Birthday Cards: 5 Reasons Why I Hate Them

There’s nothing I hate more than getting a Happy Birthday card on my birthday.

grrrrrrrr!

I’m talking about the ones you buy from a shop for $5.95, scribble “To Sheldon” at the top, and “Love from your_name” at the bottom with some stupid generic message sandwiched in the middle.

5 Reasons Why I Hate Birthday Cards:

#1. Because you wasted $5.95, you chump

You could have spent that $6 on either:

  • Added on to the value of my gift, or
  • If you didn’t get me a gift, could have used to buy me a gift

#2. Because the pre-printed message means nothing to me

The pre-printed message on the cover or inside of the card means nothing to me because you didn’t write it.

Some dude who I’ll never meet wrote it 5 years ago and he wasn’t thinking about me when he wrote it.

#3. Because “humour” card’s are never funny

The joke is on you because you paid $6 for it.

If I wanted to read a joke I’d search the interweb.

#4. Because you are killing rainforests and the cute fuzzy creatures that live within them

Because people who buy Birthday Cards are creating demand through the supply chain for card >> paper >> pulp >> wood >> rainforest clearing

#5. Because you’re wasting resources

Going to the shop, buying the card, writing a message, posting it to me – all of that is wasting time, money and resources that you could be spending on increasing the size of my gift.

What’s Next?

  • If you hate birthday cards as much as I do, say so in the comments below
  • If you love birthday cards, re-read this article and realise that you now hate them

Want To Lose Weight? 6 Steps You’ve Never Heard Of That Do Actually Work

It seems to me that just about everyone struggles with their weight at some point in their lives.

For some of us it’s a constant battle, for others, just an occasional problem.

I think we go through phases too. For a few months we might feel quite motivated and energetic, but for other months a bit lethargic and that’s when we pack on the weight.

(And don’t you hate it when you’re going through one of these motivated/energetic phases but then you get sick or the weather gets bad for days/weeks and it breaks the healthy habit you were forming? So annoying!)

Losing weight is pretty simple. There is no big secret. There are 2 variables: food and exercise.

You might be thinking “what about metabolism?” but you can control that with food and exercise so don’t worry about it.

You have 3 choices then to get the results you want:

  1. Change your food (type and/or quantity)
  2. Change your exercise level
  3. Change both

My food: I eat 3 pretty healthy meals a day but I eat a lot of chocolate between meals + takeaways a few times a week

My exercise: At the moment my exercise is cycling 9km to work 1 or 2 times a week.

All-in-all I don’t find it too difficult to maintain my fairly slim waistline.  But, like everyone else, my weight yo-yo’s.

The key moment is when I realise I’ve got a few kg to lose and then that spurs me into action.

You might look down at your belly right now and be a bit disheartened because you think you’ve got so much work to do, but bear with me because I’ve got a few ideas here that might help.

I have developed a 6 step method that keeps me within 2 or 3 kg’s of my target body shape.

I hope that my method will be useful for you too. Here it is.

Step One: Take A Shower

The first thing I do is take a shower.

Why? Because it’s in the shower that I notice I need to lose a few kilograms from my belly (the most common problem area for men of course).

I think to myself “I need to lose some weight, I can barely see Mr Winkle!” and dwell on this idea for a while. Sometimes it might take a day or two for this idea to sink in.

The goal here isn’t self-loathing. That can paralyse you.

The goal here is to visualise yourself with your target body shape and compare/contrast that image to what you see in front of you right now.

I know when this image has sunk in because I can feel my attitude change. I start to “think thin”, and I start making little decisions every day that help me towards my weight loss goal.

Some examples of that attitude change working are:

  • I think about chocolate less during the day (as I said, this is my biggest weakness)
  • I don’t suggest that we have dessert after dinner
  • I serve myself slightly smaller portions for dinner (5%-10% less)
  • I don’t eat anything at all in the evenings after dinner. If I’m hungry just before going to bed, instead of eating a piece of toast or more chocolate, I’ll just have a glass of water which takes away the hunger pains for 30 minutes – just enough to fall asleep.

Step Two: Never Diet

You can choose to commit a short amount of time to this project (in which case it is called a “diet”) or you can make a long term change (in which case it is called a lifestyle change).

Short duration diets will help you lose a few kilograms, but they are never a long term solution.

Why?

Because once the diet is finished you will fall back into old habits (your old lifestyle) and put all the weight back on.

This is why everyone’s weight yo-yo’s. Sound familiar?

Long term changes to your lifestyle do work. So if you are serious about your goal, this is the only choice for you.

Actually, there is another choice. The choice to do nothing. But you’ve already tried that, and where has that got you? Nowhere. In fact, you’ve gone backwards, right?

So, right now I’m asking you to agree to making small, painless, permanent changes to your lifestyle.

Are you willing to do that?

Yes?

Great!

Ok, let’s move on.

Step Three: Set A Tiny, Easy Challenge

For me, I can’t get out and exercise until I have a goal.

My goals have included:

  • Run and touch a letterbox 2.5km away from my house, and run back home
  • Ride 9km to the base of a local mountain, run 3km around the base track, ride back home
  • Build up to 100 continuous half-press-ups
  • Ride to work whenever it’s not raining

These are not earth-shattering challenges. Notice how they a completion challenges rather than time based challenges?

Just completing the challenge is enough to celebrate. You don’t need to be straining to continually beat your personal best times.

So, write down a list of challenges and choose just one for today.

Step Four: Solo. With a Friend. In a Group of Strangers.

Try exercising solo for a while.

Try exercising with a friend for a while.

Try exercising in groups of strangers for a while.

The point is, don’t just choose one style for life, be open to changing your mind and trying something different.

Like I said before, we go through phases, and one will be better than another until you change phase again.

Step Five: Keep Eating Chocolate

I’m not going to tell you to eat more/less carbs/protein/fats/sugars etc.

When you make big changes like that you are in “diet mode” and as I explained before, diet’s don’t work. Only lifestyle changes work.

One time I decided to stop eating chocolate completely for 2 weeks. I did lose a bit of weight, but I love chocolate so much, it was too painful, so I had a huge binge at the end of the period and went back to normal consumption levels. Sound familiar?

The easiest way to get the results you want is to make these 4 simple changes to your evening meal:

  1. Eat dinner early: 6pm, 6.30pm. Not 8pm, not 9pm
    • This gives you plenty of digestion time before your body slows down for sleep
    • When you’re in sleep mode your body has no use for the energy it’s creating from digesting the food so that energy gets stored as fat
  2. Don’t snack after dinner. Going to bed almost hungry is best
    • This prevents a lump of food sitting in your stomach overnight which your body will turn to fat
  3. Reduce your dinner portion size by 5%-10%
    • Putting less food in your body is good for weight loss but the real benefit here is changing your mindset/attitude. This is a portion a thin person would eat, so you are “thinking thin”
  4. Drink 2 large glasses of very cold water with your evening meal
    • It’s tastes delicious if it’s very cold, it fills you up, and it aids digestion

Step Six: Keep Your Weight Loss A Secret

You may have been told that you should tell other people about your goal because it will help keep you accountable and motivated?

This is a lie.

When you fail (and we all fail), or change your mind (and we all should change our minds from time-to-time), it’s not the threat of their disapproval that will hurt (they don’t care actually), it’s disappointment in yourself that will hurt.

And it can hurt so bad that you quit.

You need to understand that making these changes in your life comes from inside you.

Our brains are lazy and are programmed to minimise energy expenditure.

So the more external factors that you set-up in an attempt to keep motivated, can be hijacked by our lazy brain’s and used as excuses or opportunities to stop.

So don’t tell anyone what your planning, just make the changes to your lifestyle that we are talking about here and wait for the moments when they notice “hey, you’re looking great, have you been working out?”. Those feel reeeeeeally good.

 

What’s Next?

Helpful? Unhelpful? Have your say in the comments below.

Does Your Local Council Charge You For Water? What It’s Really Costing You

glass-of-bubbly-waterI live in Tauranga city, New Zealand (I love it here!).

Our council (The Tauranga City Council) charges us $1.50 per cubic metre for water.

Fair enough I spose. That’s about $100 every 6 months for our house of 2 adults, 2 kids.

A cubic metre is 1m x 1m x 1m of water. That’s 1000 litres. That’s 1000kg.

For every day use, how much does it really cost?

Here are 4 examples to put it in perspective.

1. How much does it cost to fill a 10 litre bucket to wash my car?

  • A 10 litre bucket will cost me 1.5c to fill ($1.50/100)
  • Rinsing would be about 5 times that so another 7.5c (5×1.5)
  • 9c compared to a car wash for $10-$15? Pretty easy choice

2. How much does it cost to drink water?

  • Drinking 1 litre will cost me 1.5c for 10 refills
  • 1.5c for 10 bottles compared to $2.50 for a 750ml Pump Bottle? Pretty easy choice

3. How much does it cost to water the garden?

  • Watering time = 30mins
  • Flow rate: 1 litre = 10 seconds
  • 30 mins = 1800 seconds (60×30)
  • Use 180 litres in 30 mins (1800/10)
  • Cost: 27c (1.50/1000*180)
  • Conclusion: Watering the garden for 30mins will cost me 27c. This sucks because grow-yourself vege gardens are a waste of time.

4. How much does it cost to fill the kids paddling pool?

  • INTEX Easy Set Pool 8ft capacity: 2,700 litres
  • Cost: $4.05 (1.50/1000*2700)
  • Conclusion: Filling the paddling pool will cost me $4.05. So I better buy some chlorine and use the pump because dumping $4 worth of slimey water every week is not cool

Do you pay for water in your city?

Say so in the comment below.

Lee Child Novels: Is There A 100 Percent Club?

Another one of my favourite authors is Lee Child.

I am a proud member of the Lee Child 100 percent club.

The club doesn’t exist as far as I can tell, so I’ll be the only member to start with 🙂

He’s written 17 novels to date.

17 Novels Written by Lee Child:

  1. Killing Floor (1997)
  2. Die Trying (1998)
  3. Tripwire (1999)
  4. The Visitor (2000)
  5. Echo Burning (2001)
  6. Without Fail (2002)
  7. Persuader (2003)
  8. The Enemy (2004)
  9. One Shot (2005)
  10. The Hard Way (2006)
  11. Bad Luck and Trouble (2007)
  12. Nothing To Lose (2008)
  13. Gone Tomorrow (2009)
  14. 61 Hours (2010)
  15. Worth Dying For (2010)
  16. The Affair (2011)
  17. A Wanted Man (2012)

My Completion Percentage

17/17 = 100%.

Are you a fan? What’s your percentage?

Ken Follett Novels: Is There A 100 Percent Club?

Ken Follett is one of my favourite authors.

My mission is to get into the Ken Follett 100 percent club.

The club doesn’t exist as far as I can tell, so I’ll be the only member to start with 🙂

He’s written 31 novels to date, 21 of which he is proud of, 10 of which he is embarrassed by.

21 Novels Written by Ken Follett:

  1. Winter of the World (2012)
  2. Fall of Giants (2010)
  3. World Without End (2007)
  4. Whiteout (2004)
  5. Hornet Flight (2002)
  6. Jackdaws (2001)
  7. Code to Zero (2000)
  8. The Hammer of Eden (1998)
  9. The Third Twin (1996)
  10. A Place Called Freedom (1995)
  11. A Dangerous Fortune (1993)
  12. Night Over Water (1991)
  13. The Pillars of the Earth (1989)
  14. Lie Down with Lions (1986)
  15. On Wings of Eagles (1983)
  16. The Man from St. Petersburg (1982)
  17. The Key to Rebecca (1980)
  18. Triple (1979)
  19. Eye of the Needle (1978) (apa Storm Island) (Edgar Award, 1979, Best Novel)
  20. Paper Money (1977) (as Zachary Stone)
  21. The Modigliani Scandal (1976) (as Zachary Stone)

10 More Novels

In the 70’s when he was first starting out as an author, he wrote 10 others, but the funny thing is, Ken Follett seems quite embarrassed by them now. He goes as far as to say “don’t read these” on his official website!

  1. Heist of the Century (1978) (with Rene Louis Maurice, others) (apa The Gentleman of 16 July – U.S.) (apa Under the Streets of Nice) (apa Robbery Under the Streets of Nice)
  2. Capricorn One (1978) (as Bernard L. Ross) (based on screenplay by Peter Hyams)
  3. The Power Twins (1976) (as Martin Martinsen)
  4. The Mystery Hideout (1976) (as Martin Martinsen) (apa The Secret of Kellerman’s Studio)
  5. Amok: King of Legend (1976) (as Bernard L. Ross)
  6. The Bear Raid (1976)
  7. The Shakeout (1975)
  8. The Big Hit (1975) (as Simon Myles)
  9. The Big Black (1974) (as Simon Myles)
  10. The Big Needle (1974) (as Simon Myles) (apa The Big Apple – U.S.)

From this list, I could only get my hands on Capricorn One (1978), which was just “ok”. It was a movie first, and Ken Follett (using the name Bernard L. Ross) wrote the novel based on the screenplay.

My Completion Percentage

I have read all but his latest Winter of the World. So that’s 20/21 = 95.2%. Not bad.

I’m determined to get to 100% this year.

If I include the second list of novels, that’s 21/31 = 67.7% which isn’t nearly as impressive.

Are you a fan? What’s your percentage? Better than mine?

Confession: I Only Have 4 Skills

It’s true. My confession to you today is that I only have 4 skills.

Skill #1: I Can Read

Being able to read is my first skill.

I read a speed reading book 4 years ago and it changed my life: 10 Days to Faster Reading by Abby Marks Beale

It increased my comprehension from 60-70% to 80-90% and increased my reading speed from 300wpm (already quite good) to 600-900wpm.

I can consume a regular sized business book in 2 to 3 hours. And when I studying for my Masters over the last 2 years I read hefty text books in 4 – 6 hours.

The pay off for my reading skill is that I get to steal ideas from the best minds on the planet and rework those ideas into my own.

Skill #2: I Can Write

Being able to write is my second skill. And when I say “write” I really mean “touch type”.

Thanks to a short course at High School when I was 15 I got my fingers on the “home keys” and they’ve been there ever since.

My current rate is 70wpm-80wpm which is pretty good.

The pay off for my typing skill is that I can communicate fast: writing emails, writing blog articles, writing reports, and sometimes, writing code.

Writing is a communication tool that is one of the core parts of my business and life, and I get to make money from it.

Sidenote: I pity school kids these days on iPads. You can’t learn to touch type on one of those things (and Siri taking your dictation won’t be that helpful)

Skill #3: I Can Listen

Being able to listen is my third skill.

If you an I talk on the phone or in person you might notice that I take the following rule (written by Epictetus, a Greek philosopher 2000 years ago) pretty seriously:

“God gave you 2 ears and 1 mouth so you can listen twice as much as you talk”

The pay off is that people think that I think that they are awesome and worth listening to. We all love being listened to because it makes us feel important.

If you make someone feel important by listening carefully to what they have to say, what is their impression of you? They think you are awesome too, and when you finally open your mouth to speak they really pay attention!

Skill #4: I Can Ask Questions

Being able to ask questions is my fourth and final skill.

If you an I talk on the phone or in person you might notice that I ask a lot of questions.

My son is almost three and he is in “why?” mode. If you’ve got kids, or if you’re around kids that will sound familiar to you.

Kids ask endless questions because they are curious and fascinated by the world and want to know how it all works.

I ask my clients lots of questions because I want to know how their business works and it’s my way of prompting them to think about things in a different way because that’s where new ideas come from.

The pay off is that the more work I do up front at the asking-questions stage, the better result I can deliver.

Einstein said it best: “If I had an hour to solve a problem and my life depended on the answer, I would spend the first 55 minutes figuring out the proper questions to ask. For if I knew the proper questions, I could solve the problem in less than 5 minutes.”

Sidenote: Asking questions is the key to dating if you didn’t know already 😉

So What?

The point I want to make is that I have created a successful business out of having just 4 simple skills.

The challenge for you is to imagine the pay off you might get if you were better at each of those 4 skills and then start working on them.

What skills do you have? Are they different from my list? Say so in the comments below.

What Exactly are you Dunkin Donuts?

Guest post written by my brother, Tim Nesdale

Dunkin Donuts has arrived in New Zealand but very recently, my home in Hamilton.  My wife asked me to dunk down (see what I did there?) on my lunch break and go get a menu so that she can browse all of their delicious treats.  Prior to doing this, I did the smart thing all Kiwi’s do and typed www.dunkindonuts.co.nz into the browser on my phone.

Fail!

The site uses Flash.  Clearly their web team hasn’t caught up with the rest of the world yet and realised that most smart phones can’t play flash in their web browsers and that more than half of web traffic in the world is via mobile devices.

So I tried dunkindonuts.com – Great it’s not flash so I can ACTUALLY USE IT!  Unfortunately that was the only highlight of this entire experience. Now surely, being a global multinational company I’ll be able to get a menu with at least their flagship best selling products right?

Fail!

The first two items in the navigation menu are ‘Coffee’ followed by ‘Menu’.  So I click ‘Menu’.  Then I’m presented with…. their ‘Drinks’ menu. I’m seriously not kidding you here. Coffee, Coolatta, Espresso, this is all wonderful but I’m looking for DONUTS!  Have I come to the right place?  You guys sell Donuts right?  Oh look, the tab NEXT to ‘Drinks’ is ‘Food’.  NOW we are getting somewhere, should be plain sailing now right?

Wrong again.

Apparently they sell Bagel Twists, Bagels, Big N’ Toasted, Breakfast Sandwiches, Cookies, Danishes…. oh and Donuts.  That’s right people.  “Donuts” is not first, not second, not even third, but SEVENTH on the list of food items that took me 3 clicks to get to!  Right, so I’m on the Donuts page FINALLY.  Now Dunkin Donuts, show me glossy delicious photos of all of your tasty treats!

FAIL!

I’m presented with a drop down list of Donut names.  Can I just see a page where I can browse at least SOME of your Donuts?  Maybe just your top six in the world?  Your top 3? Maybe just the Big Mac or the Whopper of Dunkin Donuts?  No?  Okay then… I scan the drop down list of Donuts, and pick out one I like, “Bowtie Donut”, I wonder what THAT is, sounds interesting let’s check it out!

FAIL!

Was I expecting too much?  A nice little photo, some marketing spiel to entice me to buy this donut?  Maybe a short list of key ingredients? What I get is a table giving me the nutritional facts of the Donut. I’m buying Donuts! CLEARLY I DON’T CARE ABOUT HOW FAT THEY’LL MAKE ME!  Did I click on ‘Salads’?  The ingredients list is there but it begins: “Donut dough: Donut mix, Enriched flour, wheat, flour, malted barley flour, Niacin iron, Thiamin…..” okay I’m bored already!  Does it have caramel sauce? Does it have sprinkles?  Does it have crispy biscuit pieces?!!! Who knows, I’m not going to find out here.

So after wasting my precious 3 minutes I decide, stuff this, I’ll just walk down to the physical store and get a menu!

So I walk down to the store and walk in to see a dozen confused and despairing individuals who can’t make out the confusing ‘combo’ deals or understand which donuts qualify as ‘premium’ or ‘regular’.  I try to bypass the chaos of confusion and go straight to the counter and ask for a menu that I can take home with me.  “Sorry Sir, we don’t have menus”.

I don’t even have the energy to tell you that they failed that test.  This is just not funny anymore.  Maybe I could take a photo of the menu board?  Nope can’t do that either.  The Menu board has prices for different types of donuts or combinations of them but no actual donut names.  I glance at the half empty cabinet and see 4 different types of donuts, none of which look remotely appealing.

So to summarise.

The top 10 reasons why Dunkin Donuts sucks!:

  1. The logo for Dunkin Donuts is not a donut, it’s a cup of coffee! What?!
  2. The NZ site unnecessarily uses Flash so most of us can’t view it on our Smart Phones
  3. It takes me 3 clicks on their international website to see an actual Donut name they sell.
  4. I can’t browse any Donuts not even their top 3 or their ‘Flagship’ Donut
  5. There are images of Donuts on the site but no link at all between images and actual Donut names
  6. There are no descriptions of what is in any of their Donuts (unless you really want to know which Donuts have Niacin in them)
  7. They have no take home menus in their physical stores
  8. Their ‘Combo’s are hard to understand
  9. Sometimes they only have a few types of Donuts available to sell
  10. They cannot be found in the NZ business directory “Yellow” nor can they be found in Google Places, lucky they’re bright pink and big in America or no one here would even know they existed.

 

As You Age, Every Year You Need 5 Minutes Less Sleep At Night

Up to the end of my teenage years I needed 9 hours sleep every night just to function during the day.

In my mid twenty’s at university (yes, I went late) I noticed that I needed only 8.

And now, in my 30’s I need only 7.5 hours.

I’m sure you’ve heard that many active retired people only need a few hours per night?

Imagine how much we could all get done in our lives if that was the case for all of us!

I can’t wait!

I’ve calculated that as you age, every year I’ve needed 5 minutes less sleep at night.

That’s almost one second less sleep at night, every night, since my peak of 9 hours when I was 18.

Here’s the math:

  • 9 hours of sleep at 18 years old
  • 7.5 hours of sleep at 35 years old
  • 9 hours of sleep – 7.5 hours of sleep = 1.5 x 60 minutes in an hour = 90 minutes
  • 35 years old – 18 years old = 17 years
  • 90 minutes no longer required / 17 years = 5.29 minutes per year
  • 5.29 per year x 60 seconds in a minute = 317.6 seconds less sleep per year
  • 317.6 / 365 days in a year = 0.87 seconds per day
  • 0.87 seconds per day x 7 days per week = 6.09 seconds per week

By this reckoning, when I’m 120 years old I’ll be awake around the clock!

  • 7.5 hours x 60 minutes per hour = 450 minutes
  • 450 minutes / 5.29 minutes less per year = 85 years to go
  • 85 years to go + 35 years old currently = 120 years old when I’ll be awake around the clock

Have you had a similar experience?

Tell your story in the comments below.

What If You Could Control Cinema Session Times?

I go to the cinema about 3 or 4 times a year.

The primary reason is that the pre-set evening session times are annoyingly inconvenient.

Movies that start at 6pm is no good. It’s too early because I’m starving when the movie finishes at 8pm. 8pm is too late for dinner!

And cramming dinner down before 5.30pm to get to the movie in time for the 6pm session is just as bad.

And a movie starting at 8.30pm is too late because my wife and I can’t handle getting at home at 10.30pm like we used to.

So the solution would be a cinema that can play the movie when I choose.

My ideal time would be 7.24pm which is after dinner, after the kids are in bed, and will finish at 9.24pm. Perfect.

What’s your perfect movie starting time?

Is there a way that we can all go to the cinema but we all get to choose our movie start time? (And it would be handy to pause when we need to go to the toilet too).

Perhaps the answer is to install aeroplane seats into cinemas!

6″ screens aren’t going to cut it of course so we’ll need nice 22″ inch HD screens in the back of the seat in front of you (3D capable of course).

We’ll need headphones too. Nice padded, high quality ones with a volume setting that you control.

One more thing – you’ll be able to order snacks right from where you sit, and they get delivered to you by chicks on roller skates!

To make this awesomeness happen I’ll need investment.

10,000 people investing $1,000 each should do it for starters. Are you in?

If so, make a deposit in my bank account right now, and I’ll start enquiries to buy old 737 seats.