Friday, December 27, 2013

The Life of the Party...

I strike up conversations all the time and it is very interesting, finding out about things I know nothing about...
~  Peter Ackroyd 
Tis the holiday season... and with it comes the fun and festivities... friends and family... football and food...
The holidays are a time to gather together and enjoy the company partyof one another... young and old... at large parties or just simply a small gathering at a friend’s house...
As my office work slows down a bit this time of year, it allows me the opportunity to see friends and family that I otherwise might not find the time for during the busy year.
It pleases me to no end to hear about their upcoming vacation plans, how they like or dislike their new job, and/or what their kids are up to these days...
However... I often find that I may be in the minority when it comes to cocktail party banter...
After one such little party recently, I happened to be talking with one of the other party guests the following day...
When I asked him if he had a good time at the reception, he told me, in no uncertain words, that he would have rather been strapped to a dentist chair for root canal surgery than have to endure another one of these social gatherings...
He explained that he had been cornered several times with guests who seemed to have come to the get-together with a point to make to anyone who would listen. 
My friend told me about the small business owner who was ranting about Obamacare and how it would bankrupt his company and country...
... about another guest who wanted to talk about why the minimum wage should be raised because greedy corporations were taking advantage of undereducated minorities and females...
... and yet how another guest who was visibly upset that Christmas today was so commercial and secular instead of a religious celebration as God had intended it to be...
I replied to my sullen friend, "Well you seem to have hit the party trifecta... you got... politics... prejudice... and religion all in one evening... but I blame you for letting it happen."
He looked at me and exclaimed. "I DIDN’T bring up those topics... THEY DID!!"
"Perhaps... but you enabled the conversation instead of politely turning the topic to another subject", I said.
Dinner party conversation can be a mine field... not really knowing how to begin those awkward conversations with people we hardly know... or worse... striking up conversations (under the guise of a few too many drinks) that you’re surely going to regret the following day.
In the holiday spirit, I thought that I would offer a tip to avoid unwanted silence or worse... a heated argument among the guests.
The number one rule of any cocktail party, class reunion or state dinner honoring a foreign dignitary is to be curious. 
It is very important to realize that EVERYONE has a story to tell... and on many such occasions... you might actually learn something that you never knew along the way. 
Changing the Subject
Asking a lot of questions can also help to direct a conversation from a potentially hazardous topic to one more suitable for casual conversation...
Guest:  They should line all those activist judges up in front of a firing squad and get rid of them once and for all.
You:   Hmmm... what kinds of guns do you think would do the best job?
Guest:  I dunno... I guess maybe military issue M-16s...
You:   Wow... you seem to know a lot about guns... are you a sportsman?
Guest:  Not really... but I do a little fishing up at the lake every now and then.
You:  Really... what kind of fish are up at the lake?... do you like to use flies or bait?... what’s the biggest fish you ever caught?...
In the above dialogue, the conversation started with politics and quickly moved to something a bit more benign like fishing...
Soliciting Opinions
When prompted... people like to offer their opinions on almost everything...
Where is your favorite place to go... to eat, to fish, to vacation, to shop?
What is your favorite TV show... your favorite movie... your favorite author?
Do you think that we’ll have a mild winter / summer this year?
Does the local sports team have a chance at winning a championship this year or next?
Who do you think has the best shot at winning an academy award this year?  Have you seen any movies that you would nominate if you could?
Personal Questions
People also like to talk about themselves, their families and their hobbies.
Do you have any kids?... if so... how old are they and what do they like to do?
How long have you lived in the area?
Do you like sports?  What type of music do you like to listen to?  Do you speak another language?
After each "what" or "how" question... it’s important to follow it up with a "why" question?
You:  So when you’re fishing at the lake do you like using flies or bait?
Guest:  I almost always use flies...
You:  That’s interesting... so why do you like fly-fishing better than bait-fishing?
Guest:  Because I feel like I’m actually doing something instead of just kicking back waiting for the fish to get hungry.
You:  So then you like active sports rather than passive sports... do you participate in any other sports?
Guest:  I really like to snow ski in the winter.
You:  So what is your favorite mountain to ski on?
Guest:  I ski at a lot of places... but I really enjoy skiing at Squaw Valley...
You:   Really?... why do you enjoy skiing there?
Compliment Others
Another ice breaker is to offer up a sincere compliment that puts the other person at ease and allows them to talk about themselves.
You have beautiful eyes... do they come from your mother or father side of the family?
That’s an interesting tie... can I ask where you bought it?
It looks like you are very fit... do you work out quite a bit?
Eventually the person might ask you a question or two... it’s important to remember to answer the questions but use your answers to open the door to additional questions of your conversation partner...
Guest:  So do you like skiing as well?
You:  I used to ski a lot... but I recently tried snowboarding... have you ever tried to snowboard?
Guest:  Yeah... I like to board as well...
You:  Since you’ve done both... what do you think the biggest difference is between the two styles?
Anyone can learn to survive the dreaded office holiday party conversations by using a few simple rules:
  1. Be curious
  2. Ask a lot of questions
  3. Stay away from controversy by trying to avoid talking about politics, religion, sex, or social matters.  It’s also a good idea to limit shop talk while at company functions... it’s a party... so forget about work for a moment.
  4. Find ways to change the subject if your conversation partner insists on talking about subjects in item 3 above.
  5. Be complimentary without being overly flattering.

Follow these few pieces of sage advice and you’ll not only be invited back to the holiday party next year... but your social calendar will be filled all year long... 
Thank you for your support of OptiFuse where we are always want to be a part of the conversation and are interested in what you’re talking about.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Today is Yesterday's Tomorrow

A few days ago I found myself at a college basketball game.
I would like to say that the game was exciting all the way to the end... but in reality, the game was decided in the basketballfirst 5 minutes as the home team started the game scoring the first 19 points and really didn’t take their foot off the accelerator the entire first half.
The home team went into the locker room at halftime with a 52-12 lead.
Now it would have been easy for the other team to decide that they weren’t going to come back out to play the second half of the game. 
They were out-manned at every position and had a 40-point deficit to try and overcome.
Yet the visitors did come back onto the floor for the second-half and although it was still a blow-out at the end of the game, the visitors never once gave up trying.
The coach of the losing team kept trying to employ new offensive strategies and defensive sets.  During a 2-minute stretch, the opposing team outscored the home team 8-0 and forced the home team coach to call a time-out to settle down his kids.
Even though the final outcome of the game was never in doubt, both teams never thought about quitting and used the time on the court to work on plays that they might need to use at some point in the future.
The players on both teams played as though this game would come down to the final seconds and worked extremely hard on both offense and defense.
In the end the home team won by a 51-point margin but I was still fascinated by the level of intensity demonstrated by both teams during the entire 40 minutes. 
Both teams refused to let up.  Both coaches were able to use this game as a learning tool for future games.  All of the players were slightly better players after this game than they were before the game started.
For most people in the stands, the outcome of the game was a foregone conclusion after only a few minutes into the game... but try telling that to the kids on the floor who were playing as though it was the last game they would ever play.
Well coached teams are working hard to the very end trying to improve themselves for the next game... regardless of the score of the current game.
So about this time you may be wondering... what does a narrative about a blow-out college basketball game have to do with me?
Today being December 20th, this year is practically finished for many companies and individuals... the sales numbers are in... and everything that can ship has already shipped...
People’s attentions are now focused on online shopping, arranging travel plans, or deciding what to serve at this year’s holiday party...
We have worked hard relaxall year and now is the time to put the engine on cruise control and relax a bit... January will come soon enough and most of our work can just wait until then.
Here’s the thing though, even though this year appears to be over... it’s not... the game is still being played... and although it may seem meaningless at this point... there is still time on the clock.
There are still eleven more days ahead of us... eleven days that we’ll never get back... eleven more days that we can use to possibly prepare ourselves for success in 2014 and beyond.
This is the time of the year where there is no one around to bother us from getting that big project completed... the project that is meaningful but we simply don’t have time to do during the other parts of the year...
The next eleven days are the perfect time to organize your files... create an action plan for the upcoming year... work on that new catalog... learn how to use the new features in the MRP system...
Even if there are few customers who will take time to see us before the end of the year... maybe we can start scheduling our sales calls for next year now instead of waiting until mid-January.
Now you might say... "the holidays are called ’holidays’... because we aren’t required to work"... and technically you’d be right... however a few days can quickly turn into a few weeks on either side of the holidays...
Forget about doing any real work the last 20 days of December and perhaps the first 15 days of January... getting going again... add up all the "down days" and that’s close to 5 weeks or 10% of the year wasted...
If you’re satisfied with the money you earn... or the position you have... or what you currently know... then there is no reason to be compelled to try any harder... just let the clock run out... who cares at this point... the game is all but over...
However if you want to add more sales next year... you’re not satisfied with your performance and want to improve it in some way... you want to be more organized... you want to start the new year with a head-start on your competition...
... then today is the day to start working like it was January first... today is the day to start New Year’s resolutions... today is the day we begin preparations for tomorrow...
Today is not meaningless... unless we let it become meaningless...  
Thank you for your support of OptiFuse where we are working harder than ever to service the needs of our customers.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Open to Debate...

"All truth passes through three stages.  First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is self-evident."
~Arthur Schopenhauer

I was doing some research on the Internet yesterday when I came across a heartwarming article about people who want to spread some holiday cheer by helping others.

SantaAccording to the story, there are literally thousands of anonymous "Santas" who go to stores and generously pay off people’s layaway charges for no reason other than to give a gift to those who might need some extra help over the holidays.

A layaway is a payment method whereas the customer will pay a small amount of the purchase price and ask the store to hold the item until they can come back with the rest of the money they owe on the item.

Layaway Santas, simply come into the store and randomly pay the remaining balance owed on the items.

As a big believer of "random acts of kindness" and "pay it forward" philosophies, I found this story to be an inspiration... especially this holiday season where it seems that there are more and more people with less and less.

As I came to the end of the story, I noticed that there were several comments left by readers.  So I decided to read a few.

Some comments lauded the good Samaritans... some comments were about personal experiences with similar type situations or even other ideas on how to expand on the giving... then there were those comments that were only written, it seems, to throw water on the fire.

I couldn’t believe what I was reading... some people actually berated the good souls as "suckers" falling for a scam perpetrated by con men.

Such is the world we live in today I suppose.

These days it seems that the world is being divided into two separate camps... those who look at the world as a glass half-empty and those who look at the world as a glass half-full.

The Glass is Half-Empty

These are the people who think that they are doing the world a great service by pointing out all of the flaws in any idea.  They will tell you all Half Glassthe ways the project can fail and why, even if it did work, it still would be less than a perfect solution.

When you ask them what their better solution is... their comeback,  more often than not, is a derivative of "I don’t know... but I sure wouldn’t be doing what you are suggesting".  

They claim to be realists as opposed to being simply idealists... but in reality... they are just against whatever it is on the table at the moment.

They are the cynics and skeptics.

To them... everything is a negotiation and/or a transaction with a definite winner on one side and a loser on the other.  If the deal is a win-win... that just means one side didn’t get enough.

More often than not, they will preface their comments with words like, "I’m only saying this because I like you" and then go on to bombast and criticize you and your ideas, thoughts and/or actions.

I like to refer to this group of people as "Negative Nellies".

The Glass is Half-Full

These are the people who can look at any situation and find something positive about it.  They believe they can and do make a difference in the world.

They are full of ideas of how the world should be... not how it really is...

To them there is only one speed and one direction... full speed ahead.

The problem with people yelling "Damn the torpedoes... full speed ahead!!"... is that more often than not, they end up getting hit with torpedoes.

This group of people tends to blindly follow leaders without asking a bunch of good questions along the way because they don’t want to cause waves or dissension among the ranks.

They believe that everything is going to be fine because they think it’s going be fine...

I like to refer to this second group as "Pollyannas".

The thing is... we really need to have a little bit of both "Negative Nelly" and "Pollyanna" in us to survive and thrive in this world.

It’s not unlike the "ant story" from a few weeks ago... we need to think negatively when things are going well and we need to think positively when things are going bad.

When things are going good... we tend to get complacent and stop to rest on our laurels...

When things are going bad... we tend to get despondent and just give up without a fight...

It’s important to use the best attributes from both sides...
Life is about avoiding dangers and taking advantage of the opportunities... the key to life is understanding the differences between the two.

We need to continue to conjure up good ideas and then we need to inspect and debate those ideas... the better that we can stand up to scrutiny, the better chance we will have to succeed.

Debate is essential in developing good ideas into workable plans... but equally important is that our ideas shouldn’t be so watered-down as to try and appeal to everyone...

Baskin-Robbins makes 31 flavors because not everyone likes vanilla... and that’s a good thing.

Many of the best ideas... the ground-breaking ones... were not necessarily the most popular ideas at first... and in fact, many of the best ideas were first ridiculed and mocked by critics... planetary motion... atomic theory... pasteurization... the steam engine... the airplane... the internet...

Skeptics have existed since the days of Noah and his ark (click here to hear Bill Cosby’s classic representation of those critics)...

They will continue to throw water onto the fires of innovation... but they also play a critical role in vetting the good ideas from the bad...

I think that George Carlin put it best... "some people think that the glass is half-full while others believe the glass is half-empty... myself, I just think the glass is just too damn big"...  

Thank you for your support of OptiFuse where we always try to open ourselves up to debate in order to try and get a little better each day.

Friday, December 6, 2013

A Compulsion for Closure...


Bob Shein is a Program Manager for avionics, communications, and navigation systems at Northrup Grumman in San Diego, CA.
I’ve personally known Bob for over 30 years and respect his ability to see the "big picture" on any project and helping to keep a team focused and on task (as well as being a trusted and respected colleague, former business partner, and life-long friend).
Bob is the second guest blogger to appear in the OptiFuse Friday Blog.

"Put that coffee is for closers!..." 
~ Alec Baldwin in Glengarry Glen Ross
A Compulsion for Closure
I have it. I can’t deny it. I like for things to get done!
For me, it’s important to go that "extra mile" and I love that overwhelming personal satisfaction knowing that I did everything in my power to ensure success... whether or not I was truly successful...
Doesn’t everyone have this same personal compulsion?... you know... wanting to do what it takes to make sure all aspects of a project, be it personal or business, are completed to the nth degree?
The surprising answer is... no... they really don’t!
So why I am bringing up this subject?
I suppose I’m mentioning it because I have a lot of experience with projects and trying to get things done.  Hopefully my experiences can help someone else do the same.
I am a Manufacturing Engineer by education, but have had a versatile career developing products from inception through obsolescence. The products cover a wide variety of industries such as telecom, wireless, medical, and defense.
I have started and sold a company with the main contributor of this blog, as well as being a founder of a telecom start-up that was sold 12 years later (at a nice profit nonetheless).
I thoroughly enjoy and value all aspects of producing a new product that someone will actually use.
It begins with the concept,  then R&D engineering, then working prototypes are developed to support the new design.  After which, a manufacturing production line is created to produce the product.  Finally, on-going sustainment maintains and improves the product.
It is because of these experiences, that I believe that I really understand and value collaboration with engineering and manufacturing teams as well as the satisfaction of building high-quality, high-reliability products that meet the customer’s affordability goals while providing the company a reasonable profit.
Over the course of many years, I have had the opportunity to work with conceptual thinkers and idea generators, analytical engineers and design engineers (there is a difference which I can expand on when I get another chance at this blog!), manufacturing and supply chain experts, as well as marketing, sales, training and customer support organizations.
Through many years of hands-on experience, I believe that I have found a key characteristic of certain individuals who know how to succeed.
They seem to all have a compulsion for closure and find a way to push the organization through the finish line.
So what exactly do I mean by closure?
Closure is the ability to estimate and mitigate risks.  It is the thought process needed to avoid cost overruns and the ability to eliminate schedule delays.  Closure is about preventing those recurring mistakes that can doom your product and/or project.
How many of us have experienced similar issues or problems over and over again with our own teams?
One of my personal favorite axioms is the "Three Done Theory."
In case you’re not familiar with this theory, it goes like this:
  1. The team or company announces the product release and consider it done - Done #1
  2. The company starts production and delivers its first shipments but wait: the team discovers a problem that needs to be fixed. You hope it doesn’t cost too much money and time but okay, it gets fixed and now it is really done - Done #2
  3. You’re ready to move forward but then, oh no, another problem pops up.  Ouch, now you start to see negative margins, and you need to manage customer concerns and hope your competitors don’t exploit your recent missteps. Finally, though, you get to the really, really "Done" - Done #3

Finally after 3 costly attempts... the product is finally done... you have nailed the "Three Dones" and by the way... it’s not something to celebrate.  
So how do we avoid getting caught by the "Three Dones"?
Successful companies have a mix of people whose combined strengths help them move the business forward. These key players include idea people, business savvy entrepreneurs, great engineers, and those who will help take the project to closure.  These are the guys and gals who get the work done right and are willing to take reasonable risks and learn from their mistakes.
Great companies also have a mix of leaders and followers. Working together, this group has the ability to integrate concepts into reality while maintaining a creative culture and pride in the outcome. They understand the limitations and are nimble enough to embrace and implement change.
While there is in fact, great companies, closure still comes down to the individual contributors.
These are the people we trust to get the job done. They are the ones who "sweat" the details. They understand their limitations and know how to surround themselves with other bright, intelligent people that augment their skills. They are open, honest, willing to take educated risks, and aren’t afraid to make mistakes. They are well-respected, and use their experience, knowledge, and aptitude to do what it takes to deliver the product on time, on budget with very few problems.
Over the years at various companies, I have seen the same problems occur over and over again and I’m constantly asking myself, "Why is this happening again"?  
I inherently know those companies should be able to do better. Why didn’t they just fix it right the first time? Are they lazy? Do they lack the experience, knowledge, and training? Do they even have a "Compulsion for Closure?"  
I think success is contagious. It requires all types of personalities, systems, and an keen understanding of the marketplace.  I have found the following characteristics within many companies and individuals that are keys to a successful venture: 
  1. Have a great idea and network, network, network.
  2. Surround yourself with the right mix of people that can work as a team.
  3. Develop common goals, a plan and be willing to change.
  4. Share the wealth of the organization. Profit sharing as a team is very motivational.
  5. Sweat the details because luck will only take you so far.
  6. Provide excellent customer relations.
  7. And hire the people who know how to close out a project!

Why is it so important to have a "Compulsion for Closure"?
The short answer is that we want success. We want to prosper. We want the personal satisfaction of knowing we have done what it takes to close the deal.
Closing, plainly, gets it done!
Obviously, not everyone has a compulsive personality and not everyone uses that compulsion to find a way to get things done but take a moment the next time you have a task or assignment.
First think broadly, how does what I do impact the company, the other individuals, our products and/or our services?  Then, narrow the focus to the task at hand, while not forgetting the global picture and finally, do what it takes to get it done right the first time.
Do it quickly, don’t cut corners, sweat the details and then finally, don’t forget to take a moment to reflect on what you have accomplished.
I wish all new found "compulsive closers" success and happiness!   
Thanks for reading... and for supporting OptiFuse and my friend Jimmy.
Bob Shein 

Monday, December 2, 2013

Understanding Black Friday...

Getting ready for a large Thanksgiving Day dinner, I needed to pick up a few last-minute items at the grocery store.
As I drove around the parking lot looking for a place to park, I noticed that there were a few people waiting behind some velvet ropes in front of Best Buy. 
Black FridayI correctly assumed that these people were queuing for Black Friday, one of the busiest retail days of the year.
I wondered why normally intelligent people would spend their Thanksgiving Day and ensuing cold evening huddled in front of a retailer just to make a purchase.  I figured that there must be some sort of big payoff for being so inconvenient. 
There was no such thing as Black Friday when I was growing up.  No, Black Friday is a recent phenomenon contrived by the National Association of Retailers to promote shopping on a typically slow news day.  It was a brilliant idea.
Their plan was relatively simple...
First they needed to find a day when people are typically not working and had very few other obligations to attend to... like the day-after Thanksgiving.  
On Thanksgiving, people are busy with traveling, feasting, watching football and socializing.  However on Friday, very little is happening so why not try and get all those idle people to the malls to begin their Christmas shopping.
So how do they get all those people to the malls?
Retailers realized that they could offer highly discounted merchandise to entice people to their stores.  However, if they significantly discounted all of their merchandise, they would lose a significant amount of profit; therefore they introduced the notion of scarcity into the equation... to raise consumer demand. 
The retailers would only offer highly discounted prices on a very limited amount of items.  Other items would still be on sale, but the best deals would be reserved for those first in line.
Now, when I say that an item is on sale, I don’t mean for a moment that the retailer is actually losing any money. 
A retailer might purchase an item for $50.  They will then typically mark that item up to an initial price of $300. 
If the store sells the item at full retail, they will make a nice $250 profit. 
If that item is still in the store 3 weeks later, the retailer will then place that item on sale, reducing the price by say 25% or $75 (enabling them to still make a $175 profit on the $50 cost). 
3 weeks more and the price is reduced once again by another 25% still giving the seller a profit of $100. 
After 10 weeks, the retailer will typically off-load the unsold merchandise to a liquidator or outlet store at slightly above their original cost.
So by offering a very few items at a heavily discounted price, the retailer has only forsaken a few profit dollars on those "door-buster" items. However they have also packed their store with shoppers who are willing to pay full-price for new items not on sale... more than covering their loss on leader items.
So how do the stores build demand for those highly discounted items?
They start with the scarcity.
There are only a few reserved "super deals" so you need to be one of the first or you won’t get that special discounted price. 
Black Friday retailers aren’t the first marketers to invent the shortage concept.  Scarcity marketing has been employed by companies like Apple, DeBeers, Ticketmaster, and all of the oil companies for many years.  
These companies create a shortage (real or imagined) to build demand for their products.  People feel lucky just to get the opportunity to make a purchase... at any price.
They enlist the help of the "neutral" media to help them get the word out. 
Retailers will issue press releases and offer statistics as hard science facts as to why Black Friday is the best day of the year to shop and why it’s important for the consumer to be first in line to secure the very lowest price on those limited quantity items.
There will be plenty of anecdotal news stories reported by local and national media outlets demonstrating the great bargains to be had for those who will be lucky enough to be first in line. 
The media has two self-serving reasons to propagate this "news".
First, the day after Thanksgiving is traditionally a very slow news day.  Black Friday gives those news outlets something to actually report.  If there is no news... then make some.
Secondly, and more importantly, retail stores are one of the media’s biggest advertisers... spending billions of dollars each year.  The media wants to support their customers so it adds fuel to the fire by creating "news" stories about the mad-rush to the malls and the ensuing hysteria.
The media throws in a few stories about the plight of the store workers trying to keep up with demand, a few fights between customers trying to get that last remaining bargain, and tips on how to beat the system. Black Friday is all about surviving shopping.
Soon consumers, driven either by greed or fear, are lined up in front of retailers trying to be that first person in line as not to miss out on something big.
So is there a benefit to spending valuable time to be first in line at a store?
There could be... if your time isn’t all that valuable.
I recall several times in my early life where I stood in line to purchase concert tickets or camped out on the streets of Pasadena trying to hold my viewing spot to watch the New Year’s Day Rose Parade.  
At that time in my life, my time wasn’t very valuable so it made sense to me to spend my time trying and waiting in line to get something I wanted.
Today I am no longer compelled to spend my time waiting in line to make a purchase, a purchase that I could make at some time in the future (albeit at perhaps a slightly higher cost).
These days my time is far more valuable than trying to save a few dollars on something that I probably don’t really need in the first place...
...choosing to spend my Thanksgiving with family and friends... in a warm cozy house... and sleep in a comfortable bed... instead of a wet, cold, hard sidewalk with hundreds of strangers.
And for that... I am most truly thankful this Thanksgiving Day...
Thank you very much for your support of OptiFuse where we hope that you always find everything that you want this holiday season.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Important Body Parts...

"I just want to make sure I have a sense of balance between work and life, because my work is my life and the lines can get really blurry"
 ~ Drew Barrymore

Being that OptiFuse is truly a global company, I regularly receive e-mails (and sometimes phone calls) around the clock, 7-days a week.
I was recently at dinner with my wife and some friends when my mobile phone rang.  Seeing that the phone number was from someone other than my immediate family, I chose to ignore the call.
The other couple at the table were somewhat taken aback. 
"Jim, why didn’t you answer that call", asked my friend’s wife, "we don’t mind".
"...well because I’m having a wonderful dinner with you... that’s why... if it’s important, they’ll leave me a message or send me an e-mail", I replied.
I subsequently explained to our friends that just because I brought my phone with me to the restaurant (for family emergencies), it doesn’t mean that a caller has the right or privilege to interrupt my precious social time with friends.
In this way, I hope to maintain a critical balance in my busy life.
It is only when my life is in balance that my life seems complete and whole...
To me, life’s balance is composed of three equal parts...
The body... the brain... the heart...
The Body
We have been given only one body, yet many of us take our bodies for granted. 
If we don’t maintain our health, then nothing else we do will matter.  Often if we feel sick... or have a tooth ache... or have a bulging disk in our backs... then it will be next to impossible to try to think of anything else other than the uncomfortableness that we currently have. 
There are some people who can’t get themselves out of bed in the morning because they might have overdid it the night before.  It’s hard to find any type of success while you’re still in bed.
We need to nourish our bodies with the proper types (and quantity) of foods that will help our bodies to perform at an optimum level. 
We can’t expect to fill our bodies with low nutritional / high caloric junk food and expect our bodies to perform well.  Providing the body with food with high nutritional value helps to prevent illness and promotes a healthy immune system. 
We wouldn’t try to run our cars on sugar water... it’s not the right type of fuel to properly engage the engine.  In the same way we should look at the right type of fuels to allow our internal motors to work properly...
Exercise and physical activity are equally important in maintaining a strong body.  Some people can’t do certain types of exercise due to physical limitations... but there are always alternative ways to add resistance and cardio training in one’s daily routine.
Physical activity gets the blood to circulate better bringing more oxygen to the brain and other organs.  More oxygen in the brain leads to more thoughts and ideas. 
Exercise also leads to more endorphins being released from the brain, giving us a more positive outlook and optimism towards life and the world around us.
It’s not important that you join a gym, buy expensive equipment, or hire a fitness coach.  What is important is that you find some physical routine that you can do several times each week that might include: walking, running, cycling, swimming, hiking, calisthenics, yoga, skiing, playing basketball, walking up stairs or playing tennis... it doesn’t matter what you do... it only matters that you do it!
In addition to nutrition and exercise, we need to maintain our appearance, grooming, and hygiene.  Right or wrong, people do judge us so our outward appearance is important and makes us feel better about ourselves.   
Lastly, it’s important that we rest our body, allowing it to recover from the physical stresses that we place upon it each day. Vigorous physical activity allows us to sleep better and feel well-rested each morning.
If you take care of your body, then you will have the strength, vitality, and muscle to power forward toward your dreams.
The Brain
In the same way that we nourish and exercise our bodies, we must find a way to nourish and exercise our brains.
Each and every day, we should continue to learn something new... learning will help us to acquire or hone our skills... skills necessary to find achievement and success... 
Be given a fish and you’ll eat for a day... learn to fish and you’ll eat for a lifetime...
You can always take my money... but my skills will be with me forever.  
Learning comes in many forms.
We can read and absorb information from books... books about other people... instructional books... books about ideas and thoughts. 
We can learn from teachers, coaches, and/or mentors.  Other people sharing their knowledge with us.
We can learn from doing and experimenting... measuring the true results against the expected results.
We can learn from watching other people and observing how they do something correctly or incorrectly and try to improve on their ideas and methods.
We can learn through debate and discourse... perhaps someone else’s point of view could open new avenues of thinking and philosophies.
It doesn’t matter how or where the learning occurs... but we need be open to learning new information and ways of doing things... in this way we will continue to add tools to our tool box so when there is a problem or opportunity we will have the knowledge and skills to succeed where others will fail.
The Heart
A machine can have a body (or an engine)... a machine can have a brain... but only a human being has a heart.
A heart is what gives us faith in ourselves and others.  The first step to achievement is believing... believing in yourself... in the nobility of the cause... believing in others...
It pushes us to get up in the morning to start the new day... to face new challenges and new opportunity.
Our heart allows us to persevere when we want to give up.  It helps us to push aside self-doubt and fear and allows us to charge forward never knowing for sure what lies ahead of us.
It is our heart that reaches out to help others in need by sharing our resources of time, knowledge and money to those less fortunate. 
It is our heart that engages family and friends in order to share love and a common community.
Our body gives us the strength...
Our brain gives us the skills...
Our heart gives us the will...
Each are of equal importance... none of which we can neglect or ignore... this is indeed the truest sense of balance that we can hope to achieve for a rich and prosperous life.
Thank you very much for your support of OptiFuse where we hope that you always find the balance that keeps you from falling.