Personal Development

July At-a-Glance

I’m going to try to do this little review post at the end of each month and it will be in three parts. (Previous Months: JanuaryFebruaryMarchAprilMayJune)

Top Posts for July

Life Size Jenga – June 28, 2010
My Minimalist Lifestyle – June 7, 2011
Review: Founding Brothers – May 25, 2011
Having a Normal Heart – July 25, 2011
I Wanna Be a US Open Ballkid – July 13, 2011

Progress Towards my Goals

I wrote about what I’m striving for in 2011 at the beginning of the year.

  1. Read more. <– Right on track! You can see my book reviews from all the books I’ve read.
  2. Spend more time in personal reflection (focusing on where I’ve grown and where I can). <–it has been a good month of reflection and direction-finding
  3. Outreach more with my consulting. <– launched my coaching venture
  4. Write. <– Nearing completion with a fiction book!
  5. Paint. <– I have an idea so now I just need to do it
  6. Take more photos. <– I just began a Tumblr of my NYC escapades! You can also check out my store for other photos.
  7. Join a club or recreational sports league. (dodge ball anyone?) <– postponed until the fall
  8. Cook. <– I’ve slipped on the in-depth cooking, but I try to cook a nice meal over the weekends
  9. Entertain. <– Will continue to do it with friends
  10. Ask questions. <– definitely getting better at this one

Other Goals I’m Pursuing

  • Speaking Clients – none
  • Coaching Clients – none
  • Secure an Agent – haven’t started
  • Blog Post Frequency – Currently on pace
  • Business Income – 35% towards goal
  • Read 16 Books – Completed 8
  • Personal Savings Goal – On pace
  • Pay Off Student Loan – On pace
  • Paint Six Paintings – Haven’t had time
  • Attend 12 Networking Events – Behind pace
  • Take Photos Once a Month – I have gone out four times so far
  • Sell a Painting – not yet
  • Start Volunteering – Began working with The Trevor Project in May!
  • Make 52 new NYC Connections – Must update my tracking sheet

July has been incredible. I have spent a lot of time reading, researching and prepping some new projects which I am super excited about! The time is flying by quickly, so I need to get a move on these goals!

July Theme

Review: The Thank You Economy

Current event business books always interest me, but I am rarely fast enough with my reading to give me a chance to read them as they come out. (Better late than never though, right?)

That said, The Thank You Economy by Gary Vaynerchuk, puts the business world on notice: Get moving or get dying. I of course, simplified his message a bit, but that is the general gist of the book.

Vaynerchuk, made famous by his Wine Library TV uses examples to start the book of people saying that radio and television would not work and connects that with the current group of people saying there is no value to Facebook. And saying that there is no value to Twitter. And there is no value to Foursquare, GEO-location services or even simple, honest customer service.

But then he goes though, piece by piece and shows with quality case studies how the prognosticators are quite wrong on this medium as well. Not only is Vaynerchuk using great case studies, but he is also shows how he used each and every tactic in his own business and in building his personal brand.

There are moments however that the book drags on a bit, and maybe it feels like that because I have read enough about social media in the last year. but also, Vaynerchuk seems to be saying the same thing over and over again, which for some, might be what they need.

The other thing that I didn’t quite agree with had nothing to do with social media, but his argument that you have to work long, hard-hours, “working his staff to the bone” as he says, is not the only way to be successful in this medium. I do believe that to be a successful entrepreneur you have to do that, but I think there is such a thing as a life/work balance and they don’t have to become one-and-the-same. Vaynerchuk has said it himself in recent interviews that he wants t spend more time with his family.

But all told, the lessons from this book should be read by each and every CMO, Marketing Director, employee and, well, basically anyone who wants to be better at their business. It is time and money well spent.

Why You Should Read It:

  • The world is changing, and not just in marketing. In all communications and Vaynerchuk gets it.
  • This book will show you that customer service is not its own department anyway. Every person in an organization is part of the customer service team.
  • Vaynerchuk is not the first and he will not be the last to say it, but if you are not talking about your business, someone else is.

What You Can Expect to Walk Away With:

  • A much clearer understanding, with great case studies as to how you can take the Thank You Economy ideas and implement them in your organization.
  • An understanding of the real ROI of social media.
  • If you haven’t yet, this book will clear up for you what social media is NOT!

I have previously written about business and customer service in Jamrock, Six Books You Need on Your Shelf and Orbiting the Giant Hairball.

(Full disclosure: I work for Gary Vaynerchuk and his brother, but was not paid, nor was I asked to write this review.)

How I Cut Cable

I think most guys in our demo watched a lot of television growing up. I still grew up mostly without the internet and I certainly grew up in an age without Wi-Fi in every house. My viewing began with Tom & Jerry, moved to Garfield and transformed into The Mighty Morphin Power Rangers. Or was that just me? But in all seriousness, we are all spending more and more time online in the second decade of the 21st Century, which has been argued this led to the declining television viewership numbers.

Still, most people in their mid-twenties purchase some kind of a package from their internet provider for cable or satellite service. I remember back when I was growing up we got phone service from one company and cable service from a separate company. With deregulation of the telecommunication industries came this phenomenon of purchasing products as packaged goods without thinking about them individually. It is both a good and bad situation for the consumer.

Take this for example: A friend of mine and his wife bought a house and got a package of three: phone, internet, and cable. They didn’t really want the phone line, but it was part of the package (and free for the first year). Another friend recently posted on Facebook that he and his wife had finally disconnected their land line.

Ever since I moved out of the house and went to college, I have never had a “home phone number.” But I have always had a cell phone bill and a cable bill. When I moved to the big city I decided to review my budget and if I really needed cable and here is how I came to my decision to cut the cord.

1. How much television do I actually watch?

Compared to when I was growing up in junior high, I would estimate that my television viewing was somewhere around 3-4 hours per night; adding up to nearly 20 hours or more per week. Rewind to just two years ago and I was probably at, including time when I had the television on but was working, I would average it out to two hours per night. That is still a pretty high 14 hours per week. As this season of programming comes to an end, I know that my shows only take up 3.5 hours per week! I may still turn on the television during dinner or while I’m napping, but my viewership has gone down considerably.

2. Is the amount right for my goals?

Had you asked me ten years ago to get done what I am doing now and keep my viewer hours at 20 per week, it would have been impossible. But with my hours down to a much more reasonable 3.5 hours per week – less is needed – I can say that my time is being well spent now.

3. How much will I have to alter my entertainment?

The decision to get rid of cable at home has forced me to change my habits. I have had to give up the programs that I loved on TBS – mostly re-runs – but also Conan. I also miss A&E re-runs. We do get a few stations, but not CBS or NBC which means programs that I might have watched on those stations have to be watched on Hulu. (Hulu by the way has made all this possible.)

4. What does this save me?

This is an interesting question because I can answer this in a number of ways. First let’s talk strictly dollars. I just moved from Kansas City and had I done this while living there, I would have saved nearly $40 per month. (That adds up to $480 per year!) Now that I live in New York City and only pay for internet service, the money saved per month has gone up to $70 or $840 per year. Think about that, I am saving $2.30 a day by just cutting out cable!

The second way to look at this question is time. By reducing my viewing by as little as 10 hours on the low end and 17 hours on the high end, I have given myself much more time to read and create.

And guess what? I’m surviving. With Hulu and understanding that I can work around most of the issues of not having cable, it has definitely been the right choice for me.

*This article was originally posted on Primer.

Review: 50 Things Your Life Doesn’t Need

My friend, Sam Davidson, is at it again with (no longer) his latest work in 50 Things Your Life Doesn’t Need. The title is not some case to solve – it is just a simple statement of what the book is all about. With 50 things, I definitely found a few that I want to start to tackle.

With Sam’s writing style, everything is easy to digest, easy to understand and easy to think about while you’re reading, ‘Oh sure, I can get rid of that!’ Those moments are what this book is all about. In his first book, The New Day Revolution, he and his co-author gave countless tips on how to save the world in simple steps.

This book is all about saving your life in simple steps.

For instance, passions and hobbies are different things. Don’t go and buy a journal unless you will use it; otherwise, give it to someone who will create. And get rid of paper things; especially if it can be digitized.

Why You Should Read It:

  • Do you really need all those event T-shirts? Really? Have you thought about that?
  • Enjoyment is one thing, but have you ever thought about the true value lost when you buy the most expensive of something because someone has told you there is “value” in it?
  • Passion is definitely the key to happiness … seek it.

What You Can Expect to Walk Away With:

  • It will feel as though Sam is speaking directly to you, like he did to me last year when this book came out.
  • A list of things to get rid of … right now!
  • Questions about your life, your passions and the direction you want to take.

All in all, this book is a quick and great read for anyone with a free hour, a recent graduate or someone in their mid-life crisis. No matter what, you will be able to take something from this book and implement it in your own life.

Break the Cycle

It has happened to everyone; even the best of the best. We get stuck in ruts.

As a sports fan, I have seen it happen over and over again, year after year. I always loved that my favorite football team had Mike Shanahan as their coach. But after 15 years, the words and tactics just don’t work the same, so in 2008 I was pleased when they decided to let him go. Tennis players are notorious for firing a coach sometimes even before the ink is dry on their contract. It is because in life, stagnation is not a steady pace, it is regressive.

Life can become like that too.

“Be brave enough to live life creatively. The creative is the place where no one else has ever been. You have to leave the city of your comfort and go into the wilderness of your intuition.”
-Alan Alda

Last year at this time I was living in Kansas City … which if you’re thinking of moving, is a great place to live if you like entertainment and great food! But aside from that, professionally, I was in a rut. I was connecting with the same folks and had developed a solid routine, but was not getting better. The situation was no fault other than my own.

As 2010 rolled towards it’s whimpered conclusion, I was faced with a choice.

For the choice we will call “Choice S” for staying the course, I had Kansas City. I had a day job I was good at, but was not challenged anymore. I had gone three plus years and had perfected the job and there was not a lot of room for growth. My network was flat. I was not bringing in clients. But I had a day job that more than paid my bills and gave me a chance to live life.

The other options was what we will call “Choice C” for changing course. I had the option of New York City. To do that would be to quit my job, lose my 401(k), the local network, my regional clients and my health insurance. But it offered the opportunity to do something new, challenging, experiential and different.

As the coach of my own life, I had a choice.

I chose to fire myself. It was tough but the moment I did, I knew there was no looking back and I will tell you, I had not felt that alive in years.

That was nearly six months ago. In that time, I have started a new day-job, met (and now work for) a New York Times Best-Selling author and I discovered a new product I am working on bringing to market. I believe part of that is the energy in the city, but it is also making a decision to make the change – to fire my old self – and welcome in the challenges of changing course.

That is what life is all about. We are not meant to become stagnant and comfortable. We need to be challenged. We need to be fighting for something. When was the last time you asked yourself what you wanted and the answer wasn’t the latest iPhone, fashion fad or that great burger? And even tougher question: When was the last time you did something about it?

My Minimalist Lifestyle

A lot has been written and made of this “minimalist” lifestyle over the last two years. I have met people in person and online who say they are “minimalists.” It is, in a nutshell when you can fit everything own in a few boxes and suitcases.

But it is in my opinion a little excessive. It makes sense if you are living a digital nomad lifestyle or constantly traveling, what is another T-shirt or pair of jeans? But if you are neither of those things, a completely minimalist lifestyle doesn’t jive with me. (If I’m offending you, feel free to jump into the comments and let me know your thoughts!)

But my idea of “minimalism” is not built around an absence of “stuff.” Rather, my style is an understanding of “stuff” and its place in your life. There is a profound difference. My friend, Sam Davidson came out with a book last fall that details 50 things all our lives could do without.

What does my minimalist life look like?

I don’t have cable. I got rid of it in January and now only pay for internet (at home and on my phone). With Hulu, I have the ability to watch almost all the shows I normally would, just at a different time. The only drawback is live sporting events, but I either deal with it, or have found a work-around.

Read it & recycle it. Last year I was a pack-rat. I kept e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g. After I read a magazine, I put it in the magazine rack. Until I had two years worth of my various subscriptions just sitting around collecting dust. Now, once I get a magazine, I read it and recycle it.

I used to keep a huge folder of motivational quotes and inspirational stories. Now, I have moved all that into my Evernote account, and am planning to move other paper-keeping there as well. I plan on writing about this in the future, but it is helping me simplify my life, and also organize something that was stuck in the 1960s.

I still own a lot of stuff, but since January 2011, I have donated a lot of clothes and kitchen items, sold furniture and recycled a whole hell of a lot of paper.

I am not owned by “stuff” anymore. It is all a part of re-taking my life.

Interested in the tools and tactics I used to get to this point? Sign up to get information on my brand new life coaching program!

Life Coaching by Richard

May At-a-Glance

I’m going to try to do this little review post at the end of each month and it will be in three parts. (Previous Months: JanuaryFebruaryMarchApril)

Top Posts for May

Shawnee Mission North Relays – June 4, 2010
Life Size Jenga – June 28, 2010
Uncomfortable Feeling – May 5, 2011
Review: Founding Brothers – May 25, 2011
Uncomfortable Feeling – April 14, 2010

Progress Towards my Goals

I wrote about what I’m striving for in 2011 at the beginning of the year.

  1. Read more. <– I have really kicked this one into gear. You can see my book reviews from all the books I’ve read.
  2. Spend more time in personal reflection (focusing on where I’ve grown and where I can). <–haven’t had time
  3. Outreach more with my consulting. <– preparing to launch my coaching venture
  4. Write. <– I finally began the fiction book I have talked about for two years
  5. Paint. <– I have an idea so now I just need to do it
  6. Take more photos. <– Just attended a photography class in Brooklyn … photos to come! You can check out my store for other photos.
  7. Join a club or recreational sports league. (dodge ball anyone?) <– postponed until the fall
  8. Cook. <– I’ve slipped on the in-depth cooking, but I try to cook a nice meal over the weekends
  9. Entertain. <– Will continue to do it with friends
  10. Ask questions. <– definitely getting better at this one

Other Goals I’m Pursuing

  • Speaking Clients – none
  • Coaching Clients – none
  • Secure an Agent – haven’t started
  • Blog Post Frequency – Currently on pace
  • Business Income – 21% towards goal
  • Read 16 Books – Completed 6
  • Personal Savings Goal – On pace
  • Pay Off Student Loan – On pace
  • Paint Six Paintings – Haven’t had time
  • Attend 12 Networking Events – Behind pace
  • Take Photos Once a Month – I have gone out four times so far
  • Sell a Painting – not yet
  • Start Volunteering – I attended an orientation for the Trevor Project and will start this month!
  • Make 52 new NYC Connections – Must update my tracking sheet

The month of May seemed to fly right on by! And here we are, and it is June! I have nearly completed the first draft of my latest book, finally met my online friend Jenn and began a modified workout program! Been a great month … much more is to come! :-)

May Theme

Life Coaching

April At-a-Glance

I’m going to try to do this little review post at the end of each month and it will be in three parts. (Previous Months: JanuaryFebruaryMarch)

Top Posts for April

Life Size Jenga – June 28, 2010
Tolerance is Education – April 20, 2011
Shawnee Mission North Relays – June 4, 2010
Be a Child – June 7, 2010
March At-a-Glance – April 5, 2011

Progress Towards my Goals

I wrote about what I’m striving for in 2011 at the beginning of the year.

  1. Read more. <– I have really kicked this one into gear. You can see my book reviews from all the books I’ve read.
  2. Spend more time in personal reflection (focusing on where I’ve grown and where I can). <–haven’t had time
  3. Outreach more with my consulting. <– Landed a small client
  4. Write. <– I finally began the fiction book I have talked about for two years
  5. Paint. <– I have an idea so now I just need to do it
  6. Take more photos. <– I finally went out to Astoria and took some photos last month, as well as capturing the Union Square area. You can check out my store for the photos.
  7. Join a club or recreational sports league. (dodge ball anyone?) <– postponed until the fall
  8. Cook. <– I’ve slipped on the in-depth cooking, but I have a few recipes to dice into this month
  9. Entertain. <– Will continue to do it with friends
  10. Ask questions. <– haven’t had time

Other Goals I’m Pursuing

  • Speaking Clients – none
  • Coaching Clients – none
  • Secure an Agent – haven’t started
  • Blog Post Frequency – Currently on pace
  • Business Income – 10% towards goal
  • Read 16 Books – Completed 3
  • Personal Savings Goal – On pace
  • Pay Off Student Loan – On pace
  • Paint Six Paintings – Haven’t had time
  • Attend 12 Networking Events – Behind pace
  • Take Photos Once a Month – I have gone out three times so far … just need to develop them
  • Sell a Painting – not yet
  • Start Volunteering – I am attending an orientation with The Trevor Project this month!
  • Make 52 new NYC Connections – Must update my tracking sheet

April has been a month of profound change for my life. I have started a new day-job which is invigorating and exciting – it is always cool to meet new people! Additionally, on a random Saturday while shopping with Nathanael, I found an idea for a great book and product that I’m working on the proposal for. Exciting things indeed!

April Theme

March-at-a-Glance

I’m going to try to do this little review post at the end of each month and it will be in three parts. (Previous Months:  JanuaryFebruary)

Top Posts for March

Life Size Jenga – June 28, 2010
Grace Boyle Shares Her Passion – March 1, 2011
FOCUS: Take Action! – March 10, 2011
FOCUS: Impressions! – February 3, 2011
February at a Glance – March 4, 2011

Progress Towards my Goals

I wrote about what I’m striving for in 2011 at the beginning of the year.

  1. Read more. <– Recently finished the first book of the year and I am currently reading two others
  2. Spend more time in personal reflection (focusing on where I’ve grown and where I can). <–haven’t had time
  3. Outreach more with my consulting. <– Landed a small client
  4. Write. <– I finally began the fiction book I have talked about for two years
  5. Paint. <– I have an idea so now I just need to do it
  6. Take more photos. <– took a few that I need to post
  7. Join a club or recreational sports league. (dodge ball anyone?) <– postponed until the fall
  8. Cook. <– I cook about one “nice” meal a week
  9. Entertain. <– Will continue to do it with friends
  10. Ask questions. <– haven’t had time

Other Goals I’m Pursuing

  • Speaking Clients – none
  • Coaching Clients – none
  • Secure an Agent – haven’t started
  • Blog Post Frequency – Currently on pace
  • Business Income – 5% towards goal
  • Read 16 Books – Completed one
  • Personal Savings Goal – On pace
  • Pay Off Student Loan – On pace
  • Paint Six Paintings – Haven’t had time
  • Attend 12 Networking Events – Behind pace
  • Take Photos Once a Month – Not as much as I would like. Hopefully I will now that the weather is changing
  • Sell a Painting – not yet
  • Start Volunteering – Found a cool Boys and Girls Club near our apartment, but haven’t heard back. Submitted volunteer application to Trevor Project.
  • Make 52 new NYC Connections – Must update my tracking sheet

March was a very exciting month. The weather began to change, I ran my half-marathon, I met new people and began to gain focus on a few areas of my life. With a potential job in the works, my focus and use of time must get clearer and more focused.

March Theme

February-at-a-Glance

I’m going to try to do this little review post at the end of each month and it will be in three parts. (Previous Months: January)

Top Posts for February

Brenton Gieser Shares His Passion – February 1, 2011
January at a Glance – February 4, 2011
Managing My RSS Reader – February 9, 2011
Life Size Jenga – June 28, 2010
Government 101: Equal Protection is For Me Too! – November 17, 2010

Progress Towards my Goals

I wrote about what I’m striving for in 2011 at the beginning of the year.

  1. Read more. <–Currently one my first book, The Jesus Inquest. Interesting … but over my knowledge
  2. Spend more time in personal reflection (focusing on where I’ve grown and where I can). <–haven’t had time
  3. Outreach more with my consulting. <– Had a business meeting and began outreach in the NY area
  4. Write. <– I finally began the fiction book I have talked about for two years
  5. Paint. <– I have an idea so now I just need to do it
  6. Take more photos. <– took a few that I need to post
  7. Join a club or recreational sports league. (dodge ball anyone?) <– Waiting for the Dodgeball team invite
  8. Cook. <– I’ve made two recipes from my new cookbook which I will write about next week
  9. Entertain. <– In February Nathanael and I hosted a small Super Bowl party and last week hosted an Oscar party. We have also attended a wonderful brunch.
  10. Ask questions. <– haven’t had time

Other Goals I’m Pursuing

  • Speaking Clients – none
  • Coaching Clients – none
  • Secure an Agent – haven’t started
  • Blog Post Frequency – Currently on pace
  • Business Income – 3% towards goal
  • Read 16 Books – Just started first book of the year
  • Personal Savings Goal – Haven’t calculated
  • Pay Off Student Loan – On pace
  • Paint Six Paintings – Haven’t had time
  • Attend 12 Networking Events – Attended a great networking event in Gramercy Park
  • Take Photos Once a Month – Not as much as I would like. Hopefully I will now that the weather is changing
  • Sell a Painting – not yet
  • Start Volunteering – Found a cool Boys and Girls Club near our apartment, but haven’t heard back
  • Make 52 new NYC Connections – Must update my tracking sheet

February was much better in terms of my progress towards my goals. I still have a long way to go, but finishing up a full-time contract, writing my latest book and putting together at least one job application a night, my time is very limited. Good thing is my focus is becoming clearer in relation to the career I would like to pursue.

February Theme (NEED)
Words from January