Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Why I Cancelled My Subscription With Vince

I used to like Vince Del Monte's newsletters. His products were good, and his newsletters always had useful workout and nutrition advice. Sure he sent out a lot of "newsletters" that were really recommendations of affiliate products he was shilling for. Hey...it's internet marketing, and that's how the bills get paid.

But overall, the material was always really good. Until lately.

Lately, Vince's emails have been all about how awesome Vince is. Think I'm joking? These are the subject lines from the last four emails I got from Vince's newsletter:
  • How did I do at Worlds last night?
  • 1-day out pic! [plus watch Worlds LIVE today]
  • last pic before Worlds
  • Wanna see how I'm looking?
That last one almost made me gag a little. Did he seriously say that?

I understand that when you're looking to motivate people and you're your own poster boy for the products, systems, and lifestyle you're promoting, you have to do a little bit of "wanna get abs like these" promotions. But since the launch of his "Live Large TV" series on YouTube last season, Vince's packaging and motivational message has been all about...well, Vince.

This level of self-aggrandizement is just nauseating. I'm not being a "hater" here. Seriously...he sends out pictures of himself to show his subscribers how awesome he looks. It's frankly a little bizarre. You can motivate people by living your life well. You can have confidence and project that confidence in everything you do. But when all you have to talk about -- when your only contribution to society -- becomes how great you're doing and looking and living, you lose the interest of the common person you're trying to help in the first place.

I'll keep monitoring his blog of course. And if I see a shift back to actual valuable advice, I may reconsider subscribing. But for the time being, as long as his only advice remains "Wanna see how I'm looking?" I don't think I'm all that interested in finding out the answer.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Another Interesting Reading List

I love making reading lists. The last one I did was on a business blog a couple weeks ago, and it got a LOT of attention online. Apparently I'm not the only one interested in self-improvement manuals and wisdom for business.

I had an interesting experience just this week, as I've been reviewing Burt Goldman's "Quantum Jumping." This is a curious self-improvement strategy, because it follows in line with some stuff that came out in the '60s (notably Jane Roberts' Seth books), which in turn follow along the same lines as Napoleon Hill.

Basically, the strategy for all these programs of programming boils down to this: Whatever you can think of as a fundamental desire in your life, you have the potential to create.

That's a bold statement. It was made by The Secret as well, which turned out to be one of the greatest marketing pulls of all time in the self-help industry. If I have one qualm with The Secret, it's that the basic premise is flawed. Their general statement is that the "law of attraction" -- the thing that causes planets to orbit each other, and rockets to fly to the moon, and success to come to those who are success conscious -- is that "like attracts like."

Of course, the law of attraction in the world of physics is that opposites attract. It's how electrons, magnetism, gravity and dozens of other physical processes actually work. Is that splitting hairs? Possibly. I think they should rewrite the wording of the law to something like "thoughts encourage like results." At least that wouldn't be a flat-out lie like the other "law of attraction."

So what's the same here?

Well, we're looking at these texts as the basis:

Napoleon Hill says that the key to success is unflagging, single-minded determination. A ritual ingraining of the desired outcome, bordering on obsession, with the intent of causing that thing to manifest in reality. According to Hill, all beings and things in the universe are connected to an energy field he calls "infinite intelligence," and that it is possible to influence this intelligence by bringing a strong enough force of will to bear on it. Doing so will cause the thing you desire to manifest in your life.

This is the thread of all these other texts. For example, Jane Roberts (purportedly channeling an intelligence named Seth) states that it is through our understanding of the thinness of our perceptual veil and the profound realities that lie beyond it that we can take control of our own destinies and the things that lead to personal success and happiness. Peale, in his classic of positive thinking, emphasizes the effect positive mindset can have on day-to-day happiness. The Secret touts the same idea as all these books: that with the right attitude, you can tap into the universal forces that connect everyone and everything, and as a result manifest whatever you want.

Quantum Jumping is a slightly different take on the idea. First, the premise is that there is an infinite number of universes, and that in each universe there is a you that has taken a different path at each juncture of your life. So in one life, you decided not to go to school to become an engineer. In another, you decided to eat fudge ripple instead of maple walnut.

And so on.

Goldman claims to have found the way to contact each of these alternate selves (an extension, to a point, of the idea Roberts puts forward in her books) and ask them stuff about whatever you want to do. So, you can go through a "dimensional door" via meditation, find a version of yourself that is a successful photographer (his example), ask them about becoming a successful photographer, then return to consciousness with a cryptic response that will inevitably lead to your becoming a successful photographer.

Hill and the others would probably argue that this is a connection not to a trans-dimensional self, but to infinite intelligence. In fact, Peale would argue that your meditative question had been answered directly by God, as through prayer. But regardless of the source (and, let's face it, it would be arrogant of any of these authors to claim singular knowledge of the vastness of the source of all these miracles), the precept remains the same. Know what you want, focus your energy and thought on it, and it will come to you through the power of this vast intelligent universe.

But is there a downside?

There actually is a downside to the whole positive thinking phenomenon. Aside from the fact that I consider it incredibly narcissistic to believe you can command the universe to give you whatever you want, psychologists have actually begun to uncover some problems with this whole line of thought.

First of all, what happens if you put all of your concentration into trying to manifest the career of your dreams and it doesn't materialize? The authors above would say that it's because you didn't do it right. There was some negativity blocking you. What this does is it puts the responsibility for failure on you, and not on their system of controlling destiny. This is profoundly dangerous, because it can actually make your sense of personal failure even greater than it was before you started the million-dollar quest.

Secondly, the power of positive thinking can backfire by leading to depression. If one is sad about something, and uses one of these methods to come out of that slump and it doesn't work, the perceived failure can actually cause an even deeper level of depression.

There's also the attendant weirdness of having to ignore reality while applying these principles. For Peale and The Secret actually require that you put negative thoughts out of your head. This would include fear, doubt, sadness, anxiety, worry, displeasure, mourning, anger, stress...really anything that might cause you to not smile for a few minutes. In Peale's case, he actually suggests that all the world's problems would go away if people simply stopped thinking about them. Hunger would disappear, and disease would cease to exist because people wouldn't give these problems any power.

Of course they wouldn't really go away. We just would just be justified in ignoring them. I suppose eventually the sick and hungry would die off anyway, so by extension the problem would disappear.

Hmm...not a great thought, considering he's touted as a Christian author.

There's also a famous incident of a discussion of The Secret on Oprah. In that instance, author Rhonda Byrne literally suggested that negative thoughts block positive outcomes. The example given was that if one wishes to lose weight, one shouldn't look at fat people.


Right...if you want to manifest thinness, you have to avoid seeing anyone who's fat. The image will become implanted in your mind and that's the image your subconscious and the universe will create for your own manifestation.

Or you could, I don't know, eat less junk food and do some sit ups.

Bottom Line

I have no doubt that a doggedly single-minded focus on your personal mission and your goals is crucial in achieving success. In fact, not doing so allows you to become distracted, sidetracked, and otherwise lose focus. However, it's important in reading and reviewing self-help materials to keep a firm grip on reality as well, and to understand that while you can keep your spirits up you have to stay flexible enough to cope -- really cope -- with things that happen to get in the way.

This is why I like to go to Lao Tzu for a little grounding in personal ambition:

"Failure is the foundation of success, and the means by which it is achieved."
"Ambition has one heel nailed in well, though she stretches her fingers to touch the heavens."
"Be careful what you water your dreams with. Water them with worry and fear and you will produce weeds that choke the life from your dream. Water them with optimism and solutions and you will cultivate success. Always be on the lookout for ways to turn a problem into an opportunity for success. Always be on the lookout for ways to nurture your dream."
Do I suggest not reading or listening to these books? Absolutely not! Everybody needs to be reminded to stay on track, and these books are solid guideposts and strategies for doing this. What I suggest is that using them, avoid overzealous or religious tenacity to their precepts, or you run the risk of coming up against those disappointments and not having a solid foundation to deal with them properly.

Be motivated, but be flexible.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Father Forgets

I just heard this piece for the first time in an audio version of Dale Carnegie's How to Win Friends and Influence People. If you're not inspired to review your own parenting from time to time, read every word -- EVERY WORD -- of this classic monologue. You will be inspired, believe me.

W. Livingston Larned
as condensed in “Readers Digest”

Listen, son: I am saying this as you lie asleep, one little
paw crumpled under your cheek and the blond curls stickily
wet on your damp forehead. I have stolen into your room alone.
Just a few minutes ago, as I sat reading my paper in the
library, a stifling wave of remorse swept over me. Guiltily
I came to your bedside.

There are the things I was thinking, son: I had been cross
to you. I scolded you as you were dressing for school because
you gave your face merely a dab with a towel. I took you to
task for not cleaning your shoes. I called out angrily when
you threw some of your things on the floor.

At breakfast I found fault, too. You spilled things. You
gulped down your food. You put your elbows on the table. You
spread butter too thick on your bread. And as you started off
to play and I made for my train, you turned and waved a hand
and called, “Goodbye, Daddy!” and I frowned, and said in
reply, “Hold your shoulders back!”

Then it began all over again in the late afternoon. As I came
up the road I spied you, down on your knees, playing marbles.
There were holes in your stockings. I humiliated you before
your boyfriends by marching you ahead of me to the house.
Stockings were expensive-and if you had to buy them you would
be more careful! Imagine that, son, from a father!

Do you remember, later, when I was reading in the library, how
you came in timidly, with a sort of hurt look in your eyes?
When I glanced up over my paper, impatient at the interruption,
you hesitated at the door. “What is it you want?” I snapped.

You said nothing, but ran across in one tempestuous plunge,
and threw your arms around my neck and kissed me, and your
small arms tightened with an affection that God had set
blooming in your heart and which even neglect could not wither.
And then you were gone, pattering up the stairs.

Well, son, it was shortly afterwards that my paper slipped
from my hands and a terrible sickening fear came over me. What
has habit been doing to me? The habit of finding fault, of
reprimanding-this was my reward to you for being a boy. It
was not that I did not love you; it was that I expected too
much of youth. I was measuring you by the yardstick of my own

And there was so much that was good and fine and true in your
character. The little heart of you was as big as the dawn
itself over the wide hills. This was shown by your spontaneous
impulse to rush in and kiss me good night. Nothing else matters
tonight, son. I have come to your bedside in the darkness, and
I have knelt there, ashamed!

It is feeble atonement; I know you would not understand these
things if I told them to you during your waking hours. But
tomorrow I will be a real daddy! I will chum with you, and suffer
when you suffer, and laugh when you laugh. I will bite my
tongue when impatient words come. I will keep saying as if it
were a ritual: “He is nothing but a boy-a little boy!”

I am afraid I have visualized you as a man. Yet as I see you
now, son, crumpled and weary in your cot, I see that you are
still a baby. Yesterday you were in your mother’s arms, your
head on her shoulder. I have asked too much, too much.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Early to Rise -- The New Protocol for Productivity

I've never been a morning person.

That changed by default, of course, when my daughter was born. We have a sort of rule in the house though: no getting up before 6 a.m.. Usually she's pretty good at sticking to this one, although she's still too young to tell time. When she's early, I send her back to bed, even if it's just for five minutes.

I don't know...maybe that's just for my own narcissistic need to feel like I'm in control of my time. It almost never works anyway.

Lately though, I've been reading up on productivity and following blogs by CEOs and other power players. I went through Eben Pagan's "Wake Up Productive" video course, and found a lot of what he had to say enlightening. But, to do all the stuff you're supposed to do in the morning for your "ritual," you have to get up pretty early.

Having just read a fascinating article by Peter Shankman on the subject, I'm starting to become convinced that early rising may have more to it than simply getting stuff done. I'm starting to realize that while I've forced myself out of normal sleep patterns over the years, only to be forced back into something similar through parenting, my daughter may be purely circadian. She may just be waking up when it's time to wake up.

Yes, even if it's 5 a.m..

My joke used to be, "I know there's a five o'clock really late at night; I had no idea there was one in the morning now too!"

That attitude is about to change. As I'm busily looking for a new job, the likelihood is increasing that I may need to commute into Toronto, putting downtown roughly an hour and a half away by various trains. I could drive it in an hour if there were no traffic, but we know what that's like getting into Toronto in the morning. Could be up to four hours if you hit it just right.

So how do I get in the morning ritual, exercise, and everything else in time to drive to Cobourg to drop my kid off at daycare, drive to Whitby, find a parking space, and hop the GO Train?

Yup. 5 a.m..

As an experiment is this early rising psychosis, I'm going to start nudging myself in that direction next week. Of course I'll have to start going to bed earlier; as it is, I usually don't go to bed until around 11:00. If I go at 10:00, I will wake up at 3 a.m. and be unable to go back to sleep.

What can I say? She's trained me to function on five to six hours of sleep, usually with a nap after lunch.

So we start by getting up right away. The idea is that if I'm tired enough, I should (in theory) be able to get to sleep earlier that night. In my experience, it takes less than a week to retrain a new schedule; but I promise myself I won't go to bed any earlier than 10:00 just on principle.

They say adding the extra hours in the morning makes you more productive. I still maintain that it doesn't matter if the extra hours happen early or late. But necessity may very well force me in the direction of early, so it's best to be prepared.

And if it doesn't happen that I need the commute, at least I'll get to watch a few sunrises on the deck...before going back to bed.

Monday, August 8, 2011

August 19

If you're man enough, you know, what I'm talking about.

Got that? August 19

Mark it on your calendar. It's testosterone time.

Friday, August 5, 2011

5 Steps To A Better Lawn And Garden

If you're lucky enough to have a lawn with a good topsoil base, much of the hard work of keeping a lawn beautiful is already done for you. But many of us do not have this luxury, and besides, even with a good topsoil base, you still have to work hard to keep a beautiful lawn and garden.

  1. The best time to mow a lawn is when it is cool and dry. Wait for the morning dew to dry off, and before the afternoon heat takes hold. Alternatively, late afternoon or early evening following a watering in the morning is also a good time.
  2. A hedge is a much better boundary divider than a fence. It will provide better privacy and keep pets and children in - or out. It will attract birds to its shelter, and provide a great backdrop for plants and flowers.
  3. Bring the beauty of your garden to you; plant hyacinths near walkways and doors. Their magnificent perfume will swamp the spring air and make your garden really come alive.
  4. Add your garden to non-garden items, such a lampposts and mail boxes. Surround these items with flowers planted to take advantage of the earliest to the latest flowerings. You could have white snowdrops, purple and gold crocus, blue hyacinths, and various colored tulips. You could also surround the posts with rocks to provide added interest.
  5. Simple, but effective weed control can be achieved on your lawn by mowing often during spring. This will prevent dandelions spreading by eliminating the yellow blossoms and preventing seed formation. Mow high during late spring and early summer. This will allow grass blades to shade the ground, and will help prevent crabgrass from sprouting.

Your lawn and garden should be a source of pride and beauty. You don't need to spend lots of money on expensive fertilizers and herbicides, or fancy lawn furniture and ornaments. A little common sense and thought can go a long way to making your lawn and garden a much better place.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Texting and Communication

I often wonder what all this technology is doing to our communications these days. I mean, I know that I belong to the generation that literally created txtpsk, evolving it through the earliest days of chatrooms and ICQ. But nowadays (and I am old enough to say that) it just seems to be getting out of hand.

The other day I was hanging out downtown, and I decided to tell a joke to this guy I was talking to. At the punchline he looked at me and said, "Lol." Not spelled it. Said it.
IDK if he was a n00b or if he was just crazy, but this cute redhead at a cafe seat next to us looked at me and colon-dash-endparenthesised. I semicolon-dash-endparenthesised back, and we xchanged dgts.
Isn't it great when languages evolve beyond the need for actual emotions? You can tell how someone's feeling just by using punctuation. You don't need to actually laugh when you can just say "Lol."

There's a great divide here though. My mom makes up txtspk according to some code that she thinks others will understand intrinsically. She hasn't grasped that, as made-up as the language is, it's been around for twenty years and has certain standards applied to it. Her logic: it's made up, so she can make it up too.

I suppose in the final analysis, she's not far off the mark.


Cobourg, ON - Owned Entertainment (Canada) Inc. has announced that it will open up a movie production studio in Cobourg, ON. Owned Entertainment (Canada) focuses on movie, TV and DVD productions based on the sport of Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) as well as other entertainment entities aimed at a demographic of males 16-30.

Company President, James Hergott has chosen his hometown of Cobourg and is excited about the possibilities for his business. “MMA is the fastest growing sport in the world and especially popular in Ontario and the GTA. This geographic area has one of the strongest fan bases in North America and is a perfect location to work on my future projects,” stated Mr. Hergott.

Mr. Hergott’s production plans for Cobourg are two-fold. First he will be directing and producing a scripted feature film, OWN3D, in Cobourg in the spring of 2012. The second part of the plan is the building of a state of the art studio facility in Cobourg. In addition to future projects by Mr. Hergott the studio would produce 5-6 additional film projects as part of a distribution agreement.

Mr. Hergott will work closely with the Town of Cobourg, as well as the County of Northumberland with a strategy to grow the economy as well as provide jobs.  Mr. Hergott comments: “With many jobs in North America going overseas it is important to invest in innovative business opportunities in growth industries. Currently the MMA business is growing at a rapid pace despite the economic slowdown. The UFC’s first event in Toronto had an economic impact on the city of $44 million.  The entertainment industry is one that cannot be easily outsourced because it must reflect the artistic culture of the world it is presenting.”

“We are very pleased to be able to work with Mr. Hergott in developing his business plans” says Wendy Gibson, Economic Development Officer for the Town of Cobourg. We have been targeting businesses in the Creative Economy and this type of business fits nicely into that category”.

For more information please contact:

James Hergott, President
Owned Entertainment (Canada) Inc.
Wendy Gibson, Economic Development Officer, Town of Cobourg

TACFIT: Back in the Game

"What allows me to train 3x/day at 40 years old as intensely as I do isn't a secret formula. It's very simple. But it ain't easy. I strive every day to become the father my children deserve, the husband my wife deserves, the coach my students deserve, the athlete my teammates deserve, the servant my country deserves, and the disciple that God deserves. I continually fail. But I will never, ever give up." 
- Coach Sonnon (founder of TACFIT Commando)

Well, no more excuses. It's time to get back in the game.

As I wrote previously, I had a few more than significant interruptions in trying to get keyed up for TACFIT Mission 2. Rather than wrestle my way through with half-assed effort, I decided to just cut my loss and start over on August 1st.

I like starting on the first of something...Monday, first of the month, etc. Just something weirdly compulsive that I do.

Anyway, where I left off (July 5) I recorded the following stats:

Waist: 38
Weight: 200
BF%: 23.44%

In today's measurement, I can see where the intervening month of just general yard work has got me:

Waist: 39
Weight: 205
BF%: 24.69%

Time to get back on the wagon. I've done the first two No- and Low-Intensity objectives, and the first Moderate-Intensity one. I eased myself back in with only half sets, because I was doing them very slowly to get the movements right. The exercises are pretty complicated, but I can still hold my own. We'll see how that goes today with the High-Intensity workout.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Site Issues...and rain.

Regular readers will no doubt have noticed a dip in the posting schedule lately. Well, it's not for lack of ideas. For reasons as yet undetermined the posting in my blogger back office has ground to a halt.

I've been over at the community site trying to raise an answer, but so far nothing has worked. The next step is to go right to Google for support.

I have to say that I love the stuff Google is doing, integrating all my usual business activities through a single login. But their one failing is in relying almost exclusively on user forums for support, rather than providing a straightforward help desk. If I find them I'll let you know.

In the meantime, I'll post what I can from my phone.

In other news, it's finally raining. I haven't actually mowed the lawn in almost a month simply because I haven't had to. The weeds are doing great mind you.

That's been the joke; eventually I'm going to have to get out there and mow the weeds. But today has been the first day of almost constant rain in a very long time, so I suspect the grass is going to come back with a vengeance.

Nothing for it but to mow I guess. At least the rain will soften the ground a little so I can finally get a spade under those dandelions.