My 21 Days of Gratitude – Day 4

As I have in the past I again lost momentum with my blogging. Earlier today I jumped back on the train as I was inspired by Seth Godin after listening to his most recent interview on the EntreLeadership podcast. I can’t promise I won’t loose steam in the future but I hope as time moves forward I’ll be more consistent.

So to continue… today I’m grateful for the work I get to do.

I purposely chose the words “work I get to do” because I’ve never really liked the word “job”. Ever since I started reading more and listening to more of the modern day influencers and leaders the word “job” just seems temporary or something people have to do M-F 8-5 (or whatever schedule their job dictates). I prefer to think of what I do professionally is work that “I get to do”. Not what “I have to do”. I believe there is a difference. The former is a mentality of appreciating what you do to earn an income by serving others. The latter is what you do from the time you punch in to the time you punch out.

Sure, there are days I get frustrated at work or where something causes me to stress but by choosing a certain vernacular when describing my work, my “job”, I believe it helps me mentally appreciate what I do at work even more.

And why am I grateful for the work I get to do? Well, there are many reasons and it may sound cliché but I truly enjoy helping others succeed with their work. As an IT professional, I provide services from network administration to help desk support. Regardless of the actual IT function I complete the work I do really boils down to helping my coworkers succeed. My coworkers are my customers and to see them succeed means I’m succeeding at work.

Of course, there are also the relationships I’ve formed at work that extend beyond the workplace as well as the small wins I’ve made professionally as I improve my skill set in my trade. Learning new technology and resolving a technical issue for someone that has kept them from succeeding gratifies me. It also helps keep the flame burning for the inner geek.

#LIFE

Earlier today I was watching a video from Evernote’s Tips & Stories blog series. The post, How Six Amazing Women Get More Done with Evernote, included a video about Shaa Wasmund, an entrepreneur that uses Evernote to help run her business.

I’m always intrigued how successful entrepreneurs run their business and especially enjoy learning how they incorporate Evernote. So this morning I watched the video and in one scene I saw a wall hanging, that of course caught my eye, and I immediately paused the video to grab a screen clip of the wall hanging that spoke about LIFE.

Motivational quotes about life.

I eventually returned to the video to learn more about Shaa, her business, and her use of Evernote but what intrigued me even more is how much I’m in tune with inspirational content and looking for ways to include that content in my social media streams. So now I’m not just reading, listening, and watching for personal growth and self-improvement but I’m continuously on the look out for content to share.

As I work on generating my own content I’ll continue to be a content curator sharing content that I find of value and believe others will enjoy as well. And as a side note, that photo is generated 14 likes in less than an hour. That’s quite the hit of likes for one of my Instagram posts considering it wasn’t a personal photo liked by family and friends.

Oh, and you can thank Seth Godin for inspiring me to worry less about the final product of my blog posts and more on just getting new content on my blog. If you’d like to learn what I mean by that be sure to check out the EntreLeadership Podcast: Seth Godin – Dealing with Change. It is by far one of the best podcast episodes I’ve listened to, ever.

My 21 Days of Gratitude – Day 3

A couple of days ago I started a 21 Days of Gratitude series. After watching a TED talk that spoke of how it is possible to condition one’s brain to be happy (if not happier). The example exercise given was to spend at least 21 days being grateful and so I thought I’d share what I’m grateful for as I reflect for over the next 3 weeks.

Today is day 3 and today I’m grateful that I’m still able to call my Grandpa Pete and speak to him and visit him. In fact, on Tuesday I had called him to make arrangements to get together on Thursday evening. Initially he agreed and said he was free… but then later in the evening he called and said that the driver taking the group to Reno for a day trip to the casinos called him to reminded him of his trip. My grandpa was apologetic that he had forgotten that he already had plans, I certainly can’t get upset at my grandfather, so I just chuckled on the phone and told him to win lots and that I’d call to stop by and see him over the weekend.

It wasn’t too long ago that I also had my two grandmothers only a phone call away and even my other grandfather passed away less than 10 years ago. I consider myself lucky. Even though I didn’t get to live in close proximity to my grandparents as a child I did get to spend 10-15 years with three of my grandparents and hopefully much longer with my Grandpa Pete.

So today I’m grateful for the time I was able to spend with my grandparents. The four pillars of my foundation.

Please leave a comment and let me know what you are grateful for today.

My 21 Days of Gratitude – Day 2

Day 2 of my 21 Days of Gratitude series happens to fall on February, 2nd which is also my birthday. Want to guess my favorite number?

Since today is my birthday I thought I’d share my thoughts on a few of the best gifts I’ve ever received.

1, My Loved One’s Good News

I’m going to be vague on this one as the person that was receiving the medical treatment has a right to privacy but like each and every one of us we all have a loved one that is dealing with something. Yesterday I learned that (s)he received confirmation that the treatment they had been receiving did its job. All signs point in a positive direction and for that I’m beyond relieved. I’m happy for that person and for all those that love that person.

I’m grateful for the good news I received last night after their final day of treatment.

2. My Older Son Triztan

It was exactly 10 years ago today that my wife, Jennifer, handed me a birthday card with the best surprise ever hidden inside. It was a card letting me know that I was going to be a dad. I’ve received many wonderful gifts over the years but to learn that you’re going to be a dad on your birthday is quite the gift.

Triztan is a wonderful young man that truly has the kindest heart. He amazes me in so many ways but what comes to mind first and foremost is how much he cares for others.

As I watched Triztan at his recent competitive soccer tryouts he ran to chase down a stray ball. The ball went in the direction of the water bottles and knocked one over. Triztan not only retrieved the ball but took the extra seconds that were required to stand the water bottle (owner unknown) upright. When the water bottle fell again he corrected it again.

I’m not sure how many of the 40 plus boys that were out there would have done the same but as I watched him from the stands I couldn’t have been more proud. He shows signs of a serving heart and I believe that will take him far.

The list is long of what I love about Triztan but his kind soul is at the top. He makes me proud on a daily basis.

3. My Younger Son Lucaz

Nearly four years Triztan’s junior Lucaz is a free spirit that beats to his own drum. I love him for that. He is everything I wasn’t as a kid. Where I was timid and intimidated Lucaz is confident and won’t think twice about dancing to a good beat if he hears a song that he likes.

On the other hand, while he loves to run off on his own at times Lucaz adores his mom and will stop to no end to snuggle with her every single night. He even fights me off if I attempt to steal Jen’s attention. I never have to worry about Jen lacking a protector.

Triztan and Lucaz

I’m a very proud father and love my sons. I’m blessed to have them in my life. My life is richer because of them and for that I’m grateful.

My 21 Days of Gratitude – Day 1

Earlier in January a friend shared a TED Talk that is one of the funniest I’ve watched to date. If you aren’t familiar with TED talks you should be.
Shawn Anchor did a great job delivering his message with humor and an amazing ability to speak very quickly but without losing me. Although his talk emphasizes that happiness is key to productivity the message that I remembered the most after listening to the talk is his point that the brain can be reconditioned.
In fact, he said that it is possible to recondition our brains in as short as 21 days. He said that it is even possible to retrain our brains on happiness and gratitude. One example he gave of how to retrain our brain is to write down three things you are grateful for every day for 21 days.
I’ve learned from many successful entrepreneurs that early morning reflection is one habit they consider to be instrumental in their success. Reflection can mean many things but the list often includes prayer, meditation, writing in a journal, and keeping a gratitude list. I’ve yet to develop the habit of keeping a list so I thought I’d begin. For the next 21 days I’ll write them down each morning and do my best to share them.
Day 1
1. God’s Love
I’m a born and raised Catholic that has struggled off and on with keeping myself close and involved with the church. In the past 16 years there have been waves of my attending church regularly and then not attending for months at a time. I’m doing my best to change that now. And although I know there are many that may say that you can love God without ever stepping foot into a church, which I won’t argue, for me the Catholic Church, both the physical structure as well as the faithful community, provides me a familiar surrounding. It comforts me. I feel as if I belong there.
So even after months of not attending Catholic Mass I’ll attend and ask myself why has it taken me so long to return. In fact, as I continue to write and edit this post it is Sunday evening January 31, 2016 and I’ll admit that I didn’t attend Mass today. I have no excuse except that I got lazy. I don’t feel good about it. I never do. This afternoon I was driving home from some errands and felt like I missed out on something today. I missed out on a chance to hear God’s word. I missed out on receiving a lesson that could have been just right for me today. I missed out on feeling comforted by His presence at a time that my focus should have been on Him.
And so like many Sunday’s before I’m grateful that the Lord will accept me when I return in person and as I pray to Him tonight. Just like an inventor failing 999 times it is getting up that 1000th time that moves him closer to success. I’ll continue to work on my relationship with the Lord no matter how many times I fall away from Him because I now he continues to love me no matter how often I fall.
2. My Health
I’ve been pretty lucky the past 4 decades. Aside from my self-inflicted battle of the bulge I’ve been blessed with a healthy life. I’ve fallen into the trap of taking my health for granted and recently experienced some scenarios that have caused me to pay a little more attention to reoccurring aches and pains. Luckily neither of those episodes amounted to anything. So every day that I open my eyes in the comfort of my own home I do my best to be thankful that I’m healthy both mentally and physically.
My challenge today and every day is to condition my body so that it remains healthy.
3. My Wife
To round off the top three things I’m grateful for I couldn’t proceed without sharing my gratitude for my wife Jennifer.
Jennifer is my partner. She is my lover. She is my friend. She is my equal. She challenges me. She accepts me. She loves me.
She puts up with my cr*p.
We’ve been married for a short 10 years and together for 15 and we have most certainly had our challenges but we’ve created and lived many, many beautiful memories as well. Of course the two most important to the two of us are our two boys. Jennifer is a wonderful mother who loves her boys dearly and together I think we’re doing a pretty darn good job of raising two incredible young men.
There are many things I love about Jennifer but perhaps one of the most important is that I believe she views our marriage and the cohesiveness of our family as the most important thing in our lives. We are committed to each other and to our family and although we’re not perfect we do our best to not lose sight on our commitment to each other.
And with that, God, my health, and Jennifer are the top of my gratitude list.
What are you most grateful for?

Why I Decided to Organize a Personal Accountability Group

A few weeks ago, in mid-December, I decided to register for Michael Hyatt’s 2016 5 Days to Your Best Year Ever. I did the same in late 2014 with intent of defining my goals and making 2015 my Best Year Ever. Things didn’t go according to plan.

Yes, I logged onto the 2015 site in January of last year and completed maybe one of the 5 courses. As January progressed and February arrived I never logged back in. As the year passed I’d think about it now and again knowing that I could log in at any time. Thinking back that is where I went wrong.

I failed because I knew I could log in at any time during the year but moreover no one else knew that I hadn’t completed the program. No one knew that I had even registered.

I figured that I had all year to get to it. Ironic, huh? I procrastinated on completing a course of making 2015 my best year by thinking I could start at any time. It was just one of those things that “I’d get to” and like many similar things on my list I never got to it. I never made it a priority nor did I ever tell anyone that I was going to complete it. The year slipped away.

So in December 2015 I decided to forgive myself for spending and wasting the money I had spent in late 2014 for 2015’s registration and decided to register again. This time I not only registered for the revamped course but I decided to register for the VIP version which of course cost more than the non-VIP version.

With the VIP version the registrant has the ability to participate in a closed Facebook group that is hosted and monitored by Michael and some of his staff. There are videos and questions posted to help initiate conversation and sharing of each others’ goals.

I decided that if I was going to spend the money again that I wasn’t going to leave it up to myself alone to complete the course. I already proved that not making it a priority was not a good option. I didn’t want to do that two years in a row. This time I paid for the higher priced course, which allows me to participate and learn from Michael and his team throughout the year. In addition to all of that I asked for help from my friends and family.

A day or two after I registered for 5 Years to Your Best Year Ever 2016 I posted the following on request on Facebook:

Facebook post

Within minutes I had family and friends saying that they wanted to participate and be part of the group. I was excited and at the same time nervous about being the one to facilitate the group. What was I going to post? What would I share? Am I adding yet one more thing to my to-do list that would keep me from actually working on my goals?

Ultimately I decided that if my dream is to one day get to shape my life, be in a better position to help shape the lives of my wife and boys, then this is one stepping stone towards reaching my goal. I have a passion and earnest desire to serve and help others meet their goals and be successful in their lives. I want to spread optimism. I want to make sure others don’t feel like they are the only ones that don’t have it figured out. I want to earn an income and design a business where serving others is at its core but not be intimidated by earning an income by providing that help.

I’m still left with the questions of how I’m going to get there but by creating my own accountability group I am not only getting like minded, goal oriented family and friends to keep me accountable but I’m getting to dive into the world of leadership outside of work and youth coaching. I’m learning as I’m going, I don’t have it figured out by any means, but as I repeatedly hear from the authors, bloggers, and podcasters that I study and learn from it all boils down to getting started and putting yourself out there.

And so, in 2016, I plan to not only make it the Best Year Ever via Michael Hyatt’s course and learn from one of my virtual mentors but I also intend to take what I learn and share it with others. I will not be giving away any of the paid course’s content. I plan to keep my integrity in tact but I will take what I learn and share my own interpretations via blog posts, videos, quotes, and any other means I can think of to help the 17 or so members of my accountability group.

With that, I have given myself until this Sunday, January 17th to complete the 5 courses in the 5 Days to Your Best Ever program. If you like, feel free to help keep me accountable and check in with me on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.

The Four Podcasts I Listen To Every Week

A couple of weeks ago I met a friend for breakfast. She’s a former professor of mine that moved to California a few years after I did. She is currently teaching at a university in the bay area so we meet for breakfast when our schedules allow. I consider her to be a friend as well as a former professor, mentor, and accountability partner.

When we get together we usually start off by catching each other up on our lives and latest personal news. Eventually we’ll discuss our personal and professional goals and aspirations and share with each other the latest books that we’ve read. I tend to read non-fiction business, leadership, or productivity books while she reads more spiritual and motivational books. We learn from each other and suggest various authors and titles that we’re excited to share.

During one of our recent breakfasts, I mentioned to my friend that in between my monthly Audible.com books (I pay for the book a month subscription) that I listen to podcasts. I did so assuming that listening to podcasts is a common practice. I was wrong.

Before breakfast ended I took possession of my friend’s phone and set her up with her first podcast subscription. I used the free Podcasts app (on my phone I use Downcast to manage and listen to my podcast subscriptions). I currently have four podcasts that I’m subscribed to, this number has changed over time, but the podcast I added to her phone was Michael Hyatt’s This Is Your Life.

Podcast subscriptions

My four podcast subscriptions include Michael Hyatt’s as well as EntreLeadership, The School of Greatness with Lewis Howes, and Chalene Johnson’s Build Your Tribe. I’ve been listening to Michael Hyatt’s and EntreLeadership since their beginning. Lewis Howes and Chalene Johnson are new additions as of this year. Michael Hyatt’s and EntreLeadership are by far my favorite of all the podcasts I’ve listened to over the years and they have never been removed from my subscription list.

I’m a big fan of Michael Hyatt and consider him to be one of my virtual mentors. He is a man of faith that speaks highly of his wife and daughters and he’s also been a CEO of a publishing company and is now an extremely influential blogger and author. I dream to emulate his business practices and work/life choices.

So on the morning I drove to meet my friend for breakfast, I had listened to Michael’s podcast episode on How to Finally Achieve Your Dream. As my friend and I usually talk about our professional and lifestyle dreams I found it humorously ironic that this would be the topic of the podcast I listened on the drive to meet with her. It happened for a reason and so I knew immediately that I had to share it with my her… even if that meant having to explain the process of subscribing, downloading, and listening to podcasts.

I’m hoping that by showing my friend how to subscribe to a podcast she can instantly listen to hours and hours of free, quality content. I still find that most of my family and friends don’t listen to podcasts as much as I do, if at all. I’m hoping that over time I can help change that. For now, I think I may have convinced at least one of my friends.

 

How to Sync Windows Live Writer 2012 64bit with DropBox

As I continue to study the best practices of successful on-line bloggers such as Michael Hyatt and Crystal Paine I discover and re-discover some of what they have shared in how they blog. Crystal mentioned in one of her Periscopes that she organizes her blog ideas in her Google Calendar. Michael, on the other hand, captures everything in Evernote and has gone as far as creating a template to help his blog writing process. As a matter of fact, I decided to use his template to write this post. I imagine over time I’ll tweak it to suit my writing style but until I have a writing style of my own I’ll use what works for Mr. Hyatt.

One thing I am unable to duplicate exactly in Michael’s process, at least not entirely, is the use of MarsEdit. Michael uses it to add metadata to the blog post before publishing it to his WordPress site. Since MarsEdit is a Mac only application I did a little bit of research and found that the free Microsoft Windows Live Writer is a common favorite for those that work in a Windows only environment. One such blogger, Scott Hanselman, also provided a pro tip to sync the Windows Live Writer drafts & recent posts folders with DropBox; allowing you to switch between Windows machines running Windows Live Writer and always have the latest version of your blog post drafts.

Awhile back, during one of my earlier attempts to launch a blog, I completed the pro tip on my Windows 7 x32 machine. Since then I’ve acquired a Microsoft Surface running Windows 10 x64. When I tried to apply the registry change that Scott Hanselman offered I learned it was not correct for the 64 bit installation of Windows Live Writer so after some research I found How to change the Drafts and Recent Posts folder in Windows Live Writer 2011. This blog post offered a slight variation to the registry change that did prove to work for my setup.

Before proceeding with the following changes please be sure to visit the original how to posts for reference (and always be cautious when working in the Registry Editor) but here is a quick run down of how to configure Windows Live Writer on a Windows x64 machine to use DropBox to sync the Drafts and Recent Posts folders:

  1. Open the Registry Editor from the Start Menu
  2. Navigate to HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows Live\Writer
  3. Right click on Writer on the left and select New > String Value
  4. Name the value PostsDirectory and then right click on it to edit
  5. Insert the path to a folder in your DropBox folder (i.e. C:\Users\<username>\Dropbox\Windows Live Writer)
  6. Open Windows Live Writer and create and save a test post
  7. Confirm the test post is in the drafts folder in DropBox
  8. Close the Registry Editor

PostsDirectory

Once all of your Windows computers are updated to use DropBox to sync the Windows Live Writer (2012) Drafts and Recent Posts folders you’ll be able to quickly start your blog on one machine and finish the publishing process on another. I plan to use both Evernote and Windows Live Writer, similar to how Michael Hyatt uses Evernote and MarsEdit, for at least a few months. I’m sure over time I’ll develop a process I prefer but for now I plan to heed the advice of the experts.

Drafts folder

 Question: What software or process do you use to help you blog? Share your answer on Twitter or Facebook.

How to Quickly Search your Evernote Notes from your iPhone

I have a friend and former coworker that recently dubbed me with a new moniker; Victor “Third Party App” Nava. After 5 years of not working together we have reunited and found ourselves working on the same project. We essentially picked up where we left off years ago when I’d learn of a new app and he’d appease me and let me talk his ear off about the latest technology. Earlier today he asked me a question and just like old times my response included an app as part of the solution.

While we worked together at our former company I’d read Lifehacker religiously. Like many others I found myself downloading and testing many of the apps and services the site recommended. Much of what I learned about phone apps and productivity tools I initially learned form Lifehacker. I’d read the posts and then made feeble attempts to share what I learned on Twitter or Facebook. It was the early years of social media and I had no clue what I was doing nor did my audience care.

Today I’m making another attempt at sharing about technology. Let’s hope I’m a little better this time around.

First, I’m an Evernote user. I’ve been a user since 2008 and I’m pretty sure it was Lifehacker that introduced me to Evernote. I hope by now you’ve heard of and use Evernote. If you aren’t familiar with Evernote think of it as your digital brain where you can store essentially any type of digital content. The real power is that at any time you can later find any note you store in Evernote via powerful word and context searches from basically any device (computer, phone, tablet) or platform (Windows, Mac, iOS, or Android).

Earlier today I learned of a new Evernote search tip that offers a way to search your Evernote notes without even opening the application. This is of course is assuming you already have Evernote installed on your iPhone with notes previously saved to your account.

On your iPhone (I have not confirmed but I assume the same is true from an iPad) swipe and pull down on the Home Screen to display the Spotlight search field. Enter your search criteria and immediately your search should produce notes that match the search criteria. From there you can tap and open your note without having to open the app to execute the search. Think of how powerful this is as you’re looking for that medical record, to-do list, or letter from your child’s school.

Screenshot of Evernote Spotlight Search

I believe technology should be used to resolve an issue or help increase productivity. This new search tip helps eliminate 2 or 3 extra steps before reaching the search field within the Evernote app. Any chance I can eliminate extra steps in an effort to save me time in my day I’m all for it.

I hope this quick tip also helps you. If you find think this might help any of your friends be sure to share.

 

 

It All Started with Dave Ramsey

Somewhere between 2000 and 2010 I discovered Dave Ramsey while reading an article that I found on Yahoo’s financial news page. I recall being at my work desk and within a short time I started following Dave Ramsey’s website and soon the Dave Ramsey Show podcast. I immediately become a fan, follower, and student.

If you’ve never listened to Dave’s show then I recommend you do so. For those that are unfamiliar he teaches hundreds, thousands, maybe millions on how to get out of debt and how to live debt free. His focus is how to improve one’s financial wealth.

At about this same time I transitioned from listening to mindless morning radio shows to podcasts during my commute. The Dave Ramsey Show didn’t air live at that time in Sacramento so I subscribed to his podcast and listened daily. Eventually he released EntreLeadership and of course I devoured that book and podcast as well.

What I didn’t know as I listened to The Dave Ramsey Show and then his business and leadership podcast, EntreLeadership, is that my world would be opened to so much more. From one single influential leader and his podcasts I was introduced to many more influencers and teachers that became my own personal group of virtual mentors. The list includes  Zig Ziglar, Michael Hyatt, Rabbi Daniel Lapin, John C. Maxwell, Chris LoCurto, Jon Acuff, Simon Sinek and then from those leaders I eventually learned of Seth Godin, Crystal PaineChalene Johnson and more.

I’ve never met any of these people in person. I tried to attend one of Dave’s events once but couldn’t work out the travel. Regardless, I’ve shared hours upon hours with each of them. I not only have listened to at least one book from each of these authors but I’ve also registered online classes from a couple of them. My only challenge now is finding the time to learn from them all on a regular basis. For now I spend just about every minute of the ten hours I commute a week with one of these teachers either through audio books, podcasts, or as of lately their Periscopes.

So, then, what exactly started with Dave Ramsey? The decision to start this blog. Dave didn’t exactly tell me to do it. Actually, that was Michael Hyatt in episode #93 of his podcast, but because I came across a financial news article almost a decade ago I got introduced to a world of influential leaders that I’ve come to admire and want to join in helping and serving others.

I’m grateful I discovered Dave and all of these other mentors I now have. I hope by sharing you’ll take a few minutes to see if any of them speak to you in a way that helps.

If you do decide to connect with them online be sure to let them know It All Started with Victor Nava.