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Op/Ed

Comparison is the thief of joy in every aspect of life, even real estate

(EDITORIAL) We often find ourselves comparing ourselves and our businesses to others no matter how hard we try not to. But the thing is, everyone is comparing to eachother.

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internal communication strategy

How are you feeling

Imagine you’re sitting in that nice, long chaise so common to a therapist’s office. (In the movies, anyway.) “How are you feeling?”, asks the therapist, in this case played by myself. “About yourself? About your business?” Unless you answer “Great!”, then my follow-up question is this:

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“Does the way you feel have anything to do with comparing yourself to a more successful individual? Or a more successful business?”

Comparison is the thief of joy

Really think about it and you may find that deep down, this is the case.

It seems to be in our nature as humans to compare ourselves to those more successful. Much of this has to do with the ultimately human attribute to want that which we do not, or cannot have.

We have a tendency to feel similarly about eras in time, forever longing to go back to “the good old days.”

But here’s the thing- “the good old days” had their problems too. Lest we forget, though we may occasionally stumble and fall, humanity is continually progressing. The “we” as a society today would likely have quite a bit of trouble adapting to all the conditions of an era since past. This same concept can be applied on a more personal level, whether it be “you” as an individual, or “you” as a business wishing to be like someone (or something) else.

We can’t all be the next Steve Jobs, or the next Apple.

One step at a time

Now, I’m not here to stomp on everyone’s dreams or tell you what you can and cannot do, or be. But, what I can suggest is that if you find yourself comparing yourself to an individual or business (and the validity of using comparison to gauge success is questionable at best), maybe set more easily attainable goals- especially in the early stages of your career. It is imperative to remember as well, that as a rule, things do not happen all at once.

Instead, look at your career or your business in stages.

And, unfortunately, some stages may take longer than others- the longest usually being those you may wish to be the shortest.

Sometimes, to get past these harder stages, it may be worth it to look at other successful individuals’ careers for inspiration. Instead of comparing your situation to theirs, instead it may be more worth your time to see if they ever faced a similar situation during their career, and what they did to progress or solve said situation. Instead of dealing with the pressure of trying to emulate them, you can learn from their experiences to get you or your business closer to your own personal goals.

EXAMPLE

Let’s say you want to be the next Elon Musk. That’s totally valid, and, thus far anyway, he seems like a good entrepreneurial role model. But I’m pretty sure that guy didn’t start out with the intention of being the man behind PayPal and Tesla. He (as far as we know) didn’t found Zip2 thinking “This is going to help me send dudes to Mars”. Even if he did, however, you’re doing yourself a disservice by comparing yourself, or your business, to he and/or his businesses. Your life, your experiences, your opportunities- all of those are likely very different than his were and are. Even more so, you are likely very different than him.

How, then, is it at all likely for your career to match his career’s trajectory?

Much of one’s success comes from a mixture of skill, luck, connections, and drive. But a lot also has to do with timing, opportunity, and even dumb-luck. Some of these you can work on and build up on your own. However, the intangibles are just that. Things will either fall into place, or they won’t. And, honestly, it can really suck if they don’t- but that doesn’t mean that they never will. Just as you are a unique individual, so will your career path follow its own unique course. Therein lies the biggest danger of allowing oneself to rely heavily on comparison as a means to gauge success: it is simply too easy to become dejected when one’s career takes its own unique turn- especially if seems to be a turn for the worse.

COUNT YOUR BLESSINGS

Money is not the only measure of success. Many say it, and it sounds mildly hippie-ish, but too many people do not take that statement to heart. Take solace in the fact that finding something that you love to do, and being able to make a living doing said thing, is an accomplishment in and of itself.

#MajorKey

Andrew Clausen is a Staff Writer at The American Genius and when he's not deep diving into technology and business news for you, he is a poet, enjoys rock climbing, monster movies, and spending time with his notoriously naughty cat.

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Op/Ed

A hugely dangerous challenge of the Internet of Things

(EDITORIAL) The Internet of Things is here, with all manner of soft AI voices and shiny Bluetooth bits. But how long can we count on it staying?

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LG Alexa internet of things

So, robot apocalypse. The Internet of Things machines have their cold metal fingers all up in our data, our houses, our sand dunes and/or porn.

And for what? What do they offer in exchange for this unprecedented invasion of our day to day lives?

Seamless, user-friendly automation to help with a thousand daily tasks, demonstrably improving our quality of life.

That’s… that’s actually a pretty good offer! Nice work, robots.

It comes with catches, and we’ve covered those, but Day One bumps and blunders are part of owning tech. They generally get engineered out.

What I want to talk about is Day 100, or 1000. Because the important word in “Internet of Things” isn’t “Internet.” We have the Internet. We can confidently expect the Internet to continue being a big deal.

But “things” is an important word. Things are distinct from tech. With tech, buying the thing and futzing with the thing are part of the fun, especially for practicing nerds like your narrator. Tech is new, and the excitement of a new game or a new phone can take the edge off, say, a server crash or a quick trip to tech support and back.

What about things? No early adopter aura in history will get a customer to ignore a fridge full of rotten food. Fridges need to work, period. So does your thermostat and your car. All those things are charter candidates for the full IoT overhaul, and they’re all capital T Things, not tech. They aren’t shiny toys people can live without for a week or four. They’re expected parts of daily life, things that need to work on Day 1, 100, and 1000.

Are companies preparing for that? Are the startups rising out of the blue-light-white-plastic Stuff Renaissance prepared to rebrand as global service providers, doing the hard, unglamorous, absolutely necessary work of digital maintenance?

Bigger question: are they prepared to guarantee security while they do so? Because anything with digitized bits needs patches and updates to function, and if it can download patches and updates, it can download things that are not patches and updates. No one wants to chase a botnet out of their microwave. Are the companies invested in always-on Things standing up and saying they’ll take responsibility for indefinitely securing and maintaining the infrastructure they intend to profit from?

Short answer, no. They’re not. Operations departments tend to be vanishingly small, painfully understaffed, spectacularly underpaid. Let’s be real,: we don’t prioritize stuff like that. We’re talking the digital equivalent of the guy who chases the raccoons out of your HVAC, and that sounds entirely too much like work.

Maintenance is not sexy.

But it’s absolutely necessary. It’s generally just the beginning of a thing. It gets the wheel rolling, and that’s not to be undersold.

But the IoT wheel is most definitely rolling. The issue is keeping it in motion, making it a wifi-level universal usage standard, not a 3DTV fad.

That won’t get done in a meeting. That gets done through long term adoption, and long term adoption will be about attracting, training, and retaining people willing to do the hard work of maintenance and customer support.

The Internet of Things wants to be a major step forward in the infrastructure of daily life. I am incredibly in favor of that. But daily life works because it’s the full time job of a whole lot of people to make sure it does so. So to Internet of Things companies, I say – pay them, treat them well, make your organization the best place in the industry for them, or be left behind by the people who do.

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Op/Ed

Incorporating less stress into your work day

(WORKPLACE) Telling someone to chill when stressed at work is useless advice, so let’s discuss meaningful, tangible ways anyone can stress less at work.

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You can’t avoid all the stress of a job, whether you own your own business or work for someone. It’s important to deal with chronic stress. Long-term, stress will affect your immune system, causing you to get sick more often. It’s linked to heart disease, heart attacks, low fertility and many other health problems. It can make asthma and acid reflux much worse. You have to manage your stress.

How can you incorporate less stress into your work? I have dealt with anxiety all my life. Here are a few of my most effective solutions:

1. Set boundaries

No is a complete sentence. I know my priorities and have to make myself say no to even simple requests. I’ve learned that the less I explain, the more likely I’m going to stick to those boundaries. I can’t stop people from asking me to do something, but I can make sure that I’m getting my work in on time.

2. Don’t wait until the last minute

I’m a horrible example to follow, because I can procrastinate with the best of them. But I’ve found that when I work ahead of deadlines, I am far less stressed. I set imaginary deadlines for myself. If I miss it, I still have time to work. If I don’t, I sleep better because the project is done.

3. Get up away from your desk at least every 60 minutes

Just getting a fresh cup of coffee reminds me to stretch and move. Five minutes away from my screen can help me stay focused on the next project I need to finish. I also try to look away from the computer screen every 10/15 minutes. This reduces eye strain.

4. Leave your work on your desk

Okay, I’ll admit I read emails after hours, but very seldom do I act on them. I’m finding that I need to shut down at 5 or 6 in the afternoon and forget about work. We’re so connected these days that it can be difficult to separate. But you have to. Your family will thank you. Your sanity will thank you.

I’m sure there are more things you can do to relieve your stress. Get a massage. Exercise. Eat healthy. All those things your doctor tells you to do. But before you can practice self-care, you have to prioritize your time and deal with work stress.

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Op/Ed

4 questions to ask yourself every day to change your life

(EDITORIAL) Ask these four questions of yourself daily to improve your personal and business life in a meaningful way.

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introspection ask yourself

My therapist says that people who can be introspective usually get farther in life because of their adaptability. Merriam-Webster defines introspection as “an examination of one’s own thoughts and feelings.”

It’s not easy to look deep into yourself, but it offers many benefits. Through introspection, you can see negative patterns in your life before they get out of control. You can define your own life on your own terms. And you can stop worrying about things you can’t control.

If you need help focusing your introspection, here are some of the questions to ask yourself to make sure you’re on the right track: 


What good shall I do this day? 


Ben Franklin asked himself this question every day as part of his daily routine. I think it’s a great way to remember that your life is about more than your responsibilities and duties. The good you do doesn’t have to be show-stopping. Sometimes, just buying someone a cup of coffee or remembering to stop and smile can make the day special for you and the other person.

Why am I feeling….?

When I get angry or resentful, I know that something is out line. Usually, it’s not because I’m really mad at the other person, I’m upset because I feel as if my boundaries are being infringed upon. Instead of destroying a relationship, I sort out my feelings and try to resolve the problem in peace.

Why am I choosing to do…?

In my family, we used to have a system where we’d give events a score on how much we wanted to do it. This was really helpful when everyone seemed to apprehensive. If we couldn’t get 10 points between all 4 of us, we probably shouldn’t go. (This only works with optional events.) It’s good to ask yourself why to remember you have options.

Who am I spending my time with?

If your friends and family aren’t validating, inspiring and helping you to do better, why are they in your life? It’s hard to breakup, but when people aren’t uplifting, consider minimizing your time with them. Don’t put up with people who drag you down.

Asking these four questions of yourself every day leads to a more introspective life which can improve not only your personal life, but your business life.

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