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Does Being Busy Make You Valuable?

Wednesday, April 19th, 2017

https://www.flickr.com/photos/smemon/3619878820/

Live mindfully long enough and you can get an interesting perspective on lifestyle changes.

Some will please, some not; some you’ll question, some deplore, and some will cause you to shake your head in amazement.

The last is how I felt when I read new research from HBS.

In fact, some boast the lack of spare time as a status symbol—even an aspirational lifestyle.

“The new conspicuous consumption is about saying, I am the scarce resource, and therefore I am valuable.”

I’ve seen this first hand, not just in the startup community or twenty-somethings, but among Gen Xers, Boomers and even my own peers.

It used to be that overload came from always saying yes, instead of a carefully evaluated “no” — however, if you are known for saying ‘yes’ be prepared for the backlash if you change.

These days, the things that keep you busy also need to raise your profile/ reputation/Klout score/ increase your Likes/generate followers (preferably on multiple platforms)/social presence/etc.

A couple of year after I started MCS a reader asked why I bothered to do it when it generated so few comments.

My response was that I wasn’t writing to promote myself, but to provide information to those who wanted/needed it and that comments came when readers had questions or wanted to add to the dialogue.

While accurate, my response ignored the fact that because my blog is not high profile commenting on it has a very low ROI.

That said, I understand and don’t fault readers.

We live in a world where building your personal brand is a necessary part of building a career, so the time allotted to writing comments needs to provide a certain ROI and, of course, you are busy.

OK, I get all that.

But no matter how long I live I doubt I’ll ever understand the fragility of egos that need to prove their value so badly they are willing to give up their lives to do it.

Image credit: Sean MacEntee

Ryan’s Journal: Interview With Amy Blankson

Thursday, April 6th, 2017

I recently had the pleasure of interviewing Amy Blankson, author of The Future of Happiness, 5 Modern Strategies for Balancing Productivity and Well-Being in the Digital Age.

Happiness may be the root of everything we seek out in life.

We want to be happy in our family, our job and any other aspect of our lives. In fact the US Declaration of Independence states that, “Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness” are unalienable rights when declaring independence from Great Britain.

Happiness probably means a lot of things to a lot of people — to me it means satisfaction. 

However rates of depression, divorce and suicide are all on the rise. I am sure we can all think of someone in our own life that takes antidepressants to help them cope with their days.

This is all happening in the backdrop of some of the highest rates of wealth, longer life spans and access to greater technology than any generation before. Why is this?

Amy Blankson seeks to answer this question and others in her new book.

A little backdrop on Amy; she is passionate, kind and curious. If you google her you will find that she has a well regarded Ted talk, is an alum of both Harvard and Yale, and runs a company with her brother studying the topics raised in this book.

I had the opportunity to interview her for this post and it was a real pleasure speaking with her. Our conversation ranged from what her influences are to parenting tips in the modern age. We share some things in common; she has three daughters as I will soon, she resides in Texas near my family, and she continues to ask ‘why’ everyday.

The book begins with three burning questions in the digital era, where are we heading? Would we be better without tech? What will happiness look like?

Now, before you think this book is something that advocates that you forsake all worldly goods and begin churning butter in the countryside, it’s not that at all.

Amy recognizes that for many of us we are the first generation to transcend two eras. The analog, with house phones and encyclopedias, to the digital age, where we have a phone in our pocket that can access every book ever written in the history of the world.

We are all different ages but we can all look at the moment when technology enabled us to have every answer at our fingertips, but also the ability to never truly break away.

Amy addresses the fact that work days seem to never end, with email always a buzz away. High school friends who you probably have nothing in common with are still keeping you up to date with the latest post.

But at the same time the person you share your bed with may be further away as you are both absorbed in your own screens.

These are scenarios that we all have to deal with on a daily basis and need to learn how to manage them.

This book is not another lifestyle book that promises to change your life in 30 days or your money back.

What Amy has accomplished is doing all the homework for you. She utilized hundreds of apps, used numerous wearables and tried all sorts of methods to figure out the best way to manage all the tech that we are surrounded with.

She provides very practical steps on how to declutter our lives in simple ways. For example, do you have a pile of old laptops and cords lying around somewhere in your house? Mine are about three feet away from me, the laptops will never be used but I have old pics that I want. My solution is to just store them and have them take up space. Amy’s solution is to take those laptops in, retrieve the data and purge the hardware. This is a simple process and it clears your life. 

Do you ever feel overwhelmed with the technology that is surrounding you? In the spirit of transparency, I am in my early 30’s, I work for a technology company and I feel overwhelmed. I feel that I must read every day to keep up with what is new. This is not age specific, it affects all of us. Amy addresses this and clarifies how we can manage our time.

This book is more than a simple help, it’s like you are listening to your friend that you trust. Amy is kind, thoughtful and funny both in her writing and in person. On a personal note I learned a lot from my brief conversation with Amy. She is a mother of three daughters and it was great to glean some wisdom from her experiences raising them.

I walked into this book with no previous knowledge of Amy and was pleasantly surprised with the outcome. She does a great job of showcasing practical steps, analyzes the topics from the standpoint of a social scientist and maintains the curiosity of the eternally inquisitive. I would highly recommend this book to anyone who has thought that there must be a better way to live this life. 

I asked Amy what her one takeaway would be from someone who reads her book.

She said it would be that our life is our own and we can make our choices. We are in control and we should not let technology dictate or overwhelm us.

This book is for the young professional, the parent or the student who would like to set a firm foundation moving forward.

Amy’s book will go on sale April 11th, you can pre-order or find it at your local retailer.

Image credit: Amazon

Golden Oldies: The Tao of Life

Monday, November 23rd, 2015

http://www.flickr.com/photos/wespeck/4574733303/

It’s amazing to me, but looking back over nearly a decade of writing I find posts that still impress, with information that is as useful now as when it was written. Golden Oldies is a collection of what I consider some of the best posts during that time. Read other Golden Oldies here

The Tao of Life

We learn through words and can often learn more by deconstructing them.

Just as one of the most critical managerial (human) actions is found in its own anagram the Tao of another is found within the word itself.

The word is LIFE.

The Tao of life is IF.

IF you think/say/do this instead of that the Tao changes.

The IF isn’t always conscious or obvious.

But it is there.

It’s up to you to choose consciously.

Flickr image credit: gfpeck

Surviving And Thriving Through Life

Monday, January 26th, 2015

https://www.flickr.com/photos/celestinechua/9683988643

Good stuff comes and bad stuff happens; people come and go—and die; great bosses join—and leave; companies start, grow, get acquired, shrink, layoff and file bankruptcy.

It’s called life; and no matter what you do, it rolls on inexorably

You can influence it, but you can’t control it.

The only thing you can control in life is yourself and your MAP.

We all have a tendency to forget this.

For better or for worse, you are the only thing you will always have; the only thing you can truly count on, so why not appreciate yourself? Value the best and improve the rest.

There is only one you and you get to live only one life, so focus your time and energy on changing/adjusting/enhancing what you do control and let the rest go.

Image credit: Celestine Chua

The Tao of Life

Wednesday, October 9th, 2013

http://www.flickr.com/photos/wespeck/4574733303/

We learn through words and can often learn more by deconstructing them.

Just as one of the most critical managerial (human) actions is found in its own anagram the Tao of another is found within the word itself.

The word is LIFE.

The Tao of life is IF.

IF you think/say/do this instead of that the Tao changes.

The IF isn’t always conscious or obvious.

But it is there.

It’s up to you to choose consciously.

Flickr image credit: gfpeck

Can You Change Someone’s World?

Wednesday, October 2nd, 2013

http://www.flickr.com/photos/bonnie-brown/4285989531/

For many LIFE has become life, which they choose to live out on a small screen instead of on nature’s infinite stage.

But for some, that small, smooth screen is becoming an onramp to the infinite stage.

Smartphones and tablets, with their flat glass touch screens and nary a texture anywhere, may not seem like the best technological innovation for people who cannot see. But advocates for the blind say the devices could be the biggest assistive aid to come along since Braille was invented in the 1820s.

Not surprisingly, the iPhone is a leader in assistive apps.

One such is VoiceOver, which reads aloud the name of each app as you run your finger over it, just as a visual label shows when you rollover a menu item.

Many developers either don’t think or can’t be bothered to take advantage of the technology by labeling the buttons on their app, which leaves sight-challenged users literally in the dark.

What those developers haven’t figured out is that this is a substantial market—ten million in the US alone and a globally aging population that guarantees it will grow.

Moreover, it’s a highly networked market where anything new and useful is speedily shared.

Even if you are strictly in it for the money enabling your app to take advantage of the assistive technologies built into iOS and Android is smart, since doing so can differentiate you from the pack and help you access valuable media attention.

Writing an app seems to be a right of passage these days even among non-techies for whom it is a hobby and not a job.

So why not write it for a built-in, accessible market and do a bit of good along with the added income?

Flickr image credit: Bonnie Brown

If the Shoe Fits: the Now and Future You

Friday, September 27th, 2013

A Friday series exploring Startups and the people who make them go. Read all If the Shoe Fits posts here

5726760809_bf0bf0f558_mWhat kind of entrepreneur/person are you?

The kind who posts an “I hate” rant, then edits it and claims it as “humorous satire” when publically taken to task?

The kind who equates a problem like patent trolls to a truly heinous crime like child molesting. 

Or the kind who makes your money from an anti-societal app, with essentially (IMO) no redeeming characteristics?

Your legacy probably isn’t of primary concern when most of your life is still to come, but knowing that anything you say or do will exist long after your body has turned to dust should make you think.

Does it?

Image credit: HikingArtist

life on the Small Screen

Wednesday, August 28th, 2013

The world is an amazing place.

It’s full of comedy and tragedy; sound and fury; happy and sad; friends and enemies; family and lovers; beauty and ugliness; pain and pleasure; joy and sorrow.

There was a time that LIFE was LIVED and wisdom gained through direct interaction with all of these and more—much, much more.

These days direct interaction has been replaced by a screen.

That’s not LIVING; I don’t know what it is, but it’s not LIFE.

YouTube credit: charstarleneTV

The Rest of Your Life

Wednesday, November 7th, 2012

http://www.flickr.com/photos/49333775@N00/5068199415/I’m writing this long before election results are in, but it doesn’t matter. I can guarantee, without a doubt, that some of you are very happy campers and the rest of you are POed, angry, upset, depressed or scared.

No matter which, I suggest that you focus instead on your personal ikigai—your reason for being. Or, as is said on Okinawa, “a reason to get up in the morning”, that is, a reason to enjoy life.

Few Americans are willing to invest the time to get to know themselves well enough to identify their real ikigai, so they substitute all kinds of prefab things to give meaning to their lives.

Politics. Religion. Work. Followers. “Friends.” Klout score.

All of which are prone to failure as a reason to get out of bed, because they are external as opposed to internal.

In other words, they were created by others.

To possess a strong, stable ikigai you must come to it from deep self-knowledge.

Even if it includes one or more of the above elements you need to know why it/they are included.

If you do invest the time and effort to truly identify your own personal ikigai you really will live a happier, more satisfying and satisfactory life.

It’s guaranteed.

Flickr image credit: The Shopping Sherpa

Quotable Quotes: Life

Sunday, October 21st, 2012

http://www.flickr.com/photos/joebehr/4986222129/Last week I shared quotes about living life; today I thought we’d check out commentary starting with what life is.

Sren Aaby Kierkegaard wrapped it up neatly when he said, “Life is not a problem to be solved but a reality to be experienced.”

Alan Bennett’s opinion is more depressing, “Life is generally something that happens elsewhere.”
Andrew Brown suggests that for many people these days ‘elsewhere’ refers to cyberspace, The Internet is so big, so powerful and so pointless that for some people it is a complete substitute for life.”

Pearl Buck has, to my mind, a more upbeat and accurate belief, Life is what happens while you’re busy making other plans.”
For the many people who buy into Bennett’s attitude, while laying the blame elsewhere, I recommend they consider the words of Louis L’Amour, There comes a time when it lies within a man’s grasp to shape the clay of his life into the sort of thing he wishes to be. Only the weak blame parents, the times, lack of good fortune, or quirks of fate.”

Shaping your life usually means change. Change is a choice; a choice that every person makes many times during their life. William James offers three things to do to make it happen. He says, To change your life;
-Start immediately
-Do it flamboyantly
-No exceptions”

Good advice, especially when we remember Winston Churchill’s wise words, “We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.”
But how do we know if we’re doing it correctly? We don’t; we can only do our best. As Goethe tells us, Life can only be understood backwards, but must be lived forwards.”

If you do look backwards know that you will find many things that in hindsight would be better done differently or not at all, but rather than wasting time on regrets consider Tallulah Bankhead’s attitude, “If I had my life to live over again, I’d make the same mistakes, only sooner.”
I’ll leave you to day with this thought and a ling to my favorite Rule.

Diane Ackerman said, “I don’t want to get to the end of my life and find that I have just lived the length of it. I want to have lived the width of it as well.”

I vehemently agree and expounded on that in the very first Rule I posted way back in 2006.

Flickr image credit: Joe Wolf

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