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    2014 Goals

    So, it’s already almost been a full month into the new year, and it’s already off to a great start. I ended the year with a great trip to NYC for NYE with my best friends, and then started the New Year with a trip to Vegas to attend CES

    I felt like I did an okay job accomplishing my 2013 goals last year. My overall goal is to accomplish at least 80% of my goals this year. Here they are:

    1) Put my health (physical and mental) as my #1 priority.

    I failed accomplishing this goal last year. My goal is to lose 30lbs by May. I am already down 3lbs this month, so I need to step up my game to get there. 

    So far, I have been doing the following:

    - Dramatically changed my diet. I am trying to make this into a lifestyle change. I am not eating as much processed food, mostly drinking just water, and creating a routine for myself. Right now, when I get up, I eat SmartStart with almond milk, and then I take my supplements (mutli-vitamin, vitamin d, green tea extract, and fish oil). I typically have some greek yogurt with granola as a snack. For lunch, I eat buffalo chicken and honey turkey (from the deli), with spinach, carrots, pickles, honey mustard, all on wheat bread. In addition, I mix a bowl of fresh fruit (apples, oranges, strawberries, black berries, kiwi, and blueberries

    - Using The Couch-to-5k app to get me back to good running shape. I’ve gone to the gym at least 3 times per week in 2014. I use the Couch-To-5k app, while listening to a workout playlist made by someone else. Once I can easily run a 5k (3.2 miles), I will start an intense weightlifitng plan. I will try to do a 5k daily and then start training for a 10k. 

    - In addition to running a few times per week, I am biking ~10 miles each time I work out. It takes about 20-25 minutes to bike 10 miles. Also, I try to do some scheduled spinning classes. 

    - I started rock climbing, which is truly a full body workout. It’s a social workout, which makes it so fun. There are so many reasons to start rock climbing, but I feel like it is a great complement to my running workouts. Also, it’ll make me lean and cut for the summer! 

    - I am taking swing dancing lessons. Other than to show off at my cousin’s wedding, I’m also doing it to get a great workout. I am going to start going two times per week. 

    - For my mental health, I started using Lumosity last year, but I have been committed to training my brain at least 3 times per week. I have a long way to go - my goal is to be in the 75th percentile.

    - I have been sleeping 8+ hours per night. I used to destroy my body by only sleeping 4-5 hours per night, but I am past that stage. I really want to be healthy and take care of my body and my mind. Sleep is so crucial and so important. I just downloaded an app called Sleep Cycle, which should help me regulate my sleep. 

    2. Get out of debt. 

    I still have a lot of debt from college, but I truly feel like I can get out of debt this year. 

    There is so much upside with Koofers Campus Recruiter, and I am leading all business development efforts. With my base salary + commission schedule, along with my consulting on the side, I can make a fair amount of money this year. One of the benefits of living in Blacksburg is that the cost of living is so cheap. And, personally, my standard of living is so low that I don’t have that many expenses. In all reality, to be happy, I simply need a comfortable bed and fast internet. 

    I need to crush it with Koofers. I have been using Pipedrive to make my sales funnel and I’ve spent a lot time really systemizing our sales process. It’s just all about the hustle, and I truly beleive in the product, which makes it easy for me to sell. We make it easy for companies to find the best college students and we make it easy for college students to find entry level employers. As WSLS said, it’s a win-win-win type business model. I love that. 

    3. Build a passive revenue stream. 

    Building onto goal #2, I want to build passive revenue streams. For instance, in my blog posts, if I recommend a book to read, I will use an affiliate link. If I recommend a product, I am going to use an affiliate link.

    I did a lot with affiliate marketing at Heyo, and I have some companies that I believe are value-adds. If I can make a few hundred dollars/mo and I’d recommend them anyway, then it’s a win-win-win. 

    Also, I am going to use sites like Clarity.fm, and inbound requests from friends/families to help out with financial planning.

    For instance, I may charge $100 for a financial plan. I could devote a lot of time to have some documents all ready to go to help out someone, so it doesn’t take too much time. In addition, I can use Skype to schedule time and then accept money via Paypal. 

    So, I hope to make a few hundred dollars/mo passively, and I’ve been reading up on various strategies to get there (one of them being blogging). 

    4. Have a personal CRM system nailed down. 

    Right now, I am obsessed with an app called Refresh. It helps me learn more about people I care about, as well as, take notes on different interactions. In addition, I am checking out Connect, but so far, I’ve been unimpressed. If there has anything that I’ve learned, relationships matter. A lot. My relationships with my family and friends mean the world to me. Unfortuantely, I have a horrible memory, which is why the concept of a personal CRM is intriguing to me. It’ll help me develop deeper relationships with people I care about. Luckily, I don’t have to build it myself; it seems like entrepreneurs are already building solutions. 

    My goal is to have a system down. For instance, “try to update 5 profiles on Refresh per week.”

    5. Focus a lot of time on working memory when learning. 

    I read about 3-4 hours per day, but the problem is that I don’t remember a lot of what I read. Working memory is defined as the part of short-term memory that is concerned with immediate conscious perceptual and linguistic processing. A VT Professor gave a great TED talk about it, too.

    So, rather than just read for leisure, I want to be “present” when I read. Maybe I won’t read 10 articles and watch 3 TED talks per day. Instead, I’ll read 3 articles and watch 1 TED talk per day. However, I’ll spend more time on each piece of content, which will allow me to process the information and truly learn from it. One of the biggest tools on the web that I have been overlooking is Evernote. This article changed my entire outlook on Evernote. Becuase of it, I bought a yearly premium subscription and I’m excited to start using it. For every book/article I read, I am going to take notes on it, structured in Evernote. Once I figure out my “Evernote system,” I will write a blog about it.

    6. Take classes online to learn new skills. 

    Higher education is changing, which is great for the consumer. Before, Professors were the ones who had all of the information and students learned from them. Nowdays with the internet, professors are no longer the gatekeepers of knowledge; rather, they are simply facilitators of the learning process.

    Anyway, there are a few skills that I want to attain this year: mastery in excel, beginner photoshop, deeper marketing analytical skills, and programming in HTML/CSS.

    Also, I am a lifelong learning. I am addicted to consuming content, so I’d like to take a few structured courses. Ideally, I want to take one class per month.

    Below are some of the tools that I plan on using this year to learn online:

    Coursera - This is a great way for me to refresh on financial markets or learn about the history of the internet

    Udemy - This is how I will master Excel, Photoshop, Marketing Analytics, and other important skills

    Skillshare - I will use this to take classes from people such as Seth Godin and Gary Vee. I also may teach a class on financial planning for young professionals or on digital marketing. 

    Lynda - I am still checking out Lynda, and I may try a class or two. There’s a great class I found on productivity that I may take soon. Regardless, it’s a great site, filled with a lot of great content. 

    Saylor - This is a great story. Michael Saylor is a billionaire, who decided to start a foundation to allow free and equal access to education (sound familiar? <—- the fact that a lot of people are doing this is GREAT for consumers of learning). I may just take one or two courses, but still, this is a great resource. 

    Dash - This is the website I will most likely use to learn HTML/CSS this year. Learning programming must be hands-on, but I really like the look/feel of this website. Excited to dig in. 

    7. Travel more.

    Last year, I traveled more than I ever have in my life. I got the “travel bug,” which means that I want to travel even more this year. One of my favorite websites that I found this year is called MyGola. It allows you to create custom itenaries for various places that you visit. I may also use one of the many websites out there to find a “local tourist” to help me find the best spots. Anyway, I want to visit the following places in 2014:

    Guilin, China to visit Angie. She’s one of my best friends, and she lives there. It’s a beautiful spot, and round trip flights are like $1,500. Not bad.

    - Brazil for the 2014 World Cup. I am currently on the waitlist for the American Outlaws Travel Package. But, going to the World Cup is on my life goals list.  

    - San Francisco for Koofers. I’d love to see Silicon Valley and the Tech scene. And, we could have some investor meetings while we’re there. Tour the city + work. Win-win.

    - Boston to visit friends

    - Vegas for Catalyst Week. I’ve made great friends with the folks over at Catalyst Creativ. I may be going back to Vegas to present AC4P at Catalyst Week. 

    Dover for Firefly. Great lineup. Excited to go and make a trip out of it with Co-Do. and Anney P

    - Palm Harbor to visit my mom and Wayne in their new retirement home. I’ll probably spend 1-2 weeks down there visiting them this summer!

    - A lot more beachtime. Wayne has a condo in Ocean City. I plan on working remotely this summer a lot at the beach. 

    8. Spend more time offline.

    I spend too much time online. I love learning online. I love working for an online business. But, I want to spend more time being present with people that I care about and out and about traveling. I want to limit my time on FB and social networks (max ~2 hrs/day). It’ll be tough, but I am going to try to slowly ween off of social networks.

    And, that’s it! These are my 2014 goals. Hopefully, I see a lot more “success” this year and that I build off of 2013.

    I have a feeling that this year is going to be the best year of my life. Time to make it happen. 


    Tags: goals2014 life

  2. Text post

    Recap of 2013 goals

    Last night, I was listening to some music and looking back on the past year of my life. A lot of ups and downs (mostly ups), but a lot of room for improvement, too. First things first, let’s take a look back at 2013. Last December, I wrote a blog post that detailed my goals for 2013. I printed these and I would check myself against them once per month. I do know that I need to be more specific in my goals for 2014. 

    On a high level, they were as follows

    1) Digitize my life

    2) Make my health a priority

    3) Buy a new wardrobe

    4) Build a personal CRM

    5) Automate my life more

    6) Become more of a minimalist

    7) Learn a ton of new marketing skills

    8) Get involved with Actively Caring again

    So, how did I do?

    Let’s break it down……..

    1) Digitize my life - SUCCESS

    I have done a good job of getting rid of a lot of the paper items in my life. Although I have not sold all of my paperback books, the only paperback book I read this year was Negotiation (The Brian Tracy Success Library), which was only about 100 pages long. I read about 2-3 hours/day, mostly on my computer and iPhone. I use the Pocket app to “save later” and I subscribe to blogs for daily reading, and mostly get content curation website articles via e-mail. I know myself well enough that I never look at bookmarks, and I use my e-mail as my “to-do list.” So, I’ve optimized reading good, quality content for myself. Going all digital has also made me much more efficent with my learning.

    Some highlights: 

    Productivity wise, I use:

    - Wunderlist for my to do list

    - Boomerang for Gmail to help me follow up with e-mails

    - Rapportive for Linkedin support within g-mail

    - Spotify for all of my music

    - Kindle (electronic ink) for all of my book reading

    - BetterSnapTool and Glui as a Mac App. Thanks for the recommendation for Glui, Travis!

    - I’ve become completely dependent on my google calendar, and I rely on it via Tempo app on my iPhone 

    - I made my truck completely blue tooth. This allows me to stream any song via Spotify at any time. It also allows me to use my phone as a hands-free device.

    - I have created a nice system for putting my life in the cloud. I moved all of my files on my computer to my dropbox/google drive. I only use Google Docs to make documents/spreadsheets. And I use Glui to save screenshots automatically in a folder in my Dropbox

    I still am thinking of ways to make it all even more streamlined. But, for 2013, I think digitizing my life was a huge success.

    2) Make my health a priority - FAILED

    My goal was to get back to this look, but I haven’t quite gotten there yet. This year has been a bit of a roller coaster. When I was at Heyo, I was working 70 hour weeks, and I have become addicted to learning. So, I sometimes find myself reading late into the night.

    And, also, Michael and I have been pulling a lot of all-nighters working on Koofers. And, I’ve learned that I just can’t do that anymore…..my body suffers and I end up become less productive for the long-term.

    So, I haven’t truly made it a priority, but I plan on focusing much more on it in 2014. I want to build myself a system with incentives (like I will lose $50/day from Gympact if I don’t go to the gym), focus on group workout sessions (which is how I lost weight while living in Charlotte) , etc.

    I’ll get there, and I can tell you that this will be my #1 focus for 2014. 

    3) Buy a new wardrobe - FAILED

    This completely relates to goal #2. I won’t buy a new wardrobe until I reach the ideal weight. And then, I will spend a few g’s on getting some really nice clothes.

    4) Build a personal CRM - PARTIAL SUCCESS

    I have used tools like Boomerang, Evernote, Google Drive, and Notes on my mac to remember things that are important to me. I have made a conscious effort to keep in touch with people that I care most about.

    Living with Shane and Michael has taught me to be more present in my-day-to-day. One thing that Shane does that really resonates with me is he actively listens to people really well. He consciously focuses on the other person during a conversation, nods when they say something interesting, and genuinely is there in that moment, in that conversation. 

    So, this goal has allowed me to become more offline with my friends, which is great. 

    I still want to build an actual system….and potentially even pay a developer (via kickstarter or with savings) to develop something basic for me to be more efficient of getting in touch with people. For instance, I’d love to go to NYC one weekend, and then get reminded to reach out to people I care about in NYC and then grab coffee with one/two of them. 

    And, one of my goals for 2014 will revolve around Evernote (I have a great idea on how to use it the right way), and I will also incorporate Evernote Hello to help me accomplish this completely next year. 

    5) Automate my life more - SUCCESS

    I have done a great job of automating a lot of things in my life. Technology websites such as IFTTT help me automatically backup important files. I also use it to remind me via text to take out the trash on Monday nights. Mike and I bought Wemo to automate some of our lights. For instance, if I come home late, my garage lights will automatically turn on when I open the door (from 6pm-6am) and then turn off 5 minutes later. 

    Digitizing my life forced me to think about automating my life more. Systems like boomerang for g-mail have helped me not have to devote mindshare to follow up; I don’t have to remember who I sent emails to and then try to remember if they responded.

    At Heyo, we did a lot of work with marketing automation so that we could focus on nurturing leads and developing long-term strategies to help fill the top of the funnel. 

    All in all, I think I did a great job automating my life more in 2013. It’s become a habit. Whenever I read something or do something, I think of a way I can get more time to do things that I enjoy (like travel, leisure time, work for actively caring, talk with people to tell them about Koofers Campus Recruiter, etc) 

    6) Become more of a minimalist - SUCCESS

    Digitizing my life has made me more of a minimalist. I still have a long way to go, and by the end of the year, I plan on selling all my paper book books and scanning all of my old school binders (I still have a bunch of binders from classes at VT) and organize them within Dropbox. I’m almost there 100%

    My goal is to be able to pack up and leave to go anywhere, at anytime, with just one pickup load of “stuff.”

    7) Learn a ton of new marketing skills - SUCCESS

    Wow. I have never learned so much in my life. This year, I worked with Heyo and learned a lot about social media marketing, marketing analytics, and more.

    I feel like I can apply my knowledge to almost any industry, which is why I have had some success consulting under the LLC Shane, Joey, and I started called Social Sway, LLC. Here is a link to our marketing model.  

    My favorite marketers are:

    Seth Godin (subscribe to his blog now), Gary Vee, and Andrew Chen

    I read a ton of great books like :

    a) To Sell Is Human: The Surprising Truth About Moving Others

    b) Predictable Revenue: Turn Your Business Into A Sales Machine With The 100 Million Best Practices Of Salesforce.com,

    c) Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook: How to Tell Your Story in a Noisy Social World

    …and many more

    This chart is all you need to know about marketing in today’s world.

    This article is all you need to know about my philosophy when it comes to selling and acquiring customers. As an example, now that Koofers is picking up momentum and employers are paying for our Campus Recruiting software, I am so excited to overwhelm them with value. To under promise and over deliver.

    Now, what do I read online:

    Quibb daily

    Inbound.org e-mail subscription 

    Seth Godin (of course)

    NextDraft (more for leisure but still good)

    Medium (more for leisure but still good)

    All of these come through my e-mail, and I click through to articles I enjoy, based on popularity and my interests (most of it is already curated for me). 

    Also, I am a part of a Listserv with really smart people called the “Thursday Article Club,” where I consume and share good content on the web every Thursday. 

    So, I was talking to my buddy Nik Bando the other day. He started a business called BogeyBox, and I advised him to think about the long-term play. He should lose money on every box. Why? Because he can overwhelm with value, hit critical mass, and then upsell or monetize later. Or, maybe his way to make money is to be golf companies “R&D” for new product development. And then he can sell access to his customers (via the bogey box surprise monthly subscription gift) and get a win-win-win-win. 

    And, he should tell people they get 6 items but give them 7. Tell them it’ll be there in a week, but get it to them in 3 days. Overwhelm with value and then the return will be 100x, even if it is delayed.

    All in all, I feel like I have learned a ton and can add a lot of value to companies. There’s a reason I was able to land a client like Lilly Pulitzer while working at Heyo. I know my shit, and I spend a lot of time learning and studying and reflecting and thinking. I understand the psychology of marketing and how to influence behavior (isn’t that every marketer’s goal?). Speaking of that, if you want to hire me to do a comprehensive marketing analysis with recommendations, shoot me an e-mail at brandoncarroll.vt at gmail dot com. 

    8) Get involved with Actively Caring again - SUCCESS

    Moving back to Blacksburg has been one of the best life decisions I have ever made.  Not only have I become best friends with Mike Rihani  - many fun road trips , a French roommate that we "americanized", and just unbelievable stories - I have also had the opportunity to live with my best friend, Shane, and work on Actively Caring again. As some of you know, making Actively Caring for People the most effective kindness movement and bullying prevention program is a lifelong dream of mine, and it is what truly motivates me. The feeling we get when we see a message like this from a student is what I live for. 

    We got our bank information together, got a CPA, talked with an attorney, and we are almost to the point where we can run campaigns and raise money. We technically can operate as a 501(c)3 non-profit and people can give us tax-deductible contributions, but we have not officially been granted 501(c)3 status by the IRS.

    Some highlights:

    First and foremost, Thank you, John Kurlak, for hosting our website (for free) and giving us technical guidance along the way. Thanks also to the Consulting Club at VT. They spent a semester helping us.

    Actively Caring won a grant from the DOJ for $500,000, and we’ve expanded to many new schools. We are developing the training literature for every school resource officer in the country. 

    We were featured on the front page of Cleveland’s #1 newspaper (Cleveland.com) which has over 1.2 million monthly readers, where it talked about our relationship with Chardon High School, following their tragedy in 2012. 

    Following Newtown’s shooting last year, we worked with their school to plan National Kindness Day.

    Actively Caring for People seems to be the place where schools and communities turn to following shooting tragedies. We want them to stop. We believe the best way to do that is to create a proactive, prosocial bullying prevention program in schools to empower students to do the right thing, especially when it is inconvenient. We want to create cultures of compassion, and we are headed in the right direction.

    I headed up a lot of the marketing and technology initiatives. We saw a new website, where people can now order wristbands and merchandise, as well as, learn about our programs and history. 

    We paid a local student to develop some videos for us to explain our vision and mission. 

    We ran a successful Gobblerfest marketing campaign, and our FB likes have grown to over 1,300. We integrated with NationBuilder, and our Phase II part of our website rollout will be coming out soon. It’ll allow people to see all of the stories, similar to GivesMeHope.com .

    We are averaging about $100/day in orders/donations and that allows us to invest in technology and to help schools who really need our help, but can’t afford to pay for it.

    One thing that I get really frustrated with is organizations that only help people…who don’t really need it. But that’s capitalism to a tee, right? Think about it:

    - The people who can’t afford financial planning are the ones who really need it. Or, the people who can get a ton of extra benefits, but are they the ones who really need a personal financial advisor? The entire industry is catered to the people who don’t need it.

    - The people who probably need an accountant are the ones who can’t afford it. Or, the people who pay for one get a ton of extra benefits, financially, just because they have money.

    - Educational programs mostly work and are catered to “good schools.” They are the ones who get all of the resources and tax dollars. They also get all of the perks (iPads for every kids, etc). Do they really need bullying prevention programs? What about the 70% dropout rate amongst low-income students?

    We seek to help change the cultures that need the most help. That’s the only way to really close the education gap in our country — change the hearts of people at the most risk. And our funding (purchases online, donations) have helped us go into more schools and help even more students.

    So, thank you to everyone who has contributed. It means the world to me. 

    I am going to continue to work on the technology side, focus on a marketing funnel, and launch a fundraising campaign in 2014.

    Highlights from 2013, from a personal perspective:

    Moving back to Blacksburg

    Working at Heyo, where I learned a ton. Got to work with some amazing people, and I would have paid for the experience I got.

    Meeting Gary Vee at SXSW, talking about personal relationship mgmt. He’s such a great guy. And he truly gets it.

    Going to Ocean City on a whim with Mike. 

    Speaking to Arlington County with David about social marketing. I will always feel grateful to Chris Hamilton for giving Shane and I a chance back in 2008-2009. 

    Going Skydiving, which I totally recommend. 

    Getting together with my three best friends, Joey, Shane, and Taris for a great weekend of fun. Hiking the Cascades

    Going to see USA play Germany in DC….#winning. What a game that was. Driving up with David G, even doing some improv while driving

    Visiting Joey and Blair in Chicago.

    The most epic, crazy trip to Vegas. Losing $600 in 10 seconds, and then winning it all back. —> another video from a different angle. Good god. The adrenaline. The best view in the strip, for free. Meeting with mayors at the US Mayor’s Conference. Meeting up with Justin Thorp, one of my closest mentors, and talking about some really interesting stuff, over drinks.

    Going out to a club with a new “friend

    Seeing the MJ show with Mike and Shane

    Making it rain at the Salem Fair. I made 4 3 pointers in a row to win that monkey.

    Shane’s amazing birthday celebration at the Roanoke Star …and then also the next night afterwards

    A lot of long nights of ChatRoulette at 1619

    Going to the beach again and seeing my family. Gotta love my cousins and the lil ones. Meeting Laura, who has become one of our best friends. 

    Seeing Zebib, my best girl friend, in Blacksburg. 

    Monthly calls with Adnan. What an inspiration

    Frequent talks with Michael Fischer. Can’t wait to see you out in Indy man. Love ya like a brotha. 

    Meeting Tim from Tint. We think the same, and they are experiencing hockey-stick growth and crushing it. We talk often and he’s become a great freind. 

    Getting to know Shereen really well. She has absolutely changed my life and she is my role model. The epitome of actively caring. We always say, “We aim to cultivate cultures of Shereen” instead of “cultures of compassion” because they are interchangable. 

    Getting these types of notes for Actively Caring stuff…..for people participating in our program.  Bobby’s talking about someone else in his class. 

    Getting a random French roommate for the summer. Teaching him how to lift. We made him a list of things to do in America. His perception of America is so off - he thinks everyone is wild and everyone wears cowboy hats and drinks a lot. 

    Going on a random road trip with Ben, Shereen, and Mike to round out the summer. Oh man. The stories. We took him to a nudist park as a surprise. He was not happy. 

    Ben literally wore his cowboy hat everywhere.  He also loves Hooters, for the wings of course. And he loved "American cigars." 

    We met so many beautiful women, And Ben got a lot of kisses 

    One of the highlights on the road trip was the fact that police loved to tell him that he couldn’t do something. He was constantly told he couldn’t sit somewhere, couldn’t park somewhere, couldn’t sleep somewhere. Hilarious. 

    All in all, it was an amazing trip, and we still miss Ben dearly

    Golfing with one of my mentors, John Dooley. Shooting under 100 on 18 consistently now. 

    All of the family dinners at 1619. A lot of amazing people and new friends. 

    My random new pump up song for the morning. 

    Going to the Orioles game with Anne and my dad’s side of the family

    Meeting my buddy Dan’s baby, Connor, for the first name. Love Dan and Anna. Amazing people. 

    My mom’s 60th birthday. She doesn’t look a day over 40! 

    Going to DC for Halloween and escorting Barack Obama and Michelle to the party. Doing a segway tour and visiting all of the memorials in DC

    All of the golf get togethers with Kevin Ayoub. What a great man. 

    My Uncle David’s 60th birthday party celebration. This is a note I wrote to him, thanking him for always being there for me. He is the best Uncle anyone could ever ask for. 

    Being mentored by Steve Skripak, a man of value and a man who truly leads by example. 

    Being mentored by Ralph Byers and Anne Moore, two administrators at Virginia Tech who are passionate about education and students. 

    Working for Koofers, and selling a balling product that I truly believe in. 

    Having an article that I wrote go viral

    It’s fun to go to meetings like this one

    And most recently, spending some time with my family for Thanksgiving. The cutest kids ever 

    And still to come is NYC in 2013……with my best friends.

    Summary of 2013: 

    What a year. A bit of a roller coaster at times, and as 2013 comes to a close, I finally feel confident, a sense of purpose , and headed in the right direction

    I learned a lot, made my life more efficient, and had a ton of fun.

    To end, I will tell a story. This week, I got together with two great people: Devin and Sarah (And Devin, I will never forget the night we played lesbian matchmaker at Lucky’s in Springfield. Good times). Anyway, we had an amazing conversation in Alexandria that ended up lasting around 3 hours. Towards the end of the conversation, Sarah asked me what she could for me….she loves the ambition I have and wants to help me in some way. I thought about it and I said, “Nothing, just be there. Continue to be present and let’s make an effort to stay in touch more.”

    Sarah’s a great person, and she has the same love for VTSGA that I do. And Devin is extremely intelligent and we have very good, intellectual conversations. 

    My point is that it is important to maintain friendships with people who matter the most to you. I’ve worked really hard to reconnect with old friends and to stay in contact with people who I care about.

    As I head into 2014, I look forward to continuing my 2013 goals, and focusing my life around measurable goals, just like I did this past year.

    And I will leave on the quote that sits atop my blog. It’s my favorite quote. 

    "Too many people are thinking of security instead of opportunity. They seem more afraid of life than death." - James F. Brynes. Looking back on 2013, I lived. And, I lived well. 

    And, I’ve never been happier in my life.


    Notes: 2 notes

    Tags: reflection goals2013

  3. Text post

    The difference between wealth and income

    Wealth is not a function of income; rather, wealth is a function of standard of living.

    Most people believe that in order to be “wealthy,” you must make a lot of income. That couldn’t be further from the truth. First, let’s step back and define those two terms and then explain the difference. 

    Income is simply the amount of money that someone receives on a regular basis. For instance, if you make $50,000/year, your income (without taking out taxes, benefits, etc), is $50,000/year. 

    Wealth is the length of time that someone can maintain their lifestyle, their standard of living without earning any extra money.

    Let’s take three real world examples:

    Example 1: When I was at Vanguard, I managed a book of business worth $1.4 billion dollars. My clients had between $1m-$5m in investable assets. One day, I was running a retirement analysis for one of my clients who called me……frantic. For this blog post, his name was John. He had a $2m portfolio. His biggest fear was outliving his money that he worked so hard to accumlate over 40 years, and now he was at a transitioning point in his life. His entire life he saved and saved and saved. This was his nestegg. And, now John was goin to be spending from this portfolio. That moment is very hard for people psychologically. And John wanted to enjoy his retirement. Completely understandable!

    When we went through his standard of living calculation (his expenses to be comfortable), John and his wife were spending about $170,000/year. I could tell that he was very worried on the phone. Through all of our calculations, his retirement outlook did not look great. Typically, financial planners recommend spending 4% of your portfolio in retirement. He was spending 11%! He wanted to spend the same amount next year, but he asked me what would happen to his portfolio if the market went down. I said, “John, could ya be comfortable spending $100,000?!” Most people think that in order to be wealthy, you need to make more. That’s just not true. We may some slight adjustments to his expenses and he was able to retire with a 85% degree of certainity that he wouldn’t outlive his money.

    Example 2: A lawyer I know makes $500,000/year, but he also spends $500,000/year. It’s crazy to me that he lives paycheck to paycheck, but he has amazing “things.” He has a nice audi, a really expensive house and mortgage. His expenses are so high that he will never be wealthy. His income is high, but it doesn’t mean anything if he can’t save and invest.

    Example 3: A good friend of mine has really inspired me. He makes $40,000/year, but he lives as if he makes $30,000/year. So, every year, he saves $10,000. This means that he will be able to retire much earlier, because his needs in retirement will be much less. 

    Takeaway: Make more or spend less. It’s not hard. Think about your standard of living and reflect. 

    For me to be happy, I need a comfortable bed and fast internet. That’s about it. This past year, I got rid of most of my “stuff” and I’ve never been happier.

    Right now, I live in Blacksburg, VA with two of my best friends and my rent is $500/mo. I can travel to DC/NYC when I want to, but without the high cost of living. And Blacksburg is a great place to do business…..

    My goals include a lot of travel. I don’t need a nice house (I don’t even think I’ll own a home) or a nice ass car. I just want to travel and never have to work in order to maintain a standard of living that is set too high. 

    Think about what you need in terms of standard of living. What are you spending money on? If your income increased, would your spending increase, too? 

    I hope you’ve learned that wealth is a function of standard of living, not income. 

  4. Text post

    Entrepreneurs: Born or Made?

    I was recently asked if entrepreneurs are born or made. Below are some answers I wrote to a current VT student after he interviewed me virtually. 

    1) Are entrepreneurs born or made? Why?

    Entrepreneurs are made, plain and simple. Sure, some innate traits from parents help shape you as a person. However, what is the number one predictor of your wealth in the future? Answer: Your parent’s wealth. Your circumstances and experiences shape you. The resources you have available throughout your life determine the possible opportunities you have to succeed.

    What is the best predictor of future behavior? Answer: Past behavior. If your parents encourage you with a consequence to try to be an entrepreneur and you are rewarded for that behavior (for instance, your parents make it so you don’t have to do chores if you start mowing lawns to make money), and you make good money mowing lawns, you are more likely to continue “entrepreneurial behavior” in the future.

    I am a big believer in behavioral psychology, and that people can be shaped and molded given the right environment. As an example, by VT having an “innovate house,” it encourages and produces more entrepreneurs….by nurturing them, not “naturing them.” 


    2) What traits make a good entrepreneur? Can these traits be taught?

    In my opinion, the traits that make a good entrepreneur are as follows:

    Trait 1: Grit and hustle. 

    Being an entrepreneur is not easy. It’s hard and there are plenty of long nights that are extremely frustrating. Sometimes, you just want to quit. I say to myself all of the time, “Ahh, my friends get off at “5” and it’s so tempting to go into the corporate world and live a nice plush life.” But, I want to make a difference in the world, so I have the grit and I have the hustle. A good entrepreneur has the patience and determination (the grit) to struggle and overcome, and then he/she has the hustle (the work ethic) to be working til 3am to outperform the competition. 

    Trait 2: Are mission driven/passionate

    Typically, in order to have grit and hustle, you must be mission driven and passionate. As an example, “making money” should not be the end goal of an entrepreneur. Rather, it simply acts as a by product for doing something that adds value in the world. Kaitlin from the Innovate House is passionate about water issues. Sure, she can make money from an annual event that hosts tennis tournaments. But, what is going to keep her going late at night? It’s helping fix the water issue and it’s the image of seeing joy in the faces of people she helped. Passion is often just a “thrown around word” that people use — but if you really think about the definition of the word (1.A powerful emotion, such as love, joy, hatred, or anger.), it’s extremely powerful. Money is great, sure, but passion about a mission is how entrepreneurs are made. 

    Trait 3: Self-motivated

    In a typical corporate setting, you are “motivated” by your boss. Your boss may say, “Come in at 9am and leave at 5pm. Here is a computer with everything you need to be successful. Go.” Whereas, an entrepreneur has to make his/her own setting and he/she must be self-motivated.

    Trait 4: Inspiring

    An entrepreneur must be a really great salesperson. Now, that seems like an odd thing to say when coupled with the word “inspiring.” But, an entrepreneur must “sell people” on the idea in order to have any traction. To truly sell someone on an idea, you must be inspiring. To be inspiring, you typically have to be mission driven and passionate. To get to the point to inspire people, you must have grit and hustle. To inspire people is to lead them. To lead them is to change the world, which is what entrepreneurs are made to do. 

    And yes, I think these traits can be taught. Put someone in an environment like Innovate and they can learn these skills. Have previous entrepreneurs model the right behavior, and you’ll see how it influences others. 

    3) What made you interested in entrepreneurship?

    Injustice. I’ve always been passionate about making the world better, because I always realized what I had in life. My mother constantly reminded me that we had a warm house with food on the table and a roof over our head. I’ve seen the world (empathy, understanding) and seen the grave injustices. From those experiences, I determined that I didn’t just want to be a corporate guy who works 9-5 and lives for the weekends. I wanted to live my mission, which is to help spread intentional acts of kindness around the world and create cultures of compassion.

    If the world is compassionate, a lot of the issues are solved. Our entire culture in America is based on a “me first” mentality. In other words, in aggregate, America is greedy and most people care only about themselves. I want people to see the power of kindness and genuinely helping others, without expecting something in return. 

    Injustice made me realize how short our lives are……which helped me have grit and hustle because I saw/see the brevity of life.

    I have a defined mission, with goals and strategies (actively caring for people) to help me get there.

    I am self-motivated, as it is all I think about….and I see the impact.

    And, hopefully, I inspire people when I talk about the potential and the power of kindness.

    And, that is why I am interested in entrepreneurship.

    What do you think? Are entrepreneurs born or made? 


    Tags: entrepreneurship life

  5. Text post

    My Thoughts On Steger Retiring

    So, President Steger is officially retiring after 13 years at Virginia Tech. I feel eternally grateful for his leadership and guidance to my alma mater. When I was Student Body President at VT, he showed that he genuinely cared about students and our success. He was extremely strategic (planning the Arlington VT center, the Carillion Partnership, etc.). My degree is worth more to the market because of Steger’s leadership.

    I am more impressed with his calm demeanor and ability to create consensus. Whether it was him leading VT into the ACC, or helping our campus through the largest tragedy on a college campus, President Steger did it with a sense of honesty and composure.

    For those people trying to damage his reputation and say that he was responsible for lives being lost at Virginia Tech, shame on you. Cho is the only one responsible for the tragedy that occured on April 16, 2007. He would have killed people that day, whether they were in Norris or D2. 

    I was talking with a good friend and mentor of mine earlier, Drew Lichtenberger. This is what he said following the tragedy at Virginia Tech.

    "Think of Virginia Tech as one body who just got attacked and we’re lying in the hospital bed. We need to use all the energy of our body to heal our wounds. What does a person go through who has just been maliciously attacked? Shock, vexation, confusion, anger, sadness, grief, disbelief, denial, etc. We’re trying to survive and make sense of what happened and gain clarity and perspective. Many questions are asked and some we will never have the answers to.

    Some people are at our bedside asking us “shouldn’t have Tech done this or that? Why didn’t someone do their job?” I hope people are not intentionally trying to cause more distress but we need all white blood cells on the wound, we do not need to be wasting energy dealing with more confusion and second guessing.

    We need love, healing, comfort, consolation, forgiveness, and service to each other.

    The worst thing we can do as a Hokie Nation is to let the toxicity of the second-guessing and doubt to invade our own body and have our own community turn against itself. In a time like this where community members have confusion, vexation, and anger, it’s easy to mistakenly want to place blame. We cannot blame the administration or ourselves; Virginia Tech did NOT ask for this tragedy nor bring it upon herself, it’s not our fault. I believe our administration and police leadership did the best they could, but that is beside the point. Right now we need to band together and support EVERYONE in our Hokie Nation. Please encourage each other to serve one another and come together.

    Right now my Hokie family needs me to be supportive and serve them. I need to support Dr. Steger and the entire leadership and not let anything divide us against one another.

    Let’s not be remembered as the massacre university, but the university who embodied her to her motto, Ut Prosim and came together as community. I hope and pray we can serve one another in patience, kindness, goodness, forgiveness, and gentleness in our time of great need and agony.

    Please feel free to pass along this message to anyone it might help.

    God Bless and Ut Prosim,

    Drew Lichtenberger

    Virginia Tech, B.S. 2000”

    In closing, Virginia Tech is better because of Steger. We are stronger because of Steger. Thank you, President Steger, for your amazing leadership to the most amazing University in the world. You have showed us the true spirit of Ut Prosim. 


    Notes: 1 note

    Tags: steger virginiatech

  6. Text post

    Everything You Need To Know About Personal Finance

    Can be found in this link: I will be writing a 5 part series in the near future that has a ton of important information specifically for young professionals. But, for now, this is a great place to start. 


    Tags: personalfinance money

  7. Text post

    The World Needs More Curiosity

    As a society, we have lost our sense of wonder. We are no longer curious beings; it seems that the world is just one cog in a machine focused on tomorrow, instead on what the future can be. Every day, we hear what is wrong with America. We constantly bash our President and our Congressman and Congresswoman, but we, as a people, face some very serious challenges in the next decade. Just to put it into perspective, we are fastly approaching a 100% debt to GDP ratio. We have so many long-term debt obligations (public pensions, social security, medicare), and we will not survive as a country if we don’t make some extremely drastic changes within the next few years.

    I firmly believe that the reason we excelled as a society in the 60s, 70s, 80s and 90s is because of one simple statement that President John F. Kennedy said on May 25, 1961, “I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the Moon and returning him safely to the Earth. No single space project in this period will be more impressive to mankind, or more important in the long-range exploration of space; and none will be so difficult or expensive to accomplish”

    That statement made us curious. It had Americans talking. It had us thinking about the future. How do we put a man on the moon? What are the next steps to put a man on the moon? Most importantly, it had never been done before. President Kennedy challenged the American people to accomplish a goal so profound that it was damn near impossible. And we did it. 

    As a byproduct, we ignited the technical revolution. It inspired the entrepreneurs to solve real world problems. Our country, based in capitalism, shocked the world and our GDP exploded. Random fact: My Grandma Gloria (most beautiful person I’ve ever met, RIP) worked on the ENIAC, which was the first computer ever built in the early 1940s. That was a big deal because she was a mathematician during a time when most women were housewives and not breadwinners.  

    And look what came from NASA.

    Imagine a world where President Obama challenged our country to solve a problem that seemed impossible to solve. What if he said during the Inauguration Address, “I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before my term is over, of making New York City into the first underwater city?” Obviously, this wouldn’t be the actual challenge (or could it?), but what would this accomplish?

    It would invoke curiosity. We would question “how.” We would begin to critically think as a nation to solve a problem. That is…powerful. That would ignite a revolution. Dare I say it would help solve some of the most critical problems facing our nation.

    I was talking with Nathan the other day, and he obsesses over the idea of never losing our sense of curiosity.  To him, life no longer has meaning if we are no longer curious. So, Nathan met with a couple of local high school students. They had an idea to launch a rocket from space by using helium balloons to carry the rocket to space and then launch it from space. They feel like it can go a lot farther if the actual launch is from space. Also, they thought about putting solar panels close to the sun and beaming that energy back to earth. Nathan challenged them and told them that he would fund their idea if they came with a prototype next weekend. They were so excited! They’ve been pulling all nighters thinking about their idea. We are also going to have some Aerospace Engineers present to help them with their idea.

    Why does this matter?

    Think hard about the last time you thought about the impossible. It took me awhile. Honestly, it took me until I heard Nathan’s story about the high school students idea that I started to critically think about the fact that I didn’t “wander” enough; I was not curious enough. I firmly believe that we can learn more from children and the elderly than we can from “adults” and people aged 24-55, yet we don’t respect their time or their opinion. Kids dream too much and are idealistic and we place the elderly in nursing homes and forget about them. There is so much we can learn from someone who grew up during World War II, or saw how computers have impacted our daily life.

    Recently, I read a book called “Curious?: Discover the Missing Ingredient to a Fulfilling Life. My best friend, Shane recommended this book to me after he heard Dr. Todd Kashdan speak at George Mason, where he is an Associate Professor in one of the best Positive Psychology programs in the country. There’s an actual science behind curiosity. In his book, Curious?, Dr. Todd Kashdan offers a profound new message missing from so many books on happiness: the greatest opportunities for joy, purpose, and personal growth don’t, in fact, happen when we’re searching for happiness. They happen when we are mindful, when we explore what’s novel, and when we live in the moment and embrace uncertainty. Positive events last longer and we can extract more pleasure and meaning from them when we are open to new experiences and relish the unknown.

    Think about how this applies to the vision a leader, such as Barack Obama, can have for a country. Why do Presidents do the same thing year after year and expect different results? There are always (x) amount of State of the Unions. Some special speeches. Positions in the Oval Office for the most part remain the same. What if the next President’s vision was to invoke curiosity and focus entirely on empowering the citizens of the United States to solve real world issues by asking questions. By talking about ideas and figuring out ways to execute them? Would this change the way the press approached his speeches?

    In my opinion, we need our leaders to act more like John F. Kennedy in order to invoke more curiosity in us all. To end this blog post, I will leave you with a quote by Walt Disney, arguably the most curious person to have ever lived:

    “We keep moving forward, opening new doors, and doing new things, because we’re curious and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.”


    Notes: 1 note

    Tags: curiosity

  8. Text post

    My Experience With Lifetime Fitness

    UPDATE: They have processed a refund. It still shouldn’t have taken all of this to get a refund. 

    Alright, so has anyone heard of the story about United Airlines breaking guitars? In business, you should always treat your customers with the utmost respect. Screwing over customers has got to be the stupidest business model in the history of the world. A few years ago, I read a book called "Satisfied Customers Tell Three Friends, Angry Customers Tell 3,000." It’s a great book and I highly recommend it. In other words, as an angry customer, I am 1,000 times more likely to tell everyone about my experience than if I am a satisfied customer. With that said…..

    I have had the worst customer experience in my life by trying to cancel my Lifetime Fitness gym membership. Like beyond belief bad.

    ….and it’s still ongoing.

    Let’s rewind for a second and take it back to November 28, around Thanksgiving. I went in to cancel my membership, because I had hardly gone to the gym. Just an FYI — it costs $94/month and is a luxurious gym located in Potomac Maryland. I actually spoke to a man named Steven Gold and he said that I would be charged $94 for the month of December (their cancellation policy), but then I’d be good to go after that.

    Nope, January 1 comes around and I was charged $94 again. And yesterday, I was charged once more!

    So, on January 3, I called their office and they said they had no record of me canceling my membership. And to make it even better, they had a rule that stated I had to cancel in person (which I already did). The only problem was that I had just moved to Blacksburg, VA and I didn’t want to drive all the way down to Maryland to cancel something that I already canceled. And, it had to be me there….physically. I couldn’t Skype or have my Aunt go in my place. 

    So, like anyone else, I e-mailed and called Steven Gold. It’s weird, because him and I had a great conversation. I talked with him for about 45 minutes! We talked about economics, relationships, and more. Below is the exact e-mail that I sent to Steven Gold from Lifetime fitness on January 3:

    Hi, Steven:

    I hope this e-mail finds you well. I met with you at the end of November (we talked finance and entrepreneurship and even our ex-girlfriend/wife situation) to cancel my membership. I loved it at Lifetime, but I moved away to Blacksburg, VA for a job. You told me that I would be charged for December, and then I would no longer be charged for my membership. However, I was charged for January, and I spoke with someone at the front desk who told me that my account was still active. I would like a refund for the month of January. I believe there was a mixup of paperwork. I attached my picture to help you remember who I am and our conversation.
    I look forward to hearing from you.

    …no response. I called him and left him voicemails. No response. I even called and left his manager, Gadi, a voicemail and I received no response. Another e-mail as a follow up…..no response. What’s weird is that he always answered my e-mails when I was just a prospective client.

    So, I said, you know what, that’s fine. Maybe it was two months worth…I’ll bite $94 as long as it doesn’t continue.

    As it neared the date (February 1), I called the Corporate office at 952-947-0000 to see what the situation was. I talked with a woman named Tanya, and she was wondering if I could forward her the e-mail. Unfortunately, Verizon doesn’t let you talk and browse the internet at the same time, and I was on the road, so I told her I could call her back and we would go from there. I call her back, and someone else answered and I wasn’t able to continue my conversation (It’s honestly not a big deal, but it seems like they are corporate and have structure….for the sake of being corporate and having structure — they aren’t thinking logically).

    Anyway, I follow up again and they said they would look into it and e-mail me back. No e-mail. And….whaddya know, I have not received a response. 

    So, on January 31, I begin to get pissed. I sent them an e-mail basically saying that if I was charged on February 1, I will write a blog about, go to the press, the BBB, and passionately recommend to all of my friends in Maryland that no one ever goes to the gym.

    Well, I was charged $94 yesterday, I am pissed. I am passionately recommending that no one ever go to Lifetime fitness.

    Here’s the lesson: If you treat your customers right, if you actively care about them, they will always treat you right. Business…is personal. It’s not a “dog eat dog” world out there anymore. 

    Oh, and It looks like I’m not the only one who has had issues with Lifetime fitness.

  9. Text post

    Build a brand by not focusing on your brand

    So, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking lately about what makes businesses/individuals successful. What is it? How do businesses scale…fast?

    I lead a team of 8 highly talented, self-motivated marketing geniuses. It’s been the most amazing experience so far. I love marketing. I love learning. I absolutely love the psychology behind marketing/relationships. I live, eat, breathe, sleep, and dream it.

    I have found and I firmly believe that if businesses/individuals focus on NOT building a personal brand that they will build an absolutely amazing personal brand.

    When I was Student Body Pres at VT, I got a lot of press. So what? I honestly could have cared less about getting press/getting my name out there. I genuinely was not trying to get press, nor did I give a rat’s ass about my own personal brand. It was the late night meetings with administrators, where they knew that I cared that allowed me to get shit done. By getting shit done, we got noticed by press. I wouldn’t have been able to get shit done if my intent was not genuine….if I cared about press. 

    Thus, I built a personal brand, but it was a secondary outcome, not a primary one.

    So, how does this apply to Heyo? In today’s society, no one wants to be “sold” anything. So, how do you sell? You add value. You look for ways to help your potential “customer” and honestly don’t care if they become a customer. As Gary Vee would say, you jab, jab, jab, jab, jab, jab, jab, jab, right hook. The right hook comes once you build trust and have permission from them to even bring up the potential to buy a product that could help them. 

    Our team’s mottos are as follows:

    1) “Who does that?” I want our clients to say that…to be overwhelmed with value and amazement (think Zappos). So, I empower my team to always go above and beyond (to actively care) so the clients reaction is…..”holy shittt…who does that?”

    2) Screw it, let’s do it. If someone has a creative idea, execute it. We are a start up. We are young and hungry. Let’s do it. 

    So, don’t ever boast about your personal accomplishments and you’ll have more accomplishments. It’s ironic.

    My previous employer, Vanguard, manages over $2.2 trillion (yes, with a T), but we never sold to our clients. I was paid a salary and was given bonuses based on metrics such as Net Promoter Score, not on sales. Ironically (not really), it brought more sales. Actually, our net cash flow was more than the next 9 largest mutual companies….combined

    If you want to build a billion dollar company, your goal shouldn’t be to build a billion dollar company. The only way to truly succeed is if that is not your primary outcome. Facebook’s primary outcome is to make the world more open and connected. They just happen to have a $50-100 billion dollar business (depending on how the stock market reacts on that certain day).

    So, what’s the takeaway?

    Everyone is out there promoting themselves, their own brands, etc. Marketing has become a bunch of one-way messages, hoping someone will care. Stand out. How? Go and join conversations. Go and add value to others. Comment on other blogs. Add value to Google Communities. Be genuine about your intent and don’t expect anything in return.

    Ironically (not really), your return will be tenfold. 

    Ironically (not really), that’s how you will win. 

    Build a brand by not focusing on your brand.


    Notes: 1 note

    Tags: entrepreneurship branding marketing

  10. Text post

    Personal Goals for 2013

    As I enter a new year, I have been thinking a lot about 2012. What went right? What didn’t?

    Just to recap, I had a great job at Vanguard, moved to Maryland to work for an education startup in Rockville, went through a depression, got out of said depression, and I committed myself to having a career in marketing/entrepreneurship.

    At Vanguard, I performed very well. I had very deep relationships with my clients (I managed a book of business of 620 high net worth families, with assets at about $1.4 billion), had some amazing co-workers, and could have easily seen myself there for 20…30 years. I still talk with some of my clients regularly, and some of my co-workers are friends for life.

    I was under contract on a house; I now understand the home buying process. I bought a truck; I know how to research cars/trucks. Had a wonderful relationship (for the most part) that ended. Learned a lot. Had an amazing dog (still miss the little guy). And then, I moved to Maryland when another opportunity came calling. I worked with teachers and understand a lot more about the education problems facing our country. I understand venture capital (for the most part) and how it all works. I acquired some marketing skills, and I networked with some great people who I am excited to learn from.

    So, how do I define 2013? For me, I hope it is my best year professionally and personally. I hope I become more focused, reliable, and just crush it. Last year was a bit of a rollar coaster ride for me , but now I know my strengths and what to work on. I was just diagnosed with a mild form of adult ADD (who would have thought?), and I am excited to work through it.

    So, below are my 2013 goals, as well as, a TL:DR, and things for you to read/takeaways.

    First and foremost, I am moving back to Blacksburg to work for Heyo. I am starting in early January, and I am excited to learn a ton and help the company flourish.

    1) Digitize My Life. I finally am a believer in the Kindle. I want to buy/download every book that I own in print and put them onto the Kindle. I only want keep a select few in print. It’s an investment (will be a good chunk of change), but I believe it will make my life a lot easier and more fun. Think about it. Before bed, I will be able to pull out my Kindle and choose from a complete library of books! Traveling will be easier and I will have a lot less clutter in my house/apartment. I also want to get rid of all of my CDs/music and switch to Spotify unlimited or premium. I want to move my entire life into the cloud, as well as, organize all of my files.

    2) Make My Health A Priority. As some of you know, I am only have one speed, which is “all out.” I want to get back to this look, but 10-15 lighter! Eating healthy and consistenly working out are priorities for me moving forward. I am going to try to take baby steps and make sure it is something that is sustainable. Before getting a new wardrobe (see next goal), I want to have the right physique, so I can buy tailored clothing. I have a goal of running a half-marathon by the end of the 2013. There is no elevator to success. You have to take the stairs. I’m ready to take baby steps towards this goal.

    3) Buy A New Wardrobe. In the past few months, I have really started to understand and appreciate fashion and style. I used to just buy random outfits at like Kohls or JC Penneys. I have two walk-in closets full of clothing. I want to sell/donate a lot of my “stuff” and own a simple, quality wardrobe. A nice mix of professional (3-4 suits), with some casual, and some workout clothing. I own a lot of nice clothes already; it’s just a matter of sifting through it all, talking to some fashion afiancidos, and by the end of the year, be happy with my wardrobe.

    4) Build A Personal CRM. One of my faults is that I struggle to “keep in touch” with people. I meet someone at a conference, follow up with them via e-mail, and then fail to keep in touch with that contact after a few months. I want to build a system that works something like this: a) Meet someone, exchange information. b) Follow up with them via e-mail/LinkedIn, c) Find something of value to share with them, d) Have a system automatically notify me in like 3 months to follow up with them, e) Modify/adjust and repeat. I want to create a system of efficiency for my own personal relationships. I want to make it a priority to maintain (and sustain) relationships with family, friends, mentors, etc. I want to personally write birthday and holiday cards to people and mail them to their address. I want to automate all of that. It is so important to dig your well before you’re thirsty!

    5) Automate My Life More. Perfect segue into my next goal. I want to automate my life. I have always automated my finances, but I want to figure out how to automate my laundry. How do I automate healthy eating? What about a workout routine? I’ve always been a fan of Ramit Sethi and Tim Ferriss. The more time I can spend automating “routine” tasks, the better my life will be. I can spend more time traveling, maintaining important relationships. The more I automate my life, the more I’ll be able to ensure I don’t live a life with regret. I also want to automate some tasks at work, so I can spend more time on high-level, creative ideas, and less time on figuring out who to respond to following a marketing campaign.

    6) Become More Of A Minimalist. I have a lot of stuff. I mean….a lot. By digitizing my life, I will be able to live with less clutter and stress. Also, it will save me a ton of money for the long-term. So many people have so much “stuff” but how much of it do we really use regularly? Becoming a minimalist will take some work and some time, but I will be so much happier after I have accomplished this goal. So, I will be selling a ton of stuff on eBay, donating a lot clothes to the YMCA, and more.

    7) Learn A Ton Of New Marketing Skills. I have realized that I absolutely love marketing. Even moreso, I love the infusion of psychology and marketing. In 2013, I want to become a subject matter expert in word of mouth marketing, evangelist marketing, and social media marketing. That means that I may want to join WOMMA. That is what I get excited about: How to create an experience so amazing, so rememberable, that a client/customer spreads your message/product for you? How to make a brand so personal that people feel like they are a part of something bigger them themselves. However, I am most excited about learning marketing analytics. How do we optimize a funnel for user acquistion? What’s the most effective way to use KISSMetrics? What do we measure? How often? What are the the important KPIs? After talking with one of my mentors, he explained to me that the idea of user acquistion is simple: a) Find your customers, b) Get them to use your product, c) Get them to tell us how we suck/how we can improve (continuous feedback), d) Fix the problem (if any), give them all of the credit, e) Follow up consistently, f) Repeat. Testing and iterating. Testing and iterating. My life will be. Wake up, data. When I go get food, data. When I go to the gym, data. Bathroom, data. Before bed, data. In my dreams, data. If you don’t have data, you’re just a jerk with an opinion. Anyway, in digital marketing, there are many channels to acquire and sell to potential customers. Writing amazing content, search engine optimization, search engine marketing, putting ads on random blogs where your customers go to for content, social media, webinars, customer relationship marketing, and more. I am excited to build a CRM platform that takes Net Promoter Score into account and evangelizes our customers. It’s about the little things, like remembering that (Suzie) likes homemade goods and sending her homemade cookies on her 1 year anniversary as a customer, along with a handwritten card. The real question is….how do you scale that? New marketing slogans for 2013 are “Who does that?” and “Screw it, let’s do it.” I know the what, I just need to learn the how. I can’t wait.

    8) Get Involved With Actively Caring Again. When I move back to Blacksburg, VA, my number one priority will be working with Heyo, helping it succeed, and learning new marketing skills. However, actively caring is more than just a movement; it is a values system. I believe in the mission and I want to incorporate daily intentional acts of kindness into my life again. Once I learn the proper marketing channels (how to measure, iterate, etc), I will be able to apply those to actively caring and assist in any way that I can. When AC4P was in my life, I was a lot happier. Committing intentional acts of kindness will lead me down the road of self-transcendence.

    TL; DR:

    • 2012 was an interesting year. Very much a learning experience. In two words: Roller Coaster
    • I loved it at Vanguard, still have a passion for personal finance. 
    • Gained an understanding of how to purchase a home, finance a car/truck, manage a lease and all of my utilities, stick to a budget, take care of a dog, and be in a committed relationship. 
    • Took a risk and worked for an education startup. Learned a lot about venture capital, and have a true understanding of the education issues facing our country
    • Goals for 2013 are as follows: 1) Digitize my life, 2) Make my health a priority, 3) Buy a new wardrobe, 4) Build a personal CRM, 5) Automate my life more, 6) Become more of a minimalist, 7) Learn a ton of new marketing skills, 8) Get involved with actively caring again.
    • My goals aren’t “SMART” goals. Rather, they are a framework for me next year.  

    Next Steps For You:

    • Read MBA Mondays (a free MBA). Just do one per week.
    • Bookmark Fred Wilson’s AVC
    • Subscribe to Mark Cuban’s Personal Blog
    • Buy these books: 4 Hour Chef, Tipping Point, Linchpin
    • Watch this TED talk.
    • Get involved with Actively Caring. Buy some wristbands and spread intentional acts of kindness throughout your community.

    My next blog post will be titled something like, “Everything you need to know about personal finance” (creative, right?). It will mostly likely be a 3-5 part series, where I will cover basically everything I know about managing personal finances. Background: I am very close to being a CFP, I earned my securities license (7 & 63), studied applied economic management, and worked at Vanguard for 1 1/2 years, where I helped high net worth families manage their wealth.


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