Spend. Eat. Watch. Click. Play. Try.

We are consumers in a world that drains our resources

The messages are everywhere…most of them maybe not as blatant as the insert photo, but they are constant and omnipresent nonetheless.

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Our culture is one that loves progress, adores consumption, and abhors frugality.

To intentionally plan on spending less, or to suggest an un-planned moment is foreign to the modern mentality.  Every moment is double-booked, most every transaction is married to multiple distractions, and many of our commitments are competing with expected failures to guarantee a profit.  The buffet expects you to binge, but knows that you’ll fill up on the cheap carbs.  The airlines know there are more butts in line at the security gate than seats on the plane, but they expect your connecting flights to fail and there’s also a good chance you won’t make it there on time, so they oversell all the time!

A fast food “meal” is a combination of often three menu items that has enough calories to supply over an entire days’ demand for energy.  They up-sell you to a bigger bag of vittles, because they want to train you to buy more…because they sell fried pies too.  They aren’t evil per-se…they just don’t care if you get fat and die, because there’s someone else in line behind you.

You feel pressed to stay connected all weekend long, and reply to your boss’s texts, emails, and calls when you’re nearly anywhere except the shower.  Stress is no longer something that saves your life from a sudden threat…it’s that constant sound resonating, while you drive the vehicle of your life with the parking brake slightly pinching the calipers.  All day and all night.  Your colleagues and managers are all stressed out, maxed out, and worn out too.  They are (secretly) just as sacred they’ll fail as you are, so they won’t dare suggest you take a break.  They know you need a day off, but 99% of them won’t tell you.

Here’s a prediction: you probably need some silence…and solitude…and slow-ness…

Take a moment for yourself.  Unplug occasionally.  Take a walk.

Breathe. Rest.

Sleep.

.

..

…..

I know.  I know.

I know!

Your dragons will be there when you wake up, so  I do not mean to imply they won’t.  You’ll still weigh x pounds, and your mountain of overdue bills will still be there.  Your cholesterol levels will still be high.  Your inbox will be full.  There’s really only one thing that will change, and it’s you.

You’ll be (slightly) better able to face those giants, and eventually if you continue to take a break occasionally — you’ll win.  Eventually!

Here’s a great book to fully indoctrinate you in this mentality, if a short blog post hasn’t convinced you: When Work and Family Collide: Keeping Your Job from Cheating Your Family

Eating for Tomorrow

Jeff Bezos released some new devices a while back and I shared some insights {here} from his brilliant business acumen back then.

Today I’m impressed with his Business Insider interview describing the way he runs the businesses at Amazon even more.

 

The similarities between this long term business philosophy that it’s impossible to manage your company THIS quarter because the things that are effecting results this quarter were things you may have done years ago. That’s exactly the way your health works, related to diet, healthy choices, and acting like an owner of your healthcare.  Amazon takes a long term approach and they realize that an investment in one area can come from profits you’ve reaped in others.  Compared to health, you can definitely overcome a few dietary limitations with exercise but that only goes so far — there’s an end to what you can do, and in this example Amazon has been fortunate to have lots of winners where they have the cash to invest in experiments.  Listen carefully and Mr. Bezos will even share a secret technique that can help you eat less of a problem food – eating too many cookies, just do this _______.

If you have made poor choices, you may need to find a way to place better bets on your diet and be more intentional about avoiding the things that can damage your health.  You’re the product of choices you made throughout the years, and in some cases you may be effected by choices your parent(s) made but you have to own those realities and take an approach with responsibility and personal ownership.

Ready | Aim | Fire | Aim | Fire | Aim | Fire

The principles of “ready-aim-fire” and “ready-fire-aim” are both well intended, and they both miss the mark — pun intended.

dart hit the dead centre of target

Zeroing in a target requires about three shots to properly align the crosshairs and “dial-in” the shooter’s accuracy.

It’s just as dangerous to get caught in preparation paralysis as it is to continually waste your efforts shooting in the dark.  The ease of “starting” should empower anyone who wants to begin a business venture of any size, and the likelihood of catastrophic failure can be minimized these days by strategically firing test rounds “bullets first, then cannonballs” as author Jim Collins describes in Great by Choice: Uncertainty, Chaos, and Luck–Why Some Thrive Despite Them All.

Go ahead and start something.  Anything!  Take aim, and pull the trigger…giving it your best shot.  Next you’ll want to take a moment or two to determine where you hit or missed and carefully adjust before aiming and firing again.  You don’t EVER have to hit on the first shot, and the BEST snipers typically can’t zero in their guns without at least three shots.  Ready?

Start A Business for 48 ₵

We’ve all seen hard times, all struggled to make enough money, all pinched pennies, and yes we’ve probably all made excuses to justify why we just can’t get by.

Here’s what someone in Nashville did to make more than minimum wage, on his own terms…

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About ten years ago, I was sitting in a booth at Denny’s on Briley Parkway, when I noticed a man at the counter looking across at me from time to time.  He was busy working on something, so at first I thought maybe he was just glancing up into space and collecting his thoughts.  No.  He’s looking at me.  Maybe not.  Yes he is.  No, I should keep talking with my friends.  He’s getting up to leave…no, he’s walking over here.  He was staring at me…

“Excuse me sir, I don’t mean to interrupt you folks but I’m a homeless artist and I noticed that you have some powerful facial features, so I wanted to sketch them for you, so you can see what I see.  My work is strictly donation based, so this is my gift to you and you don’t owe me a thing.  I hope you gentlemen all have a great day…”

I gave him ten dollars.  In these days of debit cards, that was all my cash-on-hand, but if I had twenty dollars or more in my wallet I would have gladly paid more.  {For the record, I know there’s nothing special about my facial expressions, I know this was a sales pitch, and that’s why I love it so much…because it’s a such perfectly polished soft-sale, that it’s hard to resist the transactional value of this kind of win-win.}  It was a great lesson in taking charge and positioning oneself for independence rather than becoming a victim, and I’ll never forget it.

You can always take things into your own hands, and own full responsibility for your future.  His business cost less than 48₵ to start, and it looks like his self-esteem was still intact, despite the situational circumstances – based on the ‘Sir Larry‘ signature line.

So, what’s your excuse?

Stressed at Work?

Some stress is healthy – it motivates the antelope to run a little faster than the cheetah.

Too much stress is not good.  If your work and field of occupation has become too much of a mental or emotional burden to manage, then take steps to find work you love.  Don’t work yourself to death, when you can find another line of work that invigorates you instead.

Shadowlands

We are living in a shadow of what we could become, and we need to have hope for our tomorrow in order to see a find a better life in our now.

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There is very little from my perspective that separates sacred from secular and connecting the two is a philosophy that’s been very helpful for me.

You can read that statement in either of two possible ways — I’m either seeing everything as sacred, or everything as secular.  To clarify, I see everything as sacred and I see opportunity everywhere.  I’ve taken the advice of many sages that wisely suggested building a life that I don’t need to escape from.

The master in the art of living makes little distinction between his work and his play, his labor and his leisure, his mind and his body, his information and his recreation, his love and his religion.  He hardly knows which is which.  He simply pursues his vision of excellence at whatever he does, leaving others to decide whether he is working or playing.  To him he’s always doing both. ”  ― James A. Michener

Enjoying your work makes so much sense to me that I comfortably take calls on vacation (when possible) and I even try to keep in touch with people from years ago, though those relationships have little to do with my present responsibilities. Why make that effort?  I love what I do.  Helping the food industry perform better and safer is an exciting way to make a difference and reduce pain and suffering in the world.

The shadowlands concepts are built on C. S. Lewis’ postulations and I too can sense a divine plan and see the fingerprints of a higher power all around me.  This understanding of purpose has pointed me toward excellence and helps me to press into my work ever deeper, and I hope you take yours’ seriously too.  In my opinion, the impossibility of work-life balance is nearly irrelevant because I see work and life as permanently connected, and as dependent upon one another as substance and shadow, so I think it’s essential to do work that you love and work that matters to you, that supports your life outside that world in harmony and peace.

Pricing

I have strong opinions about pricing in today’s marketplace, and I really admire businesses who create excellent pricing strategies — like the Kickstarter for RooSport 2.0 Wallet.


The pricing strategy reveals genius level wisdom, and all early adopters got a better deal.  the sooner you bought, the less you paid.  As each “deal” sold-out, another artificial deadline approached – with pricing structured slightly higher for the same merchandise.

Each sell-out created another sense of urgency:

  • 200 backers at $14/wallet (sold out) $2,800
  • 300 backers at $16/wallet (sold out) $4,800 {$7,600 total}
  • 1,000 backers at $19/wallet (sold out) $19,000 {26,600 total}

This Kickstarter was fully funded at $20,000, but it didn’t stop there…

  • 544 backers at $21/wallet | This level was unlimited — and the highest price per wallet.
  • Several “quantity” discounts were offered and those included some extras.
  • Even buying TEN wallets would only discount the pricing down to $17.90/each.

This pricing strategy was obviously developed to reward early adopters with the best prices.  This is important for attracting attention to a Kickstarter project, and the momentum from those initial contributions pushed this one into a wild success with over $115,000 in funding for a project with a modest goal set at $20,000.

Could this work elsewhere?  I think so…

What if your cable company followed a similar philosophy and used your contract date as a factor for determining your ongoing rates and for discounting their future price increases?  Long-term commitments add the greatest value to businesses.  It’s more expensive to gain a new customer, than retain an existing relationship.  Discounting new customers just angers existing customers and motivates them to keep switching to get the next limited-time offer on cable, cellular service, or internet access.  These businesses all have the same misguided perspectives that punish loyalty.  (They ultimately pay for it with an endless churn of former customers returning over and over, for a limited time.) Netflix recently raised pricing for new subscribers, but held firm on existing members…which seems to be working for them.

Corporate pricing is often misguided too.  Sometimes the SIZE of a prospect determines their contract price, rather than the volume of their actual business.  It shouldn’t matter that your customer has 300 stores if you’re only doing business with twelve of them.  What if your corporate pricing were completely transparent?  What if your discounts were based on the actual volume of the purchase, like the reverse of the RooSport structure?  Why not offer the first 1000 Widgets annually at $1.00/each and the next $5,000 at $0.95/each?  You could maintain one price structure for everyone, and never worry that anyone had a better deal — with simplicity and integrity perfected, the customer is rewarded and in the driver’s seat at the same time.