Weekly Challenge: Thinking Beyond

YOU. Yes, you. I have a challenge for you.

Every week, I’ll post a challenge. It can be about anything, on any topic. They will challenge the way you think, the way that you see the world. It will make you think, forcing you to step back and reevaluate. In the end, you may find that it will change your world.

Today’s challenge: Thinking Beyond

Earlier this week, I posted a video about insane business ideas. They were ideas that were radical, odd, and very unconventional. Seriously, a website just for dating? Nothing new there, but what about one just for those already in a relationship? Have you considered potty-training your cat so you don’t have to clean the litter box?

These are just some of the ideas in the video. They are vBeyond The Journey July 2011ery different ideas, but they all have one thing in common. They are original. They are unique.

Too many people are afraid to think outside the box. It’s so comfortable to fit in with what you know. You have a defined skill set, a mold of qualifications that classify you for a specific job.

But what about beyond that? In your job, in your company, in your life. Your family, the things you do together. For fun, for work, for a hobby.

Live radically. Live eccentrically. And you might be surprised and what you may find.

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The Sweatpants Conundrum

When I considered what to post on this morning, there were two topics that came to mind. Both have to do with working from home. I labored in indecision for a while, but when I considered that I already needed to implement the second choice for myself, I decided to go with it.

It all comes down to this. Take a survey and ask any professional or blue-collar layman about the perks of working from home. Two of the top answers will be about making your own hours or being your own boss. The third one will likely involve the novelty of getting to wear sweats to work.

Now turn around and ask the same question to someone who works from home. Particularly, ask them what they wear when “going to work.” The answer may surprise you.

It’s a common theme that is spoken about across various WAH blogs, sites, articles, and anything else having to do with working from home. It’s true, the allure of being able to show up at “the office” wearing nothing more classy than what you wore to bed is definitely appealing.

But it doesn’t work.

The mind is a curious thing. It responds to stimulation in our environment and circumstances. It judges our attitude by the mood that we set, and responds accordingly. Sweatpants are inherently relaxing. They are comfortable, perfect for a lazy day of doing absolutely nothing.

So that’s what ends up happening. In fact, I did it myself just this morning. I followed my usual morning routine, which involved, among other things, goofing around on the computer for an hour or two. In my sweatpants. And I got nothing accomplished.

When I was ready to work, I logged in to my usual site and started my work day. But I wasn’t focused. Because I was still wearing sweatpants. After a short time with no progress, I realized my problem, and promptly got up to change. I dressed in pants I knew I was prepared to go out in and set to work.

Within five minutes, I had selected my workload for the day, had my room straightened up, and prepared today’s blog post.

You don’t have to dress up. But at the least, get dressed. It makes all the difference.

– Jeans, khakis, or other pants. Comfortable enough to wear, but nice enough that you wouldn’t be embarrassed to go out in.

– Put your hair up. I throw mine back in a simple ponytail. If it’s in the way, it annoys me. Remember the girl in that awesome movie, A Series of Unfortunate Events? Violet. When her hair was pulled back, it signified something. It meant she was working. It’s the same here. If you’re not going to fix it up, at least brush it!

– Deodorant. Need I say more?

– A shower, if needed. I don’t take a shower every day- usually about every other day. But when I’m having a really hard time getting the umption to work, often a shower will clear my head and make me feel more prepared.

– Grab something to eat. They say that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and that’s not just cliche. That first meal sets the standard for the rest of the day. I’ll admit, I’m really bad about that one. My breakfast usually hits around 11 am. But then, my workday starts around 12, so it works out.

– Make a cup of joe. If you need an additional boost, go for it. I’ve cut down on the amount of coffee I used to have, but I still enjoy a good cup of coffee to get my mind going.

Now get to work! What are your workday routines?

Weekly Challenge: America’s Values

English: Muammar al-Gaddafi at the 12th AU sum...

English: Muammar al-Gaddafi at the 12th AU summit, February 2, 2009, in Addis Abeba. Français : Mouammar Kadhafi au 12e sommet de l’UA, le 2 février 2009 à Addis-Abeba Русский: Муамар Каддафи на 12-м саммите Африканского Союза в Аддис-Абебе. 2 февраля 2009 года. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It’s a little behind the times since I wasn’t able to update last week, but I still thought this was good. Today’s weekly challenge comes from a post made by someone I know; his name is credited at the end. Enjoy- and think! Then post in the comments and tell me how this made a difference to YOU. Do you agree/disagree? What are your thoughts?

I have a challenge for you.

Every week, I’ll post a challenge. It can be about anything, on any topic. They will challenge the way you think, the way that you see the world. It will make you think, forcing you to step back and reevaluate. In the end, you may find that it will change your world.

Today’s challenge: America’s Values

“”I think it’s a terrible course for America to stand in apology for our values. That instead when our grounds are being attacked and being breached, that the first response of the United States must be outrage,” he said. “An apology for America’s values is never the right course.”
-Mitt Romney

This buffer statement was released by the Romney camp as part of a follow-up to Romney’s earlier condemnation of the Obama administration’s foreign policy. Specifically, it is a condemnation of the US Embassy in Cairo’s statements against an inflammatory movie, made by an independent California filmmaker, entitled “Innocence of Muslims,” which depicts the Prophet Mohammed as a womanizer and child molester, among other things.

This video, and it’s subsequent priming of the protests sweeping US embassies in the Middle East and North Africa, was also largely responsible for the riot conditions that allowed militants to successful launch an attack on the US embassy in Benghazi, Libya, which resulted in the deaths of four Americans, including respected US Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens.

I have chosen to speak out about this particular statement because it represents for me a serious escalation in the partisan rhetoric that has engulfed our nation these many months.

The above statement from the Romney camp begs a very serious question:

“What are America’s values?”

This question should cause all of us to shudder, considering the sudden upswing in hatred and bigotry in recent months. Firstly, the supposed apology that Romney has latched onto was, in fact, a condemnation of the film that sparked the protests. In doing so, it made the attempt at defending our purported American values, which is thus: The freedom of speech must be tempered with a respect for the listener.

To rebut Romney’s statement that our first response should be outrage, I say this:

Our first response should be solidarity.

Claiming outrage toward an outrageous act of violence in no way demonstrates your values. Far from it, it merely demonstrates you are human and are prone to the same passions that guide, drive, and sometimes mislead us all.

That solidarity I speak of was shown quite vividly by the Libyan people, who by most accounts, have largely renounced the actions of the militants. The Libyan ambassador to the US has unequivocally condemned the attacks, and has gone to great lengths to distance his people from such hate-mongering.

Would Americans show such solidarity under the same circumstances? Given Romney’s statement, I am not so sure anymore.

Secondly, we as a people can, and should, apologize for the inflammatory film. We can do so and still not need to take credit over its authorship. That burden falls squarely on the filmmaker, who produced the film under the pseudonym Sam Bacile, and has since gone into hiding.

Part of being an American People is that we, as a people, must also accept responsibility for the actions of our fringe. They, too, represent us to the world, much to our collective chagrin. While it is unfair to force upon ourselves such a heavy burden, it is the burden any people, claiming to lead the so-called Free World, must accept, or be forced to relinquish any such claims.

Consider this: What if a Muslim businessman funded and released an independent film portraying Jesus Christ as a pedophile and charlatan? (Highly unlikely as Jesus Christ is also a crucial figure in the Islamic faith)

Has the Christian world demonstrated any more restraint in the past? The events of 9/11 was met with swift and brutal retribution against not one, but two nations, for the actions of their perceived fringe. Domestically, the opening salvos of America’s fury resulted in the deaths of American Sikhs, Muslims, and most telling, Coptic Christians.

I return once again to the Republican nominee’s statement. What are our values as a people? Romney’s attacks against the Obama administration occurred less than 24 hours after the attack in Libya. The families had not been notified, the memorials had not been set, and the accounting of the day’s events had barely begun to form into a cohesive image. Is this course of action what we, as a people, value? The politicization of a national tragedy, and to what end? Votes?

The above statement was released as part of a second round of attacks. From all indicators, it appears that his campaign is planning to continue pressing the issue. Whether it is for fear of being perceived as weak, or for fear of appearing (for shame) apologetic, we will not likely know.

What we do know, however, is this: The worst atrocities of human history were only made possible through the perpetration of the Hostile Other. The idea that “they” want to harm “us” and that “we” must kill “them” before “they” can do so to “us”. But who are “they”? And more importantly, who are “we”?

Make no mistake, we most certainly have our enemies, foreign and domestic. They are the fringe elements of all societies, the unthinking mass, the self-appointed saviors of our collective futures, bloodshed and suffering be damned. They are the harbingers of a Golden future, a path paved in the corpses of the Hostile Other.

It is the rhetoric of Wade Michael Page, who attacked the Sikh Temple in Milwaukee last month. It is the rhetoric of Timothy McVeigh, who bombed a federal building in Oklahoma City. It is the rhetoric of Osama bin Laden, whose infamy and impact need no preamble for anyone in the world. It is the rhetoric of Mao, of Stalin, of Polpot. And, it is the rhetoric of perhaps that greatest symbol of man’s shame and capacity for atrocity: Adolf Hitler.

With Romney’s vociferous attacks on our President, so soon after a tragic event, it becomes clear to me who the Hostile Other is in Romney’s eyes. He has the right to question President Obama’s methods.

He does not have the right to attack our President’s loyalties.

That is a course of action designed to create a Hostile Other where none exists.

I love my country. And, being a Taiwanese citizen, I make no attempts to hide that my country is America. And as an American, I am once again forced to ask, “Who are we?”

“What are our values?”

Do we stand with the world, apart from the world, or against the world?

I no longer know, and I believe only in the deepest trenches of our collective soul-searching will that answer ever be made clear to me again.

With Concern and Humility,
Hau-Wei Chang, 11:58 AM, 9/13/12

The Starbucks Agenda

 

Broken promises do not build trust. I know that. I also know that I promised to post a business article last week, focusing on Starbucks. But I have an excuse! Last Monday I was doing my best to bury myself under a mound of blankets on the couch with tissue kept VERY close at hand to catch my ever-dripping nose. Yes, it was that bad. Forgive me?

That said, HERE is the promised post- finally!

So. You walk in, you order your favorite drink. Mine, provided I have the money to indulge, is a white chocolate macchiato with an extra shot and an extra pump of caramel. What’s yours? Do you even like coffee, or do you prefer a smoother drinks, like a green tea?

Many people would say neither. At least, not from Starbucks. They’re too busy, too rushed. And that puts many people off.

But here’s the thing. The same thing that puts people off, is what makes them successful!

I’ll explain. Every business has both a business model and a target market. The business will serve anyone, but will cater to their target market, because that’s what builds their success. A business selling children’s playthings will sell to an adult with no children, but is not likely to target their advertising to them.

It’s the same with Starbucks. Starbucks has a very defined target market, and this is where they focus their advertising and their business. The next time you go to Starbucks, look around and take note of what you see. Who is behind the counter? Who are the majority of their customers? Chances are, the answer to both will be young people. There might be a grey head here and there, but mostly you will find a defined age range of 20-30. They are young, they are successful. They aren’t really here, they are going somewhere. They have a purpose. They are going to change the world.

This target market is what defines the business model for Starbucks. Many of the young people in Starbucks are looking to make it into Forbes’ “30 under 30” list. They are on the go, they have things to do. Starbucks caters to that mentality. This is why for the most part, Starbucks doesn’t have a “come sit down and enjoy yourself” attitude. If you’re going to come and sit down in Starbucks, you better be working and going somewhere. You’re a college student, you’re an aspiring businessman. You’re going into technology, politics, whatever. You’re somebody.

Take it as a lesson for you people who are planning to start a business. The next time you’re put off by a company, don’t push them away. Closely examine them and see WHY you are put off. Chances are, it has to do with their business model.

Now, about that macchiato… what’s your favorite drink? And do YOU love Starbucks?