Posted in Book Reviews, Creativity, Relationships, Writing

A Book that Saved My Week! #LLAFF

Caribbean fruit fly (female)
Caribbean fruit fly (female) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I can’t even remember how exactly we got connected, but Gabe Berman and I became Twitter followers of each other.  I tend to be in awe of people who actually put themselves out there…you know, in print for the whole world to “see!”  So, I saw this hashtag #LLAFF and got a little curious.  I did a search on the hashtag and found others thanking Gabe for sharing his wisdom in his book “Live Like a Fruit Fly.”  I couldn’t hold off any longer, I had to have it.  Last Friday night I ordered the book from and anxiously began my wait.

I received the book Monday evening and read the first few pages.  I read a little more on Tuesday…just enough to get me hooked.  By Wednesday I wanted to immerse myself but reality does hold priority.  Somehow between work and class I managed to squeeze in a few more pages.  Thursday, I had to meet an insurance guy at my rental property so I used the time waiting for him to show up to read more.  Tonight…I finished the book!

So my review is going to be more like a conversation I would have if Gabe were sitting across from me at Starbucks!  As I was reading the book, I took notes, wrote down questions, and reflections about his message.  Like I said in a tweet this evening…at times, I wanted to cry or give him a hug.  Other times, I felt like he is a “brother by choice” who was giving me an encouraging pat on the back to just go ahead and take those steps toward achieving my goal of becoming a writer.

So…here goes:

I love how you speak of “your destiny” as this virtual version of yourself that’s hanging out (like Jiminy Cricket) to consult with you, give you strength, a boost, confidence to make the best choice for yourself.

This particular quote of yours is one I’ll write on a pieces of paper to tape up on my mirror, in my car, and monitor at work:

“Keep your eyes, ears, and soul open.  Follow all leads.  Your destiny is closer than you think.” Gabe Berman

I love the story of your meeting the woman in the cafe!  Your insistent and ever present destiny telling you to get her business card and follow through with her invitation to send her some of your writing–eventually landing you the job at the Miami Herald!

Your breadcrumb concept is very meaty!  For me, having that mental association/description was affirming/reassuring.  I’ve been doing that same thing for years without having an understanding of why I do it.  For me, staying just a little bit longer here, or there…being “okay” with being lost or a little off my journey, or reading/listening to certain conversations, television shows, or demonstrations in a mall, collecting certain bits of information/facts, etc…may have seemed random or pointless (and annoying) to some.  But now I know that I’ve been “collecting breadcrumbs!”

I appreciate how you placed inspirational quotes at the end of each chapter…like this one from William Jennings Bryan “Destiny is no matter of chance.  It is a matter of choice:  It is not a thing to be waited for, it is a thing to be achieved.”

Thanks for verbalizing the steps to practicing the art of Active Appreciation!

The irony you described of switching through channels during 9/11 and seeing the Purple Dinosaur (Barney Show) captured well the feelings that hits me at times when I have experienced heart-stopping grief.  When death visits your circle of influence…it is so irritating how the rest of the world keeps right on spinning/moving/talking/carrying on as if “NOTHING” has happened!  Of course it is unavoidable and perfectly rational…but the part of me that’s connected to everyone and everything else just cries out in a silenced scream that begs the world to stop long enough to give two seconds to recognize that a presence among us has ceased to be animated in this time space.  To honor their participation in the dance of life.

I too loved the March of the Penguins movie!  When it finished, a profound sacred silence inhabited my soul…made me want to weep!  My mind raced to find an explanation why no matter how long I have lived, have I not discovered the steadfast devotion and focused purpose towards and between our kind in human society.  That movie shook my soul more intimately than sitting in a church for a year of Sundays ever could.

For those who haven’t read Gabe Berman’s book “Live Like a Fruit Fly” I won’t spoil it for you and reveal any more.  Hopefully this entry will give you enough interest and motivation to click the hyperlinked book title above and purchase your own copy.  Trust me, if you take the leap…like the writings of Kahlil Gibran, this will be a book you reference time and again.  It is written for our time, is sprinkled with Star Wars anecdotes, and is a mental comfort…. truly a pleasure and  joy to read.

Because of the last couple of weeks personal and professional challenges, this book came at the right time and saved me from sliding into a gray funk.  I hope you enjoy reading it and find it just as soul-quenching as I did.  Gabe is an interactive and engaging writer who is as approachable as his book makes him seem.  Go ahead, start following him on Twitter @GabeBerman  Oh, and I almost forgot to mention ladies….as of the publishing of this book…I think he is still an eligible bachelor!

Notes for Gabe:

You have a great friend in Rich!

Do you still tend bar?

Posted in Business, SocialMedia, Technology, Writing

I Have a Book In Me

Thanks for reading!  There’s a question at the end for writers and authors…I value your input.

I just have to share a brief story about a friend/colleague.  He calls me up and asks for a few minutes of my time during a break at work.  So I say “Sure!”  Turns out Zach is an animal society non-profit volunteer and board member, and he wanted some advice on “improving” their website .   Zach stated that they already have a dedicated domain name and a website that’s currently out of date.

So, immediately the wheels start turning, my adrenaline gets pumping and dots are being connected at wicked speeds….I can just feel the synapses firing in my brain!

So my friend (lets call him Zach) says that their non-profit website is sort of “just there!”  The guy that volunteered to design and maintain their website moved to the East Coast but continued to maintain the site…until recently when his computer died.  Now they’ve turned to Zach for help.  He was looking for suggestions that would be cheap or free.  So I started off with some basic questions.

I asked what is the Purpose, Audience, and Goals of the website to the non-profit organization.  So I wrote those words down on the back of my printed out schedule for the day like this:

Purpose (of the site):  Membership, Volunteers, Fundraising

Target Audience (of the site):  Society Members, Volunteers, Contributors

Goals (of the site):  Raise Funds, Increase Membership, Increase # of volunteers

I mentioned that there was a huge difference between purpose & goals.  Purpose is why it exists, why you bother devoting any time to it in the first place.  Goals are achievable targets (increase fund raising by 5% per month, increase membership by 10% each month, gain 5 new volunteers each month.)

I asked him how the non-profit uses tech to engage their audience…apparently there is only one person who posts things on Facebook.  (I just did a search on FB and found nothing but external links)

I said, “Zach, if you’re not using free services like Twitter, Facebook, Quora, and LinkedIn to engage your audience, you’re missing out!  If you would begin using those services, within six months, I guarantee you’ll achieve all of your goals and increase the number of volunteers (under age 30) of your non-profit society!”

I told Zach that they asked for “help with a website” but what he needed to present to the board, was a business plan.  A domain name and non-interactive website are the same as a vacant lot or empty building!  It’s just a place–nobody’s going to come or even come back if there’s nobody to talk to.  I suggested that he deliver a proposal for a strategy to really give their society a long-overdue boost!  I suggested he take the page of notes and turn it into a quick 5-slide PowerPoint presentation to present at the next board meeting!

We agreed to get together later when we could devote more time to discuss the plan and he asked me for a copy of the notes I took so he could begin looking into the social media aspects.

My mind was on fire about this idea…I thought wow, that session was more than a brief visit/discussion, it was a consultation!  This sort of thing happens to me a lot, and I really enjoy it.  That is where a lot of my passion lies.  On my lunch hour I had to put the adrenaline to use.  I logged onto my Evernote account and quickly outlined my page of notes.  When I finished, I realized what was staring me in the face could be the table of contents for a practical book that would help literally hundreds of people.

So here’s my question!  Leaning on great advice from a dear #usguys friend @loiscreamer , I won’t ask “Does the world need another social media enthused business basics book for entrepreneurs?”  but instead…should I go the self- ePublishing route or traditional query letter path? I know I could churn it out in a couple of months, go through several drafts and edits, and be ready for publishing by year’s end.  What do you think?

Easter Day Update:  So, I decided to go for it and have taken the advice of several encouraging people to begin my book.  You can read more about it at the blog created specifically for writing my book here:

Posted in Education, Technology

A New Approach to Encryption

English: Albert Einstein Français : portrait d...
Image via Wikipedia

Disclaimer:  I am not a Scientist or an Engineer but my mind enjoys reading about and toying in those realms. I have just enough curiosity and intuition to know if something is in the art of possible..but lack the academic formulas and theories to support my suppositions…but for what its worth here’s a stab at my concepts to support development for a new type of encryption for packets flowing through the ether.

This idea all came about when I was on a business trip in Virginia a couple of years ago…I was taking mass transportation after a full day of death by PowerPoint when my bus drove past a tall building made entirely of glass.  It was a sunny day out and there were no barriers between the bus and the building so I was able to see a perfect reflection of the bus with me inside of it, on the glass as we drove past the building.

Now, several things cemented in my mind in that moment.  I felt like Einstein was miniaturized and perched on my shoulder whispering in my ear to pay attention to these observations.  The things I felt important to remember were this:

  • I (a 3-dimensional being), was in a 3-dimensional object moving at a speed of roughly 30 miles per hour
  • I am a living biological form physically consuming/expending energy in an object consuming/expending energy
  • Reflected in the building glass was a 2-dimensional representation (reflection/imitation) of the physical reality
  • The representation (reflection) was possible because of objects, light, shadow, and motion

The really “wow” flash of insight came at the thought of “traceable” movement (observation ability) by looking at the reflection only.  “IF” you study only the movement of the bus and passengers inside by observing the reflection with your eyes–your mind can bring context to that observation and inform you of the reality of what is happening.   However, if you were to somehow put sensors on the glass, there would likely be no measurable readings detected to confirm what your eyes had observed.

(several thoughts just ripped through my head just now about ghosts, other dimensions/planes of existence, etc.)

So anyway, my idea is that there may be a way to use the mass, energy, light, shadow and reflective aspects of these observations in communications transmission technology.  These thoughts I’m sure have other applications in some of the other SciTech arenas.  But, the existence of the physical object as the genesis of a “representation (reflection)” which also mirrors behavior of the physical (Master/Slave ~ Parent/Child inheritance) just might be relevant to a new breakthrough in how we transmit data.  Perhaps using some of these ideas it would be possible to build new technology that would either:

  • Create an algorithm that uses a combination of the physical and the representation of the physical to develop a new style of encryption that require both to decrypt the actual packets transmitted through communications channels/cables/fiber….or
  • standard transmission of packets that uses this (physical & representation) concept to create in-transit auto-error checking and data validation/auditing.  If someone intercepted this volley (the physical packet plus the mirror image it created), the reflection would immediately cease because an obstacle would have somehow caused an interruption in the representation (imitation of the physical) and trip an alert to those monitoring that someone was “in the stream.”

I’d be very interested in hearing from anybody with a Science, Tech or Mathematics background who could lend credibility/validity to these ideas/assumptions…refer me to other related reading/research, or dispute these ideas as impossible.

Thanks for geeking out with me!

Posted in Relationships, SocialMedia

Generosity of the SoMe Crowd (#usguys)

Need clothes, specialized expertise, rental space, airline tickets, new friends, a listening ear?  Where can you go and find other birds of the same feather?  Social Media ~ or SoMe as some refer to it!  Never before have a met a more generous, optimistic, considerate, philanthropic group of people in “one place!”

Seriously, if you put a question out there, somebody is going to answer you!  If you’re not skilled with the techniques of how to use the tools to the greatest advantage, just ask!  Someone generous with their time will educate you!  They may be on the other side of the world, but you’ll find someone compassionate who remembers what its like to be in your shoes.

I hate long surveys, and most people don’t like to participate.  But with a tool like Twitter, you’re forced to be precise!  One hundred and forty (140) characters isn’t a lot, but you can say so much!  In a previous post asking for book recommendations I asked for other books of a similar genre and solicited feedback from my followers.  Within two hours I had 25 recommendations!  Now that’s what I call responsive!

Again tonight, I asked “Survey Question: How many people would donate excess possessions to other #SM connections who may have need? #usguys #Philanthropy Again, because of my use of hashtags to a great group of people who call themselves #USGUYS, I had 4 responses within minutes:

Libby Baker Sweiger (@libbytalks) The first to respond replied – “Absolutely!” and retweeted my survey question.

Mark Berhhardt (@ImMarkBernhardt) The second to respond replied – “I’ve donated time & money to/through #SoMe contacts. Things? Sure would.”

Margie Arnett (@Giddyup2) The third to respond replied – “I would and have!” and also retweeted my survey question.  In a later tweet responding to my thanks, she said “Just mending the world within my reach”

Trent Bown (@Bowndairyman) The fourth to respond replied – “so much knowledge and time has already been freely shared w/me. Feel I need to pay it forward! #usguys” and after following up with a thanks for his response he replied “the thing is…. Social media & specifically #usguys has brought it out in me, reminded me the importance of it!

While I was typing this blog post…two more people (Eric Danzeisen @FunWithBulls & Brent Boersma @4GFarms) chimed in with “ME!” in response to my survey question!

What started this survey was a question a fairly recent Twitter follower & friend Jason Houck (@JasonPromotesU) asked if I knew of anybody who had any frequent flier miles for a round trip ticket they may want to donate. He has a friend who’s going into surgery Friday morning who doesn’t have any family in the area to be with him.  He wanted to fly out to be there for him. I suggested he put the question out to his followers. I tweeted his need and had Mark Bernhardt retweet. I have confidence that somebody somewhere has some frequent flier miles they may be willing to part with. He’s willing to trade services for the flier miles donated.  So, if you’re reading this and can assist in any way, contact Jason!  Remember, you can’t direct message someone that doesn’t follow you, so if you want to donate and he doesn’t follow you already, send him a tweet to establish the conection.

The lesson to learn or take away from this post is to realize the power of your connections.  What makes #USGUYS strong is nightly chatter and weekly Monday afternoon #usguyschat!  Unfortunately, I’m always at work during the #usguys chat, but I try to participate as many nights as I can. You quickly develop some incredible connections with awesome people when you dialogue with the regulars.  You learn a lot about yourself, others, and the world around you!

I encourage everyone who reads this to create a Twitter account if you don’t have one, start using it more if you do, and find a strong community of like minded people by searching the #hashtags!!!  A BIG THANKS TO #USGUYS!

Posted in Business, Creativity, Relationships

Career Success ~ The Cream Always Rises

Manet, Edouard - La Serveuse de Bocks (The Wai...
Image via Wikipedia

This post is for all the people who work in the services and sales industry!  You may work for a horrible boss, a poorly managed company, in a town/city/state that you’d rather say good riddance to.   How you respond to pressure and stress, dissatisfaction and disappointment will make all the difference in your ability to change your circumstances.  If you do not find a way to manage your perceptions and responses, you may sabotage your chances at upward and outward mobility.  Your attitude will show no matter how hard you try to control the outward facing appearance and behaviors.

Below are some examples of what I’m talking about:

Any position where cash tips are involved! (Waitresses, Waiters, Bell Hops, Cab Drivers, Baristas)

Performing services for customers is often a thankless job.  There are many who will see and treat you as a second class citizen, if they “see” you at all!  Take heart.  When I choose to spend money at an eating establishment with full service, I just want to have prompt attentive service.  If I don’t have to ask for refills, food and drinks are served piping hot, and the interaction with my wait staff is fun and not “work” for me, I’ll tip generously.   Treat each customer as though they are the person you will read about in the morning’s newspaper as the person who left a hundred dollar tip.

Mechanics, Technicians and Repairmen

If you’re a mechanic, don’t just fix the problem.  Go the extra mile and provide free advice about anticipated maintenance needs (tires, belts, filters, etc.)  By caring for the vehicle as though you were going to allow your pregnant daughter to drive it, you’ll show the customer you care more about the person than you do the car (money.)  Take the time to listen to your customers.  You’d be surprised at the loyalty you’ll instill in your customers by remembering small details about your customers and their property.

Healthcare Professionals (Doctors, Psychologists, Nurses)

If you’re an obstetrician…be sure to make more eye contact with that expectant mother than you do at the patient’s chart.  Remember that in spite of your 15 minute scheduled allotment, metal instruments feel cold, words conveying delicate news can sometimes be more painful than needles, and that uterus IS attached to a human being.  Whether this patient is having their first or their fifth child, they deserve your respect and expertise in as personal and professional manner as possible.

Sales and Marketing Professionals

If you’re in sales, remember the dance of respect.  Those people patronize your establishment for a variety of reasons.  Location proximity, habit, convenience, possibly the people.  As soon as a customer begins to feel like a victim, prey, a prospect, a lead, or a candidate, you have removed the “person” (human aspect) from the customer.  This shift in perspective is just enough motivation for people to override their reasons for patronage and find a new establishment.

Some days are much harder than others.  Reflecting on and accepting the reality of those busy, difficult and sometimes unbearable moments before your day begins can help you mentally prepare yourself.  If you can, try seeing yourself as an actor or actress in a movie in your day.  This coping technique is one you can use to do your best in spite of how you feel.  Remember to be the success you dream!

Break a leg!