Book Review of Seth Godin’s “The Dip”

My “Secret Santa” gave me Seth Godin’s book “The Dip.” Talk about a well timed and thoughtful gift! Knowing who my secret Santa is, I realize that I once spoke with her about entrepreneurial aspirations that we both shared. She is a photographer and I am a creative marketer. We’re both in different stages of realizing our dreams.

Seth Godin’s book, “The Dip” is an 80 page business novel pleading and begging the reader to quit. Funny how at no point did I ever wish to quit this book.

The premise of “The Dip” is that anyone who wants success in any facet in their life should do some serious soul searching get their priorities straight. Godin asserts that if you can’t realistically be the best at something, or dominate a market, then you are wasting your time in doing that thing. “Average is for losers” according to Godin.

“The Dip” wants the reader to be confident that they can overcome the initial curve of difficulty and tribulation that is associated with becoming the best. The book also differentiates between tough learning curves and arduous roads to nowhere.

Many individuals have aspirations but settle for less because of conflicting ideas about what the costs of their dreams will be in relation to their current comfort. Seth Godin rattles you with short, concise ideas that hit the core of what confuses us about true risk versus reward.

I read “The Dip” in less than an hour. I’m forcing it upon all my friends who I think are open minded to quitting something and getting beyond their own personal dips and curves.

I fully intend on reading Seth Godin’s other books. I recommend you start with “The Dip.”

Now, to get down to my 10,000 hours of hard work. I’ve got a few hundred so far!


I Need A Small Plot of Land for Green Building

There are a lot of inspiring stories in circulation about innovative green building and land developments all over the country. Pick up a Dwell magazine and you’ll see mind blowing contemporary designs in arid desert, lush Pacific forests and secluded Northeast cabin country. But, the whole idea of green building and sustainable design is to have it accessible to the most people possible so that the concepts actually reduce carbon use.

In Lawrence, MA, Powerhouse Enterprises erected an extremely green and energy efficient home. The health and beauty of the house is astonishing. It is being sold for $300,000, which considering the innovation involved, isn’t a bad price.

But, I live in Worcester. Why can’t these ideas and practices be proliferated to all regions? Shipping a green home long distances (my Lawrence example isn’t far, but I’m talking more about somewhere like Arizona) defeats the purpose of building an energy efficient dwelling. All regions can get into something like this, I’m convinced.

What I want to do is get funding from who-knows-where and buy and develop a piece of land in Worcester with a green and cleanly built home. I don’t care if I live in it, sell it, or whatever, but this is something I want to do for Worcester. Sustainable living in Worcester with green buildings being marketed and built could bring a new sense of vitality to the region. I love all the three deckers, but retro-fits and condo-conversions get old after a while.

The real estate bubble left a bad taste in everyone’s mouth. This idea sounds simply delicious. This is sort of just a stream of conciousness business proposition. But, what do you think of this idea? I’ve seen something like this happen in Philly. Any suggestions, criticisms or comments?

This Isn’t A Poetry Open Mic – This Is Our Economy

It is time for economists and Obama enthusiasts (myself included) to stop waxing poetic about the “new economy.” Renewable energy has always been available to a capacity. We grasped about for it desperately when gas was $4.00 a gallon and now we’re starting to get into the “move slow” mindset that was so prevalent in the civil rights movement. We’re giving this movement a sense of novelty and aura that it doesn’t deserve yet.

As I scroll through my RSS feeds I read one article after another about how we are either entering into the dawning of a new, clean, green renewable, sustainable, whatever-able era, or how solar, wind, geothermal, biofuel will fall into an unrecoverable abyss while the “clean coal” cheerleaders continue to pump false propaganda at the public which is only meant to keep us on track towards a total carbon economy.

Let’s not wait for the morons in congress and the senate to hold hands and offer us a “new deal” with Obama. Obama will create a lot of excitement and executive level motivation, but don’t think he’s the founder of these principals. All he can do is unleash restrictions on the market that keep renewable energy and sustainable development un-competitive. Who are they to offer us anything? They hold none of the answers. The answers lie within our universities and businesses that are creating these technologies and implementing them in the market.

I am a small business owner now. I want to work in renewables. I don’t want to market consumer goods sold by international sweatshop distributors (Wal-Mart, Target, etc). This is a time of doing, not talking. We don’t have 8 years to plan. We have 8 years for government to enable and then step the hell out of the way and let people become educated and empowered about how they can turn out economy and the environment around.

When the hardest work is finished and the ship has altered course, only then can we can this the “new economy.”

If you were asked to do your part (and I am officially asking you), how would you act? How could your lifestyle be morphed into an ecologically industrious one?

The 2008 Toyota Yaris Hatchback – Great Snow Machine!

This past February I bought a brand new 2008 Toyota Yaris. It was my first new car and I bought it after quite a few months of searching and bellyaching over pricing. But, my Yaris has served me exceedingly well so far. Incredible gas mileage is now matched with great snow handling ability. The Toyota Yaris is basically a snow machine, but a lot more practical and safe than the kind Todd Palin uses.

I am convinced the Yaris, with some tweaking and modification would make an excellent rally styled car. I went barreling around in my house to the super market to pick up a few things and even when forcing the car into a controlled slide in poorly paved roads (empty roads too, I’m not completely stupid!) I was able to correct and power out of the slide quite easily. Plus, with the transmission being a 5-speed manual rather than automatic, I never felt in danger of an un-intended skid because I was able to effectively downshift while coming to a stop.

I’ve driven rally cars before, usually extremely powerful and stiff riding beasts of the automobile type, but my Toyota Yaris would hold it’s own as far as handling goes. Not that I’m in the financial shape to be able to mod a car to the teeth, but if I could, my Yaris would make a great starting point.

Can You Recommend A Good Business Book?

I like to read a lot. I am always reading at least two books at a time and I usually read about a book a week in all. I have been an absolute fiction freak for the past 4 years, but I’m shifting towards business books a bit more now. The entrepreneur in me is screaming to be let out.

I have been contributing to and reading blogs quite heavily for the past year or so. I’ve always blogged to some degree, but I became resolved to write every day in a purposeful manner and realized that a blog focusing on issues that people of my generation face would be good motivation to raise the bar each day.

That being said, I’ve been reading business blogs lately and they have given me excellent motivation and advice for starting my own business. I also reviewed a business novel called “Jack’s Notebook” by Gregg Fraley, which I loved as well. Now my appetite is whetted and I no longer crave fiction as much as I do a good business novel. I want to read practical and applicable advice on how people started their businesses and how I can get mine going from the point it’s at now.

I’m very interested in any and all suggestions. Whether it’s a blog, published white paper, etc. I’m hungry for all knowledge. I’ll obviously search some out and whatever I read and really like, I’ll share with you.

What business books, or any books for that matter, have changed your perspectives in 2008?

Disheartening Stories of Contentment

I’m reading a whole lot of blog posts right now saying how Gen Y’ers need to buckle down and forget about career surfing and just stay at the jobs they dislike because of how bad the economy is.

I don’t need to be told how bad the economy is. I know it when I see my stocks and when I see what companies are going through. This is no secret.

But, as Mike Davis, a.k.a. The Global Citizen says in his v-log series “Notion to Motion,” there is no recession on passion.

Essentially, we all need income to some extent. Some have student loans and/or families they need to support, but there’s never any excuse for off putting work towards your dreams on hold.

Every day you may have a couple hours or just a couple minutes to sit down and do something truly constructive that helps your life. Whether it’s blogging, developing a business plan or having conversations with interesting people that give you good ideas, you should take time every day to do something for yourself because life certainly takes plenty out of each of us.

I don’t say all of this in a narcissistic context. All I mean is that there are certain fine details of each day that need tending and they’re unavoidable. Planning for your future to some degree is really the only thing that keeps humans going in a meaningful way. Otherwise you fall into that daily routine of nothingness and habit that so many are subject to.

Some of you might say, “that’s just the way it is.” But, we all have the ability to choose, so we should make good choices whenever possible.

Never defer the dream.


5 “Green” Reasons Why I Should Buy or Build A House

I’ve been getting antsy to buy a home in the past six months. Every time I hear whispers of a “bottom” in the market, I count how much money I’ve got in my savings account and start shuffling through local condo listings. What about my “green” dream home?

I realize condominiums and houses both have their benefits. Condos are basically maintained like apartments due to a condo fee, but there are limitations on what you can do to the structure and property. Homes tend to have a lot more costs associated with them, but they’re all your and you can virtually do anything within the law with your property. Now, whether you buy land or work with existing property and make it green.. that’s a whole other discussion…

Assuming there is a “real” bottom in the market and it is well publicized, I figure I’ll want a house over a condo because:

1. I’ll probably have a yard that I can landscape in an ecologically friendly way. If I choose a condo, I’ll probably have little control over who gets the landscaping contract. The lowest bidder in all likely hood will have the poorest practices.

2. I can put a windmill on my ecologically landscaped property. Seeing as I’m not the biggest design or aestetic freak you’ll meet, I’d love to put a big, honkin’ windmill right on my property to give my house that uhm… whatever look. More importantly, it will give me electricity and will eventually pay for itself!

3. You better believe I’ll be decorating with solar panels. My solar paneling will be like a rapper’s bling… seriously abundant!

4. Upgrade carpentry is at your convenience, not your neighbor’s. I won’t have to worry about working hours of the building, or other technicalities. I can gut my home and renovate it whenever and for however long as I like.

All this being said, I know there are major financial issues that come along with all of these grand plans. But, people do this. People like me.

To my homeowner people, what do you think of this? Am I correct in my assumptions? Condo owners, how much freedom do you feel that you’re afforded?

Self-Defeating or Evolving?

What’s the difference between being self-defeating or evolving as a person? As a young person, when you pick a certain path, whether it be the high, low or middle path, you’re usually respected on some level if you stick with whatever you choose. If you don’t stick with the plan, then people say, “I don’t know about that guy/woman.”

As a young man or late teenager, depending which way you look at it, I decided to go to college rather than pursue a trade and take over the family business my grandfather and uncle own. I did this for many reasons that aren’t necessarily relevant anymore. Either way, I chose to do something and I made it through college. Suddenly, I needed to choose again.

What are my options, exactly? Marriage, kids, house and a 9 to 5? Ha! That’s the anti-choice as far as I’m concerned. Things are a bit more complicated in my mind. I could choose to go at my career full bore and hold a few jobs to get my rep. up, which is why I’m already doing. I’m not sure how well I’m doing, but I know I’m working hard, either way.

Also, there’s the location question; where do I want to be now and in five years? I’ve talked a bit about buying a home because it will stabilize my financial situation and give me a sense of place, rather than a frenetic transient lifestyle that I’ve been used to for my entire adult life.

I’m quite close to settling in one place for a while. It’ll probably be Worcester where my family lives and where the cost of living is lower. I’m also close to launching my small biz which will hopefully allow me to be independently employed under my own terms in coming years. I also think I’ll be in grad school in September if the schools I’m applying to are not stingy.

All this being said, I feel like it wouldn’t take a lot of convincing and a little bit of opportunity to pull up all my roots and take the hell off to wherever the action and interest is in the world. If I got a call from a solar installer or manufacturer in Colorado and asked me to get out there by New Years and get to work, I’d be gone so quick you wouldn’t even know what had just happened.

Although, that situation probably won’t occur at this point in my career, who knows? More importantly, what does it mean that I want this to occur? Are my constantly evolving ideas and goals a good thing or are they keeping me from achieving anything truly meaningful and measurable in life?

I suppose these are the questions that need to be asked before the year ends. I ask for and appreciate any and all input.

Are you facing and significant urges to change your life around beyond recognition?

Tag – It’s Not Just For Kids Anymore, Bookworms Play Too

My southern New Jersey homie Tara Ronda tagged me to do this little bookworm blog to display the quality of my book collection. I swear I didn’t fix this; the book I picked was about 4 inches from my forehead on the shelf of my cubicle. So, here we go:

Rule One: I have to grab one of the books closest to me, go to page 56, type the fifth line and the next two to five lines that follow.

Rule Two: I have to pick five people who love books and who could receive the Bookworm award with honor.

“Maria,” called the woman of Pablo and when the girl came in the door she said, “Water for this comrade.”
Robert Jordan reached for his flask and, bringing the flask out, as he brought it he loosened the pistol in the holster and swung it on top of his thigh. He poured a second absinthe into his cup and took the cup of water the girl brought him and commenced to drip it into the cup, a little at a time. The girl stood at his elbow, watching him.

For Whom The Bell Tolls, by Ernest Hemingway

I’ve read all of the drunkard’s other books with mixed opinions. I chose this one as one of my next reads because so many famous people love it. Maybe if I read it, I too will become famous.

My five people will be: Ashley, Gregg, Steph, Sarah, and Connie.