Iowa State MBA

I went to an informational seminar yesterday hosted by the ISU MBA program.  It was really enlightening.  The ISU MBA program is VERY flexible including night classes in Des Moines, and Saturday classes in Ames.  Additionally, you can go to EITHER class so if you're busy on the weekend, just do it downtown on a Wednesday.  It can be done in less than 3 years too. 

Very interesting. 

I'm not exactly sure what has re-sparked my interest in executing on this milestone.  Possibilities include:

  1. My desire to increase the depth and breadth of knowledge I have or don't have in certain key functional areas. (You can still keep statistics for all I care...and yes..this is coming from a 6 sigma black belt
  2. The idea that I'd be forced to read fantastic modern business books and case studies (the same ones I can't find enough time to read now)
  3. The idea that I'd feel like I'm competing in my own little "Apprentice" without leaving my family for 15-weeks
  4. The desire to pit myself against others and see where I land with my experience and skill set
  5. Because I have latent desire to relate to other Cyclone fans
  6. The idea that I can get an MBA with a specialization in Logistics Management..something I'm immersed in daily anyway so why not be better at it
  7. I've always wanted to get an advanced degree because it seems like the right thing to do (parental education indoctrination good)

The reasons I'm not thinking of when considering this:

  1. Increasing my pay
  2. "Getting a new job"
  3. Hanging another degree on the wall

In some ways, I think the time has come and gone for me to get the big bang out of the MBA.  I'm not suggesting that I know everything (please)...but that the MBA process of case study and analysis is something that I've lived...and am living on a daily basis.  I'm now 35 with the most incredible value coming out of the last 8 years of my work and it's still going at warp speed.  If I take the time to focus on the degree, will I feel let down if it just validates my experience? (keep in mind I'm not looking for a career move or big pay hit as a result of this)

This would be yet another big project for me to tackle.  Hummmm...deep thought the man room I shall go.  Argh.

Radio Garage: Class 9

Img155 Well, after a 2 week absence due to business travel, I returned to week 9 of my voice class.  We were coached in real time on real spots by a real producer.  Very real man.

I finally figured out that I'm holding back and not unleashing the inner voice guy I have inside.  It "feels odd" to unleash him, we'll call him "Blog Donovan" for now because it would be too "over the top" or "announcer guy'ish"

Blog...or Mr. Donovan comes out in the car, in front of the kids (they promptly run while covering their ears), and in the shower.  But I think I'm finally getting that in voice acting, that a bit of the over the top energy behind the mic is actually diluted by a factor when it comes out on the radio.  Hum, did you get that?  Let's formulize shall we:

Energy behind microphone X dilution factor of ~ .6 = true radio energy emitted.  OK, adjust the factors professionals (aka Steve) but are you picking up what I'm laying down here?  I get it I just need to execute on my actual voice demos coming up soon.  As most of you know, I have no delusions of becoming movie announcer guy or the next Pixar animated voice over king, but I sure wouldn't mind doing a better job at speaking in general. 

Learning is taking place and this feels good. 

Power of Intention - Willing Things To Come True

I'm having one of those know the kind where if someone asked you to move a mountain you'd say, "Where would you like it sir?"

I'm feeling absolutely large and in charge and firing on all cylinders.  I'm actually emitting a ton of positive energy that's breaking down whatever barriers stand in the way of success.  In exchange for my vibes, I'm getting a massive amount of return vibe that's saying, "This works, keep pushing, go for it, don't stop, this is only the beginning, let the energy flow from you and it shall return 100X"

My goal is to make this happen every day...oh yeah, and train for RAGBRAI. I just got to feel the Trek Madone 5.2 SL at my buddies bike shop yesterday.  I can only say that I was left speechless by its minuscule weight.  My first thought was, "Is this thing rated for 235?"  Avoiding embarrassment, I quickly muffled the words before they exited my mouth.

"The Secret" Follow Up

I've passed the DVD around and have gathered some feedback from others that I thought I'd share.  Most immediately say, "Yeah that's common sense," which I find fascinating.  It's absolutely true but isn't it amazing how we let ourselves avoid common sense every day?  It's common sense to not eat too much or exercise or spend more time with our kids...but many times we'll still do what's negative, destructive, or simply "anti-common-sense". 

One learning described by a friend was that The Secret really pointed out that "She and her husband just needed to align their energies," and I thought that was really prophetic.  When you've been married 10 years and have 2 kids, it's tough to align much of anything let alone the idea aligning your energies, intentions, and thoughts.  But that's the simplicity of the idea behind The Secret.  It's less about 20 steps each day to a new you...rather it's an approach to living life as a whole. 

Of course, I craved more real strategies post DVD watching so in typical fashion, I'm in with both feet and now have the unabridged audio book of the The Secret and I've purchased James Ray's Science of Success.  I'll let you know how these are going as I progress.

Radio Garage: Class 6

So last night was as real as it gets.  We did an exercise where we tried to fit a monster amount of ad text into a 30-second TV spot (which is really 29 seconds in TV/Radio land).  Everyone in class read the ad as clearly and interestingly as possible...while trying to maintain the required time frame.  It was tough but essentially, we all made it.  But what's the real secret to those guys and gals in radio spots literally speaking loud, clearly, and with EMPHASIS while not taking a breath the entire time?  It's called digital editing. 

We learned that by recording one sentence or section at a time, the producer can literally remove the few seconds of "breathing time" required by most humans, and cut together a perfect pitch.  I guess I kind of knew this, but to see and hear the mechanics of making these spots happen was pretty interesting. 

The special treat came when we found out we were all going to read a commercial spot part as a real audition for the part!  There were a bit more nerves under that kind of pressure but everyone did great.  I'll let you know what commercial it is and which classmates (there's a male and female role) got the gig next post on the subject.

Helping College Grads Save Time & Misery

Over at McLellan Marketing, Drew "Top Dawg" McLellan is trying to put together an e-book that will assist recent grads in landing that first job.  He's soliciting nuggets of wisdom from his readership and I'd encourage you to add yours.  I've created a top 10 list for general career strategies to share with him.   Click on the above link to see his post and to add your comments, stories, or advice.

Doug's Nuggets - College Advice 13: 6-33

I graduated in 1994 with a degree in International Business.  I knew that I wanted to have an international flare in my vocation but I had no idea what that meant.  Like many business majors, I spent the first 5 years of my career in sales jobs that were fairly unfulfilling.  However, I spent those 5 years thinking, planning, learning about myself, improving myself, and building relationships. The time was not "wasted". 

Then, in 1999, I had a conversation with an early twenty-something guy that I'd built a relationship with in my sales days, "I'm looking to get venture capital financing for my start up company, He said, "I have one month's salary to give you to write the business plan.  If we succeed, you're in.  If we don't, that's it."  I took it, we did it, and the rest is history.   

So here are a few nuggets I've crystallized from my experience:

1. Always build relationships in everything you're involved with.  You NEVER know when that person might be EXACTLY what you're looking for in an employee or advisor.  These relationships will likely be the ones that either provide you jobs, financing, or business partners.  I haven't had a resume since 1999 and wear that as a badge of honor.

2.  Foster relationships with mentors.  I didn't do this early enough.  Create an honest self-assessment.  I call it a "Life Resume".  When you find someone you truly admire for their skills, business acumen, relationship skills, etc...ask them for a formal mentor/mentee relationship.  Structure it and meet monthly. I found a venture capitalist and said, "I want to know what it's like to be you and what you do all day," and that's been over 2 years now.   

3. Shift your thinking to solutions and you'll be a winner.  Everyone has problems.  Meetings are filled with idea killers and lamenters. Have you noticed though that many leaders are aware of the problems...but driven to break through to solutions without harping, getting down, or developing negative energy?

4. Become very comfortable in your own skin.  Speak in public, get terrified and overcome it.  Conquer that inner voice of doubt and break through to excellence.  Nothing will serve you more than being able to communicate to large numbers of people. 

5. Write. Become an effective writer by having your prose torn apart by someone good!  Don't be afraid of the red pen!  Learn to embrace it.  Say more with less (I should listen to my own advice).  Blogging is a great way to accomplish this.  Please keep the party photos and youthful indiscretions off the myspace pages though.

6. Follow your passions (hint: they may change). I'm not particularly passionate about a subject like real estate, economics, or art.  But I have discovered that I'm extraordinarily passionate about growing small companies into bigger ones NO MATTER WHAT THE SUBJECT MATTER.  It took me a while to gain the perspective and breadth of knowledge to grasp this. But when I did, doors began opening for me.  If you love an industry or segment, you may want to get some experience in any part of the value chain you can.  I bet if I took a job sweeping the shop floors at a NASCAR team's garage just out of school, I'd be a marketing executive by now. 

7. Embrace technology and be an early adopter.  This does NOT mean become a programmer!  Learn how to use all of the technology tools that successful companies use.  There's nothing more powerful than "the girl who just seems to know how to do it all".  It doesn't seem like it, but it will become harder keep up when you get older so consciously extend beyond your comfort zone throughout your career or you'll get passed by.  

8. Consider the option of NEVER getting a "real job". Self-employment may not be everyone's first best destiny, but you may not know until you try.  It may seem safer to be employed by someone else, but I'd beg to differ.  If you have it in you, do it.  I'd rather see try and fail vs. never try. 

9. Dress Well.  It's advice that seems to be missing from the "Golden Rule" list when growing up these days.  It's NEVER harmful to be the best dressed person in a room.  You will command more respect by being well dressed.  If you don't know what looks good, seek help. 

10.  Have initiative. Take on tasks and roles that extend beyond your comfort zone and knowledge base.  This could be the largest single factor in your success.  Immerse in something new.  Passionately obsess about something until you know more than most about the topic.  Do this enough times, and you'll find yourself able to participate in a much larger sphere of influence.  Nothing pleases me more than hearing, "I don't know how to do that, but I'll figure it out and have it done shortly."

I Watched "The Secret" DVD

The Secret
What an excellent production.  I was really captured by its imagery, sound, and contributors.  It began very DaVinci Code...and ended up with a very clear message.

Since I've been a student of self-improvement ideas for quite some time, I'm not so sure I heard anything brand new as far as content goes.  As far as approach, I think they've really struck a nerve.  The "Law of Attraction" says that anything you think about you'll manifest...bad or good.  Simplifying self-improvement down to "think right and the good will flow" is a tremendous burden removed for many.  There's far less science or effort perceived by the individual...although I believe affecting the change on oneself is equally as tough. 

Takeaway: The way in which The Secret presents its concepts and simplifies the techniques to achieving abundance is excellent and very palatable to the populous today.  The world will be a much better place if we begin to emit the positive energy of gratitude, thankfulness, and peace.  You are what you focus on. 

Radio Garage - Class 3

The voice class group had a hoot reading our scripts and getting some sage advice from Mike Pace, local Des Moines TV and radio personality.  The evening was filled with anecdotes and tales of the industry and was really enjoyable.  Our script this week was an ad for a local pharmacy and was a "while jogging, read the script" type deal.  Man was it tough to be realistic and still clear enough to be heard.  I'm doing some video/presentation work so I'll soon be using my Behringer B-1 and Podcast kit with mixer, etc. to make high quality audio on top of killer video.  I'll post the results on YouTube for sure.

The 3 piece name brand

I'm beginning to feel a bit left out since I only use two names in my personal brand:  Doug Mitchell.  I think a three piece brand might lend me some mojo.  Or what if I use the First Initial + Middle Name + Last Name equation?  I can join the ranks of:

James Earl Jones
M. Night Shayamalan
David Lee Roth
Edward James Olmos
James Arthur Ray
F. Murray Abraham
W.E.B. DuBois

I guess I could be D. Eric Mitchell or "Douglas Eric Mitchell" or "D.E.".  Can you imagine how awkward that would be at parties if no one knew you? 
"Hi I'm Douglas Eric Mitchell." 
"Do you go by Doug or Douglas?" 
"No I go by all of it?" 
"All of what?"

The Secret

Secret Let me begin by saying that I've ordered "The Secret DVD" and the audio book too.  I'm totally into all manners of self-improvement and believe in the concept of attraction and positive energy that I've read about previously, heard tidbits about around the blogosphere, and seen on TV (I've glanced at Oprah as I walked by my wife but you'll never get me to say in print that I watch that show).  However, what fascinates me MOST about "The Secret" are the following nuggets:

  1. It seems that society was "ready" for its next Tony Robbins.  There were many before him too but he was probably the most prolific guru of the 90's.  His tapes, CD's, etc. sold millions of copies around the world via the viral media of the time:  INFOMERCIALS.  Robbins did what many gurus do, repackage many teachings into a "new paradigm" that's easier for folks to adopt.  Throw in a flame thrower personality, huge white teeth, and put him on 24x7x365 and you have a commodity that a bunch of people really wanted and were willing to pay for.  His program was quite a bit more expensive I think though maybe a couple hundred bucks vs. $30 for a DVD.
  2. The Secret has been marketed expertly via viral word of mouth media.  It's not the first product/company to do use these methodologies, but perhaps the first "self-improvement" system to do it.  I started getting YouTube clips and such here and there and honestly, I had built up anticipation about what the heck it was (and still do since the products haven't arrived yet).  These marketing campaigns don't happen by accident usually and mega kudos to The Secret staff for orchestrating this (or rather for emitting the positive energy that attracted the positive attention, etc). 
  3. I really like the realism that many gurus have taken with regard to life's little pleasures.  Many gurus skim over things like drinking, nice clothes, and fine automobiles.  The abundance mentality accepts and embraces the fact that there's nice things in life to be had and that utilizing these things is part of a full life (if you want them to be and they don't throw your energy off in the other areas of life)...i.e. don't get plowed and crash your car.  The abrupt end of many a program for me was the "drinking is bad and must be stopped" part. 

Those are my pre-watch thoughts on the off to the mailbox to see if it's there!

Going Home On Time..What If You're Already Home?

I read a nice entry by Bert Webb called, Get More Done By Going Home On Time yesterday.  Bert talks about the creeping habit of working late and how we should, "Put that sense of urgency back to the early hours of the day where it belongs."  I couldn't agree more.  Mr. Webb also mentions that basically, early rising is the only way to fit in that which we must do.  Again, I'm with you Mr. Webb and I've subscribed to that belief since my early twenties when I figured out that getting 3 hours of work done before others rise actually produced a sense of balance and calm in my life.  Even today with 2 little ones running around, I can still achieve more by 7AM than most.  Living in the Central Time Zone and having an office in the West only magnifies the power of this since I typically don't get calls or emails (interruptions in the creative process) before 9-10AM Pacific.

But, what if you work at home like I do?  Getting up early and selecting a "finish time" is even more important for us.  If we don't have that sense of urgency...all we have to do is "slip downstairs" or "be right back" while you're checking some emails..only to find that 2 hours has time warped you away from family time.  My wife often reminds me that on my scale "a couple of minutes on the computer to finish an email" means that I'm fully engaged for at least an hour.  I still swear that I was just gone for a few moments, but the clock tells the tale.  I fight tooth and nail to maintain this awareness that it's not acceptable to work at all hours.  I love what I do and often it's easy to work ad nauseum but it seems to be sage advice to rise early, execute on that which you're passionate about, and what MUST be accomplished today, then wrap up at a well defined time. 

Of course, we must often spend extra time on business affairs to execute on something important...but don't you find that once you get in that habit, that just about everything can fall into that "very important must work late category"? It's difficult enough to focus these days with the myriad interruptions that cloud our brains.  The best thing one can do to maintain a sense of control and focus is to rise early, execute, enrich, and then turn some of the burners off.

Get A LIFE Bloggers!

I hope the headline has captured you and left you wanting more.  When you read this post, please keep in mind that I'm not attempting to discredit the internationally known author and speaker involved...rather I'm trying to make some observations about the fit of blogging into marketing tactics for any business. 

I recently participated on a panel discussion and presentation on heavy equipment GPS monitoring and tracking at the American Rental Association show in Atlanta.  My session immediately followed one on Guerrilla Marketing for the Rental Industry presented by Orvel Ray Wilson.  Mr. Wilson has authored many books and his "hit hard and hit fast and be different" approach is awesome.  His company is called the Guerrilla Group and I recommend you explore what his company could do for your business.  His seminar was by far the best I saw, full of energy, humor, and valuable marketing advice.

The equipment rental industry is somewhat old school...but the perfect playing field to stand out and be different right?  Mr. Wilson's discussion had included only a mention of email marketing...but had zero mention of social media or blogging.  Anytime someone stands in front of me and ignores something that I believe to be incredibly powerful, I feel obligated to discover the big "why".   

I approached and asked the question below and I'm paraphrasing the best I can recall based on notes taken immediately afterward.

The Chat
Doug:  "I didn't hear you mention anything about blogging during your discussion, what role do you believe it plays in the guerrilla marketing equation?"
Mr. Wilson:  "Ahhhh blogging...well I don't blog...basically because I have a life...(chuckling)...I mean there's a million blogs out there and there's a lot of garbage.  You have to know how to write...write editorial copy...and write well....(he got busy and began doing some other tasks).
Doug:  "Interesting...I really wanted to see your take since blogging is a powerful tool for some."

Mr. Wilson was busy cleaning up his laptop, etc. from his speaking session and was interacting with many of the A/V staff so I stopped asking questions and tried to take in what I'd just heard.  Of course, the first thing that fired off in my brain was, "This is going to be a good post for discussion among my readers". 

So I'll leave you with a few observations and questions that are still resonating in my travel fogged head.

The Takeaways

  1. The belief that blogging is something for only good copy writers is a serious miscalculation.  Blogging exposes the writer's true voice and reveals their style, tone, and method doing business very often.  Anyone that reads my blog "already knows me".  They know my positions, my pauses, my emphasis and my passions.   Many of my top 10 marketing blogger friends around the U.S. often use "real language" to communicate their vision/passion/point.   Editorial blogging is typically as boring as "mainstream media" know the media that folks are paying less attention to.  Although many bloggers write well and with clarity, others destroy the English language and its grammar and do just dandy.  Should everyone blog?  I'm sure there are reasons why some shouldn't...but one of those reasons should not purely be the editorial quality of the writing.  Should everyone read blogs or have searches automated to see what folks are saying about them?  Yes.  In fact, Mike McLaughlin who wrote Guerrilla Marketing for Consultantsblogged on this same topic a while ago.  Interesting.  Mike says, "If the purpose of a business blog is to reach your targeted audience, it’s best to know someone out there would want to read your stuff. Any one of us could rattle off a number of industries where blogs are still an oddity, not a fixture."  No and Yes.  How would I have ever known that finding a certain part number for an internal air card on my Dell laptop could help so many people around the world? happened, because I blogged on it.  I had absolutely no idea that anyone would find that valuable...but they did, by the boat load.  In the heavy equipment rental space, I bet there are few blogs if any.  If yours was the first and you blogged with even a modicum of skill in tagging or linking, you'd be found.  Trust me.  Why must the only value in your blog come from your direct industry?  I've achieved higher search engine rankings and first page results on many key topics that I blog about often like customer service and relocation.  In many cases, my more popular blog entries show up well ahead of the company's intended marketing message.  Old school business models may benefit from a blog more than more high tech businesses.  There's more cutting edge technology and marketing taking place in some seemingly old school segments than one would imagine.  GPS technologies and telematics are taking this industry by storm and allowing equipment rental companies to provide an unparalleled level of service. I'd bet that within 90 days, I could place higher than most when searching for "equipment rental" if I put my blogging efforts toward it.
  2. The belief that blogging is relegated to those that don't "have a life", is putting it lightly...ignorant.  AUTHOR'S NOTE:  I received a phone call from someone that knows Mr. Wilson suggesting that his comment about "not having a life" was likely geared towards his own personal schedule...meaning that "He'd not have a life if he were to try and blog". I have updated my post to reflect that I can see this point of view.  I had been quite fair that the comment was probably just a passing commentary lacking much context, but the rest of my post stands on its own and I hope the larger point is still the overriding one)  I'm pretty sure that Mr. Wilson's comment wasn't meant as a direct derogatory commentary on me, Seth Godin, Brad Feld, Tom Peters, Mark Cuban, and Guy Kawasaki.  Likely it was a humorous off the cuff remark that we all make from time to time.  I could list a thousand other blogs written by not so known names but the point holds.  We have a life.  In fact, we've taken on blogging as a means to communicate in an unfiltered way with our customers, potential customers, and casual observers.  We're using our real mojo and experiences in the life-business ecosystem to provide value for others.  We've all simply put a priority on understanding a new technology and new media platform.  It's the platform that our future employees are very familiar with.  It's the platform that can bring thousands of visitors scrambling to see what you think about the business trends and emerging issues.  Undoubtedly, this post will reach Mr. Wilson because of linking and tagging, and will probably be forwarded to him by a blogger with a life. 
  3. At the very least, interpret "blogging" as maintaining automated blog searches and tag searches to find out what people are saying about you when you're sleeping.  Nothing is more powerful than receiving an unsolicited "Thanks" or "Ooops" from the CEO of a company because they were paying attention.  If you're paying attention you have a serious competitive advantage vs. those who aren't.  Leverage that and odds are, you'll do better than "the rest".  Period.

The essence of guerrilla marketing for me is doing what isn't normally done, doing it cheap(er), doing it different.  Blogging is the pinnacle of cheap, different, and REAL.  It's worth an hour long workshop to understand the basics.  Then, if the CEO can't seem to put a coherent thought together, then find someone in the organization who can or hire someone. 

I think next year, you'll see a seminar by Doug called, "Social Media and the Heavy Equipment Rental Industry:  How To Get A Life Through Blogging!".   I invite your commentary.

Gaining Clarity on the 35th Floor

Img109Img108_1These are night and day photos from my room in Atlanta at the Marriott Marquis downtown.  I'm in the last stretch of this road trip and can't wait to get back home, even if it's been in single digit temps forever in Iowa.  I always begin to feel a bit disconnected after a week and I start to crave "that which I know and love":  The Panera crowd, blogging workshops, Bloganostra summit meetings, walking with my boy to pre-school, seeing our "family squirrel" (nicknamed Burger by my boy) romp from the front tree to the roof to the backyard where he torments my know the simple stuff. 

The "busy-ness" level so far in 2007 (really began December 2006) is quite absurd but reaching critical mass in a few areas that will hopefully activate the relief valve soon.  I'm experiencing a situation where it's very difficult to get deep into something and use creative brain power.  Time constraints are forcing a skimming of the surface - mercenary type approach to business.  During these times, it's helpful to have start up or small company experience on your side.  Many that go through this blow up or crash because of sensory and task overload.  However, a good sense of prioritizing your "high value targets" and setting clear expectations will get one through. 

Anytime someone tells me they're at the end of their rope or just "in the red" I'm usually able to bring them back from the brink with some shared experience wisdom since, I've read this book before.    

t-rex in the sky

  Originally uploaded by intlman_2000.

Standing on the back porch yesterday afternoon here in Harpersville, AL, I looked up and saw this angry water vapor dinosaur attacking the tree line. How often do you look up in the sky and let your imagination roam?

Paper Blogging & the Circle of Life

My wife brought the mail into today and much to my surprise, I received a "blog comment" on a real post card (that's a paper missive for the younger set).  The comment was a follow up on a "posting" I did in our local newspaper the Des Moines Register.  I responded to an editorial board opinion piece titled, "Pave Way For Preschool For All Iowa Children. The editorial board's penchant for spending my money seems never ending but I digress.

The crux of the story is the following non exaggeration.  Iowa needs to pay for preschool for everyone and for daycare before and after because it's a proven concept that preschool educated kids do better.

This idea is flat out wrong and I wrote the newspaper with my comments.  Here they are below and (linked)

The magic money tree must have sprouted here in Des Moines with all of the warm weather. At least that's the feeling I get when reading your gushing editorial about providing preschool and "wraparound child care" to everyone.

The piece builds from a "widely understood" truth that odds of future success are improved by attending preschool. I've seen plenty of alternative opinions that show unstructured play time being equally important to early development.

Now on top of paying yet more money for this option, you're calling for pre-preschool and post-preschool daycare funding! Let me clarify this concept to your readership: You'd like to outsource the management of children from early morning to evening with our tax dollars.

All of the statistics in the world cannot defeat common sense. Send your kids to preschool if you want to and can afford to, but please don't ask the general populous to provide nanny services at our expense. What a novel concept personal responsibility has become.

- Doug Mitchell,


My commentary was received very positively by an Iowa reader near Sioux City Iowa.  I'll call her Mrs. W.  Mrs. W said the following in her post card sent to me:

Thanks for your thoughtful letter in Wednesday's Register.  I taught kindergarten a couple of years (after mothering my own 3 past that stage) and learned the "common sense" advice - that children should not be pushed at that age.  They just need time to mature & at different rates.  You are correct:  "unstructured play time is equally important to early development."  Do continue to share your wisdom:

Mrs. W.

That word:  Wisdom made me feel pretty darn good Mrs. W.

I emailed a newspaper after reading a piece of printed paper.  My comments were read on paper and a postcard comment was submitted back to me.  Now I'm blogging on a paper comment and the circle is complete.  Now I'll follow up and send this printed post back to her.  The only piece missing was telepathy.  Blogs are just an extension of the conversation and I hope you'll join in like Mrs. W. did.

Emotive Men

Recently there's been a bout of Presidential crying.  Both Presidents Bush have recently publicly displayed emotion.  Elder Bush wept at a ceremony when speaking of his son, Governor Jeb...and yesterday, Younger Bush cried as he presented a Medal of Honor to the family of a New York Marine who literally dived onto a grenade to save his comrades.  Article is here.

There's been all sorts of blogosopherical attacks on the Bush's about weakness, blubbering, whimpyness, etc.  But as an emotive man that tears up when he sees someone attain their life's goal before his very eyes...or sees a family torn asunder with the valiant death of their own child that honorably saved a dozen more sons and daughters...I'm glad to see that the President hasn't let the job numb his soul. 


Less Is More

You can just tell when you meet someone whether or not they lead a frenetic lifestyle filled with overbooking, urgent deadlines, and constant "busy-ness".  Technology has helped our population join the collective with Borg like devices hanging from our ear canals and small boxes on our hips delivering CC'd corporate spam email about this or that.  What America needs to recapture is the ability to do less.

Doing less is power.  Finding the time to sit and do nothing with your family allows one to recenter on why those little people and that woman sitting next to you are so precious.  Reducing commitments to key areas of focus will let you provide more results to more people more quickly.  Reducing the clutter and unpacking your mental bags allows one to "redecorate the room of the mind" into a glorious new space with extra room, class, character, and a sense of calm. 

LESS = MORE, my mantra for 2007.   

5 things you didn't know about me

I've been tagged a few times with the "5 things you don't know about me", but a flurry of end-of-year traveling has really dented my posting schedule.  Thus, thank you to all who cared to know a few more tidbits from my life.  Here they are.

1.  The name by which I'm known is different in many circles.  My full name of Douglas Eric Mitchell can be broken down in the following ways and each has many qualifiers:

  • Doug:  business associates, folks I met after 1990, all career contacts.
  • Eric:  parents, wife's family, my family, fraternity brothers
  • Mitch: many close friends.  However this name has much overlap in all groups so in any given room, I may have to throw out all 3 to ensure folks don't believe my wife is a polygamist.

2.  I worked at a butcher shop during my high school years (1986-1990) and know all about what part comes from what on those tasty animals we love to eat.  Those years have made me the best steak/prime rib preparer that I know.

3. Between start up software companies (the niche in which I thrive) I was a Starbucks store manager.  For about a year and a half, I managed 25 youths and ran a high volume store.  My store had a line of sight to the parking the goal was to have the person's drink ready before they walked in the door.

This experience taught me many lessons in community, branding, and customer service.  The experience also taught me that firing people was easy (easier) if the person had done something stupid (at least we both knew what was supposed to happen).  It was not so easy when they were being released because of their inability to deliver the brand.  This type of termination was the "You repeatedly don't meet clearly defined expectations" variety and usually resulted in tears and begging forgiveness. 

4.  My first year of college was spent at the College of Wooster in Wooster, Ohio.  I wanted to "get away to a small liberal arts college to find my chi"  After a year of repeated attempts by the Collective to assimilate me ( political talk here :), I abandoned my International Relations major, fled back to CA and began my International Business major at Cal State University, Pomona where I graduated in 1994. 

5.  About the only time I remember getting in big trouble with parents...was sometime around age 6 when my dad brought home a bunch of free boxes of animal crackers from the grocery store where he worked, that had "expired" per the date code on the box.  I went around the neighborhood selling these for whatever the market would bare (capitalism at its best).  Bad idea.  Parents upset, return the money, etc. 

I'd like to tag Royster if he'd actually blog every now and again!

I'm A Simple Cave Man

I've finally furnished the man cave with leather furniture.  This room is about to become my enclave, my sanctuary, my library, my lounge.  I've adorned it with comfort items, warm colors, and animal skin.  It is here where the worlds problems will be solved and books will be read.  Likely, my boy will learn his cave habits as well. The room has been a year in the making and it got me thinking...

What drives the inner desire of man to have his own "cave"?  Is it really "prehistoric behavioral vestiges" that drive man to have a place in which to think, ponder, and escape?   Why is it that men are usually "given" the garage or a corner of the basement to do with as they wish by their wives? 

I believe that we humans are driven by animalistic, prehistoric, "survivalist" instinct more than we acknowledge. 

The cave provides that place for man to escape and ponder without the chatter of "the tribe".  The cave is a comforting place for man to recede into his thoughts and look deep for the strength and courage that leads him to make sound decisions for the tribe.  The cave provides a safe training ground for man to pass on customs, stories, wisdom, and morals to his offspring.   The cave is where battle plans...and plans for retreat are born.  The cave is where simplicity and functionality give man easy access to the mind set and environment to be instantly productive.  The cave provides man the opportunity to retreat, let his emotional guard down, and weep over things when it's not appropriate to share those feelings with the tribe.

I am but a simple cave man.   

A Life Moment

Maybe you're like feel good about yourself for the most part, you have a great family, you're generally doing good.  But...when you make positive changes in your life like eating better, getting more exercise, reading more, really establishing yourself in the business community, working in a more focused way, reach a point where you feel momentum picking up. It's glorious right!  You're on all 12 of your perfectly firing Italian cylinders (homage to Ferrari), you have clarity, you're dressing well, losing the baby weight (or sympathy 50 daddy weight) feeling well, and really just taking your vitamins daily kinda good.   

Then...out of nowhere you begin to stall.  The once concrete ideas about how to succeed and not eat those extra bear claws become fuzzy.  You begin to revert to older ways of thinking.  The newspapers stack up, the desk is messy, and the once ultra focused approached to work becomes more sporadic. 
Guess what changed?  NOTHING.  Except your brain began to really sense that you were breaking out!  You were headed toward the land of superior effectiveness and achievement...and your brain hit the brakes and began to allow your actions to sabotage this success.  You were getting too far outside your comfort zone and your jack in the box was about to burst open.  Screeeeeeech!

Well, what if one recognized such self-sabotage early enough to immediately do something about it and right the ship?  Bingo! I just experienced this moment of clarity and without much effort at all..was able to refill the humidor of mental growth in a flash.  Once I acknowledged it was happening and accepted it...I simply rolled past the limitation and am back at it again full steam. 

Instead of having a down period of confusion and incongruity in my thought patterns, I broke through again.  In the past, these down times where the brain is subconsciously moving you against your "new plan" have lasted quite some time, leading to frustration.  Now, I believe that I recognized the problem and took control within days.  Maybe the next time it will be hours (there will be a next time....the brain is very comfortable doing the comfortable thing)...and perhaps at some point, I'll get into real time!!! 

I guess I should have listened more closely to Tony Robbin's Personal Power...I'm pretty sure this was CD number 3.      

Just call me Homer Simpson

I'm going to take a class that trains one to speak professionally.  It's offered by Radio Garage Productions here in West Des Moines, Iowa right next door to me.  I learned about this class after an article appeared today in the Des Moines Register describing the class and its goals.
I'm talking about the voice over, breathing, articulation stuff rather than the content stuff.  I'm REALLY excited by this since I've always been able to imitate the radio announcer guy and the movie trailer guy..."In a world filled with..." You know the rest. 

I know my voice is a bit nasally and I don't breathe properly and I'm looking to solve these issues and learn  from professionals.         

Act Like A Nobel Peace Prize Winner...Today

A little birdie (actually Sandy) posted a link to today.  I didn't know about this organization...but it facilitates you, me, anyone making a "micro-loan" of as little as $25 to someone in a developing country.  Thank you making me and my readers aware of this great cause Sandy.

Remember recently that, "Bangladeshi economist Muhammad Yunus and the Grameen Bank he created won the Nobel Peace Prize on Friday for leveraging small loans into major social change for impoverished families.

The Grameen Bank's pioneering use of micro-credit has been duplicated across the globe since Yunus started the project in his home village three decades ago. Loans as low as $9 have helped beggars start small businesses and poor women buy cellular phones and basket-weaving materials."

Quoted from Washington Post

Kids v. No Kids

I had a wonderful chat the other day with my good friend in CA.  We started talking about kids, his idea for a book, and the perspective on life that is gained when becoming a parent.  We're both parents of two. 

We bantered about the amazing life changes that occur when you create a being of your own flesh and blood. I don't know any parent that wouldn't kill without hesitation if someone or something took an action against their children that warranted it. 

As our life's circles shrink down from our twenty-something "Group of Friends" into the "Moms and Dads with Kids"...the chasm between the "kidded" and "non-kidded" grows ever wider.  Not getting married and having kids is a choice that I respect...but it certainly does put a wedge in that "perspective" when you have responsibility to set the stage for and craft the foundation for another's life. 

Food for thought.         

Youthful Exuberance

Ben Casnocha talked today about young people and the freedom they have to "develop a cultural identity" since they're unencumbered by the ,"But what will they think" modality. 

Cultivating the, "Try like hell and is the best time in your life to explore what you can do without boundaries, fear, or the prospect of ruin," is the most important lesson I believe we must impart upon our children. 

I'm rabidly focused on this with my two children.  The best teaching method however is to lead by example and involve ones children in the processes, decisions, day-to-day operations, and planning of ones ventures.  Let them see that daddy still has that spark and attitude that, "It doesn't matter what the neighbors or the other big people's what you think and do that matters."

I Quit! PLEASE Stay!

A great piece appeared a while ago in the Des Moines Register called,

You're quitting, but now the boss wants you

The article discusses the very common practice of companies countering offers on the spot when you announced your intention to leave.  What does this say about the company?  Would you still leave if they offered you a bunch more ca$h to stick around?  The article points out that money is not the only reason you're probably leaving in the first place so THINK before you accept. 

I realize that its a tricky situation on both sides.  Of course companies attempt to minimize labor expenses thus your pay scale may be behind...especially if your role or responsibilities have changed.  Have you worked somewhere that kept dumping on you, you met the challenge, exceeded expectations...yet when review time came around, you were given the conciliatory X% raise?  I have.  Not good.  Of course when you work for time is about 10PM when your head hits the pillow.  Sound familiar?

Dawn Sagario's piece goes on to accurately explain that communication between employee and employer along the way is key to avoiding this situation.  If the company you work for takes a hard stance that "It does not discuss compensation unless it's review time"...or "It will not entertain talk about compensation because it would be unfair to others"'t walk to your sphere of influence, LinkedIn, or some other means that uses your relationships to find a position that suits you.  By the way, I believe it is fair to agree not to discuss compensation for X months once you've reached an agreement.  It's a struggle for both parties to discuss this topic monthly. Or better yet, create a position that fits you. 

When I quit my position at a major Telecommunications firm without having one to back it up in 1999...I had reached a cross roads.  My family was a little freaked.  My wife stood by and said, "We're behind you".  But that's when my start-up, out of the comfort zone, business plan writing, venture capital funding, learn new things every day, expand your mind, immerse and conquer, let it rip, "hey, I just learned a little html today"...attitude coalesced. 

That one decision launched a no resume, relationship based, just totally cool work life that is totally in balance with my personal and spiritual life.  Not bad for becoming "unemployed" by choice.

A Moment of Clarity from the Author

I don't believe that one must announce things to the world to make them stick.  Thus I hesitate to post this tidbit about my choice to change certain modalities that apparently run my life.  But my readers get many of my salient life moments so here goes another one.

I love food.  Man do I love food.  Most of my friends and associates in life would describe my passion for food as Emeril like.  Unfortunately, I learned some very poor eating habits growing up. This is not blame but fact. My mom always cooked enough food for a small army...thus, portions were always massive and reloads plentiful.  My dad could eat like a horse, and Sunday dinner can be explained in the following manner:  Eat 'til the bursting point, go lay on the couch and talk about how good it was, while mom cleans up the kitchen.

However now at age 34, at 6'1" and 250lbs, I do not love the way I feel.  My back hurts, my belly is big, and I can't keep up with my little kids.  Self-image is fine here so I'm not making changes to look better.  My driving forces are my genetics and my family. 

I carry my weight pretty well and most say, "You don't look that big" (subconscious takes over and goes for the creme brule)...but that's not the point anymore.  This is about not waiting until the first heart attack or something else to make me eat less and move more. This is about being here for my family as long as possible.  This is about counteracting my genetic predisposition to cancer, diabetes, and heart disease.  This is about a wife that loves me and needs me.  This is about 2 angels delivered from heaven that worship the very ground that my overly large body envelopes.  This is about conquering one of the last items that still conquers me.  I've grown so much through the years but this piece still vexes me and I'm done with it.  I just don't see how I can live to my fullest or perform to the level that I must when I'm ensnared by my next meal. 

There are no extremes here.  Life and food are meant to be enjoyed...but like many other things, I believe moderation is the best choice.  So don't be surprised if you see me order a 6oz filet, with fresh steamed asparagus, and a wedge salad with the dressing on the side for dipping (versus the coated indulgence that typically graces this work of art).

I will never stop enjoying the finer things in life...I'll just stop acting like every meal I eat is the last meal I'll ever eat. 

Iowa Is NOT Flat!

I formulated my grand strategy to ride in the U.S's most celebrated bike ride soon after moving to Iowa.  I'd get in shape, see the state that I now call home, and learn how to become comfortable in spandex biking shorts.  The ride is called RAGBRAI, the Register's Annual Great Bike Ride Across Iowa. 

Now in its 34th year, RAGBRAI attracts over 15k people from across the United States, and some from other countries.  I personally saw folks from the U.A.E, Italy, and from the most exotic of countries...Southern California.  RAGBRAI is really a melange of stimuli:  25% bike ride, 25% state fair, 25% camping trip, and 25% Mardi Gras.

The ride's route changes annually but it tends to cycle from Northern, to Central, to Southern Iowa.  It begins on the Western half of the state and moves Eastward every time.  The reasoning for this directional choice seems to be a belief (misbelief?) that prevailing winds are Eastward this time of year.  This year the route was through Central Iowa stopping in the town next door to mine.  This gave me an excuse (and probably a life saving one) to stop after the 3rd day versus going the full 7.   The idea is that towns host "stopping points" along the way...some mild some wild.  The big draw of pie and pork chops was not overblown in the media.  Every church and senior center in Iowa prepared delicious pies and a bevy of other food and goodies to keep riders right as rain.

This year, Lance Armstrong decided that he'd been wasting his time all those years by spending July in France.  He rode the last 4 days of RAGBRAI giving talks along the way as an advocate for cancer research spending.  He's committed to doing the entire ride next year and has hinted that he may bring along some celebrity friends.  Surely this will become the Sturgis of the cycling world.  Get ready for Lance-a-pa-looza.

Day 1
54 Miles:  Sergeant Bluff to Ida Grove (Map)

My first day I took special care not to overdo it and try to outrun my ability.  I was warned by the newspaper, websites, and other blogs that the first few days had hills.  If you've only been to Central Iowa, you'd have a tough time believing this as did I.  Much to my chagrin, all of those sources were right.  I often found myself peddling just a bit faster than some were walking their bikes. I refused to get off my machine...opting for granny gear, head down, no talk, sweatiness to reach the next peak. Other times, I was blazing downhill at 35 mph.  This route was balanced.  Ups led to big downs and a cool off and welcomed rest period.  Amazingly, 54 miles went pretty quickly.  I never peddled to exhaustion, rather I seemed to be in cardio heart rate mode for about 8 hours of the 10 it took to get there.  Upon arrival and set up of our campsite, my buddy and I began to find a prone position out of the sun.  Prone yes...out of sun no.  For 4 hours I lay there sweating through clothes and trying to understand my physical condition.  I felt "off"...I had trouble completing thoughts.  I was exhausted mentally and physically.  My water/Gatorade/fruit smoothie consumption was very high all day so I knew I was not dehydrated.  Additionally, I had eaten about 5000 calories to keep me going all day so "bonking" was not an issue. I was simply SPENT of all energy.  Weighing in at a scale tweaking 250lbs on a 6ft. 1in. frame was the core problem and I was paying the price for my penchant for 20oz rib eyes and dipping pizza in bleu cheese dressing.  We spent a night of tossing and turning in my 2 man tent trying to find comfort in the hot Iowa night.  Rain drops cooling my skin at 5AM woke me and day 2 was on.

Day 2
77 Miles: 
Ida Grove to Audubon (map)

I will never forget this day.  Just the ride out of town began with leg paralyzing hills that never seemed to go back down.  This day provided the most feet of elevation climb of all.  Top this off with a stiff headwind that was gusting to at least 20 mph.   A rider's reward for this hilly pursuit was a robbery of downhill speed and rest due to wind resistance.  There was little conversation between main stopping towns, only pain and sweat.  Riders cursed under their breath.  A man from Illinois was heard saying, "Does Iowa have a headwind in every direction? #[email protected]#%$$%@"  There was simply no relief.  We began this day at 6:30AM and arrived at our destination town at a little before 8PM.  I had spent 10+ hours on a bike and had the redness to prove it (in more than one spot).  Again I had more trouble moving, thinking, and doing.  Another buddy of mine Tom met us at the campground that night, hooking up so we could do the last leg together.  We had a couple of beers, walked the town square, ate as much as possible and headed back to our mobile domicile.  At 1AM, I woke again, scrambling along with many other campers to put our rain fly on. It looked clear when going to bed and the forecast was for "partly cloudy skies".  That's Iowa speak for "It could downpour but we really don't know."  I should have gone with my gut but my body and mind would not execute.  After some frustration we simply draped the rain fly over the tent and by then, the rain had stopped. We woke at 6AM and began to tear down.  On the way out of town, we were again met with grinding hills.  Gerard quipped, "Is every town in Iowa built in a sink hole expletive expletive expletive!"


Day 3
68 Miles: 
Audubon to Waukee (map)

Ah the home stretch but not so fast.  This day like all others began with more hills.  Mike legs ached and burned as though I'd been riding for over 100 miles.  Just getting to the outskirts of the town where breakfast was being served hurt badly. A raspberry white chocolate latte and some muffins procured from the local Methodist Church and we were on our way.  Tom was fresh and spry but that would all change.  The route notes indicated that the first 26 miles of this 68 mile day were as hilly as before..but HUZZAH!!!, the wind had subsided a bit and there was little net elevation change, i.e. downhills follow uphills that allowed for rest.  The first 26 miles didn't pack the severe punch of day 2 but tell that to "The new guy", Tom.  Eight miles into this day, Tom's bike somehow broke a spoke and we spent nearly 40 minutes at the mobile bike repair station getting a new wheel.  Imagine a corn field, a bunch of bike riders, and a truck with everything one needs to get fixed up.  What a sight.  The prices were exactly what you'd pay in their shop too.  Thanks to good Midwestern values and a desire to help its fellow man, the bike shop got us on our way again with no complaints.  At about mile 40, Tom began to get annoyed with Gerard and I.  His physical discomfort was obvious, no longer praising his cycling shorts and seat for comfort, rather cursing most things including Gerard and I for "Just leaving him behind, etc."  I recognized this behavior since I had done it with Gerard the day before.  Step 1, anger.   We began to pace each other, trading off the lead position, and began to make some progress.  The last 20 miles or so were FLAT.  Even with our energy stores depleted, we could maintain a 15mph pace.  Oh the joy!  If Tom had moved past the anger into acceptance, I think we really could have cruised.  I had energy again...the inevitable boost one receives from knowing they're nearing the end.  This leg ended on my "home trail" west of my town of Clive.  I felt like a confident tour guide at this point, sharing my local knowledge with Gerard.  My wife called and arranged to meet me along the route with the kids.  As we got closer, Gerard and Tom pulled back in true Tour de France style allowing me to bask in the glory of my home town.  They gave me my moment.  Approaching the mini-van, I saw the kids and they were holding signs!  The signs read "Go Daddy" and had hand prints all over them.  If not for the emotional exhaustion of the ride I surely would have crumbled and wept.  In an instant my pain and strife were gone and I'm standing in front of my beautiful wife and children. The thoughtfulness of my wife never ceases to amaze me and I'm truly blessed to have her.  After plentiful hugs, kisses, and greetings from fellow riders, we set out to reach the final destination.  We arrived, met the wives, loaded our gear, and it began to downpour.  Mother nature winked at me just then and put a tick mark in the Doug column.  That night as lightning lit the sky and thunder rumbled across the heartland, we broke bread together (topped with cheese, sauce, and toppings) and had plenty of liquid bread (beer) to nourish our bodies.  We sat around and told tall tales of our adventure while the kids played..and life was good. 

Although our bodies were weak, our spirits had already been lifted by friendship, love, and the buzz from achieving a physically and mentally demanding goal. I hadn't felt that physical sense of accomplishment in a very long time and I'm craving it again already.  Bring on the hills.  Bring on RAGBRAI 2007!


From One Cautious Analyst To Another

I took one of those personality tests on Personal DNA's Website.  I knew what the outcome would be, since I've done this many times before...but it's still fun to see if there's some part of me that's changed since the last test.  I'm a CAUTIOUS ANALYST.

Since Enron, there's been a lot of talk and media about "Extroverted CEO's" who are the star of the show.  But slowly, there's more attention being paid to the fact that "Not All Successful CEO's Are Extroverts."

This USA Today piece highlights that some CEO's are actually uncomfortable in many social situations and would rather be left alone.

One key point is that sometimes shyness and quietness is viewed as calmness and wisdom.  I couldn't agree more.  Nothing is more painful than a bloviating leader who tries to fill in every quiet millisecond with a nugget of nothingness.  Know anyone like that?  I've become far more comfortable with silence in the last few years and it has served me well.  Often I've gotten to the root cause of many issues but letting someone back themselves into a corner and work to get out...while using short sentences and 15 second pauses. 

Breeding Bosses

Rich Karlgaard does it again with a great little piece in the May 22 Forbes entitled, "About That First Job."  His Digital Rules Segment is my "must read first" every time I get the magazine...but this week's piece really spoke to me since I have 2 small kids.  Since Karlgaard is so "connected and in the know" within technology and VC circles, apparently he gets the question all of the time at conference, "What career should my kid pursue?"

I leave the bulk of the article to your reading pleasure, but the bottom line is that Karlgaard says get your kids obsessed with reading and if you uncover a passion of theirs...absolutely immerse them in it and let it flourish.  Also, think like an owner and use formal and informal mentors to accelerate your learning. 

I couldn't agree more.

In my life, there was never a question of whether or not I'd go to college.  Thanks to very dedicated and wonderful parents who valued education above all else, it was just a progression that happened and I participated happily.  I have a different spin on things these days though.  If my son or daughter were gifted with a passion for something that steered them away from post high school education, I'd support it fully.  Our economy and our nation are increasingly about specialization and 4 years spent fighting the indoctrination of academia and boring non-essential classes do not support this vision.

As a 30-something, I don't head to classes about botany and calculus because they'll round me out.  I attend focused seminars, learn from other successful people, and read books to achieve my goals. 

There's plenty of time to get "rounded out" when you've attained your own personal level of satisfaction with yourself, your career, and your place in life. 

I am doing my best as a dad to expose them to ownership, control of destiny, and leveraging others success to achieve the best in life.  Sometimes they don't go along with that model (you know...both being under 4), but at a very early age, I believe they'll "get it".  If they both end up as PhD'd University Professors who are obsessed with political science...I'm doomed.

Getting Reflective

I'm sitting here on my deck in the perfect breezy Midwest Saturday afternoon, kids napping, wife on a well deserved weekend scrap booking retreat about 1 hour away from Des Moines.  I'm having a few well crafted beers and am finishing up what will be the first cigar of about 3 today, a Cusano 10th anniversary BOLD cigar that spares no tastebud.  I'm in a lounge chair that happens to be directly across from the french doors that lead from the house to the deck.  One of the doors is stationary and I can't help but clearly see my reflection in the glass. 

I don't often take to blatant narcissism...but I found myself staring into the reflection.  I noticed my gray hair, now pervasive.  I noticed that I looked like two kids' daddy. I looked like a devoted (and sometimes lazy) husband.  I contemplated how far I've come in the last few years, what I've learned, how I've grown...and I was satisfied.  I was satisfied to sit there and stare knowing that I've accepted what I've done...and that I still have the fire in my belly to learn, do, and become. 

My time was interrupted as is often is by an 18 month bounding toward me, smiling so brightly, saying "daddy daddy".  I picked her up, squeezed her hard and whispered....I love you baby in her ear.  She wont remember this...but I will for the rest of my life.

A Moment of Clarity

Dr. Wayne Dyer's reputation as a master of self precedes him.  His books are requisite reading for anyone headed down the often bumpy path of "Trying to be the best YOU you can be" whatever that means for YOU.  There was a great article appearing on today that highlights some of Dr. Dyer's teachings from his new book Inspiration (the newest release among his 29 titles). 

Dr. Dyer describes the concept of reinventing oneself and how difficult it is to actually look inward instead of finding outward things to help your brain avoid the truth. 

He says, "You have the power to reinvent yourself. The difficulty lies in the objectivity and honesty you need about a very subjective topic–yourself. You’re fairly objective about improving or upgrading things, like your car, or your stereo, or your golf clubs. Reinventing  yourself requires a similar objective assessment of the most important thing of all. Your life. Buying a hybrid car, or a cutting-edge computer or communication system, or changing investment choices, or even trying out a nontraditional style of sexual relationship, are often unconscious substitutes for the inner signals urging you to change something about your life. It just seems easier to do something in the outer world."

Of his list of suggestions for "Accessing all the moments of your life and implementing quantum changes," I find 2 that I focus on with regularity.

Notice What You Really Want In Life
Dr. Dyer says, "Take the time to notice the moments of your life that make you smile, laugh, feel happy, meaningful and valuable, the times you look forward to, the times that you are so lost in a project that time vanishes."

How blissfully true!  When I have these moments...I actually acknowledge them and it literally "buys me peace, happiness, and love for extended periods of time.  I can literally feed off the energy from playing with my kids and lovingly laughing with my wife.  By accepting that spiritual "rightness" of that moment when it's happening, you can fill yourself with joy.  Any parent (or husband and wife) knows that these moments can be interrupted shortly thereafter by the reality of married life,  kids fighting, whining, crying, etc...but it's far easier to deal with those things when you have acknowledged you've got what truly makes you whole in life.

Get back into balance
I encounter this lack of balance so often in life that I fear that the only people left in balance are writers of Personal Development books. Dr. Dyer describes this process of analytical "realignment". 

"Thoughts and behaviors that don’t balance are the items that need your expertise to balance them. Desiring a stressless tranquil life while thinking, “I can’t be peaceful with so many demands being placed on me,? is a misalignment."

In the modern era of alleged multi-tasking, crack-berries, and email overload consuming lives, so few people seem to practice this.  It amazes me how difficult it is to keep balance with so many things pulling and pushing our attention here or there.  I'm beginning to believe that folks like us that work at home may be the "ruling class" of business down the road.  We tend to be less caught up in the day-to-day since we are not part of it.  We enter it here and there and truthfully, it feels good to catch the "buzz" of the normal business world.  However, I think we have the capacity to think about things, keeping the focus on what's important..and still stopping to notice the blooming flowers, chirping birds, and daily visits from Berger the Squirrel (My boy named him Berger for reasons left to the cosmos to figure out).

Go down the list of families and friends that you interact with.  How many of them seem to be in balance, calm, aligned?  I'm guessing that you'll find a large list of over tired, completely run ragged people who are stressed out from shuttling the kids, making ends meet, and just "getting through until the weekend".  I know that's the way my list was before moving to Des Moines.

I've found that it is much easier to maintain balance here.  Maybe it's the lack of traffic. Perhaps it's the energy created by the change in seasons (it's palpable),   It could be the fact that it's just easier to do everything here because there's less people and it costs far less to manage a household.  (You can find a very nice home for $150k...step up to $350k and you're living large).  However, I'm going to attribute my balance to the following which I will call for lack of a better term: My Balance Mantra.

I achieve balance in my life by focusing on what's good and right with my wife and kids.  I step outside myself by communing spiritually with my God as this sustains me.  I see birds, trees, flowers, animals and activity constantly throughout each day from my home office  window reminding me that life is not an office or cubicle.  The cool breeze that flows into my office nourishes my soul.  I stop in the moment as often as possible to dance with my kids through the house.  "Make music daddy" is the siren's call from my kids...making me launch into my best funky baseline imitation,,,watching them dance  through the house without a care in the world.  I sit on a patio surrounded by trees and just notice the clouds and how fast they move across the sky.  Finally, my work is not work.  It is the place where I channel my thinking, my creativity, and my mind.  It is where I am acknowledged on many levels including monetarily for contributing my unique skills and my time. 

By focusing on these things, I will keep life in order and not get pulled into improper decisions or wasted energy. 

Article by Pavlina - "Self- Acceptance vs. Personal Growth

I've read a lot of the self development books and am continually on a search for the next breakthrough.  Right now I'm reading "Are You Ready To Succeed?" by Srikumar S. Rao.

But the key point raised today by Steve Pavlina in his "Personal Development For Smart People" Blog has been the most critically important for me throughout my "thinking years"...which I place as the time when I stopped thinking like a college student and starting thinking about who I was as a person and what I wanted to be when I grew up.  Pavlina talks about Self Acceptance vs. Personal Growth.  Ah what a torturous topic!  For so many years I struggled and tormented myself because I wanted to become "The best salesperson in the world," since, like many recent college graduates, I found myself in a sales job for the same reasons most do:  lack of focus, no specialization of skill set, the lure of money, etc. 

(The author believes strongly that selling is a serious and noble profession and skill but even the most accomplished sales person at the highest level would agree that selling is an "easy in" for someone with a decent outgoing personality and reasonable work ethic)

Why couldn't I go out there and be better than anyone?  Why do I still hate the rejection of calling someone and them rudely dismissing me? I struggled and read books and listened to tapes but I still wasn't able to break through.  Those were some rough years during which I made very little money.  My wife is a saint for putting up with my erratically changing mental state during that time.   

After about 1.5 years lamenting in a sales position with a phone company, I began to see the light just a bit.  I began to ask the question, "What's wrong with simply accepting that I'm not going to be a killer sales person?" 

This simple question caused some discord in my brain waves...and things began to shift.  Over time, I became more comfortable with the question and began refining my viewpoint.  One one side I was empowered by not having to be the best at something that I wasn't "cut out for"..and that was miraculous.  But I was still tugged backward since everyone I know says, "Oh Doug...he's a great salesperson."  Getting pigeonholed like this was hard, but again, refinement kicked in.  What about selling am I good at

The list was drawn up:

  • Building relationships
  • Immersing myself in a business model totally so that I would understand its processes pain, and problems that needed solving
  • Being responsive
  • Being trustworthy
  • Clearly communicating with all levels at the company from CEO to trench warfare specialist

Right about that time when this transition was taking place, a massive restructuring was going on at the phone company in which I worked.  Exit Doug.  After a fruitless job search for about a month, I was offered a 1 month gig at a tech start up.  "That's all the money we have Doug unless the business plan you are here to write gets more."  A very collaborative 48 hours yielded a business plan that landed a $1 mil seed round...and my first work experience with living my newly accepted skill set...and lack of certain others was in full effect. 

I still "sold" in this position, although I was dealing with executives who clearly accepted that I knew as much or MORE about their businesses than they did.  I gained respect and received inbound calls from people who had "been referred to me after a contact had met them at a conference."  I started sending a lot of emails directly to CEO's and company founders completely cold (I still hated the cold call and still do whether I'm giving or receiving).  The magic was that 90% of the time, I either got a direct response from the CEO or my message was forwarded to someone else high up in the company structure who was tasked with listening to what I had to say. 
I was making deals for our company.  I was negotiating terms and playing hardball with ridiculous CEO's at major corporations.  I was flying all over the U.S. first class in the hunt for new business.

I was selling!

I felt great about it though because I was still growing personally.  I was learning new things, pushing myself to the limit, working 14 hour days and relishing in it.  On so many levels, I was firing on all cylinders and when I ran out of them, I just modified my engine.  Life was good. 

I had learned to accept myself...but I was striving to become better, stronger, and faster in other key areas.  I had found the formula that left me self-satisfied and still allowed me to strive for more.  I was deriving self-worth from a ore position and understanding of what I am and who I am...not something that was mercurial like job titles, income levels, or personal relationships.

Focus on the following from Pavlina and you just might have your own breakthrough.

"Have you fallen into any person-position pairing in your own life?  Do you derive your sense of self from things that are changeable and vulnerable, such as your income, your job title, your relationships, or any other form of status?  How much energy are you investing in defending those positions out of fear?

When you loosen your attachment to positions, you don’t have to defend them.....

When you root your self in something permanent, then your sense of self is effectively untouchable.  Your position can be attacked, and you can still defend it if you like, but you won’t feel irrationally compelled to defend it out of fear.  You won’t feel you’re being personally attacked when your position becomes vulnerable."