Saturday, February 27, 2010
Friday, February 26, 2010
Posted: 17 Feb 2010 04:05 PM PST
After recently joining this site and reading the post on 45 Manly Hobbies, I was pleased to see that magic was included in the list. I have been performing magic since the age of 16 (I’m now 24) and have experimented with many different tricks.
For guys who want to get started in this hobby or who just want to learn a few tricks to impress their friends, I have compiled this short list of 5 things every magician should have. The magic market is huge nowadays, and it could be quite intimidating for a beginner to know where to start. So I have picked these props with the following criteria in mind:
- Easy to learn and perform.
- Costs less than $10.
- Strong magic that I have performed and is in the routines of working professionals the world over.
1. Bicycle Playing Cards
Bicycles are the standard magicians’ cards. Most guys will already have some of these at home due to their popularity and use in card games. They are used by a vast number of magicians for the following reasons:
- They are amazingly durable. Bikes are quite tough and last for ages through both practice and performance. For example, I bought a brick of 12 last Christmas (2008), and I just used the last pack for a gig in December. Excellent value for the money.
- They handle wonderfully! Bikes (and most of the lines carried by the United States Playing Card Company) are famous for their finish which makes them very easy to handle, spread, fan, flourish, shuffle and just about everything else a magician could need to do with them!
- They look great. The standard back and box design are both excellent, and there are several tricks which are based on the markings on a deck of Bikes. There are also a wide range of styles available and the guys at the USPCC, working with other companies, keep bringing out interesting new designs, including “vintage” ones that look old, striking red ones, and “arcane” ones made just for magicians.
- They are cheap. Even in the UK where we get them imported, we can get a box of 12 for about £10 in the local wholesalers.
2. Karl Fulves’ Self-Working Card Magic (Book)
The definition of a “self-working” magic trick is one that does not require any sleight of hand or other skill on the part of the magician but works due to a mathematical principle, stacked deck, key card or other principle.
Whilst I do recommend that all magicians learn some basic sleight of hand, self-working tricks are a great place to start for beginners and will let them get out and perform as soon as possible. Even the best professionals in the world use some self-working magic.
This book was my first magic book and is still a trusty source of inspiration. Fulves offers a range of tricks including coincidences, predictions and gambling swindles. All are presented in a clear and accessible way that is excellently illustrated by Joseph K. Schmidt.
3. Sponge Balls
Sponge balls are an absolute, dyed-in-the-wool classic of magic that a vast amount of working professionals utilize every night (such as this performance by Wayne Dobson at the Royal Variety Show, starting at 1min 49 seconds).
This video shows the basic idea of the routine: a ball vanishes from the magician’s hand and ends up in the spectator’s. There is (as you can imagine) plenty of gags you can throw in here and plenty of other moves to spice up the routine. This does require a bit of sleight of hand, but it isn’t too difficult, and the payoff is well worth the work. This is a staple of my professional routine.
The best ones to buy are Goshman sponges which come in a range of colours and sizes.
4. The Invisible Deck
(There’s a picture of an invisible deck here-you just can’t see it.)
The Invisible Deck is one of the strongest, most mind bendingly amazing tricks you can possibly do. The effect goes something like this. You offer the spectator an invisible deck of cards, get them to choose one, remember it and put it back in upside down so it is the only card facing the other way. You then take a real deck of cards out of your pocket, fan them out and there is one card upside down! Shock! Horror! They slowly look at the card, and it is their card! You can then pick the spectator up off the floor.
This is an amazing trick that works on a devilishly simple principle the audience will never realize. It takes a bit of memorization and performance to pull it off, but no sleight of hand as such. You could quite easily perform this on the same day you get it. It has never let me down.
5. Color Monte
Color Monte is an ideal trick to carry in your wallet for performing at a moment’s notice as it only comprises 3 cards! However, the amount of magic you squeeze out of these cards is incredible. It is a gambling trick similar to “find the lady” where you challenge a person to find a money card. The spectator, however, can never find the money card no matter how easy you try to make it! This all leads up to a killer twist in the tale which will leave the audience stunned.
This probably requires the most practice out of all of the effects but the sleights that you learn will come in handy with plenty of other tricks. The excellent story and portability earns the color monte the final slot in this list.DownloadThe Art of Manliness Free Man Cookbook
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Thursday, February 25, 2010
Wednesday, February 24, 2010
Posted: 10 Feb 2009 04:55 PM PSTI don’t know about you, but in my own professional life I often get so bogged down with the details of my daily work that I forget – or I ‘don’t have time’ – to sit back and widen my vision, to fly up and take a bird’s eye view of the whole landscape. Being in the thick of it all, I often don’t see the wood for the trees. In fact, the very idea of ‘sitting back’ and looking at the bigger picture somehow seems like laziness – shouldn’t I be working, doing something, being productive, not just floating around watching while everyone else gets on with things?
I am going to suggest that this attitude is quite wrong and that we should, in fact, be habitually taking in the bigger view, surveying the entire terrain of our lives and our world. If we don’t do this, we run the risk of being reduced to machines, trudging along, doing what we do without really thinking about why.
I suggest that coming up with a mission statement can, as part of a package of changes, be a very effective way of bringing more meaning and happiness into your life.
Most individuals don’t have a mission statement. They don’t have a clear idea of where they are going in life; they don’t know what they want to achieve. They just drift along, year after year, decade after decade. Most people live like that and they die like that. Napoleon Hill, in his famous book Think and Grow Rich, wrote that most people did not have a goal, did not now where they were going. He also presented a six step plan by which anyone could achieve financial success. If you want to find out about the plan, it’s presented in chapter 2 of the book, but the key element in the plan is that a clear statement of purpose, and a mission statement, can be a powerful way of achieving this.
A mission statement, however, cannot just be thrown together. It needs to be carefully crafted. Here are the elements of a good mission statement.
- Your goals should be specific and clear
What are your values? What do you stand for? What are you going to achieve? What are you going to contribute to the world? This isn’t about what you want to achieve – it’s not a wish list; it’s a definite statement of intent, it’s your ‘order’ from the menu of the universe, it’s what is going to happen. When you start to get bogged down in the details of daily life, think back to your mission statement – it will act as a compass to keep you on track; your decisions and actions will be guided by it. In this sense, it provides you with a wide angle lens through which you can keep the bigger picture in view.
- Your goals do not need to be (SHOULD not be) ‘realistic’ or ‘attainable’
We’ve all heard about ‘SMART’ targets which have to be measurable, realistic etc., etc. The point here is that the universe can do anything, however unbelievable or ‘unrealistic’ it is.
It should indicate how you are going to achieve your goals – this does not contradict the previous statement. You must not include a specific, detailed plan, but a statement about what you are going to offer in exchange for meeting your goal. For example, your goal is to be the best sales person in your company – you will achieve this goal by giving outstanding service to every customer. There’s nothing here about sales targets, how many clients you need to see, how many sales you need to make etc. Once you have written down the ‘how’ in general terms, the universe will do the rest.
- It should be short
Some organizations produce long rambling mission statements which nobody ever reads! Napoleon Hill suggests you read through your ‘mission statement’ every morning and evening; you’re not going to do this if it’s going to take twenty minutes. And the ideas aren’t going to be as powerful if they’re not focused. So keep it short, focused and powerful, like a laser beam.
- It should make you feel good
If you know where you’re going, you’ll live a life of eager anticipation and joy. Just as if you are sailing somewhere on a ship – you know you’ll get to your destination and in the meantime you’re enjoying the view. This attitude of anticipating a future you have already chosen (you bought the ticket, you got on the ship, the ship’s moving) whilst living in the present moment (you’re looking out at a wonderful sunrise, enjoying the view) is, to me, the only sensible way to live.
Your life is like a ship – of course, you need a crew, busily working away to keep afloat and keep moving, but even more importantly, you need a map, you need a compass and you need a captain. Without them, your ship just won’t get anywhere.
Tuesday, February 23, 2010
Posted: 17 Feb 2010 09:42 PM PST
Editor’s note: This is a guest post from Joel Ohman.
From early adventure seekers trekking through the Wild West to strike it rich to modern day Web 2.0 startup founders, there is something almost inherently manly about the urge to start a business and especially to start a business with next to nothing in your pocket. Yes, it’s perfectly fine to work for “the man” and never even peek your head outside of your cubicle, but I would venture that we all have heard that little voice inside tell us at least once in our lives to “Grow a little hair on your chest! You should be ‘the man’ – you’re better than your boss,” right? Before you think that you need to drain your bank account, beg your family and friends for seed money, or rob a bank to make your dreams of starting your own business a reality, let’s take a look at some different practical tips for starting a business even with limited financial resources.
Legalese & Logos: Skip It!
Probably the biggest hang up for many aspiring entrepreneurs is that they get so caught up with “normal” business startup things like incorporating/forming an LLC, deciding on a company name, choosing a logo, renting an office, purchasing business insurance, etc. that they waste all of their precious startup capital and time setting up a creature that looks just like a business, but the animal has no life because they didn’t devote any time to the primary business model. Would you rather have a feisty, angry, ornery, and growing bear cub or a stuffed grizzly bear posed stationary by the fireplace?
If you have a limited budget, please do yourself a favor and commit to building out the primary business model instead of spending all of your time doing taxidermy to make your business look like its large and in charge. This may sound like heresy as “normal” business startup things are indeed important things to consider, but when you’re just starting out with a very limited budget–skip it!
Forget about spending valuable time and money trying to decide whether you should form your business as an LLC, C Corporation, S Corporation, LLC Envelope, Partnership, etc. and just start working on your business immediately. There are many reasons why forming a business entity is a smart idea, but there is certainly no formal requirement for you to do so. You can simply start your business 30 seconds from now; in the absence of any kind of formal business entity, it will just be labeled a sole proprietorship for tax purposes.
The same also goes for renting office space, designing business cards, taking out an ad in the yellow pages, etc. Countless new entrepreneurs have wasted cash by the bucketful by paying money for all of the stuff that “normal” businesses do without even bothering to consider if any of those options have a positive ROI for their business.
Do you want to rent office space so that you will feel better about explaining your new business venture to friends and family? (Wow, he must be doing well!) If you can accomplish the same things for a lot less money with a home office then why not do it? Throw out all of your preconceived notions about what a business “should” look like to people and concentrate on the primary functions of your business in the beginning.
Accountants will spend weeks getting their accounting system set up just right, graphic designers will spend weeks on designing the perfect logo, computer programmers will spend weeks coding and endlessly tweaking their website, etc. Just STOP! Ignore all of the periphery and concentrate on only doing the primary focus of your business model so that you can get money in the door and test out the soundness of your business idea for as little start up cash as possible.
Choose Your Niche Carefully
If you are looking for some unbridled optimism and a big rainbow coated, sparkly, you-can-do-anything speech about your new business idea, then look elsewhere because you ain’t gonna find it here. There are certain constraints that a lack of money will place on the types of businesses that you will be able to start, BUT all that means is that you will have to really focus on the kinds of niches that will make sense for your limited budget.
Any type of business that is heavily capital intensive is probably a no-go. If your business requires a large factory, lots of expensive equipment, and a large labor force right from the get-go then you should probably head back to the drawing board for a different business idea. However, the great thing about starting a business in 2010 is that for less than it costs to buy a new Blu-Ray player, you can have all of the startup money you need to start a number of top notch business ideas – especially businesses that are online based.
In years past, if you didn’t have money to pay for office space right smack dab on Main Street, or in more recent years, if you didn’t have money to buy a load of advertising in the Yellow Pages, then you were flat out of luck because you may have had a small business but none of your customers were ever going to even find out about you. The beauty of starting a business today is that within minutes of setting up your own website or blog you can be interacting with potential customers and selling your products or services online to people all over the world. Which brings us to the next very important point: it’s going take a lot of hard work.
No Money? You Better Be Able to Work Hard
You can start a very successful business without having a lot of startup money. You can start a very successful business without being a super hard worker. You can be successful without having one of those things but not both. With the exception of the ultra-skillful, natural born geniuses, if you want your business to be a success and you don’t have a lot of start up cash, then it is absolutely essential that you have a very strong work ethic (Free Hint of the Day: if you have to ask yourself right now if you deserve to fall into the genius category then the answer is that you don’t ).
It won’t always be easy to lift yourself up by your own bootstraps and soldier on even when you feel as if you are not seeing results as quickly as you would like, but power through “The Dip”and you might just be surprised at how rich the vein of gold is that you strike.
Namby pamby’s who whine because they just got home from working a 10 hour day at the office for their “day job” and would rather watch American Idol than work on their startup business will likely fail. Don’t be that namby pamby.
Practical Options for Getting Off the Ground
If have a limited budget, are already convinced that you are in the right business niche, and you know that you are committed to working long hard hours on your business, then here are some practical options that you should consider exploring as you move forward with your startup idea:
“Double Up” – This is a sound risk management strategy and is efficient as a very economical business startup option as well. “Doubling Up” simply means that if you’re already working at a “J-O-B” (as many entrepreneurs and would be entrepreneurs call the idea of working for someone else) then continue to work in your job but tack on the extra career of starting your business on the side. Yes, your family time, recreation time, personal time, and maybe even personal hygiene time will suffer the consequences, but the two enormous advantages to starting a business with the “Double Up” strategy is that you have a steady stream of income flowing in from your day job, and you get the opportunity to test out your business idea in a risk efficient way to see if it’s a winner.
“Partner Up” – If you have a good business idea and no money, then a great business partner for you could potentially be someone with a lot of money and an interest in starting (or just financing) a new business. How do you find these types of people you say? If your new business idea is in the same industry as your current career then you may already have some existing contacts that have the funds, the desire, and even more importantly, the know-how to evaluate your business idea and potentially even offer more than just financial help. If you do not have any existing contacts in your industry, then barring a rich uncle that you are on good terms with, your best bet is likely to seek out an audience with local angel investor clubs, other local business people, or the big boys from the venture capital firms.
“Charge Up” – If you ask very successful entrepreneurs how they financed the beginnings of their businesses, the majority will tell you that they used personal credit cards and not a more traditional source of “big business” funds like a bank loan, angel investment, or venture capital cash infusion. In fact, according to the Kauffman Foundation, the percentage of one person startups that used credit cards to finance their new business was 60.8%. Am I saying that using a credit card to finance your business startup costs is a smart idea? For most people the answer is a resounding “No.” However, almost every Fortune 500 company uses some sort of debt to leverage and accelerate their growth, and if your business model is sound, and your startup’s ROI is high enough, then maybe a low interest rate credit cardcould be an option to consider as a last resort source of seed money.
Top 10 Money Saving Business Startup Action Items
- If you absolutely must form a business entity right away, then use mycorporation.com as they offer free basic document filing to form your LLC or corporation (but you will have to pay any fees due to the state).
- Apply for an Employer Identification Number (EIN) yourself in just a few minutes using the IRS EIN online application (mycorporation.com, CPA’s, and others charge upwards of $100 to do what you could do in 5 minutes).
- Pass on buying expensive accounting software and opt to use QuickBooks Online(starts at $9.95/month), FreshBooks (basic account is free), or GnuCash (open source and 100% free) instead.>
- Read the 25 rules for choosing a domain name and then buy a cheap domain name at GoDaddy(do a Google search for “GoDaddy coupon code” right before you buy).
- If you have left your job and are currently paying for COBRA health insurance then shop around and compare some of the various individual health insurance providers to see if you can find a cheaper plan (COBRA is usually quite pricey compared to an individual health plan purchased on the open market).
- If your business requires a logo right away, then make your own logo at LogoYes.com(starting at $69) or hold a logo design competition at 99Designs.com.
- If you need to accept credit cards then try PayPal or Google Checkout instead of paying for a pricier merchant account.
- Get 250 free business cards at Vista Print.
- Get reliable shared web hosting with a free one click installation of WordPress at HostGator.com (plans start at $4.95/month).
- Get free conference calling at FreeConferenceCall.com
Taking the Plunge
If you are waiting for the stars to align, the winning lottery ticket to fall into your lap, or others to create your destiny for you, then you will likely end up 25 years from now in the same place as you are right now. There are always a thousand and one different reasons that can flood through your mind and tell you to just play it safe and ignore that entrepreneurial urge inside of you to start your own business. Don’t let a lack of money be one of those reasons.
About the Author: Joel Ohman is a Certified Financial Planner™ with an entrepreneurial bent. He owns 4 companies and is currently working on a number of different web related projects including consumer comparison websites for credit cards and car insurance.DownloadThe Art of Manliness Free Man Cookbook
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Monday, February 22, 2010
In the sales and advertising world, we learn that the buyer needs to understand WIIFM. That stands for:
Sometimes the ME part of that equation gets a bit out of whack. The ME could be your ego, your inner self, your soul, even your spirit. Sometimes we need to prop ourselves up, other times, we need to be more humble.
Be true to yourself.
Step outside of yourself.
I find my value in what my Creator sees when He sees me. Which is both an imperfect sinner, and also someone worth dying for. That is the tremendous balance that comes from my Christian faith. It is humbling, and edifying at the same time.
On a personal and business level, I am sometimes amazed and humbled at the same time.
Every month I receive numerous invitations to speak, teach, write, and guide people in the areas of advertising, marketing and now the subject of social media.
I know there are others that can do the grunt work better than me. I also know that I am better than many of them at looking at the Big Picture and Little Details.
Life is fun. Life is a challenge. It is both and much more. One of the keys is a balance which I strive for.
Saturday I was cleaning out emails and found this piece from the DLM blog which inspired everything you've read so far:
Posted: 19 Feb 2010 07:01 AM PSTA beggar falls asleep in a drunken stupor by the side of the road. A short while later, the lord of the manor passes by with his retinue and, seeing the beggar, decides to amuse himself by playing a trick. The lord has his servants carry the beggar to the manor house, taking great care not to wake him. They place him in a an enormous bed in an elaborately decorated bedroom, have fine food and drink prepared for him and then stand by the bedside, waiting for the beggar to wake up. When he does so, he is amazed to see his surroundings and asks where he is. The servants tell him that he is, in fact, the lord of the manor, and has been suffering from a fever during which he deliriously ranted about being a drunken beggar. At first, he protests, but the servants are astonished when he soon accepts their story and starts ordering them around. He even commands them to put on a play to lift his spirits after his terrible ordeal. So begins Shakespeare’s play, The Taming of the Shrew. The beggar, Christopher Sly, is a fool, of course, for being so credulous. But Shakespeare’s ridiculous character has lessons for us all.
It was, until quite recently, relatively difficult to move up from the financial and social situation into which you are born. Now, opportunities are more forthcoming, and it is not uncommon for people to become significantly wealthier or more successful than their parents or grandparents. But herein lies a danger. We can start to define our self worth – and that of others – by external things: money, possessions, success, academic qualifications, even the attractiveness of a partner.
This narcissism can lead the modern Christopher Sly into a life without center, shallow and egotistical. Consumerism, capitalism – not bad in themselves – can lead the unwary into dangerous waters. How can we navigate through?
- Remember that life is fragile and can end at any moment.
How many people have died since you started reading this article? There is an ancient Indian form of meditation where monks observe corpses and contemplate on the fleeting and uncertain nature of life. Remembering our own mortality can keep things in perspective.
- Stop making distinctions between people.
Lord of the manner or beggar, we all have intrinsic value. When you start making distinctions between the value of people based on externals, there is no end to the categories you can invent, and this can be a dangerous game, as the bloody history of the twentieth century showed.
- Don’t take yourself too seriously.
In a sense, all life is a game. The ancient Indian spiritual texts describe the whole universe as the play of Brahman, God playing with God in myriad forms, as you and me, beggars and lords of the manner. To quote the bard, ‘All the world's a stage, And all the men and women merely players.’
- Consider that the true meaning of life is to give service.
The external trappings may come, but if you can be of service, then you will find your center. Einstein noticed this when he wrote, ‘Only a life lived for others is a life worth while.’
Without a true appreciation that external things, valuable and enjoyable though they are, have no fundamental meaning, we can find ourselves adrift and, in the end, alone. Let’s take a lesson from Christopher Sly.
Sunday, February 21, 2010
Now that we're grown ups and working 9 to 5, and then some, what are you doing for lunch tomorrow? Here's a few ideas from the DLM Blog:
Posted: 18 Feb 2010 03:59 AM PST
How do you normally spend your lunch hour? Wait, let’s back up a bit: do you even take a lunch hour? A lot of us end up grabbing a sandwich at our desks, checking emails or maybe surfing the net a bit during our lunch break. Often, the best-case scenario sees us in a staff canteen or at a local sandwich shop with friends.
It’s easy to treat the lunch hour as dead time in your day – or as an opportunity to catch up with an overflowing inbox or to-do list. But treating your lunch hour well means setting yourself up for success in the rest of the day – and potentially your life.
- Make it a Full Hour
When I was a teen, I had the occasional “free period” in school – an hour with no classes. I was always amazed at how much homework I could get through then, compared with at home. An hour is a great length of time to focus on something: long enough to get into it, not so long that your attention starts wandering.
A great first step to making the most of your lunch hour is to actually take that full hour. This is easier in an office environment where others do too, but you can always start a new trend! If you really want people to respect your time and avoid interrupting you with work matters while you’re having your lunch break, then get as far from your desk as possible – head to the break room, the canteen or lobby, or right out of your building.
- Think About Your Lunch
Now, although you’re unlikely to spend a whole hour actually eating lunch, it’s called a “lunch” hour for a reason. The food you put into your body in the middle of the day is your fuel for the afternoon. If you find yourself feeling sleepy or lethargic mid-afternoon, there’s a good chance it’s to do with what you’re eating.
You don’t need to be a nutritional expert to eat well at lunch. Focus on these key basics:
- Eat a lighter lunch if you want to be more alert in the afternoon (and have a small snack two – three hours after lunch)
- Avoid alcohol at lunch time – even a single beer or glass of wine is enough to make you less alert
- Have some fiber and protein to keep you full for longer. Whole grains, fruit, veggies and lean meats are all great sources.
- Avoid high-sugar foods which will give you a temporary energy boost, followed by a crash.
- Get Some Exercise
Sitting at a desk for eight hours straight isn’t good for anyone. Make a point of getting some exercise every lunch break – even if it’s just a fifteen minute brisk walk. If you’ve got a gym nearby, take advantage of it.
I’m sure you’re well aware of the benefits of exercise, but so many of us struggle to fit it into our day. Getting some exercise at lunch time can:
- Help you stay alert for the afternoon ahead
- Be part of your exercise/weight-management program
- Let you unwind and de-stress if you’ve had a hectic morning
- Avoid back problems and other aches and pains from sitting at a desk all day
- Learn Something New
A lunch hour can be a great chance for a change of pace, and it’s a good opportunity to learn something new. This might not necessarily be something directly related to your job: for example, you could use your lunch hour to learn vocabulary for a foreign language.
Lunch time is also a great chance for some reading. Many of us feel we don’t have time to read – even though books are one of the cheapest ways to learn about almost any topic. If pouring over a non-fiction book isn’t your idea of a fun lunch break, how about picking up a novel instead? (If you need some convincing that fiction is worthwhile, here’s eight reasons to read fiction.)
- Pursue a New Career...?
Finally, if your lunch hours are the one bright spot in a job that you don’t especially like, how about using them to plan your escape? This one needs approaching with a good bit of caution: be clear about your workplace’s rules on what you can and can’t do with company computers, for instance. If you get outside the office to a local coffee shop or park, and you have a laptop you can work on, you’ll probably be OK.
I spent the lunch hours in one student summer job writing a novel. When I worked in my last day job, I sometimes wrote blog posts during my lunch breaks. If you’ve got a side project or even a small business, can you spend your lunch hours on it?
That could mean:
- Writing your business plan.
- Looking up sources of funding and other information online.
- Sending emails or making phone calls to clients or potential clients.
- Doing freelance work (such as writing or designing).
- Reading relevant books and blogs to learn about that career.
- Spending time planning or brainstorming.
- Writing your business plan.