Hanging for the Weekend: Surfing, and…Hair Swag?

This weekend it was just me and the kiddo’s, Royce and Zoe. “RoZo.” We had a great time, and if for nothing other than a mental memory for me down the road, I thought I’d capture highlights. Mostly a pictorial review, with a few captions summarizing along the way.

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30-minutes in and RoZo have jumped into their enthusiasms. Zoe’s all about fashion, design, technology, and, well, doing nails…Apparently not just one color. She is the kinda-messy-moderately-expressive kid, so at least she’s outside.  She’s also crazy creative.

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And then Royce found her own occupation, who is a ridiculously hard worker and equally responsible, has little to no interest in fashion but is a voracious reader and learner, yet has gotten consumed with this Pottermore game which appears to be mildly addictive.

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Drove into SF for a pick up of the proverbial grass-fed organic frolicking-in-the-countryside CSA meat order (that is so California, which I am not…) and I stumbled onto this street which I adore–and the building / architecture. This would be a cool place to live. There’s even a GTI out front. Perfect car for the City. Love.

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Took the kids surfing in Santa Cruz late in the afternoon, this is post-surf. Caught some fantastic waves, and the three of us are starting to get the hang of it. 10-years ago I never understood the magic of surfing. Now, I do. Total magic.

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Sunset in Santa Cruz, such a gorgeous night with sailboats skimming the surface while watching the sun dip below the horizon with the salty smell of the Pacific Ocean. I am sure I could live anywhere, but my soul is definitely happier near water.

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Raz, Zoe, and Royce…Post surfing, exhausted, but about to go and party it up in Santa Cruz at night.

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We had dinner on the Pier with a really smart guy who used to be my CTO at a prior start-up and his equally smart wife, lovely couple. Afterwards, I took RoZo to the nearby Arcade. Of the 582 games, RoZo wanted to play the one where you get the 1/1000th chance to win a little stuffed animal. After 1,000 coins they each won! This is the equivalent of a slot machine for 9 and 11 year olds…

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After two hours here, I no longer saw video games. I only saw pathogens. Billions on the machines. And hundreds running around the arcade. If I could’ve wrapped myself in a bubble, I would have. Arcades and hand rails on NYC subways…Ugh, try to stay away from both.

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So after surfing we had dinner, then ice cream, then the arcade, but why call it a night at 10pm!?!?!?! Instead, we went bowling and loaded up with nachos. And more ice cream. After bowling we hung out at a restaurant and played music on the jukebox, had more ice cream and more food. Zoe woke up the next morning saying “Dad, I can’t believe what you fed us last night…” Yes, this is all my fault. 🙂

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Love this shirt. And, I just love this picture. Oh, and she got a STRIKE! Go Roycie Go!

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The kids decided to conspire against me, and asked if they could each bowl a turn for me (we were competing, of course!). They each promptly threw both of my bowling balls directly into the gutter. And they thought it was so hysterical. So I tried my best to look unamused.

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#photobooth

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I love this shot, only b/c it feels and looks so California to me. I love this house, too. So charming. However, to be clear, I am a New Yorker who digs California. I am not a Californian (at least not yet).

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Took the kids with me to do my 3rd bodyfat test, which I now do every 90-days. My last test in December was 14.3%, this one was 12.6% which is okay progress but I should’ve been closer to 11% and my diet has slipped the last few months. My final goal is to be at or less than 9%, and originally wanted to hit it by April but now looks like it will be June. Still a ways to go, but slowly…slowly…

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We ended the night by having a buddy of mine over and his daughter, the kids ate Pizza while for the boys I cooked braised Lamb, pancetta topped brussel sprouts, and some sweet potato concoction that I made up–pan fried in ghee with cinnamon and topped with liquid honey (diluted honey). I was overzealous on cooking tonight, but the kids cleaned, got recharged with some Girl Scout Cookies, and then decided I needed a new hairdo–so check out my new hair swag!!!

RoZo, thanks for keeping me out of trouble and making this weekend a great time! 🙂

~Raz

No doubts, take Lasix only as prescribed by your physician. Levitra is one of the best-known medications of all season. What is the most significant information you must study about levitra vs cialis? Most doctors say the effectiveness of Levitra is well documented. Absolutely, a sexual problem refers to a problem during any phase of the sexual response cycle that prevents the individual from experiencing satisfaction from the sexual life. Whilst sex is not vital for good heartiness, its doubtless important for anyone. Why it happen? What kinds of professionals treat sexual diseases in men? A common class of antidepressants, which include Zoloft can kill the mood in bedroom.

What If Money Were No Object?

What if Money Was No Object

Tonight a three minute video moved me.

I already have another blog entry prepared, and wasn’t going to publish it until a few days from now. But, this is quick, and I just had to share it…I wish I’d seen this years ago, repeatedly. And I’m blogging about it now so that, if nothing else, I’ll watch it in the future. Repeatedly. Because it has a good amount to do with what we do for work–and with life.

I look back on my professional and personal life and in many ways feel as though I’ve had more luck, fun, and great experiences than I deserve. I’m genuinely thankful for all of it. Yet, in other ways, I wonder how my life would’ve unfolded had I more often listened (or what could happen) to the voice that echoes in the video below.

It’s a voice of passion rather than reason.

That tells a song of love versus logic.

Brings forth a story of purpose instead of pursuit.

There are times in my life when I knew I shouldn’t give up on something, or that my heart was pulling in a certain direction and towards a particular passion, yet instead at times I answered to a “voice of reason” when my heart and soul told me to do otherwise.

My most recent example sits in the pit of my stomach as I write, a lingering regret from a voice and intuition I ignored. Years ago, my favorite DC-area restaurant was in Herndon, Virginia. And at this restaurant there was a server named Henry. He worked there many years, lived a simple life. And he was a fantastic man.

The short story is that, after getting to know Henry over a period of months, I knew then–and carried this conviction with me all the way up until two weeks ago–that I was supposed to give him my Toyota Prius when I bought a car to replace it. Not loan it, not discount it, but give it to him. Freely. Without expectation or reciprocation. I can’t explain it logically. I. Just. Knew.

What happened that changed my conviction?

Through a forced combination of ignoring this voice, and distraction, I pushed it to the back of my head, and I sold my Prius two weeks ago to some guy in California–when what I was supposed to do was send it back out to Virginia to where Mist (yes, I name my cars) belonged. I think there are probably only a handful of people in my life who would even understand this, and an even shorter list who would have said to go ahead and do it.

Regardless, I didn’t. And I regret it.

It’s a reminder to me of the things that I should and could do, professionally and personally, if I thought less about the money and logic, and more about “what makes you itch?”

~Raz

(if you’re reading this via the Feedburner newsletter subscription, you’ll have to go to the site www.razflections.com to watch the video)

No doubts, take Lasix only as prescribed by your doc. Levitra is one of the best-known medications of all period. What is the most significant data you must study about levitra vs cialis? Most doctors say the effectiveness of Levitra is well documented. Absolutely, a sexual problem refers to a problem during any phase of the sexual response cycle that prevents the individual from experiencing satisfaction from the sexual life. Whilst sex is not vital for good soundness, its doubtless important for anyone. Why it happen? What kinds of professionals treat sexual diseases in men? A common class of antidepressants, which include Zoloft can kill the mood in bedroom.

Everyday Heroes: “Grandma”

Grandma

Last night I spent part of my evening with Grandma (yep, that’s her name). She worked during Royce’s birthday party at the bowling alley last week; while she was almost hidden, something captured me about her. While I enjoyed two hours with a dozen 11-year olds running around, I’m not sure I could do it for more than a few times with a smile on my face. Yet, Grandma’s been doing it for decades. Smiling the entire time. For some reason I was spontaneously compelled to ask her if I could interview her for my blog, and with a shocked, confused, and flattered look on her face (yes, all at once), she agreed.

During my road trip across the United States, which started in Florida and ended in California (part one is here, part two is here, and part three is here) I fell in love with the “real people” in our lives all over again.

I am as enamored by Steve Jobs brilliance and legacy as the next start-up guy in Silicon Valley. And I can rattle off dozens of other “heroes” that impress me in various disciplines, from Jeff Bezos to Colin Powell to Johnny Cash…But among all the well known, accomplished, and highly celebrated heroes, there are millions of forgotten ones as well. They’re “Everyday Heroes” and that’s what inspired me during my cross country road trip. These are the millions of people who are the fabric of America, the ones who serve a purpose to our lives yet too often goes unseen.

When I met Grandma something captured me. I loved her spirit, simplicity, and compassion. She has all these gifts that I don’t have, and it’s so often in life that this goes unnoticed. So below is a short interview conducted with Grandma last night at the bowling alley. What I didn’t expect is that she was rather difficult to interview, she just kept things so simple and straightforward. When you read her responses below, on the surface you won’t find anything profoundly interesting or funny. Though, I can attest, she is adorable.

Post-interview I gave it some thought and, for me, captured this insight: there’s a simplicity to her life that few of us understand. One that I will probably never fully grasp, but it’s something I’ve grown to appreciate and respect.

With pins striking in the background, contemporary country music playing overhead, and unsurprisingly even a few guys with full on mullets in view, me and Grandma sat down and talked about life. So here’s to Grandma, one of my Everyday Heroes. 

Raz: How’d you get the name Grandma?

Grandma: My husband worked at this bowling alley before me, and they called him Grandpa. So when I started working it just seemed like a natural fit. People just started referring to me as Grandma, especially the kids.

Raz: Where’d you grow up?

Grandma: San Francisco, went to Balboa high school and I’ve lived here my entire life.

Raz: So tell me about Grandpa. How did both of you meet?

Grandma: Oh, we met through the bowling alley really, that was how we dated. The first time I met him I was working in a drug store and one day he brought me a rose and asked me out to dinner. Later, we got married at the bowling alley where he worked, in lanes 11 and 12–350 people were here! At our 20th year we renewed our vows at the Bowling alley, and we’ve been married 37-years.

Raz: So what’s the key to 37-years of marriage?

Grandma: Agree on everything.

[editors note: I was expecting laughter after that one…Grandma didn’t laugh. Ummm, okay that’s a tough one Grandma…can you give us a few other options? 🙂 ]

Raz: What do you love most about Grandpa?

Grandma: “He’s kind and sweet. So kind.”

Raz: Do you have kids? And do you have a “secret” to raising kids, or was there one piece of advice you’d share to other parents?

Grandma: Yes, I have two daughters. I was a good disciplinarian when they were young, that’s what I would tell people. Be a good disciplinarian. They are both wonderful daughters.

Raz: Grandma, you’re amazing with kids. That’s one of the things that drew me to you. What’s your connection with kids?

Grandma: I just love kids, that’s why I love being called Grandma. They just make me feel good, they interact and talk with me naturally. I have no favorite age group, I love them all. I’ve even had people want to be their nanny, but of course I couldn’t do it–I work too much.

Raz: What was one of the more challenging experiences you’ve had in your life?

Grandma: I’m not sure! (lots of laughter, and a really long pause).

[Editors note: loved how she couldn’t think of anything, if someone asked me that question I’d probably respond with “okay, how much time you got???”]

Raz: What are a few things you’ve learned about people from working at a bowling alley for so many years?

Grandma: I’ve learned that most parents don’t discipline their children very much. I think instilling discipline at a very young age is critical.

Raz: What inspires you?

Grandma: Being here, right at the bowling alley. It’s never boring, it’s always an adventure. I love it here. Grandpa’s birthday was on Sunday and he turned 80, they gave him a big tournament (points to a lane). He used to bowl four nights a week. He taught the children how to bowl. Oh, he was such an amazing bowler, but now that he’s sick he can’t bowl anymore. But he was so good when he was younger.

Raz: What’s the one thing you’ve never done but you always wanted to do?

Grandma: Gosh, I’m not sure. (lots of laughter followed by silence)

Raz: Where else have you worked? And what did you like about it?

Grandma: Oh, I worked at a drug store on 25th, and also at Collins pharmacy. I worked there 37-years. They sent me to cosmetics school, so I would help the people pick out cosmetics. There was nothing I didn’t like there. That was such a great job, I loved every moment.

Raz: Grandma, you have been such a delight. I love your passion for kids, and your spirit. You are a total gem. Thanks for giving me this interview.

Grandma: Awwwww, really? Thank you…Did I do okay for this interview and did you get what you needed? (pause). Are you sure I did okay?

Yep, Grandma. You did just fine.

~Raz

No doubts, take Lasix only as prescribed by your doctor. Levitra is one of the best-known medications of all date. What is the most significant info you must study about levitra vs cialis? Most doctors say the effectiveness of Levitra is well documented. Absolutely, a sexual problem refers to a problem during any phase of the sexual response cycle that prevents the individual from experiencing satisfaction from the sexual life. Whilst sex is not vital for good heartiness, its doubtless great for anyone. Why it happen? What kinds of professionals treat sexual diseases in men? A common class of antidepressants, which include Zoloft can kill the mood in bedroom.

A Paleo Post…On Valentine’s Day???

Valentines Day

I’m a Paleo fan, and a few people have pinged me with questions about my weight loss so I thought I’d share a few of my learning’s publicly. And by the end of this post, I am going to figure out some clever tie-in to Valentine’s Day.

After many years of failure, I finally learned the premise that 80% of weight loss happens in the kitchen–not the gym. Some people say “well, everything in moderation.” (just who are these “some people”?!?!?!). Yes, moderation is great if you’re capable. Me, not so much.

Put a box of Lucky Charms in front of me, and, well you’ll see how little willpower I have against that little Leprechaun magic. Same with Peanut Butter Crunch (ugh the damage it does to the roof of your mouth!).

I like Paleo because it works for me. What does “works for me” mean? Over the last four months I’ve lost nearly 40lbs, increased my muscle mass by almost 10lbs, and my bodyfat has decreased from ~25% to ~12% today. I still have work to do, but I am getting closer to my goal  of 9% BF by April.

I know as little about the science of Paleo as I do marathoning (nil), though that didn’t keep me from writing about the latter so it won’t keep me from writing about the former. Furthermore (who talks like that?), my lack of knowledge didn’t keep me from losing weight. Which is proof enough that you don’t REALLY need to know much to get started. You just need to get started. 

One of the things that motivated me were seeing lots of before/after pictures of people who lost weight. Someday I’ll post my before/afters, though I still don’t have the guts to do it yet. Perhaps at the 180-day mark…

In no particular order, here are a few tips I’ve learned along the way: 

1. Find a plan that works for you. I am convinced some shouldn’t do Paleo, and instead would be better off pursuing a plan of vegan/vegetarianism, SouthBeach, Pritikin, others. Pretty much anything other than what the USDA recommends (only partly sarcastic). The point is find something that works for you and stick with it. Are some better than others? Sure. But even a decent plan brilliantly executed is better than the reverse. So don’t get so cerebral on it, go make something happen.

2. Check out Paleo. It worked for me. It might work for you. I happen to like it for lots of reasons, even though my research last summer showed it ranked as one of the worst weight loss plans according to some “experts” (who are probably somehow genetically related to the “some people” I referenced a few paragraphs above). If I’d listened to these “experts” I wouldn’t have tried Paleo. And I’d probably still be overweight.

3. Pick something and go. I did 30-minutes of research on Paleo, then decided to do it for at least a few months to see the results. Don’t drown yourself in analyzing. Just start. You really do not need to know that much information to see significant results. Once you plateau, then you can dig in and fine tune–which is something I’m doing now (e.g. I have done another 30 minutes worth of reading–that should be enough to give me ideas on improvements to get me to my final goal). Whatever you choose, give it at least 90-days. Nothing massive will happen in a week. If it does, that’s called water weight. Your body can’t really lose more than 1.0-2.0 lbs of fat/week.

4. Post workout, I use a recovery protein with grass fed whey though I’m still experimenting. Some swear by vegetable protein, others soy, etc. I only use a protein supplement on heavy workout days at Crossfit, or after a very long run.

5. Remember, the key to weight loss: calories in < calories burned. There’s some basic math to this. You have to intake fewer calories than you expend, though there are ways to make this more efficient. Sorry there’s no magic bullet, however…

6. There IS the Nutribullet! Basically it pulverizes and blends vegetables and fruits together to make a delicious drink. I generally have one of these daily, and use a lot of kale as my base, some flax seed, plain almond milk, water, and a mix of some fruit. Careful not to create a 600 calorie drink, though. I keep mine to under 300 calories.

7. Fats are good. I don’t go overboard with fats like butter, coconut oil, etc. But I do use them, helps with satiety and it’s healthy in “moderation.” Also, grass fed beef is the best if you’re a carnivore, worth paying a bit extra for it rather than the grain-fed stuff.

8. Sweet potatoes are a godsend. I eat one a day. It’s a great carb. Every Sunday I throw 7-8 in the oven, then put them in the fridge, and that’s one of the quick sources of food for the week. Can be a side or a meal (to make it a meal I’ll throw peanut butter or coconut butter on it).

9. I eat a banana with almond butter every day. The most compelling argument to me for evolution would be my own personal love of bananas (no, I do not believe in evolution–no, I am not making fun of those of you who do). Literally, I store bananas everywhere like a fall squirrel hiding away his food in North Dakota. I’ve found bananas under my car seat, in backpacks and workout shoes, the list goes on. By the way, can I just use this moment to pose a question: if bananas were $39 a pound instead of 39 cents, do you know how much all of us would be talking about how much we love and crave this new “superfruit” called a banana?.

I also carry packets of almond butter with me everywhere I go, they’re small single server foil packs from Justin’s. I have this as a snack around 3pm daily, or if I’m in a bind and really busy I’ll have this in place of lunch or breakfast.

10. I generally don’t drink alcohol during the week, and when I do consume it is generally only red wine, and it is reserved for California wines that I love, or good tasting tequila (which, I realize makes me sound like such a lush but those are the Paleo friendly drinks and if I drink tequila I sip it slowly).

11. I switched to green tea during the week (though today is an exception where I have ominously blended Peets and Starbucks coffee together). Why do I do this? I don’t know. I probably read an article from an “expert” somewhere. Why is the sky blue?

12. Real food is often best. I’ll use shakes or whatnot to provide satiety and reduce calorie count, or certain shakes for protein post aggressive workouts, but you really need to eat high quality real food too. Though I LOVE cooking, I also like efficiency. So the food I consume during the week is usually quick and easy, and I’ll save the fun stuff that takes a while to prep for the weekends.

13. YOU MUST HAVE CHEAT MEALS. But they must be exceptions. Every week, plan up to three cheat meals. That way you can look forward to it. Try not to do it on the fly, because one becomes three becomes five…I have two cheat meals a week (usually one dinner and one breakfast/brunch), and then after every one of my long runs on the weekend (so long as it’s >10 miles) I’ll have a Quickly bubble tea–Taro flavor, of course. Everything else during the week is strict Paleo. Don’t totally deprive yourself. What I love about the cheat meal is a) I have something to look forward to during the week (sad? perhaps…), and 2) I never feel guilty when I’m eating my cheat meal.

There they are. My 13 tips. In no particular order. And even if there’s nothing novel or helpful in here, or even parts are inaccurate, I’m proof that the results are really in the application. Your battle is in the kitchen. And it’s one you can win.

Oh, and the tie-in to Valentine’s Day?

Food and Valentine’s Day…Geesh, I am on the verge of it, but nothing THAT witty has come to mind. Perhaps someone else can come up with something witty to finish this post for me, for now I’m hitting submit and grabbing another cup of my Peets and Starbucks blend that I made today called “Opposites Attract” (if only it tasted great…). 🙂

No doubts, take Lasix only as prescribed by your doctor. Levitra is one of the best-known medications of all when. What is the most significant information you must study about levitra vs cialis? Most doctors say the effectiveness of Levitra is well documented. Absolutely, a sexual problem refers to a problem during any phase of the sexual response cycle that prevents the individual from experiencing satisfaction from the sexual life. Whilst sex is not vital for good soundness, its doubtless significant for anyone. Why it happen? What kinds of professionals treat sexual diseases in men? A common class of antidepressants, which include Zoloft can kill the mood in bedroom.

Tape ‘Em Up, and Nine Other Lessons from Two Marathons

Running a Marathon...10 Tips
Running a Marathon…10 Tips

Girls on the Run in Washington D.C.
Girls on the Run in Washington D.C.

A little over a year ago we took the kiddo’s to a “Girls on the Run” event. I ran a 5k with Royce, and remember how willing and able she was to do the jaunt faster than me. I kept thinking “why can’t we walk a little and enjoy the day?” and “I hope there are doughnuts at the finish line.”

She was 10 at the time, I was 38. Not a good indicator of my potential to run a marathon.

Last summer I decided to try to run a marathon again, I’ve written a few posts about it here, here, and here. A Friend of mine helped me pick a schedule and that was the catalyst. Two Sunday’s ago I just completed my second marathon, so by no means am I an expert. In fact, I know practically nothing. Which is why I feel qualified to give advice to only those who know absolutely nothing. 🙂

In the event this might help someone, I did learn some lessons along the way that I wish I had known in advance. So here goes…Starting with the most awkward one–and hilarious–first.

1 Men…Tape. Your. Nipples. 

Yes, I’m serious. While riding the bus to the start line for the California International Marathon in Sacramento I was sitting with an ultra-marathoner who peppered me with advice en route, including asking “Okay, tell me you taped your nipples–right? Because it’s pouring rain and you’re going to be in brutal pain at the finish line if not.” I immediately grabbed tape from a guy a few rows up. That was the one part of my body that wasn’t in pain that day.

Next to finishing the marathon, your second objective should really be to look halfway decent whilst you cross the finish line. 🙂 And I can assure you, if you’re a dude that has blood streaks coming down from your white running shirt as you’re at mile 25, the only thing going through the mind of bystanders is “Holy crap, are those dudes nipples BLEEDING?” In addition to the visual disturbance, it’s pretty painful too. I didn’t really believe this could happen until I saw it firsthand at the Phoenix Rock ‘n Roll marathon three weeks ago, at mile 25, to a guy in a white shirt…Of course.

While there remains some debate as to whether a persons body is really designed to run for 26.2 miles, there is no debate that a mans nipples were not.

2. Just start the training. 

You could spend hours and hours and hours picking plans, reading about what to do, how to do it, and never even get started. If you want to run a marathon, take 10-minutes, do a google search, pick a plan and just get started. Some prefer plans from Jeff Galloway and Hal Higdon. They’re both fine (I used neither). Just get a schedule and go, preferably running at least four days a week though I only did three. I’ll explain my rationale later. Stay consistent. You can miss a few workouts, but don’t let that become a pattern–the consistency is critical not only physiologically, but psychologically.

3. Use the NikePlus app or a NikePlus watch (preferred). 

NikePlus Watch
NikePlus Watch

For my first marathon I used the NikePlus app on my iPhone, which is solid but the distance calculations during the run are not accurate–usually under by about 10-15% for me, which means in all your training you THINK your pace is much faster than it actually is. Because that was my only real measurement for training, it was frustrating to figure this out on marathon day. I recently purchased a NikePlus running watch with the TomTom GPS built into it, it is wildly accurate and it’s all I use now.

4. Mimic marathon day on your long runs. 

Usually you’ll do your long runs on a Saturday or Sunday. Try to do these earlier in the day, because that’s when you’ll be running the marathon. And fuel your body the way you intend on marathon day. Prior to a long run I now drink a protein shake, eat a banana with almond butter, and then I’ll fuel every five miles (EVEN IF YOU DON’T FEEL LIKE IT!) with GU tri-berry flavored energy gels. I didn’t do this for my first marathon, learned the hard way and bonk’d pretty hard at mile 18 in the CIM.

5. Don’t do ANYTHING new on race day. 

Don’t try new weird yoga-pose-stretches, don’t wear new shoes, don’t try some new super jungle-berry drink, don’t eat a new type of food, don’t wear compression socks. If you ate big macs prior to all your long training, well, then onward with your habit. Don’t switch it up on marathon day (pray tell, you don’t eat Big Macs, do you?).

6. Buy great shoes that fit how you run. 

I used to buy my running shoes with a strong focus on how good they look. I had no idea that different running shoes had different structures to support a negative camber, heavy heel striking, etc. Go to a running store where they will watch you run and guide you into the right pair of shoes that fit how you run. Now, I buy shoes based purely on how they fit. If any of you have seen my running shoes, you can attest it’s no longer on looks.

7. Lose weight. 

I started running last summer close to 240lbs (EEEEEEEEKKKKK!). This morning I weighed 202. Every ten pounds reduces your per minute mile by 20-seconds. For me, that’s like 1:20 per mile with a 40lb difference, or 35 minutes different in a marathon. Not to mention the toll that it saves on the body, and how you look and feel. Running alone won’t cut it, losing weight is 70% diet. I like the Paleo diet, but find something that works for you.

8. Crosstrain. 

So the reason I ran about 3x/week was because I spent the other 3x/week doing CrossFit. Ideally, I should have run more. But I knew I needed to lose weight, and build muscle mass. I noticed some of my greatest gains in speed when I started doing CrossFit.

9. Stretch. Stretch. Stretch some more. 

I am extremely tight, and am a horrible stretcher. Not stretching pre, and particularly post, runs is killa. Killa. KILLA. You need to stretch, hard core. Throughout the day. Being too tight can lead to a host of injuries that will take you out of your marathon. I hate stretching and I’m still lousy at this, but it’s pretty critical.

10. Prevent or delay bonking. 

When you get to mile 20, you’re about halfway. Those last 6 miles are more difficult than than the first 20. To put this in start-up terms, the first 20 miles are a little like your brilliant sexy new start-up idea–it’s genius, wow that was easy! And now the next few years are the hard work of executing. That’s when mile 20 starts. Your muscles will have probably consumed all its glycogen at this point, and it’s going to be a big mental game to finish strong. A few things that will help reduce or potentially prevent hitting the wall:

a) Don’t go out too fast. The first mile or two is filled with adrenaline. Intentionally run slow out the first few miles.

b) Gatorade or water at every station, even if just a bit. Take a GU energy gel prior to the start of the race, then every 45-minutes thereafter. If you wait until you feel like you need it, at say mile 15, it’s too late and your glycogen stores are shot–or close to it–and you can’t replenish (note: I realize this conflicts with a lot of Paleo beliefs–and while I’m pretty strict on Paleo, this is one area where I deviate, at least for now).

c) Run the first half at or below your marathon pace. Speed it up second half. Also called “reverse splits.”

And an 11th bonus one, if you’re thinking of running multiples. 

Give enough time between marathons.

The night I got home from the Sac marathon, I was like “Cool, I got this. Let’s sign up for the Phoenix Rock ‘n Roll marathon in six weeks.” Not a great idea. Your body needs about two weeks to recover post-marathon, then two weeks before the race you should begin your tapering process. Basically, that leaves two weeks for training in a six week window. You can’t really make meaningful improvements during this time and there’s high risk of injury in this window. Most running experts have told me a good number of marathons to target is 2-3/year. I completed the Phoenix Rock ‘n Roll marathon, but wouldn’t time it that way again.

Yep, I know some people can run marathons within a week or two of each other. These people are called freaks of nature. It is unlikely you are lucky enough to be one of them.

This year, I hope to run two more marathons, and then several half marathons along the way (including the NYC half this March). My goal for the summer marathon is to get down in the 3:40’s, and then by fall to run a sub 3:30 though for me that would be pretty fast and will have to make more adjustments, including:

1. Using RunCoach, a website (about $20 a month) that designs a custom running plan based on algorithms and previous runs, incorporates tempos, drills, etc.

2. Dropping 12lbs. I don’t think there’s a good chance that I can run a sub 3:30 without dropping my weight down to 190.

3. Figuring out optimal fueling for my body, and a more strict regimen of the Paleo diet during the week–fewer bananas, more sweet potatoes.

4. Much more stretching. Like a banshee.

5. Moderately–if not radically–improved running form. Started this two weeks ago. I feel like I’m going backwards, but I know it’s the right thing to do.

There you have it. 10 tips plus a bonus from someone who knows very little about marathoning but has learned a few things along the way. My best advice to anyone thinking about it is just start. Create a simple plan. And make it happen. You’ll be glad you did, and in the process, you might even develop a healthy new addiction habit.

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Zoe’s New Business Idea (and the 99% problem)

Raz and RoZo at Ikea discussing start-ups at lunch
Raz and RoZo at Ikea discussing start-ups at lunch

Some people think the magic to a successful business is all in the idea. Of course a good idea matters. Ideally it’s one you’re passionate about. But there are no shortage of good ideas–and probably close-to-identical ones that came before yours.

After the idea, you’re less than 1% of the way there.

The other 99% of the “problem”? Focus and execution. 

Unexpectedly, I had a funny reminder of this today when talking with Zoe, my nine year old daughter. The conversation started over lunch at Ikea and we finished up as we sat on the couch on the patio soaking up the California sun (I know, New Englanders, that was so wrong). Zoe has no shortage of ideas, and by nature is very entrepreneurial, wildly creative, super smart, and when she’s “in the zone” an insanely hard worker…

And at times she’s also a little unfocused. 🙂

Today, the discussion was around her three business ideas, and they are as follows: a) a make up company; b) a clothing company with her own designs; c) being a kids clothing model.

So we’re talking this through and she’s pitching me on each of them and I’m throwing out questions like “How would you sell this?” or “Why would a customer buy your product vs. someone else’s?” and she’s rebutting each of them pretty well, and I continue to ask questions to help her think her way to the answers.

At one point we’re talking about what would make the clothing line unique, and she says “Yeah, well here’s what would be different. I’d make all my clothes for kids my age and older, but the design focus would be all chic. (which she says with total flair and expressive hand gestures). Do you know what that word chic means when I say that? Are you understanding me when I say it like that?”

Uhmmm, yeah, Zoe, I got that. I know what chic means. 😉

(side note: at the end there’s a funny twist to this…)Zoe

As we wind down the conversation she asks me “So what do you think is the best idea for me?” And I just say “Zoe, they’re all great. Here’s my suggestion: pick the one you love, and go all in on it. Do you know what I mean by going all in?” And she responds, “Yeah, I get it. You’re saying focus on one and put all my time and energy there and don’t try to do everything because it’s so hard to do.”

For 5-seconds there’s a pause, and so I’m waiting for her to tell me whether she’s going to pursue make up, clothing, or modeling and she looks at me and says:

“Dad, I understand everything you said. Which is EXACTLY why I want to create a weekly fashion magazine!”

She immediately interjects my moderately-expressive response and says “Okay dad, wait just check this out…here’s what it’s going to be, I’ve been thinking about this for a while…” And she goes onto passionately pitch the idea.

Inside, I’m dying laughing. Because it’s such the temptation we all face–to dabble in lots of ideas. Yet, the success comes in picking the few right things and executing really well.

As it turns out, the weekly fashion magazine is now my favorite idea and I’m bidding on the URL she wants. But here’s the funny twist at the end…

So my nine-year-old asked me if I knew what “chic” meant, and you can envision me rolling my eyes right after she asked. The irony is later that day, I was two seconds away from buying a MISSPELLED URL with the word spelled “sheikh” instead of “chic”! Which, would’ve been bad, because I don’t think her fashion magazine target audience is the patriarch of a middle eastern tribe or family…

Though, if she really executed against it, there’s probably a market for that segment as well…

Grand mufti Al-Asheikh prays during funeral of Saudi woman and daughter who were killed in Chad

 

No doubts, take Lasix only as prescribed by your physician. Levitra is one of the best-known medications of all time. What is the most significant information you must study about levitra vs cialis? Most doctors say the effectiveness of Levitra is well documented. Absolutely, a sexual problem refers to a problem during any phase of the sexual response cycle that prevents the individual from experiencing satisfaction from the sexual life. Whilst sex is not vital for good health, its doubtless important for anyone. Why it happen? What kinds of professionals treat sexual diseases in men? A common class of antidepressants, which include Zoloft can kill the mood in bedroom.

Why. I. Write.

Writing

I’m often a bit envious of musicians. It’s not just the ability to carry the long hair without getting grief (though that’s a definite plus), and it’s more than just raw musical talent that impresses.

When I hear a musician, what I envy is that they lose themselves in their art. And in their moment.

You know when you’re watching someone and you can just feel they’re in their element? At first you might think this is about talent–but it’s really not. I’ve seen many people with just average talents lose themselves in their own moment if they’re doing something that sparks a passion in them. It’s that space of time when someone isn’t working at it, and the person is almost floating with energy. That’s what I love about music, because it’s so sensory. And soulful.

I love seeing and feeling that moment. 

It’s happening right now on my iTunes, as I’m toggling between two of my favorite musicians, one is called The Civil Wars (here’s a link to their YouTube channel–check them out) and the other group is Iron and Wine, I would’ve loved to watch the live recording of The Trapeze Swinger (below) by these guys. Their music stirs up emotions that hardly get piqued in other ways, I can hear with each tonality and pick of the guitar, every note and each breath, the moment created by this music.

,

The moments that are most obvious usually happen with public figures and great talents. Though if you look closely, you can find the average, everyday person that has theirs as well. Everybody can immerse in their moments. It’s frustrating when those moments come too infrequently, or perhaps have escaped for weeks. Months. Even years. I can’t explain why they lapse. It’s just part of the cycle, I guess. There’s probably more to it than that. But not for now.

When those moments come too infrequently, all you can do is try to latch onto, and absorb, the moments created by other people while you’re finding your own. At least that’s what I do. It’s one of the many reasons why I love music. And while I have no musical skills, I still someday hope for the chance to play the guitar and sing cover songs in low key rural bar, with an audience of nobody I know, in a place I have never before been.

For now, at times I find the moment in a few ways. Though running is a close second, the best way for me is when I write.

Because when I write, there are times when I feel like I almost lose myself.

I’m chasing something.

I’m running away from something.

I’m lost in something.

Nobody sees it, nobody knows it. But I get to feel it.

That’s why I write.

No doubts, take Lasix only as prescribed by your doc. Levitra is one of the best-known medications of all time. What is the most significant information you must study about levitra vs cialis? Most doctors say the effectiveness of Levitra is well documented. Absolutely, a sexual problem refers to a problem during any phase of the sexual response cycle that prevents the individual from experiencing satisfaction from the sexual life. Whilst sex is not vital for good soundness, its doubtless great for anyone. Why it happen? What kinds of professionals treat sexual diseases in men? A common class of antidepressants, which include Zoloft can kill the mood in bedroom.

How to Find a Great Boss: A Rebuttal

Finding a Great Boss

Three days ago I read an article that popped up on a social network with five tips on finding a great boss (the term “boss” is so dated to me, but I’m using it throughout as a catch all for manager/leader/etc). I’ve got a deadline in hours and awoke early this AM to get a jump start on it, but I’m taking a break to write a response to this article because I just can’t quit thinking about it.

One of the key insights in this article was to determine whether your prospective boss used the word during the interview “you” vs “we” when talking about challenges, tasks, and general work structure–and that this was a telltale sign as to whether they’ll be a great mentor or not. There were four other “tips” and while not totally meaningless, they really missed the entire point of seeking fundamentals in evaluating a great boss. Sure, if during the interview your prospective boss says things like “Your life is over once you work here–we will own you.” then the radar might go up a bit. Though if you’re going to go work for a start-up, this is probably true.

Like everyone, I’ve worked for some really great bosses and some really lousy ones. And I’ve done a lot of reading and observation in this area. For every person, finding a great boss means something a bit different, though I also know there are some underlying fundamentals to the best of the best. Before I dig in, my caveat–I don’t purport for a second that I’m a great boss, this is simply what I believe make up the characteristics of a great one.

Here are what I believe five great characteristics to seek out when trying to find a great boss:

1. Competency. Nothing is worse than working for people who are incompetent. It’s exhausting. Stifling. Discouraging. Working for someone who is exceptionally competent is the opposite. You’ll be inspired, you’ll learn through observation and experience, and you’ll constantly be stimulated. Chances are also higher that she will hire other competent people and you’ll be surrounded with talented people. Nothing is more fun than working with a talented team of people (but see item #5 below, too).

Find a boss who is really skilled with deep competencies. Some of this can be figured out in the interview. Some of this can be figured out when you talk with other employees of the prospective employer. If you ask your potential peers what makes so and so fantastic and they can’t easily rattle off a few areas of competencies where they’re really gifted, then run to the nearest door marked “Emergency Exit.” A lot of people think those signs are prominently marked in the event of a fire or evacuation. They’re not. Those are for you, the interviewing candidate, so you don’t get stuck in a daytime life you regret–even if temporary.

(note: please don’t actually ever do that during an interview, even if the thing bombs use it as a learning. And people interviewing have bad days too).

2. Energy and enthusiasm. Passionate people more often get stuff done. They make things happen, they’re motivated to excel, and they generally have a high achievement quotient–at least in the areas they’re passionate about. If they’re good leaders, this passion inspires and infects others. Find a boss who has an unyielding passion for the business and what they’re doing, and at the very least the people in the organization (item #3 below). This doesn’t necessarily mean they’re bouncing off the walls during the interview–though I prefer to look for someone who seems as though they’ve had a few too many shots of espresso when they’re talking about what they do. Enthusiasm and vigor precedes success. Apathy precedes failure. 

Not always, but more often than not.

3. Passion for people. If you find a boss who genuinely has a passion for people and his team, chances are you’ve got a good shot at finding a mentor and at least a solid, if not great, leader. It’s not guaranteed, but this part is really pretty simple. Find a boss whose eyes light up when he’s talking about a project where one of his teams just killed it, a great boss will get a thrill out of seeing his people win. Find a boss who is ridiculously committed to seeing people win–this means they want their own boss, investors, owners, customers in addition to seeing their team win, and are willing to do what it takes to make that happen. Incidentally, if a great boss does all of those things, then it’s pretty obvious things will more often than not work out pretty well for the boss. I look back on my days when at a Fortune 500 company and people would coach on “here’s how you manage your career, here’s how you need to position yourself” (this type of conversation at any company–big or small, is often a sign of a deeper problem), when in retrospect I wish more conversations were dedicated to “here’s how to help your team win.”

4. People who love excellence. Sometimes also known as being demanding, or having high expectations. I have seen so many bosses in my career that constantly bullshit their employees about their performance, thinking that they’re being a good “mentor” and using lots of artificial “we” talk and shrouding false praise as a way of encouraging their team or making sure they’re motivated. When what they’re really doing is hurting them. When you don’t do great work you often know it. And when someone gives you praise for work you know that’s not great, you know that too. And you discount the praise as inauthentic, and it happens subconsciously even if you don’t realize it.

Doing exceptional work feels great. But it’s also not easy, and in the process of creating something brilliant I promise you’re going to get your ass kicked and discouraged along the way. Finding a boss who pushes you and has a high bar for excellence, yet who ALSO knows how to authentically encourage you along the way, isn’t easy. I’d always err on the side of finding a great coach who will push you–rather than someone who will simply pat you.

Here’s a parallel from another world. I like to Crossfit. The owner of the Box where I work out is also one of the coaches in my class. For the first 90-days, I felt like during every class he’d look at me with eyes squinted and a pained look on his face and say “Raz, do you know what you’re doing on this exercise?” and I’d respond “Well, yeah I think so. But maybe not.” And he’d look at my form again, and say “No. You don’t. Here’s what’s wrong, and here’s how to fix it.” Years of improper form are tough to break. But I’ll get to the point where I am good–someday great. But only with a great coach, and only if I listen and receive the feedback.

What’s the temptation to do in this scenario? The easy thing to do is say “Hey Raz, good job. Really nice effort, I can see you’re working hard…your form is fine.” In part that’s probably what happened to me over the years that developed my bad form. It’s not that I wanted to have bad form in doing a hang clean, it’s just that I didn’t really know any better–and all along I really thought I was doing it properly.

At times is it a little frustrating to be pushed so hard? Sure. But if I want to become excellent, then I need to be pushed. Not pandered.

5. Chemistry. This is SUCH a key element, and few people ever talk about it let alone use this as an evaluative tool. Chemistry is the magic, mojo, and feeling. You know it when you feel it. I’ve met some people in interviews who had a few of the above characteristics, yet the chemistry lacked. Maybe it was me. Maybe it was them. It was probably both of us, and there’s no fault in it. Chemistry can’t easily be explained. It just is. And while it doesn’t always happen on the first meeting, before you take a job you better have figured out whether you’ve got at least some good chemistry.

When you’ve got great chemistry with your boss and vice versa, you’re going to trust her, have more fun, be more open to feedback, and want to work harder. And the chemistry factors throughout the work place like competency does. In other words, in the world of competencies, A-players hire other A-players, and B-players hire C-players. And the same is true with chemistry, it’s part of what creates the culture of the organization from the very beginning.

The absence of chemistry among teams is like the absence of flavor in food. In great food, the kind that makes you close your eyes, the magic is in the flavor.

Everything else is just McDonalds.

No doubts, take Lasix only as prescribed by your physician. Levitra is one of the best-known medications of all day. What is the most significant information you must study about levitra vs cialis? Most doctors say the effectiveness of Levitra is well documented. Absolutely, a sexual problem refers to a problem during any phase of the sexual response cycle that prevents the individual from experiencing satisfaction from the sexual life. Whilst sex is not vital for good health, its doubtless important for anyone. Why it happen? What kinds of professionals treat sexual diseases in men? A common class of antidepressants, which include Zoloft can kill the mood in bedroom.

The Long Road Home: Tuscon, the Marathon, and…The End (part three)

The final leg of my road trip, part one is here, part two is here, and following is part three.

If you are reading this far 🙂 , I’d suggest listening to this song, the Long Road Home by Mickey Newbury. Maybe as you read this. Or not. It’s a great song. In iTunes you can see how many times you have played a certain song, and I can’t even bring myself to say how many times I have listened to a good dozen songs in my “most played.” It also probably serves as more accurate confirmation of a DSM-IV diagnosis of a bit of an obsessive/compulsive personality. The Long Road Home got some good play time on my road trip. It’s mesmerizing.

Ten minutes to start, and I think that bathroom line is longer than ten minutes...
Ten minutes to start, and I think that bathroom line is longer than ten minutes…

I left Tucson on Saturday morning to head over to Phoenix for the Rock ‘n Roll Marathon. Checking into marathons is a great feeling, there is a type of impending human kinetic energy. Can’t quite explain it. Closest I have felt to it is when I used to work as an Exec at a Company where we’d have big events, sometimes thousands of people, at annual conventions. I think it’s the feeling of pulling together enthusiastic people who share a passion. You can feel it. One thing I hate is apathy. Being around passionless people exhausts and annoys me to no end. It’s part of why I love NYC so much. For better or worse, there is a ton of passion there. So I’m drawn to people who are passionate.

I was hanging out at the pool in the afternoon the day before the race finishing the Steve Jobs biography and trying to stay off my legs and save up my energy. I met this guy there whose wife was a professional competitor, and she was running in the half the following day. Super nice guy, 50’s, could tell he was really hard working and at one point in the conversation he told me: “I’m not gaining on the world, but the world isn’t gaining on me either–so I think I’m doing okay.”

And it made me think of the last three gas station attendants on my trip up to that point, Nick, Walter, and Bao. And it’s funny that I remember their names, because I’m not great at names. I talked to Nick from Chevron for a bit, and learned he’s worked two 40-hour a week jobs for the last 12 years. His other gig is at a grocery store. Respectable. Hard work. Good man. I have a soft spot for the “working class” (a term I don’t love but it’s the most descriptive).

Start of the Phoenix Marathon
Start of the Phoenix Marathon

You’re an Executive? Cool, good for you big shot. Maybe you’re really good. Maybe you’re lucky. But I know that however hard you worked, you got a lot of breaks along the way–a lot of breaks that other people didn’t get.

However, you clean houses or offices for a living? You have my respect.

Because, THAT is a hard job. An honorable job. And the people in those jobs, well, they’re the ones that are the fabric of America, and what makes it great. It’s not that I have a rant against people who have been successful with big fancy titles, I don’t. But them being successful doesn’t make them any more respectable than a person in a more typical American job.

Seeing the States was a reminder why I have come to be so frustrated with politics, mostly the politicians themselves. Because, most of them forgot who and what makes this country so amazing. I’m doing my best not to editorialize, but during my trip I was really reminded of the people who truly make America what it is. There are days I’m convinced we’d be better off if we simply replaced all of Congress with 535 rational, hardworking middle class Americans who care deeply about this country.

Anyways, back to the road trip…Sunday morning I awoke around 4:30am, excited and nervous. Ready to try hard, but I gave myself an out to bail if I felt horrible during the run. Race gun sounded at 7:50am, and we were off.

During the run I had two particularly memorable moments. The first one was an unknown-to-me person by the name of Jackie, and either there were a ton of women named Jackie running this race, or one REALLY popular one. This guy holding this sign I must’ve seen seven times during my run, and I saw a lot of other Jackie signs on the way. It made me feel good for two reasons, one is to watch a team of people so enthusiastic cheering someone on was simply fun to see. The other good feeling was because I saw all the people standing with the signs waiting for her, therefore, I was clearly running ahead of whoever-this-Jackie-woman was. I try to take the small victories along the way. 🙂

Go Jackie Go!
Go Jackie Go!

The other great moment was running next to this guy for the first ten miles who was carrying the American flag. Seeing the sun streaking through the flag, with him running intently, gave me goosebumps, which I don’t get often. It was one of the best moments of the marathon, perhaps even better than finishing.We live in such an amazing country. Post race I saw him and thanked him for running with the flag, but what I really wanted to do was hug it out with him. Can’t explain how cool it was, I have chills even as I write this. It was magic.

American Flag marathon runner
American Flag marathon runner

From what I have read, what usually happens with newbie marathoners is first 10 miles are cake, 11-18 are fine, then somewhere around 18-20 you hit the wall and then, well, welcome to hell.  That was pretty much my experience in my first marathon six weeks ago.

Mile 25...
Mile 25…

What happened in the Phoenix marathon was unexpected. I had the stomach flu then followed by either a wicked cold or the regular flu (there should be some law of physiology that the two can’t accompany each other) starting a week before the race. So the first 15 miles I felt pretty lousy. Then, at mile 15, something happened. It just clicked. And I felt great. My pace picked up considerably. And it lasted until I got to mile 23.5, where I finally bonk’d (hit the wall) but when you bonk that far along it’s a lot easier to complete. My time was 3:55:24, so I was thrilled to finish this one given how I’d been feeling, getting sub-four was just a bonus.

Post run, I went and saw a few friends from my high school back in Columbus, Ohio. Great people. I loved hearing their stories, experiences, and travels from over the years. I never tire of meeting, and listening to interesting people. Mike and Julie, hope to see you guys again on another Arizona trip…

And after a few hours of chatting over burgers, truffle fries, and (one) beer–my big cheat meal for the week–I was off to hit the road to continue my trek on I-10 west into the sunset. And back into California, 3,500 miles later.

Why’d I drive from Florida to California? Because I have a car affliction.

But, what prompted my car buying affliction in Florida was, in part, the prospect of driving across the Country. Because I knew that during my trip I’d learn a little bit more about myself. A lot more about others. A few great life lessons along the way.

And, that I’d fall in love with America all over again.

And I did.

 

IMG_6310 - Version 2
Off into the sunset…


IMG_3551

No doubts, take Lasix only as prescribed by your doctor. Levitra is one of the best-known medications of all when. What is the most significant data you must study about levitra vs cialis? Most doctors say the effectiveness of Levitra is well documented. Absolutely, a sexual problem refers to a problem during any phase of the sexual response cycle that prevents the individual from experiencing satisfaction from the sexual life. Whilst sex is not vital for good soundness, its doubtless important for anyone. Why it happen? What kinds of professionals treat sexual diseases in men? A common class of antidepressants, which include Zoloft can kill the mood in bedroom.

The Long Road Home

This weekend I started the trip west, from Naples Florida. I’m driving. I flew to Florida, expecting to buy a ticket back to California at some point in January, but because I have a bad habit, I mean affliction, strong enthusiasm for cars and road trips, I am driving home. Tonight I made it into Tucson and am staying at the Tanque Verde Ranch for a few nights until I head to Phoenix this weekend for the Rock ‘n Roll marathon this Sunday.

Before leaving for my road trip back West, RoZo got their ears pierced. They were pretty excited as you can tell. Me? Ahhhhhh, well…I warmed up to the idea, eventually.

Two weeks ago I had an aggressive time goal for the Phoenix marathon, but the stomach flu accompanied by a nasty cold for the last week has kept me from running for over a week. Based on how I feel tonight, I’m not even sure yet if I’ll make it to the starting line, let alone the finish line. Regardless, I’ve enjoyed my trip. And there are few things that I love more than traveling across the United States. It’s not just the road trip that I enjoy, but it’s the people you meet along the way.

Here’s a pictorial of my trip and a few highlights from the past few days.

First, let’s cover Florida. If you’ve heard people talk about a harrowing life experience or ever had one yourself, like an imminent traffic accident, you will often hear that they talk about how time slows down. Well, it’s actually true in a way. The human eye and mind can process about 20 frames per second. However, under duress in acute situations we can actually boost output to about 60 frames per second–so it feels like time slows down, but you’re just able to process faster than normal for short periods of time.

Basically, this is what I feel like when I enter the gulf coast of Florida. Like I am able to operate at 60 frames a second, but ongoing. It is more likely, however, that I am simply operating at a very normal 20 frames per second and the state is operating at 10. 🙂

I like the pace here, it’s relaxing. And there are some amazing people, too. Plus, the billboards are hysterical. This is the state of funny (and abundant) billboards. I could do a whole blog series on the billboards with various witty captions. I also learned North Florida is a hidden gem, I like it because it feels like the real south to me–the foliage is gorgeous, a bit more temperate, easy to find boiled peanuts, and the people are very real and authentic. It needs a rebranding though, like let’s give it the panache it deserves. Maybe take a page out of the playbook of SF and NYC, you know Soma, NoHo, SoHo, TriBeca, Nolita.

So here it is: NorFlor. Give it a whirl, Governor Scott. No attribution needed. Rebrand. Watch the revenues rain. Thank me later.

Following a few of my pictorial highlights from my trip so far, the Long Road Home.

With as many billboards as this guy has in Florida, you’d think the whole state were infertile at this point. I love his hair. Therefore, I love his billboards. Pretty much how I roll.

 

Basically the Apple Maps directions go down like this: “Hang a left here, go about 2,500 miles, hang a right onto I-5 for 500 more miles. You should see your house on the left. Or is that a cliff? Good luck, let us know if you make it!”

 

Even my watch is nagging me along the way, knowing I haven’t run in a week. If you are a runner, you should seriously take a look at this Nike watch w/ the TomTom built in. It’s fantastic. My Amazon affiliate link is here: (kidding, obviously). It’s a great watch.

 

In Alabama, not only are dogs allowed to drive, but they can also order and pick up at the drive through. This guy needs a haircut, though. I am worried about his forward visibility. Opposable thumbs. I’m also worried that he lacks opposable thumbs, too. However, I saw him using Google Maps. So he’s probably in better shape than me.

 

New Orleans. The city where nobody understand the term “protein style.” And nobody seemed to appreciate all my menu substitutions. There are two Paleo-friendly things to consume in New Orleans. 1. Oysters. 2. Water. That’s it. Everything else is fried. These are Beignet’s from Cafe Dumonde. Ironically enough–and this is true–the morning AFTER I ate these was the first day in my LIFE that I started to see definition in my abdominal muscles. But they went away by the time I made it to Stubb’s BBQ in Austin…Sigh.

 

On the way out of New Orleans I went to Mother’s, one of my fave restaurants in the U.S. This is where normal, real, down to earth people eat. Yes, on occasion I like fancy restaurants. But nine out of ten times give me a place like Mother’s–real food and real people–and I’m thrilled.

 

This is the greatest BBQ that I have never eaten in my life. I love this little place, and someday I will come back–because Coopers doesn’t serve at 7am (when I stumbled into it). But check it out, how could you NOT stop here? This place would turn even the most devout vegan, even if just for one meal. I love kitschy ambiance, these guys were intentional about what they built here. It’s adorable. That’s what “feel” does. I love the food, and haven’t even tasted it yet.

 

Driving through New Mexico I saw this cool vintage Jaguar XKE with the sunset bouncing off of it as she was hustling down the highway. Looked like they were having a great time. I love cars. Especially those with classic design, the XKE is one sexy automobile.

 

Have you ever driven through West Texas? Nobody is there. Except State Troopers. This guy welcomed me into the second half of Texas. I had no good excuse for speeding, so instead I tried logic. Basically, the conversation went down like this: “Officer, let’s just ignore how bad the real numbers look for a second and examine this situation using percentages, okay? If I were doing 46.5 in a 40, would you give me a ticket? Of course not, that would be silly. Therefore, wouldn’t you also agree, Officer, that it would be equally silly to give me a ticket for going 93 in an 80?” He didn’t appear amused. However, I don’t think he was really grasping the concept…That’s the problem when you don’t apply ratios to your life, your mind gets disjointed and you make emotional–rather than logical–decisions. 🙂

 

Finally, made it to Tanque Verde Ranch in Tucson, Arizona where I’m camping for two nights and then to Phoenix where I hope I’ll be able to give the marathon a shot this weekend depending on how I feel. Tonight, I’ve caught up on some writing, did this blog entry whilst listening to country music, and thought about another screenplay that I’ll probably never write. But someday if I had a writing getaway, perhaps…

No doubts, take Lasix only as prescribed by your doctor. Levitra is one of the best-known medications of all season. What is the most significant info you must study about levitra vs cialis? Most doctors say the effectiveness of Levitra is well documented. Absolutely, a sexual problem refers to a problem during any phase of the sexual response cycle that prevents the individual from experiencing satisfaction from the sexual life. Whilst sex is not vital for good health, its doubtless important for anyone. Why it happen? What kinds of professionals treat sexual diseases in men? A common class of antidepressants, which include Zoloft can kill the mood in bedroom.

Happy Thanksgiving, from the Raz Family

Happy Thanksgiving
Dear Friends and Family,

Here’s our annual family Thanksgiving video, I hope each of you are having a fantastic day.

Happy Thanksgiving, from the Raz Family!

No doubts, take Lasix only as prescribed by your physician. Levitra is one of the best-known medications of all day. What is the most significant information you must study about levitra vs cialis? Most doctors say the effectiveness of Levitra is well documented. Absolutely, a sexual problem refers to a problem during any phase of the sexual response cycle that prevents the individual from experiencing satisfaction from the sexual life. Whilst sex is not vital for good soundness, its doubtless important for anyone. Why it happen? What kinds of professionals treat sexual diseases in men? A common class of antidepressants, which include Zoloft can kill the mood in bedroom.

The Speed of Leadership

Myspace, Facebook, and Web 2.0

I used to hear someone constantly repeat this expression of “slowing down to the speed of wisdom.” I’m not sure why I disliked that saying so much, but I did. Maybe it was the way it was said (with a tad–a heaping and overfloweth tad–of self-righteousness), perhaps it just sounds so consultant-speake, and, quite likely, I don’t like slowing down TOO much (though there is, of course, great wisdom and insight that’s generated when you just stop and think; it’s all about balance).

Actually, as I write, I realize it isn’t the latter–it’s the first thing that irritated me. So there’s wisdom in slowing down. But this entry is about speeding up. Not just keeping up, but moving ahead.

There’s a great video on YouTube that speaks so visibly to the speed of technology, and it’s transformative effect on how we interact and connect. It’s not that the takeaway is that you should be on MySpace (though apps similar, like Facebook, are  really powerful connection tools). I think there’s something inherent in this that relates to market leadership that requires a Web 2.0 level of communication, connectivity, and speed.

And it’s not about slapping an iPhone application up for your business, or creating a Facebook page–though those both might be good idea. It’s more systemic than that, a more transformative change and cadence that’s rippled throughout our environment, in a way that some people don’t even realize. This has nothing to do with hard work, but the connectivity and speed at which people can work–together, and apart, and how that can create in you a new level of leadership position. There’s a great quote whose author I can’t remember, but it probably dates back five years ago (pre Facebook evolution)–so it’s more applicable today than ever before.

“It’s no longer the big who eat the small, but the fast who eat the slow.”

No doubts, take Lasix only as prescribed by your doctor. Levitra is one of the best-known medications of all date. What is the most significant data you must study about levitra vs cialis? Most doctors say the effectiveness of Levitra is well documented. Absolutely, a sexual problem refers to a problem during any phase of the sexual response cycle that prevents the individual from experiencing satisfaction from the sexual life. Whilst sex is not vital for good heartiness, its doubtless great for anyone. Why it happen? What kinds of professionals treat sexual diseases in men? A common class of antidepressants, which include Zoloft can kill the mood in bedroom.

The One

stephen-strasburg

Here’s an interesting article related to performance and success, and while not earth shattering at its core the originating subject is about the next baseball wunderkind bazillionaire (pending all things go as planned) who could be another “Dwight Gooden” style game changer.

What I found fascinating is that the bulk of the article is really comprised of interviews from nine “past baseball wunderkids”, of their era, who had the right stuff but it didn’t quite transact. Some of the stories and vignette’s are merely interesting, but others are insightful about the life’s lessons learned from some of the highest potential of their time–and despite the subject being baseball, there are a few things in here that all of us can apply.

“For months Stephen Strasburg has been tailed by raised radar guns, standing-room crowds and breathless scouts filing even more breathless scouting reports. The magic of the 20-year-old righthander from San Diego State has been well-documented: a four-seam fastball that has been clocked at 102 miles per hour, a slider that makes hitters look as though they’re swinging in quicksand, and—as this week’s draft got under way—a legion of baseball men calling him the best pitching prospect ever.
Awaiting him are fame, opportunity and likely the richest contract ever bestowed upon an amateur player (a six-year, $50 million deal if his agent, Scott Boras, gets his way). But there is this too: the unreasonable expectations, the injury risks, the strange whims that have been the rule rather than the exception with the game’s bonus babies. SI rounded up nine pitchers spanning more than half a century who have trod the same turf—the Strasburgs of their era—to offer some perspective to baseball’s Next Big Thing.
From Paul Pettit (class of 1950) to Mark Prior (class of 2001), an oral history of the flamethrowing phenom…”

Click here to read the full Sports Illustrated story.

No doubts, take Lasix only as prescribed by your doctor. Levitra is one of the best-known medications of all when. What is the most significant information you must study about levitra vs cialis? Most doctors say the effectiveness of Levitra is well documented. Absolutely, a sexual problem refers to a problem during any phase of the sexual response cycle that prevents the individual from experiencing satisfaction from the sexual life. Whilst sex is not vital for good soundness, its doubtless important for anyone. Why it happen? What kinds of professionals treat sexual diseases in men? A common class of antidepressants, which include Zoloft can kill the mood in bedroom.

Yet Another Way to Live Longer

When you do a Google search for images related to the word “purpose” I don’t understand why the results pull up esoteric whispy trees in the middle of green fields, or that of a person paddling a canoe in the reflective moonlight in the middle of a widespread ocean with nary a sign of life in sight (and, really, should someone be in a canoe that far offshore?).

Yet, it seems these are the images that conjure up purpose–so the one above represents the prototypical “Successory-style” purposeful image; what that image actually means I have no idea, but it’s a placeholder for an article in this blog posting that actually is pretty insightful. 

The below article from HealthDay News was a great reminder about the importance of a holisitic view on life–and that your longevity isn’t just dependent upon the foods you eat and the way you treat your body–but, also, the way in which you focus your energy and life’s work:

Your purpose. 

Victor Frankl wrote about this at length in “Man’s Search for Meaning” based on his observations of life during prison camp–and the life altering, and defeating, result that occurred when you took away a part of a humans destination and, ultimately, meaning. 

So here’s an interesting study that highlights for those who rank higher on identifying a purpose also enjoyed a longer life. Most would agree that regardless of the years it can add to your life, having purpose will make the years on earth all the richer–but it’s all the more interesting if there’s a benefit in longevity as well. 

If you have a purpose in life — lofty or not — you’ll live longer, a new study shows.
It doesn’t seem to matter much what the purpose is, or whether the purpose involves a goal that’s ambitious or modest.
“It can be anything — from wanting to accomplish a goal in life, to achieving something in a volunteer organization, to as little as reading a series of books,” said study author Dr. Patricia Boyle, a neuropsychologist at the Rush Alzheimer’s Disease Center and an assistant professor of behavioral sciences at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago.

Click here to read the full story.

No doubts, take Lasix only as prescribed by your doctor. Levitra is one of the best-known medications of all season. What is the most significant info you must study about levitra vs cialis? Most doctors say the effectiveness of Levitra is well documented. Absolutely, a sexual problem refers to a problem during any phase of the sexual response cycle that prevents the individual from experiencing satisfaction from the sexual life. Whilst sex is not vital for good health, its doubtless important for anyone. Why it happen? What kinds of professionals treat sexual diseases in men? A common class of antidepressants, which include Zoloft can kill the mood in bedroom.

Happy Father’s Day

Though late in the day, I’m still going to get my Father’s Day post in before “COB”, even beating midnight Eastern time.

My Dad is a phenomenal individual and I really appreciate him (as well my Mom, but today is the Dad’s day) more than words can adequately express. Which might be a good thing, because this week is Convention where a lot of Univera associates from all over North America will descend upon Seattle for a three day event and I am burning time fast, with still much to do this evening. A quick stop at the house for dinner and then back to crank until well into the night, along with a lot of my colleagues who are doing the same thing, to finalize preparations for our annual Convention.

So as I was thinking about a Father’s Day post, and whether to even do one. As I was driving home from working offsite I thought I could share on a lesson I learned from my Dad that I reapplied yesterday during my Saturday run.

The lesson is a simple one: your body lies to you.

He used to tell me this when we’d go running, I remember heading out with him on the weekends at a young age (possibly late elementary school, or was I a bit older?) we’d go out for anywhere from 3-7 miles around the neighborhood. Every run seemed to start the same. The first half mile I’d feel lousy, and I’d tell my Dad and whimper something like “this is hard” or “I don’t feel good” or “my legs are tired, let’s turn around!”

And he’d just look at me and say “your body lies to you”, and would continue with “give it some time and you’ll see what I mean.” So we’d go a bit further. Another half mile and I wasn’t feeling good, but by then I wasn’t feeling so bad either. By the second and third mile I generally felt pretty good. Sometimes great. But, almost always, at least pretty good.

Now, I’m sure someone is reading this right now and thinking “Well, this is blasphemy! You should listen to your body!”

Indeed, sometimes you should.

But I’m not talking about putting my hand in front of a blowtorch and sloughing it off as mind over matter whilst forging forward; instead I’m speaking about the lesson I learned as it relates to being steadfast and doing some of the things you don’t naturally feel like, or want, to do.

Which, for me, quite often, includes working out.

In fact, I think that’s true for most people in that our bodies, and minds to some degree of course, don’t “want” to work out. If you doubt it then consider for a moment why we don’t, instead, have an epidemic of lean, skinny, mile-eating, resting-pulse-rate-of-50, hyper-fit men and women across North America?

After I work out I am always glad I did it. Without exception. I might not always feel physically good afterwards (though, again, usually I do by the time I’m finished). But I’m always glad I invested in doing something good for my health. Over the past ten years I’ve gone up and down with my wellness initiatives, and getting back on the horse is always hard. Staying on is hard, too. 

My body resists, instead it THINKS it wants to sit on the couch, or get a bit more sleep, or eat the Cherry Garcia ice cream in the fridge…along with a few thin mints (thank you, Girl Scouts). So sometimes I have to force myself to get going, and simply realize that, at times, my body lies to me.

So now that I’m in a rhythm of working out and preparing for the Portland Marathon in the fall it’s a bit easier because I’ve got to follow a regimented schedule, and now at this point I look forward to more workouts than those I don’t. During the weekends I usually do my long run for the week, and the longest I’ve done so far is 16 miles. In contract, yesterday’s run should’ve been a breeze, it was only five miles and the pace was moderate.

But there are still occasional days, like yesterday, when I felt as if someone were beating me with a billy club with every stride. And in the last two months that I’ve been diligent about running on my regimen I’ve never once considered ending one of my runs prematurely–until yesterday.

Mile number two, I felt terrible, and I was going to bag it.

Then, as I was running (struggling) I remembered, out of nowhere, the lesson from so many years ago where my dad would turn to me and remind me “your body lies to you, give it some time.”

So I did.

And by the end of the fifth mile I realized that, once again, he was right.

Thanks, Dad, for all the great memories and lessons you’ve taught me over the years. Including one that I used, completely unexpectedly, yesterday during my run.

No doubts, take Lasix only as prescribed by your doc. Levitra is one of the best-known medications of all period. What is the most significant info you must study about levitra vs cialis? Most doctors say the effectiveness of Levitra is well documented. Absolutely, a sexual problem refers to a problem during any phase of the sexual response cycle that prevents the individual from experiencing satisfaction from the sexual life. Whilst sex is not vital for good health, its doubtless significant for anyone. Why it happen? What kinds of professionals treat sexual diseases in men? A common class of antidepressants, which include Zoloft can kill the mood in bedroom.

Goal Accomplishment

running1

Going into the Univera Cruise a few weeks ago I was still working towards my physical goal for the year (and, technically, my target date is still end of June) but I’d moved into the mode of “well, I’ll try my best.” It was accompanied with a bit of a plan, like working out a few days a week and hitting some cardio. And trying to eat better, low glycemic foods. I was actually doing okay. But I wasn’t on track to hit my goal. 

I’m convinced a critical part of all our leadership, in any capacity, is both setting and accomplishing goals.

So midway through the Cruise the subject really unloaded on me as I was talking about setting in place your “next steps” for success on your goals to the rest of the attendees. Which, for me, specifically, had become somewhat lax related to my physical goal. So during the Cruise I became more convicted, and realized I needed to re-establish my plan. It was on the trip that I faced the hard facts–that if I didn’t do something significantly different then I was going to fail in achieving my objective.

My mistake was a simple and common one. I’d relegated a really important personal objective to simply “trying”, without the necessary support plan to ensure I both would and could get it done. 

So I came back and sat down the day after I got home, and I created a very specific plan between early May and June 26th–in fact, I went beyond that date, but I put together what I thought was the most aggressive plan that I could possibly achieve (while maintaining other responsibilities). It was very specific.

From eliminating all caffeine or wine during the week (even Green Tea, which I love but have relegated to the weekends in exchange for Roobios tea which has zero caffeine and is loaded w/ antioxidants) to eating the exact same breakfast daily (Bill Pearl protein/oatmeal combo–easy, filling, and healthy) to a virtual elimination of red meat from my diet (only once/week) among other specific plans. 

I applied the same rigor for my exercise goals, where I committed to a very specific cross-training regimen that includes Spin class on Monday’s, moderate-length runs on Tuesday through Thursday (along with lifting free weights two of these days) a rest day Friday, followed by a long run on Saturday’s and then Bikram yoga on Sunday’s. 

Even my supplementation (particularly Univera products) were isolated with how much in the AM/PM, what dosage, a titration schedule, etc. Incidentally, I’m not suggesting any of this should be your plan. In fact, I’m quite certain it shouldn’t. Instead, adopt or create something specific to you. 

By the time I was done with the plan, I KNEW that if I had a chance of achieving my goal going into Convention this was my best shot. The issue wasn’t whether it was a good plan in order to get me to my goal, as I drafted it up I KNEW it would work (at least eventually by end of summer if not by end of June) for my body type and personality. And that once I accomplished the plan I would then transition to a bit more balance, but still maintain the fundamentals. 

The question, then, became whether I was committed to following and adhering to the plan? 

Would I do what it takes? Did I really want it? And could I transform from “try” to a new mindset which was simply “no excuses, go and do it.”

The day after I wrote up the plan a funny thing happened.

I got quite sick.

It’s the most sick I’ve felt in a few years (for those of you that saw me during this time, I think I actually hid it quite well but I used a fair amount of help from Mr. Nyquil, in addition to Solanyx, Immunoburst, and Super Immune). Normally, I get over a cold or illness relatively quickly. But this was unique. This sickness, I think, was a test. It was a test to help me determine whether I’m really committed to this, and also served as a really important lesson about doing things even when you don’t feel like it. 

It made me ask myself whether I really wanted this goal, and was I willing to sacrifice or fight through feeling lousy to adhere to the plan. When I didn’t FEEL like walking two blocks, was I really willing to do my ten mile run?  

And, I came to the conclusion, that I didn’t want to fail. That’s the bottom line. I could deal with delaying my achievement date for a few weeks or months (though I’m not conceding that just yet either), and I could deal with “doing my absolute BEST” and not achieving the objective. But that I couldn’t get comfortable with a “I’ll try pretty hard” effort. I realized, I really wanted to get this done. It’s not to say that each day wasn’t a pain to get through the workout, but after each one I felt a bit better. Not physically, but emotionally. I’d built up a bank account of performed accountability, even if just to myself and with small things, that built upon each other. 

Today was the first day in two weeks that I felt “back to normal.” But that’s not what got my psyched today. What got my psyched today is that I realized I accomplished one battle over the past two weeks, which was the battle of “I feel so badly I can’t motivate to do anything physically”, yet I did it anyways. 

And it was a great reminder about the importance of having a plan and committing to the plan from a very different context than I was used to. 

Because it’s this simple. 

If we all operate under the plan for our most important goals and dreams that “I’m going to give it a try” without a clear and actionable plan then we’re–at best–setting ourselves up to fall into success. And, at worst, we’re setting ourselves up for a frustrating failure. If I’d relegated workouts over the past two weeks to when I felt like it I wouldn’t have exercised once. But, because I set out and committed to the plan, it became an easier (not easy, just easier-ER) decision. It wasn’t about whether I felt like it–it was about whether I was committed and willing to make the decision and do what it took. The plan was laid out, all I had to do was follow it.

No doubts, take Lasix only as prescribed by your doctor. Levitra is one of the best-known medications of all period. What is the most significant information you must study about levitra vs cialis? Most doctors say the effectiveness of Levitra is well documented. Absolutely, a sexual problem refers to a problem during any phase of the sexual response cycle that prevents the individual from experiencing satisfaction from the sexual life. Whilst sex is not vital for good health, its doubtless important for anyone. Why it happen? What kinds of professionals treat sexual diseases in men? A common class of antidepressants, which include Zoloft can kill the mood in bedroom.

Lesson from 54A

dscn3151
This is the charming welcome sign to the left of the entrance to the Mother House

Thanks for tuning in this past week for excerpts based on my recent Servant Leadership article “Lessons Learned from Mother Teresa.”

Funny as the way life goes, I had many great blogging ideas this week (seems to always be the case in the rare event that I’ve got a weeks worth of entries already considered). Thanks to all of you who have emailed me during the week about this series. I’ve added an audio clip at the end that summarizes a bit of my experience and a special memory from spending time with the “Missionaries of Charity.”

Here’s the PDF version of the full article (Lessons Learned from Mother Teresa), or here’s a link to the web-based article on the DSN website. 

Lessons Learned from Mother Teresa
I jumped headfirst into the direct selling industry in fall 2005. In the years since, I can’t think of another industry where more time and effort are spent developing a corporate and field culture.

If that causes you to think of power suits, rushed lunch meetings, and the host of “Dilbert” cartoons you’ve enjoyed over the years, I wouldn’t blame you. After all, I had worked for some exceptional Fortune 500 companies prior to joining Univera. Corporate culture was embedded into my business vocabulary, but the term wasn’t always viewed in a flattering light.

It wasn’t until I began working at Univera that the word culture took on a positive tone. Our company encourages a culture of respect, integrity, listening to and helping others—a term we refer to as servant leadership. Let me be clear; we’re far from perfect, but I’ve loved the opportunity to work in a company that shares this aspiration.

Click here to read the full article.

And as a final sign off to this series, I’m including an audio clip from my last day at the Mother House. It just gives a glimpse into what it’s like there; after an early AM breakfast each day one of the Sisters leads the group in a Catholic Prayer (incidentally, I’m not Catholic–nor were many of the other volunteers).

Then, before sending us all off for the day, they sing two songs. Every single day, the exact same songs. 

The first is more like another prayer but with some voice behind it. The second is sung to all of the volunteers who are on their last day of service. 

Along side me each morning were newfound friends who were atheists, agnostics, protestants, buddhists, hindu’s, spiritualists, and many others beliefs. Yet, without exception, they all enjoyed this time together (though not all sang along). I’m not even sure I totally understand why so many people liked this–perhaps it was being and feeling part of community, even if some didn’t believe in the same God as did the Sisters. But it’s still a favorite memory for me as well. 

So before you continue–my word of caution: the song contains the word “Jesus.” A few times.  So if you don’t dig the word, or if it might offend you, just don’t press play. 🙂

There are really two reasons that draw me to post the clip: 

1. It was for many the volunteers a favorite moment of the day and it’s a condensed sound bite that gives a glimpse into the “Mother House” every morning at 7:30am.

2. It’s an example of how many people from different backgrounds can come together for a united purpose of service, and even sing and share together yet by still holding onto starkly different beliefs. 

dscn3364

No doubts, take Lasix only as prescribed by your physician. Levitra is one of the best-known medications of all day. What is the most significant info you must study about levitra vs cialis? Most doctors say the effectiveness of Levitra is well documented. Absolutely, a sexual problem refers to a problem during any phase of the sexual response cycle that prevents the individual from experiencing satisfaction from the sexual life. Whilst sex is not vital for good heartiness, its doubtless important for anyone. Why it happen? What kinds of professionals treat sexual diseases in men? A common class of antidepressants, which include Zoloft can kill the mood in bedroom.

“Do not wait for leaders; do it alone, person to person.” -Mother Teresa

 

The guy on the right was driving a motorcycle and slammed the breaks to insist on posing for a picture. One of the best parts of India is meeting the people and experiencing their joy and perspective.
The guy on the right was driving a motorcycle and slammed the breaks to insist on posing for a picture. One of the best parts of India is meeting the people and experiencing their joy and perspective.

The following post is part of my weeklong series “Lessons Learned from Mother Teresa” (read that post first). This excerpt is part three, the final component, of the Direct Selling News article from March. I’ll post the full article and link this weekend. 

“Do not wait for leaders; do it alone, person to person.”

                                                                                                -Mother Teresa

During my first and second visits, I had a near identical experience and awakening. I remember walking to the Home of the Sick and Dying, through a part of town called Kalighat (which is also home to a very popular Hindu temple).

This is the road to the Home of Sick/Dying, also to the Kali temple. Here there was much security (due to the bombings weeks before in Mumbai) coupled with vendors lining the streets as well as thousands of homeless.
This is the road to the Home of Sick/Dying, also to the Kali temple. Here there was much security (due to the bombings weeks before in Mumbai) coupled with vendors lining the streets as well as thousands of homeless.

 

As I was walked I saw thousands of people on the street. Thousands. Babies, literally newborn infants, sleeping on dirt streets with nothing.

Begging children who were blind, as a result of unspeakable horrors inflicted upon them intentionally by adults in an attempt to amplify their appeals for help.

Innumerable bodies that were frail and physically afflicted with — at best — malnourishment, and — at worst — deadly diseases without any source of healthcare assistance.

As I continued to walk, the sights and sounds became more stirring, and my soul became emotionally discouraged. I felt a sense of helplessness and hopelessness I’ve rarely experienced. In the past, I always felt in most situations that I had a sense of control or an impact-based solution. In this case, the further I walked, the more I saw, and the deeper the extent of the extreme poverty, I began to feel that there was absolutely nothing that I could meaningfully contribute.

entrance-to-nirmal
This is one of my favorite pictures even though it's so simple. It's the entrance to the Home of Sick and Dying, which is an overwhelming sensory experience that I can't fully express--sights, sounds, smells, touch. It is overpowering. Yet calming. I can't explain it. And this is one of the first things you see as you walk in, and this image has so many metaphorical and literal connections to the Home and India that I love it (some of which would require a longer explanation)

Yet, when I walked through the doors of the Home of the Sick and Dying, I saw 65 men lying there — whose lives, at that moment, I could impact. I remember Mother Teresa saying “Just one, even if you can help just one…” It was with this memory of her voice, coupled with the experience, which led me to understand during my time with the Missionaries of Charity that you’ll make a difference by helping just one person.

This was a profound idea for me as I came home. Many problems around the world, in my country, and even in my local community are not easily fixable. But what I clearly realized is that there’s no reason why I can’t have an impact on that one person who is out there, that needs a voice, a friend, an ear, some time, or a meal.

And most likely, what they really need is love.

This is the hospice inside of the Home, it's both dreary and bright; dreadful and beautiful; dark and light. It's a world of complete contrasts, and I found my time there to actually be calming, rewarding, and deep--something I remember from my last trip a decade ago
This is the hospice inside of the Home, it's both dreary and bright; dreadful and beautiful; dark and light. It's a world of complete contrasts, and I found my time there to actually be calming, rewarding, and deep--something I remember from my last trip a decade ago

 

There exists no rational reason why I, as a human being who has been given so much, can’t simply take another few steps to help that one person who needs it most – regardless of whether that circumstance exists in my company, field organization, church, family, or community. Or, simply, a random person in the path right in front of me.

What I learned about real, undying, and unyielding acts of service from Mother Teresa were shared with me by herself in the 90’s, and re-stated this most recent trip by Father Abello, a priest involved in her cause who to this day—after many decades—spends time with the volunteers on a regular basis.

She shared with me and a few of the volunteers the following observations.

“You’re welcome here for two reasons”, she began.

“One, is the witness you can share. You come from a place that those staying at the Home of the Sick and Dying view as heaven. And, they feel they’re living in hell. So when you come from your heaven, to invest time and love with them in their hell, they must ask themselves the question ‘why would someone do this for me?’, when the world views them as worthless. The person that asks that question dies a very different death than the person who never gets to ask themselves that question.”

She continued, thoughtfully. 

“Two, you are welcome here because of the change that you can become. You are going back home to a place that we all know is not heaven; in fact, your people suffer as much of the loneliness and hopelessness as anybody. If this will make you a better person, help you find purpose, then you will have benefited tremendously, and you will have received a gift as a result of your service.”

As I flew the long journey home from too short a stay in Kolkata, I realized the impact of Mother Teresa’s words.

Ultimately, there are two gifts—what we give and what we receive—which comprise some of the characteristics of Servant Leadership. Often, we describe it in seemingly sterile adjectives or simple nuances like “be nice to your spouse” or “tell the truth”, important yet basic fundamentals that hardly address “Servant Leadership.” During this last trip I learned from the Sisters at the Missionaries of Charity and other volunteers there’s a much deeper meaning to a spirit of Service.

The opportunity we have to take small steps can change the world. We make an impact by sharing compassion and love — particularly with those who need it the most, and often these are the very ones who can’t or won’t reciprocate. It is therefore beyond just virtuosity, some would say its vital, that we support and nurture a culture where the dignity and respect of every individual — regardless of rank, title, money, or stature — is viewed as sacred.

Servant Leadership, I learned, might be a lot of things. And at times we might be tempted to think of Servant Leadership as even a few great things. However, Mother Teresa best summarized what I learned about Servant Leadership:

“There are no great things, only small things done with great love.”

 

 

 

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“One of the greatest diseases is to be nobody to anybody.” -Mother Teresa

Daya Dan Entrance, one of Mother Teresa's Orphanages for kids with mental or physical disabilities (most have both)
Daya Dan Entrance, one of Mother Teresa's Orphanages for kids with mental or physical disabilities (most have both)

“One of the greatest diseases is to be nobody to anybody.”

-Mother Teresa

The street outside the Daya Dan orphanage
The street outside the Daya Dan orphanage

There’s a lifestyle component to our industry that sometimes we feel that we need in order to sell “the opportunity.” There’s nothing wrong with lifestyle; nice homes, comfortable cars, and exotic trips are all part of our industry at various times. There’s a balance, of course, but even Mother Teresa said, “There must be a reason why some people can afford to live well. They must have worked for it. I only feel angry when I see waste.”

But sometimes in our industry and in life, we sometimes border on the worship of lifestyle—corporately, in the field, or personally. This actually serves as a distraction from some of life’s greatest sources of meaning — and ultimately can lead to one of the greatest afflictions that exist: loneliness.

In Kolkata, there were children who were content, happy, and fulfilled. The others, in contrast, were destitute, forgotten, and lonely.

 

This is my little buddy Mongol's younger sister, she's 12 years old and is undoubtedly one of the best kids I have ever met; so happy, so precious, and sweet.
This is my little buddy Mongol's younger sister, she's 12 years old and is undoubtedly one of the best kids I have ever met; so happy, so precious, and sweet.

I’d like to suggest it was food or some cool toys or something more tangible and “fixable” that brightened a child’s disposition, but that just wasn’t so. Those children who were most happy experienced a level of love and attention that made them feel they had value. Worth. Significance. Using Mother Teresa’s expression, they were enjoying “being something to someone.”

Rank advancements, new enrollments, compliance and retention are all vital things. Without them, none of us have a viable and successful business, and independent associates don’t have a meaningful source of income.

Yet, I think we are tempted to look at advancement as the next source of meaning or the step that will spark true contentment. For others the draw might be something material, it might be a title, it might be experiential; but regardless of what “it” is, one thing I was sharply reminded of is that “it” is not the ticket to happiness.

 

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“If you judge people, you have no time to love them.” -Mother Teresa

The sign over the entrance to the Home of Sick and Dying

The following post is part of my weeklong series “Lessons Learned from Mother Teresa” (read that post first). This excerpt is part two of the Direct Selling News article from March.  

This is the truck ride on the way to Dispensary duty, with Sister Nathaniel among others. There are a lot of things that aren't well communicated in pictures, but the smell and soot of Kolkata is one of them.
This is the truck ride on the way to Dispensary duty, with Sister Nathaniel among others. There are a lot of things that aren't well communicated in pictures, but the smell and soot of Kolkata is one of them.

“If you judge people, you have no time to love them.”         -Mother Teresa

When you arrive in Kolkata, despair, more than anything else, greets you. There are an inordinate number of people that live on the streets, and there is an exceptionally difficult amount of poverty to absorb.  From the vantage point of an outsider, poverty—whether in India, North America, or elsewhere makes it relatively easy to pontificate solutions, point fingers at problematic fulcrums, and even become embattled in a bitter debate about political partisanship while sitting safely on the sidelines. I was reminded that it’s much more difficult – emotionally and physically – to actually do something about it.

Each bag represents a months worth of provisions--oil, biscuits, and wheat
Each bag represents a months worth of provisions--oil, biscuits, and wheat

Similarly, in other matters of life it’s sometimes hard to listen without making a judgment. Whether it’s financial troubles people are having (“and you bought what!?!?!?”) or leadership problems (“why would you say THAT?”) or emotional baggage (“okay, tell me again what exactly was it that happened at ten years ago that you’re still so rankled about?”), to simply listen, and love someone, is an exceptionally difficult thing for most of us to do. For some, it’s a God-given gift. Yet, I think for most of us, it’s a developing skill that takes effort as we experience both the need and the blessing that can arise from compassion and grace. It also needs to be coupled with honest accountability. Often we’re better with the judgment side of the ledger rather than the grace side — until, that is, it comes to ourselves.

This is the male side of the "Home of the Sick and Dying", essentially a hospice for the sickest of the sick.
This is the male side of the "Home of the Sick and Dying", essentially a hospice for the sickest of the sick.

Perhaps the greatest impact I experienced from my time at the Home of the Sick and Dying was to see, firsthand, the many patients in the home — some of whom were there as a result of their own circumstances — to be able to live their final days experiencing love and compassion.

Regardless of their past, their poverty, or their personalities, there was no judgment, no critique, no “rehab” program to get them restarted and on a life of significance and meaning. Behind the scenes, never a word was said among the Sisters or volunteers about what it was that led them to this final destination. They were there. It was home, and that’s all that mattered.

In my professional and personal life, there’s an easy carryover of this particular theme. Many people in my life are “home,” and how they got to this place doesn’t really matter. 

life-on-the-tracks

No doubts, take Lasix only as prescribed by your doctor. Levitra is one of the best-known medications of all time. What is the most significant information you must study about levitra vs cialis? Most doctors say the effectiveness of Levitra is well documented. Absolutely, a sexual problem refers to a problem during any phase of the sexual response cycle that prevents the individual from experiencing satisfaction from the sexual life. Whilst sex is not vital for good health, its doubtless great for anyone. Why it happen? What kinds of professionals treat sexual diseases in men? A common class of antidepressants, which include Zoloft can kill the mood in bedroom.