Saturday, January 22, 2011
Friday, January 21, 2011
I've learned a bit but here's some help from the AOM Blog:
Thrifting: 5 Tips for Getting Top-Quality Products at Rock-Bottom Prices
- How to Look Like a Million Bucks For Under $200
- 5 Signs of a Quality Watch
- Why Being “Indie” is a Bunch of Bunk
- 5 Products No Man’s Bathroom Should Be Without
Editor’s note: This is a guest post from Jonathan Smoyer.
“I believe thrift is essential to well-ordered living.” – John D. Rockefeller
So you’ve decided to update your wardrobe and step out with a more dapper look. Then you realize there’s no way you will be able to pay $300 (maybe more) for a new suit. Not to mention the shoes, the tie, and the dress shirts. So what is an innovative, fashionable man with a limited budget to do? The answer lies no further than your local thrift store. Most thrift stores carry top quality, gently used products that can be bought for a fraction of their original cost. This article will cover a few tips and tricks that will help you find those hidden gems in your local thrift store.
Tip #1: Know what can be used and what can’t.
99% of the time all of the things found in a thrift store are donated items. Make absolutely sure you know what you’re getting and what condition it is in. Most clothes have been donated because they don’t fit, are out of style, or just don’t look good anymore. Be sure to check clothing for rips, missing buttons or zippers, stains or other obvious damage. Also keep in mind that the size tags (if any) may not be accurate; fortunately, most larger thrift stores have dressing rooms where you can “try before you buy.”
Tip #2: Know when to say No.
Just because MC Hammer made a fashion statement with parachute pants does not mean you can do the same thing. Let’s face it, some clothes are just downright ugly and should be left on the rack. Now you may not be looking at a pair of bell bottom jeans but take the time to make sure that suit coat actually looks good on you before you buy it. Take a trusted companion with a sense of fashion (ie., a wife, girlfriend, or some other member of the fairer sex) who will be honest about how things look on you. Just because it’s a bargain does not mean it will look good.
Tip #3: Know where to look and what to look for.
Not all thrift stores are created equal. Make a point to visit all of the stores in your area and take the time to really search through them. You will soon find out which stores carry the best merchandise and where to find it. Some stores are organized and others are more of an organized chaos that will take more time to search through. Also know what is quality and what isn’t. Feel the cloth things are made of, is it a cheap weave? If you’ve found a coat, is it cheaply made? Are the buckles plastic or metal? Know what makes a quality product and what doesn’t.
Tip #4: Know when to clean it.
Most of the clothes in thrift shops are clean. However, it is a good idea to invest in some dry cleaning for those secondhand suits, and maybe a run through the washer for those new old pants. This will get rid of any lingering smells that may be unpleasant and leave you with no question of its cleanliness.
Tip #5: Know when to return.
Expert thrift shoppers go every day to their favorite stores and most go to more than one. Set up a time each week to go to your favorite stores. Figure out which days the stores in your area restock their racks and at what time they do it. Try to arrive as close to that time as possible. However be forewarned you may have to fight a crowd to get through the store. Be consistent and visit as many times a week as you can manage.
Follow these tips and sooner than later you will turn up some hidden gem that your friends will ask you about. For example, I found a Ralph Lauren tie that retails for $115, for $2 at my local thrift store. Don’t be afraid to turn your trips to the thrift store into a family affair. I learned these five tips from my father, and we still take trips together and compare finds. You will cover more ground, find more deals, and have some quality time with your family. It’s win-win for everybody.
Good Luck, and Happy Thrifting!
Got any tips for successful thrift store shopping? Score any remarkable finds while doing so? Share your comments with us!
Thursday, January 20, 2011
Posted: 31 Dec 2010 01:29 PM PST
A few years ago, my life was a mess. So was my house, my desk, my mind. Then I learned, one by one, a few habits that got me completely organized.
Am I perfect? Of course not, and I don't aim to be. But I know where everything is, I know what I need to do today, I don't forget things most of the time, and my house is uncluttered and relatively clean (well, as clean as you can get when you have toddlers and big kids running around).
So what's the secret? In truth, there aren't any secrets. There are simple habits that you can develop over time that will get you to where you want to be. These are habits that you can apply to your work, your home, your kids, your hobbies, your life. Instead of giving you specifics for how to organize something specific, like your desk or your closet, I provide principles that you can use over and over in every situation.
Are these obvious principles? Sure, if you stop to think about them. You've read them in various other places. But you might not be applying them to your daily life, and that's where the problem lies. I'm just providing you with a step-by-step guide to what actually works, based on my experience and that of others.
If your life is a mess, like mine was, I don't recommend trying to get organized all in one shot. It's overwhelming. Instead, start with the first habit, and work your way down. Do it a little at a time, one area of your life at a time, one area of your home or office at a time. Work on a habit for a month or so, then move on to the next one. Or adopt two or three if you think you can handle it, but don't do them all at once. I also recommend you set aside some time each day (30 or 60 minutes) for organizing, at least in the beginning, until you are fairly organized and have your system down. Then, you might need 10 minutes a day, just to keep things running smoothly, and every now and then you might need to have a purge session (every 6 months or so) to get rid of accumulated buildup.
So here are the 7 habits:
- Reduce before organizing.
The mistake most people make when trying to organize their stuff or their tasks or their projects is that they have a whole mess of things to organize, and it's too complicated. If you have a closet crammed full of stuff, sure, you can buy a bunch of closet organizers, but in the end, you'll still have a closet crammed full of stuff. Same thing with time management: you can organize a packed schedule, but it'll still be crammed full of tasks. The solution: reduce, eliminate, simplify.
If you take your closet full of 100 things and throw out all but the 10 things you love and use, now you don't need a fancy closet organizer. Same thing with time management: if you have 20 things to do today, and reduce it to just the three most important tasks, you don't need a schedule anymore.
How to reduce: take everything out of a closet or drawer or other container (including your schedule), clean it out, and only put back those items you truly love and really use on a regular basis. This will leave you with a pile of other stuff -- get rid of it by tossing it, donating it, selling it or giving it to somebody who will love it. If you can't bear to part with some of the stuff, put it in a "maybe" box and store it in your attic or basement or other storage space. Label it with a description and date, and six months later, when you haven't needed any of it, toss it.
- Write it down now, always.
Our minds are wonderful things, but they leak like a sieve. We don't remember things when we need to remember them, and they continually come up when we don't need them. Instead of using your mind as storage for things you need to remember, write it down. I carry a small pocket notebook wherever I go, and write things down immediately. Then I process the ideas and tasks later into my calendar or to-do list, so I don't forget.
- Have one inbox & process.
Well, actually you need two inboxes - one for home and one for work. But many people have many more than that -- paper comes to their desk and lands in a number of places. Phone messages get placed everywhere. Notes to self are posted all over the place. Instead, have one inbox, and put all incoming stuff in there. Then, once a day (or once a week at home if that works better for you), process the inbox to empty. Take an item out of the inbox and decide what to do with it, right away: toss it, delegate it, file it, put it on your to-do list, or do it now. Do the same thing to the next item, until your inbox is empty. Don't defer these decisions for later.
- A place for everything.
Related to the above tip is to have a place for each item in your life. Where do your car keys go? You should have one place for them (next to the door is best) and you'll never lose them again. Where do your pens go? How about your magazines? I teach my kids to find a "home" for every toy or other item in their rooms (even still, their toys are mostly homeless wanderers, but they're kids) and that's a concept that works for us grown-ups too: each item should have a home, and if it doesn't, we need to designate one. Labels can help you remember where those homes are. Now, if you find something on your table or counter top or on you bed or on your desk, you know that it doesn't belong there. Find its home -- don't just toss something anywhere. The same concept applies to information: do you have one place where you put all your information? If not, try a personal wiki -- it's accessible from work and home, and you can create pages for each type of information in your life -- schedules, goals, to-dos, movies to watch, books to read, notes on projects, etc.
- Put it away now.
Most people have a habit of putting something on a table or counter top or on their desk with the intention of "putting it away later". Well, this is how things get messy and disorganized. Instead, put it away now -- in its home. It only takes a few seconds, and this one habit will save you a lot of cleaning and sorting and organizing later. When you find yourself putting something down, catch yourself, and force yourself to put it away now. After a little while, it will become second nature.
- Clean as you go.
Closely related to Habit 5, this habit is effective because it's much easier to clean things as you work or as you move through your day than to let them pile up and do a big cleaning session later. So if you're cooking, try to wash your dishes as you use them, and wipe the counter, instead of leaving a huge mess. Same principle applies to everything we do. If it's easier to do it in smaller increments, we are more likely to do it. If there is a huge mess to clean, we are more likely to be intimidated or overwhelmed by it and leave it for later.
- Develop routines & systems.
If you've gotten everything uncluttered and organized, you might sit back and enjoy the pleasantness of it. Being organized and having a simplified working environment or home is tremendously satisfying. But the problem is that after a little while, things tend to start to get disorganized and cluttered again. Things tend to gravitate towards chaos. The solution: you need to develop systems to keep your organization in place. For example, the inbox processing mentioned above is a system: you have specific procedures for processing all incoming papers, and you have a routine for doing it (once a day). All systems follow the same guidelines -- specific procedures and a routine that is done at a set interval (three times a day, once a day, once a week, once a month, etc.). It's important that you identify the systems you have in your life (and they exist, even if you don't know they do -- but they may be complicated and chaotic) and write them out so that you can make them efficient, simple, and organized. Develop systems for dealing with paperwork and mail, with kids schedules, with errands and laundry and chores and exercise and everything else. Once those systems are in place, you need to be vigilant about keeping them going, and then things will stay organized.
Wednesday, January 19, 2011
from Harvey Mackay:
Clean up your language!
By Harvey Mackay
If there was ever a question about the character of Generation Z, those born after 1990, I am pleased to report that there are some who act more like adults than those of us who are way past our 21st birthdays.
A budding superstar of this age group is McKay Hatch, a teenager who is the force behind getting a Cuss Free Week declared annually in California during the first week in March. (I already like him no matter how he spells his name!)
He has a following of more than 20,000 members from all over the world in his No-Cussing Club. There are club chapters in all 50 states. You may have seen him on the news -- he's been on national broadcasts on CNN, FOX News, ABC, NBC and CBS.
McKay's cause is inspiring, and his enthusiasm is contagious. He is a charming young fellow with a very serious message: "Our members take the 'No Cussing Challenge,' which is a commitment to themselves to use better language. This commitment not only improves their lives but also the world around them. Through our motto, 'Leave People Better Than You Found Them,' our members are also looking for opportunities everyday to help people and lift them up through their words and actions."
Did I mention that he was just 14 years old when he started his organization in 2007?
McKay's message makes sense not only for kids but perhaps even more so for adults who aspire to be successful in business and in life. Find his website at www.Nocussing.com.
There are more than 250,000 words in the English language. Fewer than a dozen are those dirty words that once got your mouth washed out with soap. Nowadays, that language is heard routinely in conversation, movies, even in the hallowed halls of Congress. Do those words really get the message across any better?
I'll confess -- I swear sometimes, and I'm not proud of it. The real hazard of using bad language around your pals is that it becomes a habit. At some point, a bad word or two will slip out at a most inopportune time -- during a negotiation, at a social gathering, or over a microphone you didn't realize was turned on. Embarrassment becomes the least of your worries then.
Let me tell you, if I am interviewing a prospective employee and an obscenity enters the conversation, the interview is over. I can't trust that person to go out and represent our company. I had a complaint from a customer once that the salesperson was swearing during a presentation. When I confronted our employee, he didn't even realize he had used the words. He apologized to the customer, and we handed the very lucrative account to another rep.
The words you use say a lot about you. Bigger words are not necessarily better than smaller words, but they are better than dirty words. Beef up your vocabulary so that you have options when you speak. Try these strategies to improve your language:
- Read a variety of materials. Read trade publications, newspapers, magazines, classic books, great speeches, websites or anything that stimulates your brain without contaminating it.
- Use the dictionary. You don't need the multi-volume Oxford English Dictionary at your fingertips. Your laptop has a dictionary, your smartphone has a dictionary app, and Webster's has pocket-sized editions that have plenty of serviceable words in them. Look up words you don't know so that you can use them intelligently in conversation or writing.
- Practice saying new words out loud. It's not as silly as it sounds. If you want to get in the habit of using the perfect word for the occasion, you must be comfortable saying it. Don't be a showoff, using big words just for effect. On the other hand, there's no crime in demonstrating your competence.
- Play word games. A crossword puzzle or a game of Scrabble can boost your vocabulary without feeling like hard work. And swear words are off-limits in both, so you have to find acceptable alternatives.
Mackay's Moral: What you say is what you are.
Tuesday, January 18, 2011
I usually use PowerPoint from Microsoft to create printed presentations, but this time is was going to on a big screen in a classroom.
I found Prezi.com. You can click here to go there.
And you can click here to go to the presentation I did for the Huntington University J-term class I was speaking with about Personal Branding.
Hint: watch in Full Screen mode by clicking on More.
Monday, January 17, 2011
The day I married Kathy.
I am amazed at what we have gone through with kids, stepkids, other family, and each other.
2 months from today will be our tenth anniversary and I love my wife even more than in 2001.
We are working on a plan to renew our vows with a few friends and family to celebrate.
But it's not just anniversaries that we celebrate, we have our weekly date night on Fridays, and we attempt to be mindful of what is important to each other in our daily lives.
Last Friday was one of those rare days that we didn't have our date night, I was home recovering from a quick illness and as she was out with her son and grandson. Which gave me some time to find this list of 50 things to keep the romance alive from the DLM Blog.
Posted: 13 Jan 2011 11:30 AM PST
Ok, so maybe Valentine's Day isn't for another month, but that doesn't mean you can't show your partner some special attention now. In fact, I invite you to join me in this experiment. The plan is to show your love for your partner in a small and different way each day for a whole month and see what magic happens.
Here are a list of 50 things you can do to express your love. If things aren't good between you and your partner right now, this might be just the thing to slowly melt the ice between you both. If things are already good, this will strengthen your relationship further. By the way, there is nothing expensive on this list so there is no excuse not to give this a shot.
- Write "I love you" in the steam on the bathroom mirror after he takes a shower.
- Offer a back massage with some good smelling lotion.
- Write a poem. Then use Google Translator to translate a poem into either French or Italian. Then handwrite it out with the translation on the back side. Or better yet, greet your partner at night and read it to them with passion and then hand them the translation.
- While in public, declare "I love you, Matilda!" (not Matilda, but your partner's name.)
- Make a CD with a few songs that are meaningful to your relationship.
- Invite him to take a bath complete with bubbles, champagne, candles, and maybe a little Barry White. (the music, not actually Barry White in your tub.)
- Surprise her at work and take her out to lunch, maybe take-out food in the park or maybe to a little diner, for a midday romantic interlude.
- Put together a little gift on his pillow: chocolate and a note that says "Your love is like chocolate: sweet and delicious."
- If your partner has a work presentation at an off site location, have flowers and a note of support delivered there.
- Dedicate a song to him on the radio and send him an email telling him when to listen.
- Cook a special love meal of your partner's favorite foods. Play his favorite music and turn the lights low for a romantic dinner.
- Give your partner a pedicure and foot rub.
- Send a text message or email that says "I love you!"
- Mail a card and inside write down the top 10 things you love about your partner.
- Give him a picture of you for his wallet that says "I love you."
- Leave a love note in her car telling her to have a great day.
- Carve your initials in a tree.
- When your partner least expects it, give him a great big kiss, even if it's in public!
- Go see a romantic movie, sit in the back row, hold hands, and cuddle.
- King for a Day/ Queen for a Day. Declare that you will dedicate a particular day just to your partner to do whatever they want. Maybe start with breakfast in bed.
- Buy a tree and invite your partner to plant it with you explaining that this tree represents the love between you both that will grow over the years.
- In the midst of talking about how your days went, the chores that need to be done, etc. interrupt and say "I have something important to tell you. I love you and here's why." Then list 5 things (or more) that you really appreciate about your partner. Finish with a kiss and say, "Ok, so you were talking about the water heater."
- Write an old fashioned love letter and mail it. Be romantic and lavish. Have some fun with it.
- Before going to a party together come up with some secret code words you can use during conversation. You can be telling each other "I can't wait to get you alone tonight!" without anyone knowing!
- Find a hotel that has a jacuzzi and book it for a one night getaway somewhere close but fun.
- Place an ad in the classifieds declaring your love. Then take the newspaper, wrap it in a bow, and put a little note on it saying what page to look on.
- Blindfold surprise. Blindfold your partner and drive them to the place where you had your first date, and have that date all over again!
- Write a love poem for her.
- Make an early valentine. Cut out some paper in the shape of a heart. Write something sweet on it in red and put it in her purse or his briefcase.
- If your partner is going on a business trip secretly hide a love note inside their luggage.
- Offer to help them with some dreaded chore they must complete and make it into a fun time maybe with some music. (cleaning out the basement, raking the leaves, shoveling after a big snow storm, giving the dog a bath, washing the car, etc.)
- Do something romantic and spontaneous, like picking a flower and giving it to her right on the spot.
- Invent a meal and name it after him or her.
- Buy some body paint and write your love message on your body.
- Record yourself reading a romantic love poem for your honey. Then give your partner a CD and tell them to play it in the car on their way to work.
- Make a small postcard sized love collage. Then cover it with clear packing tape. Write a love message on the other side and mail it!
- Keep a box with mementos of fun things you've done together. Later when the box is filled, arrange them on a board and have it framed.
- Buy some underwear with special messages on it. Or buy your own and paint a special picture or message with fabric paints.
- Make a donation to charity in the name of your love for your partner. Give your sweetheart a card that tells how grateful you are to share your life with her.
- Keep a box with special cards, letters, photographs, and other mementos. On your anniversary or on Valentine's day take a little time to share fond memories together as you review the contents.
- Create a mindmap of all the things you love about your partner and make it into a card.
- Take a walk on the beach together. Run up ahead and write a message in the sand, and then call your partner to see what you "found."
- Say "I love you" often, slowly, and with feeling.
- Play hooky together. You work hard. Now today take a day to work easy at just sharing some fun time together. Call it an "I love you day."
- Send an e-card to your sweetie to brighten his day. Here are free e-card resources: Apple iCards, BlueMountain, Hallmark.
- Make little "I love you" posters with either crayons, markers, collage, paint, whatever. Post them in surprising places: the bathroom, the closet, the car, under her pillow, on her pillow.
- Create a small website or blog dedicated to your partner. Write a short love message each day for a month...or forever.
- Complete that chore or favor that your partner has wanted you to do for a long time.
- Be super kind for a whole day. Act like you would with a new love, a child, or a frail person. Show lots of kindness, generosity, and love no matter what for a whole day.
- Take an interest in your partner's interests. For a woman it might be watching a football game with your guy. And for men it might be going to see a chick-flick. Do it with a spirit of enthusiasm and love. Have fun.
Please share your favorite ways to tell your partner you love them!
Sunday, January 16, 2011
From the DLM Blog:
Posted: 10 Aug 2010 07:09 AM PDT
We could all do with a few more hours in the day. There are so many different things we want to do, in every aspect of our lives. We want to improve our financial status, get further with our career, take part in the hobbies which bring us alive, and give something back to the world.
No wonder we get overwhelmed. No wonder we end up aimlessly surfing the net or watching reruns on TV, because we just don't know where to begin.
Figure Out What You Want
First, it's absolutely crucial to know what you want. You might think that's the easy bit – but the truth is, this can be really tricky.
To figure out what you want, you need to:
- Get rid of all those "shoulds" and "ought tos" that come from parents / friends / society.
- Find your true values – not just those obvious desires like "I want more money" or "I want to be thin".
- Look deep inside to work out what really matters to you.
- Get a sense of possibilities: don't rule anything out, even if it seems like it's too hard or too big a goal.
Then ask, "If I could have only one more of these, which would I choose?"
Happiness doesn't come from ticking off a lot of arbitrary goals or activities on a checklist. It comes from doing the things which are meaningful and enjoyable to you – however silly, crazy or unimportant those might seem to other people.
Track Your Time
This is a really basic and powerful time-management technique – but it's one which most people have never even tried. Put yourself ahead by giving it ago.
If you've ever attempted a financial or dieting turn around, you may have kept a money diary or a food log. This has two purposes: it helps you see the true picture (however much you might rather keep your head in the sand!) and it also makes you more accountable for your actions.
By tracking your time, you accomplish the same thing. You get a very clear idea of where exactly your time is currently going – and you'll also find that you're more likely to use your time on the things which you want to do, rather than wasting it on activities which don't really bring you any lasting satisfaction.
Put Your Goals In Your Diary
When you have a lot of things which you want to do, it's easy to keep putting them off. Perhaps they seem difficult to organize, or you think you'll somehow find spare time to do them.
A great way to really improve your chances of getting things done is to pop them in your diary. You could do this in one of two ways:
- Go to events or conferences which relate to what you want to do. For instance, if you join Toastmasters to learn public speaking, you'll be attending meetings every fortnight.
- Block out time for specific actions. Perhaps you're keen to start your own business, so you're going to spend next Sunday afternoon planning out your website and advertising materials.
One of the first words which toddlers learn is "No!" But somehow, many adults seem to have lost the ability to say this.
There's nothing wrong with turning down someone's request. If you're asked to help with a neighborhood group, bake cakes for your kids' classmates, go to a party, or any other commitment ... it's OK to say "I'm too busy."
Of course, if you want to take that on, then do. But don't let yourself agree just because you feel like you should.
Learning to say "no" isn't just about the requests which come from other people. It's also about saying "no" to yourself. That might mean:
- Saying "no" to your impulse to take on a big new project – it's not one of your real, deep wants.
- Saying "no" when you're tempted to weasel out of those important commitments you've put in your diary. You do have time to go for your goals.
- Saying "no" when you're part-way through something which you want to do and you get distracted. Twitter and Facebook will wait.
- Pick one thing which you really want to do (not something you feel you "should" do)
- Get out your diary and find just one hour which you are going to use on that activity.
At the age of 51, I am surprised at how common Divorce is in our American culture.
And my attitude has changed.
Growing up in the 60's and 70's divorce was something to be ashamed of. I honestly thought that when I left home in 1978, my parents would split up because of the conflicts I witnessed as a teenager. Some of their friends started splitting up in the mid-1970's and I thought they were headed down that same path.
They stayed together and later in life I had a heart to heart talk with my Mom after my Dad had passed away, and she told me how they learned to lean on each other more and more later in life.
When I was divorced after 13 years and 3 kids, I felt like an outcast. With a strong Christian background, and as a member of a church in a small town in Indiana, divorce was not encouraged.
Since that time in September 1995, both my first wife and I have remarried. Our current spouses were also previously married. And these days we all get along, better than some would expect. My ex-wife and her husband live about an hour west of us, my wife's ex-husband lives about 10 minutes away.
Maybe when there is a divorce with no children, you can sign the papers and never see each other. But in our cases, we had children and we started with joint custody arrangements, followed by child support and visitation schedules, college funding, wedding planning and coming later this year my first grandson will be born.
There is holiday planning, who's having what when, etc... and I am thankful to all involved that we are able to work things out. It's not easy, but it's our lives.
When you marry, you should plan on it being a forever commitment. If you are not willing to make that commitment, you should not marry. It's that simple.
Yet divorce is always an option of last resort. It should be considered as carefully as you considered getting married.
As I look at my parents who stayed together, and my wife's parents who stayed together until our fathers passed away, I used to be envious of that kind of fortitude. But as I look around, I've seen divorce in at least 5 family members relationships and I know it can be okay on the other side.
As part of the church service where we attend, we ask someone sitting near us, "How Can I Pray For You?" Yesterday the woman behind me asked for prayers for her son who is going through a divorce. Then last night Kathy and I watched a movie about a woman who I thought should have left her husband due to his alcoholic and abusive behavior, but she didn't.
I've learned not to assume, not to judge, to pray for the people and to offer support. God forgives everything that we ask forgiveness for. No sin is greater than any other is His eyes. And we are all imperfect (sinning) human beings.
There is life after divorce, as both my wife Kathy and I have discovered. In March we will celebrate 10 years as "Second-Timers". I have seen other friends and family members create wonderful marriages as "Second-Timers".
In May my oldest daughter marries, and a couple months later our youngest, my step-daughter marries. Nearly all of our 5 kids will have spouses by mid-August. One of them is already a "Second-Timer".
And we will continue to pray for them daily no matter what the circumstances.
By the way, Monday afternoon at this time, I'll post a list of 50 things to keep the romance alive that I found recently.