Friday, February 24, 2012

Axiom 18: Birds of a Feather...

"Tell me what company you keep and I'll tell you what you are.
-Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra

"Be careful the environment you choose for it will shape you; be careful the friends you choose for you will become like them." -W. Clement Stone

The company you keep is one of the biggest factors in determining how successful and happy you will be in life. It is inevitable that you'll start to think and behave like the people you are around the most. I recently heard a great quote that you are the average of the five people that you spend the most time with.

And its true. There are many examples of this. On a small scale its why children grow up and repeat the sins (or successes) of their parents. Its why parents worry about who their children become friends with and start relationships with. Its why rehabilitated drug-addicts are advised not to hang out with other users. On a larger scale its why people in your city talk with the same accent, vote the same way, dress alike, and eat the same cuisine.

No matter who you are it is human nature to assimilate and adapt to the beliefs of the larger group to fit in. That's why it is so important to downplay negative relationships and emphasize positive ones.

From time to time you should do an evaluation of your own friends and family. You should see how their behaviors are affecting your own way of thinking. The goal is to see who is making your life easier and happier and who is making your life more problematic. Once you are aware of this you can find ways to slowly distance yourself from the people that are negative in your life.

The best way to distance yourself from negative relationships is to seek out positive people and positive activities. You will notice that you naturally have less time for the negative people in your life and you can slowly cut them out. Negative family members and lovers can be a little harder to distance yourself from. You may have to do something more drastic like breaking up with lovers and moving away from family.

That may seem a little cruel, but I'm sure you've seen people caught in perpetually negative relationships who can never seem to accomplish anything. How could you ever travel the world, start your own business, or simply enjoy the simple things in life if you are fighting with your girlfriend or boyfriend every night? See my point? In these situations put yourself first.

Choose who you spend time with wisely because they will influence how you see the world and how happy you'll be.     

Friday, February 17, 2012

Top 10 Regional Fast-Food Chains

There's a McDonald's, a Subway, and a Burger King in every city in America, but those places don't excite me much. What does excite me are the smaller regional fast-food chains. These are the places that I crave that aren't available nationwide.

Here's a countdown of my top ten favorite regional fast-food chains:

10. Raising Cane's - They offer chicken strips cooked to perfection. There's not much to choose from on the menu, but everything they serve is delicious. A must try is their meal called, The Box. It contains chicken strips, fries, Texas toast, and their special Cane sauce - which is unbelievably awesome.

9. El Pollo Loco - This is what Chipotle should taste like. These specialty burritos are delicious. A must try is their Califresco. It is a burrito with meat, corn, and other fresh veggies. Be sure and also try both the green and red salsas.

8. Braum's - This is a classic place for a burger and ice cream desserts. The must try here are the crinkle-cut french fries. They are the best fast-food fries anywhere in my opinion. Also make sure you treat yourself to one of their many specialty double-dip sundaes.

7. Jersey Mike's Subs - This is like a way better version of Subway. They slice all of their meat fresh when you order it, and the bread is delicious. I recommend getting the Club Sub "Mike's Way".

6. Whataburger - Great burgers, onion rings, fried pies, shakes, and maybe most importantly great ketchup. Their ketchup is a special recipe that will have you stealing a few extra packets for the house.

5. Captain D's - I've never liked Long John Silver's. I've always thought Captain D's was a million times better. The problem is they are becoming harder and harder to find. If you are lucky enough to find one make sure you try the Bite Size Shrimp Dinner with some extra hush puppies.

4. Taco Casa - The food here reminds me a lot of something you'd find at a high school football game, but in a good way. They are always generous with the portions, and the prices are cheap. Be sure and try the cheese nachos with peppers. The queso is addictive!

3. Del Taco - Del Taco is an interesting mix of items. This is one of the few places where you can get tacos and tater tots all at one place. The highlights here are the fish tacos and the funnel cake fries.

2. Culver's - Culver's is a lot like Braum's, but with frozen custard instead of ice cream. They also have delicious crinkle-cut fries. Be sure and try their frozen custard. It is like rich, buttery ice-cream.

1. Taco Bueno - There's no where I love more than to chow down at Taco Bueno. The Mexi-Dips & Chips are a must as well as their Cheesecake Chimichangas. Their queso is the best around, and their ingredients always taste fresh. 

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Axiom 17: Pay Attention to Detail

"I can never bring you to realize the importance of sleeves, the suggestiveness of thumb-nails, or the great issues that may hang from a boot-lace." -Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

"Success is the sum of details." -Harvey S. Firestone

Car Salesman or Lawyer?

Back in my college days me and my friend James use to meet up often and drink a few beers for happy hour. We use to go to a bar that drew a wide variety of both blue collar and white collar workers. Being that James and I were both public relations majors at the time we were learning how to quickly assess every situation and use the small outward details to help understand the bigger picture. One game that grew out of this that we played at the bar was, "car salesman or lawyer?" 

There were always a few guys at the bar dressed in collared shirts and ties that had just got off of work. Because of the bar's location these guys usually either came from a nearby car dealership or law firm. On the surface car salesmen and lawyers look the same unless you spot the subtle differences in the details. We use to try to figure out what they did for a living from the little details that we could see. After we made our final guesses we would have the bartender go over and casually ask them where they worked. After awhile we got pretty good at this game.

So how did I make my guesses? I would look at the brand of their tie, what kind of watch they had, how old they were (were they old enough to have gone through law school?), what kind of shoes they had (and how worn out or dusty they were), how they paid for their meal, what topics I could overhear them talking about, how dirty or wrinkled their clothes were, what they were eating, what they were drinking, what other items did they bring with them to the bar (newspaper, briefcase, etc.), and so on.

The one thing that I learned from this game is that the little details can end up painting the bigger picture. Learning how to read people from afar can be helpful, but as the next story illustrates the little details you exhibit can affect how other people make up their mind about you too.

How salting your dinner could cost you a job offer.

My friend James knew a business owner that had a very peculiar way of hiring people. He would take prospective employees to dinner at a restaurant that he was sure they had never eaten at. Then he would watch them very closely when they got their food. If they salted their food before they took the first bite he would not hire them.

His reasoning was that people who salted their food before they tried it lacked an inherent ability to think things through properly. How would they know that the food needed salt if they had never been to that restaurant and tasted the food? On a micro-scale their actions were demonstrating an inability to take the proper actions in the proper order, and that could end up being a problem on a bigger scale in a business environment.

If you agree with business owner's hiring process or not one thing is certain: You may be judged in life based on your smallest actions and reactions. Take the time to step back and look at things on a micro-scale. You'll be amazed at how different the world looks, and you might just learn something new.