David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants
David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants by Malcolm Gladwell
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Anytime I see a Malcolm Gladwell book, it immediately goes on my “to read” list. The way he breaks down the topics he covers maximizes the interesting possibilities and puts it together in a way that, if you try just a little bit, just might expand your life. With a title like “David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants,” how could this book not be an absolutely interesting read?

Yet again, Gladwell delivers the goods. This is a fantastic book! Definitely worth the read.

The titular conflict between David and Goliath gets the book started and will probably surprise you with his take on the battle. Right away Gladwell strips the issue to its basic components and shows how this may not have been such an unfair fight after all! Or, perhaps it was unfair in the opposite direction from what you’d think! It is a lot more interesting than a lot of people might think, and more eye-opening.

Besides David & Goliath, Gladwell talks about the Blitzkreig bombings of London and how they actually STRENGTHENED the will of the British people (especially Londoners) and how “near misses” effect individuals and groups. This segues into the 1960′s Civil Rights Movement which is amazingly interesting and revealing. These sections actually revealed to me how “near misses” have affected my development.

He also spends quite a bit of time discussing dyslexia and business, giving great personal examples of how setbacks in an individual’s life, under the right circumstances for that person can actually provide just enough push to make them exceptional in other ways to not only compensate, but excel in life and/or business.

Overall, this book was fantastic. I highly recommend it to pretty much any reader.

I listened to the unabridged audiobook and the narrator was fantastic (it was Malcolm Gladwell himself and he does a good job with narration, which isn’t always true of other authors).

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I’m just a tiny bit ashamed to say: “I’m a gamer.” I enjoy playing video games from time to time. By no means would anyone call me a hard-core gamer, but when the “Next Generation” of consoles were announced, I was pretty excited.

For the past 5 years or so I’ve been gaming on the Playstation 3, and before that I had a Playstation 2. Over the years, my preferred games have changed (from NCAA football & the Need For Speed series on the PS2 to the Call of Duty franchise on the PS3 (which I’ve only really been playing for the last 3 years). On the PS3, I was late to the party, buying it mainly after having so many frustrations with other Blu-Ray players and continuously hearing the PS3 was the best Blu-Ray player out there. The last 5 years have proven that to be true. It’s an awesome BR player. But it’s also an awesome gaming machine.

Despite that, I really considered changing platforms to the Xbox with the new generation (PS4/Xbox One). It just seems like more people I know who are gamers play on the Xbox.

Then the initial releases hit and Microsoft TOTALLY botched it. Butchered it, really.

Playstation 4 Box

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How Do You Kill 11 Million People? Why The Truth Matters More Than You Think
How Do You Kill 11 Million People? Why The Truth Matters More Than You Think by Andy Andrews
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

First off, this is absolutely a fantastic book and should be required reading for everyone in any country which holds elections.

Second, it’s all of about 65 pages, so you can probably finish it in an hour or two.

If you are among the vast majority of Americans who are disenfranchised by our government (at pretty much every level), no matter which side of the political debate you stand upon, this book is a must-read.

And it’s a call to action.
To sum it up in a sentence, How Do You Kill 11 Million People is a book about political leadership and the importance of character and true honesty in our leaders.

The racy title is an attention-grabber, but is the primary example used in the book that should get you thinking… how did the people of Germany allow the extermination of 6 million Jews and 5 million other people in concentration camps? And how did those people go to those camps without a fight?

They were lied to.
By their country’s leadership.

And the other Germans knew it was happening. And they allowed it. They allowed themselves to be lied to and believed the lie even though they KNEW it was a lie.

This book doesn’t point out a single thing currently going on in America. It doesn’t mention one political party or the other. It doesn’t say what the government should be doing or shouldn’t. What it points out very clearly is that America has a recent history of electing officials (at every level of government) who tell the people what they want to hear (whatever they think will get them elected) and then once they get in office, they refuse to do the hard things that are actually best for the country. They are more likely to vote for something that will get their backers special privilege. Or won’t upset their “party” or a subset of their constituency for fear of losing re-election.

In short, they forget they are working for We the People, instead of us for them.

Character and honesty should be the number 1 & 2 features we look for in a candidate. And it is our civic duty to call out those elected officials when they operate in any way that is not for the good of the people. Or when they deceive us.

If we do NOT call them out, that is exactly how atrocities like Germany, Somalia, Chechnya and so many other mass murders occur. When the people elect deceivers and then fail to hold them in check, that is exactly how that happens. It’s not just a Hitler who does it. It’s the people who allow it to happen.

And America, despite our great history, is no more immune to this possibility today and in the future than Germany was in the 1930′s.

READ THIS BOOK!
Share it with everyone you know.

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Life Overload

Are you over-scheduled? Over-committed? Over-programmed? I know for sure that I am. In fact, I’m one of the worst offenders of piling on more things to my “to-do” list and feeling like I’ve only had a good day if I’ve accomplished something significant.

But you know what?

It’s not really meant to be that way. I think we all do better when we have regular periods of “Down time.”

Further, continuing to “pile on” to your schedule will quickly lead to problems in almost every area of your life.

So what do we do about it?

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Top Posts of 2013

JasonC —  January 8, 2014 — Leave a comment

As a blogger, it’s interesting to note which posts get the most reads each month. Sometimes it’s validating and sometimes it’s eye-opening. Every blogger wants to know when they are producing content that is being well-received, appreciated, or useful. Sometimes we get feedback through comments. Sometimes we get it by looking at the analytics.

Bigger sites probably get more comments. As for me, that doesn’t happen much, so I occasionally look at my statistics. Here are my top 25 posts by traffic volume in 2013. These may not have been written in 2013. It’s what has been viewed most in 2013.

Top 20 Posts

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What the Heck is Sugru?

JasonC —  December 8, 2013 — Leave a comment

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Every once in a while I’ll come across something new as I’m looking for a solution to a problem.

This is one of those cases and I thought I’d share my experience with you.

Sugru – self-setting rubber for flexible repairs

What is this stuff and what can you do with it? Sugru is a really cool material that comes in small packets. You can shape it

with your fingers (or with tools) into just about any shape and then as it “cures” with air contact over the next 24 hours, it sets permanently to your shape, but remains flexible. It is silicone-based, so it is quite heat-resistant as well. It is also insulating like rubber and silicone, so it has a lot of potential uses.

I bought some Sugru about a year ago (along with some InstaMorph) on Amazon.com with the intent of repairing some Ray-Ban sports sunglasses that I wear to play tennis. These sunglasses have a place where they rest on your nose which is made of rubber, but one side had come off and I lost it. I thought Sugru or Instamorph would be reasonable materials to shape a replacement part. Plus it’s inexpensive stuff. Today I’ve been inspired to go ahead and make that repair as well as repairing some Apple In-Ear headphones.

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I want to take the time to thank those of you who have subscribed to my blog and enjoy the Direct Sales Husband’s Handbook posts. Over the past couple of years, it’s been a real pleasure to get to meet many of you. And hearing stories about how it’s made a real difference to several direct sales husbands (Husbands of Thirty-One to be exact) has been humbling, to say the least. 

Thank you.

Although I’ve slowed down in my DSHH posting in the last year, most of that has been due to time constraints with my “real job” which changed in April. Thank you for being patient with me. During this time, I’ve still been collecting ideas for posts and how to make the Direct Sales Husband’s Handbook even better. 

And it’s time to unveil the first step I’m taking in that direction:

Direct Sales Tips.net

As many of you know, I do a lot of reading. Recently what I’ve been reading regarding blogging is that it is a good idea to keep a blog branded and focused, and that makes all the sense in the world to me. One of the troubles with JasonECox.org (this site) is that it is my personal blog. That’s how it started years ago, and it’s my outlet for things like book reviews, product reviews, various geeky interests and endeavors. And there’s nothing wrong with that.

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The Direct Sales Husband’s Handbook posts are important to me. And I sense that keeping them on my blog somewhat limits the visibility they could otherwise achieve. And I doubt many of the readers of that series have much interest in the other stuff I like to write about. So it’s time for a break. Or, more accurately, a re-organization of the content and direction. 

Over the next weeks and months I’ll be adding all of my Direct Sales Husband’s Handbook posts to DirectSalesTips.net. As I do this, I’m updating and refreshing the content as well. Some posts I will probably break into multiple segments to go a little deeper into the topics. New DSHH posts will be posted on the new site, though I will probably either post them here as well, or at least post links to the other site.

My goal with DirectSalesTips.net is to help as many people in the direct sales business as possible. My primary focus will still be on the DSHH posts, but I will also post other general direct sales tip posts as well. Many people in the Thirty-One community know of my through my wife, Holley. But I’d love the DSHH to impact guys whose wife’s are involved in every direct sales company out there. And I’d love to get posts from other folks as well. Read the first post on DST.net to get an idea of what my goals are. 

 

Finally, I’m going to continue posting my Various Ramblings here. But right now I’m thinking it’s going to get a lot geekier than it has been :) 

 

Please let me know what you think. And if you think you’d like to try your hand at posting to a blog about direct sales, let me know!

DSHHLogo

Around this time every year I see a pattern start taking effect in the direct sales business. The months of September, October, and November (especially early) are a flurry of activity. Everyone’s having success. It’s a great time to sell, to recruit, and to promote. Honestly, autumn in the direct sales business is a wonderful time.

But towards the end of November and early in December these are the things I hear:

1. “It’s hard to get a party in December, everyone’s so busy.”

2. “I’m too busy to have parties! We have so much family stuff going on!”

3. “There are just too many distractions! It’s so hard to run my business right now!”

4. “I’m absolutely worn out from the last couple of months! I’m just tired right now.”

5. “I’m just going to take a break for the next month or so and then I’ll get ‘right back to it.’”

And you know what, a lot of that is true.

But BEWARE! There are pitfalls here…

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Fall (in Love)

JasonC —  October 29, 2013 — Leave a comment

As an experiment into using my iPad 4 as a “true” digital sketchbook, I decided to try creating a typography project using just the iPad and the pressure-sensitive Intuos Creative Stylus (ICS) and Sketchbook Pro.

Since Fall (Autumn) is my favorite season (by far!) it got to be the object of this exercise.

Here’s the result:

FallinLove

 

What do you think?

I may try to further develop this using my desktop tools and see what comes of it.

There are a ton of products out there to help with the creativity process. Everything from pencil and paper to a high-end pressure-sensitive display with various creative apps exist. And they ALL work. It’s just a matter of finding what works best for you, but then also keeping that with you so you can get busy when the creative streak hits you.

Many people have iPads, and they’re great for a lot of things. Browsing and email work great. It’s even getting a little easier to do some creative writing on the iPad (especially if you have a keyboard for it). But there’s no denying that trying to create any graphics on the iPad ends up feeling like you’re literally finger-painting. Do it enough and you can even do OK with “finger-painting.” But it can be frustrating and maybe not everyone is meant to be an iPad VanGogh.

Now you have another option: The Wacom Intuos Creative Stylus (ICS)

Wacom creates awesome products that are geared towards bridging the gap between traditional media and digital media. Intuos tablets have been around for years, letting you “draw” with pressure sensitivity, though you’re drawing on a tablet and looking at your computer’s screen. Then there is the Wacom Cintiq line which basically puts a pressure sensitive tablet on a screen, so you can literally draw where you’re looking with a high degree of precision. But they’re expensive. Last year they released the Wacom Inkling, which is a special pen and sensor that you can clip to your notepad and draw like you would with a pen, then hook it to the computer and download a digital version to your computer, which you can then manipulate with your favorite applications. (I’d love to get my hands on one of these for detailed review…)

 

Intuos Creative Stylus 1

Sitting atop my Leuchtturm 1917 5×7″ notebook you’ll find (L->R, Top->Bottom in the middle) iPhone 5, Case for the ICS, Intuos Creative Stylus, Cintiq Stylus, Amazon Basics stylus, Uni Kurutoga .3mm mechanical pencil, Palomino Blackwing 602, and finally the box for the ICS.

 

The Intuos Creative Stylus is a $99 stylus that you can use with your iPad to create art or manipulate images. It aims to turn your iPad into something approaching a Cintiq. Here’s my review.

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