Thursday, October 28, 2010

Does Your Team Have The HOTS?

I recently read about the HOTS concept in the One Minute Millionaire (see my review here). HOTS stands for:

Hare - Creative Types, but bad at follow-through.
Owls - Planners and go-getters.
Turtles - Cautious Types who point out issues.
Squirrels - Details oriented person who get the job done.

(Want to know what kind of "animal" you are? Try this quick test and feel free to share if you agree or not in the comments).

The theory is that for a team of any kind to create success, the more balanced it is in these kind of personality types the better. Too much of one thing is not good. Each animal type one has it’s own strengths to leverage to make the team successful. For a more in depth description of the different animal type, check out this link. Then I invite you to take the quick quiz to see what kind of animal you are here. Interestingly enough, I am definitely a hare. I love ideas, brainstorming, creative challenges, out of the box thinking, etc.

What's also interesting is that while I am a hare, my wife is a turtle. While I love nothing then to brainstorm creative ideas (I find this fun), Jobina enjoys finding and pointing out potential problems in everything I come up with! We grappled with this early on in our marriage and while it was initially discouraging for me, I have come to peace with it. I now see it as an added challenge to come up with ideas that she can't easily crush - then I know they have some real potential! When I chose to see her "pointing-out-the-flaws" nature as a good way to make my idea generation even better then I became much happier. Interesting stuff! If you'd like to see how to apply this theory to your team, check out this chart.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Book Review: The One Minute Millionaire

Book Review: The One Minute Millionaire by Mark Hansen & Robert G. Allen

I chuckled when I first saw the title to this book but when I opened it up, I just happened to turn to a page that intrigued me so much that I had to add it to my "future reads" list. If you have an entrepreneur’s heart you would probably love this book. It is compelling, practical, and inspiring. It is written by two millionaires, Mark Victor Hansen is the guy behind all those “Chicken Soup For the Soul” books and Robert G. Allen is famous for his “No Money Down” real estate books. The book is separated into two parts – mirroring the left and right side of the brain.

The right side pages are a story of a girl named Michelle. Michelle has lost everything important to her until she meets a striking older business lady named Sam. Sam becomes Michelle’s wealth-making mentor and helps her to attempt an impossible sounding task – to make a million dollars in 90 days! If she fails, the consequences will destroy her and everything she holds dear. I was actually on the edge of my seat as I read this side of the book first and although the writing is nothing special felt myself getting emotionally involved in the storyline. I enjoyed it enough that I shared it with my wife Jobina and she also read and enjoyed it.

The left hand side of the book is the “how to” side that shares the authors’ unique philosophy and tactics to make money. They refer to themselves as “enlightened” millionaires. This is partly because of the unique, borderline new age approach they apply as well as the fact that they have high ethical standards on how to do business and what to do with money. I liked how they started off this section reminding readers that money is not the most important thing, in fact it is several places down their priority list. Yet it is still important and they have a generous approach to sharing it. For Christians many parts of this book may make you feel uncomfortable but I just skimmed over such parts to get to the “meat.” And there is plenty of it. Using four main profit vehicles; real estate, business, the internet, and investments the authors show you how it is indeed possible to make a million dollars in a very short period of time.

The biggest thing I pulled out of this book was probably the importance of multiple streams of income – not depending on one thing to provide you with cashflow. I also pulled out the importance of having a team approach to making money – how important other people are to increase leverage and thus increase profits. Both of these points hit home to me through the story of Michelle. I really enjoyed this book and would recommend it to anyone who seems to have a gift or passion for wealth building– or wants to. I give it 4.4 ninja stars out of 5.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

A Book A Week Challenge Update

Someone asked me the other day how my A Book A Week self-challenge is going. Well right now I think I have about 19 books left to read by the end of the year. So I’m a little (OK, maybe a fair amount) behind but I think it will be pretty close. I’m going to read hard this week and then hopefully do two a week for the last two months of the year. It has been a very interesting experience so far! A few things I’ve noted:

-It is easier for me to read the books then to write the reviews – in fact my loathing of writing book reviews (a necessary step for me in this challenge) sometimes holds me back from reading more!

-A book a week is almost too much for me if I’m reading lots of deep books. Some books need more time to be reflected on. One way I found to alleviate this issue is to alternate reading deep books and non-deep/fiction books.

-I can’t approach reading as a discipline – instead I need to approach it as me being making time to feed my passion for it. Reading needs to be my faithful servant, not my demanding master.

-I can’t be reading more then three books at a time (2 is my comfortable limit) if I want to really enjoy the experience. Therefore I actually have to discipline myself to not pick up new books until the others are done! This is very difficult.

-Variety is the spice of life – and I’ve noticed that the more variety in the books I read the happier I am, the more I read, and the more I learn.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Book Review: Switch

Book Review: Switch - How To Change Things When Change Is Hard by Chip and Dan Heath

This book blew me away! It occured to me as I read it book how deeply I am immersed in the idea of change - as a counselor, as a Christian, as an investor, as a husband, etc. In many ways my whole life is about change! And perhaps that's what brought me to this book. I am deeply curious about why I don't change the things I want to, why it's so difficult to get other people to change, and what is it that has helped some people make great changes. I would say that this book has give me answers to all of those questions - and more.

The book is built around this metaphor which discusses the tension between our planner (rational) side and our doer (emotional) side:

"But to us, the duo’s tension is captured best by an analogy used by University of Virginia psychologist, Jonathan Haidt in his wonderful book The Happiness Hypothesis. Haidt sayss that our emotional side is the Elephant and our rational side is the rider. Perched atop the Elephant, the Rider holds the reins and seems to be the leader. But the Rider’s control is precarious because the Rider is so small relative to the Elephant. Anytime the six-ton Elephant and the Rider disagree about which direction to go, the Rider is going to lose. He’s completely overmatched.

Most of us are all too familiar with situations in which our Elephant overpowers our Rider. You’ve experienced this if you’ve ever slept in, overeaten, dialed up your ex at midnight, procrastinated, tried to quit smoking and failed, skipped the gym, gotten angry and said something you regretted, abandoned your Spanish or piano lessons, refused to speak up in a meeting because you were scared, and so on.”

The authors then describe how to do three things that are essential for change whether you want to see personal change in your self, your organization, or the world. You must direct the rider, motivate the elephant, and guide the path. The book shares completely amazing stories of people doing just that. Such as a group of lowly medical interns who manage to defeat an entrenched, decades-old medical practice that was endangering patients. Or the home-organizing guru who developed a simple technique for overcoming the dread of housekeeping and the manager who transformed a lackadaisical customer-support team into service zealots by removing a standard tool of customer service. The genius of the book is that it makes often mysterious forces clear and understandable. I was very inspired after reading this excellent book and will go over it again in early 2011. I rate it 4.7 ninja stars out of 5.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Book Review: You Have What It Takes

Book Review: You Have What It Takes by John Eldredge

This will be a short review because, well, this book is very short. 53 pocket book sized pages to be exact. Essentially it's a short and condensed version of Eldredge's most famous work Wild At Heart but aimed squarely at fathers. It's a nice brief read and gives a basic framework for understanding the biggest things boys need from their fathers - an answer to the question "Do I have what it takes?" He also shares what he considers to be the answer to the question from daughters "Am I lovely?" Eldredge talks about why men have difficulty answering these questions to their kids - most Dad's have not had their own questions answered correctly and have been wounded in their spirits while younger. Eldredge addresses this and provides an answer - be fathered by your Heavenly Father so you can then father your children. He ends with the admonition that it's never too late to start. I really enjoyed Wild At Heart and this Coles notes version is a great reminder (and encouragement) for any father needing it. I rate it 4.2 ninja starts out of 5.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Concluded: How Much Money Will Make You Happy?

I often hear the saying "money won't make you happy." Unfortunately that's just not true, research confirms it:

The Price of Happiness

Of course money won't bring you deep inner joy, but happiness is another story.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Book Review: Honey, I Don't Have A Headache Tonight

Book Review: Honey, I Don't Have A Headache Tonight: Help For Women Who Want To Feel More In The Mood
by Sheila Wray Gregoire

I know what you are thinking; Not another sex book! I was recently preparing for a speak to a Mom's group on the topic of "Keeping Romance Alive After Kids" and my coworker recommended this book to me to assist me in my preparation. The book is written by a woman for women. It is delightfully realistic about the challenges women face in their intimate life after having children. It addresses a lot of common obstacles to a great sex life during this life stage; time constraints, desire constraints, energy constraints, privacy constraints, etc. It is unique in that it is easily readable, aimed not at changing your spouse but changing you, and is written from a healthy Christian perspective. I like to think of it as sex help 101 for Christian moms with young kids. There were a few gems in this book and seemed especially appropriate for women who are wishing they were more affectionate in this area but feel stuck. Addressed are common roadblocks - releasing one from guilt and encouraging you to instead try some new things. A lot of women beat themselves up regarding their desire and performance while going through the young child years and it's not necessary. I rate this book 3.9 ninja stars out of 5. Good for anyone with mild to moderate discontent with intimacy after kids. For men, reading this might be helpful to understand what it's like from a woman's perspective (especially the first chapter story called "Andrea's evening of evasion!").

Monday, October 18, 2010

You Never Know What You Could Get . . .

"Success is the child of audacity."
- Benjamin Disraeli

I'm very fond of reminding my wife that "you'll never know what you could get unless you ask." The reason I like this saying is that this truth never ceases to amaze me. When I was telling my friend Mike about this the other day, he reminded me of the first time I had used this in his presence. We were both walking back to our classes at Briercrest Bible College (in the sprawling metropolis of Caronport, SK). Our Dorm, Lewis Apartments was the furthest away dorm and so we had to walk past several houses to get back to our rooms. One the way we noticed a man outside his house admiring what appeared to be a brand new sports car. We talked with him and he explained that yes, he had just took possession of his shiny new car. On a whim I asked "How would you feel about me taking it for a little spin?" I didn't expect him to answer but he laughed and said "sure." A few minutes later Mike and I were driving around Caronport in a super nice sport car! All because I had the audacity to ask.

At a wedding out in Morweena this weekend I was part of something similar. The wedding was very cool and creative (congrats Jalysia and Randy!) and everyone who wanted one was given a glass bottle of coke to drink. My buddy Jay asked if we could get another one from our "waitress" who responded that she wasn't allowed to give out anymore. This was disappointing but I comically asked her if she accepted bribes. Jay seized the moment and offered her $5 if she'd get us two bottles of coke. She looked flustered and left. Jay was serious though and put a $5 bill under his empty bottle and when the waitress returned she looked even more flustered and awkward. After she left again we laughed at her discomfort and didn't expect anything else. But a few minutes later she zipped by, took the $5, and left two cold cokes for us both to drink! It was funny but also a lesson in opportunity. I made a comment, Jay took action, and the reward was some good laughs and some cold drinks. Coke tastes better when you work for it.

I saw an ad about a month ago on kijiji for a gift certificate for Falcon Trails Resort, Jobina and I's favorite get-a-way in Manitoba. The certificate was worth $1750 and the owner was asking $1500 for it. If you've ever been to Falcon Trails you know that this place is worth paying full price at, and a $200 discount off of a week during the high season is nothing to be sneezed at. I emailed her and politely asked if she'd consider an offer of $900! She countered at $1400 and I countered at $1000. She wouldn't budge from $1200 so I offered $1050 - final offer. We were at an impasse so I told her I'd look around and if I changed my mind I'd get back to her. This was about 2 weeks ago. I'd given up hope when on Friday I got an email saying that she'd woken up that morning and although she had another offer, my email was the politest and so she was willing to sell for $1050! We sealed the deal today and we were able to save ourselves $700 on our vacation for next year.

If you know me you know that I'm not very smooth, well spoken, or above average in my ability to negotiate. But I do have one trait that I'm trying to develop - audacity. The audacity to assertively ask for things - and see what happens. It's not that hard! If you have any stories on how you got something just by asking, please share them here and inspire us!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Spiritual Loneliness

I spoke with a man once who described to me how him and his wife had been hurt by a Christian organization. Both had been through the ringer emotionally. Curiously, he responded by moving closer to God but his wife moved away from Him. This created a terrible feeling which he coined as "spiritual loneliness." His spiritual intimacy with his wife had been lost and he was grieving it immensely. I often think back to this conversation and reflect on this seldom spoken about marriage topic.

Spiritual loneliness is almost a sure thing when it comes to marriage. At some point you will experience it and for some couples it is mostly the norm. For couples where one person is a non-believer then it is even more felt. Sometimes spiritual loneliness is a result of powerful expectations about one's spouse and how that it disconnected from reality. Different people have different sacred pathways (or ways of connecting with God) and this can be challenging to understand and accept.

Everyone goes through periods of dry spells, doubt, and putting God on the shelf. I'm sorry but it's true. If you haven't experienced it yet you will. Life's challenges, changes, and adjustments often are shown in the fragility of our faith. And this fragility affects the marriage in powerful ways which can certainly includes spiritual loneliness.

For better or for worse includes spiritual loneliness. How to cope with it? Some try to shame their spouse, guilt them, or manipulate them. Others depress or become anxious. And some manage to persevere. Any thoughts on this topic? I want to do a speak on it someday and I'd appreciate hearing from anyone on their experiences or advice.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Book Review: The Boat Who Wouldn’t Float

Book Review: The Boat Who Wouldn’t Float by Farley Mowat

This book was . . . OK. I laughed quite a bit at it, once I got used to the Newfoundland-heavy vocabulary and imagery that Mowat uses. It is his story of a truly terrible investment – a boat that he and a friend bought with great hopes. Instead of adventurous sails around the world they are met with setback and misadventures as they simply try to keep their boat above the water.

Crude in places, it nevertheless has some charm as you shake your head in amazement at Mowat’s stubornness not to give up on a vessel that truly deserved it. His many brushes with death are told in such a humorous way that you almost forget that him drowning was very much a constant possibility. For anyone thinking of buying a boat and sailing the 7 seas, you may wish to read this book. There is a kind of wisdom one can learn from the mistakes and suffering of others. Also, it is good entertainment. I rate this book 3.7 ninja stars out of 5.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Luck and Opportunity

"You'll always miss 100% of the shots you don't take." - Wayne Gretzky

Recently I got lucky. Or did I?

I was at my children's school for a 50th Anniversary Tea. Basically it was a night of honoring the past staff, remembering good times, and celebrating the school in general. I was admittedly a little bored. In the foyer when we came in I noticed they were having a silent auction. There were about 25 prize packs to win with a bag next to each of them where you could put in a ticket if you purchased it. Some of the items looked pretty nice. I also noticed that there seemed to be alot of prizes for the amount of people attending. My quick guess was that there less then 150 people there, meaning that they had a gift for every 6 people. Since probably a lot of people weren't going to buy tickets that meant my odds looked good, quite good in fact. So I quickly bought 3 tickets for $5, deposited one ticket in three of the bags that looked interesting, and endured the rest of the evening (that is a whole other story which perhaps I will someday share).

The next day the principal of the school left a message on my machine - I had won something! I'd like to say I was surprised but I wasn't. The odds seemed to be too much in my favor. I asked Jobina if she'd mind stopping by the school and picking up my prize. She called me later and asked me if I wanted to know what I'd won. It turns out I had won two of the prizes (one prize was 2 bottles of wine and some chocolates, the other was a Garmin GPS and some slurpee mugs). Huzzah! The GPS alone is worth over a hundred dollars so I think this was a pretty good return on my "investment."

Did I get lucky? Absolutely. Winning two of the prizes does seem that way. On the other hand, the odds were extremely good. In fact I would have been surprised if I hadn't won something. All I did was see an opportunity, weigh the odds, and take action. I think that when it comes to investing (or relationships) you kind of have to do the same thing. Yes, there is always risk. But if you see the opportunity, carefully weigh the odds, and choose to take action then more often then not you get the prize. Each of those stages - see the opportunity, discern, take action - is critical. I have messed up on all three of these stages many times but when you do all three correctly you win much more then you lose. Question: What stage are you prone to mess up on? And what could you do about it? Being honest with ourselves (I'm weakest in the 2nd stage) is the quickest way to changing and improving ourselves . . .

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Book Review: Byzantium by Stephen Lawhead

Book Review: Byzantium by Stephen Lawhead

Let me begin by saying I have read this book at least 4 times. I have it in a dilapidated softcover but found a cheap hardcover version of it on Amazon for 5 bucks and decided to get it. This seems to me a book meant to be read as a hardcover. The dust jacket is beautiful and adds to the reading experience. Beware, at 646 pages this work of historical fiction is not a short read but I enjoyed almost every minute of it. It is my favorite book by this Christian fantasy author and I’d love to see it made into a movie someday.

The story is about Aidan, an Irish scribe who is chosen to go with a group of his fellow monks to deliver a great gift (The Book of Kells) to the Emperor in Byzantium. Aidan’s ship is then attacked by Danish Sea Wolves and he is captured and taken as a slave to Daneland. Through a series of tragedies and adventures Aidan eventually find himself taken to Byzantium where he experiences the intrigues of the courts of the Emperor. He is betrayed and in his search for justice his faith is shaken to its core. Finding himself eventually in the land of the Arabs, Aidan has many more adventures which culminate in him eventually returning to Byzantium to confront his destiny.

Every time I read this book I get something different out of it. There are deep questions within the story – what is God’s place and ours in finding our destiny? Why does God not act when he could? Why does he allow us to suffer? Lawhead does an excellent job of seamlessly working in historical facts and Celtic Christian tradition in a way that adds to the tapestry of the story without distracting from it. I recognized many Celtic sayings and prayers and reflected upon their meanings as I was reading. There are only a few books in my collection that I would say I’d say I couldn't live without, but this would be one for sure. Highly recommended, I rate this book 4.8 ninja stars out of 5.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Why How You Think (And Not Your Situation) Matters Most

Sometimes I look at my circumstances and say "Woe is me!" Now I will think of this guy :

Thanks to Jobina for showing me this incredibly inspiring video!

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Book Review: Jungle

Book Review: Jungle – A Harrowing Story of Survival by Yossi Ghinsberg

A friend leant me this book and I thought that it looked promising. It’s about a young Jewish traveller’s ill planned foray into the Bolivian Jungle with some friends. There is much interpersonal tension, and some creep foreshadowing as the group begins to fragment. Then, an accident happens and the author find himself miraculously alive but very, very alone. It is then that his real adventure begins.

Jungle survival stories are usually great reading and this book did not disappoint. It starts quite slow but the tension starts to get intense by about half way through. Yossi’s ability to survive truly terrible circumstances and not give up when most would have is inspiring. There are also lessons about camaraderie, pride, preparation, and knowing the character of those whom you put your trust in.

I think the biggest thing I learned from this book involves the wisdom of not urinating in one’s pants and then going to sleep unprotected in a rainforest. I don’t want to give away what happens if you do, but let me tell you that is not nice. Read the book if you want to hear why.

The author is an “OK” storyteller but the tale he tells more then makes up for this. I rate the book 3.9 ninja stars out of 5.