On continuing to eat and live keto-adapted

Ugh, Keto, again?

​Many of you have seen some of the pieces I shared with recipes that are keto-friendly.  Additionally, some of you have reached out to ask me for more information.  Recently, however, someone reached out and told me that it is not a sustainable long-term plan.  Now, I don’t know what is considered long-term.  I, also, do not know how long I will continue to pursue keto, but I don’t plan on stopping anytime soon.  I want to share with you some of the tips related to keto.  If you have questions, absolutely reach out to me.

​What is this Keto thing, in 50 words or less?

​Keto, short for ketogenic, is a “diet” that focuses on a macro blend of approximately 80% Fat, 15% Protein, and 5% Carbs each day.  The goal is to get your body to burn fat for energy instead of carbs.  This is accomplished through carb-limiting.

​How long have I been doing keto?

I started the ketogenic approach in Sept 2016.  That places me in the tail end of my 7th month.  When I started, I was coming off of a lean diet that had very boring foods and flavors (or lack, thereof!)  Keto stuck out to me because I could eat all of these seemingly forbidden foods and still lose weight.  Naturally, I did not believe it, but what did I have to lose?

​What are some of the tools that help me to stay on track?

​For all things related to the science behind ketogenic, the two best sites I can recommend are bodybuilding.com and ruled.me.  Both sites offer an incredible amount of information including discussions on the validity and viability of this approach.  If you are curious about it, I would strongly suggest starting there.
​Additionally, for meal planning, I cannot recommend EatThisMuch enough.Their system makes it easy to plan out your meals, and if you pay for the membership, each week, you can get an email of your grocery list so you have everything in one place for when you go to the store.

Why am I sharing this?

​Since adopting keto, I have lost a total of 25 pounds.  I feel great, despite the first week or so with that crappy “keto flu”, but once I added more salt into my diet, that was no longer an issue.  My workout took a hit originally, and there are days where I feel as if I cannot seem to do the same numbers.  However, it has forced me to re-orient myself to stop caring about the weights.  So long as I get a solid workout, with weak arms and all, what does it matter if it is a 35 lb dumbbell or a 45 lb.?

For transparency, I am an affiliate with ruled.me, and any purchase of one of their plans does provide me with some compensation.  That being said, in no way does this take any legitimacy from Craigs’s work on that site.

Lady Luck can’t have her eye out for all of us…

Sometimes the luck is in my favor.

I know most of you are aware of my Amazon business where I buy and sell a bunch of things.  Whether or not it really can be identified as a business is a topic for debate, I’m sure.  That can be a topic for another day.

This day, however, is going to be dedicated to that dirty idea of “opportunism”.  Whether you call it luck, fate, or fortune, sometimes life presents opportunities that are too good to pass up.  I had one of those encounters the other day.

There is a store I went into that I haven’t visited in a while.  I figured I would just see, on a whim, if there were any products I could resell to jump-start sales online.  Walking through the entire store, I didn’t find a great number of compelling items.  Honestly, my cart had some LED bulbs, and a few jars of coconut oil.  Being ungated in grocery, I can sell it on Amazon, so that was going to be a test purchase.  The bulbs weren’t too interesting to me because it looked like I was only going to be seeing a $1-$2 profit on each bulb sold.  Still a profit though, so I bought everything.

​How is this luck?

I went home and unloaded everything into the house.  I put it all down in my work area so I could list, package and ship everything the next day.  We had some company come over, and I had mentioned to my buddy about the Amazon business.  He was curious about it so I took him downstairs to show him the process.  In doing so, I realized the bulbs are also sold in multi-packs.  Looking at the multi-packs, my small profit just multiplied by a factor of 5.

​So I asked my buddy if he was interested in going for a ride.  We took the Forester because I knew the Jetta wasn’t equipped for this mission.  We drove back to the store, and I asked the first employee I saw, “Hey, how much will you take off the price if I buy ALL of your stock?”  She went to go get the manager, who came over and asked me what I meant.  I explained that I wanted to buy out their entire stock, and he looked at it and said unfortunately they cannot do anything with the price.  It was worth a shot, but I still went ahead and counted out all the bulbs.

Sounds pretty lucky.

​We stuffed the Forester completely full.  To the point that if the store would have required a highway trip, I would have been afraid of being pulled over because there was no seeing out the back.  It took me about 6 hours total to wrap, label, package and ship everything.  They have been selling which is wonderful.

​Nonetheless, luck is no longer in my favor as it seems all of the stores have a cap of 10 per customer now.  I’m not saying I’m responsible, as it could have been just plain luck and a good manager that got me the first purchase.  So the search continues for a profitable and refillable product.

Things I have learned from building a business

Building a business is wonderful

​Recently, I decided to close my Aggro Clothing business, and started reflected on my work.  Over the course of 13 months I learned an incredible amount regarding e-commerce and building a company.  There were shortcomings, and instances where I was under-prepared for certain elements.  However, I do recognize that overall it was a very positive experience.  Have you ever considered starting a business?

What did my business do wrong?

I don’t know that I would say it did wrong, but I started a business in a saturated market.  The low barriers to entry were very appealing since this was my first attempt at building something like this.  Now, I knew going into it that the industry was saturated.  I chose to continue forward because I expected it to be most valuable in terms of education.  This in mind, education is one of the best investments for me, so that was the motivation.

​What did it do right?

So, so many things.  I met some incredible people, and received overwhelming support. Learning about many different e-commerce platforms and minor web-design strategies were also interesting side-effects. Working with some very talented artists, I was able to breathe life into designs that I came up with.  It also provided an outlet for some of my brand ambassadors’ creative skills.  Additionally, I had somehow (inadvertantly) created an image through my website that the business was much more successful evidenced by an offer to buy.  For that being my first business and crafting this image, I am super proud.

​Let’s go deeper

What I have learned about business seems so fundamental.  If you have a firm grasp on your true customers, then you know how to be successful.  If you are able to identify the core demographics then you are easily able to determine needs or wants.  This would undoubtedly contribute to gigantic success for your business.  I have to admit, I was not particularly skilled in this area.  I struggled for the longest time at honing in on the group of people that I identified as my core clients.

​How did business go?

It was fun.  More than anything I had a blast.  I chose to close it down because I found myself dedicated less energy to it than I needed to in order to make it more successful.  Additionally, sales had been flat and it was not something that excited me as much as it once had.  So I chose to step back and dedicate this time, energy, and money to other adventures.  I am still doing my arbitrage and enjoying it for the time being.  I am also still considering building more things, just for the sake of learning.

​Have you started working on your ideas?  Need some help?

Planning for the future… – Part 2 – Debt techniques

Debt Snowballs and Avalanches

​No, I am not looking to get you further in debt.  If you are anything like me, then you’ve mastered that part.  In the last post I mentioned a couple terms that are exceptionally useful in terms of getting rid of debt.  Debt snowball and Debt avalanche are two different approaches to the same goal.  Let’s get right into this.

The techniques

Essentially, it has you pay the minimum payments on your debts for all except one.  This special debt will be known as your “focus” debt.  Where they differ, however, is what becomes the focus debt.  The debt snowball focuses on your account that has the lowest balance and pays it off.  This results in faster results to get the “ball rolling”.  Debt avalanche, however, focuses on your account that has the highest interest rate.  This method takes longer for your first win, but it tackles those ridiculous interest rates in order.

​Which is better?

​Personally, debt avalanche makes the most sense to me.  Pursuing the highest interest rates first minimizes the amount I will end up paying total over the life of the payback period.  However, I cannot discount the positive reinforcement that comes from the snowball method getting rid of your first debt faster.  I suppose it is best left up to each individual to decide.  Compare the interest in total across both methods and decide whether or not the difference is worth it.

​Why are we talking about debt?

​Student loans are out of control.  Borrowers are not finding jobs that allow them to pay as much on their loans.  Creating some kind of system that helps you get this under control is imperative.  Additionally, debt of any kind can benefit from either of these systems, assuming of course you aren’t penalized for early repayment.

​This really sounds like a lot of work…

​Well, you are in luck.  Since part 1, I have found a tool online that makes this whole process as easy as getting your account balances and interest rates.  Undebt.it is an exceptional tool for doing the very things that I wasted invested my time doing manually.  The free account has pretty much everything you need, but for $12 a year you can get some cool features.  Things that are sure to excite your next date night, such as amortization tables.  Seriously, I started the 30 day pro trial for this feature alone.

​Give it a shot and see what works for you.  If you are stuck, they site has an incredibly responsive support team.  If you want to reach out to me, feel free to.  I would love ot hear your experience with this or any tool that works.

Planning for the future is purely a numbers game, Part 1

The future is coming…

​Fairly recently, I recognized a slight dissonance in my personal plan.  I prided myself for my future planning in terms of building these businesses, and working to make more pursuits possible.  Pursuits that I benefited from, as well as my family.  Sure, I do all of the textbook things like 401K, independent investing, and automating bill payments so there is less risk for late payments.  Nonetheless, I took an accidental, but honest, inventory of where I was at in life and compared it to where I wanted to be.

I didn’t like the future I was laying out…

Through my work, I make decent money, and it provides me the ability to pursue my other interests.  I provide for my family, and myself.  Truthfully, I am blessed.  I have a loving family, a home, gainful employment, and this seemingly unquenchable thirst for knowledge.  However, like many others I have a bit of a spending habit.  I realized this when I was trying to create a budget.  I was going over my credit card debt as well as my student loans.  It truly was enough to make you want to throw up all over someone’s shoes.

I have student loans that are currently sitting slightly above twice the national average.  It is gross.  I went to state schools for undergrad and grad school, but it still ended up being a rather expensive adventure.

​Boo Hoo! Me and everyone else with our student loan whining…

​That’s not what this is, though.  I don’t want my loans nullified, or paid for me.  I was fine accepting the money, so I am fine paying it back.  To do this, I enlisted the nerdy side of me.  I outlined every single debt that I have, (mortgage excluded for now,) and put it all into a spreadsheet.  Then, by using a simple calculation system, I incorporated the interest rates for each of the loan accounts and then identified when everything would be paid off.

I wish I could say that it is all sunshine and rainbows now, but just having the end listed did nothing for me.  My loans are structured to the extended repayment system so in the event that I hit financial hardship I am not fighting for a concession.  Most of these loans are expected to run their course after 25 years of paying.  That is 300 months for those of you counting at home.  Now, this is where the nerd comes in.  I started playing with adjusting the repayment amounts to better understand how much time I could shave off by increasing my payments.

​Coupling this with my budget that I finished, I found that the future does not actually need to be so bleak.  I can add much more money to those payments and have it paid off in ten years.  Then I remembered I had not incorporated the CC debt into the equation.  Are you all familiar with Debt Snowballs and Debt Avalanches?  We will go in-depth on those next time, but let me tell you, this system may be the one for me.

On having kids and social presence…

The (​social​) Story to this point…

My wife and I decided before we had our first son that we did not want pictures of him, or any of our kids floating around online.  We were determined to abstain from posting photos of newborn babies or any milestone moments on Facebook, Instagram , or wherever you view photos that are shared.  There wasn’t any kind of political stance, or any sort of bold statement.  We just didn’t want to do it.  Here we are, over three years later, and that still holds true.

​The only photos of my sons that the Internet has seen have been the backs of their heads.

​Yeah, but it is called social for a reason!

​Many people make use of social sites to keep distant family members “close”, and I will admit that I look to see what other people are up to from time to time.  However, my kids are 3 and 3 months.  Their activities don’t need to be put up there, right?  Well, in talking with some colleagues some time ago, they were in disbelief that we do not post anything with the boys.

​Someone even mentioned at one point that they didn’t realize we had two kids because we never posted anything.  That isn’t the only format we have for social news.  Granted, I am not walking up to people and asking if they had a child lately, but have we forgotten about what life was like before the days of facebook and myspace?  I’m not a very private person, I’ll share anything, with anyone.  However, it is different with social profiles.

​Is it really that bad, though?

I understand that the social media sites are as good, or as bad, as the people that use them.  My wife and I didn’t take this stance out of fear.  For me, a big part of it was because everyone else does it.  Those of you that know me, know that I prefer to go left when everyone else is going right.  I’m not a hipster…but I play one on tv.

​My wife, on the other hand, came to this decision out of very logical reasoning.  She saw something on the news about how people were using the location Metadata attached to the photos taken with phones to be able to identify specific locations and even map out the inside of someone’s house.  The story was meant to share how you can turn off those location services, and I recommend everyone do it unless you have a reason not to.  However, I will admit that every time I replace my phone, or wipe it to start over again, I forget to turn it off.

​Now, is there anyone perusing social sites to capture this data from my photos?  Maybe not, but what happens when I become super famous and I have to start worrying about stalkers?  Is it paranoid?  Perhaps, but these are simple steps that do not impact our lives in any way, so is it really that big of a deal?

​tl;dr I don’t post pictures of my kids online, but that’s ok.

Reorganizing and Re-purposing Old Spaces

Reorganizing the Basement…again!

So this past weekend I went on a spree of cleaning up and reorganizing the basement.  Some of you that have been around for a bit will remember that I did this only a couple months ago when the water heater fiasco happened.  The basement should have definitely stayed clean for some time.  However, I had been selling things from the pallet of product I purchased on a closeout.  So, despite my best efforts, things were quite a bit cluttered down there.

​The basement has an open floor plan, as many do, but there is a somewhat small closet in the corner of the room.  That closet, since we moved into the house, has been one of two locations for nearly anything computer related in the house.  Since my Fios box and Cox modem, it made sense to store my other stuff downstairs.  Naturally, when you use this as a dumping ground every time you take your computer apart, or find random cables around the house, it gets rather messy.  Though I took forever to get around to cleaning it, what better time than now?

​I had started cleaning it by removing the door, and the “frame” of said door and throwing them away.  Now I could see all of the shelves from end to end.  For your mental image, the shelves are only approximately 3.5-4 ft long.  I pulled everything out and separated it into things worth keeping, trash, and selling.  Some of you may have a harder time with this, but the biggest pile was trash.  I should have expected this as I don’t like to hold onto very many things, but clearly I wasn’t paying attention to that when I was putting this stuff away.

Reorganizing

Looking at this mess I made, I started bagging up the trash and realized that I didn’t even need all of the shelves that were in the former-closet.  After pulling out a couple of those, I thought about the idea of moving my printer up from the floor.  This made it easier to read the display, change toner, get print-outs, and so much more.  All these efficiencies.  Then I remember what prompted this whole need…

​Re-Purposing

Earlier in the day, I had one of my closest friends over.  We were talking about the layout downstairs and the conversation had drifted to firearms as we were trying to plan out a range day.  Those of you that know me, know that I enjoy killing some paper from time to time.  Then we started talking about storage, and I had this space I could use…

I want to build a gun vault.

I know this is such a polarizing topic.  Regardless of how you view firearms, we can all agree that safety is a chief responsibility of gun-ownership.  I have kids, and they won’t fear guns, rather they will respect them.  However, that will come when the time is right.  Until then, they don’t even need to see them.

​​From [Basement] Chaos Comes Order

I will argue that in order to properly re-purpose any space it is absolutely necessary to take stock of your current position.  This endeavor of mine isn’t too lofty, but it did present a great opportunity for me to just clean up and clean out.

I think I am going to start looking for more opportunities to do this in other parts of the house.

Reliability is a thing…for me

One of my projects that I work on deals with arbitrage, either through retail (online and brick-and-mortar) or through wholesaling.  This involves selling product through many different channels.  These may include Amazon, eBay, Craigslist, OfferUp or any number of other local channels.  However, the biggest problem with the “meetup” style channels is a lack of reliability on the buyer side.  This is extremely frustrating when considering that I took time to leave my home to go wait somewhere for someone to meet me.

Some of the more fun happenings have included some sort of craziness like selling a $5 item only to be told “$2 is all [they] brought with them.”  Or the time I had some guy tell me to meet him at the empty baseball field where he and his buddies were playing baseball.  I got there and he was just standing on the pitcher’s mound.  Some of the people, however, have been great.  They want the products, and then to go home and use it.

My concerns with reliability either come down to punctuality or the trolls.  Punctuality is self-explanatory.  If we agree on a time and location, please be there.  Not 30 minutes late.  With the trolling, however, it just seems to be a game to some people.  They go through the motions to make you show up somewhere.  Then they either go completely dark (non-responsive), or have some excuse why they are not going to be able to make it.  I, like many others, value my time.  Time is the only resource I cannot get refunded or exchanged.  So when someone does not take it seriously, that bothers me a little.

This long-winded almost whine session is just meant to make you think about the times you have not been the most reliable.  I was thinking about this while I was in the car at the police station (one of my “go-to’s” for Craigslist.)  There have been times where I may not have been able to follow through on some things I had agreed upon.  Though it was never for any malicious, or “trolling” reasons, the result is still the same.  It disrespects the person I made the agreement with regardless of my intentions.

So after my little introspection tonight, I have decided that I am going to make a conscious effort to be more aware of wasting time.  Whether my own, or someone else’s.  I think that in the grand scheme of it all, I’ll feel much better for it.  Additionally, it should do quite nicely for my relationships with the wonderful people in my life.  Reliability should be a thing for everyone, no excuses.

What do you want, exactly? From life?

Today, I went for a test drive in an Audi.  Those of you that know me, know that my Jetta is getting to a point where I am feeling less confident in its reliability.  This has led me to a point where I want…no…need to create a plan.  If I drive it until it dies then I am in a desperate situation to find a replacement.  Now for some of you that isn’t much of an issue because a car is just a tool to get you from Point A to Point B.  For me, however, I am pickier about my cars than I am about my watches.  That’s pretty picky.

So the Audi was…Incredible.  I loved it.  However, it was sitting 15% higher than my maximum price point.  I would love to be able to say that isn’t a big deal.  For me, today, it was a big deal.  With some minor uncertainty on one of my sales channels currently, it would be a very bad decision to move in this direction.  So I wait.  Begrudgingly, I wait.

On the ride home from the dealership, it got me to thinking.  There is no reason why I could not find a way to make that Audi work for me.  It was an A4, and it had every tech feature I was looking for.  That is going to be my goal.  I want to be able to buy it.  However, before that can happen, I need to continue to grow my businesses and figure out new ways to make them work.  I cannot justify taking on more debt, needlessly, if I can find a way to make my assets grow enough to buy the car.

But that is such a small and unimportant part of what I want.  I have a list of many things I want to accomplish.  Do you have one of these?  Goals, drivers, inspiration, whatever you call the items on this list, do you have one?  What are you doing to make those happen, and how often do you think/focus on these things?  Is it daily? Weekly? Monthly? Yearly?

I pride myself on helping people reach their goals or at least get on the path to doing so.  I always ask for the same thing from them: PATIENCE.  Yet in practice, I am the absolute worst at following my own advice.  I cannot wait, and let things happen.  My personality is one that runs out and goes after…well, everything.  So what can I do?  Well, I continue my hustle for sure.  I have projects in the works, and projects I am still working on.  Eventually it will get to be too much, but until then I don’t have time to stop.

I want to build something Great.  You do, too.  Let me help you make that happen.  If you want to chat about it, get in touch with me.  I read all of the comments, and all of the emails as well.

The Parable of the Oranges, and Giving Just a Bit More

So yesterday we had our department call that happens once a month.  It presents a great opportunity for the members of the team to discuss anything new, or to share some success stories.  The main topic for the call was Greatness.  Now with such a common topic, there are so many stories we could reference.  However, I like the format of parables as I enjoy listening to, and telling, stories.  The one I shared tonight was originally posted on Forbes.com.  It can be found here.

I am also going to include it on here because today, when I needed it most, Forbes’ website was down.  The opposite of greatness.  Thanks Forbes.

The premise is there is a guy that wants to work for this prestigious organization.  He sends out resumes and goes on interviews and lands an entry-level position.  Working hard in the current position, the worker sets his sights on a supervisory role that gives more power and more money.  He starts pursuing it the best way he knows how, showing up early and even leaving late from time to time.  This was in the hopes his boss would see him putting in long hours.

Well the role opened up, and he put in for it, but to his dismay the role went to someone else.  Worse still, it went to someone that had been at the firm for less than six months.  He went to his boss and demanded a reason for this injustice.  The boss said to him, “first, I need a favor. My wife needs oranges, can you run to the store and get them for me?”

The worker agrees, and when he comes back the boss says to him, “What kind of oranges did you get?”

“Well I don’t know, but these are your oranges,” says the worker.

“Well how much were they?” asked the boss.

“I’m not sure, but here is the receipt and your change.” replied the worker.

Then the boss tells him to hold for a moment and calls for the worker that got the promotion.  He tasked him with the same thing and when the worker came back, the boss asked him the same questions.

“What kind of oranges did you get?” asked the boss.

“Well, when I got there I noticed there were Navel oranges, Valencia oranges, tangerines and other types.  I didn’t know what kind you wanted but I remembered you said your wife needed them.  So I called her and asked her what she needed them for.  She said she wanted to make orange juice for guests at a party you are having.  So I asked the man that worked at the store which orange is best for making orange juice.  He said the Valencia oranges are the juiciest, so I bought them and dropped them off to your wife on the way back to the office.” replied the worker.

“How much were the oranges?” asked the boss.

“Well that was tough as I didn’t know how many were needed.  So I called your wife and asked her how many people were attending and she said 20 people.  I asked the man at the store how many oranges were needed for 20 people to have orange juice.  Turns out it is a lot.  I asked the man if I can get a quantity discount.  He agreed, and though these oranges were priced at $0.75 each, I got them at $0.50 each.  Here is the receipt and change.”

The boss then dismissed him from the office and the first worker sat there dejectedly and said to the boss, “I understand why.”

Greatness is about that “little extra”.  Giving just a bit more than the other person expected.  No one pursues mediocrity, but when things get difficult, those are the flames that forge us into something wonderful.

Stay Hungry, my friends!