Archive for the ‘Life’ Category

Leadership / Technology Questions

September 12th 2011

I was contacted by Katie working at Quicken Loans where she was participating in a leadership development program regarding green energy, with an assignment to reach out to various leaders and get a set of relevant questions answered.  These were the questions and responses that I provided.  I think it is great to hear about such a program at Quicken Loans and since Katie would not use these outside the course she was on, I asked to publish them here with my responses to get people to discuss these points with their own ideas as well.  How do you answer these questions?  Please add your comments below.

1.  What are the 2-3 most exciting technologies that you use or are watching?

Google Plus has got to be one the most recent and interesting applications of technology for social media anyway.  It lets the user control the connections how they see fit instead of putting connections into a system that is forced upon them.  It will certainly shift the way people think about social ‘circles’ (no pun intended).  I watch many technologies in 3D graphics as well for rendering technologies, distributed computing an social rendering for large computational work.  As a 3D artist, I love the idea of using a wider social circle to create graphics and capabilities in that.

2.  What is the top trend that you are watching or think people should be watching?

Trends are not something I recommend at all actually.  I strive to recognize individualism and would rather see more people following their own ideas and carrying through on those ideas.  There are enough people following the masses and mindlessly living among social influence.  Trends are really only out there to be broken, so if anything, I’d steer away from them, especially if you hope to build leadership confidence.  One societal trend however, is that collaboration on new ideas and new systems is making the speed of adopting change shorter than ever as people are able to connect with link minded folks more easily and build on each others’ ideas.  It’s hard to label that as a trend, but instead of a way the masses can collaborate when connected to do so.

3.  What’s your favorite magazine?

I’m very interested in responsible building and living and the magazine, Home Power has been one of my favorites for some time.  It is a magazine that provides a window to the best creation, design and new innovations that more and more people are finally getting value from and making things more readily available.

4.  What is your favorite book that you would recommend to people?

I really don’t have a favorite as books need to address areas of interest topics so there isn’t one book that fits all and I’ve read far too many to have a favorite book.  Some of my favorite authors are Patrick Lencioni and Malcolm Gladwell as I highly enjoy their respectively, fable style of writing and  data backed discoveries.  Some of my favorites are: Win Friends and Influence People, What Got You Here Won’t Get You There, The Other 8 Hours, The Five Dysfunctions of a Team, The Goal

5.  What is your favorite website?

TED.com, by far.  Inspiring speakers, leaders, design, technology and entertainment.  There are literally hundreds of incredible presentations and technology messages to learn from and I owe a lot to the presenters and leaders that contribute that I have learned from.

6.  If you could recommend one book for people to read, what would it be?

For me, life lessons, learnings and spirituality are all based from the Bible so it is the ONLY book you really need.  However, I understand that spiritual bias doesn’t suit everyone but I do belief that the many great spiritual books of the world (including other great teachings) so offer the most value for life.  If I had to pick something recent from other well known authors, perhaps “Win Friends and Influence People” by Carnegie would be the most valuable if applied. As with any book, reading it does nothing, application of the content is what counts so I’d instead recommend that people make a habit not to read more, but to study what they read and put at least one thing into practice from what is learned.

7.  What’s the most frustrating customer experience you recently had? And how could it have been improved?

Definitely would have to be at a restaurant (Boston Pizza actually) where I had a terrible waitress that yelled across a table of 10 people instead of waiting around to take orders individually, then my meal was missed so they had to rush it after everyone else was already eating that I was with, then the rushed order was wrong and they didn’t bring the correct meal, then they billed me for the wrong meal, (the one I didn’t order) and they had no way to add two orders together into a single payment (my wife and I), so the whole experience was really bad.  They did nothing to fix it without me asking and they made excuses instead of apologizing for the mistake or offering anything in return for all the problems.  I guess they didn’t understand how to think about the service from the customer’s perspective, since they got so much of it wrong.  It was very frustrating.

8.  What was the best customer experience you recently had?

A sporting goods store locally named Mountain Equipment Coop is and has been over and over my most memorable customer experiences due to quality service staff, fast checkout tills, and great return policies and warranty coverage.  I recently went in to buy a sleeping bag for backpacking and had my mind set on a certain bag per price ratio I thought was ideal.  In the store however, it only took a few minutes from one of the staff in camping to find out I really wanted a super light and small bag, since I would be packing it on trips on my mountain unicycle.  He showed me another bag that was colder temperature rating, half the weight and one third the pack volume, with obviously more cost, but worth the price in size and weight.  He did not hesitate to rip one out of its plastic bag for me to check its size in a tent on the floor, and pack it into some tiny compression bag to prove it was as small as advertised.  Needless to say, it only took a few minutes to select it and I am very happy he knew his stuff so I didn’t have to find out the hard way how much larger the other ones where I was looking at.

Posted by Mike King under Life | 18 Comments »

Book Review: The Art of Non-Conformity

August 22nd 2011

Set Your Own Rules, Live the Life You Want and Change the World

Review Review Review Review Review 

Author : Chris Guillebeau

Overall, I loved this book and didn’t really know what to expect when I first picked it up, but the title and subtitles caught my eye.  The book reinforces  many of the believes I’ve always had and Guillebeau’s introductions and thoughts on the subject were quickly reinforcing my own beliefs on the subjects of doing whatever you feel passionate about, regardless of influences or social peer pressure.  The book is separated into 3 sections:

  • The remarkable life
  • Reclaiming work
  • The power of convergence
Guillebeau starts by introducing non-conformist thinking for life.  People who live the remarkable lives he promotes do so by facing their fears, following their dreams and doing things that may not seem to most to be in any way conventional.  Each of the stories he uses drive his points incredibly well and they inspire you with this new way of thinking.
The second section on reclaiming work is not about dropping your chosen career and restarting an online work, but instead to question how you work and what can be done differently with your work and commute to make the most of it.  Of course, it might lead to a career shift, but Guillebeau encourages you to seek freedom within the careers and lifestyles you are already living.  He encourages you to seek additional revenue streams and recurring revenue to increase your financial freedom.  This includes thinking differently about how you spend your money as well, how to stockpile ‘stuff’ and how you limit your experiences because of misconceptions about how much experiences really do cost.
The third section pushes you hard about the point of changing the world and that happiness comes from not what you do for yourself in life, but what you do for others.  What do you contribute to the world and does your life and work have meaning and purpose.  Many example stories are provided and Guillebeau share some of his own life stories to reflect many of these ideas of giving back to the world in some way.
One of the things I loved about the book is how real the author is about who the book is for.  At many points in the book, he literally encourages you to ask yourself if you want what he is talking about or not, and if not, to stop reading and not waste your time otherwise.  I agree, the book would obviously not be for everyone and for those that are willing to live a life by their own mechanisms despite whatever social influences exist, then this book will great inspire them be an enjoyable read with many valuable tips and guidance.  I found it to have some areas of overlap with “The Other 8 Hours” but covers a lot more about the thinking required for the non-conformity both authors write about.
So, I definitely encourage you to get a copy and read his book, or at the very least, visit his website to get a small sample of his articles and thinking at Chris Guillebeau’s blog.

Posted by Mike King under Life | 6 Comments »

Living Life, Just the Way You Are

June 19th 2011

As much as I love personal development and the many benefits that it can provide in life, sometimes you also need to know when its time to let all the change go and just do some living, just the way you are!  The way you are is often something we forget to appreciate when we are striving to better ourselves and when that occurs, we can not only forget to appreciate ourselves but also how others are around us.  This is a short guide to some of the reminders we need to live life, just the way you are!

Live Your Core Values

Your core values don’t change easily and if you know them, they should be something easy to live by.  Doing so, helps you ensure you are living who you really are, not what someone else wants you to be, or what often shows up at the surface because of other people’s expectations.  Living who you really are means you are true to yourself, not others.  This of course is much easier said than done, however, the awareness of your own values and living them on purpose can be a huge shift to truly being who you are in life.  I have a couple preview articles you should find helpful to discover your passions and values.

Joy and Appreciation

These are very important to me and a big part of making life wonderful.  Living joyfully is hard to do if we cannot learn to appreciate what we have and all the amazing things that happen everyday.  Yes, life has its share of pain and struggles, yet it’s really just a choice what we want to recognize, think about and let influence our life.  There are often many more things to be joyful for and just a few things we could regret, dwell on or wish for that change the way we live and its the related choices that let us shape life into what we want it to be.  You have to choose to have joy and appreciation if you want them to exist in your life.  You probably know a some people who are happy or joyful despite tough circumstances? And how about people who seem miserable, while seeming to have everything they need in life with far less struggles and adversity.  Everyone I’ve met in my life with extreme circumstances are more easily affected by their choices of what they recognize from those circumstances and how they react to it, then the circumstances themselves and it makes a huge difference in the lives from person to person.  There is always joy to find, recognize and appreciate in life and making it at the forefront will free you to live the rest of your life how you want it, as yourself, instead of being caught up in the past or circumstances outside of your control.

Acceptance and Attraction

Living life, just the way you are means you have to also accept who you are.  Personal development is often seen as a place to change oneself but it isn’t really for that, its a place to discover yourself and recognize things to learn and change along the way.  This is what acceptance is based on as well, you have to accept yourself for the way you are and not burden yourself with overwhelming expectations of change.  If you know who you are now its much easier to decide what changes fit for you and to see the risks, challenges and work required to let them happen.  I’m certainly not saying that personal development is the opposite of living just the way you are, its that if you discover and truly know yourself the way you are now, it’s a journey of change through your life, not a specific target or point of change that you should strive for.

Accepting your own limitations and knowing your limits is important to let change happen naturally as well without forcing things that your body and mind will fight you on (perhaps even unconsciously).  Often what we learn about ourselves is useful to then understand our attractions as well.  Attractions certainly come in different flavors, some like minded and sometimes the old saying opposites attract is just as true.  Attraction can exist as well for things we already know and love, as well for things that excite us or fill a need that we are longing for.  This could be people, but often it is actions or activities as well such as bucket lists or life long dreams.  Attractions are useful to experience life by and they test our acceptance of ourselves and others in the process.  See that, can be a great reminder to accept what is and just keep on living life and the journey it presents.  The attractions will come and go, so let them.

Peace and Contentment

Finally, peace and contentment.  Living life as you are gives you freedom from the stress of change and expectations that do not meet who you are today.  The peace that this brings can be extremely satisfying in that it removes the distractions and burdens leaving you with clear mind and lets you be true to your soul with a contentment about life and living it, just the way you are.

Posted by Mike King under Life | 8 Comments »

Resources – May 2011

May 31st 2011

Favorite Articles

Its been a couple months since I posted a set of my favorite articles and resources so here are a number of great articles and excellent videos for you enjoy.

How to Capture the Ideas Worth Pursuing

Can You Live a Balanced Life With a Cluttered Mind?

Where Has All the Passion Gone

18 Things I Wish Someone Would’ve Told Me At 18

111 Lessons Life Taught Us

How to Bounce Back When Things Go Wrong In Life

Are You Torn Between Different Creative Ambitions?

Incredible Videos

One of the most incredible research projects and results I’ve ever seen. The Birth of a Word – Ted Talks (by Deb Roy)

Another impressive Ted Talks about learning and teaching match with video and data systems for students and teachers (by Salman Khan)

With these couple of TED talks video, here is a great collection of TED talks for new graduates: The 20 Essential Ted Talks for New Grads

Another fantastic video to spread the movement of Earthships is this, about a great relief program that brought and taught Haitians together to build their first Earthship.

 

Posted by Mike King under Life | 7 Comments »

Humble Leadership

May 24th 2011

I’ve written quite a number of articles about leadership (such as 100 Ways to Be a Better Leader) and a handful about humility (such as 50 Ways to Be More humble.  Humility is something that people learn by different methods and while I may have learned humility through my own Christian foundation, this at times also causes people to react to my articles and content I include.  I assure you, there are many ways to learn about leadership and humility and I only offer my perspective here, whether you align with it or even agree with it is up to you and your lifestyle but has little to do with humble leadership itself so please examine the subject of the article here, not the context from which it may be learned.  That to me is the whole point of blogging, to share ones learning’s, one’s thoughts and to let others take from it what they want if they think it is valuable and to discuss similar and opposing opinions when topics arise you are passionate about.  Humility is a topic that is hard to write about and often controversial.  Because of this, I only ask that you consider the words to be words and how you apply it something specific to your life.  There have been and still are many great teachers on humble leadership and there is much to learn from them in additional to the points I’ve included in this article, so let’s get started.

Leadership is often seen as one person steering and directing many and many of the names that come to mind first when thinking of leaders are those in the public sector, politicians, sports leaders, great authors and motivational speakers.  While many of these people are in fact incredible leaders, humble leadership is not often why they are so well known.  Humble leadership requires a leader to lead without a desire for attention, for getting well known or for because famous due to that leadership.  Those things may very well happen, but they are never a desire of a humble leader.

Parenting is Often Humble Leadership

Parents have a tremendous opportunity to lead their children and the desire to be a great parent is for the sake of others, not themselves.  Great parents do not hope to be recognized as great parents (from people outside their family at least) and they don’t typically think about any specific achievements they might gain from being the model parents they strive to be.  This type of parenting is a perfect example of humble leadership.  They show by practice what making good choices in life is all about, how to help others and care for one another and how to support people to learn and make great decisions on their own.  These traits are ones that any good leader should have as well and so parenting can be a great place to find leadership without their own agenda, an important part of humble leadership.

Putting the needs of others before yourself and truly wanting to make others more successful with no concern about the impact of that on you can quickly make a humble leader!

Leading by Example and Not Authority is Humble Leadership

Another area that humble leaders lead is by example.  Leading by example can be done by any type of leader but it tends to be done by humble leaders more.  Humble leaders are most interested in showing what can be done and by doing those themselves first.  They don’t force anyone to follow them and they typically lead by example with nothing more than a hope that others will see, and follow suit.  It is often done for leading with specific behaviors in a workplace.  Holding one’s values close and making decisions that let them uphold those values.  Or working in a particular field or role, despite their ability to change and go elsewhere.  It might even be that a humble leader makes a number of personal sacrifices for the sake a company or people in it, without those people ever knowing.  These types of actions and leadership happens every day, and while it is not always obvious to people and more so, often hidden on purpose by a humble leader, the fact is, that is does happen and is often going on in our very own workplaces each and every day!

Humble Leadership Occurs Between Friends All the Time!

Another not so well known area to find humble leadership is that which goes on between friends all the time.  Friends are constantly doing little things to make each other feel better, enjoy one another’s company and to help them get through tough times.  This caring and compassion are exactly the kind of things that humble leadership is based on.  Friends are constantly spending time together, laughing and enjoying one another’s company.  It builds trust, security and comfort that don’t exist without those close personal interactions.  Humble leadership is the same and takes time to develop that trust and security to gain the influence that is required for any leadership task.  It is done by relationship and gives plenty of time to let it develop and become useful.  Humble leadership is not something that can be forced or created quickly, just like most friendships.

Humble Leadership Drawbacks

The methods of a humble leader are very powerful and can create influence and impact with much more momentum and passion than aggressive leaders or authoritative leaders.  The biggest drawback is that one of time, as humble leadership is not something that can be done quickly.  It takes much more time and dedication to create change and get results from it.  The followers that humble leadership can generate however, are often much more loyal themselves and often new humble leaders are created as a result.

I believe that humble leadership is the most powerful of all leadership styles and while it isn’t necessarily suitable to all areas needing leadership, it is a style that makes relationships, trust and connections between people stay at the forefront. It aligns best with my own core values of service, honesty, spirit and integrity so it is something that I can let happen, instead of forcing it to happen.  What about you, do you have examples of humble leadership in your life, can you enjoy the natural aspects of leadership in a humble way and how do your core values align with your style of leadership?  I’d love to read your comments and thoughts on the subject!

Posted by Mike King under Life | 18 Comments »

Rules of Engagement for the At Home Entrepreneur

May 7th 2011

Today, I have a guest post by Jack Simms, his contact details below the article.  Please join me with your comments and discussions on this article!

A Guide for At Home Entrepreneurs or the soon to be

Today, millions of Americans are retreating from traditional office environments and finding refuge working from home. In fact, many people who have more traditional jobs report that they long to work from the comfort of their home one day. Interestingly, many of those same people really haven’t given much thought to the kinds of businesses that might thrive in a residential environment or the logistical requirements of starting an at home business. Therefore, this article addresses some of the important issues every budding at home entrepreneur should consider.

Types of Jobs You can Perform from Home

Those who work from the comfort of their homes generally fall into one of two categories:

  • telecommuters
  • small business owners

Telecommuters generally work for someone else; that is, they are employees who answer to a boss and typically use technology (phones and email) to communicate with coworkers and management. In contrast, the entrepreneurs in this second class of at home workers developed an idea for a business and decided to conduct it from home.

Telecommuting Jobs

Rather than making the long drive to the office in rush hour traffic, millions of American employees work out of a virtual office. These employees hook up to the internet first thing in the morning, sometimes still un-showered and in their pajamas. While some find that a lack of interaction with coworkers can be isolating, others thrive in an environment where they can set their own schedules and toil away without someone breathing down their neck or distracting them in the adjacent cubicle. 

Although every company’s business model does not lend itself to telecommuting, more and more employers are embracing the concept. Why?, one might ask. Of course, there are many different reasons, but two are obvious. First, forgoing traditional office space can translate into financial savings for employers who don’t have to shell out money each month on rent. Second, allowing employees to work from home can boost morale and keep the staff happy.

Some common jobs that people perform from home are:

  • Data entry
  • Customer service
  • Sales
  • Medical transcription
  • Bookkeeping and accounting

If you are specifically on a quest for at home employment, make sure to do your research. Because so many Americans yearn for the flexibility of working in the comfort of their homes, the number of scams out there is mind blowing. A simple google search (or a scan of the junk folder in your email account) will confirm that fact.

Original Start Up Businesses

Working from home can be a great option for entrepreneurs who have an original idea for a business but aren’t yet ready to launch it on a grand scale. Opening up the business from your home may be a financial necessity for some startups, or it may just be a wise economic decision based on the circumstances. Indeed, most small business owners are initially shocked by all the initial costs involved with opening a new business. Therefore, starting from home can allow you to test the waters and get the kinks out of your business plan before you obligate yourself in a long-term lease or overextend yourself in other ways.

The naysayers may claim that one’s home contains too many potential distractions for adequate focus on work. And, to be fair, some who’ve traveled along this path have had difficulty avoiding the lure of the television or ignoring the family debate in the next room. Indeed, working from home is not for everyone. However, if the circumstances are right and you are the kind of person who can remain focused despite routine household distractions, working from home may actually make you more productive. In fact, some reports suggest that individuals operating their businesses from home are more productive than their counterparts working in traditional offices.

Some of the common small businesses operated from home:

  • Freelance writer
  • Day care
  • Blogger
  • Various IT businesses (web design and support; general IT repair and maintenance)
  • Bed and breakfast
  • Small catering businesses
  • Various landscaping businesses (landscape design; general lawn care; container gardening and plant nursery)
  • Handyman
  • Tutoring
  • Photography

Factors One Must Consider Before Starting an at Home Business

When you have an exciting idea about a new business venture, it’s easy to get wrapped up in the creative process and forget about the boring details. However, the wise entrepreneur always remains grounded and does not lose sight of the logistics involved with opening a new business. The following items must be addressed before you make your home office a reality.

  1. Legal Organization – Will you operate as a sole proprietor or an LLC? Or does an S corporation make more sense for you? Perhaps a limited partnership would be appropriate if you have multiple owners.If you don’t know the difference between any of these legal entities, that’s the good sign you need to retain an attorney to advise you on the most appropriate method of business organization for your new venture. Even if you are, in fact, familiar with the different options for business organization in your state, consulting some professional guidance is prudent. Indeed, although most states have forms posted online and permit non-attorneys to submit their own organizational documents via the internet, great care should be given to these kinds of decisions.
  2. Tax Considerations – After you recruit an attorney as a member of your business startup team, a tax advisor should be one of the next slots you fill. Tax laws change constantly, and even if you’ve previously been capable of filing your individual income taxes yourself, chances are you need an expert to help you understand the tax implications of how you operate your business (check out the green parking council example).
  3. Local Laws – Do you need a business license to operate your home business? Do any local zoning ordinances impact your decision to work from home? If you haven’t asked these questions yet, you do so as soon as possible. Typically, local officials are glad to help small business owners ensure that their plans are on the up-and-up.
  4. Neighborhood Considerations – Particularly if your home is newer, chances are it may be subject to restrictive covenants and governed by a homeowners’ association. Restrictive covenants often permit homeowners to operate businesses out of their homes, so long as the business is an ancillary (and not the primary) use of the property. However, consulting the actual document is imperative to make sure you do not violate any of its provisions.

When Your Business has Outgrown Your Home

Although some folks open a business with long-term plans to operate it from home, some types of businesses, if successful, will outgrow a typical residential environment. The point at which you need to move into a more traditional commercial or retail location may vary depending on the circumstances. For example, if you have clients visiting you on a regular basis, having them show up at your house may not create the professional image you want to project. In addition, if your business grows to the point at which you need to hire multiple employees, a home office may start getting crowded. On the other hand, if you conduct business exclusively electronically or by phone, perhaps you’ll never need to leave the comfort of your home. And showers may remain optional.

Jack Simms has been providing research on issues of interest to home buyers and owners for LeadSteps.com’s Online Mortgage Rates business for three years. Prior to his involvement with LeadSteps, Jack was a real estate professional providing marketing services to realtors in northern California. Jack’s research for LeadSteps’ Mortgage Rates Website is driven by his desire to better explain the complicated decisions involved in both home ownership and the purchase of a home.

Posted by Mike King under Life | 9 Comments »

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