Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Back in action...Popcorn Pride

After an eight month hiatus I'm coming back to this thing. In short, the working world has kicked my ass a lot of days and by the time I get home on most nights, staring into a LCD screen and punching keys until they form words, then sentences and then paragraphs is just about the last thing I want to do. So I'm going to ease my way back in slowly, like you do into that scalding jacuzzi in Tahoe, and try to keep the quality portion of my posting high while being as efficient as possible with both your time, and mine. Shorter, sweeter, and more spontaneous.

I'm always looking for something to inspire me to sit down at this thing and hammer out a blog. Whether at work, at the gym, drinking establishments, restaurants, anywhere with human presence. For our own kind is often the most effective transmitter of emotion and feelings. We can relate, we can empathize, and form opinions and thoughts more accurately than if we were examining an amoeba or plant, or object.

Today at the gym in downtown San Jose, while overlooking a pedestrian promenade in the middle of the city, adorned with strolling pedestrians and draped in the glowing cascade of Christmas lights and decor I was engaged in a deep session of people watching. Across from the gym, lies a "Ye Olde Kettle Korn" tent, with a older, heavy set man the sole proprietor and salesperson on this frigid evening. As i studied his movements and demeanor I became increasingly enamored with how he operated his business. The man was meticulous. He was a calculated mass of kinetic motion circling the ten square foot space, and he was unrelenting in his effort to maintain order in the world of exploding kernels.

He would pour seed into the large bin, then swivel precisely around the ingredients table to open a new bag of corn, then back to the kernel bin, then around to the mixing machine, and repeat this process over and over. Once the corn was well underway en route to popping, he fixed his focus on the front display, two wooden tables, draped in a green cloth, both stacked high with perfectly executed 6 bag pyramids of his delectable holiday treats. He would constantly reshuffle the bags, ensuring their uniform alignment, often massaging each to keep the kernels from attaching to one another and then step back, arms crossed, eyes narrowed and study his work and then grin in satisfaction. Often, a group of pedestrians would stop by the booth to taste a sample. The man would break into a wildly animated sales approach, pointing feverishly at his magical corn popping contraptions, holding up the cans of caramel, gazing to the sky to express his special process. And more often than not the stalled group would slowly reach for their wallets, walking away with one, sometimes more large bags of his tasty corn confections. Each time, not more than ten seconds after their departure the man would snap back into his obsessive organizational state and begin re-stacking, re shuffling and re-aligning the pyramid perfections he demanded.

The owner of this business had an extreme amount of PRIDE in his product. It was infectious. No matter how small, how simplistic, how seasonal this business venture was to the outside world, to him it was his own, and if you stood there and watched this man for a mere matter of minutes it would become absolutely obvious to you as well.

I found myself for a brief moment envious of the popcorn purveyor. He seemed content, fulfilled, and accomplished in how he operated and controlled every facet of his commercial venture. He knew his product from field to kernel. He enjoyed selling people on the joy and delight he was providing. He made a commitment to himself and to his customers to ensure that he provided emotional value and physical satisfaction through his bags of Kettle Korn and they appreciated him for that.

Perhaps we can all stand to learn a little something from this man and his business. For every one of us has, or will have a similar role in our lives. Where we stand behind something, put our seal, our name on it and attempt to convince others to realize what we believe, what we must believe. That our product or service provides a benefit to them, and not a profit to us. Whether you are a entrepreneur or an executive, the pride you instill within yourself, the belief you create in what it is that you do, will absolutely overflow onto the consumer base you are serving.

Too often we lose ourselves in seek of our own individual gains. We see our customers as dollar signs and not equals. By mastering your product, by developing and understanding the true value of what you do, you in essence complete the bulk of the sale entirely on your own before you even engage your intended customer. For someone who can visually see, or hear, or feel the pride you have in your product, can very easily relate to what it is you believe.

And why ? Because we are human, because we understand one another. Tonight I knew by looking at this simple Kettle Korn vendor operate his business for five minutes how much it meant to him, how much pride he had in the work he was performing and to me, no free sample could have ever been as equally appetizing.

Do your best to love what you do, and people will take notice. If you can't, do something else, and fast.

Monday, March 14, 2011

The New, New Deal.

One of the first blogs I did was a review on the movie "Up In The Air". The film starred George Clooney as a business man married to the road. His enviable career path as a professional pink slipper -- Moving business to business for the sole purpose of slashing waning work forces -- was something that caught viewers with awe and cynical interest. Additionally although it stung the soul to watch such uncomfortable workplace scenarios pan out, I found myself unable to turn away and internally trying to evoke empathy to imagine what such an event would be like.

Of course the odd twist is that even Clooney's role as a face to face bearer of bad news is confronted by the threat of extinction, thanks to a whimsical idea of decimating peoples careers instead via the Internet and web cams. Ultimately he has to struggle with the looming threat of obsoletion, replaced by technology until finally at the end, human decency thankfully prevails and they re-establish the respectable practice of laying off unfortunate workers face to face.

The method of using a computer monitor and empty room to snuff out someones career with a company was nothing less than frigid, cruel and disrespectful. The act and insensitivity it brought with it was something that struck a chord with viewers and really helped audiences connect with the theme of human decency that ran underneath the films plot. And despite making for moving, empathetic cinema, I never quite connected the dots that this sort of practice was actually finding a place in corporate HR policies and severance practices.

Recently a very close friend of mine, someone who committed several years of his life to the same organization, who provided consistency, stability and leadership in a firm that around him was re-shaped, torn down, and built back numerous times was recently let go in a very similar manner. Decades of devotion to a company, for all intensive purposes an entire career committed, and in return an oddly scheduled morning meeting, a conference room with a computer monitor and HR packet, with a cold, purely financially focused face on the other end.

This is the way of the new business world.

The story used to go as follows. Work hard to earn a good education, graduate, and lend your services to an established, respected, company that in return offered success, security and a promise of a healthy retirement. If you did your job, met or exceeded expectations, and practiced a good level of business ethics the chances were the company would honor such acts by providing you a stable, organic income which to build a life around.

Yet today we face a new paradigm for our careers. Recession and economic hardship has rocked employers and employees alike in many more ways than only our pocket books. Bankruptcies are viral, reorganization is expected, and the slogan "Do more with less." is quickly becoming the mantra to which commerce must adopt, or face the cruel hand of the now global markets. Any past held ideals of loyalty and trust between a business and it's workers is now replaced. The latter left resembling a jilted lover, forever wary and hesitant to trust again.

Our skills are now strictly contracted, and in very measurable, often brief segments. The average professional in Silicon Valley remains at her or his company an average of three years today. That equates to roughly 10+ career changes for the successful professional throughout their business odyssey. The street has become two way, and we are learning to always be aware should we find a quicker route to our goals.

The book by Thomas Freidman "The World Is Flat" described this new idea with the term employability. Where employer loyalty once was the expected model, each of us, as employees must now work constantly to expand and evolve our skill sets to mandate higher values of compensation from our employers. Where our replacement alternatives once were limited to the town, then the city, then the county, today we see job threats from intercontinental locales. We have all heard the stories of doctors in Beijing reading our x-ray exams overnight, and call centers in Mumbai handling your computer support problems. This should hardly surprise anyone.

The trade off in this newer schema is that we as employees, now can equally eliminate any sense of loyalty in return to those who sign our checks. Our efforts are now strictly of the contractual variety. We enter time stamped agreements to provide 'x' amount of service for 'y' amount of work and lest we be naive to think that 'y' will stop growing anytime soon. The slogan "What have you done for me lately?" is boldly emblazoned across the face of global business and even scarier is the fact that even if your reply is "A lot!" the people up top can always respond with "Well, they can do it for less." Such is the way business is going, and we should not stand patiently waiting to see it turn course anytime soon.

A formal education will make you a living; Self-education will make you a fortune.
- Jim Rohn

This quote embodies what each of us must force ourselves to acknowledge and constantly expand upon. We are but assets, sets of skill trained and designed to bring value to a bottom line or business goal set forth by the free markets and minds behind the curtain. In order to justify a renewed contract with a place of employment we must make it habit to work effortlessly to always increase the value which we can bring to our employer. New skill sets, extended education, and measurable forward flowing results all are and will continue to be extremely important to the professional with ideals of progression and advancement.

But fret not, there is a trade off for our tireless efforts of self-value improvement. This being that such acts of self investment will in themselves provide severe leverage with which we may go forth confidently in demanding increased compensation and reward for these new tools and capabilities we now possess.

The sugar coat of stability and security has long melted off the face of global business. With the rapid infusion of so many global markets, and competing bodies for work once restricted to domestic candidates, one would be severely ignorant to believe that they can never be replaced. As our coaches used to preach in youth sports "If you aren't practicing, there is someone else who is." But as professionals we must embrace such adversity, welcome it as a challenge to which there can never be an end. Use it as something to inspire action and relentless self education and improvement. Give those whose names appear on your pay stubs no choice but to grant your increased compensation demands. As all too often we see athletes in their career twilight's slowly fade from view, the same business model is making it's way more and more prevalent in all professions. As for the bright side? Look at it this way, no one needs five percent body fat and freakish genetics to read a book or learn a new business process, just discipline, determination and a little bit of a grudge to make the employer EARN your efforts. If you do this and they refuse, don't worry, their biggest competitor is across the street with open arms.

Iron Rusts from disuse, stagnant water loses its purity, and in cold weather becomes frozen, even so does inaction sap the vigor of the mind.
- Leonardo Da Vinci

Sunday, January 30, 2011

The Moon doesn't care about you.

Leaving for work at six thirty each morning is nice. The streets are still quiet, the sky is still dark, the sun subtly peaking over the eastern horizon and a scattered collection of stars bid their final adieus for the evening. The freeway I take happens to line up perfectly so that the rising sun lays directly behind me in the rear view mirror, but even better is the sight of the moon, bold and prominent fastened directly in my forward field of vision. As assumed, I go about my work day, make my usual stop at the gym, and am on the same freeway returning home, almost exactly twelve hours later. And again, just as in the morning, the moon lies steadfastly in my path, only this time from the east, beginning it's ascent into the night sky.

This predictable, constant and stunning pattern of planetary motion and orbit stirred a thought within me last week. That no matter what I did that day, what you did, or anyone accomplished or failed, that the moon and the sun too, would stay ever true to form. No matter what conflict was raged, what political decision cast, which birth or even death, could ever, will ever change the natural cycle of the world.

Life is a quilt of emotion. Our experiences stir reactions within us on a second by second basis. Emotion is healthy, enjoying our successes is healthy, grieving our losses is healthy yet what we often fail to think about is that during such elation or despair, that nothing in the world is stopping for us. We might want it to, we might feel it does, but the simple fact is that the world will keep on turning exactly as it did before, countless people will carry out their daily lives as they did before, and global events will go off without a hitch as planned, no matter which award you won, which game you lost, and how late you were to work.

So often we let certain actions or events immobilize us, good or bad. We have all been guilty of riding a success for too long, or taking a defeat too hard. The most successful individuals though, understand the need for momentum, for progress, for quick and effective resolutions and constant advancement.

A professional coach once talked about his belief in a "10 minute rule." This rule stated that his players were allowed 10 minutes to celebrate any victory, or 10 minutes to celebrate any loss before having to focus on the next test ahead.

As humans we are greedy, though not necessarily in a negative way. What I mean is this, everyone always acts on incentives, we set goals, we have wants and those with discipline and drive know what it entails to achieve these targets. But then what happens? Do we turn the car off, proclaim ourselves complete, recline our chairs and call it a life? Of course not. Instead, our minds immediately shift to the next prize, the next challenge and the cycle to success begins all over again. And again, it is those who can reboot the fastest, refocus the most efficiently who often end up in the pages of history and boasting the greatest and most numerous feats of greatness.

These aforementioned individuals understand, they know that no matter how great today was, tomorrow is going to come, and the day after that, and no one and no thing is going to prevent it.

Where we fall into trouble is with setting our standards of satisfaction too low. Stating a goal that is too easily attainable, abandoning our work and ethics upon achievement, losing the drive and motivation that made us successful in the first place. In sports, so often you will see a team come off a big win, even a great period, and get too "high" only before crashing back to earth the next match when they realize the team on the other side of the field could give a damn about their previous successes.

Now all of life isn't a game, it's not a athletic match, but it is a journey of which we only get to take one time. Perhaps some are satisfied with only a couple memories, but for some reason I believe the majority of us are not that way. We all will always want. Even upon achievement or realization, we will want more, it's how we are wired. The same goes for the negatives in life, sure we may not have wished these things to happen, but they did, and the world has no plans of stopping for you to recollect yourself. Adjust accordingly.

By all means savor your successes, there is nothing sweeter than setting out to accomplish a goal or feat close to your heart and mind. Mourn your losses, some of the deepest and most pure emotions come from hardship in our lives, these show us what it means to be human. But please, manage these peaks and valleys accordingly. The man who is controlled by his emotion is a man unable to control what comes next. By harnessing and employing the strength and essence of these feelings in life, and applying them to the next step, the next motive we are able to continuously progress, constantly learn and consistently enjoy the labors of this thing called life.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Can't we all just.......belong?

From birth we are programmed to not only depend upon, but also to enjoy the company of others. It is basic nature to desire the company of another soul to share the experiences of life with. It is why our families have the unbreakable bond, why we keep a good friend as if they are more dear than gold, and even why we we fuse lifelong bonds with our peers in education & athletics, despite only being an activity. As humans we love to share, we want an understanding ally to huddle next to, someone who truly can KNOW what we are going through. An equal to love, the yearning to belong, to be a part of something, with someone, is an emotion in life which we tirelessly pursue with infinite fervor in hopes of satisying, if only for the briefest moment.
This quiet phenomenon lives and breathes everywhere, in every aspect, of our lives. From the school boy who cries at not being invited to a birthday party, to a salesman who wreaks havoc on mind and health to maintain par with his peers, to even the most devout participant of sobriety who will have that one beer with new acquaintances as to not give off any misconstrued impressions. It is this insatiable desire to attach which dictates and guides our lives on a daily basis.
So why does this behavior exist? What does belonging to something provide that makes us so susceptible to sacrifice of reason and judgement? Understanding. We would do anything to be understood, to be viewed and valued as a cohort, and to have those in our lives who know what we are experiencing. Reversely we hope that we can equally employ empathy on them as well. Our mother's and father's knew us so well as children, our closest friends knew us in adolescence, and our love's know us in adulthood and old age. I see it as no mistake that our love for each of these groups grows strongest during these periods.
The sense of belonging is why Veterans can look one another in the eye and say everything with silence. Belonging is why we will push body and mind to challenge ourselves to raise our ability in almost every situation imaginable. A catch here might be also why belonging can make us work so hard, and commit so much to stay out of particular groups and associations, examples need not be mentioned.
If belonging spawns understanding, than appreciation must also be nominated as a factor. Having someone that you can relate to, can assess and act along with on equal grounds and emulate experiences is an asset we will bend to even the greatest lengths to keep. It is why we talk sports with teammates, why we feel unafraid to share ourselves completely with those we hold closest and even why we withhold emotions and thoughts from the majority of our satellite acquaintances.
This desire burns with the luminosity of the sun, yet maintains the footprint of a field mouse. It screams under the radar, never quite wanting to be unearthed. Yet all the while it is dictating and conducting our lives with the effect of a maestro. School reunions, sport alumni functions, networking groups, and awards ceremonies all provide the same service; They unite. And with this unification comes the presence of peers, those who have been through it themselves, who hold a bond with us which we know needs no acknowledgement.
As humans we engage in some debatable behaviors in attempts of achieving happiness and inner peace. Our species loves to dream, to forecast, assume and hope that certain accolades and successes will provide exact amounts of gratification. But here, again I theorize that the want to belong surfaces. For we are very good at identifying that which we do not have, those with whom we do not align, and are even more clinical in creating ideas that we must complete to make these things so. As a collegiate hockey player you always want the next level, as a stand up comedian you want that HBO special, and as a businessman you want that VP title. We desire these nominated successes for the company they bring as much as the personal gain they boast. In contrast we know if we fail, those who fail too will always take on a more welcomed and related standing with ourselves.
This always evolving emotion will forever slash trails of our existence. The sense of belonging will depict behavior on scales which we might never understand, and probably never appreciate. Our desire to not be alone, in anything, despite even the most objectionable claims of independence, is one not to ignore but rather embrace. Appreciate those who can attest, respect those who can relate, and thank those who try. Additionally to those whom we do not understand, we shall attempt, and if we encounter a scenario in which we can't, let us embrace the value of variety, if for nothing more than to make things interesting.
You get me?

Friday, December 17, 2010

A Wall Street Washington ?

The political satire that plays out daily in front of our eyes is one fraught with uncertainty, ripe with miscommunication, and dreadfully effective in the tactics of confusion against the public. For a nation founded upon choice, it is quite ironic, for arguments sake,  that we are presented primarily with two options, the red and the blue, a pachyderm or an ass. As a public whole, we are called upon to make blind and ignorant decisions on little to no qualified basis regarding our political future. Let us for a moment imagine a country with two types of beverage, two types of car, two types of shoes, and every "x" amount of years one was asked to select one to stand behind and claim for the next sequential period. To be accurate, and acknowledge the scrappy upstarts in the arena of congressional conflict -- The Greens, Independents, Tea's -- we will incorporate occasional third choices, but sadly the equivalents of mouthwash, smart cars, and those plastic sandals sold in grocery stores. Yes, you can use them, but what's the point? 

What if we were to supplant the political party theory with free market economics that runs American business? Say we subjected it to Adam Smith's invisible hand, and threw it upon the rocky demands of the American consumer, how long would this theoretical business last? I would wager one holiday shopping season and be thrown out via discount isles and ten for one deals in the new year. America, as we are taught, more than any other country in the world, is constructed on diversity, difference of opinion, and independence of choice and action. We like to pick and pull, to manufacture a lifestyles unique to ourselves, and symmetric to no one else. America's essence is being able to pick what you want for lunch, and then what you want to drink with it. Yet, in the ultimate option, the allegiance we must make that carves and steers our collective direction more so than any other, government, we are faced with the equivalent of  black or white, with grey being only a novelty and far from effective. 

What if we had a wizard to help us with our decision, likened to those that help us install our Itunes and update our web browsers. Imagine that via this browser, we could customize, select, and tweak all of our preferences for political representation. Each man and woman creating a profile shaped to our exact specifications and selected to optimize our values, ethics and goals with the end goal being, basically, to properly inform every citizen on who they should cast their vote to support. We have all taken the "What Animal are you?" quizzes on Facebook, or via e-mail, where we answer an over extended set of arbitrary questions which formulate an exact species meant to mirror our inner selves. Now transfer this over to the over complex, clouded, frustratingly simple task of aligning ourselves with a candidate, one who is true of what we want and desire in our America. Frankly, I believe most Americans, most importantly those who do not vote, simply do not know, nor understand how to make the choices which they believe in. 

Gone would be the smoke and mirrors of campaigns, commercials, debates, tight rope walking on difficult issues, aiming to please most and perturbing all. Maybe we all need a little help to read the road map of the Columbia district instead of relying on preprogrammed tom tom's that always seem to lead us back to where we never wanted to be. 

Of course, this would dynamite the apple cart. The party system of American politics is an art form, perfected via repetitiveness. It straddles the sweet spot of our cerebral abilities, luring the naive and brilliant alike. We clash on so much, we rant and yelp and holler and vehemently abhor, and then elect the leaders who have differentiated themselves the least by sanding down every rough edge upon them until no one is subjected to a splinter. In some cases even, we allow those who not so long ago we admonished to return to positions (see CA elections) to have second cracks at bat, clinging to hopes that through past error, correct objectives and paths may be forged. Our president recently passed a tax bill that incensed countless within his party, and yet, the irony here is that this act of betrayal, of compromise, is being called by many the reason by which he will earn re-election. 

We are all each but one, yet if we review and formulate our personal preferences for governmental policy I can't help but wager that when it comes to issues at hand, most would find themselves picking and pulling from both parties more frequently than a shopping spree contestant. So then who represents me? Who represents you? Neither candidate exactly of course. The average American is a hybrid of governmental policy and alignment, and those that say they only bleed red or blue are simply blind to the sacrificial conformation they are allowing through their way of political allegiance. The question for those in power becomes who can piss off the least. Who can twist and contort their intended actions most effectively so as to confuse, and persuade more of the voting demographic than the opponent. 

If only politics followed the models of business. Today's consumer, through multitudes of media, effects and dictates the supplier more than ever before. Products are constructed to exact wants and needs. Options are available, you can get what you want. If a product does not fit your prerequisites, another will. It is not the consumer who must bend his desires, curb his or her needs. Rather it is the multi national conglomerate who must ensure that they do everything within their power to properly represent their clients specifications or risk forever losing them to the next guy, and today more often the little guy, around the corner, who IS willing to tailor his services for them is the one who will earn the business. 

Politics lacks bankruptcy, mergers, acquisitions and free market supply and demand. Instead, as a people, we are still subjected to the mercy of the parties, forced to align ourselves often with a team whose proverbial coach we don't like. They call the shots, and we must line up or risk being left out altogether. Perhaps one day things will change, choices will be abundant and our visions will be what we hoped they would. Until then, we must roll the dice on what each one of us feels is the lesser of two evils and pray we simply don't come up snake eyes. 

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Yankee Upgrades

Growing up and living in America is a great thing, without question, but after traveling and experiencing other cultures, on opposite sides of the world, it is hard to say that there are not a excessive amount of improvements and upgrades that I believe would be welcome additions in the land of the free and home of the brave.

1)   Listen to “Happier” music. Anyone who frequents almost any club, bar, drinking spot with musical accompaniment in America will inadvertently encounter a negative sounding song within minutes most the time. With Rap & r&b and grunge rock with rebel alternative dominating the US music charts seemingly years on end, the vibe and overall feel of the US music scene always seems to drag with it a stigma of seriousness, stress, hardship and many times anger. This transfers over to people either a) standing in bars awkwardly, drinks in hand or b) grinding on one another harder than a bear trying to scratch its back on the nearest pine tree.  In Australia & New Zealand, the music carries with it more electro assistance, no question, but the music and emotions created by it also is undisputedly geared towards a happier audience. There is rap, but it’s not “hardcore” which tends to feature lyrics such as but not limited to blunt, bitches, handguns, sex positions and sick whips. Instead the majority is dominated by dance tracks that if anything else, make it almost hard to not join in dancing with every other person in the club. Furthermore, the music here forces you to actually attempt dancing, rather than the tried and tested male philosophy in the US of “Being the Pole” in which one merely has to stand within arms distance of a woman and let her do the work. In fact, after numerous attempts, I discovered the total negative opinion Australian’s have of “American Dancing”. Challenge – try to make an Australian woman “grind” with you to a song, you’d swear you had just asked her to have sex with you on the dance floor the way they react and run from such invitations, not to mention the other looks this dancing garners from everyone else in the bar.

 International women just “get it”. From fashion to conversations there is no question in my mind that foreign women, primarily South American, European and Australian women to name a few, ooze an aura of confidence, and self respect that is unrivaled by their USA counterparts. No matter the size, shape or color of them, in meeting and interacting with many foreign women, from many backgrounds, never did I sense insecurities that seem so rampant in America. I don’t know if it is the culture, one that embraces beauty and sexuality almost inadvertently by not acknowledging examples of it as much, but the women in this part of the world simply carry an heir of inner peace and comfort with themselves that I have not seen in the states. They are aware and accept who & what they are physically and emotionally and it transfers into making them not only so much more inviting to converse with but also highlights their superior confidence ultimately making them just that more attractive.  

 Every company in service & hospitality in America needs to have Sir Richard Branson do their hiring. I’m sitting in Brisbane airport as we speak, in the Virgin Blue terminal, owned by Branson, the music, media and flight mogul and I couldn’t look any direction across the circular concourse without seeing a beautiful woman in a khaki skirt and red top. This is not a freak occurrence, I have flown Virgin Blue airlines all over this continent and all of my teammates and friends would agree, Virgin must either a) Pay off the right people to circumvent the fair hiring acts which exclude looks as a determining factor, or b) own and operate their own personal factory in which they continuously crank out tall, gorgeous women to man their kiosks and aisles. Either way, I am not arguing and only wish more American Airlines would get on board with this hiring tactic. On a more serious note, Virgin does do a magnificent job in creating an aura of pride and esteem that working for them entails, from advertising campaigns to plane paint jobs, Branson has infused the rebel edge that helped him succeed in music into his airlines culture, and this probably accounting for why they receive such overwhelming amounts of “Qualified” applicants that they do. Kudos to you sir!

 There are 22 millions residents in Australia. There are probably at least another 1 million international visitors on extended visas living, traveling and working in the continent, generating excess revenue for the Australian economy in the millions annually. In every city, not only the larger metropolis’s, there is a plethora of backpacker accommodation, entertainment, and activity catering specifically towards the younger world traveler. It is no surprise that so many from all over the world flock to this massive island to make there own adventures. America does not have any such network. We don’t have the “welcoming” appeal to younger travelers to encourage them to come to the states to vacation, nor do we allow them to work temporarily with any sense of relative ease. But with affordable domestic airfare, bus lines and train services, and our natural advantage of size and economic prosperity (until recently) America already has the connectivity and network to become a very successful and attractive travel destination for this demographic of world traveler. In the hundreds of travelers I have acquainted, nearly ever one of them wants to go travel America, but the restrictions and obstacles, prices and lack of warmth by our government makes them turn to much easier, and more accessible nations such as Australia or South America consequently costing the American tourism industry millions of dollars every year.

 These are merely a few ideas and observations. Of course, all are my opinion, but then again, this is my blog. Disagree? Leave a comment! 

Monday, October 18, 2010


Why are life-altering decisions so difficult? Why is there always pro’s on both sides of the fence. Golden Gooses to the right, doors of opportunity to the left, and we seemingly always find our self stuck in the middle. A friend told me “They are what make life interesting.” Clever terminology to masquerade the mind wrenching, heart wracking and inner soul excavation that is constantly required to make sure we are on course, or at least, convince ourselves that we are.

My cousin walked down the aisle of his first marriage to the Cure’s “Should I stay or should I go?” – ultimately, he went – but the title is consistently proving itself appropriate for my current scenarios across the Australian Continent. On one side I have adventure, youth, inhibition and absolute freedom and personal independence. On the other, I have the love of family & friends, the access to hobbies and interests, which are non existent here, a strong network of support and pleasure from those close to me and much broader and applicable career opportunities.  And the line separating these two paths, only an umpteen thousand-mile body of water we affectionately refer to as the Pacific.

There are no exports in these choices, nothing you can take with you apart from the experiences and the memories. There is no cake and eating it to in this hypothetical cafĂ© of life. Whichever way I go, I win, but in multiple ways I also lose. I feel like a politician, wanting so hard to make peace and amends with everyone, appease all those I care for, and satisfy all urges, but alas, such is life! Someone, or something always must be sacrificed, the constant opportunity costs of existence forfeited in the idealistic pursuit of happiness. Albeit if it is only in a majority more akin to America’s current political divide.

I have a habit of seeking advice and consult wherever applicable. I take what those close to me have to say very seriously, maybe too much. And what I’ve found from constant opinion mining is that eventually you step back and realize, everyone’s is different, and only one, at the center, really stands out as the one you must employ. Your own. Friends in America would “Kill” to be in my position in Australia, friends in Australia “drool” over the prospects of living in the states and having access to the lifestyle, which I take for, granted, much as we all do eventually. Every story in life has two sides, multiple viewpoints and different angles from which to approach and yet ultimately, it is always the author him or herself who makes the say on which way the tale winds.

Restlessness is a constantly occurring hindrance in my life. Not only does the grass continuously seem a shade greener beyond the fence, but also from my pasture, in today’s increasingly accessible world, I can see hundreds of potential destinations. Do I really have to pick just one? I seriously hope not.

I’ve read many texts, articles, watched videos, attended lectures, and consulted countless friends and acquaintances and amongst them all there truly only exists one common denominator of decision making. It’s not the mind. It’s deep inside each of us and as long as we breathe, it pulls the strings of our emotions, sways our thoughts, our decisions and when it doesn’t get what it wants, what you want, It makes little qualms in disrupting the status quo.  Use the heart to find peace, fulfillment and fun, then employ the mind to make the most of the “pasture” you settle in.

Furthermore, we will never know unless we try. I have long exercised this mantra in many aspects, from travel to sport, from love to heartbreak, we must put ourselves through the strainer, no matter how intimidating, risk littered, or uncertain the outcome may be. Like many mid twenties adults, particularly in today’s far from welcoming economic climate, we must employ such a strategy to hopefully find our selective “callings”.  With job security a relic of the past, and the concept of Employability – maintain and increasing your value as an asset to the company – now dictating the global workplace, many like myself struggle to settle in. But with each new experience, and thought, I am beginning to believe the term “settle” may warrant excommunication from my vocabulary.  

Live for the moment, we hear. Treat each day as if it is your last. Life is lived in the now. The clichĂ©’s and mantras surrounding the philosophy can stretch across continents. Yet, every day, we find them so hard to follow, to implement, to invest faith in and tell ourselves, reassuringly that yes, everything will workout. That we will be ok at the end of the day. I struggle with this as much as the next person. Some might argue that my visions & expectations are too lofty for right now, that I can’t expect to attain such items without scrapping together a living on the ground floor first. And while this is true, I see life as a city, one with many tall towers. Although I have stepped in many and looked around, admired those inside, those entering and leaving, I still have not found the one in which I want to climb. But I will, and we all will. We can only hope to recognize it when we do enter.

Our paths and plans can never appear as clear, feel as right, or been seen as advantageously except through our own eyes, via our own hearts. The decisions we must subject ourselves to, the sacrifices we must fling into the fire and the hardships of dealing with such decisions while maintaining faith that they were in the right is a process that shows no mercy or reprieve on the human spirit. But the lens through which we see this process can be corrected, focused and filtered to develop a sense of appreciation for it. For these processes and deliberations are what make our scripts, and forge our frontiers. Each of us is different, and there is but one thing within all of us that we should consult and listen to in every time of thought or reservation. And when you really think about it, without such forks, could life really be as interesting? Nope.