Monthly Archives: September 2009

how to market contract consulting services

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As a contract consultant for the past five years, I’ve been amazed at the common perception that I must spend 90% of my time marketing. I do have some help – the staffing firms I work with identify some clients.  But if you’ve ever thought about being a consultant, don’t assume it means hours and hours of evening work trying to land the next job.

If you are a freelancer or what I’ll call an “on-demand consultant” you need to market yourself on a constant basis.  You may have hundreds of clients.
80% may be one-time clients requiring a few hours or days of work.  10% may be longer projects that may or may not recur.  10% might be clients who request recurring work:  once every two or three weeks they drop another 20 hours of billable time in your lap.  Those percentages are just examples, but if that was your situation, you would need to spend a lot of time finding a new batch of clients every few weeks to replace those that you finish off.  You are better off concentrating on work you can perform in long stretches of time.

“Whoa, Steve!”  you may be thinking. “Aren’t you always talking about creating new streams of revenue?  How does focusing on one or two clients at a time help with that?”

For one thing, it frees up the time you’d be spending on marketing. If half of your business is work, and half is finding new work to replace completed work, you’re going to spend a lot more time generating the business that a contractor can generate with one client who gets most – or all – of your time over a period of several months.  Having long periods of time with minimal marketing activity means you can spend your spare time on life, or a side business, or studying investing – whatever you’d like.

So how does a contract consultant market?

First of all, I don’t even have a business card. I don’t spend four nights a week at Chamber of Commerce meetings, and I am a lightweight in the online promotion business.  I’ve stayed active in LinkedIn and Twitter, but other than that most of my business takes place using the ancient art of email.  I don’t have a well-developed professional website (unless you’d count my LinkedIn site).

I have only two tips for anyone who’d like to do contract consulting:

1.  Understand what your client REALLY wants

2.  Be useful

Understanding what your client REALLY wants

Early in my consulting career, I was full of ideas.
I worked for a Big 4 firm, and a large part of my time was spent “consulting”:  going into a business, finding the highest-ranked employee I could wrangle a meeting with, and proceeding to tell him what he was doing wrong and what I’d do instead.  Advising someone who works at a job eight (or more) hours a day, year after year, what you’d do after you’ve spent one or two days studying their process takes a quick, sponge-like ability to soak up huge amounts of information – but it also takes a bullish amount of arrogance and disdain for the client.  I had it.  I knew how to do ‘my stuff’ and I was convinced I knew how to do ‘your stuff’ too.

Wrong. My second contract was a small subsidiary of a Fortune 500 corporation.  I was put to work on a small project which had two feet firmly planted in the world of paper and binders.  The organization was lacking, to say the least – the files were chaotic and working with them was unpleasant.  But my client set me to work on documentation and testing and handed over the binders.

I was sure that the client would be thrilled if I could organize and streamline the process
.  All I had to do was pull everything out of the files, clean it up, make it nice and neat and clear out the fluff.  Who WOULDN’T like that?  When I handed the files back, I found out who – my client, that’s who.

After being yelled at almost non-stop by an almost incoherently angry client for a few days – with abrupt spluttering insults thrown my way after an initial trip to the corporate woodshed – I was lucky enough to be called up to the corporate headquarters for an emergency project and get away from my mistake.

What I learned was that you need to understand what your client wants. If you’re hired as a ‘real’ consultant, the client wants you to make some suggestions.  If you’re hired as a contract consultant, you’re there to be a meat robot:  do task X until it’s done.  Don’t rethink it, don’t improve it.

Be useful
Contract consultants are expensive. There’s nothing that’s quite as useless as an expensive tool that lies on the shelf.  I know that every time I go to the client, there’s a good chance that they think they need a hammer, but what they actually need is a screwdriver, or a pair of pliers.  Most clients understand that they need something, but oftentimes they think they need short term help when what they actually need is training – or they think they need training, but they actually need short-term help.  Try to identify the need, not the ‘want’.

I’ve known for years that any time I’m hired as a consultant, I’m probably going into a bad situation. Not many companies need help for a well-oiled, efficiently operating department.  Not many companies want short-term consulting help if they are confident, well-staffed and fully budgeted.  A consultant comes into a tough situation and often hopes for little other than to make it slightly less tough.

I’ll sum it up this way:  the key to good contract consulting is not to think of yourself as a ‘real’ consultant. You should apply yourself to serving a client while recognizing that they didn’t want/need/hope to lay out money on a “real” consultant – someone who would reorganize everything and reconfigure their lives.  They just wanted someone who could stick their thumbs in the dam for a few days, and give themselves a few moments to recover.  Sometimes it’s enough.

photo by lin padgham

linklings, around the blogworld edition

I’ve had a busy week, with the in-laws visiting and the external Big 4 auditors a-peckin’ away at work, but I did make a little bit of time for a walk around the blog world. I read a lot of blogs and articles, and I’d divide all of what I read into three categories:  worthless, interesting but not not life-affecting, and interesting and worth keeping in mind.  It’s hard to split the latter two categories, but Guaranteed Goal Achievement: Your Daily, No-Excuses Target from Ali Hale, of Aliventures, who also wrote another great article recently, Blocking Out Time for What Really Matters, was really good.  I only recently started reading Aliventures but now I’m hooked.  I read a few other articles I feel were worth sharing:

The Ultimate Productivity Blog:  Once in a while, you come across a truly useful site – so useful that you can’t see why nobody ever thought of it before.

6 Tips for doing a long-distance job hunt:  Interesting, although I don’t agree completely, having recently conducted a long-distance job hunt.  The main thing is to leverage your existing connections – no matter how tiny.  LinkedIn was a great tool for me in this regard.

Medical Expenses A Common Cause Of Bankruptcy:  This burns me up.  America is the laggard in the Western world.  Opposition to government-supported health care is insane, because whether we have it or not, the insured end up paying for the uninsured eventually.

How NOT To Suck At Blogging:  A fun article if you’re interested in blogging from a guy who’s had a lot of success with his remarkable decision to travel the road less-traveled (and blog about it).

A few more interesting reads:

photo by kevindooley

how to poison attitudes towards work in young children

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My son Little Buddy isn’t so little anymore. He’s at an age where he can make observations and draw conclusions – often amusing – about the world around him.  One of the conclusions he’s probably started to draw is that ‘work sucks.’

It’s not an attitude I’d like to instill in anyone’s child, least of all my own, but it’s almost inevitable. From his point of view, here’s what he thinks when he thinks of ‘work’:

  • ‘Work’ means Papa will be gone all day.
  • ‘Work’ means Papa will be tired and less likely to play when he gets home.
  • Not often, but quite possibly, it means Papa might have to go out of town
  • ‘Work’ means his Mama will have to split her time between him and Pumpkin, his little sister

He understands the association between money and work. He knows I have days I don’t work and days I just choose not to work.  But what I wonder is not so much whether he understands the work/money dynamic, but whether children form an idea that ‘work’ is a negative activity before they really understand the positive.

Take a famous writer or a motivational speaker or a pro athlete. The children of those people might of course have a great lifestyle, but speaking tours or away games or book signing tours must surely upset them, too.  Maybe part of it would be the closeness of the parent-child relationship.  I read quite often that people who leave their corporate jobs do it out of a desire to spend more time with their children.  Yet if I quit my corporate job to become a famous problogger, for example, I’d probably still have to spend time away from home to write.  I’d probably need to do a better job of attending industry events and travel to promote the inevitable book, and so on.

That’s not to denigrate that lifestyle, since I think it would be preferable. I just remember a conversation I had with my parents shortly after I returned to the States after working in Moscow.  While living in Russia, I had received six weeks of vacation per year.  Twice a year, I flew home for three weeks and lived with my parents (this is before I was married).  When I returned home, my mother was happy that I’d be living closer and they’d see me more often – but they didn’t.  I never counted up the days, but I certainly doubt I came anywhere close to staying 42 days at their home in a given year.

I would like my children to have a healthier attitude about work than I do. I don’t know if that’s possible.  My parents both had what seemed to me to be fairly good jobs growing up, and although they had their fair share of conflicts and troubles I never got the impression that they hated what they did, at all.  I don’t know if my dislike of my profession leaks over into my attitude towards work.  I may be saying the word ‘work’ with an undercurrent of unease that kids can sense.

I also suspect that in some ways I might HOPE to poison my children’s attitudes towards work, as long as it’s focused on a certain type of work: work that’s not at least vaguely fulfilling or rewarding.  That’s a tricky path to go down.  I’m sure many of the motivational types whose work I read might wince if their children gave an honest opinion of their work:  ‘my daddy spends all day speaking and writing to inspire others, and hasn’t thrown a baseball to me in three years.’

I do know that if I have any influence at all on my young kids I’d like it to be this:  work is not bad. Work you don’t like is bad.  Work that makes you feel bad is bad.  But working, in and of itself, is good, for a variety of reasons.  It provides for you and (eventually) your family; it can provide a lot of meaning to your life; and it can provide a lot of value to people outside yourself, which is no small feat.  I hope they learn that work is not a thing to be dreaded.  I hope they learn that it’s tough to work, it’s hard to work, and it’s often a struggle to work – but I hope they never learn to hate working.

photo by Mai Le

Reaffirming a Vision

By Curmudgeon

Ah, but a man’s reach should exceed his grasp, or what’s a heaven for?

– Robert Browning

Here am I sitting in my tin can, far above the world.  Planet Earth is blue, and there’s nothing I can do.

– David Bowie (Space Oddity)

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Next year, the three remaining Space Shuttles will be decommissioned, and for the first time in almost 50 years, the United States will lack the capability to put a human into space.

I am a baby boomer.  My young formative years were shaped in no small way by the so-called Space Race of the 1960s.  I was eleven years old when one evening I watched a scratchy black and white broadcast and heard the words live: “It’s one small step for man, one giant leap for Mankind.”

I watched astronauts die; I saw the Space Shuttle Challenger explode.  I saw the initial report of the loss of contact with the Space Shuttle Columbia on reentry, and knew immediately it was lost.

I met Neil Armstrong, the first to set foot on the Moon; and John Glenn, the first to orbit the Earth, in person.  I knew Air Force colleagues with astronaut wings, because they flew outside of the reach of the atmosphere.  I myself applied for training as a Space Shuttle mission specialist (alas, I was rejected).  Astronauts were rock stars, and rock stars composed lyrics in praise of astronauts.

It pains me to see us as a society give up on space exploration.  What has happened to subsequent generations, to not appreciate the sacrifices made by those who paved the way, and to build on those experiences and sacrifices to reach just a little bit farther?

We can reasonably offer a great many justifications for abandoning human space exploration.  It is too expensive, too dangerous, we have too many other priorities closer to home.  All are true, but none is a reason not to reach for the sky and beyond.

There many practical and farsighted reasons to continue that reach, starting with the fact that curiosity is a survival trait.  The more we understand of the world around us, and beyond, the better prepared we are to live in an unforgiving universe.  We can’t say today how we may apply this knowledge in the future, but there will come a time when we wish we possessed it.

Most of us don’t look at life as particularly easy.  Today, we may face the prospect of being unemployed, employed in a boring dead-end job, losing our home, having health issues, or even simply frustrated with our lot in life and our seeming outlook for the future.  Space exploration can seem like a trivial and unforgiveable luxury when we are just trying to get through the next day.

It is to the credit of humans that we have the ability to look beyond our individual issues to abstract concepts that define us as a society and a species.  We need the knowledge, the experience, and the courage of those who are willing to push the boundaries of our existence still farther.

What we need, much more than solutions to our own individual problems, is heroes again.

photo by jurvetson

linklings, dropbox and evernote edition

No, this article has nothing to do with the Registan – I just felt like putting it there.

I tried out Dropbox.com based on this article from My Two Dollars:  2GB Free Online Storage From Dropbox.com.  So far it’s interesting (sign up here to get some bonus memory).  I could see it being helpful since Bubelah and I both have our own laptops, though, for files we need to share.   If you want a useful online app, though, check out Evernote (and another review on My Two Dollars, Using Evernote To Declutter My Life. Evernote is fantastic.  So is our new Kodak Zi6, but that’s another post.

MonaVie Sends a Second Cease & Desist:  MonaVie continues to pester Lazy Man about his article on MonaVie. If you have a blog, link to the article – keep it on top of Google rankings, just to prove a point to MonaVie.

Frugal Dad lost his mother last Sunday, and Neal Frankle, who writes at Wealth Pilgrim, wrote A Different Sort of Guest Post.  His mom had been struggling for a while, but finally passed away.  It wasn’t unexpected, but that didn’t make her passing any less sad.

Is it Condition Or Location?:  Kathy weighs in on our housing situation.  We had narrowed it down to a seriously messed up fixer upper at a good price and a wonderfully finished home that was more expensive.  We ended up going with the finished home.  Spending a year ripping up and rebuilding a house wouldn’t be much fun with two toddlers in the house.

A few more good articles:

Enjoy the weekend!

time to read the writing on the wall

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How is this for a dream job? Boring work, lots of travel to uninteresting box buildings located in bland office parks, pay that’s not competitive, poor benefits, long hours and uncomfortable, privacy-obliterating cubicles.  Sounds awful, doesn’t it?  Piling on further, though, let’s throw in a few broken promises for promotions and raises.  Top it all off with a boss who dislikes you.  He doesn’t invite you in his office, he doesn’t ask you to meetings and routinely complains about your work to you and your co-workers.  I can’t imagine a scenario that would be much more dehumanizing, but what’s truly depressing about it is how so many people endure this office-of-horrors for weeks, months or years without trying to change it.

I’m not talking about leaving corporate life for a blissful career as a social media guru or cheerful organic tomato farmer. I’m not talking about stalking through the cube farm with an AK as a solution, either.  I see people lower their heads and return glumly to work after being dismissed, humiliated and almost broken every day.  I tend to get a lot of miserable employees complaining to me about their situations (since I’m not an employee, I’m “safe” to talk to).  When the picture gets as grim as described above, the conversation almost always plays out like one of those dream sequences in which you watch the monster running towards you, but your feet remain planted in concrete – something terrible is coming, but it’s inescapable:

Droopy: “I hate my job, I hate everything about it.”
Me: “Too bad.  You can’t transfer or anything like that?”
Droopy:  “No, I’d need help from my boss.”
Me: “Well, life is short and it’s not worth putting up with a situation like this forever.  Maybe you should think about quitting.”
Droopy: “No!  The economy is terrible!  Plus I have a mortgage/2.3 kids/credit card debt/a new car payment/etc.”
Me: “Yeah, but since you’ve been looking for a new job for a while, you’re bound to have some leads…”
Droopy: “I’ve been MEANING to start looking, but I’m just so busy – plus it’s hard to interview, my resume is outdated, I have this big project here…”
Me: “You hate your job, your boss hates you, you have no future and in all likelihood you’ll be the first head on a platter when the layoffs come… and you aren’t actively looking for a new job?”
Droopy: “But nobody’s hiring!”
Me: “Nobody’s breaking into your home at night while you’re watching American Idol and offering you a job, if that’s what you mean.”

Why is it that people wait for a good time to look for new work? Why, if you were in a terrible job like the one I’ve described above, would you worry about how “difficult” it might be to sneak away for an interview?  Why would you give a second’s thought to trying to stick it out?

I suppose an optimistic person might hope for their boss to quit and Sandra Bullock to swoop in and become the chirpy, best-buddy boss in a romantic comedy.
Yep.  That happens almost everyday, according to the movies.  When I see employees stuck in a dead end job, I feel badly.  I try to help by offering advice or encouragement.  When I see the same employee sit on their hands month after month without looking for a new job – but talking on the phone about last night’s episode of CSI – I want to knock the stupid out of them.

If you aren’t keeping a What-I-Done-Did file, start now
.  Update your resume.  Sign up for LinkedIn.  Get on Twitter (and yes, I’m getting as tired as everyone else of Twitter but hey, if you can’t beat ’em…).  And most importantly, start looking!  One of the worst feelings you can have related to your career is a sense of powerlessness – a lack of choice.  If nothing else, a job search gives you back a tiny bit of control and forcefeeds a drop of hope into your system.

We all know Milton from Office Space. We all laugh at him, but sit back and look in the mirror.  If you skip washing your hair for a few days, dress like a doofus and mumble a bit, could you fit the part?  If so, go grab that red stapler and flee for the hills as soon as you can.

the first and best way to simplify anything

If you want to simplify anything in your life, try to automate it.  Take the decision-making process out of it.  Turn it over to an external force.  What does that mean?

  • Retirement: Setup a 401(k) automatic deduction with your company – the money’s gone before you see it.
  • Bills: Have the basic bills – the ones that you know you are going to pay regardless, like the electricity and water – paid automatically.
  • Income: Get direct deposit.  Don’t let that check sit on your desk for two weeks.
  • Fitness: Take stairs.  Sell the electric mower and replace it with a manual one.  Make exercise part of your lifestyle rather than something “extra” you do outside of your “normal” life.
  • Nutrition: Keep NO junk food in the home.  Make it impossible to find junk food in your home.  Bring veggies to work.  Select a belief system – mine is Atkins – and stick to it like you’re allergic.


Those are just a few examples, but in general the idea of automation always works. If you can make that one decision – the decision to take future decisions out of your own hands – you’ll be better off.  Why?  Because we’re all tempted.

Take the 401(k). It’s usually not the greatest investment vehicle.  Sure, it’s tax-advantaged (now).  Almost every plan, though, has a terrible list of funds available for investment.  The tax advantages are touted but the tax penalties – should you need to get your money back before you retire for an emergency – are horrendous.  It’s not the perfect investment vehicle by a long shot.

But a 401(k) has one beautiful feature that makes it worthwhile.  Once you take that one brave step to set it up – to yank 10% or whatever percent you choose off each paycheck – it disappears.  It’s automated, and you don’t even know it’s gone.  You never see that money, and your temptation to spend that money is plucked from your hands.

I know it’s not possible to apply this principle everywhere. But any time you have an opportunity to make one big decision right, and remove the temptation to make smaller wrong decisions in the future, you should.  Reserve life for the things you want to spend time on, not the things you don’t.

Photo by PNNL – Pacific Northwest National Laboratory

linklings, brief summary edition

A few links for weekend reading – if you’re not out enjoying the fall weather…

and once again, forced to reflect on that day

This is my first 9-11 away from New York, which brings an odd sense of relief and loss. I won’t sit here and write that it was an ennobling experience for me.  Nor is it one that is lessened by the passage of time.  It was awful, and time won’t change that.  I can still see the first tower fall while I was watching it, standing in the penthouse of my office tower in midtown.  I can still remember the phone calls that almost had the sense of goodbyes that I made to family and friends – the promises that I would seek out and take care of my little brother and the awful, grinding, as yet unchanged sense that everything was now changed for the worse.  I can still remember looking up at the fighter jets roaring over Manhattan, and the dust choking our lungs as we walked through streets empty of cars.  The American story, as it was up to that point, had turned a page.  Year after year, I’ve felt the same.

Being gone I still feel a pang, and maybe it’s even a little bit worse this year.  I still remember the sense of violated privilege – we’re Americans, you assholes!  How can you do this to USWe are New York.  Suddenly I’m not part of that we anymore.  It’s almost bizarre to think of the way I thought that somehow – even after my years of living in Russia amidst the cowardly terrorist attacks there – that America was above it all, and that New York should have been even further above it all.  Well, wrong.  We weren’t special, and I wasn’t special.  Our country and city – like countless others – was nothing more than a victim.

So I don’t know how I feel. It’s been eight years, a long time in a lifespan.  In the grand scheme of things, I’ll cynically say it’s not a statistically big deal.  Natural disasters and wars have killed many, many more people than were killed on 9/11.  But it’s still there in my memory, harsher and more real than Katrina or tsunamis or the Iraq war.  I still remember walking near ground zero a few day after 9/11, covering my mouth, picking up trash, crying at “have you seen…” posters.  I still remember the Salvation Army and the outpouring of help from every corner of the city.  It’s not the kind of thing you’d set aside very easily, or quickly.  It hurts me that it turned into such a sideshow under the ‘leadership’ of a cynical and devious child of privilege in the years afterward.  It still hurts me that we don’t have a decent memorial to that day, too, despite politicians’ mewlings about making a proper tribute.  Do it now.

Leave it at this:  it was awful, nothing will ever make it less awful. I’m still sad about it and no doubt you are too.  I don’t think I’ll spend a day for the rest of my life in early September without thinking of a clear, beautiful morning that started with such promise, and ended in such horror for so many. It’s still fitting to weep.

“All mankind is of one author, and is one volume; when one man dies, one chapter is not torn out of the book, but translated into a better language; and every chapter must be so translated…As therefore the bell that rings to a sermon, calls not upon the preacher only, but upon the congregation to come: so this bell calls us all: but how much more me, who am brought so near the door by this sickness….No man is an island, entire of itself…any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind; and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.” – John Donne, Meditation XVII

why you shouldn’t worry about your children’s future

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I spend an inordinate amount of time worried about the trivial aspects of child-rearing. As a confirmed bachelor a decade ago, I would have though my concern laughable.  Only soft-headed parents sat around worrying about their children hearing Mozart in the womb and being exposed to ecologically sound psychologically pleasing alphabet posters.  The idea of grooming children for greatness seemed stupid.  Care to debate breast-feeding, anyone?

Now, after spending more than three years with two small children, I’ve been through the fire and back over to the other side. I spent years thinking that if my kids whimpered in their sleep, they needed to be held.  If they couldn’t figure out the difference between two fingers and three fingers, they needed to be TAUGHT … NOW.  For a while, every moment had to be a learning moment or it was a lost moment.  The simple fact is that children are rough beasts, and little we do can really influence the humans they will be.

Extremes exist, of course. Extreme abuse can hurt, and extremes of nurturing can help.  Wealth and influence help.  I have no doubt that the children of the Bushes, Kennedys, Clintons and Obamas of the world have more access to better experiences and tutors and influences than I can hope to provide.  But I have seen children of caring, loving, involved parents turn into low, desperate adults.  I have seen children who had no positive parental influence at all turn into amazing, positive and caring adults.  I have seen the opposite – caring, loving, involved parents who raised caring, loving, involved kids.  What I have never seen in my life – to date – is a pattern.  Kids are gonna vex ya.

We are all shaped by a multitude of influences. I count things as grand as my years in Moscow as an influence, but I would argue that I was just as deeply and permanently influenced by reading The Lord of The Rings when I was young.  Digging back further, the time spent listening to my father read chapters from “The Hobbit” opened up an intellectual curiosity in my mind.  I can count the momentary influences in my life that left deep impressions on me just as easily as the long-term influences.  An evening spent playing Titanic with my parents might have had as deep an influence on me as my college education.

If you don’t have children, I think this lesson still holds true. Don’t worry too much about the influence you think you have – or don’t have – over others.  We overestimate our own influence, because we are human.  No matter how in touch we are with ourselves, WE are the universe.  It soaks into everything – I write about personal finance because MY personal finances OUGHT to be the subject of praise/disdain/etc.  Some basic principles hold true:  in personal finance, don’t go into debt; in life, don’t hit women (for example – an inarguable principle).  Core values are unalterable.  We all want to be important, and the hero of our own lives.

But don’t worry about your children’s future as much as you do. Do what you can to be open, happy, and present.  Everything else will be a bonus.  The best college?  Extra.  The best cars or stuff?  Extra.  Even that extra book at bedtime?  Extra, to be honest.  Don’t worry about your friends or your family – do your best to be present above all else with them, and let them do what they can with that.  If you put the best YOU out there that you can, you’ve done a good job.  Your children can feed off of that better than they can a million trips to the mall.

photo by alessandro pucci

take small risks

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Listening to an interview on an ESPN podcast a couple of weeks ago (I forget which one), I heard a commentator bring up an interesting point about point-after-touchdown tries which I thought made a good life lesson, too.  The point was this, in a nutshell:  in football, when you score a touchdown you get an “extra play” in which you can kick the ball for one point or run, throw or pass it for two points.  Kicking is ridiculously easy – the success rate is 99% or something along those lines.  The two point option is much tougher, with a much lower chance of success.  The better result needs to be practiced when it can be practiced – so why isn’t it?

But the commentator asked this question:  since the preseason games were meaningless games, why didn’t coaches use the opportunity to practice the much riskier two point option and get better at it before the real games began?  Another commentator offered up this response:  “nobody wants to be the first coach to do that, but if someone did, everyone would quickly follow.”  He continued, “But nobody wants to fail making those two points, even in a meaningless game, because it would be embarrassing.”

Crazy, right? But why do we all do the same thing – avoid the meaningless risks?

As you move through life you’ll have a lot of opportunities to take a chance on something.
Sometimes it’s something big – quitting a job, starting a business or buying a house – and sometimes it’s something that will make little difference in the long run:  pitching your boss on a new idea you had or asking the beautiful wallflower to dance.  Why don’t people take advantage of the small risks in life to practice their decision-making skills when they get a big chance?

It’s easy to take a risk on a small choice – don’t get the bleu-cheese burger at Houlihan’s, get the Shrimp-Ka-Bob.  Don’t get a Pepsi, get an RC.  These are the kind of risk-taking moments we all avoid but should take in order to advance in life.  If you get an RC and hate it, fine.  Go back to Pepsi.  But exercising that muscle – that risk-taking muscle – will make you a better person, whether you actually take those risks or not.  Taking those risks opens you open to possibilities, and possibilities are endless once you are willing to accept them.

photo by hellolapomme

linklings, labor day in Florida edition

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My family moved to Florida for the weather. There were other factors, but really, at the end of the day, we wanted to live somewhere warm.  We didn’t get that mental impact until now – when it’s cooling off elsewhere and still summer weather here.  So far, so good… except I still spend too much time indoors in a corporate high-rise.

After our recent attempt to purchase a home fell through, since we couldn’t get on the same page with the sellers, we’ve started looking at houses again. We found two we thought were fantastic, but for different reasons.  One is perfect – total interior remodel, a huge screened in patio which can be closed off and climate controlled, a fenced-in backyard and a nice community less than a mile from the coast, but a bit further away from town.  The second is in a nicer neighborhood, with a huge screened pool and so close to the ocean you can hears waves from beyond the tree – but the house is a mess.  Dog pee stains the carpets and almost every fixture is dirty and dated.

The difference? The second house, in a nice neighborhood, costs so little we could almost pay cash for it (it’s a foreclosure and the bank wants to dump it unrenovated).  The first house is a bit further from town and move-in ready and much more expensive (but compared to New Jersey almost laughably inexpensive).  So we have a big “house-style” decision to make if we want to move on either one.

A few links I liked this past week…

Are You Really a Permanent Employee?:  A post I thoroughly agree with by Kevin from No Debt Plan, guest blogging at Cash Money Life.  He talks about why most people seek “safe employment” as a “permanent employee,” but concludes that – while it not may be for everyone – non-permanent employment (contract work) might be a better idea.

The Truth About Star Wars and the Matrix:  I couldn’t agree more.  What Phantom Menace?

Education Needs to Be Turned on Its Head:  I don’t agree with everything Leo says in this article but it’s a subject I think about a lot.  We’re starting our kids out at a Waldorf preschool before they head off to public schools.  My hope is that Waldorf education will be closer to my ideals about education:  namely, education as an exposure to knowledge and a student’s ability to choose his or her own direction.

Proofread Your Resume:  Almost goes without saying, but I have so often read resumes where people list there acheivments that its amazing.. [wait, do I need to proofreed that sentence?]

Stop Allowing Fear To Guide Financial Decisions:  It always circles back to the scarcity mindset versus the abundance mindset – proactivity versus passivity, goals versus fears, which leads us to…

Your Financial Success Depends on the Clarity of Your Goals:  “I want to be rich” is not a goal. “I want to own a business” is not a goal.  Get specific, because the broader the goal, the more time you’ll waste casting around trying to reach it.

A few more links:

I also starting reading Aliventures, and really liked this post: Reframing Work #1: Ditching Drudgery and the Conventional View of “Work”.  You can download an e-book on the same subject from Aliventures here (opens a PDF).

photo by danperry.com
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