Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Sophia Grace and Rosie hit Disneyland!

Not sure how I got started watching these girls, but I think they are so funny and Ellen is great for having them on.

Swimming

My face scowled as I pondered the content I had just ingested.  I recently read an article in Inc Magazine entitled, “35 Ways to MakeYour Business Look Bigger.”  The general premise is easily understandable, but my thoughts went to the logic behind the 35 ways.  Why would one want to follow ways to make a business appear bigger?  If someone is striving to make their business seem bigger then it’s implied that the business is small.  Why not just be ok with being a small business?  Why try to fool your clients into believing you are bigger than you really are?  Appearing to be something that you are not seems a bit misleading and downright dishonest doesn’t it?  Why make your business look like anything but what it is?  A business with integrity, clear communication, and a firm grasp on their brand/identity is a good business.  It boils down to brand or identity discovery and active marketing strategies.

I hold this same logic towards behavior and morality.  Rather than managing what you don’t want to be or what you want to be, be authentic and learn who you are then you can make plans to address behavior.  The same is true of business, before you go out building an awesome website, hiring a virtual receptionist, and implementing expensive marketing campaigns stop and become comfortable with your identity.  Once you know where you are then you can know where you are going and make appropriate adjustments.  If you’re lost in the middle of an ocean the worst thing you can do is start putting all your energy into swimming.  What if you swim the wrong way or further away from shore?  That would be a lot of wasted energy.  The best thing to do is identify where you are so you can plan to get where you’re going.  The benefit for just accepting or discovering your identity before running to the numbered steps so many “experts” offer is that you actually learn who you are, which is priceless.  Another benefit of slowing down enough to look in the mirror honestly and discover your identity is that you may easily overlook strengths and focus too much on flaws.  We have all been guilty of this, this is a reason why those 10x or 5x mirrors are not allowed at the Sloope household, I don’t want to celebrate or focus on flaws.  In identifying your brand you are also able to focus in on unique strengths that set you apart from others.  Slow down, identify yourself then cautiously start planning.

Once you know who you are you can know where you’re going.  Once you know where you are going you can bring people along.  This is where consumers or clients get involved.  If I pay a taxi driver $60 to take me from the airport to home and get dropped off somewhere else I can assure you I may pull a Hulk and flip that car, haha.  In all seriousness though, if a consumer or client is told that a company is something or is going somewhere only later to find out they arrived at a different location than told or experience a different identity than they were sold, it creates a loss of trust, which ultimately leads to no business.  Doesn’t it all boil down to trust anyways?  Consumers/clients trust a company to do what they desire therefore they invest money in return.  Obviously this is a very simplified story of how the free market works.  It is important to be clear with clients and consumers about exactly who you are, without filters, fireworks, or misleading grandiose marketing.  If you can gain trust authentically then you have a strong connection, lasting longer than the next set of steps offered by the next “expert.”

I’m all for a company appearing well put together.  Before money is thrown at marketing strategies brand management should eat up the majority of energy and resources if you ask me.  Putting lipstick on a pig doesn’t make it less or more of a pig, neither shall actions without clear branding.  Understand where you are before you start swimming, could get you a lot further and save a lot of energy.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Sophia Grace and Rosie again.

I cannot get over these little girls rapping, it makes me laugh.  I'm not sure how I feel about the music the listen to or emulate, however, the end product is pretty entertaining.  Thanks to Ellen for having a great show and featuring these kids.  Enjoy.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

The Blame Game


The common denominator to all life’s problems is….wait for it….Y-O-U!

In order to better understand where all this is coming from I’ll give a brief backstory to help shape the context. 

I play in a basketball league on Tuesday nights at a church.  There are several implied underlying factors within the fact that this league is ran by a church, probably the largest being mutual respect or at the very least appropriate behavior.  Interestingly enough I have found that any sort of strength a situation can offer can be twisted or mismanaged in such a way that it quickly becomes detrimental.  The strength and main reason I got involved was to meet new people who shared an interest, basketball.  The strength is meeting new people who are very different from you.  The flip side of that coin is that new people offer new opportunities for differences and furthermore disagreements.  In basketball specifically there are tons of disagreements, about calls a ref should or shouldn’t make or did or didn’t make, zone or man defense, and sometimes even as essential as to team structure.  Most recently I have found one individual on this team disagrees with everyone on about everything, to the point of not even being willing to listen to his teammates.   Long story short, this guy, who is a heck of an athlete, basically tries to run a one man show, which understandably chokes the life out of the team.  Going back to this league being ran by a church it is equally understandable that we don’t want to confront or hurt anyone’s feelings about this so we speak in generalities. So instead of saying, you are a ball hog and don’t pass the ball when you have open teammates we say we need to move the ball better as a team, hoping that the generality will hit home with a person individually.  The ultimate hope of all of this is that each individual will take personal responsibility for what they are capable of controlling and adjust accordingly.  We were having a particularly horrible game recently and at the half when we were discussing the game everyone was talking about bad calls and other external factors, no one was owning up to anything.  Of course the one person we wanted to talk directly to didn’t internalize our generalized statements and continued his play, which was detrimental to the team.  At the climax of the night, after being frustrated with everything else, including refs not making the calls he wanted, he just snapped, drawing two technical fouls and even threatening the ref.  All this in a church league.  After being ejected and asked to not return to the league, understandably so, the dude was still going on and on about how this was everyone else’s fault.  We finished the game by apologizing to everyone else for our (former) teammates’ attitude and behavior and getting blown out by 20. 

Unfortunately, all too often, I have found that personal responsibility is treated like a foreign concept in our culture.  Think about all the situations you can where you have the opportunity to take responsibility in a moment.  The possibilities and opportunities are endless.  Whether it is as simple as returning the shopping cart to return bin or complex as owning up to your end of the dilemmas in a broken relationship, taking personal responsibility opportunities are everywhere.  Now, back to our little church league rift.  In every situation accepting personal responsibility is the best route because after all the only control an individual has is that over themselves.  Everything external is an uncontrollable variable.  The ideology that one can control external variables is a divisive illusion that leads many to unhealthy and detrimental behavior.  After apologizing profusely to the pastor of the recreational department I made a statement that has stuck with me since leaving the gym, “He’ll learn in life it is always easiest and best to stop pointing fingers and start internalizing things.”  The gist of this thought is pretty simple, stop blaming everyone and everything else for what you are responsible for, how you react and interact with the environment in which you find yourself. 

Young people especially will have a very rough life if they go through it blaming external, uncontrollable variables for what they can actually control, their own attitudes and behaviors.  In the case of my former teammate he was getting angrier and angrier because he felt he was getting fouled when he took the ball in on 3 defenders and wasn’t receiving the calls from the refs.  Instead of taking the responsibility for himself and logically considering 1 on 3 wasn’t a good matchup and trying a different approach to avoid putting himself in a situation where he wasn’t getting what he wanted leading to frustrations he decided to continue in the same behaviors expecting others to change.  This is a horrible formula for success, one that actually doesn’t work.  Even as he was being tossed out of the gym he was spewing tactless words and accusations of others mistakes.  Never once did he accept any kind of responsibility.  I’d imagine that he still thinks he was in the right.  This is a nasty way of thinking that leads to equally nasty behavior.  This refusal to accept personal responsibility ultimately caused him to lose control because he was attempting to control that which he could not, others.  This is a great lesson to be applied to any other aspect of life as well.  You cannot control external variables and to attempt to do so will lead to you losing control of yourself.  It is true that the common denominator in all of life’s problems is you.  Accepting personal responsibility in life isn’t something to be overlooked, otherwise we end up getting kicked out of all of life’s proverbial games, much like our angry teammate did.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Foul Play

“And one!” You can hear this little ditty on any basketball court at most pick-up games around the world.  I’m often put off by this ridiculous impulse.  Yes, it has become an impulsive knee-jerk reaction hoping to dictate a referee or fellow player if you’re in a game where you make your own calls.  It truly is a manipulative scheme used by weak players in my opinion.  But before I jump into pissing a bunch of people off, let’s agree on where this awful saying came from.  An And 1 is a free throw awarded to a player who is fouled while scoring.  So what is a foul?  A personal foul is when you make contact with a player illegally.  Makes sense, if a defender initiates illegal contact on an offensive player then that offensive player should be rewarded.  My dilemma personally concerning all this is the word reward.  A player is rewarded the and1 if they are fouled and score, but why.  I understand if the infraction causes the player to miss the shot, however, rewarding a player for making a shot with contact is where I personally stray from the majority opinion.  The reward for scoring while being hit on the arm or wrapped up is that you scored and are stronger than your puny opponent.  This idea of rewarding a player for scoring through contact has created many of ugly things in the basketball world including the flop, which I hate.  If it were up to me anytime a player yells “and 1” or obviously flops to appear to draw contact I’d subtract a point.  The idea that you get rewarded for being fouled has created an ugly, slow game full of big egos.

You see it all the time, someone thinks they are good enough to finish on a 1 on 2 fast break and throws his or her head back or even themself to the floor after blowing a not so smart layup on two defenders.  When no whistle is blown they forget about the ball that is still in play and either give the ref the stank eye or begin whining like a teenage girl who just had her cell phone taken away or is grounded from going to the Selena Gomez concert.  This leaves the other team to run down the other end with an advantage because the cry baby is still on the other end of the court pleading his or her case.  How many points are made off fast breaks after a big defensive play because someone thinks they are owed a foul call?  How many games are slowed down because of arguments over foul calls?  I say shut up and play and if you can’t finish against some light contact get in the weight room. 

Now, on the defensive end fouls are suspect if you ask me.  If someone is going to score and you intentionally stop them, not making a move on the ball, but wrap them up or something they should just be given the points they would have gotten because you’re a punk who can’t play D.  The same is true of picks, if you run into a pick set by someone and your team fails to call it out, don’t throw yourself to the ground and sit up in astonishment that you didn’t get a call, dust off and get back on D or get in the weight room. 

This reward ideology concerning the foul has ruined the game if you ask me.  There is an entire population of people now who have perfected the art of selling a foul, also known as flopping.  You should be penalized for selling a foul because after all we are playing basketball, not taking acting courses.  I play in a rec league, actually something a bit more than a rec league here in Indy (GTBA,Indy’s Best Rec League) and cannot quantify the frustration felt as I watch many play the ego-centric foul game.  In this league we actually have someone known for his flops, here's looking at you JVA, he has mastered the flop and much to my dismay actually gets calls from the refs.  I say boo to this and say yea to the weight room!  All this deserving a foul call or trying to manipulate someone into giving you a foul call is trash, play the game and shut up.  Those are my two cents which I am sure will have many a panty all in a wad.  “And one!” shouldn’t be something you expect rather a nice little surprise, but unfortunately too many see fouls as something they deserve or can earn like a boy scout badge thus the pick-up game or  rec league has been reduced to a bunch of debaters who wear sweat-wicking t-shirts, expensive shoes, and feel entitled to be given something they actually don’t deserve. 

I’d imagine there will be screams of “And one,” as minds digest this writing feeling they have been wronged or fouled by my words and to them I offer no condolence, however, could lend you a hand in the weight room anytime you feel like it. 

And for your entertainment, see below.




Lin (A Story of Preparation)

How can a Taiwanese Ivy League graduate with a degree in economics help you in your personal and professional life?  Within his inspiring story there is a principle that can change your life and business,  the principle of luck.  Jeremy, like Tim Tebow, is a polarizing figure in the sports world right now because there is so much hype surrounding him.  Before you get excited either way at me saying the principle of luck can be pulled from his story allow me to define luck in this context.  In a traditional sense I do not believe in luck, things don’t randomly happen to random people with no connections.  Our world is far too complex for anything to be left to that kind of random luck.  My definition of luck is and has always been where preparedness intersects with opportunity.  This takes some power away from the intangible nebulous expectations people have that lead to unhealthy thoughts.  Before being able to buy into this there is another world view that supports this view of being prepared for opportunity.  The most important is that we cannot control factors outside of ourselves.  We cannot control the all the things in our environment outside of ourselves and the more we try the worse we make things.  Since we have no control over external variables then it is our responsibility to worry about preparing ourselves for life.  If we focus our strengths on preparing ourselves for what will eventually come that we cannot control we will go through life much happier and healthier.

The story of Lin’s assent to a starting role on the New York Knicks has been well documented up to this point.  Some media outlets and sports personalities are making this story more sensational than it really is.  The circus surrounding Lin right now is based on the false belief that somehow this Lin kid is achieving what he shouldn’t therefore this is a story of inspiration for those who don’t think they can.  I call BS on that storyline.  I don’t think Lin would tell you he is surprised at how well he has performed.  He may be surprised by the media attention, but as far as his performance and contributions on the hardwood Lin probably doesn’t see what the big deal is.  That’s because Lin has prepared himself night and day for the opportunity he has and is conquering.  Beyond the story line of an undrafted kid out of Harvard who didn’t even make it there on an athletic scholarship there is one of the benefits of focusing on preparing yourself for opportunity.  Lin has prepared himself throughout his high school, college, and now professional career for the opportunity to play at the highest level.  Not getting drafted and getting cut by several teams were outside of his control so instead of allowing those external factors to which he had no control crush him and stop him from moving forward he continued to prepare.  This preparedness eventually paid off as the opportunity came.  Opportunity is inevitable; it is only when you are prepared that 1 you notice it and 2 you are ready to take advantage of it. 

Whether you are looking for a job or career change like me, trying to get into a particular college, building a new company, or even trying to play a sport, take hope in the ideology that preparing yourself is what is important and trust that in doing so you will eventually run across that opportunity that you’ll be prepared for.  Being prepared for that opportunity you’ll shine and become a star in your own respect.  Jeremy Lin’s story is unfortunately being high jacked by sensationalist type story lines when in reality the focus of it all should be on preparing individually for inevitable opportunity.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Rosie Got Swag!

This video is a follow up to these little girls doing Nicki Minaj's song Super Bass and they didn't disappoint.  Funny stuff, hope you enjoy.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Process

There are times in life when things happen or things are said and you experience them as if you’re watching it or hearing it happen although you are doing or saying these things.  These out of body experiences can be big and small, but general are significant because I believe your soul is moving faster than your mind.  Your soul can also be your instinctual premise, either way your mind if following for once and it is with purpose and reason.

Discouraged I sat staring blankly at my computer screen this morning.  I was speaking to my wife at the time discussing the possibility of me going back to school.  Within this conversation I was saying that maybe I could get a scholarship since I’d be bringing in a 3.8 GPA and graduated Magna Cum Laude from college.  Throughout this process of trying o change career paths I’ve networked myself a lot, learned tons, and been more active than most people would be comfortable with trying to meet people.  Along the way, much like her comment towards my schooling, she encourages me and tells me how proud of me that she is to which I really think is sweet, but don’t understand.  She tells me I need to be confident and that I am very hard on myself to which I respond, “Well, I’m more of an end product thinker, I’m not one for process…”  I felt as if I was someone else watching me say this as I had one of those moments described above.  I didn’t know it consciously, but my unconscious put me in check with a statement that revealed what may be the essence of all the discouragement and downtimes I’ve had in this process.  This same inerrant line of thinking is what causes so much restlessness in others as well.  What is this misguided cognitive path? 

Many go through life and have been taught that arriving or achieving is the goal and so the process and journey don’t get much attention or appreciation.  Restlessness rules as we focus on a future state instead of appreciating where we are.  My wife teaches me great lessons of life without ever knowing it.  I think our large difference in how we interpret and experience life opens up opportunities to learn from each other, to which I am grateful.  She is a live in the moment type person, appreciates what is in front of you, embrace the process, and focus on what you’re doing or becoming rather than what you aren’t doing or are not.   How much of life’s beauty is taken away by overlooking it because there is a goal in mind?  How much of the learning process gets neglected because the end is held in such esteem?  If one is actively on a journey and working towards a goal they should appreciate the journey.  What a shame it’d be to live a life of providing for your family and doing things just to achieve the goal of raising children to succeed and not enjoy the journey.  To look back on that entire process as nothing of worth would be devastating.  What does it look like to appreciate journey? 

This is not to say achieving goals is so how evil.  Goals are essential to success in life.  These goals should not be more important than the path that leads to them however.  Imbalance either way is disastrous, not valuing goals and only focusing on living in the moment could allow one to float through life and achieve nothing.  Appropriate balance in appreciating the journey it takes to achieve a goal is the healthiest way to live.  This way of living is free of discouragement, doubt, regret, or low self-esteem.  To live in this balanced way, appreciating the process as well as the product is best for the soul and society.  Business would boom given a staff of employees who are appreciative of here and now while focusing on goals as well.  We’re all on some sort of journey and it is best to appreciate it.  More tips and tricks aren’t what we need, we need a paradigm shift.  The way we think is often more important than what we think about.  It is my prescription that we operate best when we appreciate the process along the way.  When you’ve reached your limit and worked and thought as hard as you can, it’s easy to think you are not enough or that somehow there is something wrong with you.  Instead of taking on more burdens and falling into the more and more mentality, maybe a simple change in how you consider things would be beneficial.  At times we focus so hard on what we can touch it leaves us ignoring the most important aspect of how we experience life, how we perceive it, our cognitive process.  A little work on that could go a long way.

Success Considers Failure

“Leaders are visionaries with a poorly developed sense of fear and no concept of the odds against them.”
-Robert Jarvik

Entrepreneurs are risk takers.  Media coverage overwhelms us with expressions of success, stories of others being at the top of their game and climbing their proverbial mountains.  There is a mostly unspoken, although it is certainly spoken at times, ideology permeating our society and thirsty younger generation that in order to succeed you mustn’t consider failure.  This is what all the big shots say and it has this Disneyland sparkly nostalgia about it, but I’m not so sure it is healthy or even reality if considered further. 

The road to success is littered with risks, something we can all agree on.  What is risk though?  If something presents a risk then there is a larger chance of failure than succession or else it would not be a risk it would be almost guaranteed.  Those who succeed are frequently quoted or advising others that in order to succeed you need to not even consider failure or as Jarvik says must have no concept of the odds against them.  Retrospect or hindsight is always 20/20.  Clarity is easy to reflect upon after one has weathered the storm and come out the other side intact.  One cannot see the forest for the trees.  I love this idea and saying because it makes sense that when in the midst of anything it is impossible to step back and see the entire situation.  Now these great men and women, conquerors of perilous feats, give the advice of not considering failure or the odds against you, after they have survived and beaten the risks.  I don’t buy it though. 

Successful endeavors do not merely happen, luck is not a factor, and there is no universal karma that favors them.  If you don’t know by now, I am a basketball nut, I live and breathe it, so I’m going to naturally parallel this with basketball.  Some are born with innate abilities, they are freaks of nature and for some reason are faster, stronger, and jump higher than everyone else.  That is all well and good, but until that is harnessed and structured and planned around it is just raw talent and cannot be translated into a respectable game.  This is why older guys do not like playing with teenagers at any local gym.  Teenagers are full of wild athleticism and never ending energy, they are stronger faster and jump higher than their elders, however, because it is raw these less gifted elders are able to make them feel foolish as they win over and again.  My point here is that characteristics and personal gifts are much the same.  Many successful people who have made millions are not smarter than everyone they just plan better.  There are plenty of better products out there, but mediocre products sell better than their superior counterparts because they have a better plan most times.

One cannot plan without considering all angles.  To run in one direction with no forethought of anything to come is careless.  You cannot plan for success without considering risks, and remember risks are options that offer more failure than triumph.  To consider these risks is to look in the eye of failure or the chances of failing and planning for them accordingly.  As well-intended as these successful people are when they hand out this advice, it is advice they did not follow themselves.  The more realistic advice would be not allowing fear to impede process planning for failure and being determined enough and work hard enough to achieve set goals.  Do you have fears of failure?  Good, now plan for that option because every risk has the potential for failure, but trust in hard work and preparedness more so than fear and move on and conquer whatever it is you need to so we can meet at success one day together.  

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Silence

I have writers block right now and am seeking a wise resolution, with urgency, but at the same time allowing myself to grow or learn from the process.  Thoughts and such to come soon, hopefully.  I've updated my blog layout a lot in preparation for much more content, but some how am at a loss for words at the time.  Until we meet again...