Posts Tagged ‘action’

Recapping 2012 Part 7 of 7

December 31, 2012

 
2012 TimelineWell here it is, the end, the last day of 2012, and this is my last post looking back at the year. My next post will be looking forward. It’s important to know and understand the past but that’s only so you can plan your future. Going into 2013 I thought this post would be a good reminder that every decision you make has consequences so the sooner you make good decisions the better off you’ll be. Looking ahead means projecting several outcomes from each decision and deciding which is the most likely and which will serve you best. Here’s to taking the right combination of paths in 2013!

Action and Reaction

Early in our school lives we all learn about Issac Newton and his apple mishap that led to his theory of gravity. Well Newton also had some laws of motion and his third law of motion loosely states that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. Welcome to world of consequences. For every choice you make there is a choice (or several) that you did not make and every decision leads to a result, good or bad.

Consequences start at a young age. Things you have control over but often don’t have the maturity to appreciate, like the importance of good grades, for example. Once we move on to the next level in life we choose our major in college or career in life, and we would do well to choose wisely. How many people are willing to go into debt for an education that may not provide the means to easily pay back that debt? That one decision will have ripple effects throughout life.

How many people delay investing in their retirement accounts early in their working lives because they think they can’t afford it, because it will negatively affect their lifestyle? The fact is that their lifestyle will be much more adversely affected in old age if they wait too long. It’s not that they can’t afford it now, it’s that they won’t be able to afford it later.

Taking a What Next approach to decision making is to weigh as many options as feasible, and to choose carefully. Asking What Next means you have a long term outlook and understand the ramifications decisions have. In financial planning terms that means understanding the future value of a decision. Put simply, the future value of a dollar invested today at 10% interest is $1.10 one year later. The future value of not going into debt to fund your education is the ability to start saving earlier and building your retirement nest egg sooner.

I don’t have children but I think I might have spent more time talking about the consequences of that decision with Julie, than most people who do have children. I’m not sure I can think of a weightier decision than the choice to have children and yet I wonder how many people treat it with the reverence it deserves.

The everyday choices we face today will affect the life we have later. Buying a house, a car, toys, taking lavish vacations, all diminish your ability to save for the future. Whether you stay in your home for a long time or move frequently, whether you buy a new car every couple of years or hang onto it for a decade, will determine your level of success. It is a balance between now and then.

The question for you is, are you well balanced? (I know what some people say about me – so let the jokes begin) Do you have a long term outlook on life? Are you confident that your choices today will still look correct a year or five years from now?

Share some examples of long term decisions that have paid off for you and some that didn’t.

Recapping 2012 Part 4 of ??

December 19, 2012

 
Change your venueI saw a FB post a friend left yesterday and it reminded me that there are two types of people; ones who do nothing but complain, and others who take action to change a bad situation. Heather is a take action type of person who I’ve learned from (and will continue to learn from) over the years. Heather is asking What Next rather than just complaining about something. Sometimes you’re strong enough to change on your own terms and sometimes you have to reach the breaking point before you can change. You might think you’ve reached the breaking point but unless you take action and actually improve your circumstances, you will continue to endure all the bad things you complain about.

 

Comfortable Complainers

The breaking pointThe breaking point. Some people think they’ve reached it but no, they go on, complaining all the way. You know the person I’m talking about, the person who is so negative that they bring everyone else down with them. They hate their job, maybe hate their life, complain about their husband or wife, their family and friends. They never have a good thing to say and yet they do nothing about it.

If they really aren’t happy, if they are as miserable as they say, why don’t they do something about it? Why not find a new job? Why not get out of that bad marriage?

Those choices are reasonable but the fact is that these complainers are comfortable, unwilling to change in spite of their constant grumbling. These are the people who are surprised by a change they should have made on their own. When they lose the job they supposedly hated, they’re devastated, labeling the company as unfair or stupid.

Don’t be a comfortable complainer. Take action when things aren’t going your way. Change the situation or change your attitude, the choice is yours, but you have to change something if you want anyone to take you seriously, to continue wanting to be around you.

Is there anything you are unhappy about, want to change, but are more comfortable than you’re willing to admit? How are you going to change the situation? 

Walking on Escalators

October 4, 2012

 
Walking on escaltorsWhen you get on an escalator do you just stand there or do you walk? If people are preventing you from walking on the escalator do you get annoyed? If you answered yes to both questions, then I think you’re a What Next kind of person. You’re the kind of person who wants to keep moving, doesn’t like obstacles, and wants to get where you’re going quickly so you can move on to the next thing.

There are times when walking on the escalator isn’t a good idea, when you need the time to think, to regroup. I have to remind myself of that sometimes because sometimes I get where I’m going without knowing what I’m doing.

People blocking you from walking on the escalator are all the people we are forced to rely on in life and in business. I’m dealing with this now as I negotiate a lease for my latest What Next adventure. What I really feel like is that I’m walking up the down escalator, expending a lot of effort but not getting anywhere. There are delays from the landlord, the bank, the government, and the countless other people I have to deal with. Some of this is normal and some goes beyond what is acceptable, but I deal with it and continue walking.

On my daily commute into and out of New York, I see people run through the halls and nearly knock people over to get to their train only to stand in place as the escalator slowly takes them to the track. To me this shows a lack of follow through. These people rush to get somewhere but then expect it to be easy when they get there, it rarely is. That’s why you have to keep walking even when the escalator is taking you where you want to go.

Can you share any examples of times you walked on the escalator of life, when you were proactive and got where you were going at you speed and on your terms?

Your House is on Fire

May 10, 2012

I mentioned this tragic event in a previous post and this story is an excellent illustration of the What Next attitude toward life. Julie and I were dating for six months when she got the following text on her pager “Your House is on Fire.” She wasn’t home because I had to go to work that day, Sunday, and we decided to stay at my house so Julie could drop me at the train station on her way home. What would you think if you got that message? Maybe you feel like something in your life is burning out of control?

House FireThinking it was a sick joke or a minor incident she went to check and nothing was ever the same again. The house was completely destroyed and everything in it was gone including the parrot and the dog.

How do you answer the question What Next when something so devastating occurs? The outcome of this tragedy depends on whether you ask what’s next (with the apostrophe) or what next (without the apostrophe).  Why does it matter? I’ll let a twitter friend explain it:

Mark's TweetI was excited to see that Mark understood that asking “what’s next” is passive, it’s wondering what will happen, it’s based in fear, dread, and confusion, it’s sitting back and waiting. Asking what next is active and exciting, it’s taking action to manage the situation, it’s based in confidence and power. What next has the ability to turn a bad situation into a good one. Julie asked what next and prevented one tragedy, the fire, from becoming another tragedy, being taken advantage of by the insurance company.

Rising from the ashes the new house.

If we could be proactive after such a devastating loss, in an emotionally fragile state, then it should be easy to be proactive when things are going well. Most people, however, take that opportunity to coast, waiting for a reason to react, putting themselves at a disadvantage when trouble arrives.

Have you, or someone you know, overcome a difficult situation and not only survived but thrived? Share you story with me in the form of a profile I would write or a guest post you would write. Contact me through the Contact Page on this blog.

To learn how to be more proactive and live with confidence in the future sign up for The What Next Trail-Map to Success.

Creativity Begets Creativity

April 19, 2012

 

Creativity begets creativity. If you want to be more creative then hang out with creative people, or read about them, or watch them on TV. If you want to be creative find a way to experience other people’s creativity.

I’ve seen a few tweets about something called World Creativity and Innovation Week. I’m too busy to look up what that is because I’m exploring how it can help me. A friend tweeted this:

Creativity Tweet

Curious exploration

Being a curious person I clicked the link and then clicked the second story in the list which took me to a post by Mike Brown. In his post Mr. Brown told a story about seeing a poster called Peter’s Laws which he modified and turned into questions to spark creativity.Peter's Laws

Again being curious I wondered what the origin of Peter’s Laws was. A Google search later I had my answer with this webpage. Peter Diamandis is the founder and chairman of the X PRIZE Foundation which is most famous for their $10,000,000 Ansari X PRIZE for private space flight which Burt Rutan won.

Back to Peter’s Laws

A couple of the laws caught my eye because they fit so nicely with the concepts in What Next.

One law reads “When given a choice…take both!!” and that is an essential part of asking What Wext. You can walk multiple paths in life – we all do it as spouses, parents, employees, business people, and friends. What successful people do is excel on multiple paths and that takes dedication and work. If you aren’t dedicated and/or aren’t willing to work, then you won’t succeed.

The Peter’s Law that immediately follows the one above is “Multiple projects lead to multiple successes” and again we have the key point of What Next. The do one thing well concept is just as wrong as the jack of all trades master of none concept. Who says you can’t do lots of things really well or at least hire people who can?

Back to Creativity

I wasn’t sure what I was going to write my next blog post about but reading Mike Brown’s post and being curious enough to do a little research sparked my creativity and led me to write this, proving that creativity begets creativity. The same can be said about the other traits of What Next: curiosity begets curiosity, adventure begets adventure, action begets action, and success begets success. If you want any of those things then get to know people who exhibit those traits and start spending time with them.

As another of Peter’s Laws states “When faced without a challenge, make one” this is your challenge, to succeed, so what are you going to do about it?

Action Plan

March 20, 2012

A recent post of mine (Are You Crazy???) was written in frustration. There is a lot of good financial advice out there but it doesn’t seem like anyone is listening. Maybe they are listening but they aren’t taking action, they’re not asking What Next and doing anything to improve their future. So I decided to write this action plan for success. Will you follow it?

The past

The past is over. The best you can do is learn from it because you can’t change it. You’re in debt? Ok, just don’t continue doing the same thing that got you there. You haven’t progressed in your career as quickly as you would have liked? Ok, but change what you’re doing. You haven’t saved enough for retirement? Ok, start now.

The Present

This is your moment. The present is here to bring about the future so get to work.

                Finances

                If finances are a problem you first have to understand the cause of those problems and that means having a clear idea of where your money is going. This means you have to track every penny you spend. It’s not as hard or time consuming as it sounds. I talked about one way to do that in this post. Another thing you have to do is stop spending, for a short period of time. Change your habits. I wrote about that topic in this post, and encourage you to take the three week challenge. Make the commitment now and stick with it.

                Sacrifice

                This isn’t a pleasant word but success requires sacrifice. At the very least success requires restraint. My car is nearly ten years old and I would love a new one, a rather expensive Audi R8 to be exact and I could probably figure out a way to afford it but I’d have to sacrifice a lot to do it. I’d rather sacrifice the Audi for a secure future. That’s the kind of sacrifice, restraint, I’m talking about. So if you already have the fancy car with an expensive monthly payment, sacrifice may mean giving it up for a far less expensive car. You’ll be trading status for security. Make this decision now and follow through with it.

                Income

                Maybe you feel you deserve a raise, then ask for it. Don’t just ask for it, pitch it, explain exactly why you deserve a raise. If you can’t come up with a strong enough case then make yourself indispensable, become the best employee ever and create the strong case. If that doesn’t work look for another job, if nothing else you will learn that maybe your salary is pretty good after all.

                Even if you are satisfied with your job, you should have a resume ready to go at a moment’s notice, that’s being prepared for the unexpected, or go on interviews just to stay fresh. This is What Next thinking and those who master that will be more flexible, more successful.

                Can’t get the raise? Can’t find a new job at a higher salary? Then sell things on ebay, turn a hobby into extra money, pick up side jobs in something you’re good at. Have a goal you want to reach, like paying off a particular credit card and figure out how to make the extra money to achieve it. Without a goal, a clear objective, you’ll delay taking action.

The Future

On a tv show I watch called Till Debt Do Us Part, the host, Gail Vaz-Oxlade shows the financially struggling couple that if they continue on their current path they will be in serious debt. In one typical episode the couple would have $500,000 of debt in five years if they didn’t change their habits. By the end of the program, if they follow Gail’s new plan, they would have $1,000,000 saved by the time they retire. Gail’s advice emphasizes the word action in “action plan.”

Such a transformation is the power of making the right decisions in the present for a better future. It is the benefit of being proactive.

My angry post borne out of frustration was about the many people who aren’t willing to plan for the future but you’re not one of them, are you?

Failure is Neither Bad Nor Good

March 9, 2012

 
I’m failing, floundering, becoming discouraged and I’m ready to give up. But I don’t.

What makes a person continue in spite of the odds, through setback after setback? Is it stupidity, passion, drive? Yup.

So many things that have become wildly successful have been called stupid. Everyone loves to make fun of the Snuggie The Snuggiebut I’d love to have that kind of revenue. Ted Turner was laughed at when he started CNN or as his detractors called it, The Chicken Noodle Network, but it was the first of its kind and pioneered an industry.

Passion can carry you far because passion is the fuel that keeps us going in spite of the obstacles. I believe in What Next, that the concept will inspire others to pursue their dreams. I’m willing to expend the effort to spread the word and share my message, even if I think no one is listening.

Drive is the product of inspiration and motivation. To succeed one must be driven to push past the failure. Achievement is the net value of all your successes and failures, if it’s positive you’ve won, and if it’s negative you’ve grown, learned from the experience. Failure is neither good nor bad, it’s what you get out of it that matters. Which is why you should never be afraid to fail; unwilling to fail, averse to failure, yes, but not afraid to fail.

My curiosity, and the massive amount of time I spend online, led to the discovery of The Failure Club. That doesn’t sound like a club I’d like to join but the fact is that I’m already a member and will earn my membership many more times. The concept of the failure club is to push yourself even though you know that the chances of success are slim, that you will probably fail. Failure Club is the expression “It is better to have tried and failed than to never have tried” put into practice.

I don’t watch much television but this is a web program I’m going to watch from beginning to end.

Are you willing to step out on the stage of life and declare that you believe in something so much that you are willing to fail? Then do it! Share your what next with us. Say it out loud and take action. Do not be afraid to fail because if you let your fear win, you’ve already failed.

Action and Reaction

March 5, 2012

 

Early in our school lives we all learn about Issac Newton and his apple mishap that led to his theory of gravity. Well Newton also had some laws of motion and his third law of motion loosely states that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. Welcome to world of consequences. For every choice you make there is a choice (or several) that you did not make and every decision leads to a result, good or bad.

Consequences start at a young age. Things you have control over but often don’t have the maturity to appreciate, like the importance of good grades, for example. Once we move on to the next level in life we choose our major in college or career in life, and we would do well to choose wisely. How many people are willing to go into debt for an education that may not provide the means to easily pay back that debt? That one decision will have ripple effects throughout life.

How many people delay investing in their retirement accounts early in their working lives because they think they can’t afford it, because it will negatively affect their lifestyle? The fact is that their lifestyle will be much more adversely affected in old age if they wait too long. It’s not that they can’t afford it now, it’s that they won’t be able to afford it later.

Taking a What Next approach to decision making is to weigh as many options as feasible, and to choose carefully. Asking What Next means you have a long term outlook and understand the ramifications decisions have. In financial planning terms that means understanding the future value of a decision. Put simply, the future value of a dollar invested today at 10% interest is $1.10 one year later. The future value of not going into debt to fund your education is the ability to start saving earlier and building your retirement nest egg sooner.

I don’t have children but I think I might have spent more time talking about the consequences of that decision with Julie, than most people who do have children. I’m not sure I can think of a weightier decision than the choice to have children and yet I wonder how many people treat it with the reverence it deserves.

The everyday choices we face today will affect the life we have later. Buying a house, a car, toys, taking lavish vacations, all diminish your ability to save for the future. Whether you stay in your home for a long time or move frequently, whether you buy a new car every couple of years or hang onto it for a decade, will determine your level of success. It is a balance between now and then.

The question for you is, are you well balanced? (I know what some people say about me – so let the jokes begin) Do you have a long term outlook on life? Are you confident that your choices today will still look correct a year or five years from now?

Share some examples of long term decisions that have paid off for you and some that didn’t.

Self Promotion

February 23, 2012

 
Megaphone ManSelf promotion. We all have to do it whether we realize it or not. At work, in business, as a self-published author, you have to demonstrate your worth, give others a compelling reason to hire you, engage you, click your link, read your blog, or buy your book.

On that topic, I went to Word Up, a community book store in Washington Heights, NY yesterday, to see if they would carry my book. While I was filling out the paperwork the woman behind the counter commented to her friend, a photographer and artist, that she wished she was better at self-promotion.

“Me too,” he agreed.

“It’s hard,” I said.

“Yeah but you’re doing it. You’re here.”

But it’s still hard. Since I like to use a hiking analogy in regard to life, I’ll use one here. Spreading the word about my book (a more acceptable way of saying self-promotion?) takes a lot out of me, like a long hike I’m growing weary, getting weak. Instead of physical pain, I feel it in my core. My energy level is severely diminished, my enthusiasm fading quickly.

Like a hiker trying to reach their destination, I continue one step at a time. I have asked what next and I know that success requires determination and most importantly perseverance.

If there is something you want badly enough you have to keep going. You have to find the strength to go one more mile, climb one more hill, and descend into one more valley. You welcome any help you can get but you’re also willing to do it alone if need be.

The bookstore took five copies. I don’t know if any of them will sell but that’s one more item checked off my list, one more accomplishment on a hike through self-promotion. It isn’t until you’ve endured the difficult times, hiked more miles than you thought possible, that you realize how strong you really are.

The Benefit of Action

February 22, 2012


In a post titled Recognizing Opportunity and Taking It I told you of a networking event I went to in NY in spite of the fact that I wouldn’t know anyone including the organizer. So why did I go? Read the post, but the short answer is because success doesn’t come from talking about an event I could have gone to, it comes from taking action, being proactive, and going to the event.

There is a back story to this that was unnecessary in the original post but has special relevance now.

Before going to the event I naturally checked out Andrew Warner, the founder of mixergy.com who organized the event. On the website he had an interview that was free to watch at the time, with a social media marketing expert, Mari Smith. In the interview Mari mentions that to be successful you have to interact with people who are already successful and get them to interact with you. But how, Andrew asked.

The key, said Mari, was to ask for help in a mutually beneficial way. But first you have to cultivate that relationship, get on the radar of the person you’re looking to interact with. The more you learn about them, the more you can figure out what to offer them. Everyone has needs.

This had a profound effect on me and it was something that stuck with me as I headed out to the mixer. But what did I have to offer?

At the end of the night, after a lot of great conversations, I got the chance to talk to Andrew and I offered to give him a copy of my book. He took it but there was no guarantee he would read it or give it a second look. He asked me what I did for a living, why I wrote the book.

It was a passing comment that caught his attention. “My day job is at ABC News’” I said, “but my success has come from many different places.” I didn’t know it but I had just offered him something that he needed.

“Where can I find people,” he asked me, “that can write, use a camera, and do some editing?”

I know why he asked but the people I know are correspondents and anchors of national broadcasts, not what he was looking for. I told him that I could find the answer very easily and email him within a day or so.

We agreed and I sent him the email. I then followed him on twitter, which he reciprocated, but never knew if the information I gave him was of any use.

Until yesterday when I got this tweet:

Tweet from Andrew Warner

What does this mean for me? Who knows and who really cares? If I only did this to get something in return then I did it for the wrong reason. Doing something of value for someone is a reward of its own. If he doesn’t like my book, he’s not going to praise it just because I did him a favor. He will remember me, however, and maybe need something again which I’ll be happy to help him with. Maybe one day I’ll find something that I need from him, something he can help me with.

The advice I got from his website and the luck of being in the city he was holding this event would have been worth nothing if I hadn’t recognized the opportunity and taken action.

What opportunities are out there for you and will you take them?