Napoleon Hill Poem

I bargained with Life for a penny,
and Life would pay no more,
however I begged at evening
when I counted my scanty store.

For Life is a just employer,
He gives you what you ask,
but once you have set the wages,
why, you must bear the task.

I worked for a menial's hire,
only to learn, dismayed,
that any wage I had asked of Life,
Life would have willingly paid.


P90X - Day 2

Sound quality sucks... I'll improve it next time I guess. Other then that... feeling good... and sore! :-)


To the Journey...

Just read the valedictorian speech of a high school senior, in which the speaker puts down our education system as simply a means to train us to be human machines in a work force society has built to make life as safe as possible for the greatest number of people.

The speech puts forward, in an eloquent manner, a concept that I've believed for a long time. I've often said to those I'm trying to explain myself to that I "refuse to be an ant". I don't want to follow the same path that everyone else has and live a life where I labor from 9 to 5 on something I don't care about, doing work that almost anyone else could do, just so I can go home and prepare to do it again 5 days a week for the next several decades of my life. Happiness for me cannot just be the times and activities that surround the work day; ones which I can only afford and participate in because I make enough money through doing these monotonous jobs. Further, no increase in the cost of these types of activities can truly excite me or make me happy (as I've learned when I used to spend large amounts of money on silly things). Even if I'm working a job that I enjoy, I would still be bound to the restrictions of the company I worked for... doing only the things they approve of and only when they deem it okay. This goes for everything from making work related decisions to taking vacations.

Interestingly enough, though I've believed the above for a long time, my life's focus was still on doing work, albeit on my own ventures, in an attempt make a lot of money so I could be more free to do what I wanted when I wanted it. Now that's not a bad thing, but at the same time it really is just another incarnation of working at another company from 9 to 5 so that I can afford to enjoy my time off. This version however would increase my off hours to considerably more as I wouldn't need to work as much to make a lot of money (after starting a successful company and/or selling it). If I continued with this focus, I'd end up in the exact same spot I'd been in, in the past (bored and unhappy) but with more money...

Upon coming to this conclusion, I believe I've finally found the real meaning and reasoning behind something that I've heard many times before, but had never truly taken to heart:

"It is not the destination, but the journey."

Rather than focusing on an end goal that would supposedly make me happy beyond my wildest dreams, perhaps the better way is to make sure to maximize the enjoyment of my journey through life as much as I can. Sure there are bound to be unhappy times ahead but if I spend my time enjoying the path as much as possible I believe that at the end, even if I didn't make millions of dollars or I never became a household name as a great businessman, I will still be able to look back and think about how much fun I had doing the things I did (both for work and play) with the people I respected and cared about and how happy I was doing it. Sounds like success to me.

It's time to stop spending today dreaming of a better tomorrow and instead focus on enjoying today for everything that it is. This doesn't mean that I won't set goals and work to achieve them but more that I will make sure to take as much pleasure as possible from the work I'm doing on the path towards these goals. It's called living in (or being) present and its all I've really got for sure.

I leave you with this quote... one I've always been fond of and can now put even more value in:

"Someone once told me that time was a predator that stalked us all our lives. I rather believe that time is a companion who goes with us on the journey and reminds us to cherish every moment, because it will never come again. What we leave behind is not as important as how we've lived. After all, we're only mortal."

- Captain Jean-luc Picard (Star Trek Generations)


Today is...

It's 6:43 AM on a Monday morning and I'm 26 years old. Standing over the bathroom sink and looking at myself in the mirror, I realized something...

Today is the first time, in a very long time, that I'm happy with what I see and who I am.


Man in the Arena...

I read this quote a few years back in a blog post by Michael Arrington but only recently thought of it again. It gives me inspiration and reminds me every day that even my attempts themselves, though many times futile, are always worthwhile.

It is not the critic who counts: not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes up short again and again, because there is no effort without error or shortcoming, but who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, who spends himself for a worthy cause; who, at the best, knows, in the end, the triumph of high achievement, and who, at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who knew neither victory nor defeat.

- Theodore Roosevelt


Life Trending Up?

While reading Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, Passion, and Purpose' by Tony Hsieh (CEO of Zappos, which was sold to Amazon.com recently) with Kindle on my Droid (which by the way is the best thing in the world... thought I'd never want to read on my phone but its amazing), I realized something.

In the beginning of the book, Tony goes through his childhood and the different entrepreneurial ventures he attempts, from worm farming, to button making, to Christmas card selling. He also tells about his involvement in activities that were out of the norm. I'm sure there will be more great stories ahead (haven't finished the book yet), but even this short list got me thinking about my childhood.

When I read books like this, I often compare myself to the author in an attempt to figure out whether I have the same mentality (which hopefully therefore puts me also on the path to success). This time was no different, except while searching my past for comparable things, I remembered some things I had forgotten.

Even when I was young, I had entrepreneural ambitions. I've always easily recalled the times of having a battle at the lunch table with my friend Jon Corbett over who was going to be more successful in life and the starting of Delphin Solutions and eventually DS410 LLC in college, but I had forgotten about the various things I had done between those memories.

Though I don't remember the age I was at the times, here are some examples of activities I particitated in:

- Walked around my apartment complex to sell gifts out of a catalog
- Made peanut butter balls from a kids cookbook recipe and sold them door to door
- Built my church's website
- Started the trend in middle school with Jon of doing the announcements in the morning over the PA system (Later, everyone wanted a chance to do this so we had to train others)
- Got to skip a full day of school to learn about the lighting board in the theater and be one of the very few people allowed to run it (for performances, etc)

This trend continued into high school, where I tried to start a web design company with classmates (Delphin Solutions) and then into college where I merged with Jon's company to create DS410 and hired my classmates as interns at my company.

I'm sure there have been plenty of other entrepreneural memories that I can't remember but that's all I've got for now.

It's comforting to know that I'm doing the types of things that other people who have been successful did and, though it doesn't guarentee success for me, it does make me feel good as my struggle continues to build new things and reach new heights. It reminds me of Steve Job's speech at Stanford about connecting the dots looking backwards in your life to see how you got to where you are (One of my favorites...See Here).

"So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something — your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever because believing that the dots will connect down the road with give you the confidence to follow your heart, even when it leads you off the well worn path, and that will make all the difference."

- Steve Jobs, Founder of Apple

Hopefully this trend continues as I push forward to success. I'll keep you posted. :-)


Apple (and Steve Jobs) get you EVERY TIME!

Just a quick note on something that is blatantly obvious to me. Every time some new device comes out from Apple, its always a crappy version compared to the version that comes out shortly (within a year or so) after. In some ways, this is to be expected because new technology comes out and the costs of technology go down. But in Apple's case, they seemingly put out dumbed down versions of the device everyone actually wants first and because they're Apple and the devices are so new and sleek looking, everyone wants one. It doesn't help that Apple fan-boys must have every new product the day (or even the day before) it comes out, that they're already willing to pay a premium price for Apple products as they have in the past, and that they seem to think that if they don't get one ASAP, they'll be shunned from society and lose points from their "hipness" factor. These people don't take into account that the technology in the product may be years behind competitors or that a better version is on the horizon if you can wait long enough.

Let me give you some examples:

iPhone - Yes, the iPhone was and still is a really cool piece of technology. When it came out in its original version though , it was only 2G however. This, when most other phones were already 3G! I honestly think they could have made a 3G version right from the get go, but instead they decided not to because they new that the cult would buy it again when the 3G version came out... and some even again when the 3GS came out.

iPad - The iPad is also a really cool product but also makes my point much more clear. The initial version that came out only includes WiFi. Everyone of course had to have it because the cult members (and wanna be cult members) have to have every cool new device. Only thing is that another version, the 3G connected one, was already known to have been slotted for a few months later. I can't believe there was any reason Apple couldn't have come out with the 3G and WiFi version at the same time... It's one extra chip, and they already have experience putting it into smaller versions of their devices. Instead, Apple seemed to double down on its clueless customer following. They knew people who got the WiFi version would love it and want to use it even more (especially for the price tag they paid for it). They also knew that people would realize that it was a much more limited experience without being connected to the internet all the time, thus creating the impetus to need the 3G version even though they just shelled out for the WiFi version full well knowing that the 3G was coming out. Almost everyone I've heard who bought a WiFi version says they're going to go out and buy the 3G version... doubling the profits of Apple.

So, to sum it up... it seems to be part of Apple's business strategy to use the hysteria behind their name to put out crappy versions of new products to coerce people to buy more than one. I'm not saying its a bad business strategy... in fact I think its amazing. But every time they do it, I can't believe how many people fall for it. Fortunately for Apple, I don't see that changing any time soon.


Priorities... No more maintaining!

There's a great post over at Location180 about setting priorities and making sure those priorities don't go into maintenance mode, causing you to feel like there's things you should be doing that you aren't and ultimately making you feel overwhelmed. Well guess what... that's how I feel!

Here I am in London, wanting to have a good time and enjoy myself, while at the same time feeling bad for not getting things done. The real problem here is that I know I'll only be here a short time longer and therefore I'm trying to do everything I'd like to do (I guess that's the difference between being on vacation somewhere and living somewhere... you don't feel pressured to try to squeeze everything in). The fact that I'm going to Belgium and Germany in the next few days and then to Miami shortly after aren't going to make things any easier.

So, as suggested by Sean, I'm going to decide on my top 3 priorities right now so I know where I stand and can better gauge what I should/will be working on.

Priority 1: Becoming Financially Secure...Again
So since I've stopped working full-time, I've obviously took a pay cut. I have accordingly (other than this trip to Europe) cut my expenses as well. Gone are the random nights (ok, actually not that random considering it happened fairly often) of multiple bottles at the club, calling Paul (limo driver) to come pick us up, and random spending of money. You know what... that's more than okay with me! I was getting kinda bored with it. Now I pay much more attention to what I spend on food, drinks, etc. I feel like its actually a good thing and something I should have had to learn a long time ago but didn't because of the large amounts of money that I spent. I now need to generate enough income every month to pay my bills and live so this is the first priority on my list. Any project that pays me immediate money becomes a #1 priority. There it is cut and dried.

Priority 2: Beautiful Body
If you know me at all, you'll know that I've wanted to have a better body for a long time. You'll also know that I've been fairly bad about working towards it. I used to blame the fact that I worked every day for 8 hours as the reason for it but now I know that was just BS. I am therefore burning into my head (and also writing it down) that getting into shape is my second priority. That doesn't mean I'm going to spend 4 hours in the gym every day or run 20 miles every week. It does, however, mean that I will be attending the gym or doing something physical for at least 1.5 hours a day, 6 days a week. This can be running, blading, playing soccer, going to the gym, etc. It also means that I will be looking for healthy (and still inexpensive) alternatives to the crappy foods that I normally eat. I'm not doing this as a vanity thing (ok, maybe not just a vanity thing anyway). I'm doing it because I'm tired of feeling bad about myself, being uncomfortable about my body (even though I'm really not in that bad shape), and generally missing out of the self-confidence I know I'd have if I was in better shape. Plus summer is coming soon so there's that :-p . So there it is, if I'm not doing something that is making me money immediately, the next thing I'm probably doing is something physical.

Priority 3: Recurring Income Projects (aka business ideas)
Again, the people who know me won't see this as a surprise. I am always working with people on new ideas. Problem is, we get started and then it fizzles out or gets pushed to the back burner. While that may sometimes be a good thing (bad projects get killed), in general, if I commit to something I'd like to know I have the integrity and drive to see it through... Maybe not to the very end, but at least until I can make an informed decision as to whether the project is worth continuing. Currently I have many such projects on my plate... multiple iphone/android/blackberry apps, club connX, GoalDiggr, DreamDigga. I think all these ideas are worth pursuing and need to be putting more time into them so I can decide whether they are worth continuing before I decide to take on more projects. Additionally, any of these could blow up and make money down the road. Therefore, my priority #3 is to get these projects up and running as quickly as possible. The sooner they're done, the sooner there's feedback, the sooner I know whether they're worth something or that I should move on.

So there they are....
1. Becoming Financially Secure...Again (making immediate money)
2. Better Body (getting into shape and being healthier)
3. Recurring Income Project (Sorting/following through on business ideas)

Plan is to judge everything I choose to do against these three priorities and anything that doesn't fall into one of them will be considered "Just for Amusement". And there's always time for amusement... as long as the work get's done.


I'm Free... and in London!

Well, it’s happened. As of about a month ago, I stopped working full time. I’m not going to go into the details of how right this second but I will say that I’m happy about it. I wanted to do a celebratory post about it on the blog, but decided that it would be more prudent of me to hold off on it as my mother reads my blog and I wasn’t ready to tell her just yet.
Things have very much changed already. I’m actually sitting here in London, writing this post. I decided to travel a bit, especially when I found out that my mom, Kathy, and my sister would be traveling to London for a week. I decided to spend the week with them and then go on to Belgium and Germany to visit friends for about a half week longer after they leave. When I get back, I have about a week and a half in NYC after which I’ll be driving down to Miami and staying there for an undetermined period of time. At a minimum, I’ll be down there for Winter Party and Winter Music Conference, with a visit home in between. That takes care of most of the month of March. Plans for the month of April aren’t completely locked down yet. I may be spending the month around the Mediterranean somewhere with Jon and def end up back in London for a weekend to celebrate one of my friend’s birthday. Quite an exciting next couple of months!
One question you may be asking how I am financing all this, while also paying my rather high rent in NYC and my bills. The answer is a whole bunch of things. I like to break them down by how quickly they’ll give me a money return. On the immediate/short term side, I collect money from my company DS410 by continuing to service the clients that I’ve had. I also continue to try to cultivate new ones, not because I enjoy the IT work but mostly because it provides steady recurring monthly income. I will be working on a helpful blog targeted at helping small businesses with their IT, which can be found at http://www.computernetworkingnewyork.com. Additionally, I also do web and mobile (IPhone, Android, Blackberry) application development. These aren’t as steady but still pay pretty well. In the mid-term side, I work on projects that will not only make money now but also have the potential of making money in the future. I won’t go into details about these projects now but one involves mobile contact management for clubs , another involves building a new form of lead generation service for plastic surgeons, and a third involves a “build your dream” community site that does interviews of people in the entertainment industry focusing on how they made it to where they are. On the long term side, I have my newer company “Goal Diggr”, which still has a lot of work left to do on it. As I work on the different things, I attempt to write a bit about them here.
So far, the experience of being free is very nice. I haven’t been as worried as I thought I would about money (though that may change while I’m here in London considering the horrible exchange rate). Anyway, got to go out to see the sites.


2010: The Year of Freedom

I've already decided that this year (2010) will be the year of my freedom. In order to do that though, I need to define what freedom means to me and what are measurable metrics to achieve it so here goes...

Freedom Definitions:
- Location Freedom -- The ability to work from anywhere and not be tied to one location

- Financial Freedom -- Earning enough money to easily pay my bills and be able to put a good chunk aside to begin paying back my debt

- Time Freedom -- Being able to work whenever I want and not have to be in the office from 9am sharp to 5pm everyday

- IT Freedom -- At least partially getting out of the IT industry, which I dislike being a part of

Freedom Metrics:
- Location Freedom -- Being able to work from anywhere as long as there is an internet connection. This means not having an office that I have to regularly visit. Having to visit an office once a month would be fine if I am still doing a full time job or client visits are also fine a couple times a month but I should not have to be at a physical location more than 3 times a month at most.

- Financial Freedom -- Earning at least $150k pretax if I'm working full-time or $80k pretax if I'm working for myself only.

- Time Freedom -- The ability to set my own hours and work when I want. Specifically, no starting work at 9am and ending at 5pm. I want the to be able to work when I'm most productive instead of when someone else thinks I should. I want to set my own schedule.

- IT Freedom -- Spending no more than 10% of my time on IT related jobs (system engineering, break/fix issues, etc). More specifically, having my "full-time pursuit" something not IT related. Having my own IT company on the side is permissible as long as I don't spend more than 10% of my time working on it.

Worst-Case Freedom Scenario:
I have quit my full-time job at Mi**S**** (I hate that I can't mention them for fear of being fired). I am work remotely for a full time position that expects me to meet with them physically once a month. They pay me $60k at least and don't care when I work as long as I meet deadlines. This position may be IT related I guess. I have moved somewhere that isn't more than $1500/month for me. I pay out at least $1000 towards my debt while still living comfortably. I am still working on my own company in the background.

Best-Case Freedom Scenario:
I have quit my full-time job at Mi**S****. I work full-time for my own company, which is cash flow positive and earning me $200k/year. I am able to work from anywhere. I'm at about the half-way mark paying off my debt. I have given up my IT company. I am not bound to the 9 to 5 hours of most.

The worst-case scenario doesn't seem that far out of reach.

And when I do accomplish get there, I'll shout for all to hear the great words of Martin Luther King (though he meant it in a different context):

"Free at last, free at last, thank god almighty I'm free at last!"