Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Day 117: Introduction to the Guy Who's Got it Right

Today I've been so focused on marketing and content and all this goodness that my head is spinning!

I like producing content. I do it strictly in writing these days, but I tried my hand a some videos back in the day as well. Yeah, go ahead and search YouTube for "Andrew Lisi" and you'll find some really weird stuff.

Admittedly, in both writing and video, execution is lacking. There are still two very large gaps: Planning, execution, and consistency (I know that's three, but I ignore planning in pretty much everything or, better explained, planning is involved in both good execution and consistency).

Yet, in both writing and video, I have been inspired by someone, someone I want to introduce you to. He's influenced the way I view social media, the way I view marketing, sales, delivery, support - it all. I've leaned on his thinking both in my current work and also in my work in the church. I've loved his content because it doesn't involve any B.S. What he communicates and articulates isn't magic; in fact, I think it's all stuff many of us see, but can't quite put our finger on it, which I guess is a mark of a true "visionary." The best part is that his philosophy is a proven one in business across many verticals seeing as how it all began with a wine business he took over from his father and has now morphed into a popular, growing media agency.

If you're interested in increasing your brand awareness and influence, understanding the power of social media, getting insights on what makes people tick, this is your guy. Even if it isn't business-related to you at all, even if you just want to increase readers on your personal blog or followers on your Instagram, this guy will help.

Who is this?

This guy is Gary Vaynerchuk or better known as @garyvee in the social media world.

Here's just a sample of the goodness:

"How to Get Your Wine Palate Trained:" https://youtu.be/2qxDuPbFnoM?t=2m35s (this is my favorite. He eats a ton of foods, from cereal, to jelly, to dirt, to help you get your palate trained. The end is the best and launched him into fame.)

"Stop Storytelling Like It's 2007:" https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OnXijAxiy8g (adult language in this bad boy)

The Thank You Economy: http://www.amazon.com/Thank-You-Economy-Gary-Vaynerchuk/dp/0061914185/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8

That last one is a great book. The big premise is that many businesses (and this can pertain to any organization, really) tend to focus too much on saying "thank you" to the customer as a way of providing service. The Thank You Economy flips it and argues that your business or organization should be so good, so savvy, so caring that it's your customers who are saying thank you.

I guess that's what this is. Gary Vee continues to influence me today and his economy works. This is my thank you to him. Check him out!

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Day 116: If Money Wasn't an Issue...

This is a simple question: If you didn't have to work for your money, what work would you be doing?

What do I mean? Let's say that you have enough money to live off of the rest of your life, but you still have to work. What would you do? It doesn't have to be a job in corporate America. You could do anything that is considered work.

So if you didn't have to work for your money, but still had to work, what would you do? Would you keep doing what you're doing or would you pursue something else?

Hit me up in the comments or shoot me an e-mail at andrewlisi at gmail dot com.

Monday, September 07, 2015

Day 115: How Eating Out Keeps You From Getting Rich

I received $100 recently for some side work that I did last month. That sounds a bit cryptic; I officiated a wedding. It's not something I do regularly anymore, but I enjoyed the opportunity to marry some friends.

As most of us do with money we receive outside of our paychecks, I spent some time thinking about what I should spend it on. Many things came to mind, but the one purchase I've been wanting to make as of late is for a set of Bose speakers for our house with bluetooth and all that good stuff.

I lived in that world of wondering how the sound would be in our home for a bit when I got curious about another way to use the money. What if, instead of spending it, I invested it? What would happen to $100 if I just threw it in an index fund (a fund basically mirrors one of the many indices out there, like the S&P 500) and didn't touch it until retirement, say 30 years from now?

For the sake of simplicity, let's say that the index fund I invest that money grows at around 8% annually for 30 years. Using this simple calculator I learn that if all I did was put this money in a fund for 30 years it would grow to $1,006.27. I know, it doesn't seem like much, especially taking into account inflation and, well, 30 years of it just sitting there.

Let's use a different example. Let's say you spend around $300 a month eating out. That's a fairly reasonable amount for many of you, especially the single folk who don't be cookin'. Let's say you are looking to start budgeting and getting right with your dough. You're actually blown away when you realize you spend that much on eating out, going to bars, etc. and reduce it to $100 a month, which is where we are at currently as a family of 3. What if you saved the $200 you're not spending and put it in the bank for a year. You have $2,400! Now, what if you took that as a starting balance for an index fund and put an additional $2,400 every year in that fund for the next 30 years?

Using the same numbers as above, guess how much money you'll have. You honestly have no idea and you're gonna freak out when you see the number.


Do you believe it?

This is an introduction to compound interest, a revolutionary concept that Einstein famously quipped is the "eighth wonder of the world" and Warren Buffet has said is one of the three main factors for his success (the other two being that he's lived a long time and that he's American).

Compound interest means that interest is being applied not only to the principle amount, but also to the interest that has accrued on top of that amount. For example, if I have a principle amount $1000 and it gets 10% interest compounded annually, at the end of year one I have $1100. But in year two the 10% isn't being applied only to the principle of $1000, but also to the $100 of interest already gained. That means at the end of year two I have $1,210. This kind of action happening over a long period of time has a massive impact on our funds.

The majority of us in American just don't get this. We haven't been taught the cost-benefit analysis through the lens of compound interest. Often it's the different between spending money here or there. Instead, we need to learn that spending money somewhere means we are losing the chance to save it elsewhere. We learn a lot about working for our money, but not enough about making our money work for us.

So the next time you are thinking about going out to eat or having a night out with friends, consider what that $50, $75, or $100 could really mean to you in 10, 20, or 30 years. Small choices like that can add up to making you hundreds of thousands of dollars or even a millionaire.

Thursday, September 03, 2015

Day 114: Be Patient

Be patient. Just be patient.

That''s a third principle that needs to be applied in this 34th year of my life along with being present and being grateful.

The fun part about that is it can't be a principle that is just for this next year, right? Ugh, developing patience requires patience...

But it's important because being patient will allow me to think of the future with a reasonable, long-term perspective. And in doing so, I am able to enter into the present, focusing on each day as important in itself.

Reading that stuff I just wrote seems all types of new agey and mystic, but I have no better way of explaining it right now. I guess ultimately patience is rooted in the trust that my God and Father is working all things out according to His good will and pleasure, which includes my joy. I don't know how it plays out. I don't know if I will have a successful career. I don't know if we will be a big, happy family. I don't know if we will be comfortable financially. I don't know what hardships that will come.

I have an idea of what I'd like our life to be like. I know, for the most part, the reality of what our life is like now. Patience is understanding that we may get there or we may not. Because it's not about us achieving that idea. It's about trusting that whatever does come is a gift from God. Today is good. Tomorrow has enough worries of it's own. Be thankful for that, for what is, and what is true. To truly grasp that requires more patience than I know I have in my own power.

Monday, August 31, 2015

Day 113: Thoughts of 33

I turned 33 yesterday.

Birthdays are a great time of celebration. First, we celebrated the fact that The Boy slept until 8:00. That's not a typo. We didn't know what to do with ourselves in the morning; we may have hovered around his door for 30 minutes just wondering when he'd get up. I might have also banged a few pots and shouted, just to make sure he would wake up. Alas, he did and thus we celebrated. Then The Wifey, The Boy and I went out to breakfast at one of our favorite spots in the hood, Baker Miller. Whether you live her or plan on visiting, this is a spot you have to check out.

Then we rocked some church, which was so necessary for me. The services was centered on the amazing love of God and the powerful work of Christ on the Cross. For me, it was a reminder of what's truly important. So much in my daily life competes to rob me of that truth; I often just give in to it. But worshiping God with His people on Sunday pulls me back in. What a great gift that is every week, especially yesterday for my birthday.

We had planned an outing to the Botanic Garden, but The Boy remained a sleeping machine, napping for 2 1/2 hours until 4:00. Stace gave me the last of my gifts yesterday (the first two were bacon jam for the burgers I make and a book), which was a basketball! I decided to head out to the courts and actually dominated some kids 15-20 years younger than me. Well, not dominated. And not sure if it's real talent if I'm beating kids in middle school and high school, but they were taller than me so you be the judge.

We rounded out the evening with some Friends and some thai food.

As much as it is celebration, it's also reflection for me. That's what I do.

33 is a year of continual character development. I don't know if it's so much of "what do I want to accomplish?" as "who do I want to grow to be?" The Wifey and I talked through this and the two major themes I want to focus on are being present  and being grateful. They go hand-in-hand.

I tend to live in the clouds, focusing more on ideas than concrete reality. This means I look more to the future and what could be, what should be, or what ought to be, than what is. Much of this may be a result of not being grateful for what's right in front of me. My hope and prayer is that for 33 I practice the art of gratitude, particularly to God, for all the good gifts he has provided and continues to provide, allowing me also to be present with each day he gives.

What about you? What do you usually do for your birthday? What are you focusing on this year?

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Day 112: "You Have to Learn to Love the Bomb."

If you haven't had a chance to read the cover story in GQ with Stephen Colbert, I'm glad you're reading this blog.

It came out early last week and I just got around to reading it. The entire story may be a glimpse of the person we will see hosting The Late Show next month, following in the footsteps of the great David Letterman. If it hasn't been clear up to this point, the Stephen Colbert hosting The Late Show will not be the same man who hosted The Colbert Report, the character he somehow pulled off for nine years.

This article goes into that, his tragic family history, and his deep sense of gratitude for life. Yet one piece of the interview stood out most. It was in the context of his early career in improv. He mentions that while he was at Second City he was told by the director, "You have to learn to love the bomb." Colbert explains:
“It took me a long time to really understand what that meant,” Colbert said. “It wasn't ‘Don't worry, you'll get it next time.’ It wasn't ‘Laugh it off.’ No, it means what it says. You gotta learn to love when you're failing.… The embracing of that, the discomfort of failing in front of an audience, leads you to penetrate through the fear that blinds you. Fear is the mind killer.”
That is absolutely profound, isn't it? "You have to learn to love the bomb." And I really appreciate how Colbert expounds on it in a meaningful way. It's not that you brush failure off or that you cheapen it with platitudes. It's not a "pick yourself up by the bootstraps" approach. It's an actual love of the process of failing. It's being right in the thick of failing, watching the faces of people who are looking back in horror or disappointment or anger, and embracing it. And it's the love of that experience in those moments that actually conquers the fear that comes so much more naturally to us.

At another point in the article Colbert says, "The process of process is process." His point is that there is intentionality behind everything done. I also take it to mean learning and movement are just as much the goal as creating a good show. That's helpful to me because it's hard to grasp how I'll be able to understand – not in an intellectual way, but in a deep, applicable way – how to love the bomb. The process is "a long time." And perhaps, for you and me, it just means putting ourselves constantly in situations where failure is the most likely option.

It's scary even typing that. But I guess that may just be one step closer to loving the bomb.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Day 111: Pursue Patience, My Friend

"It's a jump to conclusions game!" Oh Office Space. This was one of my top quote 90s movies. Knowing that movie is like wearing a badge of honor, or I guess 127 pieces of flair.

The line came to mind as I'm reflecting on another aspect of my life, and perhaps yours, that directly clashes with the ability to stay curious.

It's impatience.

I was talking with a fellow Highlander today (if you're not sure what that is, it's someone who works at my company, Highland Solutions) who has decades on me in experience both in sales and general business and plays a key leadership role. First, and without any prompting on my part, he affirmed how curiosity has been a trait that stands out clear and is one that has benefited me at Highland. However, I quickly moved to my self-confessed impatience. See what I did there?

Anyway, he made a key observation about what my impatience does to my curiosity. He said that impatience will get in the way of my desire to learn, to ask questions, to get deep enough to satisfy the curiosity. I will want to arrive at the answer too quickly, to move on to something else, too feel like I've figured it out. In other words, I jump to conclusions.

While we were talking about me, I think this applies to anyone, especially people who are driven by learning and the pursuit of understanding. In a world that wants to "figure it out" and "do things as fast as possible," impatience can be held up as a virtue and thrown in the mix of other traits like hustle and grit. But what usually gets left behind are key questions that need to be asked, follow-up that needs to occur, and a willingness not to force the issue or grip too tightly to control – all key components to patience, wisdom, and of course curiosity.

I guess what I'm saying is that impatience and curiosity never mix well together, like hot dogs and ketchup (sadly there are too many of you out there that still don't get this). What I also learned today and implying by this are that curiosity and patience are actually like two pedals on a bicycle; they have to work in tandem to be most effective.

If you find yourself at a point in life where you "want to know more" or "want to understand" an instrument, a person, a business, a point in history, a financial system – whatever – pursue that interest. That's your curiosity. But also be aware that to achieve a real understanding, the pursuit of patience will be just as key.