Thursday, November 22, 2018

Happy Thanksgiving



In the US, it's time to give thanks for all that is good in life and what progress we've made as families, cities, states, a country and for humanity.

Certainly, we could talk about how much better or different things could be.

We can take up those conversation, with no intent to diminish what we've accomplished, but with an eye of what we could become as humanity and individuals.  We can take it up with an eye to the future for ourselves, our families, neighbors the nation, and the whole planet. 

Here's one topic I'll take up:  Let's aim to have a vegan Thanksgiving this year and in the years to come, as a first step to improve our love for animals, the planet and respect for both.

It's also a good step in reducing our planetary footprint, given the large usage of transport, machinery, warehousing, and forests for animal farming.

In the words of Gandhi, "The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated."

So, let's demonstrate how we can progress by treat them animals well and not eating them!

To kickstart it all, here's a list of recipes from Delish.com to give you some ideas: 31 Seriously Delicious Vegan Thanksgiving Recipes.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Buck the Suppression: Vote Today!

It's inevitable!

In every election, there's one side that downplays the other's ability to make a difference...to vote!

That may be purely in words, like ads or articles about how one side will turn out more than the other, or it may be in actual voter suppression legal hurdles like requiring an ID.

In every instance, the words and the acts emphasize the importance of your vote.

Every vote counts in the message it sends; in the way we tell one side or the other that their tactics worked.

What message do you want to send?

Do you want to promote voter suppression? Then don't vote. Let the bad players know their tactics worked!

But if you want your voice heard...if you're tired of the ads and voter suppression, then your path is clear:
Go Vote



Monday, November 5, 2018

Ideas Aren't a Light Switch


I know it's tough for folks who know me to imagine this is true: I run out out of words regularly!

I've read many articles and blogs about the importance of writing every day.  It's a means of not only getting your ideas out, but to learn to better articulate them.

A common analogy is that of exercising: in order to have consistency and see results, you have to do it in regular increments, challenging yourself with every attempt.  Whether that means incrementally more difficult exercises or game opponents, in the case of exercises and sports, or incrementally more difficult subjects with respect to writing.

My challenge is that I don't think I can force a "revelation." I can't just turn on an "idea" light switch to spout out something that others may find helpful.

Sure, I learn something new on most days.  Some of those lessons, though, are private and I don't think they should or need to be shared.

Should I write about my familial interactions when I can't find anything else?  How about my physical ailments or health? How about bodily functions?

Certainly there are folks who can write about these who are passionate or experts about them.  Or I may decide to write about them if there are dramatic twists and turns as there were with our boy's health a few years ago.

Bottom line, I've not bought into this idea that anything and everything is worth writing about, nor do I see the utility of it for readers.

Of course, I realize this rambling seems like an attempt to fill space and get something published. It's really just sharing my frustration with the need to write.

It's true: sometimes we all run out of ideas and words.

And that's OK! We can wait to bake ideas before putting pen to paper or keystrokes to a document.

Thursday, November 1, 2018

Compromise Is Not a Four-Letter Word



Where would we be without compromise?

In the United States, we'd be without a country that has served as an example of democracy!

If it weren't for compromise, our forefathers wouldn't have been able to set aside their differences and form our nation.

In fact, a very controversial topic then and now almost prevented it from happening: slavery.  George Mason, George Washington and Benjamin Franklin were in agreement that, in the words of Mason, the, "augmentation of slaves weakens the states; and such a trade is diabolical in itself, and disgraceful to mankind."

They didn't want to admit Georgia and South Carolina into the Union.

The delegates from those states didn't want to be a part of the Union if they couldn't have slavery.

And yet, they compromised to continue to allow slavery since they knew the greater good for the Union was to form the United States.

As evil as slavery is, they formed a union...and almost half a century later fought to abolish slavery.

Their compromises makes me wonder whether our current rigidity on every issue, in politics, business and personal relationships, our intolerance of fallibility in others, and our inability to see our own, has made us so inflexible as to become brittle, unable to bring about the change we need for the greater good.

Compromise is not a four-letter word.

Let's bend, find compromise and a better path that serves us all, knowing full well that it won't be perfect, but one that will eventually lead us to be greater people, families, businesses, society, nation and planet!

Let's compromise!



Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Let's Be Graceful and Elevate the Conversation


Much of what we read or hear tells us being provocative is more important than being informative and valuable.

This is especially evident in politics or with attention-starved individuals, groups or entities.  I admit, I've committed what's considered click-bait with provocative subject lines, blog posts or even vlogs.

It's tiring both receiving and delivering "gotchas" and "zingers".

Time has come to quit propagating deception.

Let's be part of a wave of change, instead.

Buck the norm and the system, not to provoke, but by being graceful and informative.  Let's be agents of change by being valuable instead of provocative. Borrowing from Albert Einstein, let's "strive not to be a success, but rather to be of value."

Let's elevate the conversation, by using elegant words everyone understands and making complex ideas accessible, easy to understand, even when talking of their nuances.



P.S. A great example of this is an author I came across, Zat Rana, on Medium.  His short, personal  description speaks volumes: "Playing at the intersection of science, art, and philosophy. Trying to be less wrong." I highly recommend checking out his writings on Design Luck.

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

What I Learned from John McCain: “Tear Down the Walls”

John McCain sits in state in Arizona today. That thought lead me to read the late Senator’s farewell statement on CNN’s website.

It’s quite emotional, especially knowing what a true American hero he was, no matter if you agreed with his opinions.

One idea stood out: empathy is the key to our success and happiness in every aspect of life and, especially now, in how we treat our fellow man.

The key part where you’ll notice this is half-way through his statement when he writes (bold emphasis added):

“We are three-hundred-and-twenty-five million opinionated, vociferous individuals. We argue and compete and sometimes even vilify each other in our raucous public debates. But we have always had so much more in common with each other than in disagreement. If only we remember that and give each other the benefit of the presumption that we all love our country we will get through these challenging times.
But how can we give this presumption?

We can only know what we have in common, to give that benefit of the presumption, if we listen and attempt to see, feel, experience the life from the perspective of the person or people whom we vilify.

Only then, can we truly empathize.

Only then, can we truly move beyond our differences.

Only then can we find solutions to fill the gaps, rather than create faults lines that separate us.

Earlier he writes, “We weaken our greatness...when we hide behind walls, rather than tear them down….”

And empathy is the hammer to do just that.

We owe the late Senator John McCain a great thanks for his life and devotion to this country, as well as this final, important lesson and reminder.

Now it's on you and me. To honor him, let's ask ourselves two simple questions:
How will I empathize?

How will I tear down the walls?

Friday, July 20, 2018

The Five Easy Steps to Thought Weed Wacking


I hear from so many people that they’ve seized up, stopped, in complete turmoil and unable to work or do anything in their personal or professional life because of some fear or “what if”.

I get it because I’ve been there.

It's like a burden of "what if I lose everything?", "What if I don't have the skills to get this business off the ground?"

"What if I can’t support my kids...to ensure their financial, emotional, spiritual future...to help put food on the table?"

These are what I call Thought Weeds!

So, today, I’m going to write about the Five Easy Steps to Thought Weed-Wacking.

Before I begin, don’t forget...if you like this post, like or comment and Subscribe to get others like it.

So what the heck are Thought Weeds?

They’re all the negative thoughts that slow you down or stop you.

They could come to you because of a comment or something you see in the world.

They touch a nerve or amplify a fear you already have.

You’re unable to get past the thought and focus on what really matters, your family or professional work you need to get done.

You’ve probably experienced this and think, “I should be able to just get past this stuff like a runner jumping over a hurdle, but why can’t I?

You can!

Here are my five easy steps to Thought Weed Wacking that works every time:

  1. Accept: Realize the "what ifs" like “what if I don't make it?”, “what if I get sued?”, “what if nobody buys my services or products?” are all natural fears that everyone feels.
  2. Shift Your Mind: Shift your mind and think of these thoughts as you do of weeds in your yard. That's all they are.

    They are the things that suck the energy away from all the other plants...all your other ideas, all your activities that'll help you work, grow yourself and your business.
  3. Make a Plan: Now, treat them like you do weeds. Find any way to kill them off.

    Remove them, dismiss them, or, best of all, find a way for that particular one or any of its kind to never come back again.

    I do this in a few different ways.

    If it's a mistake I made, I think of how to avoid that mistake.

    If it's a fear of what could happen, I think of what its effects could be and how I would react to solve it or get past it.

    Tim Ferris has a great video on Fear Setting that’s to this point.
  4. Treat Immediately: Take your planned tactic and pull out all the weeds in your head right away.

    Get rid of the thoughts by realizing nothing bad has yet happened.

    Tell yourself, “at this very moment, I'm in a great place and know what I have to do to amplify all the good I can do for my business, for my family, for everyone around me.”
  5. Practice, Practice, Practice: To prepare for next time, repeat your tactics in your head and speak it out loud.

    Repeat it until you can breathe easier and feel confident that the thought will never stop you since you know how to deal with it at every instance.
That’s it!

This works for me and everyone I’ve recommended it to.

Give it a try. I have no doubt you'll get rid of your Thought Weeds and add some much-needed life-lubrication.

Don’t forget, like or comment and Subscribe to get other posts like this.

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

I voted. Have you?


Today's the California Primary Elections.  As a first generation immigrant and US Citizen of over a decade, I highly encourage you to have your voice heard by voting.

Monday, April 9, 2018

How to Avoid the Professional Thug


I recently met someone at a social hour event who claimed to be a LinkedIn expert. After speaking with him in-person, even though I had some initial reservations, I thought I’d give his services a try. After all, I knew I needed a better presence on LinkedIn.

After holding a video conference call, reading his website, exchanging numerous emails and texts, as well as talking a few more times with him on the phone, I realized I was dealing with a Professional Thug.

So, what is a Professional Thug?

I’m defining it as someone who has the following characteristics:
  • Dresses, talks, and initially behaves in a way that suggests they are in business to address their customer’s needs
  • Uses all moral and immoral means to get the sale
  • Uses very vague language about what they can deliver, such as
    • “what we deliver is the best in the world,” or 
    • “I’m the best person at doing X in the world”
      and similar language that lacks any clarity about how they excel in their product or service delivery
  • Is unable to produce any meaningful data, even though they may provide some numbers that don’t address what you’re looking for. They may even call this “hard data”.
  • The person uses bullying, rather than evidence and positive, emotion-based tactics to convince you on how s/he or their company can address your needs. Language you hear from them could include some of the following: 
    • “You’d fail at your business unless you bought from me, “ or 
    • “You’re never going to get this right.” or
    • “I honestly don't know what you are looking for: a genie and a lamp?”
I was able to fend off falling for this sales tactic using a particular and short list of steps. Here are my recommendations:
  1. Describe your pain point in terms of metrics you track 
  2. Stick to your metrics, rather than shifting to what the sales rep is telling you
  3. Ask for evidence of other customers or scenarios where similar metrics were the target
  4. Ask for effort level of someone with your skill set to achieve the goals
  5. Ask for a typical timeline for achieving your goals with their services or products
Additionally, I realized there was some early signs that could have saved me numerous emails, calls, texts and, most importantly, saving me precious time and decision cycles. Here are the telltale signs you should look for early on:
  1. The elevator pitch and their body language comes across as a bully in the way they corner you or want to dominate your time
  2. They attempt to gang up on you by having their “buddies” hanging around, telling you how great this dude is
  3. His/her personality and approach rubs you the wrong way
  4. When asked for their verbally proclaimed approach, deliverables or guarantees, they ask you, “well..what do you want it to be?”
The last two on this list, if taken out of context from the first two, may not be sufficient to draw the conclusion. In other words, the bullying and body language should be dead giveaways. On paper, this seems obvious. In practice, the approach may be a bit more subtle.

Bottom line, I highly recommend against making any decisions if something doesn’t feel right about the relationship, or if you find yourself trying to make excuses for the other person and convince yourself you should give the guy a chance.

What’s the moral of the story?

As Hafiz put it, “They asked me where I learned manners, I said from those without.” My recommendation for anyone who sells or negotiates, that means everyone, is to do the opposite of the Professional Thug!

Thursday, March 1, 2018

EXPOSED: The Dark and Nefarious TheMarq.com Blog

It's been about three months since I posted anything on TheMarq or the YouTube channel, but that's changing today.  I've published the video speaking to why I've been away for so long and exposing the dark and nefarious actions of...THIS SITE!
;-)

Enjoy the video...and if you want to contribute to the survey, this is it.


Here's a transcript of the video in case you want to read the content:
Hey, folks. I'm back.

It's been quite some time. As a matter of fact, my last post was, I believe, in the middle of December of last year. So it's been about three months.

I want to actually start off by talking about just that. I held off on posting anything on TheMarq.com as well as the YouTube channel because of a conversation that I had with a friend. He mentioned the content that I'm publishing, especially the content about my business, published over the last 9 months or a year, could potentially be weaponized and used against me, against the company, to somehow trip us up.

I've thought about it and realized that in the end, I still want to have an open conversation with the community at large. I still want to be able to share what I'm learning in my business and elsewhere and use it as a way of giving it back to all of you. I'll also post formal thanks to folks that have been key to our progress on ValTeo Tech and just in my personal life.

The related question that came up in that period was what does TheMarq mean? TheMarq.com, with a Q, is my personal blog, that I've used over the years for various article posts and, more recently, for posting these videos.

The name seems a little ambiguous, and someone actually pointed out that it may seem nefarious, right? It may have very negative connotations, as if I am making the mark, meaning my customers are the mark, and I'm somehow trying to fool them into buying something and being very devious about it.

Far from it.

That's not at all what TheMarq means. TheMarq has always been, and will continue to be, about hitting the mark, being on target, really being accurate and on point about what you're trying to achieve in life. As the tagline for the blog goes it's about “Uncomplicating Business and Life."

So with that, going forward, I will cover not only the topics about what's going on with my business, ValTeo Tech, how we're progressing this year as we're beginning to get repeat business, what our strategy is going to be, but also about some of the tools that we've picked up along the way, some of the things that I've learned, whether they worked or didn't. Whether other people’s recommendation jive with what we were trying to achieve.

I also want to take it a step further and, to a certain extent, go back to what the site was initially intended for, which was to share a lot of things that are going on in my personal life as well. What's going on in my garden, for example, that I've never talked about on my YouTube channel. What are my successes there, and what's not working in Southern California weather these days. So, I'll be sharing a lot of personal stuff as well as professional things that I think you might find useful.

To that end, I actually have a set of questions for you guys. I've linked a survey below with three simple questions. I'm curious about the following:
  1. What topics you guys want me to cover 
  1. What, from the topics that I've covered, did you find interesting that you think I should dig a little further into 
  1. Lastly, I want to hear any comments you have about how I can improve the posts, the site, whatever the case may be. 
I'm looking forward to these responses, and you should be looking forward to these posts coming in on a regular basis, whether it's on TheMarq.com or on the YouTube channel.

This year I'm also planning on distributing the content through LinkedIn. If you’re seeing this on LinkedIn, I’m interested in your comments on what topics would be of interest to you.

All right, until then, until next time...hasta!

If you want to contribute to the survey, this is it.