Courage to Face Your Fears

July 14, 2015

In his book Power Cues, author Nick Morgan urges readers to reflect and identify their fear. He suggests one write it down as clearly as possible, then on the opposite side of the paper, write down the opposite. Here’s what I came up with.

“I get nervous when I walk into a big meeting of talented people.”

“I naturally take control of every room I enter.”

morgan believes if I read the second statement aloud for several weeks in a row, it will reprogram my unconscious mind to believe the second statement. I am going to test his hypothesis.


Satisfaction indeed

July 13, 2015

Yesterday I attended church, grocery shopped, washed a load of clothes, folded them and placed them in my chest, walked the dogs 5 miles, talked on the phone to my brother, mom, and fiance, watered the yard, washed dishes, and read 100 pages from a book. I felt great when I laid down last night. It was like the feeling you get once you mow the lawn.

I’m to duplicate that sensation today. Thankfully, I don’t have as many chores because i cleared up a significant amount yesterday, but I have plenty to do and the clock is ticking!

Social norms, market norms

July 12, 2015


In Predictably irrational author Dan Ariely explains two different systems that guide our actions- social norms and market norms. The two systems run great independently, yet they cause problems when mixed. Here’s a brief summary of the two.

Social norms are the accepted social behaviors between friends. For example, if you attend Thanksgiving dinner at your in laws home, it is understood that you may help out by washing the dishes, but uncouth to attempt to pay for the meal. On the flip side, if you go to a restaurant for a meal, once finished, they prefer you pay for the order even though as a child I frequently heard washing dishes was an acceptable consolation if the patrons could not pay. As an adult, it turns out this is a rare occurrence. So long as we maintain a distinction between which norms are governing the event, life moves swimmingly.

Nevertheless, some companies have begun to run ads that infuse social norms into their message. Take Olive Garden for example. The restaurant chain’s TV commercials famously instructed consumers “When you’re here, you’re family”. This changed on October 5, 2012. OG’s parent switched the tag line to “Go Olive Garden”. See the difference? The original theme was very casual. The new slogan is a command: (You) Go (to) Olive Garden. Business Insider suggested the switch happened precisely because the “family” wasn’t coming around very often.

“Turns out that even though everyone recognizes and easily associates with the ‘family’ tag line, consumers have been treating Olive Garden like the great aunt you visit on a bi-annual basis than a close relative. Guests have lagged the past 23 of 24 months and sales have been down.”

After posting these results, it appears Darden is trying a new tack: switching to market norms. At the very least, we know exactly what Olive Garden expects out of us.

Solving a personal problem

July 11, 2015

Yesterday, while waiting in a doctor’s office, I picked up a copy of Fortune magazine. This issue contained a feature on Ben Chesky, founder of airbnb. I’d heard the company mentioned several times recently in books and podcasts, but I didn’t know how it started until picking up the magazine.

In 2007, Ben and a roommate were unemployed graduates of the Rhode Island School of Design. Facing an upcoming rent payment with a conference coming to town, they pulled out some air mattresses and posted these makeshift sleeping quarters online. Several visitors accepted the offer, and they proceeded to start a company. Currently, airbnb has worldwide operations and a $24B valuation.

Often, I rack my brain thinking of the next big idea, but Ben showed me that it’s often right under your feet as Russell Conwell put it so many years ago in his hit Acres of Diamonds.

Everyone loves me but…

July 10, 2015

The title of this post is a sample interview question that General Stan McChrystal asks potential hires. I learned this yesterday while listening to his podcast episode with Tim Ferriss. He liked using the question because it forces someone to be self aware, quick witted, and able to communicate bad news.

If I had to answer the question, I would say that everyone loves me but I can be more consistent and I can exercise more willpower especially in the face of sweets after dinner. That one is challenging for me which is surprising since I recently completed an audiobook titled Grain Brain by Dr. David Perlmutter, a neurologist and member of American College of Nutrition. Perlmutter makes a convincing case for eliminating gluten from one’s diet. I have made significant strides; however, I still break down on occassion to satisfy my sweet cravings.

I don’t believe General McChrystal would have such a problem. The man wakes at 4:30 every morning and completes 90 minutes of exercise before getting his day started. Discipline is his watchword. Nevertheless, he did say that he became fat while in the service and this prompted him to take up running. Now, he only eats one meal per day- dinner. That may be more impressive than the 4:30am daily wake up call in my opinion!

I’m going to walk my dogs now so I can get some exercise before starting my day.

A cause worth fighting for

July 9, 2015

I listened to an episode of the Tim Ferriss podcast today featuring General Stan McChrystal and Chris Fussell, a Navy Seal and mcChrystal’s former aide de camp.

McChrystal served for 34 years in the army. I got the impression over the course of the 100 minute interview that McChrystal could probably tell you down to the hour how long he served in the military. He routinely answered Tim’s questions with incredible detail as one might expect coming from a 4 star General. There were so many things that stood out to me about this interview. It’s been a few hours since I digested the information, so let me recap some of the highlights before ending on my biggest takeaway.

1. For all of his accomplishments, attention to detail, and disciplined schedule, McChrystal appeared very human. He talked about football, music, and youthful carelessness he experienced as a freshman and sophomore in college. In fact, the General said he earned 178 “slugs” or demerits during his first four semesters, and he made poor grades. Surprisingly, he said few of the honor roll members turned out to be exceptional military leaders which leads me to my next point.

2. West Point made the cadets conduct peer reviews annually. Initially, he thought it would turn into a popularity contest, but a more honorable assessment emerged. He found the reviews to be vital for instilling strong culture in every cadet.

3. The military- which is far from perfect- has at least one trait going for it: culture. The organization is transparent. You know everyone’s rank, pay, and accommodations. Everyone wears the same clothes and eats the same meals. They have clear directions on what to do. I can’t remember the source, but I do remember one of the participants saying that many retired soldiers wish they could return to active service because of the strong camraderie present among battalions.

4. McChrystal is an incredible student of the history of battle. He referenced U.s. grant and his place in history at two different points during the podcast. I don’t hear his name brought up in my everyday interactions, but that was interesting.

5. The love. I touched on this in the third point, but the sense of love for fellow soldiers became apparent while listening to McChrystal speak. They love something (I’m sure it depends on the individual) enough to travel across the globe in a hostile environment with high temperatures up to 120 degrees and continually face the prospect of dying in combat for some purpose. That is so beautiful to me, and it inspired me to identify some cause so powerful that I would fight for.

What is something I would fight for?

Becoming whole

July 9, 2015

I am re reading Stephen Covey’s masterpiece The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. While it is not flashy, the book is so rich with common sense advice for living a fulfillig life. Last night I was going through chapter 2 titled “Begin With the End in Mind”. During the chapter, Covey urges readers to go through an exercise where they visualize their personal funeral ceremony. The purpose is to get an idea of what a family member, church or community member, and coworker would say about you. It really spurred me to action because my visualization didn’t really match the person I want to be. In this case, Covey says to write down core principles and use these as a “North Star” to guide your everyday activities. To make a traveling analogy, everyday your actions get you closer to or take you farther from this navigational beacon.

Covey says this is living with integrity. The term ‘integrity’ has Latin roots. It stems from the word ‘integer’ which means whole. Covey argues once a person acts according to rimless principles, they experience a wholeness. Like the book cover, Covey proved his life was more about substance than style. According to, Covey’s eulogy on 7-21-2012 included speakers from his family, close friends, and business associates. The service lasted two hours, and it highlighted his personal integrity. “He had complete integrity. There was no gap between what he said and what he did. As good as he was in public, he was even better in private as a father and a husband,” Stephen M.R. Covey said.

That’s my goal: full of integrity.

Today could be the greatest day of my life

July 8, 2015

Today the birds are chirping and the sun is shining. Today has great potential. I have the road map to make it the best day of my life. All I need is to be present and live according to the principles, values, and mission statement I wrote down. I love waking up in. The morning. The day carries so much promise. I can’t wait to get going so I can have some fun!


December 8, 2009

I listened to an inspirational podcast earlier this evening. it was inspirational, but it could also be called startling.

the topic- entreprenuership. the host- Jason Calcanis. if you haven’t heard Calcanis speak before, he is very direct. he speaks passionately about entreprenuership, and he derides “worker bees”.

this is where the startling part happened. Calcanis said you can be one of two things: a rice picker or a samurai. a samurai is the entreprenuer; the rice picker: a worker bee.

he says the worker bee works to make someone else rich and accomplishes very little after a career.

the samurai, on the other hand, creates opportunities, builds wealth, and leaves a legacy behind after retiring.

it’s easy to see which one Calcanis prefers. however, he does say it requires a special individual to be an entreprenuer- a driven, risk taker who can survive a dog eat dog world.

he made me think- what business could I start? I don’t want to be a rice picker who is simply afraid and continues to pick rice. what do I do well that I could be remembered for?