Women Lifting Women

March Madness is an amazing experience, besides watching 4 basketball games today, I witnessed something incredible, the Saint Louis University Dance and Cheer Team is all women. ALL. WOMEN. Women literally lifting each other up.

If you check the photo you will see them doing the same things the other squads did, except they lift each other up rather than having guys lift them. They took longer to get into formations and used different techniques to get into poses. Awe Inspiring.

5 Best Practices on LinkedIn – The Two Minute Drill

Originally published on Elephant Journal in 2012, revised and republished here in 2019.

Here are 5 tips on how to effectively use LinkedIn to create revenue opportunities:

1. Put an hour or 2 into developing your profile. From a clean head shot to setting your public profile address to a concise and accurate summary to the interesting details that make it easy to connect with you. Think of this as creating the best business card of your life, it is the card that lets you stay in front of your network with minimal effort and conveys more information about who you are than ever possible before. Think of of your LinkedIn profile as your living bio. It must be accurate, honest and detailed!

2. Build a Large Vibrant Rainbow – Add Connections. Who should you add? Friends, family, co-workers (past and present), alumni, people you have met in class or at conferences, etc. Start by spending 2 hours looking for every single person you have ever known. Your connections are like the colors of the rainbow, they are vibrant unique and potentially leading you to a pot of gold. Yes, you should know or have met or have engaged with your connections. The bigger the rainbow, the more likely their is a larger pot of gold.

Should you connect to people you do not know? 10% of your network should be fat, people you don’t know that you want to know. When you invite someone you don’t know to connect on LinkedIn, it is a best practice to personalize the invite and give them a reason as to why they should connect with you. For people you know, just invite them! Letting LinkedIn check your email list for people you know who are on LinkedIn is a great way to jump start your network (Tip – do NOT let LinkedIn invite every single one of your email contacts to connect-only invite the people with a blue IN next to their name indicating they are already on LinkedIn).

3. Participate in the conversation. Practice the 2 Minute Drill. Take 1 minute a day and scan your newsfeed, look for new potential connections and content within your network you can comment on and/or like. At the top right of your newsfeed is a search button, you can search your newsfeed for words like yoga or asana or meditation and see who in your 2nd degree or 3rd degree of connections is talking about or promoting something you are interested in. When you Like or Comment on content in your newsfeed, that content is promoted to your network. Like your Facebook newsfeed, this is the most local and interesting news around!

Use the 2nd minute to look for new connections. If you do this 5 days a week and find one person every day your network will expand by 250 people a year!!! This is you creating potential, expanding your artificially created limitations. You want a strong vibrant network of interesting people improving the life of others and creating revenue. It starts with your network, build it daily!

4. Share content with your network. This may be once a week or twice a week or every day, do a status update and promote something you are working on – remember this is a business network! Promoting your business, research, company or blog is a great way to increase the quality of search of your content on Google and the general internet. More important it is a gentle way to touch your community and share part of your life. You can also Share your content in Groups you belong to on LinkedIn. Video content is favored in the newsfeed on LinkedIn in 2019! Follow the loose guideline of 1/10th of your energy creating content and 9/10ths of your energy distributing that content!

5. Schedule real world meetings with people from your network. This is how you find the pot of gold!!! You decide how committed you are to growth. At the minimum once a week or as frequent as your schedule allows. Combine your passion for business with these meetings and you will forge stronger relationships within your community. These meetings are not sales calls, these are opportunities to be an active listener and figure out how you can help your connections accomplish their dreams. Yes, you should tell your friends what you are doing, but focus your energy on how you can contribute to their lives.

This is a great community of hundreds of millions of people for you to communicate with, are you sharing your world on LinkedIn?

"All this is simply to say that all life is inter-related. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly."
Martin Luther King Jr.
All this is simply to say that all life is inter-related. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.”
Martin Luther King Jr.

10 Secrets to Make Learning Fun for Our Kids!

This blog post was originally posted on Elephant Journal in 2012 here. Currently, working on a new updated response to this.

At some point most parents with the question of video games and kids. As a lifelong gamer and technology evangelist, sharing games with my kids is an amazing experience. It started when Alex and I drove 30 minutes to score a Wii one early Sunday morning and has accelerated with the growth of gaming on the iPad/iPod/iPhone. We play games as a family and equally enjoy hanging out while we all indulge in our own “screen time.” Video games are truly state of the art when it comes to technology, the current gaming experience is simply amazing, I am not sure we understood what was possible when we started playing Pong decades ago.

Over the last few months I have been thinking a lot about success, what does it look like and how do we achieve it. This evolved into a conversation with Alex, at eight and a half years old he contributed some of the more brilliant ideas below. My friend Kim’s son submitted a long list of reasons the family would be better if he got a new gaming system for Christmas (this article would have been a great resource for him). I laughed when I read his powerpoint, it was brilliant! If you want your kids to compete in this quickly evolving world, video games will jump start their education and empower them to be the leaders of tomorrow.

Why do we want our kids to play video games?

  1. Dexterity. When I was a kid we played Atari and Coleco Vision, basically a joystick and a button. Today kids are using touch screens and motion controllers, these force them to move and think in dimension instead of up, down, side to side and fire. Whether it is touching the screen or moving the device, games today make your fingers move faster, improving dexterity. Repetitive behavior, such as playing the same game with the same physical engagement frees our brain to relax, much the same way meditation does. Too much of anything is dangerous, when Alex has been playing video games too long he becomes grouchy and impatient. Just as you can get carpal tunnel syndrome from computing too much, you can hurt your thumbs playing Words With Friends or NBA Jams excessively.
  2. Reading Comprehension. Whether it is stats in sport games or dialog in an adventure game. I believe the secret to reading is to enjoy what you are reading. When I pick up reading comprehension workbooks, my stomach churns. Those books do not inspire kids to stay up late and finish the next chapter in their book, however reading the The Legend of Zelda or The Adventures of Rayman will teach your kids to read and motivate them to learn at the same time. My daughter can not read thru the levels of Rayman, I can either tell her not to play or help her read thru the levels until she can read them herself. Is this painful for me? A little, but as long as I keep it fun for her she will become a great reader (more likely from reading great children’s books, but the gaming can only help). If you are not a native English speaker, video games are a great way to improve your language acquisition!
  3. Improved Sight. Your eyes are a muscle, the complex graphics and rapid movements will strengthen these muscles potentially improving your eye sight. Colors, dimensions and depth change rapidly causing your eyes to focus frequently, strengthen your eye muscles – your brain can process more information than we know. There have been scientific studies done in this area with positive results. Run your own study by playing some games and seeing how long it takes for your eyes to become tired. Do this for a week and you will find you can play longer and you will be better at the games!
  4. Problem solving skills. Finishing a video game requires great problem solving skills. Each level requires unique solutions to pass, whether you are searching for a secret door or figuring out what combinations of moves will destroy the huge monster blocking your path. From issue spotting (I need to get thru that ring of fire to get to the next level) to creative solutions (I’ll jump on that platform moving towards the ring of fire so I can leap thru the burning  ring) to time management (I have 3 minutes to complete this level), kids today are learning critical skills that will enable them to be great problem solvers.
  5. Analytical skills.  Evaluating what is the best way to score the most points or how to finish the level the fastest teaches kids analytical thinking. Whether it is figuring out what combination of car, tires and engine are ideal in Need For Speed or which bonus to use in Bejeweled, their is strategy involved in every choice. Video gaming teaches kids to look at a situation and develop a strategy that will lead to a positive outcome. Once a strategy has been developed (if you are playing for points in Ms.Pacman, when you eat a power up you will time it so the Ghosts are close and you can eat 3-4 of them), the execution is easy and only limited by practice and a little bit of luck (yes, you were lucky when you barely caught the 4th Ghost for 1600 points). Kids will use their analytical skills they develop gaming on the basketball court and in the classroom at school.
  6. Decision Making. In life we make a lot of decisions, little decisions such as what sugar we buy to huge decisions such as where we live and what school our kids go to. In video games you learn to make decisions quickly, whether it is in your choice of weapon or whether to cross the bridge or not. Practice makes you a better decision maker and video games let you practice without real world consequences, learning to deal with failure and success are accelerated creating the ability to understand risk and reward with confidence. In yoga we are constantly pushing our bodies to “find a new edge” or get into that running man or side crow, the decision to use ease and grace in your practice instead of brute force may be the difference between a great class and a lingering injury. I am not saying you will prevent injuries on your yoga mat because you play video games, but rather better decision making skills due to playing video games may help reduce your physical injuries on the mat.
  7. Math Skills. Math is an important skill that our schools are failing at teaching. Whether you are letting your 5 year old play a basic math game on the iPod or you are calculating how many boosts you need to get to the next level or you are analyzing angle and velocity necessary to topple the building and destroy the fat green pigs in Angry Birds, developing math skills is not an accident. Did you ever play Tank? Learning how to use angles of reflection can be fun! Video games make math normal and fun, rather than a miserable experience in memorization. Some of the highest level thinking in math requires abstract thinking and experimentation (Tetris anybody?). Video games teach us to think outside of the box and to try various combinations until we unlock the right match. If kids knew that math could be as fun as video games we’d have more mathematicians in society.
  8. Practice. How do you get to Carnegie Hall the violinist asked the cab driver, practice practice practice he responded! Video games reinforce the concept of practice will improve performance, you know this from your yoga practice! We tell our kids, practice writing your letters and your handwriting will get better or practice writing your essays before taking the test and you will score higher. When we practice yoga, we acknowledge the growth and change that comes from our commitment to breath, body and soul – this growth comes from consistently practicing over an extended period of time. More kids have learned the value of practice from playing Super Mario Brothers than we care to acknowledge, but it isn’t easy to beat level one without practicing (when you will have to jump on mushrooms in life I am not sure).  Video games and practice go hand and hand, make it easy for your kids to understand the value of practice…encourage them to play video games!
  9. Failure. Handling success can be difficult, nobody likes it when you dunk the ball and pump your fist and shout “In Your Face!” – whether it is in the video game or the boardroom after closing a deal. However, learning how to handle failure is critical to success. When a stock you’ve bought sinks 20% in 3 days or the magazine you publish becomes to expensive to print, how you handle failure is a skill you can learn. It didn’t take you many quarters to learn how to adapt to failure in Ms.Pacman, nor does it take kids long to handle defeat in Madden Football. Whether it is creative problem solving, analysis or simply practice, learning how to fail in video games is making the next generation of kids valuable resources we will need to succeed. Adaptation is a combination of nature and nurture, video games teach these skills to kids quickly and easily.
  10. Socialization. Gaming has always been a social experience, whether it is old ladies playing Mah Jong or Poker Night, or the kids are taking turns playing the Wii (Just Dance?) or you are playing with your friends in different countries on the PS3 or you are playing Words With Friends on your iPhone against your Facebook friends. Gaming is a social experience and a great way to get to know your friends better. It may simply be the shared experience of playing, giving advice on how to play a game or “talking shit” during the game. We should encourage our kids to play games for many of the same reasons we send them to school, we want them to be social. When we teach someone how to play a game we learn to communicate and participate in a process, sometimes with people and sometimes alone – this sharing of experience and knowledge will extend into every aspect of our kids academic and eventually professional experiences.

Last but not least, playing video games is a lot of fun! Life is hard enough, if you can find release and joy in playing video games…enjoy it! Watch the games your kids play and discuss the games with your kids, you will see how their brains are working and help them understand what they are doing. Maybe next time they will take an interest in your life and what you are doing! Games are an easy way to bond and connect – whether it is family, old friends or new friends. Share this article and tell me what game you are playing today!!!

My friend Dana beats me every week at Bejeweled!

3 Tips For Using LinkedIn

  1. You Need a Broad Network. Search on LinkedIn is limited by the size of your network, or 6 degrees of separation. When I look up a company and only have 3rd degree connections into the company, I know it is my lack of effort in reaching out to more people. You are in control of the quality of your search.
  2. Be More Generous. Your Likes, Comments, Shares contribute to the newsfeed of your network. When you participate in your network you improve communication for everybody. If you watch a video and it is interesting, your Like or Comment will make it more likely for someone else to interact with that content as it stays in more newsfeeds longer. Improve the newsfeed and create positive business engagement with small actions every day.
  3. Use The Mobile App. The LinkedIn mobile app is a convenient way to post an update, check your newsfeed, look for a contact or even a job. Your phone is one of the most powerful tools you have, use it.
"Invisible threads are the strongest ties." Friedrich Nietzsche
“Invisible threads are the strongest ties.” Friedrich Nietzsche

Tips for Blogging

Social media is a giant experiment, that has changed the face of marketing forever, for the good.

Blogging is the single most difficult platform in social media and the most likely to fail. In fact, most blogs suck and are destined to fail (there are millions of blogs). Why is blogging critical to your social media strategy and how can you make it successful?Blogging is the center of your social media strategy; all content is either created on your blog and shared from your blog or simply shared on your blog.

Why? Primarily because you control it. If Facebook deletes your profile and you lose hundreds of thousands of Likes, do not lose your content. If Twitter becomes irrelevant (that happened in 2013) your foundation is still your blog and your content is safe.

When I break down the words “social media,” I am reminded that media is content we create; social is how we share that content. With this in mind, I want you to think of your blog as the foundation upon which you create and share all of your social media. All of the other networks are how you distribute your content, how you promote and share your content. Blogging is the core of any great search engine optimization strategy—it’s how we drive traffic to websites. Are you ready for my top 10 secrets?

Top 10 Secrets Revealed!

1. Keep it real. This can be stated as always write from the heart. Meaning if you are writing about something you believe in, the writing will come naturally and you will enjoy posting and maybe even look forward to it.

2. Write Posts or update your site at least weekly. You set the standard here, give yourself a schedule so you do not have to think about when you should post. Eventually, you will just post without a schedule because it will be part of your routine.

3. Find the balance of long posts vs. short posts. Not every post should be an essay or novel, sometimes just posting a picture says 1,000 words. We want to average 250 words. That means some of your posts should be a simple picture and a quote!

4. Write in your own voice. This can be difficult, but as you let your guard down, your voice will shine through.

5. Focus on your area of expertise. This is where you have the most knowledge and information to share with the world. That said, this should be an area of creative freedom, so break this rule as required. If you are an expert in yoga, write about what you are learning—this is where you are an amazing teacher and your content will be brilliant.

6. Cite your sources. The more links you can build into your posts establishes your credibility and the value of reading your posts. When I tell you to distribute your content on Facebook, I am telling you to do that because there are a billion people on Facebook, not because I like it (actually, I love it).

7. Add pictures when possible, cite the source and include the meta data (this is an excellent habit to develop from the start).

8. Links, Links Links. Put them in your posts, include a blog roll and add sites there. Posting a link to someone’s site gives them credit and builds social capital. This is great for Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and builds Social Capital because we are promoting resources. Just do it!

9. Bank it. This is a shot in basketball and a process in blogging. You do not have to post every blog when you write it—sometimes, you want to keep a few posts in your “bank,” for days or weeks when you are not in the mood to write but want to get a post up. This also gives you time to go back and add or revise a post.

10. Promote Your Blog. This may feel like selling your soul, but it is not. You are contributing to our universal knowledge. Put links out on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter. Put a link in the signature line of your email. Tell your friends you blog and send them a link to the site. Make business cards and include your blog address on them. Use social media and traditional media to promote your blog. Your information is only useful if other people find it. Contribute to other people’s blogs, with a link. You have to share your content 10x the effort it took you to write the post. Think about that, and start sharing your posts more!!!

I believe you will be an amazing blogger; start today and never look back. Even if you read a lot of bad blogs, remember your blog will be amazing—write what you feel passionate about and restore our faith in blogging!

Why this picture? Amongst all of the flowers in the world, you will stand out just by being you.

The art of slowing down: Tea

Every few years I quit drinking coffee in an effort to reduce my dairy and sugar consumption. Drinking tea is a strangely satisfying substitute. Eric Grower at Breakaway Matcha is a believer in the ceremony of drinking tea, the process of making the tea is equally important to serving the tea.

Holly at Black Rabbit Trading Company is a source for interesting teas such as “Black Shade” and “Green Chai,” including the tea pot in the picture below. Part of me enjoys the search for interesting and different teas, bringing forth new flavors and experiences with each cup.

What has been missing for me? The conversation. I tend to drink my tea while working or commuting or reading. The slowing down, sipping, listening, thinking, talking…the essence of “tea time.” Tea has not been a social experience for me. That has to change. Tea time, hit me up.

5 Tips for Edge Rank and Social Media

Edge Rank is how your posts and content show up in newsfeeds and search. When you post on Facebook, do people see it? Why are some posts seen more than others? How does your post work with the social platforms algorithm? There is a lot of mystery and hidden secrets, below are the tips I have found helpful.

  1. Post on each social platform independently. If you use social aggregators you give up the nuance of voice and relevance. For example, when I let Instagram post to Facebook, I don’t use hashtags, because they aren’t part of the communications commonly used on Facebook. This reduces the effectiveness of my post on Instagram, hashtags help you show up in search. In this case, my experience has been that Facebook may actually show your post equally in the newsfeed as it does on Instagram. Using software like hoot suite, that posts to multiple platforms, I have seen a drop off in edge rank.
  2. Relevance. Your posts should be relevant to what is happening in the world. From global events to holidays to local events, keep your posting in line with what people are interested in and searching for. January might bring more searches about health and fitness and dieting, while February might include chocolate, hearts, valentines day, love and relationships.
  3. Timing. I am guilty of working late at night, posting online at that time can be flat. Why? A smaller portion of your network is online to see and interact with your content. As time passes over the first 24 hours of posting you don’t receive the benefit of likes, comments and shares to increase your edge rank. Some people use scheduling of posts to compensate, I don’t think this is effective. You give up your analytical skills and ability to pivot with what is happening currently in how you post your content. The real solution is patience. You want to post when your most engaged and largest community is online. It is critical to experiment and vary your posting time, share most of your posts at the “best time” and maybe 20% of your posts at alternative times.
  4. Intention. This is a strange one, what do you want people to do? Likes, comments, shares will improve your edge rank. Make it clear and easy for people to like your post or comment on it. With the “reaction button” on Facebook, there is a difference between a like and love and anger and sadness. Your intention determines whether you get these reactions or likes. On platforms like LinkedIn, make it easy for people to like your post in the language you use. If you are posting news, be clear about your stance, people want to support you. Getting content shared is more difficult, the basic advice here is make sure the content is valuable enough that people want to educate their friends and connections with your information. People love to learn, when you teach them the content is sharable. Or, it has to be news, people will share what feels like breaking news to their network, we see this commonly with the weather and deaths. People will not share a press release.
  5. Engagement. Social media acts like a one to many broadcasting system. In reality, it is a two way conversation. Broadcasters have to reply to comments, like responses and interact people who like or follow them. This is how we make the world smaller and find the human connection within the separation of devices and the internet in general. It is also why it so important to “listen” on social networks. If you login, post your content and logout, you are missing half of the value of social media. Engagement is a two way street of communication, participate in your community on all levels from broadcasting content to authentically participating in conversations.

“We need, in love, to practice only this: letting each other go. For holding on comes easily; we do not need to learn it.” Rainer Maria Rilke

This Wild Precious Life

“Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild precious life?” Mary Oliver

We should all ask this question regularly. This week marks the passing of Mary Oliver and this is as good a time as any to check-in, make sure you are living your life they way you want to.

I took this photo last week coming home from watching the sunset at Rodeo Beach. There was a change in the traffic flow and I wound up seeing the Golden Gate Bridge, which is always a magical moment. I was tempted to keep driving, but I knew I could not get back to this moment in the future. I parked and got out of the car to extend and enjoy this view. That is what I want to do with my “one wild precious life.” Recognize the moments and slow down enough to enjoy them.

Forget Your Fear

I headed down to the Stanford campus last night to hear a panel speak about Stable Coin, BlockChain based crypto currency, backed by currency. It was inspiring to hear the panel discuss their companies and the evolution of BlockChain. The companies presenting included Reserve, Maker Dao and TrustToken.

The hour discussion flew by as my brain worked overtime to parse what I have learned about BlockChain into the practical applications of a stable currency. I have lots of questions, but wasn’t ready to ask them. The combination of “expensive looking adults” and youthful nerd power kept me silent, listening to the questions as much as the answers.

When the panel finished, some people quickly left (heading to the Stanford basketball game, I am sure) and some gravitated right to the presenters to chat and connect. I hovered on the outside listening to 3 different conversations at once and some guy talking about his vacation, the gentle rumble of conversation was overwhelming. The extroverted introvert in me was confused, there were small groups and anybody could join them. I resisted, feeling the invisible wall holding me in silence.

As I was listening to the voices blend into a murmur, my discomfort continued to grow. Why was I being resistant? Was it Fear? No, it wasn’t fear. I really really had to pee. The discomfort was a swollen bladder. I remembered the urgency of parking with the lot filling up due to the basketball game next door, rushing past the bathroom wondering if I should stop and be late, or choose to be on time. An hour later, as I questioned my choices, I hobbled to the bathroom, “relieved.”

My thinking for the night, inspired by the panels discussion, has been on the words Trusted and Trustless. Why do we do transactions with people we don’t trust and what level of transparency is necessary from BlockChain companies to create Trust? No easy answers…just thoughts.

More Lemons More Vodka – 3 Tips To Improve Your Search Engine Optimization This Year

We all know the joke, when life brings you lemons, find a friend with Vodka (ok we all know the joke now). If you are looking at your business this year and want to increase relevant traffic to your business and website, a great solution is Google My Business. Download the mobile app to your phone and get it set up and integrated with your web analytics. This takes about 5 minutes, occasionally includes light cursing and fist pumping.

Basically, we are setting up a blog that is optimized for search and easy to post to. When you get this process streamlined it will add 2 minutes or less to your marketing efforts daily and provide significant impact to your search engine optimization. This is the least effort you can put in for the most reward, busy people rejoice and find friends with vodka!

The Google My Business app will show you insights into your search and the actions taken by people looking for you. Above is a screen shot of the “actions” from last month. The insights are easy to read and practical to your business. I notice when my percentages drop and see a direct correlation to how much content I post. The goal is to make it easier for people to find you on Google.

3 Tips To Improve Your SEO Using Google My Business

  1. Post Every Single Day. The world changed in 2000 when the tech bubble popped, we discovered that Americans are incredibly productive and with the benefits of technology efficient. I know you deserve your days off, unfortunately the internet is open 24/7/365. If posting on the weekend is too much for you, commit to 5 days a week. Consistency is key, if you open the app once a month to post, your results will reflect your activity.
  2. Pictures. Yes, including a picture will increase the “visibility” of your post and what shows up in search. You can take amazing photos with your iPhone, an easy example is the image of lemons on this post, this picture took 1 min to take and prepare for the post. There are plenty of iphone tutorials on the Apple web site and YouTube. Google My Business has light filters built in to make your photos better or at least different. Add a relevant or inspiring picture to every post! You don’t have to be a photoshop pro or a National Geographic photographer to take and share quality engaging photos!
  3. Same Content All Platforms. Do NOT Reinvent The Wheel! Share the same image on Instagram, Facebook, Blog, Google My Business – with the same text. I tend to write the text in one platform, copy and paste it to each platform with slight modifications as appropriate. This is the key to effective time management and consistency. It must be easy to do and you can’t think about it, as Nike says “Just Do It.” I will change the filter on the image, use a B&W image on some platforms and color on others, easy small differences that will keep your content distribution fresh and ubiquitous. Developing a good process is critical to your success. I take pictures on my iPhone regularly and edit them lightly in PSExpress on my phone, write short posts that provide enough information without wearing down the reader (this is a very long post for me) and use relevant key words within the text. Yes, you should change the voice to match the platform and use hashtags when appropriate. Your process must be simple.

We all have the same stumbling blocks, it is ok that you don’t know what you are doing or can’t fully understand how to create a post on Google My Business, start today. Your metrics at the end of the year will be positively effected by the work you start doing now. Google My Business isn’t the only solution, you can effectively do this with your own blog. If you can post in both places, you increase the chance of being found. Look for some lemons, find some friends, increase your SEO with this technique.

Good Habits Start Now

New Year and a New Opportunity to create positive habits. Our habits determine the quality of our life. Our habits determine our happiness. The image below contains the symbol for happiness, this image was all over Vietnam, a constant reminder.

Here are 3 tips for creating positive habits in your life.

  1. Consistency – whether you do something once a week or every day, be consistent in your time and day. This will reduce conflicts and excuses, put it on your calendar and it becomes official.
  2. Be Realistic – differentiate between goals and habits, your goals don’t need to be realistic to happen, your habits must be! If you can’t wake up before 7, forget about the 6am yoga class. If you have an hour commute every day, listening to podcasts may be habit forming.
  3. Speak Up – share what you are doing with friends, neighbors, co-workers and social media. You will find support when you need it, inspiration and advice to develop your habits.

As someone who grew up with a father in AA, I have always been aware of the power of addiction. I choose to see it as habit and with intention create positive habits. If I can get myself to do anything 3x, it is fully at risk of “becoming a habit.” I have to be careful and conscious with my habits, as do all of us. This is the time of year to create new positive habits, I am starting with basics like diet and exercise and to do lists. Get clear about your habits and make them positive! Happiness is one positive habit away.

From Full Moon Fever to WildFlowers

Think of me what you will, I have a little space to fill. Tom Petty

Senior year in high school, Tom Petty helped me find my way into the University of Michigan, I was Runnin’ Down A Dream, Free Falling and I knew no matter what happened I Won’t Back Down. Singing loudly in the back seat of cars, the rolling bass and jangling guitar was the bandaid being ripped off of my innocence. Music has always spoken directly to me, the stories helped me understand the physical and emotional changes I could not communicate with my own words.

In college, I lost too many dollars to the BMG music club, finding comfort in the shiny CDs that arrived providing clarity on the most confusing days. As each year passed my taste evolved thru the pulsating rhythms of Detroit techno and warehouse parties to the Full Moon raves of California and House music with a healthy “dose” of the Grateful Dead. It was a long strange trip indeed.

I landed in San Francisco in 1994, with a degree in Communications, debt, 2 turntables a mixer and a sound system, determined to play great music as loud as possible. My eclectic taste had me buying Deep House from Chicago, Trance and Ambient from Europe, Jazz and Soul from the 60s and 70s, and of course WildFlowers from Tom Petty. It was uncanny how his music spoke to my heart, helping me thru the longest nights and getting me from work to the sunsets of Ocean Beach. The cry for freedom was real and I was determined to get lost in San Francisco.

Over the years Tom Petty stayed relevant in my life at random moments, always a good soundtrack at work or on a road trip, but never as important as those anti-climactic years of transition. I was inspired when the Heartbreakers played 30 nights at The Fillmore, before recording their next album. I marveled at the genius of getting tight as a band and playing thru all of your music for people who knew every note. I was deep in other music and still regret not getting to some of those shows.

It was sad, yet strangely not shocking when I heard Tom Petty died. It almost seemed like a miracle he had lived so long. He told us decades ago it was Good To Be King and that we should “get to the point, roll another joint, and let’s head on down the road, there’s somewhere I have to go and you don’t know how it feels to be me.” As I look at my neighbors, friends and family, I remind myself everyone is fighting their own battle to be happy and healthy. There are moments of strength and moments of despair and pain. Like the ecstatic moments, these moments pass by like the fog rolling over the headlands into Sausalito and Mill Valley.

This is a year of opportunity, a chance to create the life we need and want for our planet and ourselves. I know there will be challenges I don’t move past, choices I will have to make and results I don’t want. I also know that I “belong among the wildflowers…somewhere you’ll feel free.” Some days I am so far from the answer I walk trying to remember what the question is. I remind myself to pursue experiences, document life and support people who need help. 

As Tom Petty told us in Wake Up Time, the last song of WildFlowers, “if you follow your feelings, you follow your dreams, you might find the force, there in the trees, yeah you’ll be alright, it’s just gonna take time.” Ok, it will take a lot of work, sweat, tears, failures, hugs and high fives. While I want to feel all the feels this year, I also want to be less reactive. This is the space between, the place I will fill.  Set some goals and do your best, because “even the losers, get lucky some time.”

This Kid

I don’t always take photos of myself, but when I do I try and smile. I walked around the lake in Hanoi, Vietnam, unable to sleep due to the time change. The lake was serene, yet all around me people were dancing together, doing fitness classes, tai chi, random exercise..at 6am. City life is real. Wake up early, do “stuff,” it will make you live longer and feel better. What. Ever. You. Want. Even in Socialist Vietnam, people do whatever they want at 6am. Think of its as Freedom.