Category Archives: Lake

10 Life Lessons from Basic SEAL Training from Admiral William H. McRaven

By Steve Nguyen, Ph.D.


University of Texas at Austin 2014 Commencement Address – Admiral William H. McRaven

Watch his speech above or directly on YouTube,

An inspiring and powerful 20-minute commencement speech by Naval Admiral William H. McRaven, ninth commander of U.S. Special Operations Command, at the University-wide Commencement at The University of Texas at Austin on May 17, 2014.

Admiral McRaven’s commencement speech is perhaps one of the best commencement speeches I have ever heard. It is on point and offers some fantastic life and business lessons.

Below are excerpts from his amazing speech.

10 Life Lessons from Basic SEAL Training

1. If you want to change the world, start off by making your bed.
“If you can’t do the little things right, you will never do the big things right.”

2. If you want to change the world, find someone to help you paddle.
“You can’t change the world alone—you will need some help— and to truly get from your starting point to your destination takes friends, colleagues, the good will of strangers and a strong coxswain to guide them.”

3. If you want to change the world, measure a person by the size of their heart, not the size of their flippers.
“SEAL training was a great equalizer. Nothing mattered but your will to succeed. Not your color, not your ethnic background, not your education and not your social status.”

4. If you want to change the world get over being a sugar cookie and keep moving forward.
“Sometimes no matter how well you prepare or how well you perform you still end up as a sugar cookie.”

“For failing the uniform inspection, the student [in Basic SEAL training] had to run, fully clothed into the surfzone and then, wet from head to toe, roll around on the beach until every part of your body was covered with sand. The effect was known as a ‘sugar cookie.’ You stayed in that uniform the rest of the day — cold, wet and sandy.”

“There were many a student who just couldn’t accept the fact that all their effort was in vain. . . Those students didn’t understand the purpose of the drill. You were never going to succeed. You were never going to have a perfect uniform.”

5. If you want to change the world, don’t be afraid of the circuses.
“Every day during training you were challenged with multiple physical events — long runs, long swims, obstacle courses, hours of calisthenics — something designed to test your mettle. Every event had standards — times you had to meet. If you failed to meet those standards your name was posted on a list, and at the end of the day those on the list were invited to a ‘circus.’ A circus was two hours of additional calisthenics designed to wear you down, to break your spirit, to force you to quit.”

“Life is filled with circuses. You will fail. You will likely fail often. It will be painful. It will be discouraging. At times it will test you to your very core.”

6. If you want to change the world sometimes you have to slide down the obstacle head first.

7. If you want to change the world, don’t back down from the sharks.
“There are a lot of sharks in the world. If you hope to complete the swim you will have to deal with them.”

8. If you want to change the world, you must be your very best in the darkest moment.
“At the darkest moment of the mission is the time when you must be calm, composed—when all your tactical skills, your physical power and all your inner strength must be brought to bear.”

9. If you want to change the world, start singing when you’re up to your neck in mud.
“If I have learned anything in my time traveling the world, it is the power of hope. The power of one person—Washington, Lincoln, King, Mandela and even a young girl from Pakistan, Malala—one person can change the world by giving people hope.”

10. If you want to change the world don’t ever, ever ring the bell.
“In SEAL training there is a bell. A brass bell that hangs in the center of the compound for all the students to see. All you have to do to quit—is ring the bell. Ring the bell and you no longer have to wake up at 5 o’clock. Ring the bell and you no longer have to do the freezing cold swims. Ring the bell and you no longer have to do the runs, the obstacle course, the PT—and you no longer have to endure the hardships of training. Just ring the bell. If you want to change the world don’t ever, ever ring the bell.”


“Start each day with a task completed. Find someone to help you through life. Respect everyone. Know that life is not fair and that you will fail often. But if you take some risks, step up when the times are toughest, face down the bullies, lift up the downtrodden and never, ever give up — if you do these things, then the next generation and the generations that follow will live in a world far better than the one we have today.”

“It matters not your gender, your ethnic or religious background, your orientation, or your social status. Our struggles in this world are similar and the lessons to overcome those struggles and to move forward—changing ourselves and the world around us—will apply equally to all.”

“Changing the world can happen anywhere and anyone can do it.”

Written By: Steve Nguyen, Ph.D.
Leadership Advisor & Talent Development Consultant


University of Texas at Austin – Adm. McRaven Urges Graduates to Find Courage to Change the World


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What’s the Deal with the Northern Lights?

You see them displayed in Christmas movies as a phenomenon of the North Pole. But the Aurora Borealis, as they are scientifically referred to, are actually visible from areas of the earth much farther south than the north pole. If you want to enjoy the beauty and wonder that is the Northern Lights, here are a few interesting things you should know:

  1. The name Aurora comes from the name of the Roman goddess of dawn.
  2. An Aurora in northern latitudes are called aurora borealis (northern lights). An Aurora in the southern latitudes are called aurora australis (southern lights).
  3. The plural of aurora is aurorae.
  4. An aurora occurs when highly charged particles from space collide with atoms in the earth’s atmosphere. This makes the atoms excited, meaning they start moving at a rapid pace. The way they release this energy is to accelerate along the earth’s magnetic fields, which will emit the energy in the form of light.
  5. Solar flares are the most common occurrence that induces an aurora in the atmosphere.
  6. Solar wind is constantly blowing past the earth, contained in this wind are particles that agitate the atoms in our atmosphere. When the sun flares, the wind become stronger so aurorae are most likely to occur then
  7. Norther and southern aurorae mimic each other.
  8. From a distance, the aurora will appear as a greenish glow or even a faint red. From a closer location, the light can appear as a vivid green color.
  9. The green color is due to the emission of oxygen as the atoms begin to slow down from their excited state.
  10. Blue colors come from nitrogen atoms gaining an electron (becoming excited) and red colors occur when the nitrogen atom slows back down to it’s normal state.
  11. Often they look like a curtain of light in the sky that can change shape every few seconds, or even hold their shape. They can also emit it a simple reddish or greenish glow in the sky, without any movement at all.
  12. Aurorae can occur on other planets.
  13. The sun has an 11-year sunspot cycle during which sunspot activity first increases than decreases. Aurorae are most commonly seen at the peak of that cycle and during the three years afterwards because of the increased strength of solar wind produced. The last solar cycle started in January 2008. The max of this cycle is expected to hit in 2011 and 2012.
  14. Pictures taken by space ships of the aurora are even more amazing than what you can see from earth. NASA’s website has a good array of options.

About the Author

Natalie Clive is a writer for My Colleges and Careers is a useful website that can help students find the best online universities where they can earn a college degree. Individuals with a college degree are more likely to have a higher quality of life.


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Labor Day Gift for Parents: Since the Apple Won’t Fall Very Far From It, Plant Your Tree Accordingly

Oh Lord, what have I done?  You have turned me into my father, and my children into me.  It says in the “Good Book” that the sins of the fathers will be vest unto the 3rd and 4th generation.  Does this mean that they have to go through EVERYTHING I did “growing up?”

I have two wonderful, beautiful, intelligent, rebellious, independent daughters that I wouldn’t trade for the world.  It hasn’t always been that way.  Believe it or not Daddy was not a perfect saint (nor was his father) and there might have been the occasional indiscretion during their collective childhood that might not have seemed politically correct.

Having been a professional photographer since high school (thanks Cindy) and also possessing a rather unique sense of humor (thanks Frank Zappa) there have been instances where my more devilish side took precedence over what my mother (and current wife) would have thought acceptable.  If your child is already hysterical and throwing an incredible hissy fit for not getting her way (down to the swimming pool fast enough) what harm could evolve from taking advantage of their relative lack of mobility (being 18 lbs at the time) and hanging them on the hotel coat rack – just for a quick photo?  Child Protection Service does have a statute of limitations, don’t they?

There  also might have been the occasional excuse to throw a giant party in the back yard, invite the whole neighborhood and entire Christmas list, buy a couple of kegs and have my buddies bring over a band or two and play music ‘till the cops come.  Thankfully it was usually an excusable occasion, like St. Patrick’s day in June, and usually a reasonable hour when they finally broke us up because the neighbors across the canyon (a mile and a half away) began complaining around 1:00AM.  It is always nice to have a few friends on the police force.  There is nothing quite as heartwarming as finding your three year old toddling across the living room floor (as the adults all migrated outside) helping mommy and daddy by draining the last inch of beer, mai-tai’s, and margaritas’ out of all of the cups lining the tables.  The next morning was not usually a good one for any of us.  Thanks again for that CPS reprieve.

Having had the neighborhood built-in pool, the trampoline, the pool table in the basement, etc.  My babies were raised in, shall we say, a convivial environment.  Don’t get me wrong, we went to Church at least once a week, were involved in worship ministries, field trips, the wife taught Sunday school, etc.  Just a couple of times a year we let our hair down, so to speak.  Having myself grown up in a similar environment there was no sense of hypocrisy at all.  My parents’ best friends were good old German Missouri Synod Lutherans, and every Sunday after church we’d get together with a few dozen folks, including the Pastor, for cocktails and a bar-b-que.

My wife and I were good enough parents in most ways;  helped with homework, softball games and sodas with the other kids parents in the parks on Sunday afternoons, lots of sleep over’s, and plenty of hours on weekend mornings watching Barney and Sesame street.  There were piano lessons, they both got there kiddy Black Belts in Karate, and we put them into a Spanish immersion school.  Our two little perfect babies really never gave us any trouble at all for so long.  Then there was High School.

I’m not saying either turned bad, or got into a real huge amount of trouble, but the attitudes changed.  As is the custom in California my wife decided that not all marriages were made in heaven, and that the grass was indeed far greener on the far side of the hill and we divorced when the girls were just entering High School.  Now I’m certainly not saying that I was any saint, and that she didn’t have a reason or two to want a change of scenery, just that the “better or worse thing” was something I took seriously.  Anyhow, timing being what it was we still tried our damndest to provide a stable environment for the kids.  I moved, and so that the kids didn’t have to move during high school we split the assets in a way that allowed them to keep the house that they grew up in.

Partly, I’m sure, blaming me for that and a few other faults, and partly that they just reached the age that I remember so well as spreading wings and a total disdain for authority, Daddy became persona-non-grata for each of them for a time.  Thank God it seemed to alternate years, and one of them was always being at least cordial.  Remembering my own high school and early college years, I think most of the time I came home it was to visit a girlfriend.  We didn’t hang out a ton, but that was just the way my parents were treated by then too.  We still had the annual waters ski trips to our secret lake, but instead of cousins and their mom’s family (we stayed friends, but that just got a bit weird for a while) the girls started bringing their friends, and boyfriends, and coming up in their own cars.

The eldest graduated Valedictorian in her high school, and is the case with so many second children; the younger had no interest in competing for grades.  She is just as smart and will do just as well in life, but the 4.3 thing just wasn’t in the cards at the time.  They also both took turns being the “wild child.”

After both threatening to spread their wings and go to school back east, the younger one ended up attending my alma mater of UCSB, and the eldest ended up at USD.  I guess dad brought them up to be California kids after all.

What brought this up is that currently they are both calling me, unsolicited, just to talk.  This is MAJOR and recent.  My older one had some boyfriend problems and needed a few extra daddy sessions, and my baby had some issues with attendance, but that has been resolved and she actually is going to summer school this year and is actually graduating a year early.  I am taking the long weekend and driving down with my new wife (both kids went to dads wedding two years ago) to see my baby in SB.  We spent the first week of the summer with the eldest at my new wife’s family reunion in Utah.  Great people, but the heat made that a huge sacrifice.  They have both turned out with wonderful aspects of their mother, and of me.  They are independent, directed, hard working, stubborn, loving, kind, bossy, empathetic, and giving young ladies and I could not be more proud.

The point is this:  for those of you with young ones, be patient.  They will hurt and destroy you, disrespect and loath you, scare the bejesus out of you, piss you off, and generally take you to the poor house.   If you’ve done a reasonable job of loving them and nurturing them, with the grace of God (and a little luck) they will turn out just fine.


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A True American Family: A Place Where it’s NOT All About Me

I just returned from my wife’s family reunion in New Harmony Utah.  No I’m not kidding; it’s a real name, and a real feeling.

Having been an only child, and one with older parents at that, this is a serious change from my day to day life.  Being able to have an internet business, and being a writer, one is afforded a degree of personal freedom that is unequalled.  I get to go where I want, do what I want any time I want to, and have my friends over or visit them when I want, but it’s all on my terms.  My life is quite organized.  When it’s time to shop the stops are all planned sequentially and the timing is such that the stores are usually quite empty.  Shopping in the morning (right after the commute dies down)  allows me to skip the traffic jams, not have to wait in long check-out lines, and generally avoid people.

This “planning” and organization went out the door the second we got to the airport.  The only two airports that grant access to New Harmony are Salt Lake City, about 4 hours away, and Las Vegas, about 3 hours away.

We chose the latter.  Despite the hedonistic appeal of the city to foreigners to gamble, drink, and purchase sex, Las Vegas is to me a quintessential arm pit.  After the obligatory visit to the Bellagio fountains, the city seems to run out of charm quickly, and have that replaced with street barkers handing out whore trading cards amid the rubble of a shabby tinsel town drowning in its own excrement.  There are other places to “party” and certainly other attractions around the area, but the “strip” doesn’t hold up well if you stray off a block or two, or have to behold it in daylight.

In three hours we went from 2,001 feet to 5,800 and that was among the least of the changes.  The skank of the bowels of Vegas yielded to the amazing desert and Zion Park.  The painted rocks and canyons were an absolutely stunning contrast to the city behind, and we quickly lost the hurried frustrated feeling and began to succumb to “vacation mode.”

Upon arrival at our hotel, we were greeted by a few family members (only about 10) milling around the grassy area by the swimming pool, next to the lobby.  It was not clear at the time, but this was to become the family conference room for the next few days.  There were Pace’s flown in from Florida, Denver, Portland, and Chicago.  My wife came from a family of 5 kids, and the families descended on this tiny “Little House on the Prairie” community with the eagerness of a cloud of locusts on a ripe corn field.  After serious deliberation it was decided that the cloud would migrate towards a local Mexican cafeteria.  Every place we descend upon immediately becomes Pace Place.  The kids range from 2 years old to 21, the eldest being my daughter who actually gave up another huge family reunion with her mother’s (we divorced a few years ago) side of the family.  The entourage of the Robert Leslie Pace “posterity” numbered 21 folks for this event, so getting everybody to agree on anything is nothing short of a miracle, but it gets done.

We held golf tournaments, the great 5K “Pace Race” the morning of the reunion, had the reunion itself, visited local aunts, parents, grandparents, and cousins, had a family softball game, field trip to Kolob canyon with another fairly long jaunt, and visited the family ranch and graveyard, all with absolutely minimal planning and discussion.  There was barely any dissent, actually none among the family, and a minimal amount from the resident “only child.”  Things didn’t go according to plan, because there basically wasn’t one.  Dinner, save for the structured events, seemed to simply occur.  The plans for breakfast got botched the first day, but we all got fed.  Nobody seemed to keep track of which kids were riding with whom, to what destination, but in the end everybody arrived safe and happy.  The girls all got along great.  My 21 year old daughter became the “pied piper” of the younger cousins, a role identical to that she would assume when she returned home and drove up to Pine Mountain Lake to be with her Mom’s family of 20 or so.

The weekend ended with an impromptu Fourth of July parade, the time actually not set until the passing thunder storm could be assessed, and a carnival on the baseball field at the end of the street.  It wasn’t clear who paid for all the prizes for the kids, but it’s a pretty small community (population 190 as of 2000) and they take care of each other.

On the way back in the plane there was a young adult that thought it would be a great idea if he plopped his head in the window to watch the landing, and make sure that nobody else could.  It seemed odd to observe the “it’s all about me” attitude that can be the mantra of so many.  It is my sincere hope that the feeling of community and family love that has been my experience this weekend, can linger a bit in my day to day life and help me to live it a bit more skillfully.

Thank you Mary for sharing your beautiful family with me.


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Top Tips for a Great Team Building Away Day

Team building is a useful way for businesses to get their employees together and achieve a number of business goals, as well as having a bit of fun at the same time. There are numerous ways in which team building can work, from a simple brainstorming session in the pub to a full on day out in professionally run venue, this type of activity can be very beneficial for both morale and the business in general. In this article we outline some top tips that can make these days run as smoothly as possible.

Find the right venue

For some purposes a car park might suffice, however many of the most effective team building days happen when the right venue is chosen. To make it an “away day” feel like just that, it’s a good idea to pick a venue that is out of the office but not so far that attendees will feel like they’re going to spend all day travelling.  The best venues will have a reception area where bags can be left and people can relax in comfort, flexible meeting rooms, and other outdoor spaces for some of the more fun or abstract team building activities, as well as free flowing refreshments on offer throughout the venue. Very often venues with all the top notch facilities will be on the outskirts of big cities or housed in some of the most attractive buildings in the country – this means they really offer an ideal location for productive team building.

Get the right balance of activities

Team building days should be fun but they are also useful if a business is hoping to get a message across or after lots of new staff members have joined in order that everyone can get to know everyone else. Therefore it is important to get a good mix of activities for the away day. These can range from the gently competitive such as a school-style sports day or go-karting to more collaborative activities such as assembling a huge art installation that highlights your company‘s corporate values. Other worthwhile activities include simple ice breaking games for those who may take a little while to get into it and even days where it appears there’s very little to do with work but collaboration is very important such as cookery workshops.

Supercharge your brand

Several conference venues have in recent years taken the innovative step of creating branded space for a business that is using its facilities. This can be a real benefit for a team away day because it really gives the event a professional air and can make attendees feel like they are part of something significant. The best conference providers will be able to customise the required space with everything from brand logos adorning the walls to whether solid oak floors or carpets are required in the business “hub”. Many businesses have found that creating this type of bespoke space is ideal for embellishing an atmosphere of quality – especially in regards to training and team building as it shows employees that their workplace is prepared to go that extra yard.

Obviously there several other ways in which team building activities can be done, however it is certainly an aspect of business that should not be avoided – in the very least it can be a fun day out for everyone.

Jonathan has been away on many training days and in many meeting rooms with a variety of companies. He has found training away days very useful and a good morale booster.


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Why Workers Need Vacation Every 2 Months

A recent study by prominent health experts has revealed that it is becoming necessary for workers to take more breaks. The increase of work hours and work loads has become so stressful it is becoming harmful to the mental and physical health of workers. While breaks throughout the day do help, they also need lengthier breaks from the entire atmosphere in order to reinvigorate themselves and return more productive.

The Post Office Travel Insurance performed a study that revealed the conclusion that workers need six holidays per year. This breaks down to a vacation every 62 days. By taking this breaks from the workplace, they returned fresh and focused, and they avoided potentially burning out.

In addition to increasing the positive attributes of the workers, it decreased the negative. Workers who waited longer than two months to take a break are more likely to display aggression in the workplace. They also report becoming anxious far more easily and get sick more frequently.

Cary Cooper, a professor of organizational psychology and health at Lancaster University, commented on the study. He believes that it is absolutely necessary for workers in every field to take these intermittent breaks. It prevents overworking which ultimately leads to burning out. While employers may cringe at the idea of letting their workers take these vacations, Cooper believes it is good for the business as well. The workers return with a better attitude and a willingness to do their best.

Cooper goes on to say that those who do not take regular vacations are at risk for becoming anxious and aggressive, but also withdrawn in both the work environment and their social life. Relationships will suffer, and communities as a whole will become less productive.

Overworking has been known to depress the immune system. Back pain is one of the most common ailments, but it often does not have a direct cause. The stress from not taking a break from work causes people to develop aches and pains. It also disrupts the sufferer’s sleep schedule which results in an inability for the body to energize itself. While many people experience this in the form of feeling drowsy throughout the day, it also prevents the body’s immune system from working at full speed. People who do not take vacations from work every two months put themselves at risk to catch a cold or the flu more than their counterparts who do give themselves a break.

Encouraging workers to take a vacation every two months promotes health for the individual and a more effective company for the employer.

Reducing the amount you pay on automobile insurance is easy if you go online to compare quotes from multiple insurance providers. Using a service like, you can compare the rates from over 40 insurance providers across Canada. All you have to do is simply fill out a quote at Kanetix and you will be able to see which insurance provider offers the most affordable rate for your vehicle.


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Goodbye My Friend: May the Streets of Heaven be Lined with Porterhouse for You!

You guessed it; another dog story.  I still haven’t gotten over Daisy Mae of the Redwoods leaving us, and that was in 1999.  Last night my good friends lost their boy Harley to cancer.  We just spent last weekend with him and his family in the El Dorado Hills, and knew that it would be the last time we saw him. I’m not sure if it is residual grief or that he was just that special of a dog, but it feels like someone kicked me in the chest.

It is an amazing phenomenon how attached we get to our pets, for me particularly dogs.  There is a sense of loyalty that you just can’t get from a cat, an unconditional love and acceptance that you can’t get from another person, and a wisdom that seems to come from something not earthly.  If one believes in such spiritual nonsense as re-incarnation or multiple lives, it seems possible that certain animals are just born with “old souls.”  They have been around for a while, and have certainly been here before.


Daisy (among her many attributes) was the one that was the most patient with my two daughters from when they were born,through their teens.  She let them dress her up, ride her around the house like a little horse, and pull and tug at her ears and tail without any sign of protest – ever.  It always seemed that the reason she endeared herself so much to me and the family was that she was such an integral part of the girl’s development.

Harley didn’t have to endure the physical abuse of my friend’s daughters growing up, but he was a special companion in other ways.  My buddy Dennis has his own business and is able to work from home much of the time.  Aside from his wife of 30 years, Harley was his best bud and constant companion.  Head constantly in the wind, the open water of the Delta was his domain.  The hours on the boat in silent communion evoke a bond that can’t really be written about, or explained by anyone that hasn’t felt that with a dog.  When the kids leave the house off to school, and the professional life winds down to fewer hours and meetings, when life slows down from the blur that had been the early yuppie “life in the fast lane,” it gives one time to truly appreciate an honest friendship.  A friendship like this with a dog (or anything else) just doesn’t happen all the time.  It is something that, if you are really lucky, you are able to earn once or twice in a lifetime.

It makes it hard to think about “getting” another animal.  Sure we can excuse the feeling by reminding ourselves that we have spent the last 30 years of our lives cleaning up dog poop.  We can trudge on with a stiff upper lip and act around our friends like it really doesn’t hurt all that much, that the dog was more trouble than it was worth.  A good stoic approach is probably advisable lest we fall into self pity. We may just get tired of going through this kind of loss every ten or so years, I’m not sure.  What I am sure of is that with the loss of a friend like that a little bit of us dies too.  It is imperceptible, but there is a tiny hole in the heart where Harley used to be.  There is nothing that can fill that, and that’s OK too.  He would want it that way.


Sometimes There is Nothing Quite as Terrifying as Success: Guess We’ll Just Have to Get Used to It

When my business development gig at the big corporate travel management corporation dissolved (there is no more subtle of a hint than when the boss hires his son to do the job you are doing) I decided that it was time once again for a change.  The recession had left the corporate travel landscape less than hospitable for even the most seasoned veteran, let alone a relative newcomer of only 4 years like me.

Having dabbled in email marketing, being responsible for re-designing and keeping the company website up, and a bit of pay-per-click advertisement on LinkedIn, there had always been a side of me that wondered at the other side of what could be done in online marketing.  I went through the job ads and started to detect a central theme of what was lacking in my 20 year marketing skill set.  I began to take every job offer that was not suitable for me and record the exact nature of my inadequacies for each position.  There was a career guidance/coaching site that had some good suggestions regarding certificate programs and it began to become more and more attractive to do some research into the matter. As a matter of fact I found an exact description of my “wish list” in the Master Certification Program in Internet Marketing offered by the University of San Francisco.

I poured myself into the program.  It is amazing when one is paying for one’s own education (Varian was kind enough to foot the bill for my MBA tuition at the University of Santa Clara back in the 80’s) what kind of achievement is possible.  Suffice it to say that my marks were slightly better than passing.  It would have been nice if mom could have been alive to see that, but at least it is hoped that it was of some inspiration to my two (brilliant and perfect in every way) daughters.  The sections on social media and in particular LinkedIn truly caught my attention.  Even back then there was a noticeable trend for professional search, i.e. recruiters and those looking for professional services, to gravitate towards LinkedIn rather than the more general Google, Bing, Yahoo search engines.  The degree being competed there was a long period where my services were volunteered through several mentoring programs, and involvement in the local job search community where my experience in search engine optimization, website optimization, and the integration of interactive techniques and inbound marketing practices into small businesses was getting honed.

Finally after having gotten enough confidence in internet marketing to be dangerous, there were several offers for me to teach LinkedIn as a tool, first for job search, then as a marketing alternative to organic search on Google.  After helping several people with their websites and other projects, I recently had my first big hit on a LinkedIn profile optimization.  Having been a teacher of adult education on the subject, a facilitator at the “ProMatch” job shop, and a mentor for quite a few companies, some of my recommendations began to read “subject matter expert” etc.  That is a joke, as we all know, because the subject changes daily and all one can hope to accomplish is to learn what was happening yesterday.

Among these changes, of which I strive to keep myself abreast by attending several industry webinars and webcasts weekly, was the definite consensus that search optimization and profile development for the professional was decidedly more effective on LinkedIn than the Google type engines.  Without going into huge detail regarding the difference between the selection criteria (search algorithms) suffice it to say that a new entrant into a search arena has little to no chance with Google, and every chance with LinkedIn.

My good friend, and boat partner, has spent countless hours of manual and design labor in the restoration of my 1990 boat and trailer.  It felt only right to offer some token of my gratitude for his endeavor. What my strength is lies in the building of companies, business, and brand recognition.  It just so happens that this efficacy has now expanded to internet marketing and social media.

We embarked on such a mission.  His competitors were researched, and mined for keywords and content.  The keywords were then processed through my proprietary method (largely based on AdWords keyword tool) and a suitable list of 20 words were produced and ranked according to competitive viability and search activity.

The next task was to have him write his own story, using a few of the keywords and optimizing for the content.  He was amazingly cooperative through his whole process, and I had learned lots from other clients.  Give them as little homework as possible, and do everything they will let you get away with, yourself.

Yesterday I put the finishing touches on the creative.  There is the 2000 character summary that has to be written to comply with LinkedIn format. There are several 200 character entries that have to be optimized for your “comments” sections in the groups that you join.  There are keyword lists to be added to “specialties” columns within the profile, and a few other techniques that I learned from USF buddies and the several webinars recently viewed on the subject.

Then came the testing.  How did it go?  At first the long tailed series of keywords was tested, and my man came up #1!  I was so stoked that my wife and then the client had to be called.  Next test was the really much better keywords, with a geographic tag:  Still number one.

There were other things to be done last night, including the previous blog, so that was good enough for me.  The story was going to be written then.  A client that actually listened to everything I had to say, and a campaign that was successful beyond expectations.

There was celebration at the tribal village, some food and sleep.  As is the custom many nights, sleep was interrupted by the “bathroom break” then a period of contemplation while attempting to regain slumber.  This creative period gets more frequent and longer as one ages.  This particular session yielded an enlightened concept:  we are all the way to #3 at the most aggressive of all keywords so far, what if we went to the most coveted keywords of all, for his profession?

It was resolved.  My wife left for work and I scrambled to the computer to see who the people were that were at the top of the entire profession in our geographic area.  Gosh darned, if we could come so far in a day, why not see who was at the top and spend whatever time it took to topple this tycoon of the internet?

I typed in the search words, the area code and maximum driving range and waited.

In less an excruciating lifetime of a second, the results for LANDSCAPE ARCHITECT – 95113- 100 MILES came up with …

MY CLIENT:  Scott Fornaciari – Landarc Associates, Inc. Landscape Architecture, Planning, Project Coordination, and Design: with Green and California Native Plants  check out his work, it IS amazing.

Now what?


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Learning from Others: Finding Influential People When You Are On Your Own

My early years were blessed with always having owned a boat.  These were the frolicking years just after grad school with all the single folks jamming a deserted beach on a far away lake.  Naked waterskiing on a full moonlit night, was followed by running out of gas in the middle of the lake and paddling to shore with a water ski.   Ah, youth.

As the years passed, and children grew the excitement of the boat began to give way to other family responsibilities, and differed maintenance began to accrue.  Time was spent loading the thing with groceries and camping supplies for two weeks in the mountains, feeding 12 kids and 8 adults.  The yearly “tune-up” was accomplished, but little things piled up.  After about 15 years of this, it had come to a point of catharsis.  I was no longer motivated to keep the boat up, the kids were gone, and it seemed to be reasonable to give the thing up and move on.

This is where the power of the pen turned my life around.  In blogging about marketing, it seems to serve well to include a personal story and this was such a time.  Publishing the lament felt as a result of this dilemma yielded an unexpected, but welcomed response.  A good friend read the post and responded with a question as to my willingness to take a partner.

The attraction was immediate, and for a different reason than was later revealed.  It was attractive to have someone else to share the work load, to share in the cost, and to provide some renewed energy towards the project.   What was not yet apparent to me was that this person was my perfect complement.  He has an attention to detail that I don’t exercise.  If asked the proper way to accomplish something it is usually quite simple for me to utter a detailed step-by-step procedure of the correct sequence of activities.  Does this mean that this is the way I would ever proceed?  Hell no!

A good example is the boat trailer.  It has been rusted from salt water, the lights were almost all out, and the surge breaks hadn’t worked in years.  My new partner Scott looked at it and made some comments regarding an obvious course of action.  The wheels needed to be taken off and greased, the wiring repaired, the boat taken off, and the trailer ground, sanded, and sandblasted down to bare metal before priming and re-panting.

Well duh.  I knew that!  Why then was my first conclusion that the most logical course of action was to either buy a new trailer or just scrap the thing?  The most amazing thing happened when we dug into the work.  At first Scott did everything.  Finally the shame was too great and I picked up the wire cutters and pitched in.  Within a couple of hours we were working along side-by-side like the pit crew at an Indy race.  Wheels were coming off, bolts greased, tires changed, new lights installed, road test successful;  all things that I knew how to do, but would never have taken the time to do by myself.

That boat is like a business.  All it took was a fresh perspective to make it feel new again.  If circumstances are such that a “partner” is not the solution, there are alternatives.  I belong to several “success” groups and “Meet-up’s” where we get together with other professionals and share perspectives.  Many ides and disciplines come from these meetings, and they help me not only to see things differently, but to focus on the actions that are agreeably correct, but might not have been my intuitive course of action.  Webinars, podcasts, and YouTube videos are also great sources of educational and inspirational material. I try to schedule at least 2 hours a week in these activities, and then make sure that I document what they taught.

There are several ways to take advantage of the knowledge and inspiration of others.  We don’t have to do this all alone!


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Introducing White Space Links

Blame Seth Godin

The challenge of monetizing the web is a tricky one, but a new venture launched right here and right now is out to solve that problem.

It’s called whItespAcelInks.

There’s all this unused white space on the web. Spaces in between paragraphs or links. Wasted.


Consumers are tired of being overwhelmed by ads and by pages that are stuffed to the gills with ads. What if the ads were invisible? What if we could insert links into the white spaces, links you didn’t have to see but could still be clicked on? What if those ads were carefully targeted, location-based and mobile?


This is even better than permission marketing. It’s invisible marketing.


In one fell swoop (does anything ever happen in two fell swoops?) we can double or triple the ad inventory of any website! And there’s no need for complicated creative, because, after all, the links are invisible.

Some highlights from the funding plan:

  • We will track every user, protecting privacy by never talking about the fact that we’re doing it.
  • We will create persistent browser tools that permit us to generate whItespAcelInks revenue even when you’re not online.
  • There will be no push back from regulators because the links are invisible.
  • Will there be Android? Yes. There will.
  • An iPad app? I can’t believe you even need to ask. In fact, the iPad app will be so appy that people will pay for it by subscription.


First round funding, announced today, is $11 million. We wanted to keep it modest and prove ourselves in the marketplace. The biggest challenge for us going forward is that the service only runs one day a year.



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