Category Archives: Social Media

Want to be Happier in life? Quit Using this

There are more than a billion users registered on the site and of those 1.55 are active monthly users. This means that people are going to Facebook, probably first thing in the morning, and checking out everything their friends are doing and all the stuff they subscribed to, in hopes of never missing a moment. 30 minutes was the average amount of time anyone spent on the site everyday. That kind of effect can do many things to a person but the very thing that FB hoped its platform would do – bring friends and people together, actually has a very negative effect on people, which is it makes them very unhappy.

The Happiness Research Institute from Copenhagen released a study called, “The Facebook Experiment,” and found that those who quit FB for up to a week reported having a higher level of satisfaction in life. They didn’t feel the need to see what their friends were doing and able to complete more tasks in their life, and why not? When you don’t have to keep seeing what your friends are doing you can focus on getting more out of life. Their concentration levels even improved.


In many other studies, Depression has been found in many Facebook users because of the action of social comparison. This takes place when you compare what you are doing with everything your friends are posting online. Your friends lives can seem like they are more fun and interesting than yours when they only post the good stuff. It can get overwhelming when you see your friends going on vacation in exotic locations, posting from different parts of the world and putting up beautiful images of wonderful times.

The fact that Facebook lets you post very intimate parts of, what were once private events, your life can now be shared with everyone you know can be overwhelming for others. Life moments is a feature that FB built in so you can post when you got your first car, or even bought a new one; when you purchased a new house, and so on. All these events showing up in your news, or your friend’s news feed, can be a kick in the face to anyone else that is not doing that great in life. The effects of comparison can lead to depression because it seems like you are not having as much fun as what your friends are doing.

The Copenhagen study does emphasize that the one-week period is not long enough to determine any long term effects of happiness after quitting but I can vouch that quitting FB is very healthy. The author of this blog quit FB years ago cold Turkey. I remember the mornings when I would dread getting on FB because there would be so many things to read that many times I would put in a few hours just going through all the articles that I knew I needed to read.

I came to the conclusion that I just wouldn’t sign in anymore and it has been wonderful. I am happy not having to see baby pictures on there. I’m glad I don’t need to know everything single thing my friends are doing, and I’m more productive in getting things done that interest me. I have never installed the app on my phone and never will. My time is more liberating not having to check in on what everyone else is doing.

Social Media Sites/Apps and Depression
This study is a reminder that before social media and the internet came around, the most friends someone could manage on a healthy level was around 8 to 12. Now social media sites let you have thousands of friends and followers, most of which you will never actually talk to after chatting online for a few minutes or meeting in person at a networking event. The sites and apps pretend to help you keep in touch but the reality is that if you are not a person with amazing people skills it is very difficult to maintain those relationships, even when they get up into the twenties or thirties. Dunbar’s number, 150, comes to mind when considering what relationships mean to people. The number 150 is the maximum number of cognitive relationships a person can have before they start to break down. Most companies limit the number of people in a building to that number because after that it is harder to remember names and faces.

The study that Dunbar did relates very easily to the number of friends one can have on any social media site. It is very overwhelming when you have 50 people with birthday’s on the same day. If you are one to wish them a Happy Birthday everyday you would waste so much time just typing and if you had to come up with a personalized greeting for each of them, that would take up even more of your time.

So, you want to feel happier in life? Quit, or at least reduce, the amount of time you spend on social media sites. You will find you get more done in life, can enjoy doing the things you do, and still meet new people in person! As for how I use social media, I may comment now and then on the things people say from the stuff that I’ve done but I don’t focus on it all that much. I get on to do a few things and then get off. I don’t let what people post affect how I feel, I just look it as another perspective that someone got to experience and enjoy it for what it was.

You can learn more about the study by clicking on the links below and about the other study done on Facebook depression.


Copenhagen Study

Quitting Facebook will make you happier and less stressed, study says

Can quitting Facebook make you happier? This study says yes

Will Quitting Facebook Make You Happier?

A New Study Says Quitting Facebook Makes People Happier

‘Why I quit Facebook, and you should too’

Seeing Everyone Else’s Highlight Reels: How Facebook Usage is Linked to Depressive Symptoms

Exploring Facebook Depression

How Facebook Makes Us Unhappy

Facebook depression study

YouTube for Kids

YouTube is releasing an app for kids today in an effort to help protect kids from inappropriate content on their website but also to help segment the audience more. This effort is a way to organize content on YouTube better just as the networks have done with the TV rating system. As YouTube becomes more advanced with their licensing system, content aggregator, and music system already in place, they have a financial incentive to keep offering relative material to certain audience members, namely kids and eventually teens.

Purposeful Entertainment
It always amazes me how parents are so quick to keep their kids from sitting in front of the TV all the time but never quick enough to say the same for what they watch on YouTube. How many times have you caught your child laughing at all the animal videos only to think how cute it is to see them laugh. It is easy to write that off as nothing harmful but pure enjoyable to them as a child. Why is that any different than if they were to sit in front of a TV and watch the Animal Planet channel? The truth is that it is not. The child is not getting any kind of stimulation (side note: for all future purposes and understanding your child does not need to be stimulated or educated every waking second of their child life, they too need down time just like an adult so over stimulating is just as bad as under stimulating) but the act of laughing itself makes the whole thing seem ok but now that there are YouTubers who provide material for children now it only makes seem to create a separate entity within the YouTube world just for kids.

Segmenting Content
Instead of searching for videos on certain things kids will have categories to pick from to find their favorite show. This will make it easier for content providers to connect with kids who are interested in learning new things. The search function will still be there but it will limit what videos they can still find. Yes, the silly cat videos will still be there but just be aware that this is another sneaky way to try and add in a kind of work around to creating a rating system on YouTube.

The app itself will have 8 categories for kids to tap on. A few of the major players in those eight categories will be Jim Henson studios, Sesame Street, Reading Rainbow, and Thomas the Tank. Sesame Street will add in more interactive content for children to use including the many others who will be creating content specifically for little kids. The app will also include a voice search function, just like the regular YouTube website and app, which Google feels kids will use more often than typing since most kids won’t know how to spell certain words.

Functions of the App
The app itself is designed with a lot of feedback in mind from many of the developers themselves who worked on it to many organizations that work to create guidelines for parents. A few of the features of the app include

  • Time Limit Option – Parents can select how long their child is allowed to use the app everyday. When the time is up the app will ask for a password to continue what they are doing or shut off until next time.
  • No Distracting Comments – The app has disabled the comments options to keep kids from getting distracted by this but also nothing on the video screen either.
  • Voice-Search – Kids can search the app using just their voice. This is helpful for little hands that haven’t learned their ABCs yet.
  • Big Button Options – Excellent for little fingers that don’t have the dexterity that older hands have. This makes it easier to click on videos and find their favorite shows. Titles of videos will be replaced with larges pictures of what they want to see, since visualization is key to this app’s design.
  • Four Playlist options – Music, Shows, Learning, and Explore

The app will not be available to Apple users’ until late April. It will only be available for all Android devices starting today.

Making Money by the Rules
The creation of the app creates a very fine line that Google has to walk since the app caters only to children that means that Google must comply with the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act, not to mention a slew of other laws. This means that Google cannot collect personal information about a child without the parent’s consent.  This can make it difficult for how it plans to collect information so they can sell it for advertisers.

Currently Google is planning on creating original content just for the app itself, and because they are Google they have the enormous cash reserves to be able to do it in the beginning with no problem but any business person will tell you that is not a sustaining model in the long run. They will need to figure out how to make money off of this content that will only be viewed by children. It is a strong case that Google will introduce a subscription base model for this app in order for kids to access their favorite shows once they are hooked on them. The only challenge to that is kids don’t stay young forever so they will need to figure out how to keep getting new viewers.

Google has the option of placing ads on their app of course this can pose many problems since most kids, including teens and adults, are not able to tell an online ad from content within the video itself. They will need to be careful if those ads try to take them out of the app and onto the internet where they can run into problems. Once you get a child out of the app and onto an advertiser’s website, the rules for child compliance change since the child was not supposed to be there in the first place, just another sneaky way advertisers get around the rules.

Of course for many online companies that do comply with the rules of protecting children’s online privacy they view this opportunity as a goldmine of being able to target kids specifically, especially toy makers, candy companies, and movies for kids. They know that anyone watching will be their target audience, which is very difficult on the YouTube website itself, here they know that only kids will be watching, since it is for kids 12 and under. YouTube is for people 13 and over but who follows those rules?

New form of Entertainment
The app is a shift in how online entertainment is going. Netflix already has an option for kids where content is aggregated by age and pre-selected for young viewers but many kids know how to get out of that if there is no password. It won’t be long before more and more websites start catching on the potential to market and create content for young viewers since so many are already walking around with tablets in their hands at a young age now that tablets and mobile technology is getting cheaper and cheaper.

If you would like to download the app for your child click on this link.

News Articles

YouTube Unveils New App for Kids

YouTube for Kids will Launch on Feb 23

YouTube to Release new App for kids

Introducing the newest member of our family, the YouTube Kids app–available on Google Play and the App Store

These Apps Help the Blind See & Deaf Communicate

The power of crowdsourcing is all about bringing people together to solve a problem. Why spend all your time trying to solve a problem on your own when you could ask other people for help? When you bring people together to solve a problem you lower the cost and time to fix the problem. Crowdsourcing is the core power that drives majority of social media apps – you bring people together to solve two problems at the same time for businesses and friends. In the business world you have two groups of people that have needs, one needs a service and the other needs a job. By connecting the right people together the app solves a need right away. The apps for friends is evident because everyone wants to know what their friends are doing.

But what about certain areas that people forget about if they are not apart of that world? What about people who can not see and need help going about their day? Well there is an app that requests the help of people who can see with those who cannot. People who are blind can open the app and request the help from anyone. The app simply connects two people together which means that person could be anywhere in the world who speaks the same language. In case someone is busy or driving and can not answer the app there are other people all over who can pick up the call.

You can watch a demo of how the app works below

If you want to help and have an iPhone you can download the app and sign up. This is another way of helping people who struggle everyday by sharing your time. Most of the requests will be to read something they are holding or looking at. They will use their phone or tablet camera to show you what they are looking at so you can tell them in detail what it is. This can be very helpful to a blind person that needs a little help every now and then.

You visit their website to find out more about them. Be My Eyes

You can read more about this app in this news article.

Helping Deaf People Communicate
There are also apps that can help with many other disabilities. People who are deaf have a hard time dealing with people so being able to understand them clearly is important. The app I see what you say allows people to speak into a smartphone and then the words come out on the screen or a smartwatch. There is also a feature of the app for when a person rotates their wrist in a certain motion it will automatically launch the app.

This app was created by an entrepreneur who is deaf and also a Lyft driver. His name is Jibril Jaha and he is the co-founder, along with Michael Boyd, of Digital Army Devices, a company he created to help deaf people communicate with anybody else. He saw the importance of using technology to bridge the gap between these two problems. Deaf people know how to sign but not everyone understands how to interpret sign language. In order to overcome this issue he created an app that takes what a person says and translate it into text using Google Voice.

The voice-to-text translation technology has been around for a long time with word processing programs and speech-to-text technology coming before all of it today. His job as a Lyft driver helps him make money for his company while testing out the use of his app. You can think of his work with people as a little laboratory where he gets to meet a lot of different people and test for bugs. His job puts him in contact with lots of different people he wouldn’t normally meet so the fact that he brought the two together was a very smart idea. The app currently costs

Another great product that will soon help deaf people communicate is the UNI tablet. It “reads” sign language and translates the motions into words. The technology comes from Leap Motion, which is technology that translates motion into an action the computer can understand. Surprisingly enough the device for home use has been around for about 3 years now and every Christmas is not one of the hot-ticket items on everyone’s list even though you can do some amazing things with it. If you would like to buy a leap motion device you can purchase it here or at any Bestbuy location. Watch the video below to see how the tablet translates sign-language into words.

You can watch this video of Ryan Hait-Campbell talk about how and why he created Motion Savvy, which is a company comprised of only deaf employees. Their goal for the device is to be able to read over 20,000 signs, which it currently sits at 300. The tablet itself costs around $800 and $20 a month for service.

The push to help people with disabilities is moving faster and faster as technology starts to fill in the gaps between each problem. Pretty soon people will be able to see in their virtual eyewear devices what a person is signing and have it translated into speech that is fed directly to their blue-tooth ear piece. Is that kind of technology possible today? It is, it just needs support and funding to help make it commercial and to work out all the bugs.  If you think about that for a minute you will see how far we have progressed for mankind. We have the technology to make that possible, we just need more funding to help companies like Motion Savvy and Digital Army Devices help make it all possible.

Be sure to mention these apps to anyone you know who might benefit from them, or better yet, share this article with them.

Coming to NYC with $400, leaving with millions

New York city is a concrete jungle that will inspire you to achieve new heights in life, at least that is how this song says it best. The reality though is that you can make it anywhere you just need passion, creativity, and know-how. The only reason why New York city is the example here is because it is such a hard city to survive in. The cost of living there is so high that if you are not making at least $140k a year then you are struggling, as studies have shown.

The reality thought is that millions of people come to NYC with nothing in their pocket but walk away with more money then they imagined. If anyone remembers how Madonna made it, she was just a girl who was headed for New York and once there asked a Taxi cab to drop her off in Time Square with $35 in her pockets and look where she is at today, which there was a movie made about her and that journey. If I was to tell you all the stories of immigrants who came to America, seeing the Statue of Liberty for the first time, knowing that this was the land where dreams came true

this article would never end. It’s hard to imagine coming to any new place with barely any money and striking it rich like so many have already done.

The truth is that many people can do it. They just need to have the passion to want to do it. That is what separates the followers from the leaders. Every student knows that if they work hard they can achieve whatever they want, the reality though is that when things get tough many just drop out. They find themselves a job that makes ends meet and figure that is good enough for them, but the truth is they are always wanting more but they know it will never come. This is why so many people love playing the lottery because it gives them hope that someday their ship will come in and all will be fixed. This article is about one guy who didn’t wait for his ship to come in but instead went out and created his own fleet of ships.

What is Passion?
Passion is that one thing inside of you that pushes you to want and do more. It drives you every morning to get out of bed early and work on what makes you happy. It motivates you when someone tells you no for the fiftieth time but you keep pushing on anyway. Everyone has passion at a young age because you have nothing to worry about except school, friends, and having fun so there are no limits to what you can achieve. This is why parents, the good ones at least, push their kids to work hard and do what they want in life. The reality though is when you keep getting those bad grades on your tests and you have no idea why. The students who start to lose passion at a young age are the ones that figure they can not achieve anything no matter how hard they work. This is where the flaws of our education systems shine bright. The kids who need the most help never receive it unless they go out and ask for it. Their level of motivation to learn and their passion to want more drops every school year, not because they are not trying, but because they didn’t know what was available to them.

Passion is about finding your options in life that everyone is given. Many people don’t realize all the things out there that you can use for free to get you what you want in life, you just have to have the know-how to do it. That is how this one man came to New York with no place to live, no job, and just a phone in his pocket turned himself into a star because he knew what was available to him. That is when he started to turn things around, all within a short period of time.

The beginnings of a Social Media Star
Jerome Jarre is by no means your everyday person in life and at the same time he is. He wasn’t always outgoing, as his mom Agnès Jarre, said about her son growing up. This was someone who was constantly bullied, very shy, and mostly kept to himself. He grew up in Albertville, which was a small little place in France, hence why he knows french. His English was not great so he had another challenge to deal with when he arrived in the states but was always working on it where he traveled. He had trouble communicating with people but with a city like NYC it is very easy to find the little enclave of French residents and still make his way but he knew he needed to keep to the whole city not just one part of it.

Jerome did go to college but his passion and drive taught him that he needed to get out so he dropped out when he was 19 and traveled. He went to China and Canada starting many companies along the way. The one thing he taught himself well was how to travel for cheap, a skill that is very important to learn because he has been able to see so many places now, long before his success. His passion and drive also led him to create many startup companies that have failed. But what is the best teacher in life, besides this person and life itself? Failure, and those who learn from their failures are destined not to repeat them. Robert F. Kennedy put it best, “Only those who dare to fail greatly can ever achieve greatly.” There are too many people I have met in life who use excuses to get out of doing anything that might lead to success. I’ve always wondered why because if you always deprive yourself of any opportunity then what exactly are you trying to achieve in life?

Jerome did not have it easy when he started in New York City, he slept on anything he could find, office spaces, open areas, and probably even benches. Yes, he was homeless when he started in New York so he had to make do with whatever he could find. He knew coffee shops and any place with an outlet was important so he knew to keep those places in mind. In the meantime he kept up with his social media stuff, texting family and friends, posting updates online and just going about his day. It wasn’t until a little app called VIne came out that he suddenly found his calling. The app debuted on jan 24, 2013 and he downloaded it right away and learned how to use it. The everyday people look at things as they are, dreamers look at things for what they could be and that is exactly what Jerome saw in the Vine App. He spent the rest of the day learning all the different things he could do with it and going out and just making these 6 second videos. His first couple of videos weren’t that great but he posted them anyway getting very little attention, which was something he figured would happen in the beginning. Either way he knew this little app would change his life.

Making People Laugh
Laughter is the best medicine for anything so I don’t know why doctor don’t prescribe it more, oh yea, it doesn’t make any money for the pharm companies but that’s for another story. Jerome knew the powerful influence laughter has in social media when he started recording videos that made people laugh. In one clip he posted, he asked “why is everybody afraid of love,” and that is when his whole life changed. He discovered the power of making people laugh online and from then on he challenged himself to go out everyday and make more videos and post ones that were funny. Soon he had thousands of people following him and then millions. He eventually was asked to appear on Ellen, which you can watch below.

So how did he do it? He challenged himself to make videos with random people. Many people are afraid of just saying hi to someone they don’t know so imagine the pressure on himself to get out of his comfort zone and just make a fool of himself in NYC? The reality though is that you see this kind of thing all the time in a place like NYC because everyone there is trying to become a star. The challenge to create something everyday is the same method for everything else that is great in life. Genius doesn’t happen naturally, nor does talent, only hard work and determination create those two aspects of one’s self.

They tell you that if you want to be a writer, write everyday.
If you want to be an athlete, workout and practice everyday.
If you want to make music, play something everyday.
If you want to make people laugh, practice writing jokes/performing something funny everyday.
If you want to be a photographer, take pictures everyday.
If you want to create an app, practice coding everyday.
If you want to get good at math, practice math everyday.
If you want to win a race, run everyday.
If you want to be the best at anything, practice it EVERYDAY!

Jerome made it a point to do something everyday until he got what he wanted and then posted it. Sometimes he had nothing to post and other times he had gold. He didn’t let his failures get in his way, he kept pushing himself to work harder. Along the way he met many people form the videos he made but he always made sure to introduce himself afterwards to the person and let them know what he was doing. Yes he had his fair share of people who didn’t think what he was doing was funny but many did and that is all that counts.

The old adage is still true and will always be true, “if you can get someone to laugh, you can sell them anything.” Laughter is very powerful and important to have in life. The reason why I wrote about the deaths of Robin Williams and Joan Rivers is because we need comedians in our lives. They show us the truth to ourselves in a way that we can laugh at ourselves. Jerome does this in a whole new way and that is why so many people love him for it. He shares his joy of life through all his social media accounts getting people to see the joy and wonder of going out and enjoying this amazing planet.

Success in the End
Jerome worked hard when most people would have thought of going back home where it is safe and they have a place to sleep. His English made it hard sometimes to get people to understand him so he made another effort that separates the doers from the dreamers. He would listen to the audiobook “Crush It!” by Gary Vaynerchuk to help improve his English speaking skills, the same way an English speaker would listen to Spanish books or watch movies. This taught him proper pronunciation and dialect and so on. He knew he had to keep working to improve himself and reading books like that are a great start to finding your passion in life. He did this everywhere he traveled.

Gary Vaynerchuk is someone that he would eventually go on to meet and partner with. They both created an advertising agency called GrapeStory, that focuses on Vine, Instagram, and SnapChat Stars, just like Niche does except they work with all social media platform stars. Jerome has such passion in his life that it didn’t take long for Mr. Vaynerchuk to see that this was someone that knew what he was doing. Remember he didn’t go to college and complete those courses that teach you about this stuff, he just went out and taught himself and based on the feedback he got he would go back and improve it. He is now considered a social media expert and professional and is paid a lot of money for it.

Jerome has been offered millions of dollars from many companies, one he turned down, but more have offered. Jerome has shown that hardwork, passion, and know-how is all it takes to make it in this world. You only need a college degree if you don’t know what you are doing and need direction with specific training, otherwise anyone can be anything they want, they just have to want it bad enough to make it all happen. Jerome now travels with other famous social media stars meeting all his fans, or as he likes to call them “friends,” and even though he knows that he is famous now, it still amazes him to see the amount of people who come out to see him. He has since gone one to accumulate the same mass following on his Instagram, YouTube, SnapChat accounts. SnapChat is a platform he enjoys more because it gives him more time to record a movie or story.

SO…have you always dreamed of being that awesome wildlife photographer? Take more trips to the zoo or backwoods and take pictures. Ever thought about writing that movie script? Take the weekend to sit down and just write. Many great movies have been written in a period of 48 hours, it just takes a lot of self-discipline and dedication. Jerome has taught us that you do not need a lot of money, you don’t even need a fancy house/apt, a job, and you don’t even need to speak English all that well to make it in America. You just have to know what is around you, the curiosity to learn it all, and the drive to make it all happen. If you can keep it up, anything is possible.

News Articles

College Dropout Reveals how he became internet celebrity

Jerome Jarre: The making of a Vine Celebrity

Meet the first Viral Snapchat stars

A Day with Jérôme Jarre: How the Snapchat Gets Made

Hollywood and Vine

Jerome Jarre Vine Page

Instagram Page

YouTube Page

Wikipedia Page

Facebook Page

Want to Join the Startup Crowd? Be Sure to Attend these events

Austin is known as one of the best cities to start up a company in. This is because of the large talent pool of young people, immense focus on technology, and a huge startup community. If I was to tell you about all the places you could go to learn a skill for free you would think I was making all of this up. There are places you can go to learn programming for free, places where they will teach you how to use a 3-D printer and build your own stuff, and places where people can networking and build their connections for free.

If you are someone that wants to meet entrepreneurs, learn about what companies are about to launch, what companies recently started, or just want to be in the know, then you will want to attend all the events I have listed down below. People need people to connect and build their ideas so staying home doesn’t help any. Maybe you are stuck on building an app and you don’t know how to fix your problem, there is a meetup group that can help you with that and its free to attend. I won’t list it here but this just goes to show that you need to get out more and learn why Austin is a great city to explore because once you find out the kind of resources this city has to offer there is no reason to be at home during the week when there are so many programs happening everyday. If you haven’t already, be sure to set up a meetup account as you will need that in order to RSVP for the events listed below.

Startup Weekend – Feb 6 – 8, 2015
Location: Capital Factory  701 Brazos Street, Austin, TX 78701
This is a program where you get to take your idea and turn it into something within 54 hours. You will be put with a team of highly motivated developers, designers and entrepreneurs to collaborate on new projects and to bring that idea to life. Afterwards you will present to a panel of judges and possible investors. Be sure to check out the website for all the details and buy your tickets ahead of time.

This program is great for anyone needing that extra push to make your idea a reality with the support from mentors and your team.

Buy Tickets Here

Co-Founders Wanted Meetup – Every Second Monday – 6-30 – 8:30
Location: Capital Factory  701 Brazos Street, Austin, TX 78701
This program is designed to help you find your co-founder for a startup idea you have. You can meet developers, engineers, and business people. Come watch other startups pitch their idea to potential co-founders. The idea is for people to come pitch and hopefully find someone in the audience who wants to work with you. Great networking event looking to get into the wonderful world of startups and business.

Fee to attend is $12 per person. For Developers (software, hardware), UI/UX designers get in for free. You can pay online or at the door for a fee of $15. Be sure to RSVP for any date you plan to attend.

If you wish to present your pitch you can apply at this link

Interactive Networking Party by TechMap – March 13, 2015 – 7- 9 pm
Location: Russian House NaZdorovye 307 East 5th St, Austin TX
This interactive networking program is open to anyone that wishes to meet entrepreneurs and startups in person and make connections. Make sure to get there early to find parking.

This event is free to anyone interested in attending. Be sure to RSVP with your meetup account.

Pre-SXSW Startup Crawl 2015 – March 12, 2015 – 5 – 10 pm
Location: Capital Factory  701 Brazos Street, Austin, TX 78701

Grab a group of friends and take the shuttle from startup to startup for a free beverage, to drop off a resume, see office space or just kick back before SXSW starts on Friday.

Open to the public. No badge required. RSVP for more information and to receive your starting point by March 9, 2015


Startup Grind – Every First Tuesday – 6:30 – 8:30 pm
Location: Capital Factory  701 Brazos Street, Austin, TX 78701

Are you looking to connect more with startup companies? Maybe meet more entrepreneurs in your community to see what kind of projects they are looking to start? This monthly meetup group, powered by Google for Entrepreneurs, is a great networking event. They offer interviews of current entrepreneurs, mixers, and conference news on other programs to attend.


So if you have been looking for hard-core networking events that won’t waste your time then these are ones you need to look into attending. Make sure you won’t waste poeple’s time either when networking. Follow the five minute rule and then meet someone else. Make sure to have your website, if you have one made, updated and ready to show people, or maybe your LinkedIn page. Be sure to bring plenty of cards to hand out to people but just remember only pass them out to people you think are worth the connection. This is a great site to help you get started creating your business cards.

Attend these events regularly and who knows you might meet someone who gets what your trying to do and you end up creating a company together. Capital Factory is a great launching pad for presenting your idea and getting it out there. Make sure to check all the events on the calendar of this website as I only highlighted just a few out of the many coming up this semester. If you are looking to work for a startup check out this website.

If you need help with your networking skills here are a few books to read before jumping right into the mix of things. Don’t read these books lightly, read them as if you were studying for a test.

Networking Books

The Fine Art of Small Talk – Debra Fine

How to Make People Like You in 90 Seconds or Less – Nicholas Boothman

The Art of Mingling – Jeanne Martinet

How to Work a Room – Susan RoAne

Never Eat Alone – Keith Ferrazzi

Effortless Small Talk: Learn How to Talk to Anyone, Anytime, Anywhere… Even If You’re Painfully Shy – Andy Arnott

Networking Like A Pro –  Ivan Misner

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

These Markets are Predicted to Rule in 2015

It is very difficult to believe what certain markets will do in the future. The research has shown over and over that no matter how many special tools you use to predict the future nothing comes as close as to the moment when it happens. The truth is that if fortune tellers were real, they would all be rich, economic professors would be rich, and so would statisticians because they all should know how markets work so they are the best ones to ask about where things are headed and what is the probability of success.

Business people love predictions because they like investing in companies that are primed to take off in the future so they buy in at the lowest price ahead of everyone else. The challenge with this is that you have a 50/50 chance of being right, as does everyone else, including the hot shots up in the ivory towers of investment firms. The truth is, investing, is a complete game of chance that no machine, algorithm, app, or fortune teller, will ever get right and that all the best investment bankers have the same rate of success as that of a monkey throwing darts at a wall of random investment items.

But hey, people like the risk so with that said here are some of the top markets to make billions more this new year along with a few others that I have predicted for myself. If you are interested in investing in any of these companies, open yourself an E*Trade Account, use a virtual trading program to test out your predictions beforehand, and see if you break even or make a profit. I will listed a few stock market trading programs that you can use if you are interested to see how well you will do with investing without the risk of using your own money.

Top Technology Predictions of 2015
1. Companies will be investing in insurance against hackers
More and more companies are realizing that they cannot just hire regular IT staff if they want to protect their consumers from hackers. They need to invest in highly trained IT individuals who have proven records of preventing hackers from getting in. This is why the hacker convention every year in Las Vegas brings thousands of hackers to the convention in hopes of landing a top job with a company. There are many competitions in which they compete for a prize cash or a luxury job with a top employer.

In the meantime companies cannot afford to lose money each time they get hacked so now insurance companies are offering another way to protect businesses. Hackers obiviously are driving the market more so hiring the best IT people around won’t always get things fixed. Amazon, facebook, Microsoft, and Google hire some of the best around so trying to get the employees you want can be difficult if you don’t have deep pockets.

2. Smartwatches will beat out similar technology
There is no surprise that I have seen more and more kids and adults wearing smartwatches now. The hype was that so many of our famous TV heroes had watches that they talked to and now we finally have that technology and people are using them in different ways. Kids like it because it informs them when they get a txt from a certain person or at anytime. Adults can check information on the web real quick by just talking to it.

The industries in competition with smartwatches are those for fitness. How many devices have you seen on the market that require something else to be taped, or wrapped around your arm, wrist, or body, in order to record your vitals. Smartwatches are coming with monitoring apps that can do the same thing so it will make it harder for fitness devices to keep up, but time will only tell if this really happens. They are even turning into drones, read my prediction for drones below.

3. The Apple watch will beat out other watches
This prediction I have a huge issue with because Android has more downloads than Apple and Android offers better options. There are more Android watches coming out than the one Apple watch so this will really be just a numbers game that gets played out in the end. By the middle of the year there should be a good understanding of whether or not this is true.

4. Everything will have sensors and chips installed in them
This is probably going to happen because we have apps for everything now so it was only a matter of time before your refrigerator, toaster, coffee makers, washer and dryer, TV, and baby crib were all connected to the internet. The website IFTTT predicted a long time ago that most everything in our home would be connected to the internet. Imagine being able to turn on the bed warmer for the baby crib before you got home? Apps let you turn on the lights in your home when your out of town anywhere in the world so why not connect your washer and dryer machine to the internet as well? We already have refrigerators that can txt you when you are running low on eggs so it makes sense that we have apps that can notify you of what to buy when you are at the store shopping. You can even have a chat history to go back and see when you last checked on the milk. The internet of things will make this all possible, in homes, governments, and businesses.

5. Company employees will hangout together online
Companies for a long time have created many amenities for employees to use when they are at work because it encourages employees to get to know more people working there but also to increase their social well being. There are many online platforms that already do this like Yammer and Slack that are designed only for companies to use internally.

The beauty behind these internal networks is that you only communicate with people who work for the same company. This makes it very safe for people to use and keeps employees updated about what is happening only within the company.

6. Fitness programs will be created around companies
Now that there are many apps for helping people get together for anything there is now an up rise in apps coming from companies and app makers to bring people together to help them get in shape.

The rise of this collective group of similar interests will drive more and more people to get involved in activities. Companies benefit the most because when employees stay inshape and healthy then that means they miss less days, are better focused on the job, and less errors happen.

7. Our biometics will become our passwords
This prediction I have a huge problem with because once companies have your biometrics stored on their servers, what does that mean about ownership of them and what happens when a hacker breaks in and steals those metrics? A hacker recently showed how he was able to recreate a person’s fingerprint just by using photos of the person. He did this to demonstrate how easy it is to steal anyone’s fingerprint using software he purchased that is made available to the public.

This is important to understand because there are many instances where people have been able to steal a print of a finger left on a surface and use it to hack into a system using a copy of the print. Apple thumb print has been shown to be vulnerable to this method but they have said they are improving it. Here is a video that shows if it is possible to fool touch ID on Apple iPhones.

Many companies say that your biometrics only get stored locally but many people will complain that not everything in stored in the “cloud.” You can not please everyone so it makes it hard for companies to find the right balance. Once hackers get your fingerprints then we will move into a new method of passwords that don’t reply on our biometrics. We even have password systems that can detect who you are by how you type and your body language.

8. Visual data will be the norm for everything
When infographs starting showing up people loved them because it put important information into a structure that was entertaining to read. Why read a book when you can look at a graph that works like a flowchat to teach you all you need to know about this one subject in an interesting way?

People have gotten hooked on them because they are entertaining to read when viewing a presentation. The challenge with this is that you have to show more bells and whistles each and every time you present if you want to keep your audience’s attention.

9. Everyone will start to own a 3-D printer
Printing 3-D objects is becoming an important skill to learn because it has so many applications. Just like when I wrote about the teen who helped his friend by printing out a hand he made for him using a 3-D printer, you start to see the many uses 3-D printing can have. The new HP Sprout computer has a function where you can scan an object in front of the computer and then make a copy (imagine all the stupid copyright lawsuits that will pop up because of that amazing leap in technology all because lawyers like to sue). This will revolutionize how people interact with everything. (Click here to see Sprout computer in Action)

3-D printers will get cheaper and for many who wish to learn how to use one (join a hackerspace or techshop program) you will be getting a jump start on a skill that more and more companies will expect their employees to know. There are some public libraries, like the teen in the article above, that have 3-D printers available for the public to use, you just have to know how to use it first. The leap in 3-D printing is such that we have 3-D printers that can print food using natural ingredients. The campaign on kickstarter failed last year but the technology and concept is still there. (Click here to watch Foodini in action)

10. Cloud Computing will become the norm
The convenience of storing everything in the cloud is so you don’t have to worry about losing any documents ever again. The challenge with some of these cloud programs is that you have no idea what is stored in it. I use many different cloud programs and the ones that let me see and organize my files are the best. You are in control of everything that is stored no matter where you go.

People will start to get smart about how to use them and what to store as time passes on. Companies like Evernote, Dropbox, Google, and Amazon will continue to dominate an industry that is expected to continue growing.

11. Health Care Apps will take over
If I was to tell you that there is an app that lets you ring up a doctor to visit you at your home whenever you want and it works the same way as uber, would you believe me? More and more health care apps are popping up that are replacing the regular doctor’s visit. Why make the trip to the doctor’s office or take the kids out of school just for a simple check-up when instead you can just schedule a visit at your home that fits your schedule?

We now have special devices that can monitor heart rates, blood pressure, and soon to come tattoos that will administer prescription medication. Doctors already have the ability to monitor your vitals from their office computer or mobile device making it easy to notify you if anything looks wrong. Many people even have skype doctor visits, and many places now are installing quick check-up stations in grocery stores that cover everything for a basic check-up and costs way less. Some are called SoloHealth Stations and others are called HealthSpot. These eliminate the need to wait all the time for a doctor.

12. Companies will spend more on technology and online advertising
It is no joke how many people use the internet everyday so it is very important for companies to be able to get their name out there so people know what they do. This is why Google AdWords is the bread and butter of revenue for Google. The challenge with that is that most people do everything from their phones now so that real estate of screen space is very limited in trying to get an ad in front of someone.

Remember no one likes it when they are reading something and an annoying ad starts playing but doesn’t know where it is coming from. I have made it a point now that if a website starts playing something and I can not find where to shut it off, then I just close out the website all together and don’t go back. Many sites now are getting aggressive and locking your screen to watch the ad before you can do anything. Not a smart move.

13. More and More Apps will use the Uber model
Many apps that will come out this year will rely on the Uber model for pricing. This means more and more people will have ways to make more money. In an article I found, there was a CEO that also become an Uber driver to make some extra money to pay his bills, shows that more and more people are turning to freelance work to supplement their income.

This means more people will be able to find jobs that match the type of work they do. There are apps that allow you to book appointments with hairstylists that come straight to your house, and the same for many other industries. More people will start to see the Uber model for paying as a lucrative pricing structure for their freelance work. This means that more and more people will start to work independently, which also means that companies will need to do a better job of attracting and keeping employees.

14. Drones will become more apart of our everyday life
Hard to believe that a child’s toy would become such an important device in everything we do now. How many commercials or music videos have you watched where drones are filming the whole thing? Many real estate agents now use them to film the outside and inside of property they are selling, even though in most states that practice is considered illegal. The FAA bans the practice for commercial purposes, but the laws are slowly changing if you are certified and in an approved area for filming. In Canada the practice is regulated and you must be certified to fly. This website provides a nice little overview of drone law and what is currently happening.

In the meantime the different designs and use for drones is taking off. We now have drones that you can wear on your wrist. The Nixie drone can even take off on it’s own, follow you, and film you doing what ever you want. How’s that for a leap into the future? Drones are predicted to be one of the highest in demand jobs in the next ten years, so if you need a high paying job, start studying now. More companies will be posting jobs looking for drone operators and maintenance repairmen. For anyone that already runs an independent aerial photography business with drones then you know how much money is to be made. IRIS+ personal drone is an example of just how far drone technology has come and where it is going.

15. Wearable technology will start to replace tablets and Computers
This is one prediction that I hope doesn’t happen but most likely will. I love using a desktop computer because it has so much more power than a mobile device but that is all changing. There are so many predictions from Back to the Future 2 that we are supposed to have today that some are just becoming true. Where are our flying cars? Well, here they are (Flying Car 1, Flying Car 2). Where’s our self-tying shoes? Well, here they are. What about the hoverboard, I’m mean by now we should have that right? Yes we do, but I won’t link to it. What about automatic adjusting clothes? Surprisingly enough, we have it, but it’s just not where it should be like in the movie. In the meantime just enjoy the one-size-fits-all format. (Read more about the predictions BTTF 2 got wrong, but we do have mind controlled video games, self-tying shoes, and hoverboards (no I’m not talking about the hoax video either.)

Wearable technology will be taking over because it makes sense that we can interact with the internet in our everyday clothes. We have devices that we can wear that can monitor our vitals for us and keep a log of everything that is happening, which we can also share with our doctor. We have contact lens that we can see the internet with which will only become more and more popular as they get perfected. It’s not available yet for commercial use but will become the popular choice to use once it does. This means you can wear your sunglasses, which we also have transition contact lens now to replace your sunglasses with, over your “google glass” contact lens and still look cool while accessing whatever you want from the internet.

Don’t be surprised at what all is happening with technology. The idea is that technology needs to “fit” to our needs. We now have thumbprint identification, which was shown in Back to the Future 2, something we think nothing of now. We have jackets we can wear that provide power anytime we need it for our devices. Again, we take it as a given because of all the devices we now carry with us. Google glass has become the norm for major cities where Google provides more services, like Silicon Valley, New York, Los Angeles, and San Francisco.

If you want to keep up on wearable technologies here are two great places to check out.
Amazon Wearable Electronics
Wearable Devices Magazine

16. Self-Driving Cars will become apart of more Cars
This sounds like something from a Sci-Fi movie but now that we have self-driving cars from Google the technology is taken as a given once again. The technology will start to be integrated into other types of cars. The Mercedes-Benz E class car has integrated the technology into their cars but also made it to where the driver can take over as well.

This is a shift in driving where more and more highways will turn into superhighways, in that they will be installed with senors for self-driving cars to use. These sensors will help self-driving cars monitor the conditions of the roads so as to avoid traffic jams, bad road conditions, and even animals or objects on the road. The technology is here it just needs to be perfect and more roads and highways need to be fitted so the cars have more information to use as to make the drive safer.

The predictions placed here are just that, predictions. If you are interested in learning more about some of these industries you can click on the article below for more links. If you are interested in trying your hand at playing the stock market you can sign up with any of the websites below to get started. Each one will give you play money to test your theories about which companies are good for investing in. Maybe you can invest in some of the companies that are expected to do really well this year and see how you do in the end. Good Luck and feel free to post comments about how well you do.

Stock Market Simulators
Smart Stocks

News Articles

14 Tech Trends that will make someone billions of dollars in 2015

Merry Christmas! Enjoy The Goodies

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all those enjoying this wonderful day. Remember to share your joy with others and take in all that is around you. I found a couple of things to watch and read up on. Maybe your family finally got you what you’ve been needing this whole year or maybe you are making a change in your life that is needing more effort than usual, either way some of what I provide down below will help you in some way, I hope.

Many people love putting up Christmas Lights on their tree but not many go this far as Jon Wawra did when he set up his lights to dance to music. Every year he outdoes himself.

Maybe you missed the viral video of the Holderness family sitting about their PJs last year in their viral hit.

What Gifts are People Searching for
Google knows all the answers to what people are searching for during the holidays, a simple peek at google trends will tell you all about that but if you want to dive into different parts of the states then it might get a little harder to break it all down. Here is a chart that show you what all people have been looking for online in their areas.

Google Searches for the holidaysYou can click on the image to take you to the article to learn more about these results. This is a game a lot of people having been searching for as a gift.

Board Games for Business People
The holidays are a great time to celebrate time with friends, family, close loved ones, and others. The time is also great for playing board games. For anyone interested in getting into business, learning the skills necessary for running a business can be hard to pick up on if running a real one sounds too scary to try. These board games will help teach you how to negotiate, barter, make trades, grow a thick skin, and more. There is another board game that I have played that is great for learning as well, called Acquire which requires a number of skills in order to play. Here is a list of board games recommended by HBR in their article.

1. Morphology – A board game that requires large amounts of creativity in order to win by using objects to get your teammate to guess what it is you are trying to say.

2. Forbidden Island – This is a game that requires all players to work together to play against the board game and win. This was 2010 favorite game for Mensa players. The sister game is Forbidden Desert.

3. Extraodinaries – A game that requires you to come up with some unique ideas and designs within the confines of a studio for special circumstances. If creativity is something you struggle with then a game like this will help you over your problem.

4. Power Grid – This board games pits you against other players who are trying to create the best energy source for their customers. You have to decide if you want to invest in new energy sources or keeping building up the one you have. A great strategy game overall. There are many expansion packs for this game but if you want more of a challenge then Power Grid Deluxe is available.

Out of all these games I still prefer Axis and Allies: 1942 2nd Ed. because this game is all about pure strategy at a time in history when every move mattered. Thanks to Alan Turing and cracking the enigma code, with the help of women, during the war the war ended sooner than later. If you haven’t seen the movie The Imitation Game please make it a point to go watch it this holiday season, it comes out Christmas Day in theaters and it is an amazing movie to watch.

This board game will teach you geography, (war game) strategy, negotiating skills, and lots more. This game is probably a better teacher of WWII than most high school history classes. If board games are something you don’t have time for but you know you need to learn these skills than joining an improv class this coming year is a good way to start. It will teach you how to think on your feet, how to come up with situations and act according to the rules, and to always be prepared. I will be providing some information on this in class in Jan but also in the coming articles.

I hope you enjoyed reading this article and all that I have provided for the year. If you are looking forward to more content then these are some of what I will be covering in the next year. As you know OPEC has flooded the market with oil causing prices, and many markets around the world, to crash. Prices for gas are expected to drop further in the coming year. The employment job market improved for some states and not so great for others, here you can visually see the difference measured by the size of the state relative to its employed labor force.

Merry Christmas to all and be safe and if you can offer a helping hand to someone in need, please do.

I thought I would end it by showing some Dogs opening presents presented by AFV and Christmas with Cats. Enjoy!

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.