Category Archives: Humanities

This app reduces financial stress for those with uneven income

The economy is not kind to those looking for steady work. More and more people are learning the hard way that long-term jobs don’t exist anymore because the cost is too high for companies to keep people on for 20 or 30 years. It used to be that people looked forward to having a 40 year run with a company, which is a long time when you think about it. That’s a lot of time to give up for one company. The Freelance committee is growing at a very fast rate and with apps like Uber and TaskRabbit taking over and replacing people’s source of income it is not uncommon now to run into people who supplement majority of their income with these apps.

Freelance work can get hard to keep a steady flow of work because you are the only person responsible for getting and keeping work coming in. If you do not have any work then you do not have any income and that can get dangerous for anyone with monthly bills that need to get paid. The trouble with working as a freelancer is that your income fluctuates, some weeks you are working everyday and making great money and other weeks you have nothing to do. The rise and fall of your income can make it difficult to get approved for anything with a bank that requires a past history of consistent income. This is why more and more people are switching to apps that help bring in more money. Of course this can create a very unsafe résumé of consistent work that more promising employers might look down upon.

The Wonders of Apps and Technology
The beauty of the world we live in today is that anyone can create anything to help someone else. It just takes a little ingenuity and creativity to come up with something to help others improve their life. Until now if you needed a more stable income base you had to find a “regular” job that provided regular hours to work. Most white collar jobs require a higher education in order to even be considered so jobs like that are out of the picture for most people but regular blue-collar jobs are easier to come by if you are good with basic math, can handle heavy things, and available whenever the company needs you. The pay you bring in though will not be anything great but it will be consistent and reliable.

The fast food and big box retailers are notorious for curbing people’s paychecks in order to keep them off of full-time benefits. Places like Wal-Mart make it a strict practice for their managers to work their employees right up to the minimum mark before they are considered for full-time benefits in order to get the most out of them. Rather than pay for the fair wage and service the employee provides, they would just call-in another employee who needs the hours on short notice.

This whole shuffling around of employees is very disrespectful and inconsiderate of people’s time and efforts because companies like Wal-Mart only worry about their bottom line and nothing else. (Side note: Wal-Mart is one of a few companies that actually explains on their company website to employees how to apply for government benefits because they don’t want to pay them enough) If you read that correctly, Wal-Mart actually puts more stress on the government to provide more support because they don’t want to pay their employees reasonable wages.

Many of the technology startups in the Silicon Valley focus on creating products and services that people don’t necessarily need. I don’t need Uber and I don’t need Airbnb to live my life but I do need a steady stream of income, just like everyone else. Startups tend to focus on just creating products to sell to people instead of creating something of value that can actually help and fix people’s situations. That is where Jon Schlossberg and Quinten Farmer come into the picture. They wanted to create something that truly had value to offer to people who used their app. Majority of apps on people’s phones are there to provide a service of some sort but nothing like what their app provides.

Perspective Follows Purpose
Jon Schlossberg is someone who always had an eye for human behavior. He was keen on finding repeat patterns in all the things people did with their time. He would notice these growing up and wonder why people acted that way or did that. He studied psychology at Skidmore so he could work for the F.B.I. in the forensic’s department. His dream job got side tracked when he became interested in money and went to work for Bonobos as product developer. It was when he was on vacation that he read an interesting study that explained how being poor can affect a person’s mental capabilities. It was this understanding of money, poverty, and stress that got him thinking of how to fix these problems all together.

One of the hidden problems of income inequality in America is that it can swing very widely for many people, especially the low bracket of poor people whose source of income varies. One week there might be a few dollars, the next none, and the next it might be more; the problem overall is that money is not a reliable source so they must live day-to-day on what they currently have. This kind of living can put enormous stress on a person or family who must make ends meet. The Federal reserve found that a third of American’s live in a constant state of income flux. The new economy we live in has only made this issue more wide spread since long-term employment is no longer a thing.

While Jon was researching more about the issue of how to fix this problem and turn it into a business he came across a blog article by, Quinten Farmer, who talked about how to use bitcoin to reduce the cost of sending money of migrant workers to relatives back home. It was in reading this article that he discovered who his new co-founder would be. The discovery of someone else online who is looking to solve the same issue as you could only have been found by reading and looking online. Jon requested a meeting with him and the two got together to talk about what they could come up with.

Microearners Economy
The D.I.Y. economy has created a whole new class of workers who now reply on the technology of apps to piece together a living wage. These apps allow people to become, what is known as microentrepreneurs, because they are not necessarily running their own business as they are juggling their own hours to work within a mired scope of apps. There are people who are signed up on all the ridesharing apps just to cover all their bases. At the same time they are looking around Craigslist all the time for simple jobs to pick up and now that Amazon has opened their Home services program, that will put more stress on people to keep track of any jobs that pop up.

The lifestyle, as great as it may seem of working your own hours and doing only the work you want to do, has its many drawbacks. One of the biggest is that you are required to constantly check the job postings which means you might be required to leave at the most inopportune time. TaskRabbit requires that anyone interested in a job respond within 30 minutes of the posting if they are qualified for it. This behavior of constantly checking produces stress for people working in this temp-like-economy because it means that if you miss a job that could be a missed payment for one of your bills. That kind of stress can build up, especially when the whole ecosystem of freelance work is based off of personal demand. There can only be so many jobs that require someone to help clean up after a party and there can only be so many jobs that require someone coming over and assembling something you bought.

The service app economy allows many people to find work in different places but if everyone is jumping on this bandwagon then there can only be so much work available and when it comes right down to it the one with the fastest internet connection will win out every time. Microearners are the people who lose out the most because it is very hard for them to transition back into the workforce at a major company. Saying on your resume that you worked at TaskRabbit for 2 years helping with odd jobs here and there makes one seem more like a maintenance worker than that marketing degree you got from college. Companies only hire people who are current with their skills and industry trends so the new service economy is great for anyone who doesn’t want to go back but once you do leave your office job, be prepared for an uphill battle trying to get back in.

Evening Out the Stress
The challenge with taking on all these jobs is the uneven income you bring into your life. One day you might pick up three jobs and make $135 dollars and then next you might only get 1 job and your income drops down to $35 bucks and then next it might be five jobs at $175. The problem with this income fluctuation is that you have no clear idea what you will make by the end of the week, unlike a regular office job. This is what Jon and Quinten set out to fix with their app called, Even.

How Even works is by smoothing out your income and giving you a regular slice of life knowing that every friday you will have the same amount of money available to you. When you install the app, it will request access to your bank account. After you agree it will then analyze your account to determine if you qualify for the program, if you do, then you will be shown how your income will become stable based off of the number of deposits in your account to determine how much you will have available to you every friday. (I’m only using friday as an example since Even uses other metrics to determine how often to pay you.) Not everyone will be able to qualify for this service and for the millions of Americans who don’t have a bank account they will not be able to use the service. Here is an example of the service. There are some weeks you might earn more money then usual so Even will take the surplus from the difference of the average you make and put it into a buffer account. Then on bad weeks when you drop below your average earnings Even will pull from your buffer account to help spread out the difference and if there is not enough then Even will help cover the rest with an interest-free loan.

Basically this app makes sure that you have the same amount of money available to you every friday at the end of the week. The only cost to you to use the service is $3 dollars a week ($156/yr). For anyone that works in the freelance community this app is a much needed service to help smooth out the rough weeks with the good ones. Jon and Quinten have learned that when the stress of worrying about money are reduced people can focus better on improving their lives. An app like this provides more value than most other apps out there since no other app really makes this much of an effort to help people.

Challenges and Shortcomings
The concern with this app is that it is a business and all the funding they have received has been from big time VC firms. Venture Capitalist firms do not invest if they won’t get a return on their investment so how does Even plan to meet the demands, if and when, they plan to go public with this company if the only charge to use their service is a weekly $3 fee? The founders said that they don’t plan to add any advertisements into the app because that would only cause more stress if someone decided to take out a loan to help make ends meet. The whole purpose of this app is so that people do not have to do that anymore. They will have to come up with something if they plan to make their investors happy though.

Right now the app is invite only with about a thousand users testing it out this summer. It will be made available to everyone in January 2016 so make sure to mark your calendar down if you plan to add this cool app to your phone. In the meantime you can check out their website to learn more about it and share it with others you think might benefit from such a service. I have also listed a few articles below that go into more detail about the new economy of freelancing with apps if you wish to study the latest trends.

News Articles

Want a Steady Income? There’s an App for That

Even Website

In the Sharing Economy, Workers Find Both Freedom and Uncertainty

Freelancers Piece Together a Living in the Temp Economy

Improve Yourself with Books to Read in 2015

If you did a search right now on the top ten books to read for 2015, you would probably find tons of lists already out there. The challenge with this is that there are so many genre of books now that the lists are endless. Twenty years ago things were not as complicated because most “Must Read” book lists came from large chain book stores and newspapers. Now we have so many different sources on what to read, including this blog right here, that it is hard to narrow down just what all is good to read.

Goodreads is a good place to start if you don’t already have an account. If you love reading you need to open yourself an account and use it. I use that website just about everyday when I update everything I am reading. They have tons of lists to follow, groups to join, book reading challenges, and more. I enjoy reading the reviews to get a better idea of what it is about I’m to read so I know I will get something out of it.

In the meantime the books selected all come from authors who have already written some amazing books. A few of the books I look forward to reading this year are Clay Water Brick, The XYZ Factor, and Work Rules.

Try to always take at least an hour a day to read, 30 minutes when you wake up, and 30 minutes before you go to bed or 4 15 minute breaks throughout your day. If you are a real go-getter in life than you can have 8 15 minute breaks throughout your day. However you decide to read, make sure to take some time also to include the classics, self-help books, and adventure books, either in physical form or audiobooks. Always check your public library first to see if they have a copy available.

In the list I have included those from the list but also some classic business books everyone should read.

Top Business Books to Read for 2015
1. Clay Water Brick – Jessica Jackley
People wonder how anyone can make a successful business happen without having money to support everything. This book here shows you how some of the most innovative individuals created something great with the least amount of resources. This is a good one to start with to get out of the mindset that you need X – Y- Z before you can get started. If you think that is true, read the Kids who are exceptional article.

2. How to Fly a Horse – Kevin Ashton
You would think training a horse to fly would be easy but then again you probably have no idea where to start. The author takes the reader on a journey through history to show how some of the best creations came from challenge situations. Creating something from the ground up is never easy so with the world we live in today where costs for starting a business has dropped to near zero, why is it still hard? This book was on the list of Amazon’s best books of 2014

3. Getting To Yes with Yourself – William Ury
This is the same guy who brought you Getting to Yes, which is ranked as the number one best seller in Business Negotiating category on Amazon. The author explains that all the challenges that happen in life all take place in your head. When you think a deal is going wrong because you emphasized the wrong word, chances are you are probably wrong, or maybe you shook his hand longer than you should have, making you seem desperate. These are all mental games you play with yourself so when you begin to realize not to take life so seriously you can then see how easy it is to make yourself agree with what you are saying. A great movie to watch to help you understand why you should not take life so seriously is called “Being There.” Considered one of the best philosophy movies ever made about Life.

4. Bold – Peter Diamandis, Steven Kotler
This book explains the power of exponential entrepreneurship. When you bring people of life mind together to work on a task you double, triple, or even quadruple the power that goes into solving a problem. This is the idea behind XPRIZE, a program that uses crowdsourcing to it’s ultimate power by asking people all over the world to solve their problems posted on their website, Singularity University, in return for a large cash prize. This book explores all they have learned about this impressive program about how ideas are solved through the help of exponential power.

5. Yes, And – Kelly Leonard, Tom Yorton
The power of Improv acting has helped changed so many people’s personal and business skills for the better because it changes how a person thinks in any given situation. Improv is a form of acting that encourages no sensor thinking and to accept everything thrown at you and learn to think in the moment. Many companies hire theater companies to come in and provide Improv training with their sales staff because of how important it is to learn. If you want to learn more about this skill and join a program, read my previous article on the art of storytelling.

6. The XYZ Factor – Nancy Lublin, Alyssa Ruberman
This is a book about learning to empower people to see the benefit of their actions when they put them to good use for others. This can be very challenging for companies when they work with younger generations that are only interested in instant gratification and isolated circumstances, most of which they have grown up in. The program is meant to get kids out of this habit of waiting, which many grew up in homes where they had to wait to be told what to do and when, and start getting out there and making a difference on your own. For any kid who grew up in a restrictive household, the transition to learn how to think for themselves is very difficult, which is not fair to companies that have to deal with that, and so teaching younger individuals how change is possible through their actions is a good skill to learn.

7. Act Like a Leader, Think Like a Leader – Herminia Ibarra
This book takes on a different approach for leaders. There are many management books that say to find your style of management and leadership in order to guide your department or people. This book here says to listen to what the people are looking for and take guidance from how they need to be managed. When you don’t over think a problem and dwell on it you can then work from the insight your team gives you.

8. Better Than Before – Gretchen Rubin
Changing habits can be hard but when you learn how to find the little tricks to turn small little actions into bit time change that is when results start to show. The author here talks about improving your life with changing your habits and routines. Humans are creatures of habit so it is important to understand how to make new habits work. Chip Heath also wrote a great book on the subject as well called Switch – How to change things when change is hard.

9. Work Rules! – Laszlo Bock
Imagine being the HR manager for one of the best companies to work for in the world? How much pressure would you have to know that you have to hire people that are extremely intelligent but also creative at the same time? That is a lot of pressure, in that, you have to design and create interviews to weed out the fakes and still find the ones that are hard to see the first time. Then after that you have to learn how to create an environment that encourages people to grow and increase productivity, all of which can be challenge, but brought together in this richly packed book of data examples.

10. Surprise – Tania Luna, Leeann Renninger
This element of surprise is important for many reasons but none more so than in the business world. Surprises happen all the time so being able to anticipate that surprise can keep you on your toes but also understand that change is constant. When you learn to accept things as they come, training from Improv acting, you won’t feel threaten by what is happening every time something new comes up.

11. No One Understands You and What to Do About It – Heidi Grant Halvorson
Why do people know who we are? Isn’t that what makes people want to work with other people, because they think different and act different? People who really studied psychology in college, and when I say really studied, I mean they went way beyond the required readings and read more than your typical grad student, you would know that how a person walks, the words they use to speak, the actions they take says everything about a person already. Not everyone studied psychology in college or graduate school so books like this are important to read because it helps people connect with others when they understand them. Engineers have the worst record when it comes to social and people skills so a book like this might help them to learn that when talking about a project of their their’s it is important to include personal identifying properties of themselves with how they created it instead of just the dimensions and costs and benefits of the projects. If you want to read another book on the subject and learn more about a person by the words they speak, “The Secret Life of Pronouns: What Our Words Say About Us,” is a great book to read.

12. The Eureka Factor – John Kounios, Mark Beeman
Do you remember the time you came up with that amazing idea that someone has already come out with? Why did you beat them to it? And why can’t you have more moments like that? This book explains how those moments come about and how to have more of them. They spark imagination, ideas, and bring about change so if they are so important why are they so few of them? Learn more about how the brain works with this book about how great insights are achieved.

13. The Road Character – David Brooks
Ever wondered why Robert Moses lead the life he did, or why the Men Who Built America, had such deep rich self-fulfilling lives? The challenge with creating a rich fulfilling life is not just the doing part but the upbringing part; people of character are built upon a solid foundation of morals, beliefs, and values, which guide them in everything they do. When you have no guidance in which to follow, then why would it surprise you to learn that your life has no purpose? The men who built america found their purpose because they had the keen sense to see what others couldn’t and put it into action. This book takes a look at ten lives and examines them for all these traits to learn how to create a life worth living.

14. Triggers – Marshall Goldsmith
Behavior Consultant Mr Goldsmith looks at how to change behavior for the good and how to make them into certain habits. He takes a look at how behavior works and why we behave differently when we are in groups and when we are by ourselves. This book helps explore all that in order to find the right behaviors that will lead to a successful life.

15. The Misfit Economy – Alexa Clay, Kyra Maya Phillips
Did you know that Pirates in the Indian ocean make millions stealing huge oil tankers and cargo ships in the area? Or that hackers cause millions, if not billions in loses every year to companies, but encourage the growth for many more industries? The growing behavior of misfits is creating whole new industries to come about because the reality is when someone acts bad, you need another to fix it. This book examines the history of people that did things unconventionally and how it turned out for them and what you can learn from doing that. The reality is, business has no rules, so once you learn that rule, all bets are off for anything you do.

16. Wiser: Getting Beyond Groupthink to Make Groups Smarter – Cass Sunstein
This important book contains the very reason you don’t want to surround yourself with people of like-mind. But if you have too, this book will teach you what you need to be aware of to keep from falling into the trap of staying with status-quo. Cass showed that when people of like-mind get together their values strengthen because each member reinforces what they already know or believe in. This is very dangerous because this is how progress is slowed down because if everyone thinks the same way and they all agree with one another then there is nothing to change or improve.

Cass also shows that similar minded groups make less dramatic changes than groups that are composed of different mindsets. He talks about this in the new elected Congress that is very one-sided and how dangerous this will be for policy making and America. You can watch his interview on The Daily Show to learn more about what happens when people who are conservative get together with similar minded individuals, and vice versa. This is a very important concept to learn so you don’t fall into the same mental trap. This is why the phrase, “Keep Your Friends Close, but your Enemies Closer,” is important to learn because your enemies will keep you on your toes and learning all the time. This book is ranked number 1 in Business & Organizational Learning.

Here are some Additional Books to read

Zero to One – Peter Thiel (Number 1 in Economic Policy and Development)
The Hard Thing About Hard Things – Ben Horowitz
The lean Startup – Eric Ries
Business Adventures – John Brooks (Number 1 in Commerce)
Influence – Robert Cialdini (Number 1 in Marketing and Consumer Behavior)
22 Immutable Laws of Branding – Al Ries

To find more business books to read, check out my previous article and Book Page
This book changed this billionaire’s understanding about Business
Business Books

News Article

15 New Books to Read in 2015

Kids that are Exceptional

It seems we only hear about kids doing amazing things in the news, and often times we wonder why the kids we do know are not as motivated as the kids doing amazing things. We wonder, why don’t those kids want to go out and go something great for their community? A lot of times the kid is not allowed the opportunity to explore what all is out there. A child always has to wait for the parent to say when they can go somewhere, when they can do something, and so the child becomes conditioned to always wait on the parent for things. It is not until the child starts to learn about events taking place around them that they start to beg their parents to take them places. This usually comes in the form of a school announcement about a festival or a commercial they saw.

In the following stories about these exceptional kids I will break down just how these kids came to be exceptional and why your parenting style has a huge impact on your child’s future. The research in the four major parenting styles has been around for a very long time with proven end results for each style. A parent who listens to their child and understands what they are trying to say will raise a child who understands that what they say is important versus a parent who always expects their child to do as their told and not talk back, regardless if they have something to say or not. These kinds of children grow up believing that what they have to say does not matter because they were always told to be quiet and do as their told. Which child to you think will grow up to be successful in life?

Your Parenting Style Determines Your Child’s Future*
This concept has been around as long as the research on behaviorism and conditioning have been around. (Side note: Please do not think that I am working off of only those two areas of development, I am using those two as a starting point since they were the first major areas of research in human behavior, which would later go on to be applied to child rearing practices) A parent who is active and very social will be a good role model for their child to learn that if you want to make more friends you need to go out and join programs. You can not make excuses, so by getting up early every saturday morning and attending events your child begins to pick up clues from how you start a conversation with a stranger.

If you want your child to wash their hands every time they get home they need to see you do the same. If you want your child to learn proper manners they need to see you do it all the time. Getting mad at them for not doing it doesn’t fix anything, it just creates tension. Children monitor everything a parent does so if you see habits your child has picked up and not sure where they got it from then you need to self-monitor to find out if you were teaching it to them without even knowing it.

The story of one of the kids below, Jacob, started when his mom was looking for an opportunity to show their kids how to help others. This meant that his parents made the valid effort of going out and finding a program that will show their kids how others are helping people in need. Your child first needs to see that there is a problem from how other people respond. Watching people working together to prepare meals for hungry and sick people is a great motivator for the child to see that there is a major problem and that it is real. Children are told all the time that there are starving kids in Africa and that they should always eat everything on their plate but they don’t understand or care because it doesn’t affect them personally. They don’t physically see the relationship.

Jacob, because of social cues in his environment, felt the need to help others so started his own program that would help raise money to feed people. He knew he was a great athlete and he knew how other people raised money by joining marathons and sport competitions, so he became a triathlete and raised money that way. Would any of that have happened, if his parent’s didn’t show him food banks? The answer is no. He would have stayed a regular kid and just gone about his business like so many other kids who always complain about being bored.

Want to get your kids involved in other people’s lives? Here are a few starting places
– Teach your kids basic sign language and have them join programs for deaf kids, this will not only encourage them to get better with their sign language but also improve their social skills in a different way.
– Help your child improve their reading by having them read to the blind, either at homeless shelters or hospitals. (Hospitals are always looking for volunteers for all kinds of programs.) Another way is to have your child read to a younger kid who is just learning as well, if you can not find anyone, many libraries have reading dogs that are trained to listen to someone read.
– As a family go and work at a soup kitchen for the homeless
– Teach your child to build (vegetable) gardens and compost piles for other people in need
– Teach your child about other kids who are in jail and have them write letters to them during the holidays and year round.
– Teach your child about how food works in the world and ask them to save a portion of their allowance to help pay for past due lunch accounts at school so other kids can eat, like Cayden did.

How active you are as a parent in the community will translate to how active your child becomes in the community.

Be the Person You Want Your Child to Be
This may sound like common sense but you will be surprised how many times I have seen horrible situations get worse. I have seen parents complain to their child about not getting good grades in school but the parent is never there to help, or can’t help because they don’t understand the homework. If you want to show how important school is then make them understand how important it is to study by setting time aside every time they get home from school and on the weekends.

Want your child to read more?
Then make sure to set aside quiet time in the house just for that at the same time every night

Want your child to make more friends?
Join organizations where other children will be there (remember they need to see you do it first before they do). Make sure your child has X number of sleep overs a month and in the summer. Many parent’s don’t realize how important sleepovers really are to developing proper social skills. Boys will bond over movies and video games, especially movies that are action packed and video games like Halo.

Want to teach your child about responsibility?
Get them to start babysitting at an early age for other kids after school or weekends (let the other parent know you, as the parent, will be there in the beginning so your child can understand what to do, plus making money is a great motivator for the child to learn)

Want your child to be active in sports?
Join a gym or sport events as a family and then slowly transition them to team sports in their age group. Go on hiking or camping trips as a family on the weekends.

When Your Dad is a Surfing Pro
Most people think that any child under 5 years old is too young to be doing anything big or dangerous in their life probably doesn’t know what it means to experience life to its fullest. “Baby Steve” Roberson has been surfing since he was 2 years old and now he can surf on waves five times his size with no fear at all. His older twin brothers, Justin and Eric, who are both 8, also enjoy surfing and can hang-ten with the best of them. So does it really matter that their dad is surfing champion Kaleo Roberson? It has everything to do with it infact.

They say that if you want to be the best at something you have to work on it every day until people start giving you awards or paying you for it. That is when you know you have made it. Kaleo, in an interview said, that he got his boys in the water as soon as he could and got them on a board right after that. He would hold the boys on his surf board while he surfed to show them what it felt like. You have to have amazing balance to do that. But then again there are dogs who love surfing too and make a difference in people’s lives so it shouldn’t be that hard to learn, right?

Surfing is hard in the beginning just like everything else when you first start out but when you have the right support, and this goes for anything, anyone can become great at something. Steve’s dad taught him what he knew so his son had all the support he needed, if he fell right off, his dad picked him up and put him right back on the board. He made sure that fear never got the best of his sons, plus it also helps to have a home near a beach that is known for having great surfing conditions. All these factors matter when it comes to success, but is not a requirement as history has shown over and over again individuals overcoming adversity to rise to the top. The other contributing factor is to not fault your child for when they get tired or don’t pick up on something right away. I have seen this plenty of times when a parent gets mad at a child for not listening the first time and they just give up. The important thing is to not let anger, in any form, interfere with learning.

Want your kid to become a surfing pro? Then make sure you take them everyday to the beach to practice. Want your kid to be the best at math but you suck at it? Get them a tutor who has the patience to show them how easy it can be? Want to teach your kids to learn how to appreciate film and TV shows? Take them to film festivals and talk with others about what they just watched with similar minded individuals. Want your kid to learn to appreciate the fine art of recycling? Show them how their actions help the planet.

In the video of the dog who loves to surf, it is important to understand how she was trained so you have an idea of how she became a superstar fundraiser for people with disabilities. Her trainer was there everyday all the time making sure that she learned what she needed to because the intention was to turn her into a service dog for someone with a disability. They worked all the time but when her trainer saw that she had an interest in birds it jeopardized her training and had to be stopped.

How many times have parents given up on their child because things got difficult? No one said parenting was easy and those that say that probably don’t spend the “quality” time they should be, and no this does not mean taking them to the movies and eating out, it means, making sure they sit down and study and do their homework on a regular basis, making sure that they understand what is expected of them without getting mad or frustrated. The movies and eating out is the easy part, the homework and chores is where the parenting style is put to the test.

Ricochet, the SURFive dog, found an interest in something else and her trainer encouraged that new found interest, when most other trainers would have given up on her, meaning the world would have lost a special service dog. Ricochet is now a service dog for crippled surfers and other handicapped individuals that want to surf. Her training taught her how to surf with people to protect them while surfing. How many countless hours did that take? The same countless hours it takes to make sure your son or daughter does well in school or on personal projects. Exceptional means hard work with encouragement right behind it.

Where Exception Meets Everyday Life
There is no secret formula to success, so i will give it to you right now, just don’t be disappointed by what I have to say. Success comes with hard work and countless hours, months or even years. If you want to write a book then you have to sit down and write, no one else is going to do it for you. Need to lose weight? Then get your butt up and moving and out that door. Want to raise an exceptional kid, then you have to start making changes in your own life first. Your child needs to see you make the first move before you start asking them to make big changes in their life.

Cayden saw this first hand about what it means to not be able to eat a school lunch when he witnessed a child’s school lunch being taken away from him because he didn’t have any money in his account. This happens everyday to kids in school and it is not the kid’s fault either because school’s base that whole system off of how much their parents’ make, so it falls on the parent to make sure there is enough money in the kid’s account but that is beside the point. Schools’ should not take away a child’s lunch, instead they should just apply it to the account and let the child eat. Study after study (again with more studies being done and ignored) show that a balanced meal helps a child do better in school, so if the school itself is a direct factor in a child’s performance and they take away a child’s lunch then they are contributing to the very thing they want to prevent?

In order to prevent this from happening Cayden created a program that raised money to help pay past due accounts so kids could eat lunch. Cayden has seen first hand how important it is to help others because of the social stigma of not being able to afford lunch at school which can have a serious impact on a child’s psyche. It also encourages kids to label that kid as poor or a social outcast. By getting more people involved Cayden is learning what it takes to make change happen and that it all starts with one person each and every time.

So…you want your child to do something great in life? Here are my suggestions, if I haven’t provided enough already.

– Don’t restrict them in what they are interested in doing. Do they like action movies? Sit down and watch them together and talk (afterwards, NOT during the movie) about what they liked, didn’t like, even if they are 8 years or 11 years old or 4 years old. Star Wars is a movie for little boys and that is who the audience is geared towards, just look at this little boy’s reaction when he found out at the end who Luke’s father was.
– Attend more events in your city. It’s important to get your kids out of the house as much as possible to show them all the things happening. When they see others doing stuff it encourages them to open up more. Is your kid shy? Joining a circus arts institute program can help them with that or even an improv class for kids, while at the same time learning a new skill and getting exercise.
– Want your child to play more? Make it a point to visit different playgrounds. There are places now where there are playgrounds for adults too, because hey, everyone is young at heart. If your child is handicapped many cities now have playgrounds for handicapped kids, be sure to look one up since it is now part of the American’s with Disabilities Act as a right to access for play areas. If I had money I would build lots of these all over.
– If your child is struggling in their level of math pair them up with a student in a grade below them to teach younger kids, who are also struggling, how to do math. The mentor relationship will teach the older child how to improve their teaching style but will also refresh them on math tips they might have forgotten. They will begin to improve in their own math level after teaching it to younger students.

The kids I profiled here are just a few out of the many amazing kids out there doing amazing things. There are lots of other kids who are teens that I have talked about before in my previous post that you can learn about. There was a 14 year who created his own nuclear reactor, so when given the right support kids will surprise you.

If you want to get your child something great this year here are a few gift ideas

– Coupon Book made up of special moments for your child to use (i.e. a night together with mom, a night together with dad, special day with mom or day, a don’t get angry at me coupon, my favorite breakfast, trip to the ice cream store) which they can use anytime they want.

– A Season pass (or gift card, membership card) to the Zoo, city museum, Hackerspace, work out gym, gymnasium, etc. (In light of the night at the museum movies, the museum of natural history in New York City offer sleepovers with scavenger hunts and flash light adventures.)

– Flying Lessons which might get them interested in getting their pilot’s license

– $100 dollars with the intention that they find a cause worth donating to

If you need more ideas about how to get your child active and helping others read the book “How to be an Everyday Philanthropist” it will give you lots of great ideas.

So remember, if you want your child involved in something great you need to make the first move. Making them join a worthy cause when they know you are at home just sitting there watching TV won’t encourage them to get involved with the program it will just encourage them to watch the clock so they can get back home.

Kids in Profile

6 Year Old Surfing Prodigy

Jacob, the Triathlete

Jacob appears on GMA

Cayden, a Philanthropist

Cayden helps pay for school lunches

To Learn about more exceptional Kids check out Citizen Kid

* – I do need to point out that there are certain kids who are born just naturally gifted and end up in families where the parent’s could care less how well their child did in school. These kids have the resilience, talent, and natural gifts to understand everything they are taught, not to mention, the natural discipline to manage their life on their own. Many times these children are prodigies in their own right. I knew many kids growing up who came from bad homes but were straight A students, this shows they had the ability to push through all the negative but it also goes to show that behaviorism is not a solid base since children in these types of homes learn not to follow what their parents teach them. A trait that has saved a lot of these kids’. If you want to learn about kids overcoming adversity then you can learn how these kids work in the fields all day but also make sure they attend school as well and how this one school in New Jersey is helping them.

Two Boys, under Ten, raised a million dollars with self-published book

People write books for all kinds of reasons, from personal stories that the world needs to know to stories that came from a dream that tell of a distant world. Inspiration is want compels people to sit down and put into words something they experienced. Many people write their own books today in hopes that it might land them a steady income after awhile and many write books having never made a decent living off of it. In almost everything one puts their energy into there is a opportunity cost involved, sometimes that cost is high and sometimes it’s so low that it doesn’t matter.

In this situation though something special happened between two little boys that inspired one to do something great for his best friend.

A Special Connection
Dylan Siegel is a boy that most would love to have as a friend. At 8 years old he has accomplished what most mature authors can only dream of achieving, writing a book that earns them a million dollars. This is no easy feat by any means but his motivation is what helped him achieve this special attention because you see, his friend, Jonah Pournazarian, who is only a year older than Dylan has a rare liver condition that makes it impossible for his body to digest sugars, a condition known as Glycogen Storage Disease 1B.

This condition is very difficult to manage because it requires him to be on a very strict eating diet, which mainly consists of cornstarch, and schedule that includes 7 meals a day. If he misses just one meal it could mean he falls into a seizure and dies. Of the 7 meals he eats 2 different meals that provide him with the nutrition his body needs. Everything he eats has to be monitored and his blood levels have to be checked all the time. With the latest technology today monitoring blood levels is not hard, the hard part is making sure he has what he needs at the right time.

In an interview Dylan was asked about his friend and he said that his friendship gives him a special feeling inside that makes him happy to be his friend. It is his friendship with Jonah that has inspired him to sit down and write a book to help raise money to find a cure for his friend’s condition. How many young boy’s do you know that would take the time out to sit down and do something special for their friend? Not many but it happens.

Touching Lives
After Dylan got his parent’s to publish his book he made an effort to tell as many people as he could to buy his book. He set up a website to learn more about the story behind the book and to teach people about this condition his friend has. This has encouraged many people to get behind the cause and support his efforts. Dylan and Jonah has set up their table in many places to sell their book and once the news caught wind of what was happening, more and more people took notice.

The condition that Jonah has is extremely rare so it makes it difficult for pharmaceutical companies to invest any research money into finding a cure if the population of those with the disease is too low to support a profit. That is the nature of the medicine industry, there has to be enough people with the condition for there to be a solid effort in finding a cure. Dylan did his research and wanted to help make sure that labs working on finding a cure had the money to do so. He didn’t want to lose his best friend so he wrote that book to show that people care about others, especially when they are your best friend.

After getting the word out and the news picking up on the story, Dylan and Jonah now travel around doing book readings to audiences and book signings. They have created a facebook page to help spread the word about his cause and what else he plans to do with the book. In a recent clip on ABC news Dylan was happy to make the call to the doctor, Dr. David Weinstein,  who is helping to find a cure letting him know that he raised a million dollars for him. How many friends do you know who would go to the lengths that 6 year old Dylan has? Friendship is a powerful thing.

The Road Ahead
Dylan now plans to turn his Chocolate Bar book into a complete series to help raise more money including awareness for his friend. The book has garnered attention from all over the world with kids sending in video replies about how much they enjoyed Dylan’s book. The boys have appeared on many talk shows all around trying to spread the word.

The boys say that they will not stop, even though their goal was to reach a million, until they find a cure for Jonah, so that is when they will stop. The connection these two boys have made will be a life long connection. So far researches have been able to find a cure for the same disease in dogs now they need to bridge the connection in humans. Hopefully they will see the cure within the next few years.

The Business Side of Building a Brand
What these boys are doing is the same as what it takes to build a brand. They attend press events, they talk about their book, the story behind the book, and their mission goal. These are the most pressing matters when talking about your business and brand. People want to know who you are, how you got your idea, and where you plan to go with it. These are all the same concepts that any startup company, or writer, must go through to get their name out there.

Dylan got the business bug from playing Monopoly. His mom, Debra Siegel, says that when her son plays monopoly, watch out. He has learned that control of certain properties on the board puts you in control. The same is said for anything you do, when you cover all your bases and have gained enough ground then you can start controlling the flow of things. Dylan knew he was just a kid so he knew he was limited by what he could do. He knew that getting a book into people’s hands was a great way to spread his message so by sitting down and working on one he could show that he was serious by the effort he put into it.

When you look at the design and wording of his book you see that he drew every page himself, and wrote all the words himself. To an accomplished writer the book may look childish and poorly structured with no way of ever becoming a success, and that might be all the things they tell you in the publishing industry (correct grammar, plot line and structure, character development, etc). So why don’t these things apply to his book? Isn’t that why literary agents are so mean to new writers? They haven’t mastered these areas so why risk trying to become an author in the first place?

Dylan had the beauty of ignorance on his side. He was only 6 years old and didn’t understand how the world works as an adult so those things didn’t interfere with his train of thought, which was only about writing a book that him and his friend understood (chocolate bar stands for something awesome and cool) and that he could raise money with. What Dylan has that most adults do not have is access to social capital – school environments. Schools have lots of people in them and it is very easy for a kid to tell his teacher about what he is doing and then have the teacher put up an announcement in the school for everyone else to know about.

Adults do not have access to such resources after they graduate high school and college. They must rely on their social skills, what they know about business and marketing, and social media to spread the word. For many adults who have been trying that for years and have gotten no where with you understand the frustrations of what I am talking about. You also feel a little envy for why Dylan has reached his goal and you are still trying to get someone to buy your novel that you spent the last 5 years writing.

This is where Dylan’s success changes from so many others. I have met many kids in school who have used the power of social capital in their schools to help get their idea off the ground. It works faster when you are surrounded by a lot of people everyday instead of always having to hire someone to do one thing at a time. By using the power of social media, Dylan created a facebook page, a youtube channel, and a twitter account to help maximize the spread of his message. He had all his friends join all his pages and that helped spread the word even faster, so when you break down all that Dylan has, over the resources that an adult has, you can see how he was able to reach his goal of one million dollars and why he will be able to continue past it. Great Job Dylan and keep up the great work. Here’s hoping for the day when they announce a cure.

Enjoy This highlight of the two boys

News Articles

Boy’s ‘Chocolate Bar’ Book Nets $1M for Rare Liver Disorder Research

Boy raises nearly $1M with self-published book for friend with rare disease


Boy, 6, writes book, raises $92,000 for best pal’s rare disease

Social Media Accounts

Facebook Page

YouTube Channel

Twitter Account

Chocolate Bar Website

Today is Human Rights Day

It’s always surprising to me when I talk about universal human rights around people and how little they know about them. I don’t ever see people fighting over these rights as much as American’s do about gun rights. It seems most people fight harder to be able to have the right to carry around a gun than to fight for equal access to water, education, and food. What makes guns more important than education, basic needs, and individual freedoms? Nothing, that’s what. The pen is mightier than the sword (or in this case today, guns), so shouldn’t educating people be a bigger priority than trying to get more guns into people’s hands?

The United Nations was created after the horrible World War II accounts of human tragedy. It is considered one of the worst actions against a single group of people. In an effort to get the world on a better track after that, one lady made a strong effort to push forth a group of rights, similar to the US Bill of Rights, but for everyone in the world, to show that each person should be entitled to certain unalienable rights. That lady was Eleanor Roosevelt and she used her fame as First Lady to make a change in the world after her husband had passed away. She was a very busy lady who traveled all over the world meeting with men of high status so she could gain support for her many ideas. The history of the world will know her for what she did to protect everyone that ever steps foot on this planet. At least I hope so today.

The Human rights have been around since 1948 and in all this time you would think the world would learn to respect those rights by now. Many of them are basic and simple – right to basic needs, but you would be surprised how many countries in this world are in violation of the universal human rights act. Here are some surprising statistics.

  • 112 Countries Tortured their citizens in 2012
  • 80 Countries conducted unfair trails
  • 101 Countries repressed their people’s right to freedom of expression in 2012

Countries that are in violation of human rights are ones that encourage the following

  • Child Slavery/Marriages
  • Forced Labor
  • Bans of Gay Rights and Marriages
  • Women restricted from education
  • Restriction of Religious Beliefs
  • Human Trafficking
  • Child/Adult Sex Trade Industry

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights

1. Everyone is free and we should all be treated in the same way.

2. Everyone is equal despite differences in skin colour, sex, religion, language for example.

3. Everyone has the right to life and to live in freedom and safety.

4. No one has the right to treat you as a slave nor should you make anyone your slave.

5. No one has the right to hurt you or to torture you.

6. Everyone has the right to be treated equally by the law.

7. The law is the same for everyone, it should be applied in the same way to all.

8. Everyone has the right to ask for legal help when their rights are not respected.

9. No one has the right to imprison you unjustly or expel you from your own country.

10. Everyone has the right to a fair and public trial.

11. Everyone should be considered innocent until guilt is proved.

12. Every one has the right to ask for help if someone tries to harm you, but no-one can enter your home, open your letters or bother you or your family without a good reason.

13. Everyone has the right to travel as they wish.

14. Everyone has the right to go to another country and ask for protection if they are being persecuted or are in danger of being persecuted.

15. Everyone has the right to belong to a country. No one has the right to prevent you from belonging to another country if you wish to.

16. Everyone has the right to marry and have a family.

17. Everyone has the right to own property and possessions.

18. Everyone has the right to practice and observe all aspects of their own religion and change their religion if they want to.

19. Everyone has the right to say what they think and to give and receive information.

20. Everyone has the right to take part in meetings and to join associations in a peaceful way.

21. Everyone has the right to help choose and take part in the government of their country.

22. Everyone has the right to social security and to opportunities to develop their skills.

23. Everyone has the right to work for a fair wage in a safe environment and to join a trade union.

24. Everyone has the right to rest and leisure.

25. Everyone has the right to an adequate standard of living and medical help if they are ill.

26. Everyone has the right to go to school.

27. Everyone has the right to share in their community’s cultural life.

28. Everyone must respect the ‘social order’ that is necessary for all these rights to be available.

29. Everyone must respect the rights of others, the community and public property.

30. No one has the right to take away any of the rights in this declaration.

Source: Human Rights Education Association

You can watch Eleanor talk about the human rights in the videos below.

If you would like to learn more about Universal Human Rights please visit some of the links below to understand why these rights are so much more important than most other rights.


We are all born free: The Universal Declaration of Human Rights in Pictures (Children’s Book)

A World Made New: Roosevelt and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights

Every Human Has Rights: What you need to know about Your Human Rights

Inventing Human Rights: A History

International Human Rights

Human Rights: A Very Short Introduction

Universal Human Rights in Theory and Practice


Universal Declaration of Human Rights

UN declares “Everyday is Human Rights Day”

A United Nations Prority

Human Rights Violations

Full List of Universal Declaration of Human Rights

Eleanor Roosevelt Wikipedia Page

Universal Declaration of Human Rights Wikipedia Page

Twitter Search of #Rights365

Twitter Results of #HumanRightsViolations


To learn more about the important effects the Roosevelt’s had on the world you can watch the latest PBS documentary that came out by Ken Burns.

PBS The Roosevelt’s Website

Amazon: The Roosevelt’s: An Intimate History

How Can You Help

The best thing you can do as an individual to help promote Human Rights is to educate yourself about each right and learn to respect each person’s right to be different and to learn from them rather than fight against who they are as an individual. Passing laws that force your beliefs onto people does not promote peace but the very opposite. The easiest way also, as Ellen Degeneres always ends her show with, is “Be Kind to One Another.” It’s as simple as that.