Sunday, June 27, 2010

Gone for a week, and why Fedor lost

Vacation in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. Back in a week, I know this will be quite hard on my two followers. Try to maintain guys!

Btw, holy crap Fedor lost. After he pulled out of that first armbar attempt he was trying to pass around to the side and he got stuck on the cage. I don't think he trains with a cage, and because of that Werdum was able to suck him back in with that triangle. When Abu Dhabi champions lock in triangles, you tap out. Fedor or not. What most depressed me was now I don't get to see him fight Overeem. Booo.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Book review of How to Win Friends and Influence People

Many people will tell you that this is the best self help book ever written. Others would say that it is the best relationship book ever written. Some will even say that this is the best business book ever written. Just the fact that it can fall into so many categories shows the magnitude of scope Dale Carnegie was able to craft with this work.

This book is over 60 years old, yet the insights Carnegie shares seem so self evident that it reads like it could have been published yesterday. This is a timeless work, a masterpiece in every aspect.

Carnegie delves into the lives of political, spiritual, historical, and even business figures to examine why they were able to command such a loving respect from their followers.

This book is a quote lover's dream. There are dozens of wonderful lines taken from some of the most influential people of all time. From the Buddha to Abraham Lincoln. Carnegie blends them all together in a way that tells a story about how to apply them into your everyday life.

I will focus this blog on the part that most struck me. That being the 6 things you can do to make people like you.

1. Be interested in people.

Every man I meet is in some way my superior; and in that I can learn of him. -Ralph Waldo Emerson

If you hate people, any relationship book isn't for you. You might instead want to look inward and figure out why you have so much undirected anger. To the others, what is not to be interested with in people? They're fascinating!

People do all kinds of crazy crap. From acts of true kindness to deeds of pure evil, all of it enthralls me. Get interested in people and you will never be bored again. There's just too much material. Whether you're reading The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin or trying to figure out why your co-workers are so strange, get yourself interested in people.

Interested is interesting. No one wants to associate with those that would just assume that the world population disappear tomorrow.

2. Smile.

A smile is a curve that sets everything straight. -Phyllis Diller

A smile says, "I like you." People want to be liked, and a smile is a clear sign that someone has brightened your day. It is disarming; smiles radiate warmth.

More than just smiling, be positive and happy. Do you like hanging out with miserable people? Of course not, and if you mope around glumly all day no one will like being around you either. People have enough doom and gloom without having to deal with Debbie Downer being the fun governor on everyone's day.

Smile, it's free. And who knows, maybe if you pretend to be happy and positive long enough you might just trick yourself into believing it. How awful to be happy all the time, huh?

Boethius said, "So nothing is miserable except when you think it so, and vice versa, all luck is good luck to the man who bears it with equanimity."

Which Shakespeare turned into, "Nothing is good or bad but thinking makes it so."

To which Lincoln summed up precisely as, "Most people are about as happy as they make up their minds to be."

Wise men, wise words.

3. Remember people's names.

Because it is my name! Because I cannot have another in my life! Because I lie and sign myself to lies! Because I am not worth the dust on the feet of them that hang! How may I live without my name? I have given you my soul; leave me my name! -John Proctor, The Crucible

I hear all the time people say, "I'm horrible at remembering names!" Well then put more effort into it. The next time someone introduces themself to you, focus more on their name than on trying to think up something to say to make you seem interesting. Stop worrying about yourself, everyone is doing the same thing, so it's ok for you to stop. No one will notice, I promise.

Instead when you meet someone, look them in the eye, and say, "Nice to meet you (Insert their name here)." Saying a name ingrains it in your mind. When they walk away, tell yourself, "That was this person, and they like this this and this." Anytime you get a chance, greet them with their name.

There is no sweeter sound in the world than a person's own name. Repetition leads to memorization, use names.

4. Be a good listener, encourage others to talk about themselves.

Nothing interests me more than me. -Me

No one wants to hear your stories more than they want to tell their stories. That's just a fact. Ask a question, laugh at their jokes, enjoy the experience of them opening up to you. It is a gift, don't take it for granted. Once you're fast friends you can share your stories. It's bullish to try and dominate a conversation. Listen and ask first.

I talked for an hour the other day to someone at a BBQ about his stain glass hobby. It was interesting to hear about what he had to say even though I knew nothing of the particular subject. I asked questions, nodded in approval, smiled when he said something amusing. When we left he couldn't stop talking about how great of a conversationalist I am. I had barely said a word.

Let others talk, it is easier and more likely to make people enjoy your company.

5. Talk in terms that interest the other person.

It is vain to talk of the interest of the community, without understanding what is the interest of the individual. -Jeremy Bentham

I love mixed martial arts. I do jiu jitsu, box a little, and work out weekly. No one outside of those who share my interests want to hear about that. They'd much rather talk about the things that interest them.

You need to lead conversations in directions that flow to the interests of those you are conversing with. It will make them feel more comfortable and get them to open up It will make them like you.

6. Make other people feel important.

bout twenty years ago, when our married daughters were in elementary school, they had a bicycle accident. Jo Ellen, our oldest, lost control of her bike and ran into her sister, Amanda, who was standing right in her path. Suddenly the front fender of the bike slid rather abruptly between Amanda’s fingers, and left a sizable gash that required several stitches.

The thing I remember most about the incident took place after we returned from the doctor. Amanda stood in our den, held up her bandaged fingers and, with absolute innocence and candor, declared, “Now I finally have something important to talk about!” -The Importance of Feeling Important. by Terry L. Sumerlin

From climbing mountains to writing symphonies, people perform grandiose acts every day with the sole desire to feel important. No drug is so addictive as that of needing to be valued. When people talk to you, give them your true attention. Looking over their shoulder to see if there is someone better for you to be talking to is no way to endear yourself to someone.

Anyone you talk to has done something important, whether it be big or small. Find what that is, ask them about it, and then let them know how important you think that action was. They will like you, because you made them feel important.

"You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you." -Dale Carnegie

Sound like one big ass kiss? Then you missed the whole point. The point is to genuinely like and enjoy people. If you do, these things will not be acts you have to put on, they'll be sincere actions you perform.

Find the positive in a person and focus a laser of praise and attention on that and they will open up to you like a flower welcoming the sun. Be a bright force in the world, build up, don't tear down. There's enough negativity out there, do your best to consciously not add to it.

Do I practice what I preach? No way, but I sure try to. Some days it doesn't work, some people just piss you off. But being aware that you're really trying to make an effort to improve yourself is an investment that will always pay hearty dividends. In the long run it will make you a happier person, and that should always be a goal in life.

If you give this book a chance it will change your life. I just recently re-read it, and once again I was instantly treating people kinder. In the end, I'm treating people in a way that I wish to be treated.

I think someone made a rule about that somewhere.

Monday, June 21, 2010

"I've never heard that question before." --The Anonymous Salesman

I've never heard that question before.

As a consumer, have you ever had a salesman say that to you? Surprising how many times we hear it, considering that it is the first time they've ever heard it, huh? Why would that be?

It's because that is a stock salesman line, that's why. It's designed to cut off your line of questioning, make you feel foolish for asking it.

I remember on my honeymoon when I was hoodwinked into listening to a timeshare sales pitch. There was no way I was ever going to buy a timeshare, but the nice guy at my cabana who always called me "my new friend" convinced me to give them a chance. What can I say, I'm a sucker for new friends. I even told the timeshare guy up front, "look, there's zero chance I'm going to buy this today." He laughed, "of course not, but I get paid just to do the process, so just humor me please!"

An hour later I was getting the hard sell. Wasn't this too good of a deal to pass up? It was a good deal, a great deal even, but here was the rub: I had no idea if they were being on the level with me. I told them flat out, "I'm not going to buy anything this expensive without doing my due diligence in research. I'm just not that guy." "But why not", they said, "you agree it's a great deal." "Yes, but it's your deal", I told them, "and I intend to make sure you're telling me the truth."

His reply? "Wow, I've never heard that one before." Sure.

Skip ahead to last year, time to buy my wife a new car. Researched the msrp, checked consumer reports, prepared my bargaining chips. Working with the dealer for the best price, I asked them about the dealer holdback money. How about throwing some of that my way to sweeten the deal? His response? "Well I've never heard that one before". Go figure, I have. The next two dealership I went to tossed me some of the holdback. I wouldn't have minded being told no. I didn't appreciate them acting like I was demanding a free hot tub with my car.

Fast forward to just recently. It's time for me to replace the windows in my home. Being in Michigan we get hot in the summer, and real cold in the winter. My house has 30 year old windows with aluminum frames. So winter or summer, my house is bleeding energy money.

First guy shows up for a free estimate, he's the guy who is going to convince me that fiberglass is the way to go. Vinyl is crap, wood is a pain, fiberglass is 50 years of window bliss. Afterall, it expands and contracts just like glass, and you can customize it! Sounds great, I'll give him credit for having a good pitch.

So let's talk reality, what is the damage here? 11 windows in my house, cost to replace all? $15,000. That's a tad, read: an obscene amount, higher than I'm going to pay. But don't worry, there's a special! (When isn't there a special?) I can get 25% off, and if I buy today I can get another 10% off. And get this, he'll do me a solid and knock a couple grand more off, and he'll pay my sales tax! (Love that pitch, how about you just knock the money off and I'll pay less tax, how about that?) Now my price is $11,000. That's a thousand dollars a window, still over what I'm going to pay. Unless the windows are going to mow my yard and take out my garbage, I'm not paying that.

So I tell him he's still high, and he becomes obstinate. Didn't his windows sound great? Was a 50 year warranty a great deal? "Sure", I told him, "but it's your deal and you're here to sell me your product. Of course you told me fiberglass was the only way to go, it's the only thing you have to sell me. I was going to have to research this, see if fiberglass was really worth the extra money." "Maybe it was", I told him, "but until had done my homework I wasn't going to buy anything. No matter what he told me."

He then stopped me and let me know that he didn't think that he needed to do this, but he had literature to back up what he had said. To prove his point. "Yes, but it's your literature to sell your product", I told him. "Oh no", he said. "It's not my literature!"

"Look", I said, "It's not mine, so since there are only two of us here it has to be yours." I decided to make the conclusion that it didn't belong to either of my two dogs.

Now he was flummoxed. How could I not believe him. He had never heard this one before! Jackpot. 22 years he had been doing this, and he had never heard this before. Funny, because I hear that line all the time from salesmen. They tell it to me to try and make me feel stupid for asking a question they can't answer. How can you ask that! No one asks that!

And with that, it was time for him to go. Because I have heard that before, and once I hear it, the gloves are off. I told him I had his offer and would look into it. To improve on his already fantastic job of selling me, he then packed up his stuff and told me, "I guess I won't tell you the lower price I was going to offer, you're just not interested."

Really? So now it turns out the price I was quoted before as his best price was just a ruse, huh? Not exactly the way to get a call back sale. He also mentioned that a relative of mine that had gotten fiberglass windows from them was probably over charged. Another nice bit of information, thanks.

So he left, I researched, his $1,000 a window price was high. I'm sure he would've come down, and I still might have to barter with him, but he didn't do himself any favors with his demeanor. When a potential customer disagrees with you, the only way to pull them back in is to agree with them. This is Dale Carnegie 101. If he had said, "Of course you're right! Who in their right mind would make a purchase this size without researching it!" He could've kept working me and building my appetite for his product. All the time improving his chance on me buying from him. Instead, he chose to go with the "I've never heard that question before!" approach, and he's probably out of a sale because of it. And definitely out a positive experience and any kind of potential word of mouth advertising.

In my next blog I'll discuss some more Carnegie 101 with a review of How to Win Friends and Influence People.

Talk soon!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

My pure CSS Vertical Menu

Maybe my pure CSS Vertical Menu is a little misleading, being that I took the majority of it from this site, but I did have to make a few tweaks to it to make it function the way I wanted to for the website I was building. It took quite a bit of digging to find the information to make it work, so I thought I'd share that with you to try and ease potential troubles you might be experiencing.

This is the menu I built for my mother-in-law's business Carol's Creature Care. Here is the link that will show you what the menu will look like standing alone, just the menu and a stock dreamweaver template.

Pure CSS Vertical Menu Finalized page.

Here is a link that shows the html portion of this and the CSS code.

Piece of cake, yes? Not for me it wasn't. As I said earlier, I built the CSS menu using the code at this website. Here is what that menu ends up looking like on a stock dreamweaver template.

Click here to see it.

The problem was when I tried to put this code into use on the website I was building, this is what ended up taking place. Click here to see.

As you can see, it turned out looking like garbage. The links that didn't have a sub menu showed as normal html links. They were underlined in my buttons, and they started off as blue when unclicked and then changed to purple once selected. They acted just like normal html links.

So how did I get it to go from looking like garbage here to looking like a normal vertical menu here?

The first thing I had to do was create a style rule to keep my links white before they were clicked on, and for them to continue to stay white after they were clicked on. I did this by adding in this code before my menu. Click here to see the html.

After doing that, my vertical menu now looked like this, click here to see.

As you can see, it didn't completely solve my problem. So I made the last change required, I altered the html in the actual link itself to remove the underline effect of a link and to keep the color status of the link white at all times. Click here to see the html code.

There you have it. A pure css vertical menu. I probably made that ten times harder than it needed to be, but it works all the same. If anyone has an easier way to do it, I'd love to hear it. Please leave me a comment.

I hope this was helpful.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

A clean joke that is actually funny

Now that is a rarity! A clean joke that actually makes you laugh. Very important to have one of these in your mental pocket that you can pull out when the time calls for it. And away we go...

A cop pulls a man over for speeding. He approaches the driver and says, "Alright pal, let me see your license." The driver responds, "I don't have a license."

"What?", the cop says, "Well then let me see your registration, grab it from your glove compartment."

The driver replies, "I don't have a registration either, and all that is in the glove compartment is a gun!"

"A gun!?", the cop asks. "Why do you have a gun in your glove compartment"?

The driver exclaims, "I needed the gun to steal this car from the woman who was driving it. I currently have her tied up in the trunk."

The police officer has heard enough. He quickly radios for backup, a short time later the Police Chief shows up at the scene.

The Chief carefully approaches the driver. He states firmly, "Let me see your license."

"Of course", the driver says. And with that he hands the Police Chief his driver's license.

Confused, the Police Chief tells the man, "Show me your registration".

The man pops open his glove compartment, and all that is in there is his registration. He gives it over to the Police Chief.

The Chief is now totally bewildered. He roughly tells the driver, "Pop your trunk, I want to take a look in there."

The man complies and the Police Chief lifts open the trunk of the car. Nothing in there except for a spare tire and a jack. The Chief shakes his head and marches back to the driver.

He says to him, "This police officer told me that you didn't have a license, no registration, there was a gun in the glove compartment, and you had a woman tied up in your trunk...what do you have to say about all of this?"

The driver replies sarcastically, "Yeah, and I bet he said I was speeding too."

Ta-Da! A clean joke that is actually funny. A rare find indeed.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Book review of The E-Myth Revisited

While Rich Dad Poor Dad was more of a general "rah rah" get you into business mindset book, E-Myth is a focused nuts and bolts of running a business book.

The author, Michael E. Gerber, uses a relatable story of a small business owner experiencing trouble with her business. She could be anyone, it could be any business. This approach makes the book easy to read. It adds a human element that is often missing in a book in this category. Reading about dry business information makes my eyes hurt. However, I can read about people all day long.

The general message of the book shows the errors that entrepreneurs make when starting a new business. It then shows how you can go about avoiding common pitfalls, or if you're already in the quagmire, how to correct those mistakes.

Here is a starting fact from the book: 50% of all new small businesses fail in the first year. 80% fail in the first five years. And of those 20% that survive, 80% of them fail within ten years. Now guys I'll admit it, I'm a gambler. That being said, I'd never make a big bet laying those kind of odds. That's just bad money management. Yet here we are, trying to start a business and those are the odds we find ourselves butting up against.

Conversely, 75% of franchises opened succeed. How do you like that? A trend of epic failure, and a trend of 3 out of 4 making it. So as a non-franchised business, what are we to do? The E-Myth solution to this? Turn your business into a franchise.

To more correctly state it, treat your business like a franchise. Franchises have systems set in place that dictate how operations are handled. If you can build a system around your daily tasks, you can put into place a step-by-step guide to how you perform your business. Once it has been broken down as such, anyone with the proper training will be able to do it. You just built yourself out of your business. Enjoy being able to take a vacation while your business keeps generating you income.

There will be accountability. There will be defined jobs and roles. There will also be available the ability to stick people into those positions when your business begins to take off. E-Myth stresses the importance of visualizing the end game scenario of your business. That way when you do start to expand, good lord willing, you are ready for it. This is where an organizational chart will greatly come into play. I'll talk about that in a later post.

That's all the detail of the book that I can get into. I could keep going on and on, but I feel like it would not be fair to the author who put in all the hard work to spill all the wonderful information he collected in this book. There have been several books that I've read that have directly changed my life. The Great Divorce, How to Win Friends and Influence People, and If You Meet the Buddha on the Road, Kill Him! are all books that come to mind. After I read them, I never quite looked at the world in the same way again. This is one of those books. It was eye opening. After reading this I started building systems for every day activities in my life. It really does make things easier, and an easier business makes for a happier me. That I am sure of.

If you would like to see the E-Myth website, go here. I have not browsed through it, but I'm sure it is full of much useful information. Good luck!

Monday, June 7, 2010

How google outsmarted me

I wasn't as much outsmarted by Google as I was outsmarted by myself. I read quite a few guides for how to be highly ranked by Google and attempted to build the Carol's Creature Care site with that in mind. I made sure to name all of my pages after the business, insert the pet sitter/sitting words into as many spots as I could.

I submitted my site to Google, it was indexed within a few days, doesn't turn up on searches. Say what?

It doesn't turn up on searches because I thought more about the business itself than what someone searching for the business would be looking for. The people looking for a pet sitter in Allen Park, Michigan, are going to Google search for "pet sitter allen park michigan". Guess how many mentions of the areas she serves are built into the website? One. One lousy mention.

It's never going to come up in a realistic search how it was constructed. I've attempted to compensate by adding the list of areas that Carol covers in some of the other webpages. At least that way there will be four or five mentions as opposed to just the one.

So what is the ever so obvious moral to the story? Build your website with the idea in mind that a person is going to be using specific words to search for what they want to find. And in the cases of the service industry, that is going to involve locations. Live and learn, when Google re-indexes the site I'll let you know if my tweaks had any effect.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Give Galarraga his perfect game

I live half an hour west of Detroit. Last night Armando Galarraga pitched a perfect game...except he didn't. I was casually watching the game from the start. I was reading the 22 Immutable Laws of Branding and popping my head up to keep track of where things were. After the end of the 3rd inning it occured to me, I'm watching a perfect game!

I kept a much keener eye from there on, but I was still mainly reading my book and just keeping tabs. Perfect games never happen, not in Detroit. After the end of the 6th inning things got more serious. He had pitched two-thirds of a game of perfect baseball!

At this point I told my son Tony, who is ten, to stop doing his homework and come watch the game. I kept wanting to grab my phone and send out a dozen text messages to tell everyone to watch the game. But I know the rules of baseball, and the last thing I wanted to do was jinx them. I even kept reading my book, although I have no memory of anything in it from that point forward.

At the end of the 8th inning I was stunned, could it really happen? I tried over and over to explain to my son what was happening, the significance of it all. How it has only happened 20 times before. How it meant so much to me to be watching this game with him. He didn't get it. All he knew was that dad was excited. The 9th inning started and I was holding my breath. 3 outs. 3 outs to forever.

Bam, the 1st pitch of the inning was blasted towards right-center field. The center fielder had turned and was sprinting towards the wall. It was over. I've watched a lot of baseball, and that ball was a double. Every time. Except for that time. Austin Jackson had run it down and made a spectacular play. A play that saves history. A legendary play.

I was literally on the floor celebrating, writhing like a madman with glee. My son was hysterically laughing, I was making such a fool of myself. The moment was still alive. Next batter, out. One out away, 26 straight down. I clutched my book tightly, still paranoid of jinxing it.

Plunk! A little grounder towards first base. Oh no! But Cabrera was there, he had chased it down and it was now a race between the pitcher and the hitter to the base. A race to immortality. The throw was on target, it looked in time, SAFE!

What? Just like that it was all over. My heart had sunk. I immediately thought he must have bobbled the ball. He must have missed the bag. Then the replay, he had beaten the runner to the bag by almost half a step! In baseball terms it wasn't even close!

The Tigers manager Jim Leyland was out of the dugout to argue, the Tigers announcer with a voice filled with childlike shock murmured, "Why is he safe?".

My son echoed his comments, "What happened dad?" Why did he do that?". My moment had been taken from me. Stolen. There would be no perfect game memory. A memory celebrating with my son, sharing in a Michigan history that he would always remember.

Galarraga retired the next batter, the game was over. The Tigers players were all over the ump. By now he had realized what an awful mistake he had made. He robbed history. He had blown it.

I was livid, texting anyone I knew that cared about baseball. Telling them the tragedy. How can he make that call there? Even if it was close, how can you not give that to the pitcher? It was 3 to 0, it wasn't a one run game where that was going to make the difference. How can you make that call? How can you let an infield squeaker on the last out spoil a perfect game? Even if he hit the bag at the same time, how can you not call that out?

I was sick to my stomach. Instead of a jubilant moment with my son, I was once again giving him a speech about how sometimes life just wasn't fair. I'm tired of giving him that talk. I'm tired of facing it myself.

Today, the day after, the umpire has done all the right things. He has profusely apologized. You can see how badly he regrets his call. He was too caught up in the moment. I'm sure he was trying to protect the moment. Be sure the call was right, even if it meant ruining the perfection. But he too was overwhelmed, and his desire to protect it turned into a force that destroyed it. Anyone who has truly loved something has done the same thing. Sometimes you can care too much. Sometimes you wreck the thing you sought to protect.

Jim Joyce made a terrible call. If he had one wish right now I know what it would be. But that's not how it works, it's out of his hands just as it was taken out of Galarraga's hands. Done can't be undone.

Except by one man. Bud Selig can undo this. The commissioner of baseball, he can overturn the call and give Galarraga his perfect game. He cannot give me my moment of joy celebrating with my son in my living room, but he can give me the ability to tell my son that someone fixed what was broken. Maybe life is a littler fairer than we had thought.

After the horrendous call, Galarraga just smiled. He didn't say one cross word. Did not stomp and kick the ground, curse the gods, flip the bird to the Indian's bench. He was a class act. Calm and collected. He was a better person than I would have been, I can assure you of that. He showed the world what sportsmanship and general human kindness is all about. Two things sorely lacking on the planet today.

I've read that after the game the umpire personally apologized to Galarraga. Galarraga's response? Don't worry about it. We all make mistakes. None of us are perfect.

After all that had happened to him. After pitching the 21st perfect game in the 100 plus years of baseball history only to have it ripped away by what in my opinion is the worst call in sports history, that is what he had to say. No one is perfect.

Mr. Selig, who deserves a perfect game more than someone who can do that? So rarely in life can we truly right a wrong. Don't let this opportunity pass you by. This is your moment.