Sunday, July 31, 2011

An Inside Look Into the Advertising Industry

I came across a documentary online about the advertising industry that is a pretty fascinating look into the human psyche. The entire documentary is available free to watch online: 

Friday, July 22, 2011

10 Random Things About Paris

10. The French are not rude - I'm not sure why so many people claim the French are rude. The only plausible explanation I can come up with is that these are the people that went to France with a cocky American attitude. Walking up to a French person and saying in English, "Do you speak English?" is no more acceptable than if they came to America and said to you, "Parlez-vous fran├žais?" When speaking to French people for the first time always start off the conversation with, "Bonjour, parlez-vous anglais?" If you do this you will most likely be rewarded with for your efforts.

9. Waiters don't rush you - Unlike here in America, the waiters don't bother you very much. There's no, "Is everything okay? Do you need a refill?" every 5 minutes. The French actually think its kinda rude to continually interrupt someone's meal to check on them. The beautiful thing is that just because they don't bother you doesn't mean they aren't around. As soon as you need something or look like you need something they will come right over to help you. 

8. No tipping - At restaurants the tip is already added into the price of the item on the menu (and so is tax). If you use a credit card there's not even a space for a tip on the receipt. So don't feel bad for not leaving a tip, but if you must leave a tip 1 or 2 euros will work fine.

7. Counting on your hand starts with the thumb - So if you want two of something hold up your thumb and first finger.

6. Parisian subway - The Paris subway is a beautiful thing. It is cheap, convenient, and way better than using taxis. Don't let the language barrier scare you, just dive right in and try it. Or actually before you go and try it read the Paris Metro Guide.

5. T
axes are added into the cost already - If something says 5 euros, it is 5 euros. I wish we could do that here in America. Everything is also usually rounded up to the nearest 50 cents or euro, which helps you from getting stuck with lots of loose change.

4. Everthing is expensive - Due in part to the generally bad exchange rate a dinner for two at a cafe can run you $70USD pretty easy. I would avoid shopping in France for anything you can get at home if possible because of the bad exchange rate. 

3. Macaroons - Macaroons are sort of like puff pastries with a gel filling. The two most well-known places for macaroons in Paris are Pierre Herme and Laduree. You got to try some if you go to Paris.

2. No high-pressure sales - Street vendors, homeless people, sales people at shops, waiters - I didn't experience any up-selling or high pressure sales techniques. The French are very laid back, which comes from the "today is as good as it gets, don't worry about tomorrow" attitude. 

1. The touristy things are the least enjoyable - Large groups of people are generally awful to be around. Getting stuck on a Seine riverboat cruise with a bunch of German teenagers, and being in a room at the Louvre with 200 people shoving each other to get close to the Mona Lisa is not my idea of a good time. I'd much rather people watch at a cafe or walk through a quiet park along the Seine.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Axiom 8: Ask and You Shall Receive

"Genius is one percent inspiration, and ninety-nine percent perspiration." -Thomas Edison

"To live is the rarest thing in the world. Most people exist, that is all." - Oscar Wilde

There are times in life when we all get depressed about our situation. We think about how it is too hard to become successful and about how bad the present situation is. Truth is that most people will blame their failures on anything except themselves because it is hard to find fault in their own character. People feel better about a bad situation when they believe that they have no control over it.

The hope lies within knowing that you are different than the rest of the sheep out there. How? The answer is that the people who persistently pursue answers eventually find them.

I go out everyday into the world and see thousands of mindless people just miserably passing through life. None of them ever going beyond the surface level of self examination. Just the simple fact that you want to be more successful than the general population, and that you are seeking the knowledge to do so, sets you apart from most people. Ignorance is not bliss, contrary to the famous quote. Ignorance holds you to the status quo, a life of mediocrity. 

Don't be afraid to sit there and ask yourself the tough questions. Without questions there are no answers...

Don't know where to start? Here's a few examples to get you thinking:
  1. If you died today what would be your legacy? 
  2. How do you define success?
  3. What is something negative in your life that you have the power to change?
  4. How much money would you need to make each month to live comfortably? Do the math...
  5. What do you want your life to be like in 5 years?
  6. What have been your greatest achievements / failures?
  7. What are you passionate about?
  8. What are you thankful for?
  9. What do you want to accomplish in your lifetime?
  10. What is the meaning of life?

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Axiom 7: Life is a Casino - How Do You Play Your Chips?

"A life which is empty of purpose until 65 will not suddenly become filled on retirement.
- Dwight L. Moody

"Many people die at twenty five and aren't buried until they are seventy five.
- Benjamin Franklin

In Axiom 6: Life is a Race - How Do You Run It? I gave the analogy of life being like a race. An analogy to prove that over a person's lifetime the pattern of their actions (or in-actions) shapes how their life will turn out. Axiom 7 is to take that concept and apply it to setting priorities for the long and short term.

If you were to spend everyday living only for today your life would descend quickly into chaos. Bills would go unpaid, you might be partying at the bar every night, or hell maybe you might decide to pack up and move to far away on a whim. No doubt that living everyday with a carpe diem attitude has an air of romanticism to it but for all practical purposes the people that fail at this type of lifestyle far outweigh the successful ones. 

Then on the other end of the spectrum imagine only living for tomorrow. Sacking away money in a savings account that never seems to have enough, waiting until you're retired to take that dream vacation overseas, always talking about future plans instead of doing them. I also like to think of living for tomorrow like living each day as a routine rather than an adventure - just going through the motions, almost dead to the world.

I think most sane people would agree that everyone needs a happy medium between these two lifestyles. I know at times we seem to wonder too far to one side or the other but that's where common sense should strike and bring you back to the middle. 

Choices in life are much like gambling in a casino. If you play only the high risk bets like betting on black #17 in roulette you'll most likely be broke very quickly. On the other hand if you only play the safest games and bet the minimum you'll probably never experience the thrill of striking it rich. Why not compromise and do the safe bets mostly but take the occasional long shot?

One thing you can do to sort out choices in your life is write out a good old-fashioned pro/con chart. Make sure you examine both the emotional and logical aspects of the choice you are facing. Also examine the possible outcomes chronologically. So if you are thinking about taking a new job, for example, think about the immediate possible outcomes as well as the ones years down the road.

Careful risk assessment is the key to success.