March 16, 2009

Life is short?

Filed under: Uncategorized — admin @ 5:45 pm

Many people say life is short. Compared to what? A dog lives, on average, a life that’s 7 times shorter. A fruit fly lives for a day.

Rather, life is limited. I’m writing because I realized something about that. Life is like a limited canvas in which you have the opportunity to create a masterpiece. What is your life about? It will be about whatever you choose to do during your life.

All those times we are complaining about how things are not the way we want them to be, how life is too short, etc. are times almost totally wasted. I used to say that worrying doesn’t ever help. But now I am going to say something deeper. You have a limited life, and there is a sublime beauty in that. You have limited resources, and it’s up to you to make something of it all. How do you go about it is up to you - it is your life.

Also a note about stress and multitasking. People say the years start flying by faster as you get older. I wouldn’t know for sure, of course, but I suspect that the rate at which time flies by has to do with memory and awareness. If you are constantly stressed out, multitasking, and feeling like you aren’t accomplishing very much, then life starts go by much more quickly. I know, because the last 4-5 years have gone by and I haven’t really traveled anywhere much, haven’t really “lived” all that much, while people around me, younger than me, have experienced so many adventures. If we focus on our health, our memory, our awareness of life, we may be better equipped to savor it. If we can accomplish things, and take our time to take it all in as we’re living our life, we may find much more fulfillment and satisfaction.

One more note about strengths and weaknesses. This post grew out of talking to my mother. She has accomplished quite a lot, and is ahead of others in many ways — for example, she finished a Ph. D in music in Russia, she has over 10 years of experience as a music teacher in public schools, she studied biology and physical therapy, and holds advanced degrees in education. But she took a couple real estate courses and is now filling up all her free time getting involved with properties she bought in Saratoga county. Meanwhile, she is not devoting a lot of time to utilizing her strengths. I look back on how I spent my own time, and I see a lot of time-wasting too, although to a lesser extent. So I want to make the following observation:

In those things that can really use our strengths, we can accomplish many things comfortably and effectively. Those are our resources — our education, our experience, our skills, the people we know, and so on. And they say the rich get richer . . . you have so much power in these areas, you can generate momentum much more easily, and later channel it to spill over into other areas.

Instead, we sometimes begin spending our time trying to start from scratch in an area we don’t have experience in, which we are still weak in. It could be fun if it’s just a hobby. But trying to make it in this area, without using any of your resources from the areas you are strong in, is almost always a waste of time in this limited life. It is frustrating. You wind up multitasking and stressed out. Your life begins to pass by more quickly and you don’t take it all in.

However, if you could build yourself up to success in the areas you’re good at, and then use your new resources to generate momentum in other areas, you will accomplish more and on the whole, you will be respected more too.

The big reason for this is that you have very few resources when you start out in a new area. Mark Twain said, “We are all stupid, just on different subjects.” If we learn effective ways of converting our resources (time, money, personality, skills, strengths, connections, etc.) into what we want, we’ll accomplish much more. When you are strong on something, and you play to your considerable strengths, you don’t have to worry about fixing all your weaknesses. But when you start out in a new field, you have to work on eliminating a huge number of weaknesses and naivete before you can get consistently good results. Because you have no overriding strengths to help you get away with your mistakes. For example, Paris Hilton recorded a CD. One thing is clear: use the resources you’ve got, and the ones you can convert more easily. Use your aces to get more aces. With these, you can later obtain 5’s or 6’s of another suit. Or something like that.

So sit down, write down a list of all your major resources, the ones that you have impressive amounts of. Then make a list of all the things you can accomplish with them. Some things you have never thought about accomplishing, and some you’ve been putting of. Perhaps it’s worth it to build a name for yourself. Maybe you can accomplish several of these, and then sit down and write your list anew. Have something to show others. Then you’ll have something to bring to the table when you’re venturing out into areas you need a lot of work in.

Good luck.

Selling air

Filed under: Uncategorized — admin @ 1:11 am

Recently when Apple started selling it’s thinnest laptops, I joked that it had joined Adobe in selling the Air.

A while back I read about pyramid schemes and multi-level marketing. The first one is not legal in the US, but the second one is, in many states. The main difference is, in a multi-level scheme, you have to have an actual merchantable product to sell, the sale of which generates the money. The scalable money does not come from “membership fees”, as it does in pyramid schemes.

The interesting part comes when the product is electronic. These days, it costs almost nothing to replicate an electronic product and sell it, whether it is an e-book or a computer program. Imagine making an MLM scheme based on selling an electronic product. Anyone can have rights to redistribute copies of the product, but only if they pay commissions to the person who introduced them to the program. With physical products, the manufacture and supply chain would enforce this. But with electronic products, it is enforced by copyright law. I should look into mixing MLM with copyrighted electronic materials. It costs very little to carry out, and could really take off.

You don’t need to go very far, however, to make money in interesting ways. For example, there are lots of new species being discovered all over the world, theorems being proved, etc. And often they are named after the scientists that discovered them. Well, how about I make a company that lets millionaires give a unique gift… having a dinosaur named after you. Give us $500,000 and we’ll find you a scientist willing to take $250,000 to name the next dinosaur after your wife, and it’ll get its own wikipedia article, too. And we’ll send all the journals to you. We might even throw in a cuople other things, after all, we’re getting $250 G’s.

Kind of like all these companies bottling tap water and selling it . Brilliant. Although it might make sense to buy it if you suspect the pipes in your building are dirty. :)

March 8, 2009

8 Steps To Achieving Your Goals

Filed under: Uncategorized — admin @ 2:10 am

I recently came up with a list I want to share with you. I wrote it when I sat down to think through the steps I will need to take in order to succeed at what I want. It assumes you don’t get any help from others (angel investors, rich uncles, get set up with a supermodel), but pull yourself up by your bootstraps until you are at a point where people and success naturally flow your way.

Okay, you must first have a goal, something you really want to bring about in your life. You have to want it badly enough to commit to achieving it. That can be called step 0.

Step 1

Identify what it will take to achieve your goal. Work past your fear, insecurities, shame, and any other psychological reasons that would hold you back. Commit yourself to a rational process: if you conclude you must do something, then work on getting rid of the obstacles and allow yourself to do it. (Maybe even enjoy the process of getting better at it.) Be ready to accept the consequences.

Step 2

Make a plan. Write down concrete milestones and deadlines. Then, double or even triple your deadlines to accomodate overhead (you will have to take care of other things too), and downtime (you might get sick, or sidetracked). The schedule may take longer than your exuberant optimism predicts, but the point is that you should be sure you can finish ahead of this schedule. You can have a good degree of certainty.

Now, fill in the space between the milestones with smaller tasks that you’ll have to complete, taking into account the dependencies some deliverables may have on others. Because you’ve stretched your deadlines out, this should present you with a pretty lenient minimum achievement curve. This is the curve you will have to outperform.

Step 3

You are probably in a relative stable position at the moment (unless you just lost your job in this current economy). Stay there, but start earning more and spending less. Save up enough money to buy yourself financial independence for as long as it takes to get your business running. Get access to resources that you will need to utilize once you start working on your project full-time. This step might take a long time, and you might be itching to start on your project execution. Use that energy to do well in your current work, and later on you will have a great shot at emerging successful with your project.

Yes, you can work on your project in your spare time, but you’ll have to juggle work, your project, your social and personal life, and meeting with other people about your project. Multitasking on this scale can cause a lot of stress and put various aspects of your life at risk, including your income and your commitments to others. I know this from personal experience, having worked late hours after coming home from work. My advice would be to do this only if you really think you can afford it.

Step 4

When you have saved up enough money to live on, you can leave your job. Do it as amicably and as cleanly as you can. If you and your employer part on good terms, you may be able to come back later on if your project doesn’t work out. At any rate, you’ll be able to rely on them to give you a good recommendation should you have to get another job in your industry. If you are a consultant and have clients, then tie up the loose ends as completely as possible. You don’t want your clients to be calling you two months down the line and distract you from working on your project. One thing you could do is put them in touch with a colleague of yours who is in the same business. Give them some of your accounts to maintain. They will appreciate the business. If things don’t work out down the line, they might return the favor and help you get started again by referring a couple clients of their own to you, or you might even get some of your old clients back. Or if you didn’t succeed, you might consider switching gears and getting a long term job.

Minimize your responsibilities as much as you can, but some may remain — for example, visiting your mother. Start meeting these responsibilities even better than before, since now you have more time. That way the people close to you will appreciate what you are doing and be more supportive.

Step 5

Begin executing the plan you’ve created. Pay particular attention to how you set things up in the beginning. This is probably going to be one of the most enjoyable times for you, anyway, since you are taking your first bold steps toward the future you want for yourself. You might be renting your first office, creating your first business cards, or getting the equipment together to build your first prototype. You’ll be setting up your workspace, decorating it, putting your personal touch on something other people will see later.

Keep a calendar and populate it with the minimum achievement schedule you’ve created. If you fall behind this schedule, you have to get on track as quickly as possible. On top of this schedule, mark down any new appointments that come up, such as following up with people you met, or going to new events. Since you are now all by yourself without a job, you will have a lot of overhead. Oh, and try not to get too sick — you probably don’t have health insurance at this point.

Step 6

Produce materials that you can show and tell others wen they get interested in what you’re doing. It is not enough to achieve something silently; there will be points when you will have to share with others what you do — on a dinner date, perhaps. So prepare in advance your shpiel about what you are passionate about, where you’re at today, and even better, have some marketing materials that explain to people (who may be unfamiliar with the technical details) the importance of what you are working on, and what you have already accomplished. Keep updating and refining these materials, and your story. If they are online, they are accessible from anywhere. If need be, hire a professional to help create these materials (e.g. call me for web design, hehe).

Step 7

Find out about opportunities in your area. Network and meet other people. Find out what they are doing and if you could help each other. Be interested in them, and be interesting yourself. If you have a lot going for you, and/or a lot of potential and enthusiasm, you will find people who naturally feel inclined to help you. People must feel good around you in order to help you, so be mindful of that. Make friends, and they may turn into partners.

Step 8

Finally, keep re-assessing where you are and where you need to be going. Life takes us in interesting directions. So often, people start thinking they are going to do something, and find themselves later on enjoying a totally different path. As we achieve, we learn, and we grow, and we change. Wherever we are, we are always headed somewhere so we might as well find our happiness along the way.