They’re Clichés For a Reason

There’s a reason some sayings get passed down from generation to generation. It’s because they contain timeless advice that makes sense.

Sure, some clichés make no sense like, “The cat got your tongue?” (What does that even mean?) “Dressed to kill.” (Does that mean we wear ski masks and latex gloves?) “Go the whole nine years.” (Why not go ten yards and get a first down?) “They are the spitting image of you.” (Gross.)

The best clichés are understandable, memorable, and concise. The following are some of my favorite saying that have stuck with me over the years and I plan to pass on to my kids.

“A penny saves is a penny earned.”
If you can get what you want and need for less than you expected you not only saved the difference, you essentially earned money. On big ticket items this could a big chunk of change. “Money talks” and “Cash is king” both tell it like it is. In today’s world (and throughout history, honestly) having money (and cold hard cash) gives you an advantage because as they say, “It takes money to make money.”

“You only live once.”
For some, life is going to happen for them in the future—especially young people. For others, the best of times were in the past. I believe, “This is the time of your life” because it’s happening now. As I get older and I do the math I realize I may only have a few more summers left (who knows?) and I want to dive in and make the most of every warm, water-filled, magic moment this year because, “Time is of the essence.” People often say, “Time is money.” I’m not sure that’s actually accurate. Time is life. We trade our time (which is our life) for money by having to spend much of our day having to work for it. Isn’t it better to do what you love (or love what you do) since you give up your life for the time it takes to make money?

“It’s who you know.”
It seems unfair that the most qualified, talented, and deserving person doesn’t always get the gig or the job because someone else got it based primarily on who they know. “It is what it is” (another apropos cliché) and it’s not going to change. Fortunately, we can “meet” powerful people, and others can learn about us through social media. We should spend time working on getting our name out there as well as working on getting to know others. We should also embrace that we should, “Do unto others as we would have them do unto us” and offer to help others in some way first before we ask for their help.

“Haste makes waste.”
My father used to always say, “Measure twice and cut once.” Meaning, it saves time and money to cut a piece of wood accurately versus making a mistake and having to go to the store and buy another board. There are times when “winging” it isn’t the best choice. Instead, planning ahead, double checking, and thinking things through first usually saves time and money.

“Misery loves company.”
If we believe the saying, “Birds of a feather flock together,” then it holds true that the people we surround ourselves with can have a positive or negative affect on us—and we should be selective about who we hang out with. I always find it interesting when couples are asked what attracted them to one another many times one (or both) people will say it was their partner’s sense of humor. Since, “Laughter is the best medicine,” we need to be with positive people with a good sense of humor and avoid those who drag us down.

“When the going gets tough, the tough get going.”

We are stronger, tougher, and more resilient than we know, and we usually don’t find that out about ourselves until something terrible happens. Since, “That which doesn’t kill us makes us stronger,” we can hope that the trials and tribulations we endure (“No pain, no gain”) will make us better people.

“When there’s a will, there’s a way.”
The person who is absolutely 100-percent committed and unafraid to go all-in to make something happen is 75-percent more likely to do it than the person who is sitting on the fence and doing just enough. The superstars in any field are the ones who want it more, work harder, and never give up.

They’re Clichés For a Reason

Shark Week

The week before Bethany Hamilton was attacked by a Tiger Shark that ripped off her left arm, my buddy and I were snorkeling at that same exact spot on the North Shore of Kauai. We were oblivious to the fact there were sharks there. Since the attack, I have not surfed on that side of the island.

In Southern California this spring there have been more shark sightings than ever before. We’ve always known that juvenile Great Whites spend time along our coast, but because the sharks were seldom seen, most people didn’t give it a second thought. Now sharks are all over the news and there is real fear.

The chance of being attacked by a shark are minuscule, but the fear of an attack has kept many out of the water. How many irrational fears have kept us from wading into something we want to do but don’t for fear we may fail? (It’s not like we’re gonna die if we try.)


Shark Week

The Circle of Life

As the official first day of summer approaches, many of us mark time using the seasons as a point of reference. However, there aren’t many calendars (that I know of) that reflect this kind of thinking.

I see the year as a circle. January is at the top and it’s dark blue. February and March are green, while May and June are orange. July and August are at the bottom of the circle and are bright yellow. You get the idea.

I decided to create a calendar that looks at the year the same way I do. Have you ever considered making a calendar that matches your way of seeing the year?


The Circle of Life

From Useful to Useless?

While I was looking for retro clip art to use for a design project, I came across images of all kinds of things we no longer use, so I started a list. I’m curious if I missed anything.

Things we no longer need (as much): Road Maps (or atlases), Pay Phones (or land lines), Printed Newspapers (or articles cut from a newspaper), Travel Agents, Photo Albums, Live Television (or VCR’s), Snail Mail, Fax Machines, Phone Books, Watches, Checkbooks, Dictionaries, For Sale Signs, Flashlights, iPods, and . . .


From Useful to Useless?

The Multimillionare Next Door

In the book, The Millionaire Next Door, the authors point out it’s not the people with the big house, flashy car, or expensive watch who have the most wealth. In fact, it’s just the opposite. In this article I want to tell you about my neighbor who I just found out is worth tens of millions of dollars (who knew?) and how he did it.

Never in a million years would you guess that Mike is a multimillionaire. He works a regular job, drives an older truck, and lives a modest lifestyle. That’s why as we sat and watched the sunset together the other day I was so surprised to learn of his enormous wealth. He was very reluctant to discuss the details of how vast his holdings were, but I persisted until he told me everything (wink).

It all started over twenty-five years ago when Mike and his wife had their first child. He was working as a maintenance man (and still does) in a downtown office building. It was then that one of the painting contractors he hired mentioned their company was selling off some of their older trucks. When Mark learned they were willing to part with the trucks at pennies on the dollar, he decided to buy one.

Since he was mechanically inclined he repaired and refurbished the first truck he bought and sold it for a tidy profit. He used the proceeds to buy two more trucks and flipped them for a nice return. He kept doing this until he was buying and reselling entire fleets of trucks and vans and pocketing the profits–which were really adding up. 

Next, Mike set his sites on buying a building he could do the same thing with–fix and flip. As luck would have it, a nearby muffler shop had shuttered its doors and the building was up for sale. Mark purchased it for less than its actual value and after fixing it up found a tenant to move in. After buying a few more buildings from this national chain of muffler repair shops, he decided to fly out to their headquarters and ended up buying ten buildings across the country for $1.4 million dollars–which he quickly turned into twice that . . . and still retained half of the properties, which he still owns.

Since then, Mike has bought raw land, homes, and other real estate using the profits from his portfolio of properties. Although he didn’t give me an exact number, he and his wife are worth tens of millions of dollars–but you would never know it by talking to them or by their lifestyle. 

After our sunset chat I started thinking about my own finances, and all the squandered opportunities. If only I had been more like Mike . . . Maybe someone out there reading this can learn from my mistakes and Mike’s smart and shrewd money management.

Here’s what I wish I knew then (25 years ago) that I know now . . . thanks to Mike (and others who have applied these same principles).

1. The vision to see into the future and the faith and discipline to delay immediate gratification for greater wealth later in life. In a word, the willingness to “sacrifice” today for a better tomorrow.

2. Having a steady “day job” (or a spouse that has one) to be able to weather any financial storms that will inevitably blow through our lives.

3. Knowing that hard work and “sweat equity” will beat out a get-rich-quick mentality every time and that there is no white knight coming to our rescue, instead we have to do the work to make it work.

4. It takes money to make money and that means not spending everything we earn (and then some), but instead spending our money on things that will make us more money.

5. Amassing wealth doesn’t come without risk, but if we are going to gamble, why not gamble on ourselves. When we know what our strengths are and use our time and talent in the right ways, we will succeed.

There are several more traits that wealthy people share (frugality, for example) but in the end it all comes down to the decisions we make today about how we handle our money that will determine where we are years from now (God willing).

The Multimillionare Next Door

All The Time

Pay phones, typewriters, and snail mail are three things that were once extremely popular, but now are seldom used–replaced by smart phones, computers, and e-mail. These changes have changed the way we work. It used to be we worked from 9-5, in an office, on weekdays. Now, the lines are blurred between work days and off days. Life balance is something we once strived for, but now is obsolete.

To pine for pay phones, typewriters, and snail mail are fine, but it doesn’t change the fact they are no longer realistic options for how we now live and work. It’s time to give up the idea of a balanced life and acknowledge that times have changed and we must accept that being constantly connected and beyond busy is a way of life.

Sure, we could go on a digital diet, work from home to save the commute time, and cut back on how much sleep we get, but like any diet, it usually won’t last. Instead, what can do, and should do, is be 100 percent focused on what we are working on, who we are with, and what’s right in front of us at this moment.

Focus is more important than ever–it’s just different than it was several years ago. The ability to be all-in when it matters most means we give our kids our undivided attention when they need us. We focus on the task at hand when at work to be more efficient and effective than starting and stopping over and over again. If we can focus on one thing for as long as we can and not distract ourselves, that may just be what balance is about in today’s world.

Since we can’t focus on everything equally:

1. What needs 100% of your attention right now?

2. What can you get rid of right now to free up time to focus on something that matters more this month? (Since we can’t do it all, what doesn’t need to be done?)

3. If money were no object, what would you focus on? Now, what could / should you focus on because it makes you the most money?

All The Time

Hitting Your Stride

Pitchers need to stride out to throw strikes. Ideally, a pitcher’s front leg lands at 100% of their height. (For example, a six-foot pitcher would stride out 72 inches.) This almost never happens except in the pro. Yet it works so much better than a taking a smaller stride. So why don’t more amateur pitchers do it? Because it’s hard to do, and so many young pitchers think they can’t–or simply don’t want to. There’s a point to all this.

Are we striding out as far as we can? I know my own answer and it is, “No!” I will take tiny steps outside of my comfort zone, but I know I should be taking b-i-g-g-e-r ones. So what’s holding me back? Fear. Fear of failing, fear of looking foolish, and fear of not believing it can be done–or fear that I can’t do it. Like many people, I often look at others who have more success and wonder what they are doing that I am not. My conclusion is they are taking bigger strides.

To continue with the baseball metaphors, Steve Jobs once said it is better to hit a home run rather than two doubles . . . I feel like I’ve been a singles hitter. A singles hitter hits for a high average by using a measured swing and hitting the ball where it’s pitched. (Basically, playing it safe.) So what can we all do to swing for the fences more, even if we fear we may strike out?

1. Find examples of others who have done what we want to do (and possibly did it with less time, talent, and total resources). Use this to prove that what we want to do is possible. Also, study how they did it and do the same thing.

2. Stop worrying what others will think. They won’t have to live with the regret we will if we don’t try. What they think of you doesn’t matter half as much as what you think of yourself.

3. Realize that the time will never be right to try something big and bold. The time is now. It’s funny how we may say, “Well, I could die tomorrow” to justify doing something that brings us immediate gratification. We rarely do that with things that don’t pay off right away. So yes, we could die tomorrow, so let’s die trying to do all we can to make our dreams come true.

Hitting Your Stride