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.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Unlocking Success...

Earlier this week I needed to go to our bank to swap out back-up disks that we normally store in a safety deposit box.

When I got to the bank I noticed the vault, which would normally be open, was still closed.

When I inquired with the bank
Vaultclerk who normally handles the safety deposit boxes, she explained that they screwed up and missed the time-lock this morning on the vault.  Therefore they would not be able to open the safe until the following morning.

I had always thought that the time-locks were only activated after-hours, but the clerk told me that this particular branch only had one hour in order to open the vault in the morning and, for a reason she could not adequately explain, this particular morning the person who was supposed to open the vault forgot.

As I drove back to the office very annoyed, I began thinking about vaults and combination locks. 

A combination lock on a typical bank vault consists of five unique numbers between zero and one hundred.  These five numbers must be dialed into the lock mechanism in the correct sequential order in order to open the lock. 

In mathematics, this is called permutation rather than combination as the order of which the number are entered truly matters.

The lottery, in contrast, is a combination (other than the last "power number").  The order doesn’t matter when lottery numbers are pulled.  

Only after all five correct numbers have been dialed in... in sequence... will the tumblers release and the door open. 

However in this particular lock, an additional safe-guard was installed whereas this particular sequence of numbers will only open the vault within a very tight time frame... one hour to be precise.

This is a very secure safe.

The combination of possible numbers is one hundred to the fifth power, or 10 billion unique outcomes, only of which one is the correct outcome.

Add to this permutation, the element of time, and the locking mechanism to the vault is almost impenetrable and failure without the unique code is almost assured.

The lottery also has a "time lock" associated. That is, you must possess all the winning numbers in any given week.  Having the correct numbers, but in the wrong week, results in failure.

Although this may be a self-evident exercise, I find the concept to be of great significance on two levels.

First... life is indeed sequential... that is... one thing happens after another.

Just because you might have the right answers... if we apply those answers in the wrong order, success will elude us.

I saw a salesperson the other day in my office... they immediately wanted to close the sale without establishing rapport or probing to find out what needs I have...

Needless to say the salesperson’s attempts failed miserably as I soon ushered them out of my office before they could waste any more of my time.

The second point, is that there is a methodology to achieving a successful conclusion.

As mentioned above, success is sequential.  

It has a beginning, middle and an end.

The first step to success starts with imagination.

Imagination is the ability to see things that do not exist... yet.

Artists take a blank canvass and appear to create something from nothing... but in reality that’s only half true... the something really does exist... if only in the mind of the artist.

Creating an idea is always the first step... yet it is the hardest step.

The first step in anything that you do is typically the hardest step...

Each and every one of my weekly blogs begins with just a single idea.  Whenever I discover a good idea... I write it down and catalog it for future use.

Ideas can come from a variety of inspirations and/or experiences.  They can come from observations.  They can come from a conversation with a friend or colleague.  They can come from books, articles, libraries, lecturers, and/or conferences.

Good ideas are all around us every day... we just need to be looking for them.

If an idea is the beginning success... then a plan is the middle part.

Success isn’t haphazard and random.  Success comes from making a detailed plan consisting of what steps and preparations are needed in order to achieve the desired results.

The more detailed the plan, the better chance it has at creating success.  No one can ever over prepare.

Many people come up with great ideas but fail to create the proper plan to execute the idea into success.

Each plan should not only outline what the needs are at each stage, but also it should add a timeline so as to create some sense of urgency. 

It has been said that a goal is nothing more than a dream with a timeline.

A good plan should be written.  This allows it to be distributed to others for additional input or critique.

Even the best plans should be reviewed by others in the same way that new books are read and edited by professionals before publication.  Allowing other to review your plan might lead to new additional ideas that could be incorporated into the plan.

The architect might have a good idea for a new building however that idea is useless until they can create a plan to take the idea and make it tangible.

Only after a well-thought-out plan is formulated can the final phase begin.

The final step to success is action.

An idea leads to a plan... and a plan leads to activity... execution turns an idea into reality.

Immediate action is required in order to find success.  Action can’t wait for the perfect time to occur or it might never get done. 

Procrastination is the enemy of action, however one can’t be so compelled to act as to ignore the first and second steps of imagination and planning.

Activity is the result of imagination and planning... not the other way around.

One can’t reap a harvest if they skip the planting step...

Just like the combination lock on the bank safe, we need to dial in the correct numbers in the proper sequence in order to achieve success in opening the lock... if we have the right numbers but change the sequence, the lock will simply never open.

The secret to unlocking success is to continuously develop new ideas, create purposeful plans, and take deliberate action to work the plan. 

Thank you very much for your support of OptiFuse where we believe in helping our customers to unlock their ideas to create tremendous success. 

Friday, November 8, 2013

A Failure to Communicate...

"What we got here is a failure to communicate"
Captain, Road Prison 36
Cool Hand Luke
Each Friday I wake up and find my brother Jim’s weekly blog in my mail box.  For the most part, I enjoy his anecdotal wisdom and try to find ways to apply the message to my own life.
A few weeks back, Jimmy (as he is affectionately known among family and friends), offered his readers the opportunity to become a guest contributor.  This allowed for a different perspective from other members of the "tribe" as well as giving him a chance to take a one week vacation.
Within minutes of receiving this invitation, I called him to secure my spot as the inaugural guest host.
This opportunity gave me excitement as well as conjuring up my own fears of living up to my older sibling’s style and standards as a first-time blogger.  
So here goes....
One of my great passions in life is trying to find ways to understand and bridge the gender gap. 
...Well not so much as bridging, more like "honoring the gender differences".
Have you ever been in a spirited discussion with your significant other and in an attempt to gain empathy, you try and put the present situation in his or her terms... perhaps by uttering... "It’s just like when you (fill in the appropriate situation)...".
This approach never seems to work too well since the recipient usual response is something like, "This is nothing like that situation because (fill in the rebuttal)..."
I’m often befuddled as to why it’s so difficult to feel heard when I’ve made such a brilliant and compelling argument in the course of the debate... why can’t she just see my point of view?
The crazy thing is that I’m almost certain that she’s thinking the exact same thing!
So the million-dollar question is why do men and women tend to communicate so differently?
There have been many theories and thousands of books written on this very subject, but I’d like to offer my own opinion as to why these differences occur.
First and foremost, men and women have different biology. 
One of the primary differences is the higher levels of the hormone testosterone in males and higher levels of the hormones estrogen and progesterone in women (note: testosterone and estrogen are found in both males and females but typically at a level of only 10-14% than that of the primary hormone for the respective sex).
Extensive research has shown that the hormone testosterone affect the cognitive functions of the brain in areas of memory, attention, and logical reasoning.  There is also a positive correlation between high levels of testosterone and aggression, risk-taking, competitiveness, and sexual activity.
On the other hand, estrogen and progesterone affect the creative and spacial areas of the brain such as verbal and artistic skills.  These hormones also positively affect the senses of smell and taste.
The different chemicals (hormones) found in both men and women might actually be the most predominant reason for differing communication styles between the sexes. 
Men and women are just wired differently... it’s simple biology.
Men want to quickly analyze a problem (logical reasoning) and fix it.  Since men are driven by success, overcome the problem and success is had.
Women on the other hand are not necessarily interested in fixing a problem.  They are most interested in the discussion, reviewing a situation, looking at it from all angles and perspectives.  To women, it’s not a problem but rather an interesting piece of artwork to be contemplated from all directions.
Of course I’m oversimplifying the issue as not all men nor women are created from the same mold.  There are varying degrees even among the sexes.  To say that all men do one thing and all women do another thing is really just "genderlizing".
However there are some positive correlations to these biological conclusions.  
Beyond biological differences between the sexes, could there be additional explanations as to the sexual communication gap?
Life experiences and social norms most assuredly play an important role in the differing communication styles.
These differences can be traced all the way back to the newborn child being dressed in blue or pink. 
From the time they were born to the present day, communities, media, schools, religion organizations, and cultural standards have treated boys and girls differently.
Our belief systems are generally inherited from our environment (for example, if your parents were practicing Catholics, there is a good chance that you will also follow suit in the Catholic faith).
Therefore if the people within our environments (family, friends, teachers, church members, neighbors), treated the genders differently, then those young boys and girls would tend to act and think differently.    
It’s nearly impossible for adult men to fully understand what life was like for girls growing up because they were treated differently.  Equally stated, I’m sure the same can be said for women to grasp the challenges boys encountered throughout their childhood and adolescence.
We all have our table top of beliefs that are supported by the legs of our experiences.
Or in other words, our experiences are seen through the glasses of our own belief system.  We will typically only look for experiences to reinforce not counter or question our learned beliefs. 
If men and women are expected to act a certain way, and they are taught this at an early age, and then it is reinforced through a life of experiences, then they will act differently because this is their reality.
The key to bridging the gender gap is to try and attempt to see things from their perspective rather than your own.
Effective communication is not a debate competition where winners and losers will be crowned. 
In the end, communication is about sharing ideas and perspective not about determining who is right or wrong.
It is important to listen and respect another’s opinion, even if you fundamentally and diametrically oppose their conclusions.  What has helped me to communicate better is to give the benefit of the doubt and honoring THEIR reality.
In the end, we all just want to feel heard, and the ones that get heard the most, are the ones who listen the best.
I hope this has been some help to the readers... good... now the problem is fixed... 
Jeff Kalb

Interstate Financial 

Friday, November 1, 2013

The Way of the Ant...

We had our first rain of the season this week... and with the rain comes a trail of ants leading to shelter (our office).
As I readied to ANTsexterminate the insects, I stopped to marvel a bit at these incredible creatures.
Ants are social insects from the family Formicidae (close relatives to wasps and bees) and have now inhabited the earth now for some 120 million years.  
There are 22,000 known species of ants living on every continent except Antarctica (which I thought was ironic because it starts with Ant)...
  Ants live in colonies that can be as little as a few hundred or up to several millions individuals (I’m almost certain that the colony that has invaded my office is the several million variety).    
There are 4 different types of ants:  
  • Workers - These ants are sterile females who are smaller and tend the nest
  • Soldiers - These ants are sterile males whose job it is to forage for food and protect the nest
  • Drones - These ants are fertile males who mate with the queen and have wings
  • Queens - These are fertile females who can lay thousands of eggs each day

I sat for a moment, observing their movements.
Three things immediately jumped out at me...
First, ants seem highly organized.  They march in a straight line to a food source... one after another... never venturing off the set path.  
Ants know their job and perform it well.  They don’t need any extra encouragement, an incentive program or "management"... they just perform as individuals for the good of the whole colony.
Secondly, I noticed that all ants seem to be in a big hurry.  They appear to live with a sense of urgency with their lives.  I’ve never seen an ant just sitting around doing nothing.  Ants don’t feel the need to relax, take a vacation or go out to a local bar to unwind. 
Thirdly, I noticed that when I placed an obstacle in their path and disrupted their line... they scattered for a moment... but within a short amount of time, the ants regrouped and found a way around the obstacle and continued their work.  Ants never seem to quit and always seem to have an intended purpose.
My observations led me to start thinking about the ants and how we might apply some of their innate principles to model our own lives.
Human beings are also social creatures... just like ants.  We live by a set of organized rules that allows us to maintain a civilized society.  
In general, we individually seek our place in that society and work together to produce a better life for all members of our community.
This organization allows us the freedoms and liberties to pursue different endeavors and passions.  It gives us the opportunity to live a balanced life rather than a singly focused life (foraging for food for the colony). 
And although we have the freedoms to pursue these passions... so many of us chose to wallow away our time by not doing... rather we prefer to watch others do...
Life is about doing... not watching.  
It is not merely the passing of time waiting until an end but rather it’s about collecting varied experiences and making social connections.
We sit at home watching "Dancing with the Stars"... instead of learning to dance and becoming stars ourselves...
We sit at home and watch sporting events instead of going out to the gym or playing a sport.  And in by doing so, we’re also creating a healthy body for ourselves...
We sit at home and watch reality TV... when we could be living a life that is so interesting that we inspire others and help them to create their own experiences...
Ants also seem to be working hardest in the summer time in preparation of a barren winter.
When times are good... ants are busy working harder than ever.  They understand that good times can’t last forever... so they prepare themselves... in advance... for times of need.
Ants are pessimists during good times... always thinking about things that might impede their path to success and planning... especially during the bad times that may lie ahead.
Ants don’t rely on the assistance of others or a government... they are self-reliant... always staying busy and trying to discover new sources of food that will sustain their colony during the cold winter months.
If ants are pessimists during good times... they are optimists during the bad times.
They understand that eventually there will be day time after night time... there will be a spring after the winter... and tomorrow will bring a brand new day. 
Ants don’t suffer from victimization of the mind... full of negative thoughts... no matter what they find ways to succeed.
If I arbitrarily placed some obstacle in their well-defined path... they didn’t sit around and fret about it... they didn’t say "why me?"... instead... they got busy... and quickly found an alternative path to achieve their objective...
Ants are can-do individuals... nothing seems to stop their momentum forward...
Ants embody the essence of the human experience... good versus evil... overcoming adversity to succeed... beating overwhelming odds in order to win... individual sacrifice for the betterment of the team.
We want the adventure... the quest... the game... and we want to share those experiences with others...
Winning and losing are all a part of life... we shouldn’t be afraid of living life because we might lose or because its not going the way we first planned...
If we fail, we need to find a way to pick ourselves up and figure out a way to overcome the obstacles placed in front of us and find a way to our intended goal.
And if we should happen to stumble or fail... don’t worry... tomorrow will always bring us another adventure... another battle... another challenge waiting for us just around the bend...
Negative thoughts can paralyze us from creating action... yet it’s the only action that will cause us to eventually win.
Let winning drive out losing...
Let confidence drive out doubt...
Let joy drive away sadness...
Be wary of the thief trying to steal your wallet... but also be wary of the naysayer trying to steal your promise...
After watching my little friends for a bit longer, I decided that it was finally time to get some work done as the day was bright with new opportunities...
I felt a bit of remorse as I fumigated the ants into extermination... but in reality they are indeed pests and had ventured into my personal space so they had to go.
Although they were gone for the moment... I know that they will eventually overcome and return to my office once again... because they are ants... and that’s what ants do...
Thank you very much for your support of OptiFuse where we attempt to work like ants to provide you with great products and outstanding customer experiences.