Unify behind a vision you can believe in, and change the world
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These days it seems that everyone has their sights set on creating their own startup with their own idea. I think its why 37 signals has been unable to sell their successful and money-making Sortfolio site. Everyone thinks they have a better idea; a sure way to make Instagram-like billions or have their moment of fame and celebrity status.

I wonder how many will die having held out for their own ideas instead of joining forces with like minded individuals, and by the power of a unified and focused team, created something truly world changing?

“It is amazing how much people can get done if they do not worry about who gets the credit.” –Sandra Swinney

“Individual commitment to a group effort – that is what makes a team work, a company work, a society work, a civilization work.” –Vince Lombardi

Stay Calm
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I write this post moments after an hour long massage. Though some get massages to relax, I get mine to temporarily “fix”, the damage I’ve done to my body over years of abusing it. After this massage, I will hopefully once again, be able to stand straight up, and without pain.

Upon entering the massage room, I wisely remembered to shut off my phone. The last thing I needed was to hear the phone vibrating on and off for an hour. I’ve never had much of an issue calming my body down. I trained myself to do it in high school and ever since I’ve been able to fall asleep in minutes, at almost any moment and any location. Staying relaxed, I found, was also crucial to my martial arts (a predominant cause to the aforementioned body damage). A relaxed body takes less punishment, expends less energy, and moves faster and with more agility.

Almost immediately following my massage I entered a Greek restaurant for some lunch and work prior to another appointment. I was tentative to enter because I was in such a peaceful and calm state. But, my stomach would not relent with its insistence that I get food and soon, and so I entered the restaurant. I noticed almost immediately that the music playing inside was virtually identical to the music playing during my massage, and yet, the place was anything but quiet and peaceful. It was instead, a bustling room as one might expect during a lunch rush. I attempted to stay calm, while I ordered, took my seat and, riskiest of all, checked my email.

After the flood of email came pouring in, all from only an hour offline, I managed to catch the sound of that calm music still playing amidst the chaos. It reminded me of the importance of staying calm in all situations. I would guess that most of us rarely get enough opportunities for a relaxing massage, a walk in the park, or whatever other calming activity may work best for us. We should do those more for sure, and I highly urge it for both introverts (we seek it naturally), but also to extroverts, who can often find themselves feeling edgy and uncomfortable in such stillness.

It is the calm mind that thinks clearer, faster and with more agility. It is the calm mind that can withstand the extreme forces and stresses we often find ourselves living within.

This was a lesson Bruce Lee, a hero of mine growing up, taught frequently. For example, he said:

Defeat is a state of mind; no one is ever defeated until defeat has been accepted as a reality.

Stay calm.

Never waste energy on worries or negative thoughts, all problems are brought into existence -drop them.

Stay calm.

I’m intense; crazy intense, but I do my best to be as calm as I can and try to hide the internal fire, so as not to scare the children. For whatever reason, everything I do falls into two categories: those I’m intensely passionate about, and those I’m not. There isn’t a lot of in between. I would bet that’s a common attribute of an entrepreneur. It has both pros and cons, but because of it, those of you who are like me, have to take special care to stay calm.

I analyze everything; overanalyze, and that by very definition, isn’t being calm. Thinking while someone else is talking to you? Not calm. Reading in between the lines? Not calm. Second guessing yourself? Also, not calm.

If you find yourself doing any of these, be aware that your mind is clouded and you are distracting yourself, and wasting time and energy. I’ve found that although my mind is capable of deep thinking, innovative problem solving, and seeing things that other’s don’t, it’s often the state of mind of being free from such thoughts (a true state of calmness) that results in the most brilliant discoveries and insights.

It is only through remaining calm that we can attain that laser-like focus, determination and perseverance needed to overcome the setbacks of life, both personal and within our startups.

What do you do to calm down and be alone with and without your thoughts? What could you do today, to bring calm to yourself and take a time out from the distractions and chaos of our high tech, whirling, beeping and buzzing society?

The Pains of Switching Checking Accounts…and the online solution

I recently switched checking accounts and I have so many auto payments going and online services hitting it that its been a total nightmare to get them all switched over. On top of that, I often have several accounts where I keep money and I’ve long found using that money to be a pain when spread out.

That got me thinking, that it would make for an interesting online service, to have a front account, complete with checks and debit card, that you would always use, but then hit whichever account you had setup with it at the time. This could also be a great solution to security issues. No one would really ever have access to your true accounts, only this account facade. The service could also easily help track all expenses across all accounts and log them all. You could setup that certain expenses pull from one account and other expenses pull from another. You would have a grace period of a day on all purchases before it hit your account, to report a false payment, and decide which account that particular expense should come out of.

With this, you could actually keep your money in multiple banks, benefiting from various different features at different banks, without the hassle of bank switching.

Just a thought. If anyone decides to go with this, let me know.

How Technology Helped Me Lose 12 lbs in 4 weeks and Improved My Dining Experience

I love technology and I love stories of how technology improves our lives. This time, the story is my own.

Saturday night, I sat with my family in the parking lot in our car trying to decide where to eat dinner. It’s extra difficult these days because I’m on a calorie counting diet. I took out my iPhone and pulled up the DailyBurn iPhone App to check and see how many calories and fat/protein/carbs I had left for the day. I knew that Chilis was on the way to our next stop so I used Safari mobile to pull up their nutritional menu. They had enough healthy options on the menu that I quickly agreed with my kid’s request that we eat there.

withings_scale.pngWhen we arrived, I used the same online nutritional pdf from their web site to decide on my order. Then as the food came, I used the FoodScanner iPhone App to enter in all the foods I would be eating that night. I saw that if I only ate half of what I ordered, saving the rest for left-overs the next day, I’d still have room for a little dessert after. By the time the food had arrived, my calorie count was already updated simply by typing in the names of the foods and doing a search on them in the FoodScanner iPhone App (also by Daily Burn).

As we finished eating, it was suggested we go to Smoothie King for dessert. I looked up their nutrional guide online, found a healthy protein smoothie, and within minutes had also added iy to my calorie count. That would complete my calories for the day, keeping me well under my target. The shake, by the way, turned out to be beyond my expectations. I’ll be returning again regularly.

When the Chilis bill arrived, I used the Check Please iPhone app to calculate the tip (automatically adding 18% and rounding off to the nearest dollar). I filled out the credit card receipt, and then, using the Shoeboxed app, took a photo of the receipt which was auto submitted to their web site, and will be scanned and added to my budget tracking without any work on my part. I can leave the paper receipt right on the table…no need to take it home and fool with it later.

Tomorrow when I wake up, I’ll step on my Withings wifi enabled scale, which will take my weight, measure my body fat, calculate my BMI and submit the data to the Daily burn web site to help me track exactly how many calories I should continue to eat to reach my goal. Again, no work on my part, no time wasted in trying to reach my dual goals of getting leaner and staying on budget.

It is with this process that I’m able to keep on track with my financial budget for the year, and, it is with this process, only accomplished thanks to today’s technology, that I have also managed to lose 12 lbs in 30 days…without any exercise at all and very little stress.

Yes, I do love technology, and it is making life better…and this is all with just using the iPhone. I can’t wait to see how much better it will be when my 3G iPad arrives.

Update: One month later, I’ve now lost 19 lbs, continuing to use this strategy.

For the FoodScanner iPhone App, DailyBurn iPhone App, Withings Body Scale visit the Daily Burn web site.

Visit the Shoeboxed web site to read about their services and the iPhone app.

The Email Printing Mailbox
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The HP A10 Printing Mailbox for Presto Service is really a great idea. I had a similar one about 10 years ago. The concept is for those, like the WW2 generation, who might never have gotten into computers, or at least not very deeply, and yet you might want to be able to email your grandparents.

This device plugins into the phone line and dials into the Presto service a few times a day, and prints out any received email. It uses a whitelist for screening email so you won’t get printouts from any spam or junk mail. Though it is a great idea, I have to wonder how long the Presto service has been around. The target audience for this device must be shrinking every day. Still, I applaud the concept.


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