Wednesday, December 30, 2009

'It's a nerd . . . it's a brain . . . No! It's Idea Guy!'

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Last night I spoke with a publisher about writing an e-book, and he could not say 'no' to the offer I made him. This particular publisher also holds annual writing conferences here in San Diego, and the focus is on self-publishing. He is holding the next conference in November. I did not know if he needed someone to speak about Social Marketing for authors; though, I hoped he would open a slot for me if I told him I would speak for free.


Then, always trying to get something for nothing, and being a strong proponent of people connecting with people through ideas, I told him I wanted to have an e-book ready for the conference. I suggested that since I had already said I would speak for free, rather than paying extra self-publishing fees, he and I could split the profits. DEAL DONE! He was on the road, so he said he would call me back; though, like me this particular colleague of mine is an idea guy.


If you're not an idea guy or gal, that's completely okay. Though, if you're working on a project, starting a business, or an employee, I would recommend you find idea people and other people who are not like you. It's easy to stay stagnant and just connect with other people just like us; though, it takes all sorts of people to make the world go round.


Before you connect with others, in pursuits of long term goals, it is important to understand what type of person you are. I look at the big picture and notices patterns. After I see those patterns, I come up with and implement strategies to make the overall organization or plan stronger.


One example I like to use is that of social marketing and SEO content. At the beginning of this year ('09) I read quite a few bloggers argue back and forth about whether SEO content or Social Marketing was the wave of the future. I thought about it, decided that they complemented one another, and launched my website http://www.seobridges.com. Now, many of those same bloggers who had argued over which would be more important are starting to realize that people like me were right.


So now, I am forming partnerships with people who don't always think like me. The publisher I spoke with yesterday is an idea guy; though, whereas I am a strategist, he evaluates the bigger picture and implements a plan of action.


Throughout this next year, don't surround yourselves with people who are just like you. Step outside of your comfort zone, think outside of the box, and see how much more you get done when you try to paint your future with an entire pallete instead of just one color.



Keep Connecting,



Erick

http://www.seobridges.com

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

A Time to Reflect

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Christmas is almost here. It is a time for friends and family to connect with each other. Some just connected with each other last month, and others will connect for the first time in years. This time of year seems to bring people back together for the holidays—Thanksgiving, Christmas, Kwanzaa, and Hanukah. Whether you believe in the religious symbolism of Christmas or not, the story of Christmas is a story of people travelling from afar to connect with other people.

While this time of year seems to be a good time for people to connect, people we’ve missed connections with are the most missed. It is that time of year when we notice that place at the table where Dad once said family grace, or the spot on the couch where our favorite Aunt or Uncle always watched the big game from or fell asleep on. This time of year fills voids for many, yet it makes many others lonely. Whether this time of year brings glad tidings and joy or the memories of holidays past, this time of year is a time for reflection.

In the story A Christmas Carol, Scrooge is given three choices as to how he is going to look at Christmas time and his life. He is visited by four ghosts (the first being the ghost of a business partner who died several years ago and warns Scrooge that if he doesn’t listen to the coming ghosts he could be doomed to roam the earth aimlessly).

When the ghost of Christmas past takes Scrooge back to his childhood, we see what made Scrooge the type of person he is. His mother died, his father blamed him for his mother’s death and dumped him off at a boarding school, and person after person abandons him.

After the Ghost of Christmas past reveals those hidden parts of Scrooge’s life that turned him into a miser, the ghost of Christmas present shows Scrooge the happiness and joy of his assistant Bob Cratchit’s family. And they experience that joy despite their son’s (Tiny Tim) disability.

By the time the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come reveals the mourning of the Cratchit family after Tiny Tim’s death to Scrooge, he is ready to change his ways. He has seen what will happen to him if he keeps moving forward by looking back. He sees that he will die alone, and those he once stole from will steal from the estate he leaves to no one.

So no matter what this time of year brings for you, be that type of person you want to attract. If you want to attract goodness in your life, be a good person. If you want to attract kindness, be kind. If you want to attract smiles, smile. A former employer of mine once said, “Just because you’re having a bad day that doesn’t give you the right to make other people have a bad day.” Life has taken it’s toll on all of us, at one time or another, but we each only have one life to live. Smile and live yours the best you can.

Happy Holidays,

Erick

www.seobridges.com

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Social Networking and Business Partnerships

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This last week I received an e-mail from a lady who wanted advice about her social networking efforts. She had set up a Twitter account, and she wanted to take her two business international. For the past several years she has run a manufacturing company, and this year she started a counseling service.

On the site for her counseling business she advertised her services as a place where people who had no one else to talk to could come and talk to her privately. I found this kind of odd and responded that she advertised her counseling as a place where people could come and talk to her privately, as all counseling should be. Twitter was counter productive to her goal to remain private, because Twitter is a platform in which people follow other people publicly.

She did not have a site for her manufacturing business that I could find (she wrote to me on a business networking site); though, a site would give me no more information than I needed. She had said in her profile that she was seeking partners to take her business international.

Again, Twitter is not the platform for that. Twitter is a great way to connect with people; though, it is what it is—a virtual water cooler. If you run a blog, e-zine, or some other sort of news service that does not require people to go to a physical location, Twitter is great. If you own a restaurant, grocery store, or some other similar place of business, and you want to get word out about a sale or a coupon code, Twitter will help you do that. If you want to connect with people, you want to earn their trust, and Twitter is not good for that.

So, now the question is what is good for connecting with potential business partners? Good old fashion shaking people’s hands is the best way to look for business partners. Of course, that can start with social networking; though, as I said last week, the best social networking is followed up by actual smiles and hand shakes.

Start a conversation with people you befriend on Facebook, get to know them; if you’re in the same area or will be at some time, take that person out to lunch; get to know that person some more, develop a relationship with that person, and then go from there.

Neither Twitter, nor Facebook, nor any other social networking site can or should supplement a friendly smile or firm handshake. Of course, anything can happen, and anyone can connect in anyway; but when you set out to connect with people, think about how you would want them to connect with you.

If you want to start connecting with people today, take a look at my Website. I can help you with your social networking efforts. And come start a conversation with me on Facebook, Twitter, or my blog about the best of the Internet's Open Source sites.


Keep connecting,



Erick

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Keys to Social Networking

Follow us on Twitter! @agentspayforward

Wow! It’s been a couple of months since my last blog. I needed the time off to reassess, reorganize, and readjust. In my last blog, I talked about a couple of people whom I asked for help from. Well, both of those colleagues have since brought me business. I have since worked with clients of one of those people. And I am subcontracting with the other person.

During this recession, which I think is technically over, partnering with people over the Internet is Golden. Though, there is a right way and a million wrong ways to market yourself over the Internet. Of course, it would be easy for me to tell you to find as many social networking sites as you can and put up profiles on them. I don’t recommend that at all. In fact, I recommend not doing that. Once you put up profiles people expect you to maintain those profiles. So, my first word of advice is to not spread yourself thin.

At the same time, while not spreading yourself thin, choose your channels wisely. Last week, in my other blog, SEO Bridges Blog, I talked about a Website call Techrigy. It offers a social media monitoring service called SM2. Don’t put a profile on MySpace if it won’t do you or your business any good.

For me, I have a profile on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn (I am less active on this on purpose), but all of my other profiles are more obscure sites. The reason for that is that I am interested in networking with two types of people: Web designers, other content writers, etc; and people in the San Diego area. For that reason sites like MySpace, Hi5, Friendster, etc. have little value, so I don’t put profiles on them.

Now, I mentioned Twitter, which has value for me; though, it may not have any value for you. Twitter is conversational, so have something to contribute to the conversation and take part in the conversation. The key is to figure out what kind of conversation you want to take part in, follow people who are part of that conversation, and contribute to that conversation. Follow people you are likely to reTweet, don’t follow everyone who follows you, and don’t be afraid to unfollow people.

Before I follow someone, I review their profile, including their previous Tweet and their Website (if they have one). If I find that that person’s Tweets have value to the conversation I want to participate in, I follow that person. If their Website about an Internet program that will help you get rich in 90 days, give you the secrets to finding Twitter followers, automating your Twitter stream, or something else along those lines, I don’t follow that person.

After someone starts following me, I send them quick note thanking them for the follow. Think about when you’re at a party, talking with a few people about last week’s football game, or your latest business venture, and someone walks in and joins the conversation. It’s considerate to acknowledge their presence, so they don’t feel like the fern in the corner of the room has more value than they do. In the same way, it’s considerate to do the same thing on Twitter.

Okay, I could go on about Twitter, as well as Internet marketing; though, my last word of advice is to follow up on your Internet marketing. This is the hardest part. Connect in person with those people you market with online. Meetup is a great way to meet other like minded people, whom you may know from Twitter, Facebook, or other social networking sites. And for those you don’t know, they can become friends and followers of yours on those sites.

That’s it for this week. I’m going to start blogging on here weekly again, so keep coming back. And for information on great free and open source products that will make your life easier, read my other blog. And if you need assistance with your SEO or social networking, please visit my site for more information. I offer various packages, as well as I work by the hour, and discounts to NPO’s. I will also donate a portion of my fees to my chosen NPO’s via Agentspayingforward.

Keep connecting,

Erick

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Just Ask

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Several years ago a former employer informed me of one of my weaknesses. I don’t like to ask for help. Sometimes I approach tasks in different ways than most people and my process is difficult to explain. Other times, I find it takes more time to communicate what I’ve done, where I am in the project, and how to go forward with it, than it does to just do the job myself. Now, when I am put into a new situation, in which that or any other weakness may hinder my overall goal, I find someone who can hold me accountable to achieving my objectives. That accountability comes in different ways, depending on the circumstance, but the trick is to never try to be a one man show.

Throughout my life, I have discovered that when I am upfront with the right people (remember, I said the right people) about my weakness, those people are wonderful at holding me accountable, not allowing my weaknesses to get the best of me, and thus allowing my strengths to shine. In a recent position I held, I communicated with my employer on almost a daily basis my successes and my failures, he asked me what roadblocks I saw in front of me, and what he could do to help me overcome those roadblocks.

Recently, I began hosting my site on a non- WYSIWYG (the link defines it) platform. For the past year I had been able to take care of making the necessary changes to my web site myself; though, when I switched to this non-WYSIWYG platform, and uploaded my website, the results were not what I wanted. I called the host company, and they informed my that my coding was a mess, but they also informed me that that was an issue they could not help me with (I hadn’t paid them enough and I couldn’t afford any more). Being the frugal person I am, I decided to learn HTMl and fix the problem myself. Well, my knowledge of HTML extends as far as being able to downsize social media snippets. It took me a few weeks to admit that I was in over my head, but I finally bit the bullet and asked for help.

Now, I am at the mercy of a friend who said he’d take a look at it and fix it when he had a chance. He’s doing it as a favor to me, so I must practice patience. To be honest, I want to fix the problem, but I need to recognize my weakness. At the same time, because I reached out to another friend of mine, due to my dwindling client list, I will speak with her today about taking on one of her clients. I believe both of these people offered to help me, because they realize that sometime success means paying forward what someone else paid forward to you.

Sometimes, I wonder what opportunities I missed during my early adult life because I refused to ask for directions, but I don’t dwell on it. I just move forward. Now, in my early thirties, sometimes feeling not much further ahead than those a decade younger than me—in some ways even behind—I continue to press forward. I’m better today than I was in my early twenties at finding people who know more than me and can help me to overcome my weakness, but sometimes I just like to think I can do everything myself.

In the end, I think one of the best ways to connect is to recognize our weakness, find those people who can help us overcome our weakness, and ask them for help. I believe people respect people who realize their limitations, yet don’t allow those limitations to limit their successes. I believe one of the best ways to connect with people is to realize that we may be ugly ducklings within certain contexts, but sometimes it just takes the right flock of swans to help us realize our true potential.

Until next week, Keep connecting,

Erick

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Tsunami Relief Fund Raise - Project We Hope

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My sister asked that I post this information about a group in the Bay Area that is trying to help those adversely affected by the devastating tsunami in Samoa. The group is called Project We Hope, and they are going to send a container full of supplies to help the survivors in Samoa.

When we had the devastation from Katrina, we saw the world step in to help the people in New Orleans. America has stepped up time and time again to help the world when it needed help, and I am confident we will do so again.


The Goal is to fill a 20 foot container with supplies by October 20th, 2009. The container costs $2,300 plus shipping, so monetary donations are definitely welcome. In addition to monetary donations, Project We Hope is looking for:
  • Toiletries (tooth brush, toothpaste, body wash, lotion, shampoo, hair conditioner, towels, hand sanetizers, etc).
  • Clothing: all sizes including children- socks, shoes, jackets, sweaters, pants, shirts, underwear, gloves, hats, etc.
  • Diapers, handy wipes, etc.
  • Blankets
  • Tents
  • Bottled water
  • Food - Granola bars, energy bars, canned goods, rice, sugar, flour, etc.
  • First Aid Kits
  • Paper towels, toilet paper, Large Zip Lock Bags, etc.
  • Toys - crayons, coloring books, and other easy to ship toys
  • Folding Tables
For more information, please contact Tiffany Hautau @ (650) 518-0745 or email her at tiffanyhautau@yahoo.com

For those in the Bay Area, the drop off is Monday through Saturday 9:00 AM to 7:00 PM at:

1836 Bay Rd.
Suite C
East Palo Alto, CA 94303

Checks can be made out to: Project We Hope



All Donations are tax deductible (Tax Id 943342713).

God Bless You For Your Support


Monday, September 28, 2009

A Green Business Model

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For those of you who went to Sandiego.readlocal.org, you went to a site with little content and some broken links. I announced it before the world was ready to know about it. On the one hand, this is a blog and not CNN. On the other hand, anyone can see it. With that said, the site is up, so peruse it, but it’s not finished. It should be ready in just a few days.

Yesterday, I had lunch with my sister, who is about 6 years my sr. and therefore (in all of her wisdom) knows better than me. During lunch, she asked me about an e-zine that I helped launch (SDgreenlife.com). I told her that we had taken a hit a few months ago, in that our publisher left without notice, bringing another key member of our team with her. In business, that happens.

Now, after the loss of four of the six people one our team, me and one other person are attempting to rebuild. For anyone whose followed that, you know that we were down for a couple of months. My sister asked why those two had left, and I told her that in their charade of appearing green they merely wanted to use the title ‘green’ to find investors. She rolled her eyes, and said, ‘That’s how business is done.’ Well, perhaps. But last I checked good business was not about deceiving your partners.

Then, she asked me how we planned to create revenue and grow. I tried to explain our economic model, which includes a more organic method of creating an audience and revenue, rather than just relying on a few investors. Rather than listening and asking questions, she (don’t get me wrong I love her with all of my heart, but she has the listening skills of an ear of corn) insisted “that’s not green.” Of course, if she would’ve asked questions, I would have been more than happy to explain that that was our economic model not our green business model.

Our method of creating revenue was no more or less greener than trying to find investors; though, at the same time, Laura (my business partner) and I feel that our idea for creating a steady stream of revenue will allow us to generate a client base and an audience of readers at the same time.

Part of connecting with people, and my sister is a savvy business person (just not when it comes to communicating with her younger Brother), is listening and asking questions. Had she asked me if that was our green business model or our economic model, I would have been more than happy to explain to her that we intended to use it to generate revenue.

Today, I encourage you, whether it’s dealing with a business partner, a sibling, or your competitor, to listen. And when you don’t understand something or you want more information, rather than cutting that person off mid sentence, listen and then ask questions. Active listening requires the listener not to think about his or her next point. If it’s really that important, write it down. I find it helpful to not only look that person in the eyes, which I’ve discovered throws most people off, but to repeat word after word what they say to yourself.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Connecting Readers and Writers

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Today I wanted to let everyone know about my latest efforts at connecting with others here in the San Diego area. Many of you know that I am a writer, and somewhat connected in the local writing community. Of course, I have a long ways to go, but I am a voracious marketer, so it’s just a matter of time. This last week, after several months of working with other local authors and publishers, I and other local writers, along with Monkey C Media launched sandiego.readlocal.org.

From the very beginning, this NPO's focus has been to use various marketing tools, such as author readings and signings, to bring local readers and writers together. For the last several years San Diego has boasted of thriving yet disparate writing community. You would not need to look far to find one or another writing organizations. Read Local San Diego seeks to bring a cohesive effort to all of these writing organizations, as well as those authors and readers either involved with or not involved with those various writing organizations.

For anyone in the San Diego area, here is a list of writing organizations where you can connect with other writers.

Read Local San Diego

Publishers & Writers of San Diego

San Diego Writers Ink

San Diego Christian Writer’s Guild

San Diego Writers Cooperative

African American Writers and Artists

Fantasy and Science Fiction workshops

San Diego Writers Conferences (Includes Los Angeles and Palm Springs)

Romance Writers of America, San Diego chapter

San Diego Book Awards Association

San Diego Professional Editors Network

San Diego Science Writers Association

San Diego Writers and Editors Guild

UCSD Extension Classes

Words Alive

San Diego Writers Online

So, those are many of the groups that Read Local San Diego (The first on the list) seeks to brings a cohesiveness to. I’m sure if you looked you would find various writing and reading groups within the pages of the websites I listed. Peruse them and enjoy. I am not involved with every group or many; though, I have gotten to know some wonderful writers through those organizations I am involved with.


And if anyone from RLSD, PWSD, or SDWI, as well as anyone else who loves stories and is in San Diego, reads this, make sure to come to the DimeStories anniversary party on Fri (10/2).


Until next week keep connecting,


Erick

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

WARNING!!!! WARNING!!!!! The Swine Flu is not the Super Flu!!!!!!

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Today, I am going to end my eight week series about my childhood A.V. Malformation; though, I am going to transition into talking about the Swine Flu Vaccine. Yesterday was the 25th anniversary of the day drs. released me from the hospital, and needless to say after having brain surgery, very little scares me—including global pandemics. For the past several weeks many of you have read the stories of my days in the hospital, as well as the weeks, months, and years following. I woke from my coma on the same day drs. warned my parents I might never see again, I started saying the alphabet the day after that, I started walking just weeks after drs. said I would not start walking for two years and I might be a vegetable for the rest of my life (I am two ranks from my black belt, so I’m one Bad Veggie). So, you can imagine after personally defying one medical expectation after another, I take the medical warnings that I need to get the Swine flu vaccine lightly.

Before I go on I want to set the records straight—I am not a medical professional. With that said, the swine flu is not the super flu. The flu is common in humans and animals, and this strain of flu started with pigs. So, if anyone sees a pig flying above their house, wearing a Super Pig cape, please report it, so the world will know this is the super flu. Until then, the Swine Flu is just a strain of the regular ol’ flu that is more uncommon. So, why all of the mass panic? Well, again, I am not a medical expert; though, according to my rudimentary research, as well as my own personal opinion, it’s because our collective immune systems have not had a chance to adapt to this type of flu.

If you still don’t believe me, and you’re thinking, ‘you said you’re not a medical expert, so I think I am going to listen to my Dr. first,’ I highly suggest you do, but I also suggest you don’t get the Swine Flu shot until you know all of the facts. I pasted articles throughout this blog for you to do your own research. According to the Yale Center for Public Health Preparedness, 5 to 20% of people in the U.S. contract the flu every year, and up to 35,000 of those die. Thus far, only 1%, or 300 of people in the U.S. who have contracted the Swine Flu have died from it (Warning!!! This article comes from FOX News, so it is either the absolute truth or a dirty lie. Depending on your political predisposition).

I do not intend to get the Swine Flu vaccine. The Swine Flu vaccine has side effects, and historically those side effects are more deadly than the actual Swine Flu. As I said, the Swine Flu is an uncommon type of flu; though, it is not a new type of flu. For those who have heard or read otherwise, I scoured through Google's archives, and found more than 2,500 hits (Archived Articles) from 1976 that talk mention the Swine Flu. According to good ol’ Wikipedia, as well as several of these article, the U.S. government halted the Swine Flu vaccine because of cases of GBS (paralysis) that led to death.

According to two letters from the UK’s Health Protection agency (I haven't found the letters, but I've found articles referencing the letter), the Swine Flu vaccine could lead to a fatal brain disorder called Guillain-BarrĂ© syndrome (GBS). This involuntary paralysis, which can lead to cardiac arrest, is the exact reason they stopped giving the swine flu shot in 1976. This letter written by the HPA and leaked to a British newspaper warns of the possibility of GBS tells me that scientists have done very little, perhaps nothing, to ensure that an outbreak of deaths from GBS would not happen again. Perhaps you’re thinking, “Well, of course, they can’t guarantee there won’t be side effects.” Honestly, I have no verifiable data, other than the thousands of articles I’ve found on-line warning of this letter, but that’s enough for me to decide that I’m going to take the risk and not get the swine flu vaccine.

Throughout my entire life, I have only gotten the flu twice, and the last time was 24 hr. flu0 15 years ago. I have never gotten the flu shot, so I’m not about to start now. Considering those circumstances, my immune system is strong enough to survive the swine flu . . . er I mean the super flu (stop treating this thing like it’s Venom and your Spider Man/Woman). Though, as I said, I am not a medical expert, so consult your Dr. about whether you should get the Swine Flu vaccine. I’ve come to an educated conclusion that the risk of developing paralysis and possible cardiac arrest is too great for me to consider getting the Swine Flu shot worth it, especially due to my childhood A.V. malformation.

Oh yeah, keep connecting, but also keep washing your hands. Maybe even more often, during this cold and flu season.

Erick



Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Appreciating Simplicity

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Life seems so fragile. In the last few months, so many of us have experienced death in one way or another. Whether a friend or loved one, or someone we knew or knew of, or a public figure who influenced us, it seems death has impacted so many of us. Today, we lost Senator Ted Kennedy, and it only seems right that I encourage everyone reading this to enjoy what and whom you have.

It is so simple to not appreciate the simple things. I wonder if perhaps we might begin to become a more appreciative people—realizing we are not invincible. Of course, I fear that just as we became a nation of humility in the months following 9/11 then soon allowed ourselves to go back to business as usual, we may remain silent for a time but will soon allow the chaos to deafen that silence.

Next Monday will be the 25th anniversary of the day Drs. released me from the hospital. Many days, too many in fact, I forget to be thankful for the Drs. and nurses who fought to save my life, the person I will never know who gave blood for my transfusion, the parents of other patients who helped my mother, my Aunt Linda for moving her and her then 5 yr. old son to San Diego from Spokane to help my mother with my recovery. Most days go by just like any other day. But some days I am thankful for my sight, ability to walk, and so many other things. I try to be thankful every day, but most days it's just business as usual.

Amidst all of the death that has loomed over this nation in the past several months, and even in recent years, don’t forget to appreciate what you have. It all fades so fast. I guess my point is to appreciate life, don’t take it for granted, and never let the chaos around you deafen the silence of humility within you.


Keep connecting,


Erick

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Pay It Forward Withhout Spending A cent!

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So Many Ways To “Pay It Forward”

I was talking to one of those people that I always get a take away from, Danielle, and she shared with me a great idea for paying it forward. Danielle has always impressed me with her “old soul”, and wisdom beyond her years. Like many, Danielle shared that she doesn’t have as much money to spend as in times past (I think many of us can say the same!).

Danielle shared with me how she was in line at Macys, and the lady in front of her had almost $200 for the bill. The cashier told the woman that she needed a coupon to save $40. The woman didn’t have the coupon, but Danielle did.

Danielle carries numerous coupons with her all the time, and was happy to share the coupon with the woman (that’s her nature). The woman tried to decline, but Danielle insisted telling her: “I have tons of these for just such occasions”. The woman was appreciative, and Danielle felt good about “paying it forward” without spending a dime!

After I heard that story this morning, I thought what a great idea. There must be other ways you can pay it forward, and also probably do it without spending a dime. Think about it, and, if you come up with a good idea on how to pay it forward cheaply, please share – consider it another way of paying it forward!



Tuesday, August 18, 2009

My Orange Skateboard Helmet

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After I learned how to walk again, I continued to make my way around my childhood home with a walker, while my legs became stronger. Sometimes, when I needed to get from one place to another quickly, I used my wheelchair. I learned to do wheelies in my chair and became pretty good with it. Sometimes, I walked to strengthen my legs; and when I did, I wore an orange skateboard helmet.

The fall after Drs. released me from the hospital, after my legs became strong enough, my cousin Paul, who had moved to San Diego from Spokane with his mother, taught me how to ride a bicycle. The first time I rode a bicycle without Paul helping me, I rode around the bottom of our cul de sac, while Paul ran to a neighbor’s house, and told them to come out and watch. I fell off the bike and hit my head. Luckily, I wore my orange skateboard helmet. After my mom bandaged me up, I got right back on that bike and started riding again.

Throughout the past couple of years, so many of us have fallen off of our proverbial bikes. We’ve lost our jobs, our savings, our families, and perhaps so much more. If you watched the Oprah episode last week about the couples who had lost their millions, you heard them say that along with those millions they lost thoe pseudo-friends who came with the money. It’s important that when we fall off of our proverbial bicycles, we get back on and continue to ride. It’s even more important that we wear a helmet—those friends who will be our friends regardless of how much money or power we wield. Those are the friends who are going to protect us when we crash.


Until next week,

Erick

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

A Friendly Perspective

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If you’re just joining this blog, I am currently doing a series. Feel free to read my blogs from previous weeks to catch up.

Here goes . . .

I was asleep (in a coma) or dazed and confused during most of my time in the hospital, so my stories are limited. I do remember a significant story about August 31—the day the Drs. released me from the hospital. That afternoon the hospital threw a party for me and another boy they released. We said goodbye to those who had taken care of us and become our friends, we at cake, and a local news station sent a reporter to interview us.

After the Drs. warned my mother that I would not begin walking for 2 years and I would remain a vegetable, she wheeled me out to the car, strapped me in, and we took off. Sometime later, driving north on Interstate 5, the car ran out of gas, and my mother coasted over to the side of the freeway. She got out, came around to my side of the car, unstrapped me, and carried her 7 year old child (me) down the shoulder of the freeway toward a gas station.

Moments later, a beige car pulled over to the side of the freeway, my mother strapped me into the back, and she got into the passenger’s side. I didn’t understand how my mother could be so calm, sitting in a car with a guy who had a shotgun between him and my mother. I didn’t say anything about it. Well, that I can remember. Sometime later, it dawned on me that the man who picked us up was an undercover cop. I wonder if subconsciously his help left such an impression on me that that’s why I spent many of my childhood years wanting to be a police officer, and even now I have a deep seeded respect for police.

Sometimes, when help comes our way, we don’t realize it’s the help we need because of our perspective on life. That’s why it’s important to surround ourselves with people who have our best interests in mind and can identify others willing to help us. Whether it’s finding a trustworthy mortgage broker, realtor, other person to do business with, or potential employee, friends are important. Had it not been for my mother, I would have never gotten into that beige car. Of course, I wouldn’t have been there had it not been for her, but I am sure you understand my point. Friends are important because they have our best interests in mind, and they can give us a different perspective on our circumstances.

It’s easy, in this current economic climate, to hide our money and not trust anyone with our business. Of course, hiding our money is part of the reason we’re here. Perhaps if we surround ourselves with people we trust, then ask them to help us find other trustworthy people to do business with, we can begin to come out of this economic funk.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Thinking Forward

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Once again, for the second time this summer, I am posting this blog a day later than normal. What can I say? Once again, family first. I hope everyone understands. Anyhow, continuing with the story of my childhood head trauma, this week I want to talk a little more about the days after I woke from my coma. When a person wakes from such a sleep, it takes time for that person to regain all of his/her motor functions.

The day after I woke from my coma, I began my therapy sessions. Those included learning to speak all over again, as well as a team of physical therapists stretching my legs. The day after I woke I recited the alphabet, which is highly unlike for the victim of an A.V. Malformation to do. I had to learn everything all over again.

On the afternoon of August 31, 1984, Drs. released me and warned my mother (My father was a pilot, so he missed much of these weeks) that I would not begin to walk for at least two years. My mother brought me home and I either rolled around in my wheelchair or crawled around the house.

A couple of weeks later, I crawled down a narrow hallway and asked my mother to step to the side. I told her I wanted to try something. Now, please realize that I can be a rather impulsive person. Sometimes I get this inkling that something is the right thing to do. At my request, she stood back. I lifted a hand, pressed against the wall, shoved my opposite knee forward, and stood.

When my mother brought me to my therapy session the next day, she wheeled me into the hospital; then, she announced to my therapists that I had walked. They reminded her of the impossibility and suggested that perhaps she had had a dream. Obstinate, my mother lifted the foot rests, the therapists set a walker in front of me (yes, my feet were still feeble), and I stood and walked. Of course, then there was screaming and what not; though, imagine, within a 2 month period going from a team of Drs. diagnosing a loved one with an A.V. Malformation along with only a 10% chance of living to walking. That fall, my aunt and cousin moved to San Diego. Paul taught me how to ride a bicycle and six months after the day I stood I ran.

When I make a major life decision, I think forward, and I encourage you to think forward. Sometimes, my major life decisions upset people, because they don’t understand them, but I never regret those life decisions. On the day I stood, and on every other day I’ve made a major decision, I’ve thought forward. I thought forward to my life 20/30/50 years in the future; and I’ve asked myself: “What do I want to see when I look back on my life 20/30/50 years from now?”

Whether it’s a personal, relational, or business decision, I encourage you to think forward. Think about what you want your life, your relationship, or your business to look like when you look back on it many years from now. Sometimes, that means taking chances that may not seem like the safest or most rational. Not everyone will always agree with you, but some will support you. That’s why it’s important to have those people in your life. So, today, whatever is in front of you, think forward. If you have a family, especially if you are married, think about how your decision will impact them. Doing the right thing is not always easy; though, thinking forward will always help you make sure you’re on the right track.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

KenyaRelief & Shop To Earn - Help A Great Cause While Shopping

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I just received this note from a friend of mine, Chris Jones. Chris is involved with a company called “Shop to Earn” that allows you to shop for everyday products, but, by using their sales platform, you are able to support numerous charitable endeavors: Chris shared his latest client KenyaRelief.org. I think it’s a great model that you can buy everyday product, and “pay it forward” to some great causes.

Tom:

I wanted to share this letter that was sent out to all the donors with this non-profit organization. This will explain what Shop to Earn is all about. If there are organizations or individuals out there that want information about this great opportunity, they can call me at 517-605-3620 or email me at buckeyes-cjones@comcast.net.

Hello Kenya Relief Supporters,

I would like to invite you to help Kenya Relief launch an exciting new way to support our children.

Welcome to Kenya Relief’s website, www.shoptoearn.net/kenyarelief a unique website that allows you to shop online with many retailers we deal with everyday and many “green- conscious companies” , where you can purchase environmentally safe products, and partner with Kenya Relief to help make difference in the lives of the children of Marindi Children’s Home of Grace in Migori, Africa. KenyaRelief.org is a 501(c) (3) non-profit charity, and is the sole supporter for a school, an orphanage, a modern health clinic, boys and girls dorms, a church, a library, numerous support programs for widows and families, and over 100 orphans in Migori, Western Kenya.

In 2009 we are sending 9 medical and mission teams over to Kenya to provide free health care to the disadvantaged and physically disabled of Western Kenya. Kenya Relief teams have provided full health care for over 15,000 patients over the past 6 years. In 2004, Kenya Relief opened the Marindi Children’s Home of Grace: it is now a home to over 100 boys and girls who would have otherwise been left to wander the streets. Our goal is to provide spiritual, physical, educational, and emotional care to each child in their community. We are committed to raising the children to make a difference in Kenya.

Please join Kenya Relief as we launch a new way to support our efforts by using the Shop to Earn and Shop to Earth websites. When you log onto www.shoptoearn.net/kenyarelief, scroll down the page to the left hand corner, where you will see the KenyaRelief.org logo. You will know you are on our website where your purchases will give a small of cash back to KenyaRelief.org. Below I have listed a list of many of the most recognized retailers who participate in the Shop To Earn Program. Remember these are companies that people use every day. Why not shop on line, save time, save gas, and feel good about giving a small percentage of your purchase to Kenya Relief at the same time!

When you go to www.Shoptoearn.net/kenyarelief, you will see many of the most well known retailers providing items in many different categories. Under the category of clothing, you will recognize names like: Banana Republic, Ae’ropostale, Birkenstock Shoes, Footlocker, Couture Candy, Land’s End, Old Navy, Lucky Brand Jeans, Steve Madden, Timberland, Under Armour, Limited Too, and The Gap.

Plus sized Clothing Providers include Catherine’s, Lane Bryant, and C.J. Banks. Western Style Wear brands include: Sheplers, and Western work clothes by Dickies, Uniform City, Plus T Shirts, and more. Participating Department Stores include: Kohls, Macy’s, K-Mart, Target, Sake’s Fifth Avenue, Sears, and specialty favorites like Babies R Us and Nursery Depot. Under Accessories, you will find sunglasses, handbags, luggage, laptops, briefcases, watches, and fine jewelry from sites like Zales, Sunglass Hut, and more.

The Health and Beauty section includes products for allergies, herbal remedies, and vitamins from sites like GNC. You can purchase skin care items from Clinique, Clarins, Derma E, or get fit with items from Bowflex, Online Fitness, or buy Nutrisystem products. Books from providers like Barnes and Noble, Books A Million, Family Christian Store, Readers Digest, and Get Textbooks. Automotive sites include Budget Rent A Car, Thrifty Rent A Car, and the Motorcycle Superstore.

If you are now hungry, there are a number of Food and Drink sites: Coffee For Less, Starbucks, Dunkin’ Donuts, Godiva, Wolfgang Puck Coffee, Red Bull Energy Drinks, and Hickory Farms. Other Special Interest Sites like OmahaSteaks, Wine Enthusiast, and Diet Food like Zone Perfect, Atkins, and Restaurant.com.

If you have pets, check out sites like: 1-800-PetMeds, Petco, Pet Smart, Only Natural Pet Store, and many more. In the Entertainment section, you will find sites like the HBO Store, NBC Universal Store, CBS Store, ABC Store, Warener Bros., and A & E Television Networks. You can also go to Legends Tickets for discount concert tickets.

Many other categories and websites can be found for items that we buy everyday: why not buy them on line and support Kenya Relief at the same time? Please visit our website WWW.shoptoearn.net/kenyarelief.org and shop while helping Kenya Relief.

If you have any questions, you can email terri@kenyarelief.org

Thanks,

Terri McIntosh & Steve James

 

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