Why You Need Personal Capital

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I've been exploring several business opportunities recently, so I've been thinking a lot about capital.  If we want to do X it will take $1500 of capital.  If we want to do Y it will take $4000 of capital. Our options in business greatly depend on the amount of capital we control. Capital represents the ability to do something.  Better yet, it creates an option for you to choose a particular path. Without enough capital, that particular path is not available to you. When it comes to our personal performance, capital is an important concept.  True, we don't usually call it capital, but if you think in terms of that which gives you options, it functions in the same way.  You have to … [Read more...]

Fewer Financial Institutions

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Last year I finally got fed up with all the statements I was getting from various financial institutions.  I had retirement accounts with 4 or 5 different companies and stock accounts with 2 or 3 others. It was very difficult to keep track of what was doing well and what was doing poorly. I finally settled on two institutions; one for retirement type accounts and one for my non-retirement savings, checking and investments.  I contacted both institutions and gave them a list of what I wanted to move over.  On the retirement side of things, the transition went very smoothly.  They filled out all the paperwork, sent it to me for my signature and I FedExed it back to them.  The … [Read more...]

Networking in Large Companies

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Nokia has an interesting culture for promoting informal mentoring.  When someone new comes on staff, their manager sits down with them and makes a list of the people they need to meet.  The manager helps give the new employee an idea of what they should discuss with each person on the list and explains why building that particular relationship is important. Nokia then supports  this practice by giving the new employee time to visit with each person on the list--even when that means traveling to other company locations.  The result is a very strong collaborative culture that gives new people a jump-start on building relationships that might take years to identify and build in a … [Read more...]

Links of Interest from LifeRemix

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Thirteen Tips for Actually Getting Some Writing Done-The Happiness Project This post offers some practical advice for those that want to be organized about their writing schedule, as well as those that feel "burnt out" after writing. Make Your Yard Look Like Wrigley Field-The Art of Manliness Getting your yard to look decent can be a chore, and mowing isn't always everyone's favorite of the chores on the weekly "to-do" list. However, this article has some fun and interesting tips to help you make your yard look like it belongs in a stadium. Some Thoughts on Angel Food Ministries-The Simple Dollar Because of the recent economic downturn, this article might contain some useful … [Read more...]

The Have-Done List

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A to-do list is what most people see as the pinnacle of personal productivity.  You set a plan, work the plan, and the check items off the list. To-do lists can be a great.  They help you focus on what is important instead of just what happens to be on your mind. However, there are times when creating a to-do list isn't the best thing. There are times when you need to be able to freely explore and do whatever comes to mind.  Vacations are one example.  If you create a to-do list (and I know some people who do) for your vacation, it might take away from some of what you need to get out of a vacation. I also find that there are times where I need to focus on a particular area, but … [Read more...]

Your Locus of Control

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Locus of control is something studied by psychologists to determine how people perceive their ability to change events.  Someone with an internal locus of control believes that they have a strong ability to influence the events around them.  Someone with an external locus of control believes that external forces (people, fate, luck, etc.) control events in their environment. There were some studies done in the 60s that showed locus of control to be a personality variable, not a situational variable.  In other words, if you put two people in the exact same situation, their perception of their ability to control the situation can vary wildly.  Their perception of how much influence they … [Read more...]

Interview: Computer Setup

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In the next part of our technology interview, we asked a number of people: Describe your computer system setup and tell what parts you feel are most important for your productivity. (679) I was surprised at how many Mac users we had.  Obviously everyone's setup is based around their particular needs, but there are some great tips in here. OS X itself is great for my productivity. In the year and a half I've been using a Mac, I've had only a few trivial computer problems, all easily solved. The two programs that most add to my Mac productivity are Quicksilver and TextExpander. To my mind, Quicksilver's versatility alone is a good reason to use a Mac. TextExpander, like the … [Read more...]

11 Steps Toward Developing a Superior Mind

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Great success in life is usually the result of taking advantage of rare opportunities. So success is most likely to come to those who are prepared to take advantage of opportunities. One of the most important aspects of being prepared for any opportunity is making an intentional effort to avoid becoming dumb. I know that sounds silly, but it is very easy to find people around you who haven't kept themselves in mental shape.  When opportunities come their way, they miss out because they lacked the right knowledge, frame of mind, or mental stamina. Just like a muscle, your brain needs exercise. Far too many people get stuck in a rut of old habits and never really exercise their … [Read more...]

Cost vs. Benefit for Productivity

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Most people are really bad at comparing cost and benefits. Hybrid cars are a good example of this. For example, the cost of the cheapest (that I could find) new gasoline Honda Civic is around $14,800. The cost of the cheapest hybrid Civic is $22,000. Assuming that you drive 13,000 miles per year, the hybrid will save you $369 per year in gas--assuming gasoline costs an average of $2.80 per gallon. So you are paying an extra $7200 to save $369 per year. It will take nearly 20 years before you end up saving money with the car. Even if you consider that the government will give you something like an extra $2,100 off your taxes for buying the hybrid, it will still take nearly 14 years … [Read more...]

Opera Unite

Opera announced a new browser called Unite.  It gives your browser the ability to share content instead of just consuming it.  For example, you can share you pictures with other users, or share your music with your handheld computer. It is an interesting idea and could be very powerful. … [Read more...]

It Isn’t How Much You Do

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It is very easy to confuse motion with accomplishment, but simply being busy doesn't do anything toward reaching our goals.  Being busy can be addictive.  Look around and you will hear a lot of people complaining about how busy they are, but when you look deeper, it is clear that they like being busy. I'm not sure why this is.  I think being busy makes us feel important. It is possible that we feel important because we assume that important people are busy or that people who accomplish a lot are busy.  While neither of these things is necessarily true, there is something about being busy that people like. The people who are really productive are usually the the least busy. In fact, … [Read more...]

SmartShopper Grocery List Organizer Review

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Many times I've wondered about ways to keep a centrally located, well organized grocery and errand list. Members of my family have a tendency to "borrow" the list to add something, only to forget to put the list back. Though a pen and paper are often the best and most efficient way to keep track of a to-do list, some families might need something a bit more creative. When I was handed the Grocery List Organizer to review, I was a bit apprehensive as to how well the device would actually function. Fortunately, I have been pleasantly surprised. Appearance The Organizer is an oblong-shaped device with a small screen located at the top, a large "Record" button in the middle and a … [Read more...]

Photo Diary

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With inexpensive digital cameras and ever growing storage capacity, it is easy to create and maintain a very large quantity of pictures.  My personal photo library  starts in 1998 and provides a fairly detailed chronicle of my life for the past 11 years.  In many ways, it is the most accurate diary or journal of my life events over that time period.  If I want to know when we went on a particular trip, I can look up the date in our photo library.  If I want to know who attended a particular event, I can look it up there, as well. I find that occasionally running through all of my pictures helps me remember events that would otherwise be forgotten--particularly in remembering the … [Read more...]

The Deadly Well – Teaching to Learn

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When you need to remember something you've learned, one of the best things you can do is explain your new knowledge to someone else.  When I was studying music theory, I thought I had a firm grasp on the subject.  However, when I went back and taught it to incoming freshmen, I discovered how much better I understood once I had to explain it to others. I still use this technique today.  When there is something that I think I understand, I'll try to explain it to my wife to help me remember and to see if I understand things as well as I think I do. My mother teaches grade school and uses this principle all the time. When her sister and her sister's 5 year old grandson were coming to … [Read more...]

7 Ways to Wake Up in the Morning

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Your method of waking up is the first thing that starts your day. I'm not saying that waking up to an annoying alarm will ruin your day, but it probably isn't going to help anything. Here are a few ideas for waking up: Wake up to a CD. Many stereos have a built in alarm clock that will start the CD at a certain time. (This can also be the basis of a nice college dorm prank.) Wake up to the radio. Most clock radios let you wake up to whatever is being broadcast instead of the normal alarm. Wake up to light. A simple outlet timer hooked to a bright light can be a great way to wake up because the light will help tell your body that the day is starting. (You might want to set a … [Read more...]

100 Ways to Enjoy Life

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The Great Outdoors Feed the ducks at the park. Cut some fresh wildflowers for your table. Go fishing. Hike somewhere with pretty scenery. Go jogging with a friend. Take your dog for a walk. Get a group of friends together for a water balloon fight. Try to find out about little-known waterfalls in your area and explore to find them. Volunteer for a non-profit association. Go camping at a place you've never been before. Learn how to sail a catamaran. Visit a farm with a friend. Go off-road mountain biking. Take horseback riding lessons. Find a quiet place with beautiful scenery to read a favorite book. Find a wildflower information book and explore to see how … [Read more...]

Do You Read Enough?

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Imagine you are interviewing someone for a job and one of the questions you are going to ask them is "How much time do you spend reading and what do you read?"  Now imagine the answer you get back exactly describes your own reading habits.  What would your opinion be of the person you are interviewing based solely on that answer? In other words, are you impressed with your own reading habits?  Most people aren't.  With the Internet, the average person reads a much wider range of content with much less depth than  20 years ago. And while there are some definite advantages to knowing a little about a lot of things, much of the content adds very little value to people's lives. Making … [Read more...]

Keeping Your Stuff Safe

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The other day, I stepped outside and found my neighbor lugging a broken door out of his garage and into the back of his pickup truck. It turns out he had locked himself out of his house. His wife was away and he had no spare keys. To make matters worse, their new puppy was inside the house. He simply kicked the door in, got his keys and then went and purchased an identical door, which I helped him install. Later on that day, I was talking with some other neighbors who are both police officers. They were staring at the mangled door next to the curb and wondering what happened. They commented that the doors and locks on our houses don't really keep our possessions safe. For the … [Read more...]

Paperless Infrastructure

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Businesses have much to gain by moving to paperless communication with their customers. Just think how much money credit card companies could save if even 5% of their customers switched to paperless communication. The problem is that most companies seem to get the whole idea of "paperless" wrong. Their solution for people who want to be paperless is that they will send you an email notifying you that you have a statement. Then you can log into their website and download the statement as a PDF. This is about equivalent to having a mailman who knocks on your door to tell you there is a letter for you at the post-office. This reflects a type of arrogance (or stupidity) that is typical of … [Read more...]