Monday, August 11, 2014

In Honor of Shark Week

There are many MANY things in the works for me AND the Wrighter right now, so please be patient as activities may seem a little sluggish.  There is a ton going on behind the scenes and I want to thank Elphamous Malbrue for putting forth so much effort in helping me to propel things forward.  I love you!
In the meantime, dear reader, I'd like to share a letter with you I received.  Please take a moment to read it through entirely and then decide if it is in your heart to take action.  And do keep in mind that positive change will only come when people with good hearts make the movement to do so.
Enjoy your week!
From Greenpeace:
Pulled from the water, a shark thrashes helplessly as its fins are hacked from its body. Mutilated and in pain, the shark is thrown back into the ocean. Eventually bleeding to death or suffocating.
Each year this torture is how millions of sharks around the world needlessly meet their end. All so their fins can be sold in soups served at expensive restaurants and fancy weddings. The shark fin trade is cruel, unsustainable, and it’s being fueled in large part by the tuna industry.
Millions of sharks are killed every year by tuna vessels — either as bycatch or from illegal shark finning practices. The US tuna brands that hire these vessels, like Bumble Bee Tuna, aren’t taking steps to stop it.  
That’s why Greenpeace is kicking off Shark Week this week with a public campaign to get Bumble Bee to clean up its act. And with nearly half of all shark species currently at risk of extinction, we don’t have much time.
Take action now and help us send 50,000 messages in the next 48 hours to Bumble Bee CEO Chris Lischewski telling him to ensure that his company’s products don’t come with the hidden cost of millions of dead sharks.
Killing sharks is no accident and it appears that it may even be part of the business plan for companies like Bumble Bee.
For many tuna boats, shark fins are a source of extra income for fishermen who are not being paid a living wage. For the tuna companies, allowing fishing practices that are guaranteed to catch sharks is one way to get away with paying fishermen so poorly shark fins are their “tips” and provide supplemental income.
Bumble Bee likes to say it follows the guidelines of the International Seafood Sustainability Foundation (ISSF), but talk is cheap! Pointing to these guidelines is useless unless the company can show that its supply chain  its own operations as well as the vessels owned by Chris Lischewski himself — AND all the independent vessels that it buys fish from are not finning sharks.
Fishermen need to be paid a living wage and companies like Bumble Bee need to move away from a reliance on unsustainable fishing practices. Until that happens, nothing is going to change. As an industry leader, Bumble Bee has the ability to set an example for the other major companies to follow.
The ocean ecosystems that we depend on are rapidly destabilizing as overfishing and pollution destroy the fine-tuned balance of species. Saving sharks from the painful fate of finning and the wasteful practices of unsustainable fishing by getting US tuna companies like Bumble Bee to address the problem is part of restoring that balance.
We’ve made great strides to protect sharks recently. Shark finning is already prohibited on US vessels, and several other countries have also banned the practice. States like New York and California have banned the sale of shark fin soup, and a growing number of airlines have stopped transporting shark fins.
Ultimately, the shark fin trade will end. The question is, will it be because we changed the actions of companies like Bumble Bee, or because we drove the species to extinction?
Together we can make sure the answer isn’t extinction. Take action today.

For sharks and our oceans,

John Hocevar
Greenpeace Oceans Campaign Director

Wednesday, August 06, 2014

What the Vanderbilt's Did Wrong

This ETR post is dedicated to the Great Conference Call Disaster of 2014...


How to Avoid the "Vanderbilt Curse"
By Will Bonner

Cornelius "The Commodore" Vanderbilt was the second wealthiest American ever. Adjusted for the size of the economy, he was estimated to be worth $143 billion in 2007 dollars. The only wealthier American was oil man John D. Rockefeller, who amassed a fortune of nearly $192 billion. Both men were wealthier than modern moguls Bill Gates and Henry Ford, worth $82 billion and $54 billion respectively using the same parameters.

Cornelius built his fortune as a ruthless steamboat entrepreneur, who undercut his competitors with illegal runs across New York Bay. Then in 1862, when he was nearly 70, he started buying railroad lines... which became the source of the vast bulk of his fortune.

The Commodore's legacy was more than what was held in the US Treasury at the time. And yet, according to Michael Klepper and Robert Gunther in their book, The Wealthy 100, by the 1970s the Vanderbilt family held a reunion with 120 members attending, and there wasn't a millionaire among them.

Why didn't the Vanderbilt fortune last? How can you make sure you don't follow in the Commodore's wealth preservation footsteps? (Although we could all learn a lot from the man about wealth creation.)

The numbers speak for themselves. In 90% of cases, family fortunes are squandered by the third generation. Forget rags to riches. What most often happens is rags to riches to rags. Nearly 60% of the time a family's money is exhausted by the children of the wealth creator.

As Roy Williams, president of wealth consultancy The Williams Group, told CNN Money recently, "It goes back to the Biblical story of the Prodigal Son. We haven't changed in 2,000 years, and that same unprepared heir issue is now worldwide."

Simply put, the biggest threat to your wealth is not your investment decisions, but the potential for spendthrift kids to blow their inheritance. If spending alone doesn't destroy the family fortune, then family squabbles over the money will.

"Money drives families apart," as scion of the Commodore and chronicler of the losing of the Vanderbilt fortune, Arthur T. Vanderbilt, lamented to the Los Angeles Times.

The Vanderbilt family was not a close-knit family. After the death of the Commodore, his children used their inherited wealth to isolate themselves from one another. For all his success in New York Bay... and for all his astuteness as an investor in the nation's railroads... the Commodore did not build a unified family capable of holding on to wealth. And so his fortune didn't live on.

The Commodore was a fairly typical wealth creator in that he was hard-driving and astute. But he was also coarse. According to one account, he was "illiterate, bad-tempered and foul-mouthed, and inclined, when trapped into a social event, to spit streams of tobacco juice and fondle the maids."

After his wife's death he married a cousin 43 years his junior at the age of 75. He also expressed his disappointment with his family publicly. Out of 10 children he only had two boys. And he believed these boys were not up to his standards. This was not an auspicious start to a lasting legacy.

Typically, too, the Commodore's children turned out to be spendthrifts. The first of the Vanderbilts' Fifth Avenue mansions in Manhattan was finished in 1883. By 1947, all 10 of these opulent homes had been torn down after their contents were auctioned off. Within just 30 years of the death of the Commodore no member of the Vanderbilt family was among the richest in the US. And 48 years after his death, one of his grandchildren is said to have died penniless.

Think about that for a moment. In less than a single generation the surviving Vanderbilts had spent the majority of their family wealth! And the wealth was virtually gone within four generations. How was this possible? They went from producers of great wealth, to great consumers of it. The Commodore's children and grandchildren tried to outdo each other in building increasingly large and lavish homes. They became what my dad calls "insiders."

The Vanderbilt children were classic insiders. They set and followed the trends of New York's high society. They gave money away to fashionable charities. They held over-the-top fairy tale parties. They raced yachts, sports cars and horses. They indulged their fantasies. Some were said to have developed substance abuse problems.

No doubt, the Great Depression and the introduction of the income and estate taxes in the early 1900s took a toll. But families such as the Rothschilds, the Rockefellers, the Fords and the DuPonts were able to navigate these obstacles and preserve their wealth. Members of these families - all of whom run family offices - still occupy the billionaire lists today.

If you want to join the ranks of the families that succeed over generations, you have to deal with the family side of the family wealth equation.

Getting your kids involved in the family office project is critical. In fact, it IS the family office project. You already know the story. What often happens is that the wealth creator creates a fortune. But he neglects his family. The family becomes dysfunctional. It breaks down. The family wealth is lost. That's exactly what happened to the Vanderbilts.

It's a real tragedy. But it's also entirely understandable. That's because the left-brain skills (logic, language and analytical thinking) that help you succeed in business don't help much when it comes to dealing with delicate family issues. In fact, they can be downright problematic...

The take-charge, get-it-done personality often doesn't worry about "personal issues." He (or she, if the wealth creator is the family matriarch) is focused on the business, the investments and the bottom line. But it's sibling rivalries... childhood slights... personality conflicts... and parent issues that can really tear a family apart.

These are the things that cause families to breakdown and lose their wealth. They tend to come to the surface at the worst times, such as when a family member dies. Then emotional conflicts turn into legal conflicts. Family money turns into a weapon...

What's the solution? How do you prevent this all-too-common family breakdown? If you are a typical left-brain thinker, this may sound horribly "fuzzy" to you. But it's essential that you get your family together, have a meeting, and work through any issues you might have. My family had such a meeting last month. And it's also what we do at our Bonner & Partners Family Office workshops.

Years ago, I would've never imagined my family doing this, especially my dad, the hard-charging wealth creator. We did it because the dangers of inherited wealth are too great. It's important to me because I don't want family wealth issues from my generation crashing down on the heads of my two children.

Like any family we have some issues. We weren't having a family crisis or anything like that. Instead we were making a preemptive strike on any potential family conflicts, emotional or personal problems that might be simmering below the surface.

If "God forbid," as the estate planners say, something were to happen to our parents, it would be a major test of my family's emotional strength and unity. That's why we want to make sure we're as united and prepared as possible.

It's not just that. It's also about our individual personal growth and development. The children of wealthy parents have triple the national average rate of alcoholism, drug abuse and suicide. Not that we have those problems, but it just shows that we are in a difficult position.

We also wanted to "catch up" with family members... We wanted to find out what's important to each member of the family... where they see themselves over the next few years. You think you know your family members well. But you might be surprised, when you actually sit down with them and ask.

Focused family meetings like this are a great way to confront potential problems. That's why it's so important for you to have these meetings on your own.

Friday, August 01, 2014


This weekend is my birthday, and I'm giving you the gift of this essay by Bill Bonner titled "Prepare for Hormegeddon." The title, in my opinion, is not the greatest, but I feel that this essay is probably the best repost from ETR I've ever made.
Happy birthday to me!
Prepare for Hormegeddon
By Bill Bonner

This book has a modest ambition: to catch a faint glimmer of truth, perhaps out of the corner of our eye. What truth? It is a phenomenon I call Hormegeddon.

German pharmacologist Hugo Schulz first described its scientific antecedent in 1888. He put small doses of lethal poison onto yeast and found that it actually stimulated growth. Various researchers and bio-chemical tinkerers also experimented with it in subsequent years and came to similar findings.

Finally, in 1943, two scientists published a journal article about this phenomenon and gave it a name: "hormesis." It is what happens when a small dose of something produces a favorable result, but if you increase the dosage, the results are a disaster. Giving credit where it is due, Nassim Taleb suggested applying the term beyond pharmacology in his 2012 book, Antifragile.

Disasters come in many forms. Epidemic disease is a disaster. A fire can be a disaster. A hurricane, an earthquake, a tornado. All these natural phenomena are the disastrous versions of normal, healthy environmental processes. But this book is about another kind of natural disaster. Public-policy disasters.

Generally speaking, public-policy disasters are what you get when you apply rational, small-scale problem-solving logic to an inappropriately broad situation. First, you get a declining rate of return on your investment (of time or resources). Then, if you keep going – and you always keep going – you get a disaster.

The problem is, these disasters cannot be stopped by well-informed, smart people with good intentions, because those exact people are the ones who cause these disasters in the first place.

Beyond Our Control

"Hormegeddon" is my shorthand way of describing what happens when you have too much of a good thing in a public-policy context.

Economists describe the "too much of a good thing" phenomenon as "declining marginal utility." The idea is well known and understood: You invest money. The first money you invest produces a good return. Then, the rate of return goes down... eventually to zero. When you get below the rate of return, on a "risk-free" Treasury bond for instance, you're no longer earning anything for the risk you take; you're losing money.

If you keep investing at this point, your losses will increase. What was just a bad investment becomes a disastrous investment. Economics has no special term for this stage – where marginal returns sink below zero, and you begin to get negative returns that, eventually, lead to hormegeddon.

Despite its prevalence in this world, hormegeddon trudges on in anonymity, ignored by just about everyone on the planet.

The reason is simple: Our intellectual traditions give us no purchase on it. Western thought is largely dominated by rational problem solvers.

They presume that individual human beings can consciously determine where they want to go and how to get there. I will pass over the fact that not a single human being on the planet actually got where he is by rational thought alone. Instead, we are all products of forces we can barely begin to fathom, let alone control.

Errors of a Special Sort

Few people can stomach the idea that public life is out of the conscious control of the authorities in whom they have placed so much faith. They lack what Nietzsche referred to as an "amor fati"... a faith in, and an affection for, fate.

People don't like fate. Fate is the bad stuff that happens when no one is in charge, when chaos reigns. Instead, they believe in the ability of right-thinking experts to "do something" to bring about a better outcome than fate had in store for them.

They want a leader who will slay their enemies and bring the home team to victory. They want officials to deliver full employment, someone else's money, the America's Cup, and free beer on tap 24/7. They want someone in the driver's seat who will take them where they want to go.

But where do they want to go?

They don't know. And history is largely a record of fender benders, sideswipes and pile-ups on the way there – a place, it turns out, they really shouldn't have been going in the first place.

History ignores the trillions of very good decisions made by private citizens in their private lives. We don't see the calculation of the boatmen, bringing their barks to shore just before the tide turns.

We hardly notice the bowman, who sends his arrow to a spot just a few feet in front of a racing rabbit. Nor does history spend much time on the brakeman, who carefully brings the 11:07 am from New York to a halt directly in front of travelers standing on the platform at Pennsylvania Station in Baltimore.

But the competence of the brakeman, boatman and bowman make us overconfident. If we can bring a train to rest at exactly the right spot, why not an economy? If we can impose our will, by force, on a rabbit, why not on Alabama? If we can drive a car, why not a whole society?

It seems reasonable enough. And it agrees with our core intellectual bias – well established since the time of Aristotle and re-established during the Renaissance – that we are able to see, understand, and direct our future.

But if that were true, history would be a lot less colorful than it is. What actually happens is that people take on big projects. And fail miserably.


Friday, July 25, 2014

Summer is Hard on Sleep for Three Reasons

I was just talking about my fear of not getting enough sleep because of the high temperature in my bedroom, not even five minutes before coming across this ETR essay written by Dr. David Eifrig titled "Three Reasons You're Not Sleeping Well This Summer."

After reading it, I decided the information was pretty helpful (for me at least) and decided to share it with you. It's the weekend. Play hard or relax, but get some sleep!



Three Reasons You're Not Sleeping Well This Summer

By Dr. David Eifrig
There's one thing you need to do today to start improving your health: get a good night's sleep.

Sleep has been on my list of the top ways to improve your health for 9 years. In fact, it held the #1 spot for 8 out of those 9 years, until this year when I bumped it to #2 in favor of movement.
If you're like a lot of people, your quality of sleep starts slipping as the summer season hits. But today, I'll show you how to make sure you're getting enough sleep this time of year. Before I explain the three factors hindering your sleep this summer, let me explain why sleep is so important...

Scientists don't know why we sleep... but the benefits are well-known.

Current theories suggest that sleeping relaxes your brain cells, causing them to shrink, which, in turn, allows waste products to seep through the extra cellular space and exit the brain faster.

Not getting the right amount of sleep causes a number of health problems. Your immune system will not be as functional, leaving you more likely to develop colds or chronic diseases. Over time, not getting enough quality sleep increases your risk of heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, and diabetes. Not getting enough sleep has also been linked to aging your skin, leading to Alzheimer's, and lowering your sex drive.

Scientists do know how we fall asleep – it happens through a chemical process in our brains. Your internal "thermostat" is located in a part of your brain called the hypothalamus. This region secretes a hormone that effectively lowers your core body temperature and promotes sleep.

The thermostat corresponds with your body's natural 24-hour cycle, called your circadian rhythm. The circadian rhythm relies on cues from your environment to trigger when it's time to sleep. These include temperature, light, and lifestyle.

In the winter, shorter daylight hours disrupt our sleep cycles as less sunlight throws off our body's circadian rhythm. But did you know that the long days of summer also mess with your sleep cycle?

The top three causes of summertime insomnia are:

1. Soaring temperatures heating up your bedroom

2. Long days of lots of sunshine

3. Spending too much time socializing

The most common cause of summertime insomnia is soaring temperatures. Hotter air doesn't just make you uncomfortable... it can also keep you from getting a full night's sleep.

Every person has a slightly different comfort range, but typically a temperature between 60 and 68 degrees is best for sleeping. Many studies link the body's temperature regulation with sleep patterns, which is why you become sleepy in colder temperatures.

One of the most crucial parts of the sleep cycle – rapid eye movement (REM) sleep – can suffer during hotter temperatures. That's because during REM, your body loses its ability to sweat or to shiver. If the room is too warm, your body temperature will rise to match it, bringing you back to a point of almost wakefulness. If it's too hot, you can even wake up completely, ruining the quality of your sleep.

Thankfully, you can keep cool without breaking the bank. To start, you can install a programmable thermostat to save on energy costs. My research assistant Laura did this last winter. Installing a programmable thermostat can save the average household hundreds of dollars per year. Just set a lower temperature while you're asleep and put it back up to the 70s or 80s while you're gone during the day.

For every degree you have it set above 72 degrees Fahrenheit, you can save about 2%. Some energy suppliers also offer dollar discount plans where they actually change your temperature from their headquarters by a certain number of degrees during times of peak usage.

Other ways to stay cool and save money include cleaning and replacing your air filter on a regular basis. Clogged or worn-out filters make it harder for the air to flow through the air conditioning system. You can also do what I do and have an individual unit in your bedroom and turn it on only when sleeping.

Finally, use a ceiling fan to circulate the air. It won't lower the temperature of the room, but the air movement will help sweat evaporate from your skin, helping you cool down. You can also use fans to help circulate air from an air conditioner, allowing you to reduce the settings on the unit and save on energy costs.

Or do what I do and put a little water on your arms, neck, head, and even legs if you're having trouble falling asleep. The fan or just natural cooling of your body will put you sound asleep before you can count 30 sheep.

Another main culprit for lost sleep during the summer is light. Summer's longer days mean more hours of sunlight. The shift may be subtle, but it can disrupt the natural circadian rhythm, particularly in the hypothalamus.

Light-blocking curtains keep sunlight from triggering episodes of wakefulness. Many thicker curtains not only block light, but include thermal panels to help keep the heat out as well. Last summer, my research assistant Amanda purchased some for her living room and says she rarely needs to use her air conditioner while her curtains are closed.
If you're traveling, do what I do and pack some large paperclips – if a hotel's curtains gap or don't block enough light for you, you can pin them together or hang up extra towels for a darker room.

Be sure not to interrupt your sleep with any kind of light. If you need to use the bathroom during the night, don't turn on any lights. Instead, have a low-light nightlight plugged in to guide your way.

Taking rests or even short naps in the late afternoon can also help with the longer hours of sunlight. Even participating in a quiet, restful activity can help start to relax your body and prepare you for sleep in the evening.

The third big cause of poor summertime sleep is lifestyle. Social contact, late-night eating, and electronic device usage all affect your sleep quality.

The longer days of summer often are filled with more social events, including cookouts, extended happy hours, and evening baseball games. My assistant recently attended a neighborhood little league game and was surprised that it didn't start until 8:30 p.m. People around her were still eating hot dogs and peanuts and drinking sodas when the game ended two hours later.

Eating close to bedtime causes weight gain and disrupts your sleep cycle. Digestive sugar spikes and the production of stomach acid can also wake you from your sleep. And although it acts as a depressant at first, alcohol causes bouts of wakefulness as your body metabolizes it.

Likewise, soda and coffee can keep you up long after you drink them. Caffeine can stay in the body far longer than you might expect... as long as 14 hours. The effects of coffee usually wear off about three to five hours later, so drinking coffee after dinner could keep you up long into the night.
So do what I do... stop eating and drinking at least two hours before bed.

Also, make sure to avoid caffeine after lunch so it has enough time to leave your body before sleeping. I mainly drink decaf in the afternoon. And most important, maintain a regular bedtime. Having a set schedule will help your body regulate its sleep cycles.

Remember, keep your bedroom a place for relaxation, sex, and sleep. Take the time to relax before bed without your cell phone, tablet, television, or any other electronic device. Electronics emit electromagnetic radiation that disturbs sleep cycles.

Lately, I've been researching the top sleep problems in the U.S. I also found other lifestyle choices that can ruin your sleep – and learned how to change them. I'm putting everything into an upcoming special report. I've included topics like beating jetlag and adjusting to nontraditional work hours.

Friday, July 18, 2014

'It is in your hands to make of our world a better one for all' - Nelson Mandela

( July 18, 2014 ) World Citizen Artists (WCA) -- Global art
movement World Citizens Artists celebrates Mandela
International Day (18th July) as part of its campaign to
raise awareness about global issues affecting the lives of
millions of people the world over.

This is the first time the world is celebrating Mandela
 International Day in the absence of Nelson Mandela,
who passed away last year, but friends and followers
are celebrating this day to remember and spread his
message of love and peace.

Mandela was not only art lover, but himself was an
art practitioner who used to take pencil and brush to
express his beliefs and views beyond logic through visual
art. World Citizen Artists across the globe are celebrating
Mandela International Day with the idea that each artist
has the power to change the world.

Nomfusi, the South African celebrity singer and actress
who played in the movie that celebrated Mandela's life
'Long Walk to Freedom' is headlining WCA's online
magazine. In the film, Nomfusi played Myriam Makeba.
She has dedicated her latest song 'My Hero' to Mandela.

In WCA's magazine at she
speaks about Mandela and her support for WCA.

The Belgravia Gallery in London, UK, run by Anna Hunter
and Laura Walford, is also supporting World Citizen Artists
by sharing some of Mandela's artwork with WCA. Mandela
started to draw for the first time in 2002, when in his
eighties. His work is noteworthy for its symbols of struggle,
peace and harmony.

WCA's founder, Valerie Won Lee, said "Mandela Day was an
obvious choice for us to celebrate because he stands for
freedom, human rights and equality across borders with no
 fear or favour. He is a shining example to humanity."

About World Citizen Artists:

World Citizen Artists was launched in June 2014 to harness
the expressive power of art as a way of raising global awareness
and responsibility. The movement comprises artists from more
than twenty countries around the world. It's online magazine
accessible at is now in its second



Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Kicking Fear's Butt... And the Reward

I'm almost done crocheting my cornmeal colored scarf.  I can't wait to show you my progress!  In the meantime, I've been doing a few other things.  For example, just yesterday I completed a collage paying tribute to the first orders placed by the public to the Ford Motor Company which took place on July 15, 1903.  You can read about it in a press release here:

Today, I've gone back to reposting some juicy little tid-bit from ETR.  This essay is by Stephen Guise and is an attempt to help you (or anyone) assess risk against reward.  I hope this helps you conquer some of your fears.


How to Overcome Your Fear of Failure by Using Rewards

By Stephen Guise
The girl at the smoothie stand was expecting my order.

Instead, I walked up to her and asked, "Do you like animals?"

"Yes. I love animals," she said.

"Me too!" I replied, "I was wondering if you’d like to go to the zoo with me."

"Oh. Actually, I have a boyfriend."

She was really cute.

So I wasn’t at all surprised that she had a boyfriend. In fact, I expected it. But… she said no. It was rejection.

It’s even possible that she didn’t have a boyfriend; some women will "protect" men with that line if they’re not interested. Because I know that, I have to wonder for eternity what type of rejection it was. Sigh.

Still, I felt good about the whole thing because I don’t often ask out strangers and I do have some fear of rejection. It was a victory in that sense, but there was obviously some disappointment there too, as I walked out of that place with a smoothie instead of a date. Oh well. The smoothie was tasty, and it turns out, I’m smarter than I first realized for getting it.

Risk and reward have a special relationship.
Risk and reward are inseparable.

The general relationship they have is, "what possible reward can I get for taking this size risk?" If the risk/reward ratio is favorable, then it’s a good idea to take the risk. Asking out a pretty girl has a high potential reward, while the risk of any meaningful harm is very low. She’d have to go on a tirade about how terrible I am that pinpointed my greatest weaknesses and crushed my self-esteem forever. Again, unlikely.

We make this risk/reward calculation every day:
The long-term risk of eating an unhealthy hamburger vs. the reward of tasty beef.
The risk of being embarrassed by asking for a raise vs. the reward of actually getting it.
The risk of starting a business that could fail vs. the reward of it succeeding.

On this basis, I’ve got an idea for a NEW risk/reward model, and I really think it can help us overcome many of these "petty" fears we struggle with.

The NEW Risk/Reward Model
What makes a risk a risk? Is it that something bad can happen? Sometimes, certainly. More often though, the real risk is a relatively harmless feeling of discomfort or rejection combined with the sting of NO REWARD.

The fear of not getting a payoff while being embarrassed keeps men single, prevents workers from getting raises, and generally keeps people in their safe, but boring and life-draining routines while they could be out living the Caribbean life (or, whatever might suit them better than their current life).

Here’s the NEW risk/reward model:
When you take a SMART risk (something with low real risk and high potential reward), give yourself a reward. Plan the whole thing out: If I ask a girl out, I get to buy a smoothie. If I email the president, I get to watch an episode of Seinfeld. If I dance in limelight at the wedding tonight and let loose, I will book a massage.

The reason I was smarter than I realized with the cute barista situation is because immediately after I was rejected, I rewarded myself with the smoothie. What if I got a smoothie every time I asked a girl out? I like smoothies. It really "sweetens" the deal, because now there is a built-in, guaranteed reward. Sure, the reward is completely artificially-placed, but your brain can’t tell the difference, and what’s there to complain about? You get a smoothie!

Here are the reasons to use this new risk/reward model…

It trains you correctly, neurologically.

We know from research on habits that the brain responds to rewards, and will favor the behaviors that precede rewards, given enough repetition. If you complete a behavior in a similar context enough times over a given period, and it is always followed by a reward (even if the reward is unrelated), the brain will begin to desire that behavior more. So if you really want to increase your tendency to take smart risks, this new method is a neurological way to do it.

It establishes the risk as permanently more favorable.

If every time I asked a girl out, I’d get 10,000 dollars, how many girls do you think I’d ask out in the next 5 minutes? As many as I could find within shouting distance. Isn’t it interesting how even a shy guy would completely shatter his shell of fear if the reward was big enough? Find the shiest guy in the world, and offer him a million dollars to talk to ten attractive girls. I bet you he’d find a way.

These are unrealistic rewards, of course, but it gets the point across that you can make a risk more attractive if you promise yourself a nice reward for it.

If you’re shy and love video games, promise yourself that you can buy a new game if you talk to ten strangers throughout your day. If you’re going to a big networking event and you’re nervous, promise yourself one guilt-free hour of television for every solid connection you make. The possibilities are only limited to your imagination. You know your fears and desires better than I do, so make your actions and "bribes" appealing to you.

It makes it more fun.

"Fun" is maybe the most underrated tool in personal development (behind mini habits, which can never be rated highly enough… says the biased author). Enjoyment (or not) of activities has been shown to have a big impact on willpower depletion, in fact, which is something I’m currently researching. If you can reframe a scary or intimidating activity into a fun one, everything will be better.

When I play basketball, I play my very best when I’m having fun, and my very worst when I’m nervous about my performance. This seems to be the case in much of life.

Attaching a reward to a scary, but worthwhile behavior makes the whole scenario seem more playful, because, well, it is more playful. This shift in mindset is surprisingly powerful in helping you rise above fear.

It gives you the opportunity to calculate the real risk.

Being a human is scary, ok? We’ve got all of these expectations, both self-imposed and from society. We’ve got insecurities. We’ve got fears. It’s my firm belief that the most successful people (in any way you define success) are those who manage to disregard much of these worrisome things and live life with "smart reckless abandon." They take smart risks. They always try new things. They’re here to experience life’s finest offerings. They understand that asking a question and getting a "no" response is entirely acceptable and non-life-threatening.

But let’s not get caught up in comparisons either. It doesn’t matter if you’ve been scared all of your life, held back by others’ expectations for you or your own insecurities. Today is a real opportunity to take a step in a promising, bold new direction. And well, I’m suggesting that you bribe yourself to take that step. Combine this strategy with mini habits (i.e. taking really really small steps), and you may become a juggernaut.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Dealing with the Banks... How Iceland Did It

To kick off the weekend I wanted to share a bit of information that was shared with me. It might inspire you.

The following quote is from an article written by Nathaniel for The New York Times titled "After Crisis, Iceland Holds A Tight Grip On Its Banks" and published on January 15, 2014:

"Iceland is a living experiment in what can happen when a country forces its financial firms to go under, rather than bailing them out, as much of the rest of the world did during the global financial crisis.

In October 2008, all three of Iceland’s major banks collapsed. None failed more spectacularly than Kaupthing, the bank whose glass headquarters were on the waterfront. At one point, it had a balance sheet four times as large as the annual economic output of the entire country. Last month, four former Kaupthing executives were sentenced to multiple-year prison terms."

The video I’m posting is only a little over one minute, but it may (hopefully) make you pause… think… reconsider…

Have a great weekend.

And, oh yeah, I’ve posted a few new things on Etsy you might want to check out. More products will be added almost daily!