more if you're willing to take risks," Lars said in a recent phone interview. "There's almost a total correlation between the amount of risk you're willing to take and then the amount of stuff you then potentially can get done."

The Rasmussen brothers have done their best to recreate the high-stakes situation that produced Google Maps.
They wanted to make a stress incubator, to start a fire under their team that would propel its creativity to new heights.
This was their formula:

• Google Wave would operate as a start-up company within the corporate giant of Google.

• The 60-person Wave team would be based in Sydney, Australia, far away from Google's corporate headquarters in Mountain View, California.

• Google employees who wanted to work on Wave would have to take a risk to join the brothers, a diluted version of what the Rasmussen's faced when they started Google Maps. The team took cuts to their bonus pay, with the hopes of a big payout if Wave were to succeed.

• And their project would be secret. The rest of Google's project files, codes and other documents are accessible to anyone in the company. Not Wave's.

The Rasmussen's felt good about their recipe for success through risk-taking. But it also made them more nervous. Along the way, they found another form of motivation: the fear of failure.


Their journey is pretty inspiring and the product, if it can live up to the concept, will be pretty incredible as well. Definitely worth the read. You can check out the full article here. Or if you really have time you can check out the official website with an intense full length video of the actual demonstration delivered by the brothers here.

Monday, October 26, 2009

We Can't All Be Right; So What Works? More Super Freakonomics Debate, Trolls, And Creation


After I wrote the post on the Super Freakonomics controversy regarding global warming/climate change, the controversy actually grew larger. Most notably when economist and NY Times columnist Paul Krugman got involved. I have included the second rebuttal by the Super Freakonomics team and I find it quite interesting how they are dealing with their critics criticisms. In fact they aren’t really arguing with their critics at all. They are merely outlining more definitively on the issues and more importantly what issue they are actually examining.

We are answering a different question than our critics.

Our question, at noted above, is what is the cheapest, fastest way to quickly cool the Earth. Like every question we tackle in Freakonomics and SuperFreakonomics, we approach the question like economists, using data and logic to conclude that the answer to that question is geo-engineering. Not coincidentally, almost every economist who has asked the same question has come to the same conclusion, including Martin Weitzman and the economists at the Copenhagen Consensus.

But that is not the question that Al Gore and the climate scientists are trying to answer. The sorts of questions they tend to ask are “What is the ‘right’ amount of carbon to emit?” or “Is it moral for this generation to put carbon into the air when future generations will pay the price?” or “What are the responsibilities of humankind to the planet?”

Unlike the question that we are asking — How can we most efficiently cool the Earth fast? — the types of questions that environmentalists are trying to answer mix together both scientific issues and moral/ethical issues. If you have any doubts about this, watch Al Gore’s movie, in which he says explicitly that reducing carbon emissions is not a political issue, but a moral issue.

That is why someone like Ken Caldeira can agree with the facts presented in our chapter, say that the chapter is written in good faith, but still disagree with the conclusion that geoengineering is the answer. It is because the question Ken Caldeira is trying to answer is not the question we are trying to answer. The same is true of our critics. But instead of just making this simple point — that we are asking different questions — the critics have either intentionally or unintentionally confused the issues by making all sorts of extraneous arguments.

I do not mean to imply that the question we answer in the book is the most important question. It may be that the questions that environmentalists are trying to ask are more important and more interesting, but that certainly does not mean that we don’t want to know the answer to our question, a question that the environmentalists don’t bother to ask very often because they are focused on their more philosophical questions.

So for all the blogosphere shouting against our chapter, I have to be honest and say that I just don’t get it. I can’t understand why any environmentalist who really cares about the Earth’s future could say with a straight face that geoengineering doesn’t deserve a seat at the table as the global-warming debate heats up.

This is why I have always been interested in economics. Especially the economics of social issues. I definitely have an idealist side to me. Being an optimist by nature I have a predisposition to strive for the way things should be. Although I am proud of that quality, it can be a dangerous trait as you are susceptible to having the blinders on. Economists are important because they study the science of incentives. Their study is the study of creating action. I read another extremely insightful post (as always) from Seth Godin regarding what he calls “trolls.” Here is what he had to say about trolls:

Trolls
Lots of things about work are hard. Dealing with trolls is one of them. Trolls are critics who gain perverse pleasure in relentlessly tearing you and your ideas down. Here's the thing(s):

1. trolls will always be trolling
2. critics rarely create
3. they live in a tiny echo chamber, ignored by everyone except the trolled and the other trolls
4. professionals (that's you) get paid to ignore them. It's part of your job.

"Can't please everyone," isn't just an aphorism, it's the secret of being remarkable.


I love number 2. Critics rarely create. I am not advocating abandoning debate and philosophical exploration. However there are times, as illustrated by the Super Freakonomics crew controversy, where it may be more important to stop debating what is right and start creating what will work. I am not saying stop moral debates, however each side of any issue feels that they are right. We cannot all be right, especially if we are on opposite ends of the spectrum. So there are times where maybe we should move onto agreeing on what can work....and what can work now. If you think this only applies to global warming you are wrong. Look at all the politically significant and unfortunately politically stagnant issues that consistently arise in Washington. Just a thought….

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Trip Summary: From One Portland To The Other


Last weekend the in laws came into town and we all made the short trek up to Portland Maine. I have to say that I didn’t expect to love Portland Maine, especially since I am from Portland Oregon and think it’s the best city ever, but I really did love it. Having just done some brief research on the city I discovered that it has won numerous awards so I shouldn’t have been too surprised. Normally I dont place much merit in those types of awards but I must say that with my experience in Portland I can truly say that most of those awards are warranted.

Ranked as Bon Appétit magazine's America's Foodiest Small Town (2009).[11]
Ranked #1 on Forbes.com America's Most Livable Cities (2009).[12]
Ranked #6 on Relocate America's Top 10 Places to Live in 2007.[13]
Ranked #12 in the world by Frommer's in its list of Top Travel Destinations for 2007.[14]
Ranked #20 in Inc. Magazine 2006 Boom Town List of Hottest Cities for Entrepreneurs.
Ranked #7 on the 2005 list of the 100 Best Art Towns in America. (The Countryman Press, April 2005)


Despite the cold, the city was very walkable. The old city section of town was a particular favorite with bars and restaraunts and shops galore. The town has a very old colonial feel that feels a little more European that any city in the US I have been to thus far. It was very charming. Not a typical word in my vocabulary but its really the only word that fits. Portland was one of those places where you feel an aura radiating from it. Almost like you are transformed to a different era. We did a lot of wandering and just taking the city in which made for a relaxing weekend. We went lobstering which was quite the experience. On the way out of town we stopped in at the Portland Headlight which was the total cliche lighthouse but it was pretty beautiful. All and all I ate more lobster and fried food that I have in the last 5 years combined, had some great beers in some great pubs, listened to some good music, and had a great time taking in a very unique American city. My wife's family and I had a great time and I will definitely be heading back up to Portland in the future. Below are some pictures, videos (sideways rookie film job on my phone), and links to some of the sights I recommend hitting if you ever travel there.

Portland Headlight
1000 Shore Road
Cape Elizabeth, ME
04107
(207) 799-2661
Email cephl@aol.com
http://www.portlandheadlight.com/

Lucky Catch Cruises
170 Commercial St
Phone: 761-0941
Web: www.luckycatch.com
1 1/2 hour lobstering excursions from Memorial Day to Columbus Day. Pull traps near lighthouses & seals.

Bull Feeney's
375 Fore St
Phone: 773-7210
Web: www.bullfeeneys.com
An Irish pub & restaurant dedicated to the immigrant families who built today's Portland.

Portland Harbor Hotel
468 Fore St
207.775.9090
www.portlandharborhotel.com
Experience Old Port charm, distinctive details & impeccable service

Three Dollar Dewey's
241 Commercial St
Phone: 772-3310
Web: www.3dollardeweys.com
Portland's original alehouse. 36 Draft beers & 42 bottles. Reasonably priced pub fare. Free popcorn!

Portland Lobster Co
180 Commercial St
Phone: 775-2112
Web: www.portlandlobsterco.com
Enjoy Maine's best lobster roll, lobster dinners, fried clams, beer & wine on our large deck!

Fore Street Restaurant
288 Fore St.
Phone: 775-2717
Web: www.forestreet.biz
Offering peasant style American food cooking in the heat of live wood fire ovens.

Novare Res Bier Cafe
4 Canal Plaza
Phone: 761-2437
Web: novareresbiercafe.com
Bier Cafe. Great selection, huge outdoor deck.















video video video video

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Braving The Storm: Screw Financial Experts, Stay The Course


I was perusing through Yahoo Finance while eating my lunch today and wasn’t really paying that much attention to what I was looking at. As I was skimming the headlines I almost started laughing at what I saw. Here are some headlines that I found all on the same site! Disclaimer: This post is not to bash Yahoo Finance. I like Yahoo Finance. It is merely to prove a point.

Stocks Rise as Profits at Banks Provide Boost- AP

23 states report higher unemployment in September- AP

Oil falls to around $78 as inventories weigh- Reuters

The Days Of 'Buy and Hold' Are Over, says John Mauldin- Tech

John Mauldin: Tax Hikes Will Kill the 'Recovery’, Which Isn’t Real Anyway- Tech Ticker

Housing Prices: Expected to Drop More in the Next Year?

Stimulus Push Is On, Even If It Isn't Called That

Recovery in Luxury Goods Still Out of Reach

Holiday Shopping Season Gets Early Start

Foreclosure Epidemic Reaching More Expensive Homes


Is the economy recovering? Recovered? Slumping? A Farce? Are we on the brink of another crash? With headlines like the ones above who knows what to believe? With an onslaught of daily information more prevalent now than in any time in history it is important to filter through the minutia to take what information you need while trashing the rest. Do I read articles like the ones above? Yes. But I do so more to stay familiar with the general positions of the articles than I do to develop an investing strategy. If you cannot brave the storm of financial and investing information that is thrown your way it is easy, as illustrated by the headlines above, to run in 50 different directions at once without accomplishing the life goals that are the reason you are investing in the first place. Here are a few things that I try to remind myself when I am doubting my strategy, feeling restless, feeling impatient, etc.:

1. Remember your life goals – You should already be enjoying your life. You should also want to make it better. You should be investing to make your ideal vision of life a reality and to secure your financial future. If your vision of a great life is based on values and those values are aligned more on the family, friends, experiences side of the house as opposed to the Lamborghini, having six pools, and a castle side then you don’t need to drastically earn massive amounts of wealth tomorrow. Live your life today and make gradual improvements over time with your financial decisions furthering those goals.

2. Think long term – Massive amounts of wealth are rarely made over night. Those that are made overnight are even more rarely made in the market. Chances are that person is not going to be you. A long term consistent approach to building wealth is never dead (as claimed above) because as investment vehicles, strategies, and laws change, a long term investment horizon can absorb the unforeseen consequences of the changes and will likely beat many of the speculators on the way back up. Time and asset allocation are the biggest determinations of success that you have. Run any compounding interest model and be amazed at the power of time! Besides all that, long term investing is a hell of a lot more relaxing.

3. You only suffer losses when you sell – When you operate on a long term investing horizon it’s much more difficult to pull the trigger at the wrong time. If you don’t like your unrealized gains just wait longer. When you operate your investment scope on days your time frame to make a wise decision (or to guess wisely) is measured in minutes or seconds. When you operate in terms of decades your time frame to make wise decisions is measured in days, months or even years. By stretching the scope of your vision you have effectively error proofed your decision making ability. And if you do make a decision that looks bad in hindsight you likely are only cutting into unrealized gains and not original principle.

4. Building wealth isn’t always sexy – An average person can accumulate large amounts of money over time simply by investing in a total market index fund or a life cycle fund. Will you outperform the market? No. Will you be able to talk hot stock tips with your neighbor? No. Will your life resemble a scene out of Boiler Room? No. Should you give a shit? NO! Who cares. Investing is the one ‘sport’ where being average, as in mirroring the market, will put you ahead of a great deal of investors whose potential gains are getting chipped away through fees, emotional decisions, and the next big fool proof investing strategy that doesn’t work. Don’t compete against others, compete against the goals you have set for your life.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Super Freakonomics Book Causing Stir In The Global Warming Debate


The next edition of Freakonomics, appropriately titled Super Freakonomics, tackles a polarizing issue known affectionately to many as climate change. Before the book has even hit the shelves it is causing a stir surrounding the evaluation of climate change and our role in dealing with the realities and myths regarding the environmental subject. Interestingly it seems as though the book doesn’t necessarily take an “anti-climate change” stance, yet environmental advocacy groups and bloggers are lambasting the book as entirely false or moreover, libelous (here are a few samples from metalfilter). I have included a few interesting excerpts below, but it would do you well to read the entire passage here. I can empathize with both sides of the climate change argument and feel as though, like most arguments, the truth likely falls somewhere in the middle. I tend to feel that we should err on the side of caution due to the implications of mother nature’s retaliation if the climate change naysayers are wrong. With that being said I recognize the difficulties associated with combating climate change no matter how substantiated or unsubstantiated the claims may be. The article highlights perhaps the most unfortunate reality surrounding global warming in that “pollution is an externality – that is, the people who generate pollution generally don’t pay the cost of their actions and therefore don’t have strong incentives to pollute less.” Where ever you fall on the spectrum of belief, exposure to contrary beliefs and arguments is rarely a negative thing. I, for one, am looking forward to the second Freakonomics book and the quest for truth and solutions surrounding the environmental health of our world.

Here is a brief passage about the overall premise of the chapter and the controversy it is causing:
Our global-warming chapter has several sections. We discuss how it’s a very hard problem to solve since pollution is an externality – that is, the people who generate pollution generally don’t pay the cost of their actions and therefore don’t have strong incentives to pollute less. We discuss how even the most sophisticated climate models are limited in their ability to predict the future, and we discuss the large measure of uncertainty in this realm, given that global climate is such a complex and dynamic system. We discuss some of the commonly held misperceptions about climate and energy, including the fact that the historic relationship between global temperature and atmospheric carbon dioxide is more complicated than is generally thought.

The real purpose of the chapter is figuring out how to cool the Earth if indeed it becomes catastrophically warmer. (That is the “global cooling” in our subtitle. If someone interprets our brief mention of the global-cooling scare of the 1970’s as an assertion of “a scientific consensus that the planet was cooling,” that feels like a willful misreading.) To think we are “deniers,” would obviate the chapter’s central point: if we weren’t convinced that global warming was worth worrying about, we wouldn’t have written a chapter about proposed solutions.


I found this passage very interesting in that it discussed something that you rarely hear; a potential solution if we are in fact past the point of no return in the global warming battle:
The most controversial of these solutions – a “stratoshield” — involves the controlled injection of sulfur dioxide into the stratosphere to cool ground temperatures, which mimics the natural cooling effects of a big volcanic eruption like Mount Pinatubo. This sort of “geoengineering” solution is intensely disliked within environmental circles, and we discuss the reasons why. And we discuss why, if global warming gets worse, it might still be a good idea to consider further research on the stratoshield. We also discuss a much more environmentally friendly anti-warming solution from I.V. that uses salt-sea spray to increase cloud reflectivity.

We describe how when Caldeira first heard about the stratoshield from Lowell Wood, another I.V. scientist, he “disliked the concept” but nevertheless “ran a climate model to test Wood’s claims.” Furthermore: “his model backed up Wood’s claims that geoengineering could stabilize the climate even in the face of a large spike in atmospheric carbon dioxide, and he wrote a paper saying so. Caldeira, the most reluctant geoengineer imaginable, became a convert — willing, at least, to explore the idea.”

That is why Caldeira was in the room with his I.V. colleagues that day – talking to us, exploring the idea – and that is one reason that we gave as much credence to I.V.’s climate and geoengineering proposals as we did: because Ken Caldeira is not a climate-change-denying know-nothing, but quite the opposite. Because even though Caldeira would like to see us become a zero-carbon society, he seemed to agree with Nathan Myhrvold’s assessment that if global warming is as real a problem as they think it may be, then an overreliance on carbon mitigation may be “too little, too late, and too optimistic.”

How could a devoted environmentalist who wants a zero-carbon society believe this? Because, as we wrote (with input from Caldeira), “the half-life of atmospheric carbon dioxide is roughly one hundred years, and some of it remains in the atmosphere for thousands of years. So even if humankind immediately stopped burning all fossil fuel, the existing carbon dioxide would remain in the atmosphere for several generations.”

And the closing argument:
Levitt and I – and Nathan Myhrvold, and maybe even Ken Caldeira – look forward to debating the content of the chapter itself, the actual ideas and conclusions.

Will a lot of people argue with them? Absolutely. Some critics claim that we are too pessimistic about carbon mitigation, that we understate the probability of catastrophic climate change, that we are wrong to write that “the movement to stop global warming has taken on the feel of a religion.” Fair enough: we will debate those issues.

Friday, October 16, 2009

"Desire Spiral" - Thoughts On Ambition, Success, and Burnout


Lately I have not really felt myself. Most times throughout the day I feel normal, but in the past month or two I have been plagued by intermittent down spells. Those who know me personally know that I am generally positive and upbeat so these little down moods got me a little worried. I have been doing my best to do some self reflection and soul searching to see what the source is and after a few weeks I think I am narrowing in on some causes. I am self diagnosing my ailment as “desire spiral.”

At about age 11 I knew that I wanted to dedicate my life to the great game of hockey. I wanted to earn a division I scholarship and play college hockey. I have spoken about how I probably should have set my sights higher on BadskiBlog before, but regardless I have no regrets. From that age forward I did whatever it took to achieve my dream. I sacrificed a lot and put in an extraordinary amount of hours driving towards that goal. The experience of setting a long term goal and achieving it taught me a lot. However, I was obviously unprepared to parallel those lessons over to my life after hockey.

I have remained driven in my post competitive hockey life but my focus has changed, broadened and become less concrete in terms of a defined end state. I now focus my efforts on things like career progression, self education, different ventures, my marriage, etc. All of these things (and more) are important to me, however unlike my hockey career there isn’t a destination in mind. I have general ideas of how I want all of these things to culminate into the life I want to live, yet I feel as though having an end state in each is self limiting. I don’t want to put the blinders on to opportunities that arise. I have experienced enough in my life to know that life doesn’t care about your plans. Life is like a tree; as you grow you branch out in the general direction you intended but often split off into a pseudo representation of your original idea. Needless to say, not having a relatively linear goal track like my athletic career has been hard for me. Which is what I believe is leading me to suffer from “desire spiral”

Desire spiral is the second and third order consequences that arise from being driven to achieve. I know I want to be successful. I know I need to work hard to achieve my goals and to progress as a person. But this desire often leads me to feel frustrated, down, restless, and often times less confident in my abilities than when I was just trucking along as an athlete seeing where the world would take me. Desire spiral is similar to the library syndrome, in that you don’t know how much you don’t know until you begin to learn. Desire spiral is you don’t know how much you can improve until you begin the journey of self improvement.

So how can you combat desire spiral? When I came across this article on Zen Habits that offers some great advice for combating burnout, which is very applicable and somewhat parallel to the symptoms of desire spiral. Below are a few highlights that I stole from the piece. These are only tiny excerpts and the full post has more in depth analysis of each recommendation. If you are interested the full post can be found here.

1. Achieve in increments. When you only focus on a big goal someday, it’s easy to get burned out by the daily grind. It’s like driving toward a mountain in the distance. You can drive for hours, but the mountain doesn’t seem to get any closer. And spinning your wheels gets real tiring real fast.

4. Define success realistically. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with having big dreams and big ambitions. But if you’re constantly frustrated by a lack of progress, it might be time to take a step back and examine your goals. Are they achievable? Are you holding yourself to a reasonable timeline?

6. Take it slow(er). The world tells us to rush things: “Get there faster. Make money quicker. Retire sooner.” And while these things aren’t necessarily bad, they can easily get us in over our heads. If you’re feeling burned out and overwhelmed, it’s time to slow down.

10. Create outlets. If you’re a person of diverse interests (and really, who isn’t?), it’s likely that you have several very different goals and ideas bouncing around in your head at any given time. These ideas need outlets. If you hold them inside, they’ll eventually start interfering with your focus and creating unnecessary frustration, leading to burnout.

In other words, I think it’s okay – healthy, even – to start a few side projects as outlets for creative energy. Just make sure that you keep your priorities straight and your side projects fun. If these side projects become sources of stress, cut them out immediately.


I would add a few more to the already great list of recommendations:

1. Exercise - Never doubt the connection between body and mind. Whenever I am suffering from a bout with desire spiral I can always combat it with a great workout. Not only does it provide some alone time to collect your thoughts but your physical exertion eases some of the stress that your mind may be feeling. Everything seems more achievable after a workout.

2. Break bread (and bottles) with those you care about - Remember you should already be living the life you want to live. "Content but never satisfied" is the phrase I often repeat to myself. Its a little mantra of sorts that I created to remind me that the time is now. You should love your life but always striving to make it better. So if you are obsessed with success in terms of future achievements you are wrong. You are trying to better the already good life you have built for yourself. Just don’t let the “never satisfied overpower the content." That mentality is one of the root causes of desire spiral. Every time I go out and have dinner and a few drinks with the people I care about or talk to my family back home I know that in the grand scheme of things I am alright. I realize that I have it pretty damn good so I should relax and enjoy the ride a bit.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Great Viral Marketing And A Few Good Laughs - Guitar Hero Video


When you think of cat like screams, a few sweaty bodies, horribly odd & contorted body motions, smeared makeup, and loud evil music, there are plenty of thoughts that come to mind. A video games with plastic instruments isn't necessarily the first scene that comes to mind. But the odd description above is quite typical of any group of people shredding their hearts out while playing Guitar Hero or Rock Band, and anyone who has participated in a living room jam session can attest to the games fun and addictive qualities. The concept of the game is remarkable enough to spread sales through word of mouth, but as all great marketers do the makers of Guitar hero are looking to get the word out through multichannel marketing. When I came across this beauty video I couldn't help but think that there is a little of this music nerd in all of us. I think the video below is a great example of what internet/viral/whatever you want to call it marketing should be all about. Not only does the clip have an ethos, eliciting a feeling that there is a little rock star in all of us, but it is funny as hell and likely to be emailed to friends and family, talked about in the office, or posted on blogs. The story screams that no matter how much we have repressed our inner rock demons the Guitar Hero gift from the rock Gods is the way to unleash the fury within. Even if you don't know much about music or have never considered yourself to be a musical person the message is loud and clear in this video. I love how they narrate via cheesy 80's power ballad in the background similar to the hugely successful "real men of genius" series by Bud Lite. My favorite part though is when he signs the ladies rack at work...classic! Enjoy the presentation and I would love to hear some comments on this video and how it does or does not do it for you from a marketing or a comedy standpoint.


Wednesday, October 7, 2009

30 Under 30 America's Coolest Young Entrepreneurs





Recession? What recession? You'd think the events of the past year would have curbed Generation Y's enthusiasm for the always-uncertain entrepreneurial life, but you'd never know it by looking at this year's 30 Under 30 list. It's a dynamic group of self-starters that has managed to raise money, launch new products, build new technologies, and tap into underserved markets. And they've done it with relentless enthusiasm and resiliency.


Inc. Magazine has released its 30 under 30 America's Coolest Entrepreneurs and I have brought it to you right here at BadskiBlog. Some of these business models are pretty cool, some underwhelm me; it looks like ALL are successful. Inc. Magazine does the 30 under 30 America’s Coolest Entrepreneurs every year and regardless of whether or not you agree with all their picks there are some valuable lessons to be learned. One of the things I liked this year was the emphasis on teamwork and partnering. Coming up a hockey guy I love the team environment. In fact the older I get it seems the more paralyzed I am by working alone. I just don’t see the value in working alone. It’s not realistic and more importantly it's not fun. I don’t feel any shame in reaching out for help and some of my finest life achievements come from standing on the backs of my teammates.

Every year, our 30 Under 30 list is populated by a number of companies that were started by partners. But this year, more than two-thirds of the entrepreneurs we feature launched their ventures with one or more co-founders. Curiously, I came up with almost the same number when I surveyed the people I interviewed for my new book, Upstarts! How GenY Entrepreneurs Are Rocking the World of Business. Sixty-four percent had started their companies with partners. So what's going on here?

Generation Y seems to thrive on teamwork and to crave social interaction, so it's no wonder that solo founders are less common than partnerships. But it's not just that these young entrepreneurs want company -- many seem to know what they don't know and are not a bit afraid to acknowledge the gaps in their skill sets. And if those gaps can be filled by a childhood friend, a classmate, or a spouse, so much the better.


Here is a slideshow detailing all the business models for these young entrepreneurs. I love looking at profiles like this because it helps me to see patterns in how successful entrepreneurs built their visions. Even if I would never create a new vintage clothing line or a bottle cap accessory business, I can still learn from their business model and experiences. I am huge fan of IdeaPaint. What a great business model. Simple yet worth talking about. I think the possibilities for markets are virtually endless as well. I can see everyone from coaches to music producers using this simple yet innovative product. Their website is amazing as well. They present their product in a manner that would make Steve Jobs or Garr Reynolds proud.

Another cool slideshow feature Inc. did this year was provide advice from the young entrepreneurs. BadskiBlog readers know my love for quotes and my propensity to latch on to any snippet of advice. So this section was great for me. Although the advice is fairly generic, it is like anything else in the sense that the masters of any skill or profession never take the basics for granted. Quotes are typically targeting the fundamentals of life, or lessons that a broad audience can and should learn from. Generic or not I like reading these types of quotes.

Stick With It

"Start-ups don't die, they commit suicide. In other words, 90 percent of start-ups fail because the founders get bored, discouraged, or something else, and they move on to other things, not because of some catastrophe. No matter how dark it is today, things will always better tomorrow."

-- Justin Kan, Justin.TV

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Personal MBA Update - The Creative Habit


The Creative Habit by Twyla Tharp - I must say that when I picked The Creative Habit off the Personal MBA reading list I thought it would be a serial entrepreneur’s guide to creating value. I definitely did not expect it to be an American dancer/choreographer who was more famous for her Emmy and Tony awards than for her business acumen. However, don’t let her background fool you. Twyla has put together an amazingly insightful guide to preparing yourself for creative success. Her mentality is that all great creative works do not have to be a lightning bolt of inspiration. She argues that creativity is a skill and all great skills can and must be honed through habit, exercise, repetition, and passion. Understandably she writes examples that she is familiar with and much of the examples in her book relate to dance, however she finds a way to make all her examples relevant to all readers from businessmen to athletes to writers. Honestly it is books like this one that make me value the Personal MBA experience. I can honestly say that a year ago before I started my PMBA reading quest that I just looked for cool looking business books off the shelf at Borders or the library. The self education program has led me off my beaten path so to speak and into a realm of quirky new books that still fill my desire to better my business intelligence yet expand my breadth of knowledge and interest. This book is a must read for anyone who thirsts to remain creative in a world that drives the status quo. Here are my notes from this great book:

I walked into a white room:
- The routine is as much a part of the creative process as the lightning bolt of inspiration, maybe more. And this routine is available to everyone.
- Perennial debate between the belief that all creative acts are born of a)some inexplicable Dionysian act of inspiration or kiss from god b) hard work
- Creativity is a habit, and the best creativity is a result of good work habits. That's it in a nutshell.
- There are no natural geniuses
- "People err who think my art comes easily to me. I assure you, dear friend, nobody has devoted so much time and thought to composition as I. There is not a famous master whose music I have not industriously studied through many times." Mozart
- More than anything this book is about preparation: in order to be creative you have to know how to prepare to be creative
- We think of creativity as fresh and new while habit implies routine and repetition. This paradox is where creativity and skill rub up against each other
- Creativity takes skill and skill is developed through exercise, repetition, learning and reflection that's painstaking and rewarding. It takes time.

Rituals of Preparation:
- Its vital to establish some rituals - automatic but decisive patterns of behavior - at the beginning of the creative process when you are most at peril of turning back, chickening out, giving up or going the wrong way.
- A ritual eliminates the question why am I still doing this? You're committed. Also a friendly reminder that you are doing the right thing.
- Every one's rituals are different. The only criterion: Make it easy on yourself.
- By making the start of the sequence automatic you replace the doubt and fear with comfort and routine
- Rituals give us confidence and self reliance
- No one starts a creative endeavor without a certain amount of fear; the key is to learn how to keep free floating fears from paralyzing you before you've begun
Exercises: 1. What is your one tool that feeds your creativity and is so essential that without it you feel naked and unprepared 2. Build up your tolerance for solitude. Solitude is an unavoidable part of creativity. Self reliance is a happy byproduct 3. Face your fears 4. Give me one week without...

Your Creative DNA:
- Each of us are hardwired a certain way and that hardwiring insinuates itself into our work
- Most people never get a handle on their creative identity this way, they take their urges, biases, and work habits for granted. But a little self knowledge goes a long way.
- If you understand the strands of your creative DNA you see how they mutate into common threads in your work.
- Your creative autobiography:
1. What is the first creative moment you remember: making shapes out of the texture on the ceiling
2. Was anyone there to witness or appreciate it? No
3. What is the best idea you've ever had? A business idea
4. What made it great in your mind? It seemed original
5. What is the dumbest idea? Don't know
6. What made it stupid?
7. Can you connect the dots that led you to that idea?
8. What is your creative ambition? to create something I am passionate about and share it with those I care about
9. What are the obstacles to this ambition? Time, effort, partners, confidence, money
10. What are the vital steps to achieving this ambition? finding the right players and starting
11. How do you begin your day? Shower
12. What are your habits? What patterns do you repeat? working out guitar
13. Describe your first successful creative act. Mask of Sanity band
14. Describe your second. Checking For Charity Corporation
15. Compare them. One was results driven and had outsider expectations
16. What are your attitudes towards money power praise rivals work play?
17. Which artists do you admire most? Musicians and entrepreneurs
18. Why are they your role models? Truly creative and create things that better life
19. What do you and role models have in common? I try and do the same
20. Does anyone in your life regularly inspire you? Wife family and friends
21. Who is your muse? Heidi
22. Define muse. A focus in my life a source of inspiration
23. When confronted with superior intelligence or talent, how do you respond? Try to build a relationship, emulate, collaborate
24. When faced with stupidity hostility intransigence laziness or indifference in others how do you respond? Distance anger fight in that order
25. When faced with impending success or threat of failure how do you respond? Work hard and worry because both are often close to the same thing
26. When you work do you love the process or the result. Both
27. At what moments do you feel your reach exceeds your grasp? some aspirations
28. What is your ideal creative activity? creating a start up or a band
29. What is your greatest fear? Wasting my life
30. What is the likelihood that either answers to the previous two questions will happens? Good and not good respectively
31. Which of your answers would you most like to change? Would like to make the last two Certain and impossible
32. What is your idea of mastery? exceeding your goals and keep going
33. What is your greatest dream? live out a fulfilling life.
Exercises: 5. You can observe a lot by watching 6. Pick a new name

Harness you memory:
- having a good memory doesn't make you creative. Creativity is more about taking the facts, fictions, and feelings we store away and finding new ways to connect them
- Metaphor is the lifeblood of all art. If all art is metaphor then all art begins with memory.
- Start copying. Travelling the paths of greatness even in someone elses footprints is a vital means to acquiring skill
Exercises: 7. Name that muse 8. Trust your muscle memory 9. Mining for memory in a photograph

Before you can think outside of the box you have to start with a box:
- The box is the raw index of your preparation
- "The quality of my creative output is a function of how diligent and clever I have been in filling up my boxes"
- The box gives the opportunity to reflect on your performance
- Most useful when getting going, when lost and after you've finished
- Box contents are best predictor of creative project success
Exercise: 10. Begin!

Scratching:
- Scratching is changing your environment, looks like borrowing or appropriating, ideas are all around you
- That's why I scratch for little ideas, without little ideas there are no big ideas
- Scratching is what you do when you cant wait for the thunderbolt to hit you
- Musicians know this. Don't create a full song right away. Build with riffs etc.
- Scratch among the best and you will automatically raise the quality of your ideas you uncover
- If you scratch the same way all the time you'll end up in the same place with the same old ideas
- Scratching is not about control and repose its about unleashing furious mindless energy and watching it bounce off everything in your path
- Scratching is where creativity begins. Its the moment where you ideas first take flight and begin to defy gravity. If you reign it in you'll never know how high you can go
Exercises: 11. chaos and coins 12. Reading archaeologically. "The man who does not read has no advantage over the man who cannot read." Mark Twain. Read backwards in time. 13. A dozen eggs. Start as an egg and expand to different positions 14. Give yourself a little challenge 15. Take a field trip

Accidents will happen:
- There is a fine line between planning and over planning. You never want planning to inhibit the natural evolution of your work
- Transforming your ideas rarely goes according to plan
- In order to be habitually creative you have to know how to prepare to be creative but good planning alone wont make your efforts successful. Its only after you let of your plans that you can breathe life into your efforts
- Habitually creative people are prepare to be lucky
- Mark McCormack " Yes I admit that I was lucky. But I saw it and I was ready for it, whereas most people wouldn't know a stroke of luck if it bit them on the nose."
- In creative endeavors luck is a skill
- Planning lets you impose order on the chaotic process of making something new, but when its taken too far you get locked into the status quo and creative thinking is about breaking free from the status quo even from you you made yourself.
- Another trap is the belief that everything has to be perfect before you can take the next step
- Perfectionism is more like procrastination
- No matter how limited your resources they're enough to get you started
- Necessity will continue to be the mother of invention
Exercises: 16. Pick a fight with the system the rules your rituals your routines 17. Our perfect world 18. How to be lucky - be generous 19. Work with the best

Spine:
- Spine begins with your first strong idea. You intend to tell this story, explore this theme, employ this structure
- The spine keeps you on message but is not the message itself
Exercises: 20. Make a picture that's worth a thousand words 21. Spinal tap 22. What is you MQ?

Skill:
- Must master the underlying skills of your creative domain and build creativity on the solid foundation of those skills
- Skill gives you the wherewithal to execute whatever occurs to you without it you are just a font of unfulfilled ideas
- Skill is how you close the gap between what you can see in your minds eye and what you can produce: the more skill you have the more sophisticated and accomplished your ideas can be
- Art is a vast democracy of habit
- All (insert profession) lead the same life. Habits don't disappear when you become recognized honored rich famous and otherwise validated
- The great ones never take the fundamentals for granted
- You may wonder which came first; the skill or the hard work. But that's a moot point. The zen master cleans his own studio. So should you
- Practice is like a clock. Work a skill until you master it. move onto the next and the next. Eventually you will come full circle to the task you began with because of all the time you've spent on other things
- In its purest form inexperience erases fear. You do not know what is not possible
- Hemingway "The thing is to become a master and in your old age to acquire the courage to do what children did when they knew nothing."
- Never have a favorite weapon
Exercises: 23. Take inventory of your skills 24. Play 20 questions 25. Package your time 26. Take away a skill

Ruts and Grooves:
- When you have hit a rut you have to question everything except your ability to get out of it
1. You have to see the rut 2. Admit that you are in a rut 3. Getting out of the rut
- A groove is the best place in the world. When you're in it you have freedom to explore everything you question leads you to new avenues and routes, everything you touch miraculously touches something else and transforms it for the better
- You only appreciate a groove in hindsight. Its hard to even notice it when you are in the middle of it. You don't congratulate yourself and say I am in a groove
Exercises: 27. Do a verb pick a verb and act it physically 28. Build a bridge to the next day stop when there is still some energy left and when you know where to go next. 29. Know when to stop tinkering 30. Brew ruts into grooves

An A in Failure:
- Every creative person has to learn to deal with failure because like death and taxes it is inescapable
- If you aren't failing you aren't taking enough risks
- When I tape a 3 hour improv dancing session with a dancer and find only 3 secs useful I am earning straight A's in failure. Do the math. I have rejected 99.7% of my work. Painful, yes but for me absolutely necessary
- The more you fail in private the less you will fail in public
- "I never learned anything from a match I won." Bobby Jones
- Failure creates an interesting tug of war between forgetting and remembering. Its vital to be able to forget the pain of failure while retaining the lessons from it
- First there is the failure of skill. Only solution is to get to work. Develop the skills you need
- Then failure of concept. Get out while the getting is good
- And failure of judgement. Takes a steeliness of character and intense dislike of failure to avoid
- The worst is failure of nerve. Just know the certainty of experience that looking foolish is good for you. It nourishes the spirit.
- Failure through repetition. Its a problem if it forces us to cling to our past successes.
- Failure from denial. Denial becomes a liability when you see something that is not working and refuse to deal with it.
- Failing and learning from it is necessary. Until you've done it you re missing an important piece of your creative arsenal
Exercises: 31. Give yourself a second chance 32. Build your own validation squad. a)pick people who have talents. b) happen to be friends c) don't feel like they're competing with you d) have hammered my work in the past

The long run:
- There is no long run without devotion commitment and persistence
- It is the ideal state where nothing is wasted where every detail feeds your art because it has nowhere else to go - The bubble
- When creativity has become your habit; when you learned to manage time, resources, expectations, continuity, and purity of purpose - Then you're on the way to an artists ultimate goal; the achievement of mastery.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Personal MBA Update - The 80/20 Principle


I haven't posted a Personal MBA update in a while so I am catching up on a few books at once with this one. I must admit that with the move, a few vacations and trips, and settling into a new life/job I haven't done as much reading lately as I should be doing. Hopefully now I am back on track.

The 80/20 Principle by Richard Koch - I recently read The 80/20 Principle by Richard Koch and I thought it was OK. Don't get me wrong there are some great points and lessons in the book. I just found myself thinking throughout the entire book that the author could have taken some of his own advice. The whole premise of 80/20 is that all things in nature fall into the pattern of the minority of inputs accounting for the majority of the results. Well I felt like the book was filled with a ton of information that was just reiterating what the principle is all about. He could have eliminated 80% of the book and I would have taken the same amount of notes. I literally didn't take a not from page 50 something until like page 167. Other than that, there was some great stuff I gathered out of the book and lately I have found myself question my actions more. "Does this really matter?" and "What can I do to cut through the BS and get this done?" Maybe its laziness or maybe that is the essence of the 80/20. I know what General Von Manstein's view on the 80/20 principle and laziness. Read below to see what he says as well as bunch of other treasures I picked out of the book. If you aren't familiar with the 80/20 principle read up on it. It will help you make efficient use of your time and efforts and provide better results. Here are my notes:

- "For a very long time, the Pareto Law [the 80/20 Principle] has lumbered the economic scene like an erratic block on the landscape; an empirical law which nobody can explain." Josef Steindl
- The 80/20 principle asserts that a minority of causes, inputs, or effort usually lead to a majority of the results, outputs, or rewards.
- The reason the 80/20 principle is so important is that it is counter intuitive. We expect all causes will have roughly the same significance.
- Understanding the principle gives you great insight into what is happening in the world around you.
- Probability theory tells us that it is virtually impossible for all applications of the 80/20 principle to occur randomly as a freak of chance. We can only explain the principle by positing some deeper meaning or cause behind it.
- The problem with linear thinking is it doesn't always work its an oversimplification of reality.
- Chaos theory says there is a self organizing logic behind the disorder, a predictable non linearity.
- Chaos and the 80/20 principle similarities: The principle of imbalance, the universe is not a straight line, feedback loops distort and disturb balance, the tipping point, first come first served.
- "The reasonable man adapts himself to the world. The unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man." - George Bernard Shaw
- "God plays dice with the universe. But they are loaded dice. And the main objective is to find out by what rules they are loaded and how we can use them for our own ends." - Joseph Ford
- The two applications of the 80/20 principle: 1. 80/20 analysis 2. 80/20 thinking
- The 80/20 principle states that there is an inbuilt imbalance between causes and results, inputs and outputs, and effort and rewards. Causes and inputs and effort divide into categories:
1. The majority that have little impact
2. The minority that have major or dominant impact
- Must have 2 sets of data both adding up to 100%
- Can use it to focus on the 20% providing 80% of result or can use it to take the 80% who have 20% result and increase the result %
- the 80/20 principle vs conventional wisdom on page 39
- "A database no matter how copious is not information. It is information's ore... The information business depends on is available, if at all, only in a primitive and disorganized form. For what a business needs the most for its decisions- especially its strategic ones - are data about what goes on outside of it. It is only outside the business where there are results, opportunities, and threats." Peter Drucker
- One key theme - generate the most money with the least expenditure of assets and effort
- Conduct the 80/20 analysis for your profits by: product type, customer type, and split relevant to your business with data, competitive segment.
- Simple is beautiful
- Why do companies become complex when it plainly destroys value? Because Managers love complexity!
- Because business is wasteful and because complexity and waste feed on each other a simple biz will always be better that a complex one
- As important as the few best products are it is much less important than focusing on the few best customers
- Top 10 biz uses of the 80/20 principle: Strategy, quality, inventory, management, project management, negotiations, cost reductions and service improvement, marketing, selling, IT, decision making and analysis
- Impose an impossible timeline scale so only high value tasks get done
- Our current use of time is not rational, there is no shortage of time, time is a friend not an enemy. the 80/20 principle says we should act less.
- It is not the shortage of time we should be worried about but the tendency for the majority of time to be spent in low quality ways.
- Top 10 low value uses of time: things others want you to do, things that have always been done this way, things you aren't good at, things you don't enjoy, things always interrupted, things few are interested in, things that take longer than expected, things where collaborators are unreliable or low quality, predictable cycles, answering the phone
- Top 10 high value uses of time: things that advance your purpose, things you've wanted to do, things in 20/80 time to results, thins that slash your time or multiply results, things that cant be done, things done successfully in other areas, creativity, things others can do for you with little of your own effort, high quality collaborators, now or never things.
- Potential uses of time: 1. Is it unconventional? 2. Does it promise to multiply effectiveness?
- "Things that matter most must never be at the mercy of things that matter least." Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
- Questions page 167
- "Relationships help us to define who we are and what we can become. Most of us can trace our successes to pivotal relationships." Donald O. Clifton and Paula Nelson
- Best contacts share: mutual enjoyment, respect, shared experience, reciprocity, trust
- "There are only four types of officer. First there are the lazy stupid ones. Leave them alone they do no harm...Second there are the hard working intelligent ones. They can make excellent staff officers, ensuring that every detail is properly considered. Third, there are the hard working stupid ones. These people area a menace and must be fired at once. They create irrelevant work for everybody. Finally there are the intelligent lazy ones. They are suited for the highest office." - General Von Manstein on the German Officer Corp
- 10 golden rules for career success:
1. Specialize in a very small niche; develop a core skill
2. Choose a niche that you enjoy, where you can excel and stand a chance of becoming an acknowledged leader
3. Realize that knowledge is power
4. Identify your market and your core customers and serve them best
5. Identify where 20% of the effort gives you 80% of the returns
6. Learn from the best
7. Become self employed early in your career
8. Employ as many net value creators as possible
9. Use outside contractors for everything but your core skill
10. Exploit capital leverage
- "To everyone who has will more be given, and he will have abundance; but from him who has not, what he has will be taken away." Matthew 25:29
- Greatest wealth comes from investment not income. Means there is a premium on accumulating money early on to fund investment. Requires hard work and low spending net income must be higher than spending
- Match your investment philosophy with your personality
- Its a perfectly rational response to say at any stop of success I want to get off. With careers and money the most important subject is happiness.
- Aristotle said the goal of all human activity should be happiness.
- Happiness: expand peak moments of happiness and reduce unhappy peaks
- 7 daily happiness habits: Exercise, mental stimulation, spiritual artistic meditation, do a good deed, pleasure break with a friend, give yourself a treat, congratulate yourself
- If there is a trade of between achievement and happiness choose happiness
- Happiness is a duty. We should choose to be happy. We should work at happiness. And in doing so we should help those closest to us and even those who just stumble across us, to share in our happiness

Friday, October 2, 2009

Blog Orgy! A Smorgasbord Of New Blog Recommendations!


I have written recently about my new found infatuation with Twitter, but I left out one other benefit. I have found a bunch of new quality blogs to follow. I haven’t added any blogs to the BadskiBlog recommendation column lately so here it is with a short synopsis of each:

1. Presentation Zen - I read Garr’s book with the same title and it amazed me. Read my review here. His blog claims to offer tips on professional design but it branches out much more than that. Click here to see his 15 tips for continuous improvement. A must read for anyone who expresses themselves visually in any fashion, which in today’s world is everyone!

2. Revolver Magazine - Simply the best metal magazine in the world. I subscribed to this while I was at the Air Force Academy and I attribute my knowledge and upkeep on the metal scene almost entirely to this magazine during that time. Besides that they have started a “hottest chicks in metal” edition that is a dark yet still hot version of the SI swimsuit edition.

3. Good Financial Cents - A financial planner who is a very good blogger. Jeff Rose is a veteran turned financial planner that offers a lot of advice on all sorts of topics surrounding finance. He goes into more depth than the majority of financial bloggers out there and is definitely worth a read. I wrote a post featuring some of his material here.

4. tompeters! - Without much doubt, Peter Drucker and Tom Peters have shaped the idea of modern management more than any others over the last six decades. Drucker is said to have "invented" management as a discipline worthy of study—in particular, he gave management of large firms the essential tools to deal with their post-World War II enormity, complexity, and growing global reach. Tom Peters, in turn, led the way in preparing management for the current era of staggering change, starting in the mid-1970s.The likes of Fortune, the Economist, the New Yorker and the Los Angeles Times have said Tom is the "uber-guru" of management and inventor of the enormous "management guru industry," that "in no small part, what American corporations have become is what Peters has encouraged them to be," that Tom is "the father of the post-modern corporation," and that "we live in a Tom Peters world." Tom writes nice digestible nuggets of management information and posts frequently. I think his resume speaks for itself.

5. The Blog of Tim Ferriss - I have also written about the Four Hour Workweek here on BadskiBlog. Tim doesn’t blog that often which is probably consistent with his life philosophy but his lessons are valuable. If you haven’t read the book go get it and then start digging into the blog so you can actually appreciate what he is writing about. Great for those who want to be involved in business but still want to have a life!

6. Escape From Cubicle Nation - From corporate prisoner to thriving entrepreneur is the subtitle to this blog by Pam Slim. She also doesn’t post often but the content is good when it arrives. Great for those looking to strike out on their own. Here is a sample of her helpful advice.

7. Penelope Trunk's Brazen Careerist - The Brazen Careerist is a blog and a social networking site looking to link Gen Y career minded individuals together. This completely uncensored blog is quirky yet very thought provoking, and the social site is great as well. Recently Penelope made huge waves in the news for Twittering about a miscarriage. Not sure I would do the same but it is that unabashed honesty that makes her posts a worthwhile read.

8. The White Rhino Report - "As the Founder of White Rhino Partners, I work as an executive recruiter. Client companies and executive level candidates look to me - not just as a recruiter - but as a trusted advisor. I specialize in placing senior executives who are "Renaissance Men and Women," and who are entrepreneurial leaders - many of whom have had a distinguished military career and/or are Service Academy graduates and hold MBA's from top-tier business schools." What a great concept from a great guy. I have had the pleasure of getting to know Al and I think the "Renaissance Men and Women" focus is an awesome concept that seems to be tremendously rewarding. As a Renaissance man himself Al seeks out other well rounded individuals and places them in a culture that is conducive to their personality. Besides his profession he writes a thought provoking and extremely well rounded blog. The posts cover everything from playwrights to patriots and features many excellent guest bloggers. A must read for any servicemen and women.

There are some more blogs I have been checking out lately that I will likely add later. More to Come!