Mining for Gold in a Third World Country

Guiana MapaMy brother Willie called me yesterday with the inevitable news that he had put in his resignation for work. He’s quitting his job as a warehouse manager for Swire Coca Cola to take his wife and two kids (one newborn) down to Guiana, a tiny country off the NorthEastern tip of South America, to mine gold. WHAT!!!! I know, you think he’s crazy right?! And yes, I think it IS a little crazy. However, I can think of a few other people that were this so called crazy that changed the world for the better because of it (Columbus, Copernicus…etc).

So let’s look at all of the downsides to this decision.

  • The economy is in shambles. Not necessarily the best time to quit a well paying job
  • Two really young kids in a third world country might not be the safest thing healthwise
  • Both him and his wife are thousands of miles from their families
  • It’s a risky operation that could fail and leave them broke to start over anew in a few years

I think we could all go on with additional drawbacks to forging the path they’ve chosen. But, let’s now take a look at some of the good reasons for doing this. A few of these only make sense if you actually know my brother Willie and how he operates. He’s probably the hardest worker I know and I would even venture to say he’s never done anything bad in his entire life. The guy is straight as an arrow and I look up to him as an example of everything that is good. So let’s see here:

  • Though the economy is in shambles, the price of gold is $1383.15 as of today and hovering around it’s highest prices ever.
  • He’s lived in Guiana 2 different times in his life. The first was for 2 years serving a mission for his church. The 2nd was for an additional 2-3 years doing what he is going to be doing… mining gold!
  • Thus, he has experience doing what he’s going to be doing.
  • His wife is on board and totally supports him. They made the decision together as a family.
  • He’s refused to give up on a dream of doing what he loves to do. HE ACTUALLY ENJOYS IT which means it’s not just for the money.
  • If it happens to not work out, he has a CDL and several years of managerial experience. Finding a job might be difficult but not impossible even in this economy.
  • …and finally, he’s doing something that 99% of the people in this world don’t have the guts to do… he’s taking a giant step into the dark AFTER having fully thought through everything that is possible to plan for something like this.

I know that no matter what happens, Willie and his family will be okay. I know this because they live righteously and they work hard and are honest in all of their dealings.  The lesson here for me, I believe, is the importance of taking that big step… into the dark.

Trying something new and something big is the only way to make a BIG difference in life. I think President Obama said it fantastically (just because he’s good at saying things doesn’t mean I’m an advocate of his actions) when he said, “We do big things!” It’s what the American dream is all about… even if he is leaving America for Guiana.

Willie is doing something BIG because he has the guts to take a leap of faith. He’s digging for gold and he may just find it. So what am I looking for? What are you looking for? Whatever it is, I suggest you start digging.

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Valentine’s Day at Chick-fil-A

Chic-fil-A Valentine's DayReasons why Chick-fil-A is the bomb dizzle:

  • They give out coupons for free chicken sandwiches like mad
  • They send you text messages with deals and coupons when you’re in the area.
  • Buffalo sauce and ranch… enough said
  • Waffle fries
  • Closed on Sundays (makes you feel good inside)
  • When I called the branch, I spoke directly with the franchise owner and he didn’t seem rushed or annoyed
  • They throw a sweet shindig for Valentine’s Day
  • Friendly people
  • Clean
  • They have almost 4 million likes on Facebook
  • They sell chicken but the cow is their mascot
  • My wife loves it!

All in all, I just like going to Chick-fil-A more than I do most other fast food restaurants because I don’t FEEL like it’s as “fast foody” as other places. Please feel free to disagree if you do. Thank you, and “it was my pleasure” to bring this to you today (that might just be the one thing I DON’T like about Chick-fil-A).

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Listen to Me

listen to meMy wife would acknowledge the fact that at times I have a huge problem with paying attention. The problem is that I have a serious case of “one-track mindedness.” If I am focused on a certain task it is virtually impossible to get me to listen to, think about, or do anything else.

When I was single, I lived with a couple of my best friends from high school. I was working on a project on the computer upstairs and Blake and Jon wanted to know if I was going to go with them to the church for soccer night (we played indoor every Tuesday and Thursday night). Both of them yelled out my name from downstairs to which they got no reply. Then each of them attempted to come upstairs and ask if I was going. As they each came up, I knew in the back of my mind that they were in the room with me and wanted something, but I couldn’t make out what they were saying because I had pre-set my mind to think that anything outside of what I was doing at the time was less important.

Ten minutes later I came downstairs to 2 bewildered friends. They wanted to know why I was mad at them. I had no recollection that they had been to my room or even tried to get my attention. It was funny at the time but sometimes it can be a real problem.

I’m sure I may be an extreme case but I also believe there are many out there that can sympathize with me to some extent. The point is, we need to train our brain to be able to listen. Other people’s ideas are essential to our progression and to the sparking and fueling of our own ideas. The 787 Dreamliner would have never been a reality if the Wright Brothers had not had the idea of “wing warping.” Wing warping is a method of arching the wingtips slightly to control the aircraft’s rolling motion and balance and was the key idea that finally got an aircraft to take flight.

Listening is not merely hearing. I could hear my friends talking to me but I wasn’t listening so nothing registered. People can tell when we are listening and when we are not. When we do, they feel needed and important which makes them trust us more and want to help us when we need them. This is important for employer/employee relationships as well as any relationship.

Humility is another important trait that goes hand in hand with listening. To truly listen and esteem someone else’s views as being of worth is an act of humility. It’s virtually impossible to learn and grow without humility. Pride has a damning effect on our ability to increase in knowledge. Thus, listening is vital to our success as husbands and wives, friends, and as businessmen or women.

Who can you take the time to listen to today that you may have blown off in the past? I promise you’ll notice a difference in your day.

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Hiccups, Where’s the Cure?

hiccups for 22 months (Christopher Sands)

Oddly enough I have had a regular occurrence of bad hiccups lately that have been virtually impossible to drown. I must have some sort of allergy to hiccups because when I do get them it’s not just the “oh that’s so cute you have the hiccups” kind of hiccups that my wife loves to get. These are the kind that violently shake your entire body and after about 5 you feel like the next one might force something out of you.

This may be something that is just infecting the males in our household as Drogba (our beagle puppy) has been experiencing the “tummy jumps” since the first day we got him. He’ll usually go through a small round every other day or so. It makes me feel bad for him as well because I can feel it in me every time it happens.

So, now the all important question, WHY is there not a cure for this horrific disease? You see and hear about different ways that others use to take care of the occasional outburst. This website even gives 13 techniques that you may or may not have heard about. Here’s what I’ve tried:

  • Drinking water upside down (from the other end of the glass so it pours into the roof of your mouth)
    • Result: very little success
  • Holding my breath
    • little to no success EVER!!
  • Drinking LOTS of water
    • sometimes works depending on the severity of the hiccups
  • Holding my breath and drinking as many gulps of water as I can without taking a breathe (you need at list 15 gulps before breathing)
    • This was my normal “go to” method that used to work every time up until a few weeks ago.

So now that my fall back approach is starting to fade in effectiveness, what else can I do? What are some of the ways that you get rid of hiccups? This is my last ditch effort before I break down and see a doctor about it!!! (joke) I should just count my blessings and be grateful I’m not as bad as the guy in the picture above. Apparently he had the hiccups for 22 months in 2009!

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Time is Quality

pyramids of gizaWhen it comes to a product that you are spending time on, whether that be for your job, homework if you’re in school, housework, home improvements, pet projects…etc., a rushed job usually results in a poor outcome. Of course, the better you are at something or the more experience you have, the faster you can accomplish something of quality and worth. However, you and others can always tell the difference between a rushed job and a job that didn’t take much time but was built right because of experience.

The Egyptians spent 25-30 years building a single pyramid. This doesn’t mean they slacked off by any stretch of the imagination. In fact, according to most historians, they averaged about 81 blocks per day. Each of these blocks could be as large as 1.5 meters wide, 1.5 meters high, and 2.25 meters deep. To put into place 81 of these per day would be a tough job even today with all the equipment and modern technology we possess. This is an impressive display of a people coming together working efficiently on a project without rushing it. Who knows if we would even know that there were pyramids built in that era had they Egyptians made a rush job out of it.

Seth Godin wrote a post on a similar idea not too long ago entitled What does ‘pro-business’ mean?. It’s a decent sized article but if you have some time I recommend it especially for business owners.

So the next time you feel pressured by a client to do a rush job, make sure they are fully aware of the implications it may have on their project. In some cases, they may opt to have the project go over a couple days to ensure they get the product they were expecting. Think about this in terms of your own projects as well and see if it makes a difference in how you view your work. Do you feel better when you know you’ve spent some time to produce something of high quality?

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Being On Time. How Late is Too Late?

being on timeI was listening to a popular sports talk radio station (Sport 620 KTAR) here in Arizona the other day where Colin Cowherd was talking about the importance of being “on time.” A professional golfer had showed up to a tournament 5 minutes late and was thus disqualified from the tournament under the rules of the league. 

Colin asked a generalized question to his audience, “how late is too late to show up to a meeting or important event?” I, along with Colin, was shocked to hear some of the answers that came in. Some said 5 minutes, some said 2 minutes, and others even said 15-30 minutes.

The fact of the matter is, if you’re late… YOU’RE LATE!! It doesn’t matter if you’re 1 second or 1 hour, if you show up past the time when you had agreed to be somewhere you’re late. By being on time you show respect for other’s time and, in contrast, when you are late to a meeting you are basically telling the other person that your time is more important than theirs. This is a good way to lose friends, clients, and reputation.

When I was a kid, I was terrified of being late. On days there was a wrestling tournament, I would wake up at 2AM to make sure I was early to school because my coach would say, “The bus leaves at 4AM tomorrow. If you’re not on it at 4, don’t plan on coming at all.” I learned discipline and the importance of being on time at a young age because I didn’t want to miss out on opportunities.

As adults, employees, or business owners, it is even more important to recognize and uphold the value of being punctual. Why waist opportunities or give people false impressions about your company by being late without an excuse way prior to the meeting. It gets harder and harder as our lives get more busy each day. I can promise that by practicing and sincerely working to be more punctual you will find more satisfaction in your day and others will recognize your professionalism and want to work with you more. You’ll have more clients, more money, and more friends.

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500 Tweets and 100 Peeps!

twitter bird with follow me signA couple of years ago I would have said you’re crazy if you told me I would actually like Twitter and use it daily. Last year, when my wife (girlfriend at the time) heard I was using Twitter for work and personal life, she almost broke up with me!! (not really) She would say, “I don’t want you doing anything involving ‘ee.’ …tweets, peeps, tweetup, tweeps, tweeter, mistweet, tweeple, tweading…etc” She was disgusted! LOL Fortunately I was able to slowly break her in to the idea and we’re happily married… AND I “tweet” every day!

Some of my favorite things about Twitter are:

  • #hashtags (I can follow any conversation I want with ANYONE that’s tweeting about it)
  • Following all my favorite sports stars (@JaredDudley619 is the bomb!)
  • I can direct my tweets to people that care about whatever I’m talking about using hashtags (ie Why do clients insist on shooting themselves in the foot by not taking your advice? #frustrating #seo)
  • Sharing my blogs posts and other useful links with my followers
  • Keeping up with industry news by reading articles shared by trusted individuals in the internet marketing community
  • TweetDeck (allows you to manage multiple twitter accounts and other social media accounts)
  • Finally… all the “tweeple” that follow me! 🙂

If you are still one of the skeptics that has yet to take the plunge into the twittosphere, take a step into the dark. Try something new. I mean, come on… EVERYONE is doing it. It’s the cool thing to do nowa days.

I apologize for the peer pressure. I don’t apologize for advocating Twitter. Until next time… tweet you later!

Posted in social media | 2 Comments

Why the Groundhog?

groundhogSo it’s Groundhog Day. Glory glory hallelujah (sarcasm)! What a waist of a holiday. You don’t get off school or work. There’s no gifts and no fireworks. There’s not even a reason to eat more than usual on any particular type of food.

Yes, about the only thing you can hope for from this holiday is the possibility that a rodent will tell you it’s going to warm up soon and maybe a movie night with Bill Murray. Even then, who wants to see Bill Murray replay the same scene fourteen times in a row (it’s actually not that bad of a movie… #imjustsayin)?

Not only is this a rip off of a holiday, it’s just weird that we use a groundhog as the iconic figure of the day. How doe’s a flippin rodent seeing his shadow have anything to do with whether or not Spring will come one month earlier than it usually does. Last time I checked, there were set days that mark the ends and beginnings of each season.

Can’t we come up with a better way to determine if it’s cold outside? A thermometer? Maybe even just go outside and see if it’s cold? If we’re going to use a groundhog, why not take to a pile of wood and let it live up to it’s name as a “woodchuck?” If the wood pieces are frozen together and the woodchuck can’t chuck the wood… might be a good indication that winter is going to last as long as it usually does.

I don’t know… what do you think?

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WordCamp Phoenix and Michael Crow

Angry BirdThis weekend turned out to be quite memorable in a lot of different aspects. Chuck Reynolds and Amand Blum put on an unforgettable Phoenix WordCamp. I was fortunate enough to volunteer at the event and was involved with directing the marketing track where I met a ton of talented individuals in the internet marketing world including Danielle Morrill, marketing director of Twilio Cloud Communications. Dallin and I had a chance to talk with her about Skyhook’s Call Tracking Plugin for WordPress that is still in the developmental stages. She was excited to see and help us launch the plugin once it is ready and even offered to help us promote it.

One of the coolest parts of WordCamp Phoenix (your definition of “cool” may differ depending on your level of nerdiness), was when we launched angry birds into the audience before the opening ceremonies. Check out the link for a video clip of the action.

Sunday offered a chance to wind down and tap into the more spiritual side of the weekend. Two of our friends, Colby Denton and Camille Millecam spoke in their singles ward at the ASU Institute of Religion. What was also special about this meeting was that Michael Crow, President of Arizona State University, was the concluding speaker. Pres. Crow spoke about the importance of Religion in learning and developing the most well rounded and intelligent individuals on earth. He expressed his vision on creating a New American University at ASU by establishing an environment where all learners are welcome and encouraged to excel and succeed in education.

Words of thoughts and encouragement from the weekend that I can leave with you… WordPress is king of CMS, Angry birds make great water balloon launcher ammunition, If you need an impromptu speech to close out a huge event Dallin Harris is your guy, value the importance of education… it’s one of the only things that rise with you after this life and finally, compliment often and sincerely because a little love goes a long  way.

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Alone Time

It has been said that what you think and do in the time that you are alone and no one is watching is a good judge of your virtue. For some people, being alone for too long can cultivate destructive and/or damaging thoughts and intentions. However, I’m a strong believer in seeking out time apart from the influence of others.

When I am amongst other people all the time, my mind isn’t free to create, reflect, or even simply rest. I find I need just a few minutes each day completely to myself where I can let my mind ponder on something wholesome.

The time I usually choose to do this is in the morning just after my wife has gone to work and before I start my work day. I take a few minutes to read a motivating or informational book and then I sit in my office chair and just be still. I think about what I just read. I think about my relationships with others. I think about my business and how I can improve in each of these areas.

It is during these times that I often find the topic for the blog post that I am going to write  for the day. It’s how I came up with the idea for this post :). I’ve discovered that after I make the time to do this, my whole day goes better. I’m ready for the tasks and challenges that lie ahead of me during the day and I’m more at peace with myself which makes me more effective in everything I do.

I know this isn’t the way everyone should use to spark creativity and add peace and confidence to your life. Whether you are an introvert, extrovert, or anything in between, your circumstances may vary. So what do you do to give you that added energy and reflection on what’s important?

What do you do with your alone time?

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