Happy Friday, Folks! I know I haven’t been very consistent with my posting lately. I’ve simply been insanely busy. I’ve been spending most of my time during the weeks working my current job and then traveling north to central Texas to spend the weekends working my new one.
Oh yeah. I found a new job. It involves working with great people I’ve built a great relationship with over the last year or so. They want me to help them take their company to the next level. And it gets better. They’re allowing me to continue to build my own company under the umbrella of theirs in the process. This is the best opportunity I’ve seen thus far in my young life and as well as things have gone for me over the last few years, I’m risking a lot of it to take this “from good to great” step up. I will most likely be resigning from the best job I have ever had within the next few weeks.
In order to juggle all of this, I’ve needed to find ways to budget my time much more effectively. And this morning it occurred to me that it’s finally time to grab a very low hanging piece of time saving fruit. I deactivated my Facebook account. Should I have done this a long time ago? Obviously. But better late than never. I hadn’t done it before because there are some groups here in Houston that only seem to post details about their events on Facebook. However, I rationalized that not only do I not have time for these activities right now, but any group that doesn’t offer a non-Facebook way of keeping up with it isn’t a group I’m interested in anyway.
I only deactivated my account for now so that I can go back to it if I want to. However, if some time goes by and I don’t miss it, I will complete the process and delete it completely. Won’t I miss out on people’s updates? I doubt it. Anyone who is truly significant to me is in touch with me regularly on the phone or in person. What I will miss out on is the annoyed feeling I always seem to come away with after scrolling for a while and seeing updates from the hordes of people I don’t truly know (because I never had a desire to) who have friended me over the years and constantly post on there. I believe the annoyance is usually mostly with myself for wasting time on something so pointless.
Here’s a hint. If you’re truly happy and successful in life, you are probably too busy being happy and successful to brag about it to the world on social media. That goes for Linkedin too, which has gotten more and more Facebook-y over recent years. I once literally watched someone destroy his career using primarily that site. And it just so happened to turn into a pretty amazing opportunity for me at the end of the day.
Anyway, I will post some updates soon and I intend to get back to my regular topics at some point when things calm down a little bit. Have a great weekend!
Happy Friday! This is the follow up post to Wednesday’s. In that one, I talked about the downsides to having a high paying job. Today, I’m going to end the week on a positive note by talking about the opposite. It may seem a little ridiculous to write a post about reasons someone would want a high paying job. But I’m going to try to stay away from the obvious and go into the aspects someone who hasn’t had the experience might not think of. Let’s get this going.
You will face huge challenges that will force
you to grow in ways you may never have otherwise.
I’m talking about great big,
existential challenges here. As in how do I make something happen over an
extended period of time that my employer claims to want (and bases my pay and
continued employment on) but seems to do everything in its power to prevent
from happening? This may sound like a negative, and on its face, it is. But nothing
worth having comes easily. In this case, you’re stepping up to face some things
that have the potential to break you, and often will come close to doing just
that. However, if you’re up to the challenge, you will come away with something
far better than money. In my mind, there is no greater reward than going into
every subsequent life experience being able to look back at the incredible
things you’ve been able to accomplish against the odds and knowing that there
is very little on this planet that can stop you when you’re at your best.
You will learn how to deal with people more
effectively than you ever would have thought possible.
We’ve all met those difficult
people in life. You know, the ones that make you wish you never had to interact
with them in any way. The ones who have you thinking “his poor wife!” The
higher you rise in your career, the more difficult personalities you’re going
to encounter. The upper echelons, at least in the business world, are mostly
populated by people who were just too stubborn of assholes to allow anyone to
stop them from getting there. The egos are enormous and manipulation, bullying,
threatening, belittling, etc are all everyday tactics. These are people who don’t
have to worry about HR since they often own their own companies or are the most
powerful people in them if they don’t. Avoiding these people is not an option. And
neither is failing to get results while dealing with them. For a while, you
will hate it. Then, one day, you will wake up and realize that there is almost
nothing left in this world that can intimidate you. The hotter the fire, the tougher
the resulting metal that was forged in it.
You will make tons of powerful friends.
When I started out in my career,
networking was always a dirty word in my mind. This was mostly because I knew
very few people who could do anything for me, which made it feel like all I
could do was beg for help. Not a fun feeling. But once you’re in the club of
people who eat, sleep, and breathe work, most of your interactions are with
people who control all kinds of different decisions – both within your company
and in others. Just like in any other job, you naturally make friends, and
enemies, in the process of your day to day activities. And suddenly, networking
You, yourself, will become powerful.
Most of us spent at least the first
several years of our careers feeling trapped in dead end situations. In my
case, no matter how hard I worked, it didn’t seem like it made any difference. But
over time, if you’re highly capable and you work hard, it does. And one day,
probably sooner than you would have expected, you find yourself in a position
where almost everything you do makes a difference. And while that comes with a
ton of risk and responsibility, it’s also a pretty nice feeling at times to
look at a situation and realize that you made it happen through sheer force of
You will enjoy yourself at work – at least
some of the time.
One of the reasons I ultimately
decided not to go to law school is that law is an incredibly competitive
industry where about half the people simply don’t make it and eighty hour work
weeks are pretty much the norm. At the time, I couldn’t fathom working that
much or that hard. But fast forward less than a decade and here I am working in
the incredibly competitive finance industry, where a high percentage of people don’t
make it and I’m basically working most of the time I’m awake. If you’re not
already in it, that may sound like a nightmare. It certainly did to me. But
somewhere along the line, I think I realized that I could either have a
mediocre, unsatisfying career or I could put everything I had into a good one. Sometimes
people manage to find that sweet spot in between the two, but those situations
are pretty rare and typically don’t last. Our economy is just too competitive
now and where there is inefficiency, it will usually be discovered and destroyed
– one way or another. Going “all in” is the only option I found that allowed me
to truly make an impact. And in that way, I feel I gained something rather than
lost it. Instead of spending forty hours a week doing something that feels
pointless and barely pays the bills, I’m spending significantly more hours than
that, but I’m doing meaningful work and the bills are not a concern at all. Of
course, that last part also has a lot to do with keeping lifestyle inflation in
check. Don’t ever forget that you can outspend any income.
When you become valuable to a company, the
way it spends money on and around you changes.
I still remember when I was booking my first flight in my current job. I was talking to my then new boss about a couple of possible options. One was cheaper than the other, but involved a layover. “Don’t forget the value of your time,” he told me. And it’s true. If you think about what the company pays me in a typical hour, it doesn’t make sense for me to spend a significant part of my day sitting at some airport in Detroit or some other God forsaken hellhole because the airfare was a hundred bucks cheaper. And it doesn’t stop there. Customers need to be entertained and the only rule I was ever given was to “use your judgment.” Lunches, dinners, football games, golf outings, etc are regular parts of my working life now. My recent college graduate self wouldn’t have believed the expense reports I routinely turn in today. Obviously, I do try to keep things within reason. After all, we’re running a business. But even with the company and the industry going through a very difficult time, no one has suggested cutting these kinds of expenses. They understand that if that needs to happen, we may as well just close the doors because if we don’t make our customers feel great about doing business with us, someone else will.
I think that in a lot of areas of
life, you really do get what you put in. A high paying job is definitely not
for everyone, because you will have no choice but to make it your top priority
in everything you do. I went into that and several other drawbacks in Wednesday’s
post because I think it is very important to understand the reality of what you’re
getting into. But if you’re willing to pay the very high cost, a high paying
job will at least give you a lot back in return. I don’t know how long I will
dedicate my life to working this way. But the good news is that as time goes
on, because of the work I’ve already done and the way I’ve managed my money, I should
have an ever widening range of options available to me. Have a wonderful weekend!
“Clean your room.” Such a simple concept, but so chock full of brilliance. I wouldn’t call myself a Jordan Peterson disciple. While I regularly find myself almost wanting to scream “get to the damn point, man!”, I agree with him a lot of the time, especially when he’s talking about using personal responsibility and discipline to improve yourself and the world around you. But I can’t abide his stated view that this personal responsibility must also extend to having children and that it is impossible to reach self actualization without doing so.
First, I believe we already have plenty of people on this planet
to pose a serious threat to its continued support of us as a life form. The
changing of Earth’s climate at a more rapid pace than has ever been previously
recorded, war in all its forms, hatred, chronic and unnecessary freeloading,
and many other problems seem to be progressing well enough without the help of
even more people to further intensify the constant, and often brutal competition
for the limited available resources. So I’m not sure that more procreating is
the answer. Second, I believe one benefit of this sentience thing we’ve evolved
is that we can make lifestyle choices for reasons other than biological urges alone.
I wouldn’t begrudge anyone the right to have children, provided they have the resources
necessary to take care of them and the intention of doing so. But I feel I can
live a full, meaningful life and contribute almost anything I want to the world
around me without ever reproducing. I guess we’re going to find out in any
case. Frankly, my genetics seem to be average at best and ya’ll should probably
be thanking me. But I digress. The man has a lot of very important things to
say and “clean your room” is one of them. Why?
A lot of people dismiss Peterson’s call to action as too obvious
or not enough to move the needle. But that’s the point. It’s an easy step one.
Look around you, figure out a way you can make your surroundings better in
about ten minutes, and do it. I believe that is closer to the exact words he
used. And anyone who has ever dealt with depression understands exactly why we’re
starting small. Sometimes anything more seems like an unscalable mountain and
then the end result is the same inaction that has already been taking place. But
just clean up a little in the room you’re already sitting in? That seems pretty
A funny thing happens once you make that small improvement.
Even in the depths of whatever you’re going through, you suddenly feel
something different – a tiny sense of accomplishment. You took ten minutes you
could have wasted and instead, you used them to impact the world in a positive
way. Suddenly you notice something else that could use doing. It’ll take a
little longer than the first thing, but those first ten minutes didn’t turn out
to be a waste, so what the hell? Twenty minutes later, you look around your
home and realize you’re really getting somewhere. That feeling gets addictive
and before you know it, your whole house is clean and it didn’t take nearly as
long as you would have guessed from your favorite spot on the couch.
But this isn’t just for people who have let things go a
little at home. You can apply this concept to any part of your life. Let’s say
your career seems to be going nowhere. You would love to take the next step in
your career, but it would require you to go back to school and finish your
degree, plus putting in a bunch of overtime, plus the position you want isn’t
even open at your company. That is a big pile of obstacles and if you only look
at it that way, you might rot in your crappy job for the rest of what will
likely be a pretty crappy life.
But then you remember “clean your room.” What if you just
went and asked the boss if there is anything extra you could do to help out? It
would be a simple enough conversation and there is almost no chance of an
adverse result, so you give it a try. The boss gives you some extra grunt work
and you do it. You realize it wasn’t so bad and it actually made the day go by
just a little quicker. So you do the same thing the next day. And the next.
Eventually, the extra grunt work turns into something a little more
challenging. You find yourself learning a new skill. Once again, it isn’t so
bad and this time you even enjoy yourself a little. Fast forward a few months
and the guy in the job above you leaves. Your boss approaches you about taking
over the job. Sure, you would have to take some classes, but it turns out the
company has a tuition reimbursement program and some of the classes can even be
done on your lunch hour. Now you’re getting somewhere. But it never would have
happened if you didn’t take that simple first step and discover in the process
that it was easier than you thought.
Regardless of what you think of him, it is pretty
indisputable that Jordan Peterson is a very well read, insightful man. He doesn’t
just understand psychology, he knows how to apply it to your life effectively.
I believe just about anyone could learn something from him. Yes, he is long
winded and meandering at times. And yes, his voice might sound just a little
like that of Kermit the Frog. But I’ve learned that valuable information can
come from just about anywhere. And it can certainly come from this somehow
controversial Canadian gentleman. It has for me in any case. If you’re
struggling to get things moving in the right direction in your life, you may
want to check him out and actually listen to what he says. You may be surprised.
I’m pretty sick of the superhero trend in Hollywood. But over the last decade or so, one particular franchise was the exception to that. Ok, two if you count Deadpool; but I would argue that those movies offer much more than just another superhero series. Anyway, when I saw The Dark Knight Rises in 2012, I went in expecting a crescendo from a trilogy that had started off strong with Batman Begins, and then taken a giant leap forward from there with The Dark Knight. Sadly, I came away bitterly disappointed. However, while there is no denying that the movie was a step backwards from the Dark Knight, and possibly from Batman Begins as well, a subsequent viewing convinced me that my initial expectations for it had been unreasonable and left me feeling that it was a much worse movie than it actually was. Today I believe it was an overall solid movie with moderate plot problems that relied excessively on Michael Bay-esque large scale destruction in a flailing effort to emerge from the giant shadow its predecessor cast over it. And also, that it has more to say than I had given it credit for at first.
Early in the movie, as he squares off with Batman for the
first time, Bane tells Batman that “Peace has cost you your strength; victory
has defeated you.” He then proceeds to toy with his clearly overmatched
opponent until he gets bored and finishes the fight, pounding Batman until his
mask literally breaks and finally, lifting him over his head and cracking him over
his knee. Unrealistic? Yes. Brutal, visceral entertainment that culminates with
shuddering on the part of any audience member who has ever dealt with back
pain? Also yes. But the red meat of the fight is in Bane’s quote. It would
appear that life has been pretty comfortable for the caped crusader since the
events of The Dark Knight. But that comfort costs him the ass kicking of a
lifetime at the hands of Bane.
Fast forward to the near the end of the movie – before the
plot REALLY falls apart – to Batman’s second fight with Bane. This time, the
preparation has been anything but comfortable; in fact, it nearly broke him.
But as a result, he has come back much stronger than he was at the beginning of
the movie. Admittedly, he gets a little lucky in this fight when Bane’s mask,
which appears to be necessary for him to breathe, breaks. One does wonder how
that never happened in the first fight, given that Batman landed several
uncontested punches to Bane’s face in that one as well. But Hollywood magic
aside, Batman soundly defeats Bane in their rematch, if not quite as
dramatically as Bane won the first fight. This is not an uncommon lesson in
stories, but I chose this as an example because I love the way Bane articulated
Life has a way of putting us in uncomfortable situations.
But with the proper mindset and work ethic, we can turn these difficult
circumstances into gifts for our future selves. Growing up, I mostly lived with
scarce resources. This discomfort led me to learn everything I could about
money so I would never have to face those conditions again and today, it looks
very unlikely that I ever will. Fast forward to my MMA training. Early on, I
distinctly remember having my ass handed to me many times by smaller, physically
weaker men who had gone through countless hours of hell learning their
techniques. Going through that myself made me a much more capable fighter –
both physically and mentally. Later in life, I lost my wife in an excruciating
manner. I have heard plenty of people say that a divorce is significantly more
difficult to get through than the death of a spouse and while I acknowledge I
have only experienced the former, I would still tend to believe that is true.
It was a severe, complicated form of pain and it went on for the better part of
a year. But that terrible sequence of events motivated me to reevaluate
everything about my life and change most of it, and I am now immeasurably
better off for having gone through it.
But when life isn’t putting us on our asses, sometimes that
can be more problematic. Just like Batman, if we aren’t challenged, we atrophy.
Recently I was reminded of this when I began the process of learning to fly. I
challenge myself as often as possible whether it be in the gym, in doing a very
difficult job, in learning how to run my side business on the fly, in reading
about new things daily, practicing Spanish and German, etc. But I have been working
on most of those things for a long time now and while I’m certainly not an
expert in any of them, I’m far from that day one ass kicking experience in all
of them. I may be improving, but nothing is forcing me outside of my comfort
zone. But being handed the controls to a small airplane fixed that. Within
seconds, it became very obvious to me that I knew absolutely nothing in that
context. It was a feeling I hadn’t experienced for a while.
Part of being older and wiser is being excited and thankful
for that feeling and that is how I feel now. There is a profound happiness in
admitting your beginner status because it means you’re in the best position to
learn as much as possible, as quickly as possible. Life puts us there fairly
often, but I don’t think that’s quite enough. I believe we should continuously
be actively looking for opportunities to be humbled. If something is too easy,
then it simply isn’t enough of a challenge to facilitate the dramatic growth we
should be seeking out each and every day. So today, I encourage each and every
one of you to go find something that will knock you on your ass. Then, work at
it. Stick with it and get better. I believe that is the best way to grow.
There is no denying it; a good diet is key to both physical and mental health. For years I fought against that concept, insistent that if I worked long and hard enough in the gym, I could “have my cake and eat it too.” And while I was successful at staying in above average physical shape that way, I ran into two problems. First, I could never completely outwork an overindulgent diet. The only way I have ever gone from good shape to great is by being disciplined about what I eat and when. Second, as I’ve gotten older (I’m in my early thirties now), the degree of difficulty has increased. Dietary sins I could easily have shrugged off in my early to mid twenties result in significant punishment today – both in my appearance and in the way I feel.
In my experience, eating enough good stuff isn’t too
difficult. I love eating protein so getting enough of that is easy, although I
mostly stick to chicken and fish with beef being an occasional treat. I force
two to three servings of fruit and three or more servings of vegetables down my
throat each day in the form of green smoothies in the mornings and evenings.
From there, I just make sure there is some sort of vegetable element included
with most meals and I have that covered. I make sure to get a moderate amount
of decent quality carbohydrates, which is easy since I enjoy them. Making
things as automatic as possible and minimizing the number of decisions I have
to make helps me to maintain a solid baseline diet.
But one area has always been a thorn in my side. I love junk
food. And I’m not one of those people who has only a sweet tooth or only likes
salty/savory snacks. I’m an all of the above kind of guy, and a gluttonous one
at that. So I want to talk about what I’ve done to combat that – what has worked,
what hasn’t, and what I’ve learned from it. It probably won’t all apply to you
but if any of it gives you an idea that helps, then I consider this post a
success. So in no particular order, here we go.
1. Some things have
I loved soda (that’s “cokes” for my native Texan friends) as
a kid. Thankfully, I wasn’t allowed to have it at home very often but when I
was out of the house – hanging out with friends, for example – I went to town!
I distinctly remember being “up north” (a Wisconsin term to describe “vacationing”
in an even colder, more economically challenged place than your actual home,
which is more than likely easily characterized by both of those already) as a
young lad with some relatives when I consumed five sodas in a single day and
wound up throwing up multiple times that night. I loved the stuff. But in my
early twenties, I learned that it’s basically poison and almost immediately, I simply
stopped drinking it. At no point have I felt any urge to “relapse” and as a
result, I haven’t had any soda in a very long time. I’m almost exclusively a
beer or wine guy when it comes to alcohol, so no, not even in mixed drinks. I
have absolutely no idea why this was so easy for me but sadly, that hasn’t been
the case with other forms of junk food.
2. Moderation has not
been a successful approach at home.
Over the years, no matter what I’ve told myself, I’ve
learned I simply can’t keep junk food at home. I’ve tried everything I can
think of and the result is always the same; I start with the best of intentions
(I will make this last two weeks…), then make little bargains with myself (I
will eat tomorrow’s allotment today, but then NONE tomorrow), then break them
in favor of other less restrictive ones (It’s football season – I’ll eat the
rest of this bag this weekend, but then I won’t open another until next
weekend), until finally, I simply accept reality and wolf down whatever is
left, swearing to never buy it again. The take away here is pretty simple; I
don’t keep junk food at home. Lack of access has proven very effective.
3. Associations can
I don’t believe in drinking milk. At all. I wish I had known
what I know now as a child when I guzzled it like water. Clearly my Mother hadn’t
done as much research on milk as she had on soda; or perhaps the science hadn’t
gotten as far with one as it had with the other. But live and learn. Anyway, at
one time, my ultimate junk food weakness was Oreo’s – a product (note, I didn’t
even use the word food) that requires milk in order to be enjoyed properly. It
was very rare for a package of those evil things to last three days. If I was
doing well, I could limit myself to a single ROW at a time. And I didn’t often
do well. Thankfully, when I stopped drinking milk, Oreo’s no longer did it for
me. I even tried once but without milk, it was like going to the beach without
it being warm outside. It just didn’t make sense. So in that case, cutting out
one bad thing made it much easier to cut out another. This is a concept that
could probably be useful elsewhere…
4. There are
definitely degrees of bad choices when it comes to lunch options and my body
knows the truth.
As an outside sales rep, restaurant lunches are a reality of
life. This was before my working days, but I went to a McDonald’s in 2010 for
the first time in many years. I was involved in a big group activity, we were
in a hurry for lunch, I was not in charge of the group’s decisions, apparently
there was no decent alternative anywhere in the vicinity, there was peer
pressure, etc. It happened, and I paid the price. Almost immediately, I felt
like my stomach was going to explode. And it lasted for the rest of the day
until I gave in, went to the bathroom, and threw up. I didn’t have to try to do
that so much as I just had to stop preventing it from happening. My body’s
tolerance for the purest form of garbage food had been gone for some time.
Today, all I can think of when I see those golden arches is that experience and
I have not repeated that mistake again.
I do go to fast food restaurants sometimes, but only if they
serve some form of actual food. For example, I go to Chick Fil A and get just
about any of the entrees, a large superfood side salad, medium fries, and
water. That’s a pretty decent meal for a hungry, athletic man. If I want a
burger, I go to a place where they cost around ten bucks but you get actual
meat. Five Guys used to be a good example, although based on the last few times
I’ve visited, it seems like they’re going downhill. Also, Five Guys is
definitely a bulking phase only restaurant and even then I only order the small
versions of everything. I enjoy the abundance of quality fast casual options
here in Houston which, again, serve mostly real food. Or I go to any of a
handful of good sub shops – or if there are no good sub shops around, I resolve
to plan my day better, sigh, and go to Subway. Every now and again, I will go
to Freddy’s and splurge big time. If you’re not familiar with Freddy’s, you’re
both missing out and lucky at the same time. I fully prepare for a rough
afternoon on those days (although still not McDonald’s rough), but Freddy’s is
5. A balanced
approach works best for me – but again, not in the house!
Lately I’ve settled into a system that seems to work pretty well. I have a good “base” diet that covers the important things as I described in the second paragraph of this post. I eat in around a ten hour window, which is a relaxed version of an experiment I tried that was way too effective at weight management for a guy that looks and feels best carrying some extra muscle and is willing to sacrifice the exposed six pack look to do it. Seriously, if you want to maintain an extremely low fat/low weight build, this is almost definitely one way to accomplish it. From there, I enjoy life without letting things go off the rails. I get myself a coffee in the lobby of my apartment at least once a day (free and great quality – just one of the many perks of living where I do) and if I want to also indulge in one of the cookies they regularly have out, I do. Same goes for Costco samples. As long as it’s not IN my home, it doesn’t become excessive.
I generally eat nutritionally decent, but enjoyable food,
but I do allow myself a single cheat meal per week, complete with the happy
ending. No, I’m not talking massage parlors, you degenerates. I haven’t had to
pay for that stuff…yet. I’m talking dessert. For a guy in his early thirties
that spends a lot of time in the gym and wants to look like it, but also wants
a little of what Joe Rogan, a man I actually couldn’t stand as an MMA hype man
but love as a podcast host, regularly refers to as “mouth candy,” it works. For
now. But keep in mind that things are significantly more difficult for me today
than they were five years ago and five years from now, I will probably have to
re-balance what I’m doing to adapt to the continuation of that trend. Whatever
happens, I will try to maintain some food related enjoyment, even as it will
almost certainly dwindle closer and closer to none.
Anyone who knows me, or who has been reading this blog for a while, knows that I was divorced in 2016 and that while I was about as devastated as humanly possible at the time, I have since come to view it as one of the best things that has ever happened to me. No, that’s not a vindictive swipe at my ex-wife, who I still believe was (and likely still is) a very admirable and impressive woman in most ways. We are all flawed; she has things to work on just as I do. Anyway, without the inherent compromise of that relationship influencing things, my circumstances have since changed dramatically, in ways they likely never would have otherwise, and I have grown immensely in the process. Terribly heart wrenching sequence of events? Absolutely. Wonderful, life changing blessing? Also absolutely. Very few incredibly valuable lessons come cheap.
Recently I’ve had another apparent setback in the form of learning my days in my current job are numbered. Given that I mostly love it and regard it as by far the best job I’ve had to date, that could have been a devastating blow. But it didn’t hit me that way – not even when I first found out. And given what I’ve learned in recent years, I believe I’ve reacted correctly. Almost every time I’ve been knocked off course in life, I’ve soon found myself on a more productive one, and have usually enjoyed significant personal growth for having been through the experience as a bonus. I fully expect that this time will yield the same result and I firmly believe I’ll be writing a triumphant, ecstatic post about that in the coming weeks.
This got me thinking back to earlier parts of my life. For
example, early in my grade school years, as most young lads do, I began to
realize I was fascinated with certain aspects of women. Our school was small
but there were a few young ladies I took a private interest in. At the time, I
would have been thrilled if one of them had displayed a reciprocal interest in
me – even if I didn’t understand exactly why I felt that way quite yet. But I
was a shy, skinny kid with an acne problem and it didn’t happen. At the time, I
thought that sucked. But thanks to the mixed blessing of Facebook, I’ve observed
how time has treated most of them in the decades since. And you know what?
Every single one of the women I’ve dated or had any sort of fun with has been
substantially more attractive than the adult versions of any of the girls I
lusted after as a boy. If my wish had been granted and one of them had shown an
interest, who knows what would have happened? We may have turned into one of
those “first and only love” couples and I may have missed out on the company of
numerous much more attractive women – including ones I haven’t even met yet. My
past disappointment has turned to present gratitude, and even relief. And as a
side note, being a late bloomer rocks!
Fast forwarding to my graduation into the worst economy since the Great Depression, neither my then fiancé or I (yes, we did that way too young!) was able to get a good job. In fact, both of the jobs we did eventually manage to get were unfulfilling and paid around $20k a year less than the type of job a recent college graduate could expect to get in even a mediocre job market. However, we worked hard to differentiate ourselves, moved up steadily, and within only a handful of years, we both wound up making about double what great jobs would have paid had we been able to get them upon graduating – and with dramatic additional growth potential from there. Looking back, what if I had gotten that “good” job right off the bat? I see two likely outcomes. Instead of having a fire lit inside me, I probably would have gotten comfortable and even with better than average annual raises, today I would likely be making roughly half what I do now at best. And I definitely wouldn’t have benefited from the same “tough love” lessons that taught me how to not just stretch every dollar and save/invest the proceeds, but to do it almost effortlessly. I could literally have lost well over $100k of net worth in around half a decade if I had received the “good fortune” I wanted at the time.
You hear this plenty but I’m here to tell you that I’ve seen
it time and time again in my own life; if something doesn’t work out, something
better is probably going to happen instead. In this post, I’ve shared just a
few of my own examples. I’m sure if you look back at your past, you will find
some disappointments turned triumphs of your own. I’m personally not at the
point where bad news equals me being excited – yet. But if I can turn my recent
career setback into a substantial upgrade, as it looks like I very well may,
then the evidence supporting that mentality will be just about stacked to the
ceiling. We will all be knocked down in life. Part of being the man I want to
be involves viewing it as an opportunity, getting back up, and making something
amazing happen. Mentally, I’m working on making that process automatic. I
encourage all of you to do the same. Remember, successful people have bad days
too. But they know how to turn present pain into future success. And that is
what sets them apart from the herd.
Evening Folks! I owe you an apology for my recent unannounced disappearance. For the last few days, I’ve been moving from one apartment to another so my life has been more or less turmoil. Thankfully, I am comfortably situated in my new apartment now and so far, it is everything I had hoped it would be. But in retrospect, I should have posted something letting y’all know prior to the move. I’m still very new to the blogging thing but lesson learned. Anyway, I will resume normal posting (aiming for 3-4 posts per week) immediately. And today, I have a couple of observations from the last few days to point out.
My first observation is that most of the time, “if you want
something done right, you have to do it yourself.” Since I don’t have a truck
right now, since the quotes were surprisingly low, and yes, since I was feeling
lazy, I decided to hire a moving company for this move. It will probably be
both my first and last time doing that. My hope had been that I would get what
was advertised – experienced, hard working movers who would more or less take
care of everything from door to door, leaving me doing only the packing and
unpacking. The pricing structure was the same with every company I got a quote
from (and I only got them from highly rated companies) – a fixed trip charge of
$60-90 and an hourly rate of $90-100. The winning company quoted me two hours
and was on the low end with the trip charge, meaning I was looking at roughly
$250. For that price, I had thought why not? A Uhaul rental would cost me $100
or so when all was said and done and I don’t feel it would be right to ask
anyone to help me accomplish such a task without putting a Benjamin Franklin in
his pocket and a hearty lunch in his stomach – and that would have involved me
working too whereas this moving company didn’t just promise, but insisted, that
I wouldn’t be lifting a finger. So it seemed like a no brainer.
But you know what they say; hope for the best, plan for the worst.
Following that mantra, I had everything ready on moving day so that the movers
would have to do nothing but load, drive, and unload. I used my car to move a
large portion of my more fragile/valuable/smaller belongings in advance, I had
everything that was left in neatly stacked, organized boxes, and I had all my
furniture disassembled as necessary. And thank Jesus, Allah, Buddah, and anyone
else up there that I did!
Once the movers arrived on moving day, it didn’t take me
long to see I had been sold a bill of goods. The movers who showed up were not
the promised strapping workhorses, but a couple of twig limbed kids in their early
to mid twenties, neither of whom looked likely to score even a one on a 225
pound bench test. I hoped my assessment was wrong but sadly, it was not. One of
them was at least a halfway decent worker who seemed to know what he was doing.
The other was neither. As a result, much of what I witnessed appeared to be a training
session – and it was not going well. There was a lot of standing around waiting
for further instructions, a lot of “not like that, like THIS!”, and growing
anxiety on my part as I watched the clock race on and on with shockingly little
progress being made on the modest amount of stuff that needed to be taken and
loaded into the truck.
Foolishly taking the moving company at its word, I spent
most of the morning on the phone with customers, dealers, etc as the two
opportunistic young men milked the situation. At first, they would take a load
and be gone a reasonable ten minutes or so before returning for another. Then
the disappearances got longer. And longer. At one point I went the fifty or so
steps from my apartment to the loading dock to see what was going on. Both
movers were in the back of the truck doing who knows what and upon seeing me,
they got out and headed back towards the apartment. My second mistake, with the
first having been hiring them in the first place, was taking their
recommendation and working rather than escorting them on every single trip. I
suspect things would have gone according to plan if I had but since I didn’t,
we were well over the two quoted hours before they had even finished loading
When the truck was finally loaded, one of the movers
informed me that they would be stopping for lunch on the way but assured me
that I wouldn’t be charged for the time. After the spectacle I had witnessed
for the last three hours, I was skeptical at best. But what could I do at that
point? My stuff was in their truck and I was along for the ride at that point,
like it or not – and I wanted it to arrive safely on the other end. So I drove
to the new apartment and worked on getting the stuff I had already moved out of
the way so the additional stuff could be moved in as quickly as possible. Close
to an hour later, the truck showed up.
I watched the two gentlemen standing behind the truck
discussing something for about five minutes before I decided I’d had enough of
their game. Walking right past them, I opened the rear door of the truck and
started unloading my own stuff. When the one in charge objected, I explained in
no uncertain terms that we were already over an hour over the quoted amount of
time and that unless they were prepared to start deducting time, they were
going to have a new teammate for the remainder of this job. My tone and
expression likely made it abundantly clear that further objections would prove
futile so the three of us got to work. Unsurprisingly, it took only a half hour
to unload the truck and get the movers off the clock.
Clearly trying to take the edge off the situation, because
admittedly, I was PISSED and was making little effort to hide it by that point,
the lead mover “generously” deducted a half hour from the over four hours he
would otherwise have charged me for the no more than two hours of work that had
actually been done. As a man who has done my share of real work in life, I
couldn’t bring myself to totally stiff these two, even given the circumstances,
so I gave them each ten bucks. However, I also advised them that had the job
been completed as quoted, their tips would have been considerably more.
As I unwrapped/unpacked, I discovered the same little
mishaps that would have happened had I completed the job without hired help –
mostly little chips and scratches on furniture. Thankfully, most of these were
easily repairable with some buffing and the occasional use of a wood crayon
(seriously, if you have any chipped furniture, a wood crayon is a Godsend that will
almost effortlessly make those chips almost invisible to anyone who isn’t
looking for them!). I sent an email, complete with pictures, to the moving
company, describing the events of the day in detail and offering the
opportunity to respond before I went on a review writing campaign. I have not
received one to date. I will follow up with a call tomorrow and barring an
impressive act of after the fact customer service that would likely involve a significant
amount being refunded, I will be spending some time leaving two star reviews
(the job did eventually get done at least) with summarized versions of what I’ve
just written on every review site I can find these guys on. If it comes to
that, it will be part therapy and part public service.
But I wrote about it here to illustrate something important.
If it seems too good to be true, it almost always is. Even if the moving
service I received hadn’t come up abysmally short of what was promised, I still
would have done the majority of the work. In my opinion, the real work of
moving is the volume of packing – particularly those little, fragile things,
many of which reside in the kitchen. It is certainly the most time intensive
part. All told, best case scenario, the moving service could have done maybe a
quarter of the total work for me at best. And as I’ve described, my actual
experience was a far cry from an even acceptable scenario. Had I done things my
way (rented a Uhaul and paid someone a hundred bucks plus lunch for the small
portion I needed help with), I would have been out no more than $250 rather
than the over $400 I wound up paying for results that were most likely worse
than what I would have otherwise gotten. Slick sales pitches make outsourcing
seem like a no brainer but in reality, the end results rarely live up to them.
Maintenance/repairs on cars is another wonderful example of this concept. You
pay a substantial mark up on parts and usually around $100 an hour for often fairly
simple labor and the kicker is that by the time all is said and done, you’ve
been inconvenienced for just as long as it would have taken you to do the job
yourself in the first place. So rather than picking up the phone, roll up your
sleeves and get to work.
My second observation is hardly anything groundbreaking –
just something that grabbed my attention and forced me to think about something
important. I was at a presentation today that highlighted the outlook of a
particular company and provided an overview of the global economics of that
company’s industry in the process. It was a solid presentation but one
relatively minor point really struck me: 6000-30,000. One slide discussed the
rapidly expanding global middle class and in order to do so, it needed to
define things first. It defined a global middle class household as one with a US
dollar equivalent income of $6000-30,000 a year. I did some subsequent reading
and this appears to be right in line with most analysis that is done on the
subject. Almost everyone in that room was extremely wealthy by global
standards. Hell, there were interns present who probably make more than 30k a
Perspective is always valuable and so are reminders of
things we already know but have conveniently shoved to the back of our minds. Just
by living in the United States, we are already far better off than the vast
majority of people in the world. A good portion of the global middle class income
range is considered poverty level here. We’ve practically won the lottery just
by being born. By my calculations, there is only a roughly 4.3% chance (300
million divided by 7 billion) of that happening for any given person and it’s
actually lower than that if you factor in that tons of people had to emigrate
here. So the next time you’re frustrated about something, remember that if you
make over $30,000 a year, you are in the high income category from a global
perspective. You may not have things easy, but most people have them a hell of
a lot worse than you do.