Friday, December 26, 2014

Axiom 57: 'No' Doesn't Always Mean 'No'

"A little more persistence, a little more effort, and what seemed hopeless failure may turn to glorious success." -Elbert Hubbard

"About the only problem with success is that is does not teach you how to deal with failure.
-Tommy Lasorda

I started band when I entered middle school. I hastily picked the french horn as the instrument I chose to learn. As that first year of band progressed my french horn skills did not. I was awful. I still remember playing a rendition of "Good King Wenceslas" that was so wretched that I could see the look of disgust on the band directors face.

As the year came to a close I was miserable playing that instrument. I was considering giving up and quitting band. I just had to get through one last concert with the french horn and then I would be done with band for the year. However, something interesting happened at that concert.

For the first time I noticed the percussion section playing. I was mesmerized as they jammed out a drum solo to the song Wild Thing and from that moment on wanted to play drums in the band. I went to the band director soon after and confessed that I wanted to switch from french horn to drums. His answer was a quick "no".

I couldn't blame him. I was so awful at french horn and if I switch instruments I would be a year behind. I told my parents about wanting to switch and they went with me to talk with the band director again. After a meeting with him the answer was still "no".

I was ready to give up and move on, but the lesson I learned next shaped the tenacity that I have retained to this day. My parents asked me how bad I wanted to play percussion and I convinced them that my interest was genuine. With that they enrolled me in private lessons for the summer.

They called the band director up on the phone. They told him I was taking private lessons to catch up a year. He finally agreed to let me audition at the beginning of the year. If I was good enough I could switch to percussion.

I practiced all summer long. For once I enjoyed playing a musical instrument. My private instructor had me playing high school level sheet music by the end of the summer. Needless to say I came back to school the following year and played percussion. I went on to play the drum set in jazz band and became lead snare drum and drum line leader in high school my sophomore year.

I refused to take no for an answer and because of that I came out a better person.

Let someone else's "no" motivate you to prove them wrong rather than stop you dead in your tracks.  

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Montgomery Inn Ribs Review

The best ribs I've ever eaten were in Cincinnati.... that's right Cincinnati.

I am a native Texan that has eaten my fair share of ribs.... and until a visit to Montgomery Inn I probably would have told you that Corky's in Memphis was the ribs king.

In fact, above is a picture of me eating at Corky's just a few days prior to my visit to Montgomery Inn. At the time the thought of any ribs being better than Corky's was laughable. I was wrong, and you're looking at a delusional man in that picture that had not yet seen the light of Montgomery Inn.  

I chuckled to myself as I read Montgomery Inn's menu for the first time... "you will forsake all other ribs after just one bite."

Those are big claims. Very big claims.

The restaurant was started by the Gregory family (no relation). I ate at the original location and the atmosphere was quite roomy and enjoyable. The place is actually pretty big for a restaurant. 

I ordered the ribs and Saratoga chips (potato chips made in house), and was fitted with a bib. Everyone eating ribs gets a bib to wear, and you'll probably feel out of place if you don't wear the bib.

But the main question is - How good were the ribs, really?

They were amazing! The sauce was sweet and had a great flavor, but the meat was what truly made these ribs better than the rest. Every single rib was cooked to perfection. They were fall-off-the-bone tender and consistent. Consistency was something that Corky's and the other places lacked. With the other guys you may eat a few really amazing ribs and then hit a few tough ribs, or bone fragments, or fat. This was not the issue with Montgomery Inn's ribs.

So that is why the rib mecca is in east Cincinnati at Montgomery Inn, and if you tell yourself otherwise you're living a lie. 

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Axiom 56: Pay No Attention to Social Inequality

"The worst form of inequality it to try to make unequal things equal." -Aristotle

When you hear the words "social inequality" they are usually accompanied by an argument that goes something like this:
The rich are getting richer at the expense of poor, who are getting poorer. The poor are being exploited by greedy capitalists (top 1%). If the government doesn't step in and balance this inequality the threat of social class warfare will increase.
I will not dispute the facts that the rich are indeed getting richer, and the salaries of the poorest Americans are stagnant or declining. However, if you truly believe that the rich have prevented your personal success then you are small-time thinker that dwells on obstacles instead of opportunities. You're not in a war-torn African country, a servant in a medieval monarchy, or a factory worker in small town during the American industrial revolution. In modern day America opportunities are endless for all social classes, regardless of wealth.

I argue that social inequality does not prevent some from succeeding, only a hard-work inequality does that.

If the richest Americans were, in fact, holding back the poorest Americans then you would see very few self-made millionaires and billionaires. Instead you would have the majority of wealth inherited through generations. However, this is not at all the case.

A Fidelity survey found that 86 percent of millionaires are self-made. Another study found that 69 percent of billionaires were self-made, most coming from modest middle class families. Bill Gates, Elon Musk, Mark Zuckerberg, and Jeff Bezos all came from modest backgrounds and created powerhouse companies. Let's not also forget about the countless millionaires these guys created in their wake. I've yet to hear one of these guys complain that the upper class prevented their success in life.

But what about monopolies? What about Wal-Mart? They are destroying America and enslaving people, right?

The fact is that Wal-Mart as much as it seems like a job crushing, soul stealing monster has some redeemable qualities. You must also remember that Wal-Mart offers mostly jobs, not careers. It's a great place for a young person to go work part-time while they are in college. However, if you are a 55 year old working there full-time as a cashier complaining about the low pay then I don't see how Wal-Mart is to blame. It was your choices in life that lead you to the position you are in, for better or worse.

People that are smart, patient, that work hard, that are dependable, and emotionally stable move up the corporate ladder or create their own opportunities for success in the business world. People that are dumb, lazy, impatient, crazy, socially awkward, and unreliable will never achieve lasting success. It is as simple as that. If you are not where you want to be in life don't blame the rich guy, re-read this paragraph instead. 

As for monopolies, nothing lasts forever. Companies rise and fall all the time, even the biggest ones. Even companies like Wal-Mart may not be around in 20 years as their competitors find better ways to service customers. 

While you may not accept my previous points based on your political bias, please hear me out on this last one. Now in America, more than any other time in history, you have a standard of living and opportunities that have never existed previously. It is now that even the poorest American have cell phones, computers, cable tv, cars, and many other luxury items. And yes I use the term "luxury" items. Kings would have killed for these items a hundred years ago.

Only just recently can almost anyone, regardless of income, take out a federal loan and attended college, or educate themselves for free online. Only now can someone easily incorporate a business for a few hundred dollars, hire a factory overseas to make a product, and sell a product worldwide. Do you realize you can do this all online by yourself in a few hours? This was something only the wealthiest Americans could do just a few decades ago.

Let me finish by saying this - If you are complaining about social inequality to help the poor as a whole then I commend you. We will always need low wage service workers in this country and no one wants to see others exploited for extremely low wages. However, if you are complaining about social inequality because it is the scapegoat to your own failure in life then shame on you. Take a step back and re-examine what you've done with your life because America still is the land of opportunity where anyone can take a little and turn it into a lot.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Philadelphia Food Musts

Philadelphia is a great food city. What I appreciate about Philadelphia so much are the many unique local food experiences that you can have. You won't see chain restaurants on every corner downtown. Instead you will find many one-of-a-kind places that your won't find elsewhere in the country.

Reading Terminal Market is a great place to experience local Philadelphia cuisine. Sandwiches, seafood, cheese steaks, chocolates, cheeses, and pastries are everywhere. I recommend having a cannoli from Termini Brothers.

Ofcourse Philadelphia is famous for their cheese steaks also. No visit to the city would be complete without heading down to Pat's and Geno's where they compete head-to-head across from each other. Although if you want the best cheese steak in the city head down to Jim's Steaks on South Street.

For another uniquely Philadelphia food experience you can try Chickie's & Pete's. Their crab fries (fries with crab seasoning) with cheese dipping sauce are delicious and addictive.

Another thing I love about Philadelphia is their beer selections. Draught beer selection usually consist of local craft beers, and not Budweiser, Coors, and Miller. If you're not from the East Coast then you'll have a chance to try some Yuengling.

Finally, Philadelphia offers food with history. Places like Franklin Fountain, where you can have a Philadelphia-Style chocolate egg cream from an antique soda fountain. No stop to the city would be complete without taking in some of the cities distinct historical sites.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Axiom 55: The Survivor Guide to Success

By no means am I a fan of the television show Survivor. It was entertaining the first couple seasons, but has long since run its course for me at least. However, what I did learn from the show was from its tag line, "Outwit. Outplay. Outlast". It is those three simple words combined that embody what it takes to be successful. 

Let me explain...

Outwit - You must find a way to be smarter than your competition. Competition could come in the form of a co-worker going after the same promotion as you, or another company going after the same customers as yours. You should always be learning as much as possible so that you can be quick on your feet and outsmart your competition.

Being able to outwit your competition means that you will have to draw from you life experiences as well as your basic ability to think on your feet.

Outplay - If you can outwit your competition you still have to outplay them. You have to work harder than them and think strategically. It's not good enough to just be smart. You have to apply that knowledge into a plan of action.

Outlast - If you can outwit and outplay your competition you still must outlast them until you are victorious. You must be willing to be patient and go the extra mile. Some battles take years to win. You must let your competition know that you will not give up. Wear them down until they quit.

If you look at successful CEOs and business people you will find that they most likely mastered the ability to outwit, outplay, and outlast to get where they are today. You must learn how to succeed at all three if you want to truly be successful. 

Sunday, October 5, 2014

DiNiC's - The Best Sandwich in America?

Deep inside Philadelphia's Reading Terminal Market sits Tommy DiNiC's Pork and Beef. They recently gained notoriety by winning Travel Channel's "Best Sandwich in America" for their roast pork sandwich. Check out the video here.

So is DiNiC's roast pork sandwich the best sandwich in America? I went and had one myself to find out.

I arrived about lunch time and the place was packed. It looked like a good mix of locals and tourists in line. My mouth was watering in anticipation as I placed my order. I got the roast pork with broccoli rob and sharp provolone (the exact same way as the winning sandwich on TV).

The moment of truth was here. As I took my first bite I was disappointed. The sandwich was good, but far from epic. The ingredients themselves were of a very high quality, but the ensemble of them all together did not work well. The pork itself was watery and tasteless. The provolone cheese was good but too overbearing to complement the other flavors. The broccoli rob was bitter and took away from the overall taste. However, the bread was quite good.

The overall flavor of the sandwich was not well balanced. The texture (bite) and temperature of the sandwich were quite good. Overall all I was not impressed and would skip this sandwich next time.

Final thoughts - I could see how the flavors in this sandwich might really appeal to some people. This is one you'll need to go try for yourself and decide. 

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Axiom 54: Know Your Customer

"Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning." -Bill Gates

"Know what your customers want most and what your company does best. Focus on where those two meet." -Kevin Stirtz

If you are in an industry that involves selling goods or services then you must learn how to size up your customers needs quickly. Customers usually fall into one of four categories: Cost Driven, Quality Driven, Service Driven, or Unethically Driven. Once you know what category they fall into you can compare their needs to your strengths and weaknesses as a company. By doing this you should be able to predict if a customer will be worth your time and effort.

Cost Driven

Cost driven customers primarily want the cheapest price. These can usually be the most demanding customers because they often demand quality and superior service as well. However, at the end of the day they usually buy from the person with the cheapest price.

  • Larger cost driven customers can add sales volume and increase your purchasing power which you can use to increase your margins with other customers.
  • These customers can be easier to service if the product they are buying is a product you have an industry cost advantage on.
  • Little or no loyalty means that as soon as someone else comes along with a cheaper price you will have to drop your price or lose the business.
  • Smaller cost driven customers often do not carry the profit margins to make these customers profitable.
  • Company resources are often tied up quoting, re-quoting, and negotiating. Every single order can be a battle. 
  • Avoid making your product or service commoditized. Make comparing apples-to-apples impossible through product differentiation or through how the quote is presented to the customer.
  • Build rapport with the customer as much as possible to at least have a chance at the "last look" before the customer chooses a vendor to buy from.
  • Streamline your quoting / order fulfillment to minimize company resources.
  • Minimize product and service costs wherever possible to be able to offer lower pricing to the customer.

Quality Driven

Quality driven customers want to make sure that your product or service will fully take care or their need. These can be hard customers to acquire but also hard customers to lose as long as your product or service meets their need effectively. 

  • Quality driven customers will be repeat customers if you can effectively solve their problem with your product or service.
  • These customers are not as likely to defect to other suppliers to take a chance on something that might not be of the quality they need. 
  • These customers will usually not fight you on price as much if you assure them that your product or service will fill their need completely.
  • These customers can be difficult to attain unless your product or service has a reputation for the quality they are looking for. 
  • These customers can be very picky and require more customer support or industry experts to manage their business.
  • Make sure your product or service will meet your customer's expectations or you will regret it later.
  • Streamline the availability of information, documentation, and product differentiation to the customers.
  Service Driven

Service driven customers can be your best customers, or your worst customers. This all depends on if their expectations line up with your company's strengths.

  • If you provide the service level that a customer needs and expects they are likely to be a loyal repeat customer.
  • Service driven customers are less likely to fight you on price and quality as long as you provide them with the service that makes their life easier.
  • These customers often refer other people to you if they are happy with your service.
  • These customers can be a huge drain on your company's resources if the service they demand is too far out-of-line with your company's capabilities.
  • These customers can sometimes require more staff and infrastructure to effectively service.
  • Don't go too far outside of your company's capabilities to service an account.
  • Make sure your customer understands what level of service you provide.
Unethically Driven

 There are still customers out there that want special "off-the-books" treatment. They don't necessarily care about cost, service, or quality. They just want a kickback. Nothing good can come about when sales are made by paying people off with money, trips, and gifts. Save yourself some heartache and your reputation by throwing this kind of customer account in the trash.


"Wait, my customer demands the best cost, quality, and service!"... On the surface many customers appear to demand a combination of some or all of the above categories. It is your job to dig deeper and ask enough questions to find out which category they value most - because inevitably they always do value one the most (And this could change depending on the customer's current project, need, or situation). Once you know that you can determine how much of your resources, if any, to devote to gaining their business.  

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Lunch at Sinatra's Corner

On a beautiful Saturday afternoon in Palm Springs I stopped in at Melvyn's Restaurant at the Ingleside Inn for lunch. Melyvn's gained popularity by being Frank Sinatra's favorite local spot for the many years he lived in Palm Springs. I was excited about the chance to go have a meal where the Rat Pack, Bob Hope, Elizabeth Taylor, John Wayne, Marlon Brando, Clark Gable, Dina Shore, and many other names from Hollywood's golden age ate.

If you plan on coming here there are a couple things you should know in advance. First, reservations are always required, even for lunch. Second, men are required to wear a collared shirt, dress pants, and dress shoes. The guys working here seemed like they would enforce these rules vigorously so don't stroll in off the street in jeans and expect to get served.

When I got there about noon on Saturday the place was relatively empty. We sat on the enclosed patio and had a great view outside.

The rest of the decor inside hints of Hollywood's golden era. It is a style I would call classic Californian. It doesn't look like they have changed anything since they opened. The way things look now is likely the same way Frank would remember it.

The staff I saw consisted of older men who took their job extremely seriously. The service was very good and they had a good sense of humor. I ordered the Steak Venetian and the endless champagne. I waited patiently wondering how good the food was to have such a famous clientele.

The presentation of the food was great. The taste was very good, but not what I would consider truly exceptional. This is not in the same league as other celebrity haunts like say, Spago. However, the meal was satisfying, very reasonably priced, and the environment was very relaxing.

While all the famous people of yesteryear are long gone, and certainly not cool enough now for new Hollywood, I still would suggest making this a stop if you are in Palm Springs.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Axiom 53: Success in Numbers

Our universe is filled with numbers. They impact our lives and our very existence. Below are a few of my favorite "numbers" based observations that relate to success.

  1. The 10,000 Hour Rule - I have written about this rule previously. It takes 10,000 hours of study to truly master a skill.
  2. The 80/20 Principle (Pareto Principle) - 80% of effects come from 20% of the causes. For Example: 80% of sales come from 20% of your product offerings.
  3. Your IQ will determine your future - A person with an IQ of 116 or more can do almost any job. See Table 1 here
  4. Your education will determine your future salary - $31,539/year for high school graduates, $56,078/year for college graduates, $100,000/year for professional degrees. See the full chart here.
  5. Edison's 10,000 Failures - Edison went through many failures while trying to invent the light bulb. Sometimes you have to endure multiple failures in the pursuit of success.
  6. The average millionaire goes bankrupt 3.5 times - read more here.
  7. 52% of Americans believe that rich people gained their wealth through hard work - read more here.
  8. 86% of millionaires are self-made - read more here.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Who's Got the Best Philly Cheese Steak? Pat's, Geno's, Tony Luke's, or Jim's?

For years I've wanted to go to Philadelphia and put their famous cheese steak places to the test. Finally I was able to fly in for a few days and settle my curiosities once and for all.

My first stop was Pat's King of Steaks. I ordered the cheesesteak with cheese whiz and onions (whiz wit). The sandwich was amazingly good. The bread and onions were especially good.

After Pat's I walked across the street to the flashy Geno's Steaks for a whiz wit. The steak was thinly sliced, instead of chopped like Pat's. I did not care for that as much. The bread and onions were not as good as Pat's, but the cheese whiz was better than Pat's.

The next day I ate a whiz wit at Tony Luke's. The meat and cheese whiz were better than Pat's and Geno's. Pat's bread and onions were better than Tony Luke's.

My last stop was Jim's Steaks for another whiz wit. The line was incredibly long and it took about 45 minutes to finally sit down and eat. I had the highest hope for Jim's since the locals highly praised it.

And they were right. Jim's had everyone else beat in every category (bread, steak, whiz, onions). The steak at Jim's was truly crave worthy. If I could only have one cheese steak in Philly I would choose Jim's.

So here is how I would rate everyone:
1. Jim's Steaks - 9.5 / 10
2. Pat's / Tony Luke's (tie) - 8.5 / 10
3. Geno's - 7.5 / 10

On a side note: I did cheese whiz on all of my sandwiches but from what I gathered from the locals provolone and ketchup seems to be the more "local" way to have a cheese steak.


Saturday, July 19, 2014

Axiom 52: Your IQ is Your Destiny

"Common sense is not so common." -Voltaire

"A smart man makes a mistake, learns from it, and never makes that mistake again. But a wise man finds a smart man and learns from him how to avoid the mistake all together." -Roy H. Williams

Have you ever taken an IQ test? 

Have you ever wondered how your intelligence stacks up against the average person?

What you might not know is that an IQ test is a highly accurate account of how smart (or dumb) you are. Most people do not know that this test is so important it could indicate if you're more likely to drop out of high school or get a PhD.

The average score is 100. Genius is considered as a score higher than 130 (Albert Einstein scored a 160). According to the University of Delaware if someone scores at least 115 they are mentally capable to doing any job.

An IQ test measures both your crystallized intelligence (book smarts) and your fluid intelligence (common sense). Crystallized intelligence is the knowledge you have learned through life experiences. This knowledge increases and builds throughout your life. Fluid intelligence is being able to problem solve independent of acquired knowledge. It is thought that fluid intelligence peaks in adulthood and slowly drops as people age.

If you score low on an IQ test don't worry. You can work on increasing your crystallized and fluid intelligence to increase your IQ score. 

To work on your crystallized intelligence:
  • Learn everyday (Reading, Hobbies, Take Online Courses, Learn New Tasks at Work, Watch Documentaries)
To work on your fluid intelligence:
  • Play mind games (N-Back)
  • Listen to classical music, or take music lessons.
The brain is like many other muscles in the body. The more your work it out the stronger and more efficient it will become. Once you work on improving your crystallized and fluid intelligence for a month you can go back and take the IQ test again to see if it has improved. You may see dramatic improvements if you are a young adult and slight improvements if you are older.

You can take a free IQ test here.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Axiom 51: Eye Contact

"Men in General judge more from appearances than from reality. All men have eyes, but few have the gift of penetration." -Niccolo Machiavelli

"The eyes are the most powerful social signalers that we have and hence are sometimes called 'the windows of the soul' One of the key elements of what is called 'social skills training' is getting just the right amount of eye contact. Too little and we come across as shy and awkward; too much and we seem rude." -Glen Wilson

Many successful people have great natural eye contact. It is something that everyone should practice to become more naturally charismatic. Not enough eye contact and you won't build any trust. Too much eye contact and you'll come across too intense.That's why practicing makes perfect.

Here's how to do it:
  • Look everyone in the eyes long enough to see what their eye color is then look away. This will get you in the habit of making strong eye contact initially.
  • Match their level of eye contact. Look them in the eyes as long as they are looking you in the eyes. When they look away then you look away. Matching naturally builds rapport.
  • Your eyes convey emotions. Make sure they are open and relaxed, not tense and narrow.
  • As a general rule don't break eye contact first. The person who breaks eye contact first conveys a submissive subliminal message.
  • Use eye contact more when listening than speaking. Make sure when they are speaking that you are maintaining eye contact 75% of the time. This lets them know you really care about what they are saying.
Start practicing as soon as possible so you can build good eye contact skills. You can start on people walking down the street, cashiers, waitresses, etc. After a couple of weeks you'll notice a huge difference.

Friday, June 6, 2014

Disney's International Food & Wine Festival

I've been a lot places and eaten a lot of food, so when I heard I was going to be at Epcot during their International Food & Wine Festival I was interested so see if it was the real deal or just a cheesy tourist trap. I talked to a buddy of mine that lived in Orlando for a while and he assured me that this was a "must see" for any Orlando trip.

For you newbies here's a basic overview of what it is and how it works. I usually don't go into too much detail about these things, but the information found online is really poor.

Walt Disney World in Orlando is made up of various theme parks. One of these theme parks is called Epcot. You've probably seen the the giant silver sphere (pictured above) - This is Epcot. In the rear of Epcot is a section of the park called, "The World Showcase". This is where they have the International Food & Wine Festival for a few months each year.

The World Showcase is a built around a lagoon. They've recreated 11 countries around this lagoon that you can walk through and experience: Mexico, Norway, China, Germany, Italy, The American Adventure, Japan, Morocco, France, United Kingdom, and Canada.

I was impressed. Disney really paid attention to all the details. The cool thing is Disney has actual people from those countries working there. If you go during the International Food & Wine festival there are temporary food & drink booths setup from many more countries: Argentina, Scotland, Australia, and Greece just to name a few.

The food was great. My favorites were the fish & chips in the United Kingdom, boeuf bourguignon in France, and the avocado margarita in Mexico. I also appreciated the fact that the beers complemented the food they were serving in that country.

My only complaint was that the park closes early. So come early, make sure you come during the International Food & Wine Festival, and make sure you stay for the nightly fireworks show at the end. I will definitely be back to go eating and drinking around the world.

The pictures I took really didn't do it justice - so for more info here's a video.    

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Axiom 50: The Road Less Travelled...

"I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference."
-Robert Frost

Looking at a map it would first appear to make the most sense for me to take the freeway to work but I don't. At rush hour the freeway is jammed full of cars slowly inching towards their destination. The journey on the freeway is truly miserable. Instead I choose to take the back roads.

Freeway or back roads - either way it takes the same 20 minutes to get to work. The difference is in the road less traveled. The back roads to work are peaceful. No traffic, no stress, and plenty of trees to look at. The journey is just more enjoyable taking the back roads. On the days where there are wrecks on the freeway the back roads are that much sweeter. For my daily commute to work the road less traveled has made all the difference.

The lesson here is that if you are doing things just like everyone else in the crowd it may be time to rethink your approach. Goals become harder when you are trudging down the well-worn path of the crowd. There are more people to get in your way. There are more people that have already taken the best resources for themselves already. There are more potential conflicts. It's much like arriving at a gold rush after all of the easy gold has been found.

Don't be afraid to create your own path instead of going down the same one everyone else is using, it could make all the difference in your life.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Software That Can Change Your Life

Here's my top five picks of software that can change your productivity and your life as well:

5. Adobe Creative Cloud ( / $49.99 per month)

I'm sure you've all heard or used some of Adobe's products. In the past their software was so expensive that only professionals could afford it. However, since their roll out of creative cloud it is now affordable for the everyday user. Sign up, then log onto to watch some training videos that open up your world to the potential of doing some freelance work or launching the digital product of your dreams.

4. Evernote ( / free basic version / $45.00 per year for the premium version)

I store everything in Evernote: Models #'s of household parts, clothing sizes I wear, random ideas, account numbers, to-do lists, my goals, and so on. Evernote works as a desktop program, a website, and a mobile app that all sync. With Evernote you will always have the most updated versions of all your notes wherever you go.

3. Plaxo ( / $5.00 per month basic version)

Plaxo is a service that syncs all of your contacts and calendars across platforms. This is great for any business people that have a lot of contacts and multiple computers.

If you're a writer there is no better program than Scrivener. This is the best thing since Microsoft Word. The layout allows for quick and easy storyboarding. The best thing is you'll save hundreds of hours on your bigger sized projects with this software.

1. Active Words ( / free basic version / $49.95 premium version)

If you perform the same daily computer tasks over and over (opening files, writing the same text, going to the same websites, etc.) then Active Words could be the best computer program you'll ever use. You set up quick text "triggers" to automatically launch files or other actions. The amount of time I save each day at work is staggering because of this program.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Axiom 49: All in the Family

"Nepotism is a game the whole family can play." -Unknown

"The parents eat sour grapes, and the children's teeth are set on edge." -Ezekiel 18

For good and bad our families help shape our successes and failures in life.The more we understand the influences our families have on us the more we can maximize our resources and talents.

It's in your genes...

Whether you like it or not you are genetically good at some things and bad at others. If you're not sure what your strengths and weaknesses are look at your family and see if you can spot similar traits in yourself. Once you know what you are naturally good at you can tailor your goals and activities to your genetic strengths.

It's in your behaviors...

You learn how to deal with the world from your family. You should take a real hard look at those learned behaviors from time to time. Figure out what behaviors are good and which ones are harming your chances at success. Don't unknowingly inherit the bad behaviors of your parents. As long as you are aware of these behaviors you have the power to change them.

It's in your resources... 

Your resources (or lack thereof) are often tied to your families resources. If your family has resources they can get you a job, give you money, educate you, connect you to the right people, keep you safe, and so on. The concept of generational wealth is real. Your resources now are likely the result of successes and failures of the past generations of your family. Yes, not just your parents, but their parents, and so on.

However, lack of generation wealth does not preclude success. It just makes it a little tougher. Most of the highly successful people of today came from average middle class families. Lack of resources can be overcome for those that are willing to work hard and work smart.

Friday, April 4, 2014

DISC Personality Test

When I attended some sales training classes last year I had to take a DISC personality test. I had always though these types of tests were quack pseudo-science. I mean how could answering 24 quick questions tell someone everything they need to know about my personality? However, the results were astoundingly accurate

I'm not going to summarize what the DISC test is. You can read more about it here. What I actually found is there is a lot of support for this test. Many companies are using it for hiring. Steve Jobs believed in it. I became a believer after I saw my results.

I now see the world in D-I-S-C colors. I interact differently with people based on their personality style. As a manager I have to know my strengths and weaknesses and my staff's strengths and weaknesses. DISC is the easiest way for me to do this.

Whether you are skeptical or not you should take the test and judge for yourself. There are many free versions online you can find. You'll find out if your career fits your natural personality type. You'll find out why the people around you act the way they do. You'll find out what your own strengths and weaknesses are. Lastly, you'll find out that the world is much simpler than you may think. 

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Axiom 48: Turning Little Things into Big Things

"Do the little things. In the future when you look back, they'll have made the greatest change.
-Nike Thaddeus

I'm often amazed that people often flounder in life because they do not understand how to break big things down into simpler, more manageable goals. You'd be astounded how much you can achieve over time by just devoting a few minutes each day to a task. Don't believe me? Well here are some of the things I have been able to accomplish just by dedicating a little time each day:
  • 1 hour per day for two weeks straight / twice a year: I have been able to write all the posts for this blog. It has been great to get all my ideas down in writing and to catalog all of my food travels with so little time invested.
  • 10 minutes per day for one year: I was able to read through the entire Bible. This is something I had been wanting to do for a long time and was only possible by doing it in small 10 minutes increments.
  • 10 minutes per day for one year: I read through the Christian Apocrypha, the Muslim Qur'an, the Buddist Dhammapada, and the Hindu Baghavad Gita. I was tired of hearing people quote these different religions without knowing for myself what their actual holy books say. It was a pretty easy accomplishment for only 10 minutes per day.
  • 15-30 minutes per day / 5 days per week: I've been studying French for about a year and a half. I went from not knowing anything to knowing about 2,000 French words. I now understand enough to watch French TV shows. Not bad for 15-30 minutes per week.
  • 1 hour per day / 3-5 days per week: I've been working on a reference guide for the industry I work in. After about five years sporadically working on it I am nearly finished.
Just think of what you could accomplish in 10, 20, or 30 minutes a day over the course of one year. So how do you start?
  • Break your big goal down into something very small you can do everyday.
  • Put these small goals on your calendar and hold yourself accountable to do them.
  • Consider using a time management trick like the Pomodoro Technique.
It really is that simple. If you can set aside just 10 minutes a day you can accomplish some big goals over the long haul.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

My review of Franklin BBQ - Rated #1 in Texas

Franklin Barbecue (900 E. 11th Street, Austin, Texas 78702) is quickly becoming a legend. That's not an easy task for a newby BBQ place located deep in the heart of Texas. It caught my eye after landing the number one spot on Texas Monthly's best BBQ places. Being that I am a foodie I decided to stop by and see how it compared to the BBQ goliaths down in Lockhart.

I heard you have to get there early and wait in line because they sell out and close before 2:00pm. How early? It was a Sunday and I got there about 9:00am (They open at 11:00am). When I arrived there was already a long line of 30+ people waiting.

An employee came out and took everyone's preorder. Because of my spot in line she said it would be about 12:30pm before I got inside to order, 3-1/2 hours away. That meant this was by far the longest I had ever waited to eat anywhere. If this place didn't have this amazing hype I would have left, but I'm glad I stayed.

While I was in line I got to thinking about how good Black's in Lockhart was. There was probably a 10 minute wait there. Could this place really be that much better to warrant a 3-1/2 hour wait?

There was a guy there renting out chairs for $5 so I got one. It was 90 degrees outside in the Texas heat and I was exhausted from the night before. He said he makes $200-$300 cash everyday just renting chairs. That's $100k a year for three hours work everyday. Franklin BBQ has unknowingly created a whole little sub-economy of renting chairs.

Finally I had made it inside. Franklin's is in a small building. Barely enough places for just a few people to eat. I made it to the counter and ordered brisket, sausage, potato salad, and beans. This is the same combo I ordered at all the Lockhart places.

Then I sat down to see if the 3-1/2 hours I just spent in the Texas heat was worth it....

It was worth it. I would wait 3-1/2 hours again. This was one of the best meals of my life. We are talking life changing BBQ here. Other BBQ will never be the same afterwards. BBQ will be a holy word after you eat here.

Their brisket was by far the best I've ever had. The sausage was tied with Kreuz (which is the best sausage I've had). The sides were spectacular. The beans had chopped BBQ in them and were amazing. The attention to detail in the food is like no other I have ever seen.

Franklin is better than the BBQ kings in Lockhart (Kreuz, Smitty's, Black's, Chisholm). I have seen the light. My life is forever changed from a 3-1/2 hour wait.

So what are you waiting for? Get down there and get in line...

Friday, February 21, 2014

Axiom 47: Work in Reverse

"The common conception is that motivation leads to action, but the reverse is true - action precedes motivation." -Robert J. Mckain

"Begin with the end in mind." -Stephen Covey

When Setting Goals

When you're trying to accomplish something always start with the goal in mind and work backwards. 

Here's an example: Let's say you want to write a book. First, visualize what a successful final product will look like.Then write down everything that it will take to complete the book. In this example: brainstorming, research, writing, editing, book design, publishing, and marketing. Come up with a realistic timeline on how long it will take to complete all of these. Then plot on your calendar the date you want to complete your book and the dates you need to finish each individual part.

You should always work in reverse once you set goals. It is the only way to hold yourself accountable and make sure you know what is needed to finish.

When You Get Stuck

When you get stuck on a project work it in reverse.

A few years ago I was doing my family genealogy. Once I traced back my family to my great-great grandfather I was stuck. After weeks of being stuck I was about to give up. Then I had the idea to work in reverse. I started with the older generations and tried to work my way forward to my great-great grandfather. It worked. I was able to complete my family tree from working the problem from the reverse direction.

When You Really Want to Understand

If you need a different perspective on something work in reverse. You can never truly understand something unless you look at it from all the angles. Looking at things at a different angles causes breakthroughs and explosive growth. Think of something you do everyday and think of a way to do it totally different tomorrow.