Tuesday, August 26, 2014

The Only Damn Thing You Need to be a Success.

You have to want it.
You have to desperately crave to be successful.
Like a person who is drowning, you have to flail and fight and exert every ounce of effort within your control to get to where you wanna be.

There are a lot of skills that you need in order to be successful.
No matter what you think of as success — sports, politics, business, math, or science — there are things that you will need to adapt your lifestyle around in order to rise to the top and become a champion.

But one thing you can't learn from a book, a seminar, or a leadership guru, is the will to win.

And it's the most important difference between winners and losers.

Winners want to WIN.

It's the driving force that consumes their entire being.
They want to win. It is all they think about.

Just like a drowning man so desperately wants one more final gulp of oxygen, winners are consumed with an inner rage to achieve their goals.

It's not something that is nice to have or a recommended option.

It's the most important part of the fight.

It's what determines the final outcome.
There are a lot of people who can tell you how to be successful. They can repeat to you the exact textbook explanation for becoming a champion in whatever goal you set for yourself.

But there's a difference between knowing and doing and craving and struggling.

You need the will to win more than you do any other set of skills.

You need passion more than you do intellectual power.

You have to want it. Deep down in your bones.
It can't be bought or taught or borrowed.

It has to be something that's deep inside you, driving you to do what no one else is willing to do.

Do you want it?

Thank you, Dan Waldschmidt

Monday, July 28, 2014

Avoid Becoming a Cannibal

I was recently reading an article concerning Cannabalism in the Jamestown colony. Yes, our forefathers apparently feasted on each other during a terrible winter of the colony (mmmm…fava beans). But what I found intriguing, enough so to write an article about, was WHY they ended up there. No, not because they were hungry and that recently deceased daughter looked sumptuous. It was because they were bad businessmen.  

The colony has initially made “friends” with the native Powhatan tribe. But due to drought and general lack of knowledge of farming, food supplies were scarce going into winter. So what do newly-arrived Europeans do when times get tough? They raid their Powhatan neighbors for food. You can imagine this pissed off quite a few folks. So the Powhatan retreated back with a knowledge that they would be just fine (having lived there for, oh hundreds of years) with a general attitude of “No Soup For YOU!”.

Enter the “unthinkable”. Actually, not quite unthinkable, as they did it, as have several others before and since in a bid to survive. And while I applaud their resolve to see their venture be successful by any means necessary, hindsight provides some clear lessons that are as applicable today as they were then, for business or colonizing a foreign land.

1) Think the Unthinkable. Plan for contingencies. Like bad weather. Or drought. Or loss of income. Granted, charbroiled thigh perhaps shouldn’t make the list, but damn well have a Plan B and C.

2) Listen to Experts. Like the Powhatan. Or the folks down the road that have been doing this day in and day out. Don’t get caught up in your own arrogance or belief that what you are doing is a game-changer. Even the game-changers have limited life spans (witness any technological breakthrough in the last 100 years).

3) Don’t Piss Off Your Suppliers. You need them. They don’t need you. And when you do piss them off, they will sit back and watch you suffer. 

4) Do What It Takes To Survive. So you’ve screwed up the situation, a real FUBAR. Buckle down. Batten the hatches, and do whatever it takes, even if it distasteful, or against your beliefs. Even in our enlightened age, Cannibalism is NOT illegal. (Look it up; I did)

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Call In Sick If You Want To Fail...

Dave Sobocinski, a co-worker years ago at Bell Oaks, gave me a tacit piece of advice. We were driving up West Paces Ferry from a client visit, and looking at the mega-mansions there in Buckhead. He made the comment about calling in sick. "You going to feel like crap at home or at work," he said in his rough urban tongue, "but you might as well be at work, getting sh*t done."

A lot of life comes down to doing hard things when you least feel like it. If you are going to be successful over the long run, you’re going to have to do things that hurt on days when you already hurt, which seems to defy logic.

If you’re already not at peak performance, it might seem like a better option to recuperate and then go back into the battle. It’s what we’ve been taught since we were children.

If you’re not feeling well you don’t have to go to school. If you get hurt, you should “take it easy” for a while. It is only natural that you might think that you can be successful while living life on easy terms.

And not just “easy” terms. Your terms.

The reality of success is that to get what you want from life, you are going to have to gut it out. At work, in relationships, leading your business — there are days when it is not so easy to do the right thing.

And somehow we try to justify doing the wrong thing by explaining that we’ll start doing better when we feel better. When the terms for success are better.

But anyone can play the game and do pretty well when the odds aren’t stacked against them. Anyone can conquer when the opponent doesn’t have a weapon.

The harder challenge is to do what is hard and fair and noble even when you don’t feel like it at all, when you are “sick and tired” and tired and sick.

Every day matters. Every minute matters.

You are sadly mistaken if you think you can be successful only when you feel like it. That has never been the secret to domination.

Think about this: the only thing that separates you and your dream from success is a battle. If you aren’t fighting, you just aren’t getting any closer to success. You aren’t.

That’s why every day matters. Why today matters.

There are no sick days. So get that out of your head, grab your sword, and start swinging.

Thank you, Dave, for that advice, and to Dan from Edgy Conversations, for this nugget o' wisdom.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

A Place to Call Your Own

You might not realize, but we do NOT maintain a regular office. I prefer to work out of bars, where I can sip a tasty beverage whilst planning to conquer the world. And it occurred to me to figure out WHY this works so well. The camaraderie, the comfort...whatever it is that feeds your inner Hemingway. Fetching bartenders and tasty nibbles don't hurt, either...

Here’s a few tips:
Choose the right place.  It needs to be close to your house and somewhere you enjoy.  Otherwise you won’t go often enough.  Also, make sure its small and been around long enough to have a staff that’s worked there for a while.  You want to make sure you’re not lost in the shuffle. Having internet and power is a must.
How Often?  At least once a week.  At first you want to pick a weekday until they get to know you.  Also, try to avoid a happy hour place.  You don’t want to compete with after-work douchebags for the waitress’ attention.
Choose the right time.  You want to go early or late.  Never at rush hour.  At least until you’ve gained a regular status.  Best way to do this is to get a beer solo around 5:00.  The staff will have already prepped for dinner and usually have time to chat.  This is where you want to strike up a conversation.  Learn their name and repeat it a few times.  Don’t be offended if they don’t learn yours right away.  This takes time.
Order right.  If you order your steak well done, no one will talk to you.  If you order something weird on the menu, they’ll be eager to know what you think.  Remember, a good chef is an artist.  Send the dish back and you’ll crush him.  Be honest, give constructive criticism, and he’ll love you.
Tip generously.  Tipping might be the strangest part of our culture and it’s hard to get right.  If this is somewhere you want to become a regular at you’ve got to set a precedent and stick with it.  I go 25% always.  That’s a good tip but not outrageous.  No waiter will turn down money but they also don’t want to be power played.  And yes, you do tip on drinks and tax.
Dress well.  A good manager knows that the look of the clientele is a part of the decor.  They want to attract young, good looking people.  So make sure you dress the part.  No sandals.  No hats.  No tank tops.  You don’t need to wear a suit (unless the dress code calls for it) but be respectful.
Get to know the other regulars.  It’s just as important as knowing the staff.  View the other regulars as gate keepers.  If you’ve got your head down, playing on your phone all evening, they’ll never let you in.  So jump in on their conversation and offer to buy them a drink.  You’ll be accepted in no time.
Now You’re Getting Somewhere.  So the staff is starting to recognize you.  It’s time to exercise some of the benefits.  Pick a table and asked to be seated there always.  When you call to make a reservation, mention your name and ask something about the hostess.  “Chrissy, it’s John Smith.  How’s your sick dog doing?  I was hoping you had my table open around 9:00 tonight.”  That makes it personal and gives them something to remember about you.
The Buy Back.  At some point you’ll be given a desert or drink on the house.  Be over the top grateful.  Tip like the item was part of the bill.  I know this goes against what I said about tipping, but this is different.  Also, don’t be afraid to reciprocate.  If you stay until closing, buy the kitchen a round of beers from the bar.  Trust me, they’ll remember.

There’s a place a block down the street from where I live that’s been around since the 1920’s.  It’s an institution with lots of regulars to compete with.  But when it changed hands last year and the new owner’s were looking for some press, I offered to help.  I asked a local newspaper if I could write a review.  Boom.  Regular status achieved.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Learn to Give Up on Your Dreams...

In the last six months, I’ve learned to give up. I mean just walk the hell away from my goals. To quit. And it is working beautifully!

Using this one basic idea, I’ve made consistent progress on my goals every single week — without incredible doses of willpower or remarkable motivation. I want to share how I use this strategy and how you can apply it to your own life to improve your health and your work.

The Problem with How We Usually Set Goals
If you’re anything like the typical human, then you have dreams and goals in your life. In fact, there are probably many things — large and small — that you would like to accomplish. But there is one common mistake we often make when it comes to setting goals. (I know I’ve committed this error many times myself.)
The problem is this: we set a deadline, but not a schedule.
We focus on the end goal that we want to achieve and the deadline we want to do it by. We say things like, “I want to lose 20 pounds by the summer” or “I want to add 50 pounds to my bench press in the next 12 weeks.”
The problem is that if we don’t magically hit the arbitrary timeline that we set in the beginning, then we feel like a failure — even if we are better off than we were at the start. The end result, sadly, is that we often give up if we don’t reach our goal by the initial deadline.
Here’s the good news: there’s a better way and it’s simple.

The Power of Setting a Schedule, Not a Deadline 
In my experience, a better way to approach your goals is to set a schedule to operate by rather than a deadline to perform by.
Instead of giving yourself a deadline to accomplish a particular goal and then feeling like a failure if you don’t achieve it, you should choose a goal that is important to you and then set a schedule to work towards it consistently. That might not sound like a big shift, but it is.

Productive and successful people practice the things that are important to them on a consistent basis. The best weightlifters are in the gym at the same time every week. The best writers are sitting down at the keyboard every day. And this same principle applies to the best leaders, parents, managers, musicians, and doctors.
The strange thing is that for top performers, it’s not about the performance, it’s about the continual practice. The focus is on doing the action, not on achieving X goal by a certain date.
The schedule is your friend. You can’t predict when you’ll have a stroke of genius and write a moving story, paint a beautiful portrait, or make an incredible picture, but the schedule can make sure that you’re working when that stroke of genius happens. You can’t predict when your body feels like setting a new personal record, but the schedule can make sure that you’re in the gym whether you feel like it or not.
It’s about practicing the craft, not performing at a certain level. (We’re talking about practice. Not a game, not a game. Practice.)
If you want to be the type of person who accomplishes things on a consistent basis, then give yourself a schedule to follow, not a deadline to race towards.

Head nod to www.JamesClear.com

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Veggie Burgers that Meat-Eaters Will Raise a Beer To.

 My wholesale dismissal for the vegetarian lifestyle is fairly well known. Up until some throws down the gauntlet to produce a tasty veggie burger. Challenge Accepted!
     Now, I am an engineer, so I laid out a bit of criteria and constraints...

1) Low Cost Ingredients (i.e. cheaper than the cheapest ground beef/pork/etc.) This final recipe makes like 20 burgers, and costs about $6.00

2) Look like a sumptuous honest-to-God, hacked-from-a-cow Burger

3) Slight crisp on the outside, chewy and juicy on the inside

4) Healthy (i.e. no heavy carbs or mucho fat)

5) Not crumble apart when you slap it on a bun with all the fixings, or when you bite into it as you co-quaff an Alaskan Smoked Porter

6) Freeze well

     After a day of experimenting, enlisting neighbors as unbiased judges, and a swath of destruction in the tiny kitchen, I can now declare success. I given you the best damn veggie burger I have had. To my lovely Northwest (and Southern granola) fans, you know how to reach me for private din-din.

Meat-Eater Veggie Burgers

2/3 cup pearl barley, uncooked
1 beef bouillon cube
3 cups water
2 large white onions, sliced ½” thick
Oil for caramelizing
1 medium jar roasted red peppers, rough diced
½ lb baby portabella mushrooms, finely diced
1 can seasoned black beans
2 Tbsp garlic, minced
½ bag stuffing mix (Stove Top, not the cornmeal based ones)
2 Tbsp Liquid Smoke
2 Tbsp soy sauce
2 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 Tbsp honey
1 Tbsp granulated garlic
1 Tbsp crushed rosemary
1 Tbsp pepper
1 Tbsp kosher salt
2 eggs + 3 egg whites, mixed together

1)  Caramelize onions in a large frying pan, until ALMOST soft. Remove and rough dice the onions.
2)  In the same pan that the onions caramelized in,add the 3 cups of water, beef bouillon and pearl barley, and bring to a simmer.Simmer for 45 minutes or until barley is cooked and water is absorbed. Setaside.
3)  Using a hand-held blender, chop the black beansin a bowl into a paste. Then, rough chop the barley and combine the twotogether.
4)  Using the same blender or food processor,process the stuffing mix until fine breadcrumbs.
5)  Now combine all the remaining ingredientstogether in a LARGE bowl, and mix well with you hands or a sturdy spoon.
6)  Put the mixture in the refrigerator overnight toallow the flavours to meld.
7)  Preheat a non-stick skillet over medium heat,and add a scant of oil.
8)  Spoon a patty-sized portion onto the pan, and fryfor 5-7 minutes, covered. Carefully flip, and fry the other side for 5 minutes.
9)  Serve on a whole-wheat bun dressed with saladgreens, pickle, smoked Gouda, Dijon mustard and sriracha mayonnaise.
10)  Cook up the remaining within a couple of days, and then freeze them for microwaveable deliciousness.

Damn I'm good

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Stay the Course, my Happy Bastards

And so begins another installment of "As The World Turns" starring our erstwhile chevalier mal fet, Steven W. Siler. This week has been a distinct examination into the dangers of living the unfettered life. You see, if you have been following any of these posts, you understand, patently so, that I seek every day to eliminate some mundane task; some time-waster, so that I might sit at my leisure...and sit.

The challenge that arises from living like this is that when one has a week where the wolves come out of the woodwork to assail the bulwarks, our coping skills are somewhat rusty. I.e., we got our asses handed to us, at least in the beginning. It took at least 48 hours to regroup, and decide on a course of action to claim the higher ground. And if my war analogy doesn't sit well with you, bite me. We have resources, other people want them any way they can...sounds like warfare to me.

But, the beauty of having of limited distractions means that once we get our heads wrapped around what the situation is (Oh the wonderful OODA loop! A free book to anyone who sends me a copy of what that is...), we were able to bring to bear a lightning quick response, that is going to leave us in an even better position than what we started. In short, we kicked their asses. And I admonish, cajole and every other action verb, to occasionally claim that for yourselves, to feel that rush of rising and conquering a foe, in person or metaphorical. At the end of the day, it is what earns us our birthright in humanity.

Stay the course, my happy bastards.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Learn to Cheat to Get Ahead

act dishonestly or unfairly in order to gain an advantage, esp. in a game or examination.
"she always cheats at cards"

avoid (something undesirable) by luck or skill.
"she cheated death in a spectacular crash"

We assume that cheating is a bad thing. It's not. Nancy Rosen at Personal Branding, offered this take on cheating, and it is utterly brilliant.

A whole lot of people are making resolutions right now, and not one of those goals is: I will master the art of cheating. Yet the truth is, all high achievers are expert at cheating, because cheating is the secret to success.
When you shadow leading entrepreneurs, CEOs of Global 2000 companies, world class athletes, master mechanics, and prolific inventors: you see them cheat constantly. That is, they spare themselves any extra work, when less will do.
They spare themselves the stress of winning popularity contests, unless the prize is big enough. They often ask forgiveness rather than permission, because it’s faster that way.
This doesn’t mean they cheat on their taxes, partners or exams.
Psychologist Albert Ellis calls their systems “elegant.” They are free of unnecessary psychological or physical strain, as it relates to the process of getting things done.
Their actions are streamlined, and wherever possible, they have ritualized what works best into a set of procedures or criteria.
They avoid revisiting old drama, feeling stuck, and negativity.
They constantly listen to their own insights, rather than the opinions or judgments thrown their way. They’re not addicted to positive regard and they’re not deterred by unconstructive criticism.
Consistently high achievers look like they are cheating, because they work faster and produce more and better outcomes. That’s because they observe and measure themselves at the same time they take action, which takes incredible stillness of the mind while the body is at work.
Surfers, extreme downhill mountain bikers, and other successful athletes have this mind-body synchronization down pat. That’s why when we watch them perform feats beyond what most of us believe is possible, we often say: “he cheated death.”
In fact, these elite athletes make corrections in flight, because they are so deeply in flow they somehow bend the rules of physics a bit. After staying in control of a bad trip, you might hear them say, “I cheated the landing.” They may pull up short or come down with their equipment and body in a less than picture perfect pose, but they continue to devour the course, get big air or tail whip with as much speed as a body can bear (and then some).
Successful people in business do the same kind of cheating. They avoid perfection, they go even when they don’t know all the right answers and they don’t strike poses.