Start with Why

Start with Why

Simon Sinek

This was an interesting and motivating book. It breaks down the action that leaders take into what the author calls the Golden Circle, with a why, a what and a how. The why being at the center , the smallest circle, the how being next, and the what being the biggest circle that covers everything. Sinek uses examples from industry game changers like Apple and Southwest Airlines. Every company that has been a game changer for their industry has started with a Why, and a Why person was at the helm.

Apple was started by Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak back in the 70s. They wanted everyone to be able to have access to a home computer, not just businesses and the government. They wanted to empower the general pubic with use of a home pc. Apple was the first to use a mouse and a graphical user interface. The other pc’s of the late 70’s and early 80’s used a text based interface called Dos and if you are as old as me, you might have some vague childhood memories of typing in dos commands, they were clunky and not always user friendly. Every computer user interface today is an evolved version of the first that the Steve’s came up with back in the 70’s. Apple changed the way everyone interacted with computers, and it all started with a Why. Apple has continued to change the industry many times over the years with iTunes and the iPhone and many more. If Apple continues with their original Why, they will change the industry many times in the future as well.

Southwest Airlines is another example. Before Southwest, flying was a formal affair, only afforded my people of higher income brackets. People wore suits and dresses when they flew. The common person could not afford to fly. Southwest changed all that by making the flights affordable and changing the entire feel of flying. They wanted to make it more causal and reachable by everyone. They started putting their flight attendants in hot pants and go-go boots. Prior to that flight attendants dressed very formal and conservatively. Over a few years Southwest changed the entire industry, and many of those change are still around today. It all started with their Why.

Not everyone can be a Steve or Southwest, but you can start with a Why. What do you want to change ? What is going on around you that you can improve on ? Other companies are good at What, but their why could be a little fuzzy. Take Dell for example, they make great computer, and they make a lot of them. Go into just about any office, or school and more than likely there will be some Dell computers around. But what has Dell done that has changed the industry ? What is the difference between Dell, HP , Acer, not a whole lot, they are all just different flavors of the same basic computer. If I went to the library and hopped in a computer, most likely the only way to tell the difference between a Dell and an HP would be the logo on the front. But you know for sure when you are on an Apple computer, the whole experience is different. Even though Apple has an over all small share of the world wide computer industry, you know the difference between Apple and the competition.

What is your why ? Something I am trying to figure out myself. My own Why is somewhere, and I can’t quite put it into words yet. Its kinda like I am looking through a dirty window, I cleaned a few layers of dirt off the inside, but there is still a layer of dirt and fog on the outside of the window that I cannot quite reach yet. Perhaps I do not have to proper tools just yet to reach the outside, I need a scaffold or a squeegee with a really long handle to get to that grime.

The Millionaire Next Door

I found this book rather interesting, first of all, it defines a millionaire as some one who’s net worth is at least one million dollars. Interestingly there are a lot of people who earn over one million in a year, but are not considered millionaires, as their net worth is much less than a million dollars. The biggest thing that surprised me, as well as the authors of the book was that most people who have a net worth over a million do not show it off. They do not drive luxury cars, they do not always live in the upscale neighborhoods and they live well below their means. They drive regular cars that are usually at least a few years old, they do not drive Mercedes or Range Rovers or any other luxury brand, most of the time they drive plain old nondescript domestic sedans. Rather than upscale neighborhoods the usually reside in middle class areas. I always see the expensive cars in the more expensive parts of town, Mercedes, BMW, Range Rover , and so on. According to the book , most people (not everyone, some people can afford these cars outright) who drive them and live in the upscale part of town earn a lot of money, but they do not save most of it, they do not accumulate wealth. They spend their money to keep up their lifestyle of keeping up with the Joneses and driving expensive cars. Most of them finance or lease their cars and do not use their money to build their net worth.

This school of thought had never occurred to me, I always assumed the people who drove Range Rovers had a high net worth. I always thought that those kind of people had lots of money in the bank or invested and had a high net worth. But it turns out that a large percent of them earn a high income, but they live nearly pay check to pay check. They use their high income to support their high consumption lifestyle.

Keeping up with the Joneses is just a high consumption lifestyle. Spend it as soon as you get it, buy a status symbol and show it of. A lot of actual millionaires do not have the need to impress people they do not know. They are just fine with driving a Honda or a Chevy, and do not need to pay for the Mercedes status symbol on the hood of their car. They are frugal, they earn they money and the keep most of it. Its not like they live a hermit existence either, they do spend money, but they buy items that are quality and have a function, not just something to impress the people next to you at the stoplight. Why impress people you do not know ? Personally I have never had the need to impress random people. According to the book, most of the luxury vehicles you see out there are either leased or financed, The book presented a case study on a doctor who had 3 leased Mercedes ! Why ? I think just because he could, and not surprisingly that particular doctor had a very low net worth, he spent nearly all of his income and did not save or invest very much of it. The doctors explanation was that he needed to look the part in order to get clients, and I understand that, but leasing 3 ? why not one ?

Another thing that blew my mind was what the authors call Economic Outpatient Care or EOC for short. This is where parents who are affluent provide their adult children with money on a regular basis. It could be yearly gifts, or help with the down payment of a house. Many of the parents want to provide their adult children with the means to live in upscale neighborhoods, drive nice cars and keep up the status symbol. The problem is that the adult children are not making enough money on their own to live their lifestyle, and they become dependent upon Mom/Dad for their income. They are not able to afford their lifestyle with out subsidies from their parents ! 1 in 5 houses in upscale neighborhoods receive some sort of subsidy from their parents ! The chances are good that they live a high consumption lifestyle and do not save much of their money. I just do not understand why adults who are in the 30’s, 40’s and beyond would want help from their parents ! The book describes it as weakening the weak , the children become dependent upon their affluent parents for their lifestyle and can’t afford it on their own. The case studies showed the children who were able to make money on their own were rarely helped by their parents, but the ones who were under performing were helped out the most. The parents had the best of intentions, helping their children live a lifestyle, but what ended up was the opposite of what the parents had intended, the children became dependent on their subsidies.

I really enjoyed this book and would recommend it to anyone looking into money management and personal finance. It has changed the way I view the money and finance. It was an eye opener for me, and every time I am out driving I can spot a fake rich person driving a status symbol.

If you are interested in reading it for yourself, here is a link

New challenges

I can’t believe its been a year since I started my blog, its been a yearlong experiment in writing, researching and getting up at 4am. I really wanted to see if I could write a blog post a month for a year, and I almost made it. The two months I did not write anything is when I took a vacation, from work, and I gave myself a break from the writing as well. Overall I passed my experiment and I had fun doing it. I tried to write a variety of topics to keep myself interested and any readers who happen to find their way here and did a couple of book reviews along the way. My next burning question is where do I go from here?

I have been doing a lot of soul searching for the past few years, and one reoccurring theme is that I need to be independent. I have written about some of it here, its been a while since my journey into corporate hell , and more recently its changed from hell to purgatory. The whole time I have been crafting my escape plan behind the scenes, my entire lifetime of education has been training me to be an employee, the outdated school system is still training kids as if they are going to work in factories. Its still ingrained in my brain and its not that easy to get out of that mind set I have had for so many years. Baby steps , small bite sized morsels. I started this blog as a morsel to see if it was tasty enough, and I stuck with it for a year. That surprised even me, as I am really good at starting things but not always following through.

One of the biggest roadblocks I ran into was my need for perfection. I read somewhere that perfection is just an excuse for procrastination. And that makes a lot of sense, I was always waiting for the time to be right, or this or that, well the perfect time was yesterday ! I would always tweak this or that, and think my work was not good enough to put out. Part of that was some conditioning from my corporate job where I was gas-lighted by coworkers who felt threatened by me. They were constantly telling me my work was not good enough. But when I would bypass them and go strait to the manager, he would tell me it was great and give me critical feedback, and challenge me to do better rather than trying to undermine my abilities. This need to have everything perfect kept me from putting anything out, I would get stuck in analysis paralysis and it was a constant rat wheel that didn’t go anywhere.

I am working behind the scenes to create a coaching offer to go along with the blog. I want to help others who may be stuck in the wrong career, stuck in the rat race, or who are just discovering they are an introvert, an empath or an HSP. Early in my career I was a mentor and a trainer, and it something that I have really missed doing. In the upcoming months I will add a coaching session to the blog and anyone who is interested will be able to do a coaching session. There will be some changes to the website coming as well. Things change and grow, there is no growth in your comfort zone. I feel like you are either growing or you are dying, which may sound a bit harsh and black and white, but if you want to grow and challenge yourself you have to step out side of that zone.

The social expierment

There are times in life where you just feel like no matter what you do , you cannot accomplish anything. I feel like all my creative energy is being siphoned away to mundane things. A day job, stopping at the grocery store, fixing this little thing or that, and when I do carve out the a small amount of time, I stare at an empty screen, or I type a paragraph or two, then my mind wanders off to something else or the cat jumps on the desk derailing my train of thought. Right now as I am typing my cat is meowing around my feet looking for someone to pet her. There is a persistent feeling lingering that I am always running out of time. Rush and do this or that, and before you know it the day is gone and it starts all over again.

It seems to me like people get used to daily routines and patterns, and do not like to get out of their comfort zone. Sometimes a subtle change is hard to notice. If you are sitting at a computer, or next time you do, take a look at the keyboard, specifically look at the M and the N key. They are right next to each other. One day while I was at work I was typing an email, and the M and N keys popped off, I just popped them back on, not really paying attention to how they went, inadvertently I put them on backwards. Being someone who rarely looks at the keyboard while I type I really didn’t notice. That could also be why my spelling is horrible, but that is another story. Not very many other people I work with use my computer, my office is a bit out of the way and its quiet, I like it that way. When someone else does come use my computer, they almost always lock them selves out when trying to put in their password for the log in. My boss for example, he tried to log into my computer while I was out doing something else, and as I was walking back into the room he seemed a bit angry. It did not occur to me at the time, that he locked himself out because of the trick keyboard. The next day I asked him if there was m or an n in his password, he gave me that strange, how do you know look, and said slowly ,yeeess… why don’t you try a different computer I asked , and he was able to log in. He came over to my computer and looked at the keyboard and exclaimed THE M AND N ARE BACKWARDS ! How do you use that keyboard ?! I just laughed and explained that I don’t look at it while I type.

A few other people who fell to the trickery, IT guys- they are the most fun to mess with because they are the so called computer experts… but they usually figure it out. Its one of those so subtle things that you almost miss because you are so used to all the keyboards being the same, you do not expected it. My social experiment has been going on for almost 3 years, and I think I will keep it up for as long as I can. This really makes me think, what are the subtle things in my life that I have missed, the switched keys that I never noticed and just kept going about my day.

Firefly Magic Book Review

Firefly Magic by Lauren Sapala

As soon as I saw that Lauren wrote this book I ordered off Amazon pronto. I have Lauren’s other two books, Between the Shadow and Lo, and The INFJ Writer, both of which I highly recommend. The INFJ Writer and Firefly Magic are written in a similar style where there are exercises at the end of each chapter for the reader to reflect upon. In The INFJ Writer Lauren states that you have to actually do the exercises in the book for it to do you and good,. Being a self-help book junkie I am totally guilty of reading self-help books and not doing the exercises, and now thinking about that, I might go back and re read some books on my book shelf.. That all changed a few years ago when I read the INFJ Writer. I would read a few chapters, and then go back over the questions posed at the end each section. Some of the questions take a bit of pondering, it may take a day or two for my brain to come up with something. I will open up a blank word document, write down the question and write out what comes to mind, at then when I finish the book I will have quite a bit of information out there where I can review it.

Firefly Magic is no different, if you are an intuitive HSS/HSP writer like myself, Lauren knows how your brain works. Its like she opens up your head, looks at all the programming , neurons and connections in there, takes pictures of it and then puts in all into words that we can actually understand. I have taken a marketing class, and read several other books about it, but none of them really worked for me. They all seemed a bit scammy or like they were aimed at the used car salesman type. A lot of those other books have a few things in common, they say you need to change your personality and become more extroverted, and while that is partially true, an introvert cannot become an extrovert. Now I am not saying these other books and blogs do not have good information, because they do, but their targeted audience is not the Intuitive HSP type of person that many writers are.

Lauren knows that you have a book that you are working on that is partially finished or on its 3rd re-write that you have been working on for a while. I am totally guilty of this, I have been working on my novel for about 4 years and its still in rough shape. Firefly Magic comes for Lauren’s experience as a writing coach, she helped me out with my novel a few years ago, her book is the combination of hundreds (maybe thousands ?) of coaching sessions put into actionable bits for the reader. If you are an Intuitive writer you cannot skip this book.

Boulders in the Room

I read about an interesting concept the other day, and it is a similar idea to an elephant in the room, but a boulder instead. I see an elephant and something that is there , but its alive and it can move, you can offer it some metaphorical food or water and get it to move out eventually on its own. You might have to cut a hole in the wall so it can find its way out, but its a living breathing thing. A boulder on the other hand, is dead, or more correctly not living , as dead would imply that it was alive at one time or another. A boulder has never been alive. You can’t offer it food or water to see if it will walk out the door like the elephant that you just got rid of. The elephant will follow you around into different rooms, but the boulder is fixed, you have to create you life around the boulder. Maybe you can paint it, or hang pictures on it, put your furniture around it, but no matter what its still a massive boulder in the middle of your living room.

Its one of those things that is there, but you kinda always wonder how it got there. Who built the house around a boulder anyways ? The next dilemma is , do you want to always have that boulder in your room, or do you want to find a way to get rid of it ?

What is your boulder ? I know I have more than one, lots actually, and my head tends to be full of them (I went to college for geology, I have been accused of having a head full of rocks…) but I am not talking about granite or any other physical rock, but the boulder that is blocking my living room. One of the biggest boulders in my room is about money. I have this belief that money is evil, and you have to do things you do not want to do to create money. When I was a kid the only way I could get money was by doing chores that I did not want to do. Mom and Dad were doing me a service by teaching little Travis that money does not come for free, you have to do some sort of work to get it, mow the lawn, do the dishes, etc. I could not just do what I wanted like find sweet jumps for my bike and have money. I did my chores most of the time and got paid, when I didn’t do them, no money. Life is really that simple . Do some work, get paid. Don’t work, don’t get paid. Fast forward 30 some years and that part of life has not changed much, go to work to do some things that I have to do and I get a paycheck every two weeks. Although at this point in most peoples adult lives you have to do more than just mow the lawn and do the dishes to get create enough money to live on. In fact I still do those things but no one pays me to do it. How come we don’t have robot servants that do that by now ? If you have ever seen the movie Wall-E is probably a bad idea anyways.. but I digress. I have to spend more time at my job than I do with my family.

I have to go to my job to support myself, but is there another way ? I cant just quit my job, as the cliché says I have bills to pay and mouths to feed. I want to create a job that I like doing, like blogging and writing, but I have to work around my normal job and other commitments to work at it.

There are 24 hours a day, 7 days in a week. I spend on average 40 hours a week at work. Lets break this down.

One week equals 7×24 = 168 hours a week that everyone has.

Sleep 7×7 = 49 hours
Work 4×10 = 40 hours
Commute = 1.6 hours total

With work comes commuting. I work 4 ten hour shifts and commute about 20 minutes each way in the summer, and winter can be much more, depending. On average I would say 25 minutes each way so lets call it 50 minutes a day

Commuting = 50×4 = 100 minutes or 1.6 hours a week.

I want to total this up so far

49+40+1.6 = 90.6

168-90.6= 77.4

That leaves me 77.4 hours to do everything else I need to do in the week after work and sleep. A few other non negotiable items.

Sitting on the Toilet – Google tells me that the average person spends 1 hour and 42 minutes a week on the throne. Hmm, I might have to check into the myself but we will go with what google says, 1.75

Food shopping/preparing 4, eating, another 4

Toilet 1.75
Food prep/shopping 4
Eating 4

4+4+1.75 = 9.75

77.4-9.75 = 67.65

Now I am down to 67.65, What else do I waste time on, … TV. Tv is a thing that is varies by the season where I currently reside. In the winter I estimate that I watch 3 to 4 hours a week, the weather sucks and its dark by 4pm in the middle of winter so I watch a little more tv than I would like, But summer on the other hand I watch almost zero, when its nice outside, and I would rather not watch Tv, , So I will average it out over the year at 2 hours per week.

Reading, I am pretty good a reading, I read at least 20 to 30 minutes every day. I will round it to 3.5 hours a week.

Now I am down to 67.65-5.5 = 62.15

Lets round it to 62 to make it easy. 62 hours seems like a lot, but I really am not quite sure where the rest of it goes. I spent a lot of time with family. My guess is that I spend about 30 hours with the family, and about 2 hours a week exercising.

That still leaves me 30 hours that I could be working on creating more money. I spend some time writing this blog and other writing activities, but that really doesn’t make me any money, but I enjoy doing it. Should I spend that time creating money instead of writing ? In theory if I spent my extra 30 hours a week on something that would make me money I could leave my day job eventually and focus more on writing. But writing doesn’t really make me money, but its a creative output for me and its something that fuels my soul. With out some sort of output I feel lost, like a bottle floating around on the ocean with no destination. I have this desire in me to create, and maybe someday I will publish the book I have been working on, I need to put it out into the world, but that is a day that is far away and I will put it out when the time is right.

Is it possible to make a living from what fuels your soul ? Or I am being materialistic?
What does your boulder look like ?

Stuck at a job you hate ?

Should you stay at your job that makes you miserable ?

So many times in life I just wanted to jump from my job, but if you do not have a safety net in place, that can be a dangerous thing.

I have heard stories of people getting ill from work, not because they were exposed to something (in my line of work that is a possibility), but from stress. Unless you work at a mine, or an industrial facility, then your worse exposure is probably from the guy who sits in the cube next to you who came to work sick.

Headaches, nausea, anxiety, I have experienced all these symptoms from too much stress at work. The first job I had out of college was in a high pressure, deadline drive, profit machine of a job. My job directly involved making or losing millions of dollars for the company. The job was very stressful, but it paid very well, and the stress got to everyone at one time or another. I had constant headaches, panic attacks, stomach aches, things I never normally experienced. I saw the life force literally getting sucked out of people, just so they had a few extra bucks on their checks.

A lot of people hate their jobs, they do not believe there is a dream job. I am feeling myself slipping into that category, I grew up with the belief that everyone hates their job, but they go anyway. I have a limiting belief that I am stuck with my current job, and there is no such thing as a dream job.

But what can you learn from job that makes you miserable? What you learn certainly cannot be taught in your dream job. I hated my corporate job, but it was a learning experience that I could have not learned anywhere else. A few key lessons for me;

Money does not solve your problems. I earned a very generous raise, and I thought it would make me feel better, but it did not. I could not even enjoy spending my money, more money did not bring me happiness. The stress , headaches, nausea was still there.
I enjoy working hard, but on my terms, not anyone else’s
There are some, actually most people that are motivated by money, and they will become monsters to get that money at any cost
If a company pays you a lot of money, they OWN you
So many people will stab you in the back if it makes them looks good
You always need a plan for your next move, have plan A, B C all in your back pocket and ready to go.

Any job that steals your life force, you need to quit. Fortunately when I was working for corporate, I knew from the get go that I was only going to stay a few years, make some money and jump ship. I had an escape plan from day one.

If you don’t have a plan, make one ! Plan your escape and your next move. Once your job has gotten to the point where you are getting sick and miserable, you need to get the fuck out ! Change your life situation, and take a hard look at why you are still there. If you are in a job that you hate why are you still there ?

Are you trying to impress someone ? Family or co workers?
Will you let someone down if you quit ?
Is it your only option in town ? Would you have to move to find a better job?
Would you have to take a pay cut to leave ?
Are you the breadwinner in the house and you have others depending on you?

There are countless reasons , but what can you do to get out ? Think about what lessons you have learned from this job, what skills you have picked up ? Are there anymore to learn before you leave ?

Dont give up so easily

Don’t give up after the first try

Or the Second,

Or the third.

If I could go back in time and give my younger self a lesson, it would be that you cant give up so quickly, There is no magic light switch that you can flip and get instant results. I used to think if I put in a little hard work, I could coast the rest of the way to what ever finish line I was chasing.

Early in life I figured out that I didn’t have to put a lot of effort into my school work and I could still pass, I didn’t care about impressing the teachers, well most of them anyways. I only tried hard in life in areas that I wanted to, areas where I thought it might benefit me later in life. I knew that in the real world outside of school I was not going to be doing algebra on a daily basis in what ever job I would get.

Fast forward in life and you cant do the same thing in college. Some of the classes, yes, but if you want to graduate, you are going to have to put in a sustained effort to get to that much anticipated graduation day. You had to play by their rules, jump through hoops. The first time I failed a class it was a wake up call. I learned that you could not coast through life. If I had given up, after the first time I failed a class, I would have never made my way to graduation day.

I went to college with a full awareness that academia and the real world are two different things, and I was going to run into some professors that did not have a realistic view of the world beyond the class room. Much of the practical knowledge I learned is long forgotten, but the lessons and philosophies I learned will stick with me forever.

Life isn’t easy,
Life requires grit
What you put into life you get out of it.
You cannot coast through life and expect great results

If you give up on the first try, you might be livin in a van, down by the river !

Rich Dad Poor Dad Book Review

Rich Dad Poor Dad: What the Rich Teach Their Kids About Money That the Poor and Middle Class Do Not!

Rich Dad Poor Dad

This book has been around for a while, and I recently picked up the 20th anniversary addition. This is a book that I would have never read a few years ago, but recently I have been coming to some realizations about life, and I started looking into personal finance and money. I have read a lot of blogs and watched countless you-tube videos on finance and one book that kept coming up was Rich Dad Poor Dad. Many people recommended it, and said it really changed the way they think about money. There also is a lot of controversy about the author Robert Kiyosaki. There are some mixed reviews out there for sure, and I like to read the controversial stuff and make the decision for myself. A lot of people that criticized it think that the story is not true, and Rich Dad was not a real person and Poor Dad was not actually poor. To me , it doesn’t matter if its true or not, the book never says either way, but I was more interested in the philosophy and mindset towards money. I really liked the book, at the end of each chapter there was a section of questions and review, it made a good recap on the information and made you think about your own situation.

The book is pretty simple really, no complex investing or schemes. Here is a breakdown:

Rich Dad – has money work for him. Is an investor and or business owner. Pays himself first, and taxes second. Buys assets not liabilities.

Poor Dad – Works for money, is an employee, works for someone else or is a self employed person. Pays taxes first and himself second. Buys liabilities, not assets.

We probably have all heard about assets and liabilities before, but I had never really given it much thought. Here is another simple breakdown

Assets- make you money (passive income)
Examples – a rental property, mutual funds, ownership of a business, stocks, etc..

Liabilities- cost you money
Examples – a car, debt, (credit cards etc.) loans, anything you buy that doesn’t make money, like a big screen tv.

This book really shifted my beliefs toward money. You will never get rich working for someone else, you have to buy assets, not liabilities. It is full of examples and stories, and I would recommend anyone who is wanting to learn more about money and finance to check out this time tested classic !

Master your Mental Strength – Book Review

I just finished reading this book and its great way to kick off the new year. If you are looking to up your game in life, check it out !

13 Things Mentally Strong People Don’t Do

Amy Morin

This book caught my attention from Amy Morin’s Ted Talk about becoming mentally strong. The description used the analogy that we have to build mental strength just like physical strength. I am into working out my physical body by doing yoga, hiking, jogging, etc, but I never had the thought that you could work out your mind in the same way. There have been some areas in my life where I want to make changes, but I always seem to get stuck or not get very far or just get bored quickly and not getting the results I wanted So after hearing Amy’s Ted talk, I picked up this book to see what she was talking about. The thirteen things are:

1) Don’t waste your time feeling sorry for yourself
2) Don’t give away your power
3) Don’t shy away from change
4) Don’t focus on things you cannot control
5) Don’t worry about pleasing everyone
6) Don’t fear taking calculated risks
7) Don’t Dwell on the past
8) Don’t make the same mistakes over and over
9) Don’t resent others success
10) Don’t give up after the first failure
11) Don’t fear alone time
12) Don’t feel the world owes you anything
13) Don’t expect immediate results

Whether you are trying to start a new business, facing a layoff, dealing with family members, trying to work out more, whatever it is you are trying to do, this book can help you.

At then end of each chapter there is a summary of what to do and what not to do, and there are tips through out the book that you can apply to just about any situation in life. Amy is a licensed clinical social worker, college professor and psychotherapist, she has a wide range of inexperience that she put to use in this book.

A few areas in my life needed a little kick in the pants, and this book has helped me move my goals into high gear !

I am going to a few blog posts on the 13 things coming soon !