Things That Haven’t Changed in Years

In a past issue we looked at all the things that are now obsolete. This time I want to showcase a few items that haven’t changed a whole lot (if at all) in 100 years. It’s interesting to see that as much as things change, some stuff stays the same. There’s a lesson here. Read on to find out what it is.

MATCHES are much the same as they were when they first went mainstream in the early 1900s. In fact, people once collected matchbooks as a hobby, or as a record of where they’d been.

HAMMERS from the colonial days look much the same as they do today. In fact, even primitive hammers are similar to today’s tool.

VIOLINS have been around a long time (since the 16th century) and other than amplification, the violin remains nearly unchanged.

PAPER CLIPS were first patented in 1867, and that version is almost identical to what is offered today. Granted, nobody needed one to eject a stuck disk back then.

SAILBOATS. Think about it, although there’s been all kinds of technical improvements over the years, the basic shape and style of sailboats is the same.

A few other things that remain unchanged, yet still popular are: Toilets (and plungers), scissors, brooms, paint brushes, irons, eyeglasses, bikes, and pencils. My take is that a combination of great design, a product proven to work, and one that solves a repeated problem is the key to longevity.

Why do you think these items have stood the test of time and remained popular? What can we do to remain relevant in our career and business? What items did I miss?



Beat The Odds

I’m still using Twitter to feature stories of ordinary people who do extraordinary things. Here’s a couple not yet featured on Twitter.

Muggsy Boggues played for 14 years in the NBA, which is impressive. The fact he stood only 5 feet, 3 inches tall makes it even more extraordinary. However, Isaiah Thomas holds the distinction of being the shortest player to be included on an All-NBA Team, and the shortest player to play in an All-Star game, and record a triple-double. (The average height of an NBA player is 6 feet, 7 inches.)

Sara Blakely founded Spanx while working full-time for an office supply company. When she was promoted and forced to wear pantyhose (in Florida, in the summer) she started trying to design a better alternative. After many failed prototypes and rejections from industry insiders, she finally got off the ground–but kept her day job until sales reaches $5 million.

Dennis Farina served in the Army for three years followed by 18 years with the Chicago Police Department in the burglary division. He didn’t become an actor until he was nearly 40 years-old. He started as a police consultant in Hollywood, followed by numerous roles as a character actor. He’s probably best known for playing Detective Fontana on “Law and Order.”

Beat The Odds

Read and React

A Decidedly Different Approach

Generally, reading is a passive endeavor. I want to make this an active issue. This first article encourages us to stop, think, and act. Here’s a list of things you can do in under a minute that will make a difference.

Reach out to one person. Look through your contacts list and call, text, or e-mail someone you should have connected with sooner. Look for a birthday, (or half birthday), or something in the news as a reason for reaching out.

Put one thing away. Cleaning up can be overwhelming, but starts with putting away one thing. That’s doable. Or, do a quick check on your supplies, go through your wallet and thin it out, give away one item of clothing that no longer fits or makes you feel good.

Stretch. In baseball, they call it the seventh-inning stretch because it’s a reason to stand up and move around (and sing, “Take Me Out To The Ballgame). Many of us spend more time sitting and working than sleeping. Get up and move.

Change your screensaver–on your computer or phone. Take advantage of this mini bulletin board by updating it. Take a minute to put a picture of something relaxing, a reminder, or motivational image or quote.

Play your all-time favorite song. Nothing can improve our mood, transport us elsewhere (in time, or in our minds), or pump us like our favorite song. Put yours on now.

Send one nice note. Studies have shown that the thing people appreciate most is a handwritten thank you note. That may take too long, for now, just thank someone for something via text, e-mail, or instant messaging.

Read and React

Command Z


There is one key on our computer that is very powerful, and it’s not “Return / Enter.” It’s “Command + Z.” This allows us to undo whatever we just did. It’s like a rest button.

What would it be like to have an eraser tool in our lives? If we could only go back one step (like “Command Z”) it would mean we could undue the last mistake we made. What was your last mistake?

Mine will probably surprise you. It wasn’t something I said or did. It was something I thought. I let someone get under my skin (which I suspect is what they wanted all along) and it ruined my day–which was an otherwise good day.

Since there is no rewind function, and I can’t repeat the day differently, I am reminded by something Dale Carnegie wrote. He said we should live in day-tight compartments. Meaning, let things go. Ann Landers said holding onto resentment is like letting someone you despise live rent-free in your head.

When I woke up today I hit the reset button (so to speak) and wrote my antagonizer’s name on a piece of paper, lit it on fire, and flushed it down the toilet. It felt good–freeing, even. Let it go, because in a week, month, or year it probably won’t matter any more.

FREE FROM LEE: I am still willing to send out my free set of decision-making cards. Just let me know if you want a deck and I’ll send them as a PDF. leesilber@leesilber.com

Command Z

The Pelican

The Pelican

They say everyone has a book in them. Apparently, I have 24 books in me.

My latest book is a novel with a strong message woven within the story. “The Pelican” was inspired by an extremely popular book from the 1970s titled, “Jonathan Livingston Seagull”.

I could tell you all about this book, but instead I want to share something more meaningful. Although the story and characters in my new book are fictional, “The Pelican” is personal. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a great read and my best book by far–because I lived it, to a lesser degree.

The book is a quick read, only ten bucks, and is available on Amazon. I mention this because I am asking you to buy a copy for yourself or to give as a gift, and maybe more than that, I am asking you to buy one just because you want to support me. I will appreciate that act more than you know.

TO ORDER THE PELICAN FROM AMAZON: https://tinyurl.com/y3gnmus7

The Pelican

Dead by 27

Don’t Wait

The list of rock stars who died at the age of 27 is a long one and includes; Jimmy Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Kurt Cobain, Jim Morrison, Brian Jones, Amy Winehouse, and a dozen more (and I just rattled those names off from memory).

In my speeches I often joke that when I am on my phone filling out a form and asked for my birth date I have to scroll so far down I begin to doubt the list even goes back that far. 

For years I was always the youngest person to do this or that (start a business, write a book, appear on television) and then, well, let’s not go there. I did the math, according to actuary tables, I have lived 74% of my life. That’s a wake-up call.

How many summers will I have where I can feel the warm wind in my hair–while I still have my hair? (I’m guessing a dozen.) How many years before both of my boys are off to college? (Five years.) How many holidays do I have left with my mom? (She’s 81.)

I’m not having a mid-life crisis (I had that in my twenties for some reason) but I am more aware of time passing and not putting things off that I want and need to do–and appreciating more the things that I am now able to enjoy.

* Men can expected to live to be 76, women 81.

Dead by 27

Faster, Easier, Better

Maintenance Tasks

Life is short . . . and made up of mostly maintenance tasks. That means there are things we most do or we’ll go broke, lose our job, or live in squalor (I’m thinking about how often we must clean up and clean where we live).

If we can do the things we have to do faster, we’ll have more time for the things we want to do. That’s why I encourage you to check out the podcast on efficiency I do every week with Ellen Goodwin.

THE FASTER, EASIER, BETTER SHOW: http://thefastereasierbettershow.libsyn.com/

Faster, Easier, Better