One Bad Habit I Need to Break.

Borrring.

I have a bad habit.  Whenever I get bored I turn to my iPhone.  Bored waiting for movie to start, iPhone.  Bored standing in line at the (insert venue), iPhone.  Bored sitting around the home, iPhone.

I know that the iPhone, and other smart phones, are so much more than just phones; they are mini-entertainment devices.  However I wonder whatever happened to using your mind to escape boredom?  What ever happened to basking in the boredom?

For me the real problem is not so much being bored, but feeling any instance of boredom and automatically it seems pulling out my iPhone as the solution.  As a child I had vivid day dreams.  This was my great escape from boredom because I had no other mental distraction (thanks parents for not purchasing a Game Boy or Game Gear for me).  Mind you during certain times I have a lot things going on that require a heightened iPhone vigilance, but generally that is not the case.

Lately I’ve been working on breaking this habit, starting with when I’m sitting in traffic on North Mopac (in Austin, TX), or waiting for less than a minute for my morning pick me up at Thunderbird Coffee.  I’m just taking this one day at a time.  Hopefully I’ll have it broken by Thanksgiving, but then I’ll probably be getting the iPhone 3G for Christmas, which will most likely put me back at square one.

//A.J.

Photo Credit

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Finding Your Inner Music.

True notes by angelocesare.

“The greatest tragedy in America is not the destruction of our natural resources, though that tragedy is great. The truly great tragedy is the destruction of our human resources by our failure to fully utilize our abilities, which means that most men and women go to their graves with their music still in them.” – Justice Oliver Wendel Holmes

Inner Music
Plainly this concept to me means the realization of a skill, that when applied to a pursuit, produces an action that to the doer, and the observer, appears, feels, beyond thought.  The doer simply is the action and vice-versa.  Put another way it’s like being in the zone, but all the time.
Death and Tragedy
To quote from Jay-Z’s Beach Chair, “I’m not afraid of dyin’, I’m afraid of not tryin’.”  While I am  definitely not at an age were I contemplate my mortality with any more thought than I do my birth, or how I was born, I do know this: I DO NOT want to die without having found my music.  I have no guarantees on how long I may have on this planet, but I do know is I have to try daily to pursue what I was meant to do.
Yet some people will not try.  Which is the tragedy.  Not dreams deferred, but music silenced.
As for myself the only resolution I can make on this matter to try, daily.
Life and Compromise
I understand life happens, compromises have to be made, kids have to eat, loans repaid, etc.  Careers are in some cases that Great Compromise.  The needs of the many, the family, weighed against those of the few, you.
I hope that I will be lucky enough to have a career where my music, my ability or abilities, will be fully realized in harmony with my field.  If not, than at the very least I hope to have the fortitude to pursue my music while satisfying my commitments.
It can be done.
//A.J.
Photo Credit

Useful Saturday Site

I’ve had my car, a 1999 BMW 528i, for about a year and have thoroughly enjoyed it.  The problem was the previous owner forgot to include the manual and I neglected to notice this until sometime after purchase.

No matter

The lack of a manual wasn’t really an issue.  The majority of the few issues I’ve had would easily identifiable (change oil, engine, or a head light out).

However, one light recently has been popping up and I had no idea what it meant!  I spent an hour or so looking around online for used owner manuals and came across this site, Free Car Service Manuals.

Usefulness

I clicked my car brand on the right column, found my car’s year and type, and downloaded a complete owners manual.  Now I know what the blinking light on my dash is (time to get my brake pads checked out), and I didn’t have to spend money ordering a manual.

I like free!

//A.J.


Thoughts on “Good to Great”

I’ve been reading Jim Collins’ Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap… and Others Don’t and thinking how it applies to the individual.

A key part of Good to Great are the interviews conducted in studying what separated the great companies from the good.  In one chapter, Collins and his team queried the CEO interviewees to describe/discuss “the one big thing,” the break through moment that elevated the company from merely good to a top flight, great enterprise.

Relating back to individuals, when did Bill Gates become BILL GATES, Barack Obama become BARACK OBAMA, WARREN BUFFET, BILL AND TED and so on.

Collins was told from the CEOs of companies defined as great, that there was no “Aha!” moment, no light bulb flashing above the collective mind of management.  Rather, as Collins states, “it was a whole bunch of interlocking pieces that built one upon another.”

This makes sense and is backed up in a recent Boston Globe article by Jonah Lehrer concerning the study of “grit”, the ability to drive forward in the face of difficulty.  Lehrer wrote:

“Even if Newton started thinking about gravity in 1666, it took him years of painstaking work before he understood it. He filled entire vellum notebooks with his scribbles and spent weeks recording the exact movements of a pendulum. (It made, on average, 1,512 ticks per hour.) The discovery of gravity, in other words, wasn’t a flash of insight – it required decades of effort, which is one of the reasons Newton didn’t publish his theory until 1687, in the “Principia.”

Essentially, grinding out for years does not make an appealing story.  Generally it is only the final result that gets press, making it seem as if one day greatness was simply bestowed upon an individual.  However, in most cases those who become great will not tell you WHEN they became great, most likely they will describe the HOW.

I bring this up because it is hard sometimes to focus on the HOW over the WHEN because of our culture of immediacy.  Whether greatness be defined as being named CEO, partner in the firm, rich, etc.  People forget or don’t acknowledge the set-backs individuals faced, trial and error to finally align their skills with a particular field, or developing competencies over an extended period of time (see the 10,000 hour rule).

Over the past few years I developed the mind set that my success where equally as important as my failures.  Both provided guidance as I moved forward with my life.  However I try not to dwell too much on either simply because I have no idea if in the long-term it was the failure that developed me (hopefully) into a great individual, or the success.

Having this mind-set also lessens the blows of set-backs (to my ego and drive), and keeps me centered as I move forward.

//A.J.


Reflections on a updated resume.

Updated

Updated

I updated the resume yesterday to include my current job .  It was a moment of pride as I’ve reached a point where I’ve accumulated enough work experience that I had to re-size my resume’s text to 10pt. to make sure everything fit on one page (I read this was the lowest you should go on your resume).  At the same time it was a pain in the ass to whittle down months to a years worth of work into a few bullet points!

I reflected on the continuous flow which I was able to move from one job to the next over the past two years.  Months ending and months beginning connect with few gaps.  Everything on there was relevant to the jobs I’m seeking in terms of showing a 360 composition of what I offer, leadership, communication, and interpersonal ability.

That being said  I do believe in tailored resumes, but at this stage in my career, I haven’t done enough and worked long enough to fill a whole page with my time at two, let alone one, of my past jobs.

There’s an application on the iPhone that notifies you when updates for other applications have been made available.  I don’t know how it would work, but it’d be great to have a iLife (name probably already taken) that tracked an updated certain aspects of your life online, whether adding a new title on LinkedIn or new responsibilities, and then all you did was press update and ,BOP, new bullet points!

That’s only wishful thinking.  I actually do like figuring out how to best express in a few words what I did/accomplished on a particular job.

Also on the subject of resumes, I came across this website courtesy of @AAGardner on failure resumes.  The idea is to “craft a résumé that summarizes all their biggest screw ups” as a way to gain insight into what you learned from those mistakes.  I know I’ve gained a lot of experience through failure or ridding the line close to it.

It’s never fun, and I am a person who usually doesn’t dwell too long on them, but this exercise would be constructive.  I’ll give it a try and post later this week.  I’d love to see what other folks came up with.

//A.J.


Everybody’s Free (To Wear Sunscreen)

The song, Everybody’s Free (To Wear Sunscreen) by Baz Luhrmann, was at the end of a random movie I happened to turn into a few weeks ago.  I heard this song before, but not in awhile, since my junior year of high school.

In any event, the lyrics definitely resonate with me more than they did 10 years ago, which is the way things go I suppose.  I’m older , and presumably wiser than I was at 16.

You can listen to the video here, it’s in spoken word form.  I’ve bolded the lyrics that really stuck with me below:

Ladies and Gentlemen of the class of ’99
If I could offer you only one tip for the future, sunscreen would be
it. The long term benefits of sunscreen have been proved by
scientists whereas the rest of my advice has no basis more reliable
than my own meandering
experience…I will dispense this advice now.

Enjoy the power and beauty of your youth; oh nevermind; you will not
understand the power and beauty of your youth until they have faded.

But trust me, in 20 years you’ll look back at photos of yourself and
recall in a way you can’t grasp now how much possibility lay before
you and how fabulous you really looked….You’re not as fat as you
imagine.

Don’t worry about the future; or worry, but know that worrying is as
effective as trying to solve an algebra equation by chewing
bubblegum. The real troubles in your life are apt to be things that
never crossed your worried mind; the kind that blindside you at 4pm
on some idle Tuesday.

Do one thing everyday that scares you

Sing

Don’t be reckless with other people’s hearts, don’t put up with
people who are reckless with yours.

Floss

Don’t waste your time on jealousy; sometimes you’re ahead, sometimes
you’re behind…the race is long, and in the end, it’s only with
yourself.

Remember the compliments you receive, forget the insults; if you
succeed in doing this, tell me how.

Keep your old love letters, throw away your old bank statements.

Stretch

Don’t feel guilty if you don’t know what you want to do with your
life…the most interesting people I know didn’t know at 22 what they
wanted to do with their lives, some of the most interesting 40 year
olds I know still don’t.

Get plenty of calcium.

Be kind to your knees, you’ll miss them when they’re gone.

Maybe you’ll marry, maybe you won’t, maybe you’ll have children,maybe
you won’t, maybe you’ll divorce at 40, maybe you’ll dance the funky
chicken on your 75th wedding anniversary…what ever you do, don’t
congratulate yourself too much or berate yourself either – your
choices are half chance, so are everybody else’s. Enjoy your body,
use it every way you can…don’t be afraid of it, or what other people
think of it, it’s the greatest instrument you’ll ever
own..

Dance…even if you have nowhere to do it but in your own living room.

Read the directions, even if you don’t follow them.

Do NOT read beauty magazines, they will only make you feel ugly.

Get to know your parents, you never know when they’ll be gone for
good.

Be nice to your siblings; they are the best link to your past and the
people most likely to stick with you in the future.

Understand that friends come and go,but for the precious few you
should hold on. Work hard to bridge the gaps in geography and
lifestyle because the older you get, the more you need the people you
knew when you were young.

Live in New York City once, but leave before it makes you hard; live
in Northern California once, but leave before it makes you soft.

Travel.

Accept certain inalienable truths, prices will rise, politicians will
philander, you too will get old, and when you do you’ll fantasize
that when you were young prices were reasonable, politicians were
noble and children respected their elders.

Respect your elders.

Don’t expect anyone else to support you. Maybe you have a trust fund,
maybe you have a wealthy spouse; but you never know when either one
might run out.

Don’t mess too much with your hair, or by the time you’re 40, it will
look 85.

Be careful whose advice you buy, but, be patient with those who
supply it.
Advice is a form of nostalgia, dispensing it is a way of
fishing the past from the disposal, wiping it off, painting over the
ugly parts and recycling it for more than
it’s worth.

But trust me on the sunscreen…

I wonder how I’ll hear this song when I’m 36?

//A.J.


Top 3 Rules for Quality Consumer Experiences.

I had to get some work done on my car not too long ago at the BMW dealership on McNeil Road (in North Austin).  This was my second visit and the first time I ended up getting a loaner (see below).

Here are some pictures from the waiting area…


Free Starbucks coffee station for a morning pick me up.


Two flat screens below the kids center.


The waiting area, another flat screen.


BMW movie theater.


BMW T1 (I made that up), Baby Blue.


This bad boy is powered by that new leg engine.


Side profile.


Wall picture.


BMW buzzer. It talks!


Massage chairs, there was a 42″ flat screen up top.


One of six internet hubs.

All in all not a bad way to spend the morning, and look all better…


My Green.

Coming back to the title of this post, the retailer qualities I value most as a consumer in need of service boils down to three things:

  1. Atmosphere.  How I feel when I walk through a retailers doors;
  2. Ease of experience.  Come in with need A, talk to Rep. B, problem solved with C (loaner car, new iPhone, etc); and
  3. Retailer treatment.  I like smiling, friendly (but not too friendly) staff, and staff able to read when I want their help or when I’m just making up my mind (this is an art).

I’m certainly not reinventing the wheel here but it’s amazing that some retailers still don’t get it.  Add the both Austin Apple Stores to my favorite consumer experience locations as well.

//A.J.