I Am A Professional

I am a professional. That might look like a bold statement until you have an understanding of the definition of a professional.

Agnes and me
Agnes and me

A professional is someone who gets paid for work that they do. If you cut down trees for a friend and they pay you, that might not make you a professional. If you cut down trees for a few people and they pay you for it, you can call yourself a professional tree cutter. It doesn’t mean that’s your entire career, but if you can make money doing something more than once, you should consider yourself a professional at it. It doesn’t mean you’re an expert; it just means you’re a professional.
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Fitbit Trackers; Let’s Talk

My mother is a genius. She doesn’t know it but she is. That’s because in my life there have been two recommendations she made to me that I kind of dismissed that she thought were really important… and she turned out to be totally correct. The first one was a computer, which she and my dad bought for me on my 27th birthday; the second was the Fitbit Flex tracker, which she bought on my 55th birthday.

Fitbit trackers
My Fitbit

You see that picture to the right? That’s the wristband I wear that contains this little dongle that I’ll share in a different picture. The little dongle (that’s what they call it lol) is the actual contraption that tracks my steps and, when I remember to set it, tracks my sleep. It’s the steps part that’s been paramount towards my health over the last year or so.

I can’t comment on any other trackers that are out there, so I’m sticking with the one I know. In my opinion, it’s one of the greatest things I’ve ever gotten. Mom bought me the first one; since that time I’ve purchased two others for myself and one for my wife.

You’re probably asking why I had to buy more than one; it’s not because it broke or went bad. I lost two of them; one in Memphis somewhere, the second on my final flight back from Memphis, where I knew I had it in Philadelphia but when I landed in Syracuse it wasn’t on my arm anymore; sigh… So, both totally on me.

As with everything, there’s the good and the bad and the questionable. Let’s start with the good.

When I first got it, I wasn’t totally sure of how accurate it was. Now I feel pretty good about its accuracy because I’ve run a lot of tests with it. In central New York, when it gets cold and snowy it’s not the smartest move in the world to be walking around outside. I hated going to the gym, so I created my own course in the house. I tested the steps thing and it’s right on the mark.

To track everything you need to download the Fitbit app onto your smartphone. Actually, that’s the smart way to go, because you can hook the charger to your computer, download software and go that route if you don’t have a phone. It’s just so much easier the other way.

It tracks steps, miles, calories burned and active minutes. The first one is the main goal but the one that’s most important are the active minutes. That’s the one that tells you whether the steps you took during the day were conscious steps, as in walking with a purpose, or just casual steps, like getting up from your desk to walk into another room. The more active minutes, the more calories you burn. If you tie it in with a food tracking app like Myfitnesspal it adds calories to your daily intake. That sounds pretty cool doesn’t it? Well, I’m going to come back to that.

You can also make adjustments based on your stride, which you determine based on your height. So, for me, it takes 10,575 steps to hit 5 miles, but my friend Steve (he’s 6’5″) can get it done in fewer steps. Anyway, that’s my daily goal, and I pretty much smash it every day, as I average between 17,000 and 20,000 steps a day. But there are times when I’m engaged in other work or travel and I know I’m not going to hit those numbers, but I always make sure to hit my 5 miles.

Oh yeah, I mentioned sleep earlier. If you double click on it the tracking mode changes over to track sleep. We all need good sleep. Unfortunately, I don’t sleep well, and this thing confirms it. I average about 2 1/2 hours of sleep a night; no, that’s not good. Most of my “sleeping hours” show me as being restless, which means I move a lot, wake, doze, wake, etc. So, in the morning it’ll show me how many total hours I was in bad, how much real sleep I got and when I got it. Hey, at least I know right?

The overall thing is that having something like Fitbit on you all the time encourages you to move; at least it does for me. I don’t have to count steps, it’s better than the old style pedometer, and if you’re willing you can add other people to your list and compete or just help to encourage each other to walk more. Frankly, anything that encourages us to move more is a good thing.

What it’s done for me is helped me lose inches. If no one’s ever told you that exercise doesn’t help you lose weight, I’m telling you that not. lol You lose weight by controlling what you eat. However, exercise helps you lose inches and get toned, and if you can also control how you eat, the combination works wonders. I’ve lost 4 inches off my waist to the point where I don’t have to undo any of my pants to pull them off; wow! Sometimes I don’t have to undo the belt either; what?!?!? :-O

Can you tell how much I love it? Good; now for the bad.

The wristbands aren’t close to being able to last overly long. My wife burns through her bands every 6 months; I go through one every 9 months or so. The thing is it’s made with some type of rubber that’s pliable enough, but you have to take the dongle out of it every few days to recharge, and over time that takes a toll on that area that stretches open all the time.

That and you can wear the band in the shower and in hot conditions because the dongle is protected, but all the weather changes will affect it also. The replacements aren’t all that expensive, and there are lots of varieties, but having to replace it that often puts some folks off.

I did mention the charging part also. Actually, last year when I was in Orlando for a meeting and then flew to San Diego I had lost my charger. My Fitbit worked for 6 days before it totally wussed out on me. That’s not so bad, but I like to try to charge it every 3 days if I can. I charge it around midnight, and the good thing is it charges fairly quickly if you don’t run it all the way down.

20150923_224159_resized
the dongle

One last thing is the dongle isn’t all that big, as you can tell from the picture. If you’re not paying attention you can lose that… and if that’s lost you have to buy a whole new set since the dongle is actually the Fitbit.

Okay, time for the questionable.

How private is it and what about all the data they collect. It’s as private as you want it to be. People can only find you if you tell them you’re on it, and you can only be added if you have a Facebook account or if you send them email and they decide to connect. If any of you are on Fitbit and want to connect with me, leave me a message mentioning it and I’ll send you an email from the email account I use there and you can add me. Course, remember how many steps I’m getting in; we’re not really competing but I think I might have chased a couple of people off who didn’t realize how serious I was taking my walking. Lol

The question about data… that’s interesting. They track and data to sell to those who can use it for health studies, or for the creation of other types of products that someone might be able to create and market later. You get to set the levels of privacy via the online account you create (that’s where you’re directed to so it can start tracking you), which not only limits what others see about you but what can be shared with these outside sources. The only thing you can’t block is the number of steps you’re taking. They don’t share your email address and you only have to put in your first name, so that’s fairly private.

Finally, prices. I own the Fitbit Flex, where the price goes for between $79 and $99. The range depends on which band you buy and where you buy it from. At the link I’m sharing here where you can look at some before you go to the website I’m sending people to (Buy.com) most of the prices are around $79. There are other brands such as the Charge, which tracks a lot more things than the Flex does, and the Surge (which not only tracks even more things than the Surge but also acts as a watch) that come in around $215 and $250 respectively, and the Zip, which comes in around $60 but only tracks steps. There’s also the Fitbit One which, like the Zip, you wear on your pocket like a traditional pedometer that also comes in around $99.

This is a product I’ll be pushing because I love it so much. There’s a link to the right listed under Product Pages along with books I recommend. If I mention it in any further posts I’ll link to it and you’ll know it’s the product page because you’ll see a blue line underneath it (any time I link to products or affiliate items from this page the blue line is there, unless I’m linked only through the picture; otherwise it’s to an article); you already saw my example above.

If you have any questions please ask. I’ll be doing a video also, which might be strange because I’ve mentioned it in a few other videos, but I’ve never talked about it exclusively. Hey, that’s what marketing’s about right?
 

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Working From A Position Of Fear

I’m going to own up to something up front. I’m not as confident a person as some people think I am. Often, I feel like I’m reacting more than being proactive. Sometimes, when it gets overwhelming, I don’t act at all. Does that surprise you?

Fear Itself
Christi Nielsen via Compfight

It shouldn’t. Truth be told, even the most successful people have times when they’re unsure of something. Some of the smartest people in the world have had times when they’ve questioned their own beliefs and the work that they’ve done. I’m betting that every person who reads this has had the same thing happen to them, if it’s not happening right now. Who’s ready to own up to that?

FEAR – False Evidence Appearing Real. Who’s heard that phrase? It’s totally true; I mean, think about it for a minute. Do we fear things because we know that they’re absolutely going to go badly or because we suppose they will?

Sometimes fear is a smart thing. Fear is what keeps us (most of us anyway) from jumping off cliffs with towels around our necks thinking we’re going to fly like Superman. Fear is what keeps us from picking up cookies in the dirt and eating them.

Sometimes fear is irrational, but it is what it is. I’m scared of bugs and a few other things that I have no real explanation for. There are people scared of leaving their homes. There are people scared of clowns… well, that one might be valid. 🙂

Sometimes fear is something we have to fight. There might be an underlying cause, to the point that you know it’s there, know how to fight it, but sometimes you just can’t put it all together and overcome it.

The last one is the one I’m addressing today, because it’s the one that holds all of us back from achieving what we really want, which is success. Who doesn’t want to be successful? Do you know how to be successful? I talked about it in this video, which some of you new folks might not have seen since it’s from 2013:
 


https://youtu.be/wigiJMeRunU

So, I do know the path to being successful. Yet, this is my biggest weakness. After 14 years of being in business for myself, you’d think I would have this one conquered. Heck, I even know how to do it, along with its counterpart. What’s the issue?

I’ve been told I’m too nice at times; yeah, I don’t believe it either. lol My issue is that I don’t want to bother people, even during the day when they’re in a business that I can offer services for that I know they need. Trust me, I know they need at least two of the services I can provide, and other people probably need some of the other services I can provide, though they’re not all that critical.

Corporate Books

I go back and forth between that thing where, growing up, I was taught not to bother people or, as we all heard, “talk to strangers”, as opposed to “you’re the president of your company; you’re supposed to bother people.” By the way, I am the president of my company. It’s official; take a look at the picture of my corporate books to the left. 🙂

Here’s the thing. If we’re in business, or we’re trying to be in business, or we have something we want to market or sell, we have to be willing to put ourselves out there and get it done.

We also have to be willing to do other things that help us out by giving ourselves an opportunity to have something to help promote us. That’s actually the reason I wrote my second book titled Leadership Is/Isn’t Easy, because it gave me a second book on the topic of leadership that I can promote, since my last book was from 2004 and the newest product I had after that was from 2009; I have to do way more than that.

That’s the thing about fear; it inhibits us from doing what we need to do. So we don’t ask out the person we’d like to date (okay, I’m married, but you know what I mean lol). We don’t ask for more sauce for our lasagna. We don’t want to ask for our money back when we buy something that’s deficient.

We don’t ask for the sale. We don’t put the things we create out into the market. We don’t promote our services, our blogs, our businesses… we’re fearful of the reaction we might get because… we do the same thing to others who are trying to sell and market to us. Who can disagree with this?

It’s a lesson we have to learn. We have to break the fear of trying. We have to break the fear of rejection. We have to break the fear of not being good enough. Something I was listening to last night brought it all together with this statement: “I’d rather fail a hundred times than wonder what could have been.”

That’s why about six weeks ago I asked what can I teach you? I’m going to be creating more products and marketing them. I’m going to create a few product pages of some things I’m really high on and I’m going to promote them. I’m also going to reach out and talk more about services I provide; those you might not necessarily see on this blog but I’m going to do it anyway.

Because all of us can be successful, but it takes courage because that’s what overcomes fear. And unlike spiders and grasshoppers (ugh… lol)… this one I know I can defeat. Who’s with me?
 

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Why Are We So Lazy With Our Passwords

By now, almost everyone should have heard about the hacking of the adult cheating site Ashley Madison. Because the hackers decided to release all the information online (actually, I have no idea where they released it because I didn’t care), it’s caused a lot of grief and scandal and a few suicides; come on now, really?

Linux password file
Christiaan Colen via Compfight

As stupid as it is to join a site like that in today’s world, especially once we hear of all the website and corporations that have been hacked, what seems to be even more stupid are the most common passwords used on the site. Those passwords are: 123456, 12345, password, DEFAULT, 123456789. According to Gizmodo, the only bad password not listed in the top 25 of 2014 was ‘DEFAULT’. The password ‘123456789’ was in 6th place on their list; the other two in the top 5 were ‘qwerty‘ and ‘12345678‘.

Good grief; no wonder so many people seem to get hacked so easily. I mean, I know right now it’s very difficult to stop people who really want to get into your accounts but why make it too easy for them?

Now, I’m not going to act like I’m totally perfect; at least not in the beginning. I never used any of the passwords listed above (thank goodness I wasn’t quite that dumb), but I wasn’t above having very short passwords initially, as well as common names of things that might have been easy to figure out. Then again, back in the day there weren’t as many people hacking into accounts and there weren’t as many sites so we could get away with it.

What made me start changing up my passwords was having my business email account hacked. I never thought about it all that much until I was getting bombarded with email… from myself! lol I’d set up the email account in 2002 and given it a fairly easy password. However, I’d also started using a script on my site that I found online which turned out not to be all that secure.

Thus, I knew a lot of emails were going out in my name, which was painful enough, even after I removed the script. For a few years everything dwindled down and I thought I had it all fixed… until it started up again, this time way more intense than before. It took my hosting company to finally contact me and tell me they believed my account had been hacked for me to realize how stupid I was and to change up all my passwords, making them tougher & harder to break.

On one level that’s perfect; on another… well, I’m betting many of you know the other side. We create tough passwords but if we have a lot of things to get into it makes them difficult to remember. As I sit here right now I know that I only know the username and password for 3 of my 5 blogs, and for maybe 3 or 4 other websites I participate with in some way; that’s it. I’ll admit that I have a file on my computer that has all that information, and for many others I use Keeper, which is on my smartphone and mainly keeps passwords for wifi spots in restaurants I visit often.

We all need to either create very strong passwords or change our passwords at least every 90 days. Some IT authorities believe we should change them every 30 days, and many of you who work in corporate know that’s what you end up having to do.

However, even this might not be enough to keep you from having a bit of grief. I know this because last night I went to GoDaddy to update my subscription for this blog and, even though I’d changed my password a few months ago, I was blocked because apparently there’s someone out there trying to get into my account… probably not me personally but using software trying to get into multiple accounts. Luckily GoDaddy shuts it down after so many attempts, but it seems that changing my password does no good because you can’t change your account number without canceling your account and starting again; nope, I’m not doing that.

Since we can’t attain perfection across the board I warn you to do something to protect your interests. For me, I’d gone with harder passwords so I don’t have to constantly change them. When it comes to your blog, many of you might have missed my post about Limit Login Attempts since I wrote it in 2009, or my post on the Top 10 WordPress Plugin Recommendations I wrote here in May, which includes the one above and a couple others that will help you protect your blog.

Be smart with your passwords and usernames; protect yourself.
 

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September 11, 2001 – 9:03AM… 14 Years Later

I woke up early on Tuesday, September 11, 2001. No idea why, but I was up before 8AM. Since I work independently and I was working on my first book at the time I came to the computer and started writing.

ph-12241

Around 8:55 or so my mother called. That was strange as well, so I picked the phone in greeting and asked her what was wrong. She told me to turn on the TV to NBC News, which was the only channel she watched at the time. I did so and I saw a mass of confusion. Then I heard that a plane had hit one of the Twin Towers. It was shocking but not all that troubling at the moment. Planes had hit the tower before and fallen, but this time it was a passenger plane.

Then I saw the image of a plane hitting the Tower and I said to Mom “They’re showing a replay of the plane hitting the building.” She said “That’s not a replay; that’s another plane.” That was at 9:03AM.

It was at that moment that I realized it was live, and what I was witnessing was something different. I immediately knew this couldn’t be an accident, and it couldn’t be a coincidence. However, the word “terrorism” never struck my mind; at least not then.

That basically started over 60 straight hours of TV watching, only stopping to go to the bathroom or grab something to eat quickly. I didn’t go to bed, didn’t go to sleep. I kept switching channels; whenever one channel went to a commercial I went to another channel. Whenever the news started sounding the same, I went looking for something new.

The strange thing is that I still remember a lot of that stuff very well. I also think it’s strange that, until a couple of days ago, I’d never seen any footage of the people who jumped from the buildings when the heat and fire got so severe that people had to decide which way they wanted to die; that’s really scary.

Here’s the thing. We’re 14 years removed from that event and it’s hard to say that the world has gotten to be a better place because of it. From that date forward, Americans have lost a lot of liberties, while our government has taken a lot of liberties here and abroad. Terrorism seems to be stronger and sneakier than it was before.

In the past few months we’ve had suicide attacks on law enforcement, military officers, and even civilians by nutcases across the country who seem to think that supporting an offshoot gutless group of sadists who aren’t doing anything except making the world a tougher place for those they consider as “lesser Muslims”, nonbelievers of the same religion, to live in peace, following a religion that they see as peaceful. That the tales of what these degenerates are doing to not only women (which is an abomination) but to a lot of the young men fooled into leaving the country and joining their ranks doesn’t turn these kids off scares me.

I’ve never understood the language of hate. I’ve never understood how the language of hate seems to be able to overcome the language of peace and cooperation, the language of motivation and positivity, the language of the common man and woman who go about their day thinking that life is at least okay, that they have friends to talk to and entertainment to enjoy and great food to eat and nice cars to drive… and yet need to worry about being in the wrong place at the wrong time because one day someone decides they’re ready to die for a cause that’s false, no matter what it is.

I’ve never been the most trusting person. Even in my own home, when I’m alone I usually keep the curtains and blinds closed, barely opening them up to let a little bit of light in. It’s not that I live in fear; I live in caution. I’m not going to let the fear of terror, homegrown or not, keep me in the house.

However, I now always look at people when I’m in unfamiliar territory. I look at people who appear different. It’s not about race for me, and it’s not about sex. It’s about behavior. I still treat everyone fairly; but fairly these days comes with a bit more scrutiny.

That’s what 9/11/01 did to me. That’s why I always remember the day so well, beyond the fact of living in New York state, having been to the Twin Towers multiple times and feeling a bit of a connection.

If you’re interested, I wrote about 9/11/01 on my other blog today; that post went live at 8:46, the time the first plane hit. Today is #NeverForget911 on Twitter; for me, every day is #NeverForget911. And for some reason, I need a bit more of this…


https://youtu.be/k0FP0JSvdHY

 

Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2015 Mitch Mitchell