As I've mentioned, this site is more of a beta than anything else, this week I decided to remove the drop down menus from the Know and Do sections. I did this because I don't want to tempt people into jumping ahead. If they don't read through the landing pages I don't think they'll get as much out of it.
When I was doing that I realized the Do section is quite a mess. It's very limited and the categories seem random. I'm thinking I will align them with the Know section. So I'll have you should Know this, and then a link to what you can Do about it.
I don't want the know section to get too big so at some point there will be more Do categories than Know categories, but for now I'll try to clean that up.
On the topic of more Know categories, I thought I was done for now but I've decided to do another series on big business. I touched on this a bit last week talking about the tech industry and its mission to get us all hooked on their products. In this next series of posts I'll elaborate on that by trying to explain why it's happening, show some examples, look at what it means to you, and of course what you can do about it.
To start you off here is a great documentary on the subject, The Corporation
This is a long movie and since the point of my site is to try to get you the info you need I'll tell you what I think the main take away here is.
Corporations are legally obligated to provide maximum benefit to their shareholders. To keep it simple benefit is equated to money. Because corporations can't go to jail their only form of penalty is financial fines. So laws no longer become ethical delemas they become cost benefit equations. If by breaking this law will the company save more or make more than the cost of the fine? If the answer is yes then they are legally obligated to break the law. If these laws are set up to protect the public or the environment then the public and the environment will suffer. An ethical CEO can be fired for not maximizing profits.
When you see news stories of companies moving money around the world to save taxes the news often makes it seem like they have a choice or that it is illegal. It's not a choice it's their 'fiduciary' duty to the shareholders, and it is most often done legally. When done illegally they probably did a cost benefit analysis to see if the fine would be more than the gains, and chances are it would be worth the risk.
Corporations are not evil, we've just set up the rules for them to be very destructive. There is a jewish folklore I read about that I often compare to this, it's the story of a 'golem'. This isn't the creature from Lord of The Rings, it's more like a frankenstein made of clay. Earth was said to be brought to life in the form of a man in order to serve a master. It was very strong but if the instructions weren't clear it could become very destructive. As I'm writing this I suppose it's similar to the Artificial Intelligence debates today, will the computers become too powerful and cause more harm than good?
I think we're already there with corporations, and Stephen Hawking has been quoted, warning us of this fact.
Currently I'm re-reading The Plateau Effect, and from what I've re-read so far I think it boils down to the age old wisdom of 'everything in moderation'. Much more scientific of course and with wider reaching implications, but essentially we need to realize that more is not always better, it is only better to a certain point, then it becomes worse, and eventually much worse. The authors compare just about everything to a 'sine curve', like this one below.
I think most people already know smartphones and mobile tech can be addictive and not think much of it because it’s not going to happen to them. A phone is a phone, (of course we’re talking smart phones here), and it’s very useful and it’s worth the risk.
This is what I thought, but I’m listening to this book Irresistible: The Rise of Addictive Technology and the Business of Keeping us Hooked and it’s making me think twice about it.
The part of the book that worried me was the use of cocaine in the past. Some doctor was looking for new drugs and he tried chewing on a coca leaf. He wasn’t the first to try this by far, but apparently his paper on it sparked the medical use of it. People were using it all over the place. Even Sigmund Freud who is usually remembered as this infallible individual fell in love with the drug. The book said he used it so much it was destroying his life and he could barely take his dose because his nostrils were ravaged by it causing him chronic pain, and he treated the pain by painting a water/cocaine solution onto his nostrils!
In today's world we know the dangers of drugs and in some countries it’s illegal in other countries it is not, but in no country do parents give it to their kids to make them happy.
Why do I mention kids? Because the addictive and destructive nature of cocaine is being seen in the variety of things we can do with our mobile devices and we give them to our kids as soon as they can hold them, maybe sooner!
Obviously there are differences between cocaine and mobile games, but the scary thing is the industry behind the mobile games. I think Cocaine is as addictive as it is going to get, I don’t really know how much more addictive people can make it, but with addictive technology there are millions of people spending every waking hour trying to make their app more addictive than the last. To have an app that goes viral is the dream of many. Who wasn't jealous of the creator of Flappy Bird who seemed to strike it rich overnight with a very basic low budget game.
And obviously there is more to addiction than the drug or the app. As you can see in countries like Portugal which has made all drugs legal to combat their war on drugs so they can open up new types of treatment centres. But I just want to leave you to think about this for a bit.
When we pick up our mobile device randomly through the day or when we give our children mobile devices to pass the time, are we on our way to becoming Sigmund Freud painting our nostrils with cocaine to sooth the pain caused by painting his nostrils with cocaine?
This comes back to our brains being wired for the promise of reward more so than the reward itself as I pointed out in ‘You’re not going to believe this about bliss’. But the example there was a study with rats frying their feet due to a probe in their brain. Now we’re talking about one of the smartest people to ever live, whose area of expertise was human behaviour being susceptible to this. What chance do we have of being able to live alongside this without some controls or some rules or at least a better understanding of what is happening.
So, think about it. I’ll write about it more in the coming weeks. In the meantime if you want to get a sense of how many minutes or hours a day you’re looking at your smartphone you can use an app called ‘Moment’ by Kevin Holesh, (NOT Moments by Facebook, don’t download that one).
In the past I highly recommended Arianna Huffington's sleep tip of counting backwards from 300 or some high number by 3. It worked for me pretty well, so well I almost didn't click on this article about a new trick.
The trick is to pick a random word and then come up with a word for each letter.
For example, pick ROCK, then think of a word that starts with R, then O, then C etc. Then pick a new word. I think they recommend words that don't have letters that repeat. I'm not sure why that is
Here's the link
Aside from that, tonight I just did some clean up. I took the drop down menus away from the header to make people go into those main pages. I was worried people might not even realize anything is there in the Know and Do link. And I did a few other tweaks.
On the topic of sleep here's a recent TED talk you might be interested in. It advocates for later school start times. I had no idea this was such a big issue!
I think the 'What you should know' section is done for now. I'll come back to it and expand on it with new content I find and from your comments, but for now I'll move on to another section of the site.
Click here to go to the wrap up
I was listening to 'The Power of Meaning: Crafting a Life That Matters', and not surprisingly it puts a lot of stock in the reasons behind what we do, such as the reason we feel compelled to go to work. Is it to buy certain things, to achieve certain things, to provide for others, etc. People these days often say they want/need meaningful work or work they love to be happy, and some critics of that complain that this is something new and that people just used to work, work hard lousy jobs and they didn't have the problems with depression we have today.
This got me thinking about Universal Basic Income programs being talked about. I'm all for them, and I'll get to that in a bit, but this idea that a lot of meaning and self worth and satisfaction comes from our jobs, just giving money to people may cause them to struggle to find meaning in their lives. Rather than free money it may help everyone if there were some aspect of 'work' required to obtain it. I'm not talking 9-5 or at an office, but something you're accountable to do. Even if it is to call in to chat with others or to do test services and give feedback, just something that helps others could help the person themselves in ways money can't.
So why am I for Universal Basic Income? I can't remember if I already did a post on this but here we go again if I did. In general I think it is a good idea from a global security perspective, and I'm going to back up my argument with TED talks.
I recently saw an article about a Robot Tax, where robot owners could be taxed to provide money to the population that got displaced by the robot and I wrote the following comment.
People need to start thinking of UBI as a potential solution to a lot of global issues. The argument for global security easily outweighs the concern that there will be a bunch of freeloaders, especially now that robots are in the mix. What I mean can be summed up by looking at 3 recent TED Talks that have nothing to do with UBI.
1) Sarah Parcak - Help discover ancient ruins. She says world heritage sites are getting looted, the reason is people need money more than ever. Her solution, spend millions on a crowdsource project to look at sites via satellite.
2) Deeyah Khan - What We Don't Know About Europe's Muslim Kids. She interviewed convicted terrorists and didn't find 'monsters' she found broken people, torn between their culture and their country. Other talks have also highlighted that extremists draw on broken down people with few other options.
3) Caleb Barlow - Where is Cybercrime really coming from? He talks of a huge underground economy, a Deep Web full of people willing to do whatever terrible thing you want as long as you pay.
Do you think people would be looting the pyramids, joining extremists groups, or hacking for money if they had a UBI allowing them to follow their dreams?
Here's a bonus TED talk to think about, Paul Knoepfler - The ethical dilemma of designer babies, he talks about CRISPR and how much of a game changer it is, and the widespread impacts it can have.
Think of this like hacking the living world, UBI could help prevent "bio-hackers for hire" like we already have for computers. I feel the same way about healthcare, not having it is a huge risk. Everyone loves 'Breaking Bad' but no one seems to realize it wouldn't have happened if the character had healthcare.
Without these universal programs we are creating the problems we are willing to spend billions to try to fight. Look at cyber crime, can the governments ever hope to stay ahead of that? I don't think so. If you want to get really worried watch Sugata Mitra's TED talks showing kids teaching themselves to use computers, and think about where we send all of our e-waste. And not even e-waste, who do we have making all of our most advanced electronics. People we don't even pay a living wage. They have access to everything they could want. Take a look at these markets in China where a guy was able to buy the parts to build an iPhone, it seems like you could get anything you want there.
UBI is not about altruism it's about global security but only if we can apply it across the world. How to implement this will be the trick to figure out but the first step is to see the potential, and to agree we need it.
To bombard you some more with TED Talks, here is an extra long one where they get on to this topic, but they don't leave you feeling too optimistic. They say UBI will need to be global but that it hard to imagine the current global governments would be able to come up with and agree upon something.
I have some ideas, I'll get to those in a future post. Regardless of what I think about UBI, people really need to rethink what they consider 'good solutions'. As one TED speaker said, you have to look up stream to see where the problems are coming from. He said it's a common parable for people in public health to describe looking at problems as if they are babies floating in baskets down a stream towards a waterfall. You just want to jump in and start saving the babies. But he says someone has got to leave the group saving the babies and try to stop whatever or whoever is putting these babies in the stream to begin with. I think inequality is a big factor but I think the reason for that inequality is a lack of understanding of what makes us happy, a lack of understanding of why we do what we do.
I updated the credit card post (link) because the card I recommended as a good starter card (Tangerine Mastercard) reduced it's benefits. Now the benchmark for a good starter card is the MBNA Smart Cash Plus (after you get it and use up the welcome bonus months call to ask if you can upgrade to the 'World' version to eliminate the limits on the cash back). While I was doing that I noticed quite a number of typos, so I fixed those, makes me think I need to go through all my posts. I also added a warning stating you're more likely to spend more if you have a credit card than if you use cash. So if you feel you're may fall into this trap more than you want to it might be best to steer away from them despite the free cash back.
I updated the car recommendation blog post with some insights into the car broker, basically give them a call before you make contact with any dealers to make sure you don't make it harder for them to negotiate for you.
I updated the home page to make it a bit less wordy.
While looking for a TED talk I wasn't sure the title of I came across some good ones. One with a new insight into the metaphors we use around Love, another article for further reading on how our emotions impact our body (specifically stress).
And I came across some TED talks related to loss. One of a family that made an award winning video game that you can't win, as a way to introduce people to the feelings around loss (link) and another rather sad TED talk about a woman and her relationship with her sister that she also lost to cancer. The thing that stood out to me most in that talk was when she said her sister told her that the last year of her life was her best one yet.
"My sister said the year after transplant was the best year of her life, which was surprising. She suffered so much. But she said life never tasted as sweet, and that because of the soul-baring and the truth-telling we had done with each other, she became more unapologetically herself with everyone. She said things she'd always needed to say. She did things she always wanted to do. The same happened for me. I became braver about being authentic with the people in my life. I said my truths, but more important than that, I sought the truth of others."
This goal of this site is to create a new mental model for why we do what we do, and to help us better predict what will make us happy in the future so we can make better decisions. And I think this is something to take note of. A situation which we would think should be one of the worst times in ones life was this woman's best time. I think the lesson here is not that pain is good, but that opening up is good, having at least one person you can totally be yourself around is good, and taking risks to be more you rather than who you think others want you to be is worth the risk.
I'll add these to the emotions page, and I'll put the one video here for now.
The last post was high level saying the stronger the emotion the more likely you are to remember the event. Today I'm going over how each type of emotion is like a tool in your toolbox, and how to make the most of them.
Check it out here (link)
I've added a new post under the 'Know' section, Your Emotions.
Let me know what you think, ... helpful/too obvious/insightful ?
Buy a used Honda Fit (2009 or newer) for your daily driver.
That's it, I'm going to write a bunch to explain why but all you have to do is buy a used Honda Fit and not think too much about it and you'll probably save thousands of dollars a year. Mr. Money Moustache says the average american family spends $4500 per car per year (ref). This will be significantly less than that, could easily be more than $1000 less per year.
My goal is to find the lowest cost per km car and the Fit might not be the absolute lowest cost per km but from what I can tell it is the least effort safest bet in the pursuit of a all around car.
1) They still make them, so there will be supply for a while
2) They are very versatile, they can fit 5 adults, or they can fit a lot of cargo
3) They are consistently on the top of reliability lists
4) They are the cheapest Honda model, and they look pretty good
5) They are near the top of all fuel economy lists, they'll beat out some hybrids
6) The model range has all the features you could want
7) They are typically at the top of the lists for cars that retain their value
Tips to avoiding headaches:
1) Try to avoid those smaller private used car dealerships. They cost less but they generally deal in cars which have been in accidents. The prices are cheaper but you never know if all the accidents have been reported or not.
2) Use CarProof not CarFax in Canada. Some dealers in Canada provide a CarFax report outlining the accidents, but a more reliable source for Canadian information is CarProof. This happened to me, I was told a certain car had an accident and the driver side door was repaired. There was a CarFax to back this up. I got the CarProof and the car had been in multiple accidents, the second one was an insurance write off (total loss).
3) If you want help negotiating a good deal consider using a broker. Here is an example of one in Ontario http://automallnetwork.com/. Contrary to what their website says, they want you to contact them before you contact the dealer. You can do some searching but when I talked to them on the phone they were quite adamant that once you walk into the dealership you are the dealer's customer not the broker's. The broker wants to negotiate the price and then have you go test drive the car. They said if you do contact the dealer don't give them your full name or contact info. If you are contacting them by email don't use your normal email account. I don't know how this works if you end up not wanting the car. It seems like you just get their negotiating help with one car at one dealership for $195.
If you really want to dive into how to save money a bit more here is an article outlining how having a series of cheaper cars can save thousands of dollars vs. buying an expensive car and having it for 10+ years. The idea behind it is that it allows you to pay less interest on other loans, or investing the extra money. It might seem complicated, but it's just really just as simple as having less money tied up in your car so you can get the other money to work for you.
On the topic of auto loans here is a scary video about those small dealerships that give credit to anyone. Watch out for these traps
If you're all the way down here I'll let you know an even cheaper option.
If you read enough personal finance advice you'll hear someone say you can Drive For Free (DFF), or even make money by driving. This is not quite accurate, what they are generally saying is, you can become a (one car at a time) used car mechanic/salesman easier than you think. Many people sell cars undervalue because they don't want to put in the effort to tuning them before selling them, they just want to move on and spend more money. This is real, you can do this, you could even take it to the next level and have a hobby of fixing exotic cars and really make some big money while doing something you enjoy. If this sounds appealing look into it. If you just want to drive a car, buy a Honda Fit.
Here's an article on DFF
I'm reluctant to mention other options because as soon as you get too many options you can get overwhelmed easily. If you don't like the Fit consider a used Civic.
If you want more options ..., I'm warning you, this can take up a lot of time ...
I highly recommend Phil Edmonston's Lemon-Aid Car Buying Guides. Just buy it and read through it and try to stick to the low cost cars that he gives a 'Recommended' rating to. You can go to a library to read it or a book store to get some tips, but to really get all you want out of the book you'll need to spend a lot of time reading all of his general car buying advice, in addition to the specific advice for each car, so I'd lean towards buying it and considering it part of the price of the car you are buying.
Generally the lowest cost cars are more reliable, it's like they know those customers won't put up with unreliable cars, unlike people buying for looks or performance, they'll push the limits of reliability in order to have the latest and greatest.
Here is a list of 10 cars to consider, but cross reference these to the Lemon Aid book before considering them too seriously.
Save money, save gas, save your headaches with costly repairs, buy a nice looking economical car, with as many features as you need. I'm not recommending buying something you don't like, I'm saying take a look at the true cost a car you have or want. Add up the extra money on more gas (sometimes premium gas), larger wheels, insurance, repairs, depreciation. Start to realize the reason companies have to pay their employees so much per km when driving for work, it's because your car really is costing you close to that much per km, it's just hard to see it since the costs are so spread out. Then using that knowledge buy a car you like that is within a price per km you want to spend.
Wanting things can give us motivation to be more productive and to make more money, so wanting a nice car and working hard for it can work out for some people. I just don't want people being tricked into thinking they need to spend more than they need to by marketing and by having the costs spread out so much.
It seems like addictions are in the news these days a lot. The statistics around Opioids alone are startling. I don't think I know anyone addicted to them but it seems like statistically we all probably do. I know a few people that took OxyContin after surgery and luckily they didn't get addicted.
In terms of what you can you
1) If they are prescribed to you I'd ask if there is an alternative
2) Michael Botticelli former Director of the USA's National Drug Control Policy recommends talking about it more. If you need help, ask for it, if someone asks for help don't think less of them, provide them help like you would to someone with a broken leg, addiction is a disease.
3) Change the words you use:
Excerpt from Times Colonist article by Sarah Petrescu
Some of the suggestions are using terms such as “person with a cocaine-use disorder” instead of “cocaine user” or “addict.” Others include referring to a person having an “addictive disease” or “substance-use disorder” rather saying they are a drug “abuser” or “junkie.”
Counterintuitive things you should know:
1) Our whole mental model of what causes additions is not quite right, check out the first video below. I put it at the top because out of all of these because our mental model dictates so much of this problem, and most of us are walking around with on that's not backed up by science. By knowing this we can see there are more factors to addiction than just the drugs, and how big a factor the stigma around addiction can compound the problem. Link to the article where I found it.
2) Criminalizing drugs has not been as effective as decriminalizing them. Portugal is the first country I heard of that decriminalized all drugs put their resources into helping and they've seen an amazing turn around. Check out the clip from Michael Moore's documentary
Here is Michael's TED Talk - Addiction is a Disease
Here is John Oliver's take on Opioids
And here is a terrifying article outlining the plans to spread the epidemic beyond North America to the rest of the world. This reminds me of Stephen Hawking's quote that "we should be more afraid of capitalism than robots". I'm not against capitalism, just based on my cursory look into this it seems like a huge risk of human suffering is being taken for the sake of making money.
OxyContin Goes Global - We're Only Just Getting Started
I don't know what to do to stop this, any suggestions?
I love the parable of the blind men and the elephant. A number of them encounter an elephant they each reach out and touch one part of it and argue over what they think it looks like until they realize they are all right. I think this applies throughout our lives. We often disagree with others but we are often both right, or at least have good reasons for backing up our opinions. I also think it applies to advice, we all get a lot of advice and I think it is all valuable, but it is often only one part of the elephant, so I'd like to systematically review advice and add to my picture of the elephant that it is. Today I'll look at the advice from a TEDTalk on time management.
Laura Vanderkam - How to gain control of your free time
What she says:
- Many people try to shave off time here and there to fit in more things (i.e. fast forward commercials)
- She doesn't think striving to shave time is the right approach, she thinks we should choose what's important and having the time will take care of itself. She gives the example of someone with a busy lifestyle that has a flood at their house. Resolving it takes 7 hours out of the persons week. She many people don't think they could find 7 hours a week to exercise or meditate or whatever, but when you have to you just do.
- Her big take away is when we say "I don't have time" we are saying "It's not a priority"
- How do we realign our priorities?
- For work pretend it's the end of the year and write up your ideal performance review, listing all the things you accomplished.
- At home pretend it's the end of the year and write up your ideal Christmas letter, saying all the great things you did this year.
- From these future write ups get 6-10 goals for your year
- Break them down into manageable tasks
- Week by week take some time to plan out your goals for the next week. She recommends doing it on Friday afternoon when you're a bit drained from the week but willing to assign tasks to your future self for next week.
- She says we all get 168 hours a week, and she thinks if we look closely we'll see we've got probably 50-60 we could be using better, i.e. towards our priorities.
So, let's unpack this. She says
1) Things we already know - we make time for 'must do' activities, example, emergencies.
2) Gives us tips we won't do - write out our priorities and just do them.
This is like that email forward about the rocks and sand in a jar, do the important things first. The part about changing "I don't have time" to "It's not a priority", is I've suggested taking 'lazy' out of your vocabulary and replacing it with "It's not important enough for me to do right now"
I think Tony Robbins does a better job of this when he describes 'musts' and 'shoulds', and I think Kelly McGonigal does a great job outlining why we'd fail in The Willpower Instinct.
So overall it's nothing we haven't covered yet on the site (no new insights) but a nice reminder, it might spark your memory or finally push you to taking action. Personally, I like the specific examples of how to pull your priorities out of your brain with those year end reviews ahead of time, I might add those to the list of things you can do. I also like how she simplifies the categories down to three things Career, Relationships, Self. The goal setting program I did recently had a lot more categories and was a lot more complicated.
One great life hack I've come across to help you hold yourself to your priorities is to have a computer call you every night to ask you to rank yourself on those goals you pre-set for yourself. Below the TEDTalk is a video about it, and here is a link to a robot service that will do this for you, there's even a free two week trial. www.triggersdigital.com
I'm using it and I'm really finding it makes a difference for the little things you can overlook, those medium size rocks that can get neglected and left off your year end reviews. You know what, I'm going to put this video on top because I think you might be better off watching it that the TEDTalk, it's more focused but it's a technique that might help you with everything else.
My new plan is to do a post every Wednesday. I see & hear so many interesting things in TED talks, books, articles, facebook posts I could write a few posts every day, but my goal is not to just have an interesting list of articles, it's to build a framework that can be populated by others, populated in a way that is easy for anyone to navigate, to get high quality information to help them achieve a goal quickly and efficiently. Think of it like uber, the creators of uber are not trying to be everyone's taxi driver, but they want to connect people looking to be a taxi with someone that needs a taxi, as efficiently as possible. I want to try to do that with the information you need to live the life you want to live, and achieve your goals. So I'm going to resist too many posts to spend some time building the framework.
What you can do in term of finding interesting stories? I highly recommend using the TEDTalk Video podcast, as an audio podcast while you commute, or anytime you're looking for something to listen to. There is an audio only podcast but last I checked they didn't post as many talks as the video one, and it's the exact same as simply not looking at the video. So, put your phone down, do what you're doing and just listen to the video. The nice thing is if there is something you want to see you can just pick up your phone rather than go look up the video.
I recommend just listening to every single one as they come out. Don't look at the title and wondering if it's worth your time, you may not realize it is interesting until you listen. You may not think it was worth it until the end, or a little later. Some you may think weren't worth it, but that's a small price to pay in mind.
If you want to know some old ones you've missed, ask a friend, they might not have heard of the podcast or they might have a few they'd love to share.
Here is one that my friend loves and re-watches every so often.
I'm only going to give you the link so you can't watch it here, just go there, download it and try it as an audio podcast.
Part 1 was the basic idea that we are always predicting the future to decide what to do.
Part 2 was the competing parts of our brain, instant vs. delayed gratification
Part 3 is now looking at the idea of the reward (wanting) vs. the reward itself (happiness)
Check it out, let me know what you think.
This article in the Guardian says industrial farms are worse than we thought, their methods degrade the soil, which is not new news, but the extent to which they do is worse than they realized. Regenerative farming could be the carbon capture solution we've been looking for.
So, I'd say this is even more evidence that you can make a big impact with your consumer choices.
If you are into voting with your wallet and want to do more or if you're not into voting with your wallet and want to do more here is an article on Quartz with the headline "Conscious Consumerism is a Lie. Here's a Better Way to Save The World".
it says become an activist or use your money to support activists rather than producers. I agree activists that can change policies can make big changes, but we need both.
I've added a second installment in the Stuff You Should Know section of the site.
You and ... the Other You(s), looking at internal conflicts we all have, where they come from and what we commonly mistake them for.
Today I did 7 loans to bring me up to 80 loans in 80 days (not including weekends). Coincidentally I looked at my stats and I've now given exactly 100 loans. Out of those 100 loans over 8 years it looks like I've only lost $11 due to currency conversion, and I've never looked at the risk ratings for the loans. To put money into the website you do have to convert to US funds if you're not already in US funds so there will be some fluctuation there over time, but in general this seems very similar to just holding money in a US bank account with no interest. I highly recommend it, especially for people that want to help others but don't feel they can spare the money.
As the title says this will be my final update for the near future. My plan is to keep re-lending the money I have in there and eventually have enough to do a loan a day.
I think my bullet journal is all up to date now so I've started filling in the Stuff You Should Know section. This new section will cover everything in the Control Your Money, Control Your Life video but in more detail.
Click here to go to it
Tonight were some loans to Senegal, Liberia, Cambodia, Indonesia and Guatemala. I'll do 5 more loans next week then just loan the money out as it comes back in.
Tonight I worked on setting up a new framework for the site. I felt like I needed to separate out the basics of why we do what we do from the things we can then do in the different areas of interest, so I made a new section Stuff You Should Know, and the old section is now Stuff You Can Do.
My goal is for this to be a resource people can come and the blog is just to announce new additions to the site, not so much a blog people have to follow. Once I get a better idea of what this site is and how people use it I'll look at some more significant upgrades.
Let me what you think
A while ago I read "Getting Things: Done The Art of Stress-Free Productivity" by David Allen, it was pretty good but I just combined it with Bullet Journalling and it's even better.
Key Takeaways from Getting Things Done:
1) Have one big 'To Do' list which you can add to quickly and you have access to it at all times. I was using the list apps Clear, and OurGroceries (this can be used for more than groceries), and a Calendar app. Take as long as it takes to compile all the on to do lists you have on the go. The idea of this list is to get things out of your head so they don't take up your mental bandwidth, cause you stress, and to prevent you from forgetting about them. You can delete them off your list if you want, but that is intentional compared to just forgetting. This can take a while to get set up, but try to power through and do it all before moving on to trying to do the things on the list.
2) As new things come in, if you can do it in 2 min or less, just do it. If you can't, put it on a list. If you need to make notes on it, have a stack of file folders, give each new item it's own file folder, and it's own hanging file. He didn't really get into electronic file keeping. I've almost adopted this at work, I'm certainly using more file folders than I used to.
3) Those first two are all I remember for sure, aside from those it is helpful to plan a time when you're going to do the things on the to do list rather than hope you find the time.
So I tried to have one master to do list but it wasn't working, and I had a separate notebook for each project I was working on. It wasn't working, then I saw a video on Bullet Journalling. It's pretty basic, but I think that's why it works.
Take any book (I'm using a 3 ring binder with lined paper), and add these pages
Index - self explanatory
Future Log - divide a double spread into 6 sections for the next 6 months. List significant dates or specific tasks you'll push out to those months.
Days of the Month Page for the current month - list the days down the margin, write in significant days.
On the opposite page write out a task list (kind of the master to do list to pick from if you can fit it there).
Then a double spread for daily entries - as you go write the day of the week, write what you want to accomplish or what you did accomplish or any little note. If you don't get to something you can move it to the next day or just cancel it.
After that make Collections - these are anything that hasn't fit in so far, books to read, places to go, food to try, etc.
I'm a week in and I find it much nicer to have all the collections in one indexed journal rather than separate binders. I think I'm making way too many collections but I feel free to experiment because it is a 3-ring binder.
Here are two links I found helpful, and the video I used to get started.
I've decided to move to weekly Kiva donations. It was a good trigger to work on the blog each night, but it also takes up time each night. So tonight I did a number of loans across Ecuador (farming), Peru (farming), Congo (construction), Burkina Faso (food resale), Cambodia (water filtration), and Kenya (solar light).
This Wednesday Kiva.org is hoping to crowdlend $3 million to women around the world. If you've been thinking about it, try it out on Wednesday, it's not even a donation, you get it all back. Over my years of lending I haven't had one loan not paid back, for the average kiva user they say the default rate is around 1%, so on $25 that's $0.25.
Check it out https://www.kiva.org/lend/international-womens-day
After watching The Minimalists on Netflix it dawned on me that my site is all about living a deliberate life, about choosing what's important and then living by those values everyday, and not getting caught up with the Jones's, unless they're living a deliberate life, then by all means :)
So I redid the Home page and the About page tonight, and we'll go from there. Check out their movie. Try not to get caught up thinking you could never do that, just think about where you spend your time and money and if it aligns with your values. If not come back here and look for tips.
I keep going back to Laos for loans, tonight was $50 for water filtration systems. They are short duration so I'll be able to relend the credit out quickly (my goal is to have enough lent out that I get $25 back per day to relend), and it's for clean water, and I just can't stop thinking about how brutal the history of Laos is. Apparently during the Vietnam war the US bombers would drop bombs on Laos if they just needed to empty unused bombs because it's dangerous to land with unused bombs. So they just dropped two million tons of bombs on some people they didn't really have any problems with! Can you believe this, I can't believe this. This wasn't reported but a US guy was there and he saw it first hand and documented it in a book Voices From The Plain of Jars. I think I first heard of it in this TED talk on cluster bombs.
Today was all about farming, 3 loans to 3 similar farms in the Philippines.
I think I'm going to take a break at 80 days
This is my first post where I'm replying to a request for some help. Someone asked me if I've read "How to Win Friends and Influence People", and if it was a good read. Unfortunately I haven't so I asked what he's looking for out of the book. He said something like "to improve how I deal with people and how to get the most out of everyday interactions". So he's going to read the book and let me know what he learns, in the meantime I thought I'd write up what I've learned so far from the books I have read.
Here we go...
First, How to improve how I deal with people
The book that always comes to mind first is 'Coping with Difficult People' by Robert Bramson. The key take away
"You train people how to treat you with every interaction"
It's not that complicated, people just do what works. Over their life they've tried different approaches and they stick with what seems to work. The phrase I came up with is "Jerks are Jerks because it works"
Bramson describes a number of types of people but from what I recall he says to treat people with respect and don't put up with disrespectful behaviour towards you. If you are giving a presentation and someone makes a snarky comment, just stop and you can ask them if it was intended as a 'dig'. He gave some other more specific tips I don't recall and haven't gone back to it because luckily I don't have to deal with too many difficult people. After reading this book I noticed the same message when I was watching the TV show 'The Dog Whisperer', you train dogs how to act with every interaction. If you let them act bad they act bad, if you don't, they don't. I was told it's not nice to compare people to dogs, but I don't mean it in a bad way, I just think it's a good example of a similar principle, and you can see it applied over and over again in nice half hour segments. Every time it's a dramatic unbelievable transformation, and all they did was to not let the dog get away with bad behaviour.
I've also read:
Just Listen by Mark Goulston
How to Talk So Kids Will Learn by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish
What Great Parents Do by Erica Reischer
Pitch Perfect by Bill McGowan
Pitch Anything by Oren Klaff
The Game by Neil Strauss
The are all very similar, the first three discuss the importance of listening and repeating back what you heard in your own words. First off this is great because you'll actually hear what they are saying rather than just waiting for them to pause so you can talk. Second this shows them you're paying attention, shows you understand them, makes them feel like you are on their side and build rapport. This is especially important when you don't agree with someone, you show them you can see it from their point of view, but you still don't agree with them and you can tell them why more effectively. By doing this you're more likely to find common ground and come to a compromise quicker. It works with everyone from kids to adults, everyone wants to feel like they are being heard.
The second three are when you are trying to get someone's attention, overcome the barriers they put up to the unknown and convince them of something. The big takeaway is to recognize their defenses, and do things that don't set off any alarms. To get close to someone very important one author recommended trying to get close to one of their admins or gatekeepers as he called them. Have that person become your advocate. This also works by asking friends of friends for help, these people are called your 'weak ties'. Friends of friends are usually comfortable enough to help you get in touch with someone, and by going in that way you have a significant edge over people going in cold. From 'The Game' they were talking about social interactions, how to strike up a conversation with people you don't know. This was very similar, go over with a very specific question make it obvious you're not coming over for an indefinite amount of time. Most people are more than willing to answer a question. Another technique is to not try to get their attention but to try to get everyone's attention, then if you do give that person your attention they'll kind of feel like they've won rather than feeling unsure and defensive. This happens in business as well, people are people.
Many interactions can be difficult or frustrating. You may feel they are not treating you well. A good antidote for this is to realize it's probably not you they are unhappy with, they could be tired, hungry, mad about something else. If someone seems upset try to think 'what else could this mean?' or 'what could be the cause of this?' Or you could be the one that is mad at them. In these situations I like to remind myself that everyone is doing the best they can with the resources they've got. They aren't making bad decisions on purpose, so I try to figure out why they might have done what they did, and maybe even confirm I've got the story right in the first place. Often I don't have the whole story and what they did makes sense. Other times they didn't have the full story so what they did also makes sense.
In general try not to make assumptions, but if you find yourself compelled to, then try making wildly positive assumptions instead of wildly negative ones, they're just as likely to be true, and they'll have you entering a discussion from a much more positive perspective.
Now, How to make the most of an everyday scenario
How to Get Anyone to Do Anything by R. Philip Hanes
The 4 Hour Work Week by Tim Ferris
Philip Hanes from what I recall is one of the Hanes associated with the clothing line. A very successful businessman, and he shares some of his secrets in this book. His tips range from buttering people up to tricking people in specific postures which are more receptive to requests. I don't think he calls it buttering people up, but when he meets people he tries to get as much info about them as he can and he makes a file on them, birthday, names of family members, where they went to school, what they do, interests and hobbies etc. Then he tries to be a good friend, if he sees something that might interest one of his friends, he lets them know about it. He helps people network, if he wants to ask a favour he does something nice for one of his friends, something inline with their hobbies or interests, maybe helps them do something on their bucket list. I seem to recall a very detailed set of interview questions he uses, not for his friends but for potential employees. It was interesting and I might look it up if I need to hire someone, but the cleverest thing he mentioned was how to get someone in a receptive state of mind. We all know body language is real, and we all know people with crossed arms are being closed off, so he tries to do things to get people to uncross their arms. When he is pitching new ideas he makes sure he has it on a poster that the person needs to unfold and hold up with their arms wide open. I find this so smart, so easy. I don't know how effective it is but I know it's worth the cost of a big piece of paper to try it out.
These days electronic communication is a huge part of our lives. If possible I recommend calling people rather than emailing, but I know you're going to have to email people once in awhile, the best advice I've read on emails was in 'The 4 Hour Work Week'. The tips are very obvious once you hear them, but not everyone thinks about it. The basics people know, have a clear subject, and keep it as short as possible. The mistake people often make is to ask one question and wait for the reply before telling the person what to do. Tim suggests asking the question or making the request e.g. "Do you have X in stock?" and also say what you want them to do e.g. "If so I'd like to order 10..." AND even more importantly what you want if they don't e.g. "If not please put me next on the waiting list".
You can save a number of back and forth emails with this technique. Also try to format your email so the questions are obvious and up front rather than in the middle of a large paragraph. Give them a heads up in the intro,
I have two questions:
Please reply by ...
It's almost like you're writing a computer program with IF statements. When I'm writing emails and they are getting long I think back to my favourite fortune cookie quote "In every enterprise, consider the outcome". When I first read it I was thinking it had something to do with Star Trek because I've never heard anyone else use the term enterprise, and then I took a minute to think about what it meant. In everything you do know why you are doing it, so simple, so often overlooked. I find by doing this it'll help you figure out if it's worth doing and it'll help you better predict if the actions you're taking are going to get the results you want. When I notice an email getting long I think "what do I want to get across here", or "what do I want this person to do?" and then I try to see what information is totally useless towards that goal. I can usually take out more than half of what I wrote.
And now, How to get the most out of people
If you're in a leadership role keep in mind that people will often rise to a challenge, and often take on the role you give them. I recall a TED talk about student government and the adult running it said they kids took it very seriously as long as he did, and as long as the roles were treated with respect. More so than age the role the kids had determined their level of behaviour, they rose to the challenge as they say.
And in a leadership role or not, let people help you. Ask for help, many successful people like to be asked their opinions or advice, and are willing to help out here and there. It's a delicate balance between asking too much and not asking enough, but if you find people offering assistance take them up on it, don't hold back in order to prove you can do it on your own, no one can do everything on their own.
Beyond these tips, I really recommend my primer videoControl Your Money, Control Your Life. It covers why we do what we do not only as it relates to money, but all aspects of your life. Knowing the behind the scenes of why humans do what they do is not only helpful in your own goal setting, but also when dealing with other people. It can help you understand why they might have done something your don't agree with so you can find some common ground, or it can help you find a way to get through to someone one you are trying to collaborate with.
In all situations I find it helpful to be sincere, smile, try to see things from the other person's point of view, and to focus more on what you agree rather than what you don't agree on. And try to remember their name so you can use it, people seem to love it when other people remember their name. You might be saying you can't but trust me, you can. The next time you meet someone just make sure to try, try really hard. You know, ask them, listen, repeat it back to them, pause to look at their face, repeat it back to them when you part ways. Then tell me if it worked or not, if not I'll do a post on memory tricks.
Don't let the fear of rejection hold you back, acknowledge your requests as a little strange and that can soften the experience, even get people on your side. This is easier said than done, so here is a video to inspire you to try.