Archives For November 2012

Here’s a quick question:

Are any of you out there having difficulty posting to my comments? I’ve recently been given feedback that the commenting system (Disqus) is difficult to use. A family member even told me they tried multiple times to post a comment and finally gave up, unsuccessfully. They then sent an email to my wife to get the comments to me, which I appreciated very much.

But that brought up TWO questions:

1. Is the commenting system difficult to use? Are there a number of people trying to reply to my posts, but having trouble doing so?

2. Is my site layout (using Standard Theme) difficult to identify how to contact me as a backup way of “commenting” on the posts? (In the top dark bar there are icons that you can click to email, Facebook, twitter, Pinterest, or Google+ me).

Please contact me via one of the methods above or at jasoncox@mac.com if all else fails. I’d love to get your feedback.

Second, and this is something I’ve noticed for some time but haven’t gotten around to fixing yet, I noticed that my “Social Influence” widget wasn’t updating (again…basically, that thing has rarely updated itself for some reason) and that my Twitter feed isn’t being passed through to the widget on the right sidebar. Both of these things were pretty disappointing. 

Needless to say, I’ll be working on these things as time permits. But I want to make sure the commenting system isn’t broken in any way, so please let me know what you think of the current commenting system.

Thanks for taking the time to check out my blog!

-Jason

GuysGiftGuide2012

This is part 3 of my 2012 Holiday Gift Guide for Guys. You can check out part 1 for $5-10 items and part 2 for $10-20 items. The goal of these guides is to put out some ideas for Christmas gifts that guys will actually be surprised and excited about unwrapping. Hopefully this will benefit all of the Direct Sales Husbands out there who’ve been checking out my posts. (Guys, I’m still taking suggestions, btw. If you know of something that needs to be on the list, leave a comment or email (or Facebook or Twitter) me. If I get enough, I’ll do a post with just the suggestions.)

Keep in mind that many items are available in many different price points. That is certainly true of knives, lights, multitools, electronics, etc. More money doesn’t always mean a better tool. I’m trying to pick out items I have personal experience with and/or that I feel are exceptional values at their price point

Knives

SOG Specialty Knives and Tools FF01-CP Contractor 2 by 4 3-Inch Folding Knife with Pocket Clip, Black
Condor Tool and Knife Bushlore 4.375-Inch Drop Point Blade, Walnut Handle with Leather Sheath (Plain)
SOG Knives Flash I Knife
Condor Tool and Knife Hudson Bay 8.5-Inch Black Blade, Walnut Handle, Leather Brown Sheath
Kershaw Ken Onion Chive Pocket Knife with Speed Safe

Multi-Tools


Leatherman Freestyle Multi-Tool
Gerber 01471 Suspension Butterfly Opening Multi-Plier with Sheath

Sharpening

Are your kitchen knives dull? Holley’s were so dull when we got married, you couldn’t even cut through the skin of a tomato (seriously!) Sharp knives are important and way more functional. These types of kits are reliable, inexpensive ways to make a dull knife very sharp. Polish the edge with the slip strop to get it razor sharp.


Smith’s TRI-6 Arkansas TRI-HONE Sharpening Stones System
Lansky Deluxe 5-Stone Sharpening System

Lights

It may not look like it, but these lights are fairly tiny. But put out BIG light. If you don’t have a small powerful flashlight, then you should check these out. These and the $10-20 ones are probably worth buying a couple or more. Throw one in the glovebox. Keep one in your nightstand drawer. One in the basement. You get the idea. Note also that many lights require the CR123A type of battery, which you may need to buy separately. Those batteries are more powerful per size than AAA’s.


4Sevens/Foursevens Mini CR2/ MLR2 Black Finish / Cool White LED; 1XCR2; 180 Lumens
Black Diamond Equipment Storm Headlamp
Fenix Compact 140 Lumen Flashlight
Fenix LD01R2, 3 Level High Performance CREE LED Flashlight
Streamlight 88031 Protac Tactical Flashlight 2L with White LED Includes 2 CR123A Lithium Batteries and Holster, Black

Other Useful Stuff




Etón FR160B Microlink Self-Powered AM/FM/NOAA Weather Radio with Flashlight, Solar Power and Cell Phone Charger (Black) (this thing is a hand-cranked generator. Can be used to charge cell-phones and other small, useful items)
Huntington MG1 Military Bearing / Lensatic Compass, Professionally Liquid-Dampened, Full Metal Body with Bearing Prism / Lens System (K4580 GR US)
First Aid Kit With Hard Case- 326 pcs- First Aid Complete Care Kit – Exceeds OSHA & ANSI Guidelines – Ideal for the Workplace – Disaster Preparedness (Color Red) (Every house needs at least one good quality first aid kit)
BAHCO 396-LAP 8 Inch Laplander Folding Saw (This will cut branches up to about 4″ diameter and folds for easy carrying.)
Baja Dry Sack by SealLine – These are great for the boat or as an emergency bag.

GuysGiftGuide2012

Yesterday I posted gifts for the $5-10 price point so today I’m going to follow-up with $10-20 gift ideas for guys. Again, I remind you that these gifts are real guy’s gifts. Look on Pinterest for sweaters and that sort of thing :)

$10-20 Gifts You Should Consider Getting Your Guy for Christmas

Essential Reading:


SAS Survival Handbook, Revised Edition: For Any Climate, in Any Situation
Hawke’s Green Beret Survival Manual: Essential Strategies For: Shelter and Water, Food and Fire, Tools and Medicine, Navigation and Signa
These are excellent books for any guy. Interesting reading. Every guy considers himself something of a survivalist. They’ll appreciate your thoughtfulness.
The 4-Hour Workweek: Escape 9-5, Live Anywhere, and Join the New Rich (Expanded and Updated)- This is an all-around excellent book and may be particularly pertinent to the Direct Sales Husband. Just sayin’. It is not mis-titled, nor is it a joke. Anyone with an entrepreneurial spirit should read this.

General Utility:


Military Prismatic Sighting Compass w/ Pouch (may be a little less than $10)
Silva Lensatic 360 – Compass (may be a little more than $20)
Light My Fire Original Swedish FireSteel Army 12,000 Strike Fire Starter


Rothco 550lb. Type III Nylon Paracord
This stuff comes in about 30 colors and patterns. Some may be less than $10. Get 2 100ft packs. You just have no idea how handy this stuff can be.


Light My Fire Titanium Spork (yes, a titanium spork. Yes, guys will like a titanium spork. This is actually quite cool.)
Chainmate CM-24SSP 24-Inch Survival Pocket Chain Saw With Pouch- This is useful if your guy ever finds himself in the woods. Ever.

Knives:


New Swedish Mil. Mora Knife
Mora Sweden Classic #1 Red Wood Handle Carbon Steel Knife
The thing about these Mora knives is that they are so useful and very inexpensive. The design of the blade makes them extremely easy to sharpen and very functional. Great knife for any guy to have. And they’re cheap enough to buy more than one.
Kershaw Chill Pocket Knife
Kershaw Volt II Pocket Knife
Spyderco byrd Cara Cara2 Black FRN PlainEdge Knife

A word about knives:

Guys like knives and they are one of the most useful possessions a guy can own/carry. Generally speaking, you get what you pay for in knives. I believe the Mora knives to be much more valuable than their actual cost.
Folding type (pocket) knives come in every price point. These are very inexpensive models by quality name brand manufacturers. They are suitable for a “first knife” and will probably give a fair amount of use. Folding knives definitely benefit from higher quality construction, though, so unless you’re really constrained in price, I would go for something in the $40-60 range (which I’ll cover in a few days).

Sharpening:

Dull knives are the leading cause of cutting injuries because they take more force to use than a sharp knife. That goes for the knives above and for kitchen knives.


Smith Whetstone Fine & Coarse Diamond Combo Sharpening Stone (4″) (not sure why no image option was available on Amazon for this, but this is a good starting place for sharpening and can be used on the knives above AND for your kitchen knives, which most likely need a good sharpening.
Flexcut Flexcut Slipstrop- A good starting “system” for the polishing step of sharpening which will get that knife razor sharp.

Lights:

Flashlights are extremely useful, especially when you need them. I’m going to list several in many different price points. I honestly would recommend getting several and keeping them in various places in your house for that time when you need it. Keep batteries on hand for these things, too. These are entry-level lights, but pack surprisingly bright LEDs and battery life. Maglites used to be the thing to get, but smaller lights are often more functional because they’re lighter.


Fenix Compact LED Flashlight
Streamlight MicroStream LED Pen Light
Streamlight 66118 Stylus Pro Black LED Pen Flashlight with Holster

Surely that’s enough to choose from in this price category. Actually, I was rather surprised at just how many truly useful items fell in the $10-20 range.

Guys: What items do you want to see on the $20-40 list, $40-60 list, $60-100 list, and beyond? 

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GuysGiftGuide2012.png

OK folks. We all know what season it is. It’s shopping time! In the spirit of the season, I’m going to try to put together a shopping guide for the ladies out there who have no idea what to get their guy. Hopefully these items will appeal to most any guy out there as the primary qualification for getting on this list is utility. Obviously this list is going to exclude items like sweaters and clothing as those items are simply not cool enough to make it on the list *wink*

These will all link to Amazon and if you actually purchase through these links, I do get a 3% commission to help support this blog (though it will be the same price for you).

Today I’m going to start with the $5-10 “Stocking Stuffer” Pricepoint:

Note: Please don’t get your guy socks or underwear for his stocking stuffer. If we want socks, we’ll go buy socks. On the other hand, these things are just plain cool, and any guy would be happy to find one or a few of these items in their stocking.

Gerber 22-01769 Shard Keychain Tool

Stanley 55-045 7-1/2-Inch Wonder Bar II Pry Bar

Gerber 22-41770 Artifact Pocket Keychain Tool

Streamlight 73001 Nano Light Miniature Keychain LED Flashlight, Black

Columbia River Knife and Tool’s Eat N Tool 9100C Silver Multi Tool

Swiss+Tech UKCSB-1 Utili-Key 6-in-1 Keychain Multi-Tool

Swiss+Tech MMCSSS Micro-Max 19-in-1 Keychain Multitool

MantaRing – Cable Key Ring – Waterproof (Blue)

Smith’s PP1 Pocket Pal Multifunction Sharpener

All of these items are useful and handy. Most guys could use one or more of these things and a good key ring to put them on. You never know when you’re going to need a little pry bar to open a paint can or some other stubbornly-closed item. Many of these also include bottle openers, knives, screwdrivers, etc. There are dozens of other similar tools out there, but these are the ones I felt had the best reputation at this price point. I personally own several of these and keep them on me whenever I have my keys.

The Hidden Reality: Parallel Universes and the Deep Laws of the CosmosThe Hidden Reality: Parallel Universes and the Deep Laws of the Cosmos by Brian Greene
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Overview: An excellent primer on the various current theories of possible multiple universes and explanations of how they have arisen through scientific, mathematic, and psychological principles.
In More Detail
If you enjoy reading books that try to explain science on a layman’s level, then you might want to consider this book. Especially, if you have a fairly basic understanding of physics and/or have read other significant books in this genre such as Stephen Hawking’s excellent book A Brief History of Time If you would like to get your feet wet in the understanding of the physics of the universe, but don’t have any current knowledge, then I would recommend starting there first.

This book covers a LOT of ground. I consider myself fairly well versed in physics in a broader sense having always found that science quite interesting. Even following the field to some degree, it’s easy to get “behind.” The Hidden Reality really did an excellent job of capturing my interest and discussing the topic at hand: multiple universe (multiverse) theories.

Most of us have some idea of “parallel universes” based on science fiction television/movies or books. But this book covers 7 wildly different multiverse theories: The Quilted Multiverse, Inflationary Multiverse, Brane Multiverse, Cyclic Multiverse, Landscape Multiverse, Quantum Multiverse, Holographic Multiverse, Simulated Multiverse, and the Ultimate Multiverse. I knew of the existence of several of these theories, but none to the level of detail that I learned in the book.

Even if you have little understanding of physics, Greene does spend several chapters giving a basic rundown of the physics involved or required for the understanding of several of these. I found these chapters to be quite interesting and worthwhile, for the most part. These specific chapters explain in basic language (and without any math required) classical mechanics, relativity, string theory (several different string theories, actually), Inference and Quantum Probability.

Special Note on Physics & Christianity:
There are a lot of people who automatically think that you cannot possibly be a Christian and read about this stuff. It comes from both sides of the fence (both from Christians and non-Christian physicists). Many, but by no means all, physicists are atheists or agnostics. I don’t believe this has to be the case. Personally, I believe that God created the physics of the universe. As physicists and other scientists learn more bout “how things work” they are learning more about the laws of physics that God has created. Truly nothing in all of physics “disproves” God. Physicists aren’t even trying to do that. They are just trying to get to the basics of how things work. This benefits all of mankind. It’s why we have cell phones, satellite & cable TV, high-speed wireless internet, microwaves, lasers, computers and nuclear power.

More Like This

A Brief History of Time by Stephen Hawking

Hyperspace: A Scientific Odyssey Through Parallel Universes, Time Warps, and the 10th Dimension by Michio Kaku

Parallel Worlds: A Journey Through Creation, Higher Dimensions, and the Future of the Cosmos by Michio Kaku

Death by Black Hole: And Other Cosmic Quandaries by Neil deGrasse Tyson

The Elegant Universe: Superstrings, Hidden Dimensions, and the Quest for the Ultimate Theoryby Brian Greene

(and just about anything else by Green, Kaku, or Hawking that isn’t published in a scientific journal)

View all my reviews

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Today is my birthday. My 42nd birthday, to be exact, and it’s been quite an excellent birthday.

I suppose as I am forced by all the well-wishers to face the fact that I’m yet another year older that it makes me turn a little introspective. It’s a good thing to spend a little time (not too much) assessing or analyzing where you are at any point in your life and where you want to be.  And where you want to go.

Some Random Thoughts (Some Deep, Some Not):

Warning: These are my personal opinions. Politics are discussed. I will never force my opinion on you in any way. Be respectful of mine.

1. I am amazed at how many new friends I have this year. Being married to Holley Cox, undoubtedly one of the greatest women in the world, helps in this regard. I’ve never considered myself to be all that great of a friend. But I strive to get better and better at it. Being busy makes it hard. This year, though, it seems, has been particularly fruitful of friendships. Many are with people I’ve met through Thirty-One. Some of my best guy friends are Husbands of Thirty One. I think about these guys daily and we communicate regularly. It stinks that we all live so far apart.

2. I’m so glad I started blogging regularly. I know I can do better with this, but it’s been an awesome creative vent for me. If you don’t blog, you should. It’s better than Facebook, I promise. There’s been a tremendous amount of support and encouragement for my Direct Sales Husband’s Handbook posts. I plan to keep ‘em coming.

3. I’m changing jobs. This amounts to taking a stand for my family. My current position as a hospitalist and medical director of the hospitalist program at Morristown Hamblen Hospital has been fine. I feel I’ve made some tremendous improvements during my time there. My physician team agrees with me. But administration has decided (arbitrarily) to go to a 7-on 7-off scheduling model with no exceptions. As I have my kids on the weekends, this jeopardizes my time with them and no job is worth that. This is an opportunity for me to spend MORE time with my family and show them how important they are to me. Please pray for us during this time. There are tons of options out there for me. Almost too many, really, because making sure I choose the “right one” is stressful. Trying to leave it in God’s hand is my tact with that, though. He will take care of it.

4. The end of the world stresses me out. Over the last 18 months, I’ve had a profound fascination with almost everything to do with all this “end of the world” talk. The book of Revelation. Doomsday Preppers. The whole Mayan calendar thing. The movie 2012. Maybe it’s compounded by the whole job situation, but it has literally been a weight on me (don’t laugh, I’m serious!) Oh, and it continues to be. All this mess in the Middle East is about to blow up and that is right in line with Biblical Prophecy. America is a different country than the one in which I was raised. The future for our children is NOT as bright as it was for us. Raising children in a world where so many people don’t care to work and the government is all too happy to support them at your expense (in exchange for votes)… ugh. It’s just nasty to think about it. 

5. The politics of America are absolutely crazy. And it’s just going to get worse. The Dems are unashamedly socialist now. And the majority of people are totally OK with that. The GOP has gone from being socially progressive (abolishing slavery!) to faux-evangelical (in an offensive sort of way). And the only thing that the GOP really seems to care about is corporate welfare. There is no party that actually represents the citizens of this once great country. And yet so few people actually look at their party politics and think “is this what’s really right for me and my children? And their children?”

6. The world financial market is so tenuous and the media ignores it. Most economists can see what’s coming. Educate yourself on the macroeconomics of sovereign debt. I’m not saying the financial world is about to end. Just that there’s about an 80% chance of it if you really look at what is going on in Europe and the USA. Ignorance is bliss, and I wish I could get mine back, because watching all this go on is very much like watching a train wreck and contributes to nos. 4 & 5 above. 

Put all of this together and what you get is a LOT of life change. Change is stressful, but change is also opportunity. Of my good guy friends from Thirty-One, every single one of us is either going through a job change, loss of job, or moving to a new city. I hope they have for themselves the same aces in hand that I do:

Two things I’m so incredibly grateful for:

1. My trust in Jesus Christ – He’s got it all under control. 

2. My wife Holley Cox – going through massive life change isn’t something new to me. But going through it with the support and love of an amazing woman certainly is. It makes it all worthwhile.

If you’re still reading at this point, leave me a comment so I know who you are.

Holley’s Cartoon Image

JasonC —  November 13, 2012 — Leave a comment
Holley's Cartoon Image by WinterEC
Holley’s Cartoon Image, a photo by WinterEC on Flickr.

As a Direct Sales Husband, I’m frequently given little projects to accomplish by my lovely wife Holley. Recently, she’s seen people getting cartoony versions of themselves in various places.

This is what I’ve created. Let me know what you think!

DSHHLogo

Running your own business is always easier than people think in some ways… and harder in other ways. Often times, especially in direct sales, the person starting the business starts out running the business as a side enterprise in addition to . As a consequence, one of the first lessons learned in running a business by these new business owners is:

Calendar Management for Direct Sales

As a direct sales husband, this is yet another area that you can actually help your wife and her business quite a bit. There are a few keys to it that can really help you both:

1. Be Intentional About Her Calendar

To me, this means you start by sitting down and deciding exactly how you’re going to go about this. Decide to work on it together. Commit to doing this together.

2. Decide on a Calendar System You Actually Use

Work together on creating a system (that you both can use) to manage her calendar. This may seem obvious, and it is. But there is a hidden trap here. So frequently, people have great intentions to use some system, but then for some reason or another, they don’t use it routinely. There are hundreds of physical calendar organizing books you can buy and computers generally come with tools that can help with this as well. I believe it’s best to keep it on you. This means you both get a calendar and keep it “synced” with the same information. Digital calendars are good for this, especially if you have a smartphone.

3. Force Yourselves to Keep the Calendar Up to Date

There are going to be times when you’ll find yourself falling away from using the calendar. Once it becomes inaccurate, it immediately becomes useless and you’ll have to start over. So don’t let that happen. Go back to the calendar constantly. Know when she has parties. Kid events (that you can help with transportation). Primary job time conflicts. Keep the calendar either with you or in a single place so you always know where it is.

4. Week-At-A-Glance Meetings

Every weekend, before the week starts, have a strategy meeting. Pull out the calendar(s). Make sure it’s up-to-date and accurate. Discuss the week ahead. Decide where you, as a team, are going to spend your time and effort in the week ahead. It may take 5 minutes, or it may take 30, but this is time very well spent.

Closing Thoughts:

This is an important part of her business to set up early in the process. The earlier you find a solution that works for you, the more it will benefit you both in the long run. Also, be diligent on starting the “habit” of using the calendar and using it together. The general rule is that it takes 21 days to establish a habit, so get busy with it now!

Questions:

Girls: What calendar or calendar system do you like to use?
Guys: Do you ever sit down with your wife to plan for the week ahead? How does that usually turn out?
 

DSHHLogo

As with any business, a lot of thought and at least a little time needs to be spent on business organization. A small amount of time spent in organization can have huge results in payoff both immediately and down the road. This is true both for time and financial benefits for your business.

This may end up being a multi-part post because there are so many things that can be considered in business organization. As a Direct Sales Husband, you can definitely help out in each of these areas.

Today, I’ll start with…

Holley's Office

Setting Up A Physical Office

Every direct sales company is going to be different in certain areas like product inventory and necessary paperwork, but I’m going to go with the assumption that most have the same basic requirements as any small business office.

Create a Physical Space For Her Business

This is very important. If your wife doesn’t have her own business space, then the first thing you have to do is create a space her business. All too often, people entering direct sales think of it as a hobby. I suspect most people who aren’t in the industry also think direct sales businesses are “just a hobby.” Nothing serious, right? This is probably one of the major reasons most people starting in direct sales only stick with it for 6 months to 2 years. Having a physical location for her to perform business activities legitimizes this as a business in her mind and yours. It’s no longer a hobby. That alone will likely increase her chances of being successful.

It doesn’t have to be a huge area. I’ve seen functional “offices” that were no bigger than a desk (and a small one at that). A corner in a spare room works well. As the business grows, the space devoted to it will probably grow as well.

Start With a Good Desk

Every business person needs to sit down and write or perform computing tasks (email, word processing, correspondence, etc.) She needs to have her own workspace for this. If she already has a suitable desk, go with that. Otherwise it’s a good business expense/investment that will be used every day she works on the business. You can assemble the desk, set it up for her, and customize it as you need to.

Outfit the desk with the tools she’s going to need. Pens, pencils, notebooks, tape, paperclips. Whatever you think she’s likely to need. Remember, you want her to use this space, so make it functional. 

Files & Shelves

At some point you’re going to have enough records of parties, business expenses, tax information, order forms, and business supplies that you’re going to need to store them in an organized fashion so she’s not freaking out trying to find where she put something. A filing cabinet works great for this. Label tabs on folders and keep everything nice and orderly. 

It’s hard to work efficiently in a messy workspace (though many people do it). Use those files consistently.

Shelves are great for keeping reference materials handy. She may end up purchasing educational materials from various industry coaches like Shari Hudspeth, Belinda Ellsworth, or others. There are tons of great books out there that can help her learn to grow her business. Having those handy at her workspace will make them more useful.

Product Storage

This is going to look different for every direct sales business. With Thirty-One Gifts, Holley has absolutely TONS of product. It’s everywhere. We’re in the process of creating a room with a lot of shelving just for that. Even in our rather large house, the 31 products are constantly underfoot. Don’t let this happen to you!

R+fbagssm

On the other hand, with Rodan + Fields, there is almost no product inventory. Holley does have two bags which she uses to keep her “kit” for showing as well as business cards. Be smart with your own situation

The Paperless Option

Think about this as an option. I’ll be doing a future blog post about this in specific.

In Closing…

Thirty-One has great products for organizing an office. Most of the people reading this blog are involved with Thirty-One, so you all know exactly what I mean. But if you are with another company and setting up an office, then definitely check out Thirty-One for this. If you have a consultant, she can get you hooked up. If not, then contact me or my wife Holley Cox (an SED with Thirty-One) and she will definitely be ale to help you out with products that will help you get organized.

Questions:

Girls: What stories do you have about setting up an office for your business? What do you think is essential? What are the best Thirty-One products for organizing your home office?

Guys: Is your wife’s office organized or a crazy mess? Tell us about it!

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Starting The Conversation…

JasonC —  November 1, 2012 — 2 Comments

The Direct Sales Husband's Handbook

After posting a few blog posts a week for a little while, I find that I would like to hear more from the other direct sales guys out there. My wife is in Thirty-One and Rodan + Fields. Because of this, I have a little exposure to other Thirty-One guys (though not as much with R + F). I tremendously appreciate the feedback I get from my regular readers (mostly through FaceBook).

Rarely does anyone actually comment on the posts, though. I’d also like to get some exposure to and feedback from guys in other direct sales companies. Anyone have any suggestions for getting more interactivity and feedback for this resource? Also, if you guys find that the Disqus commenting system is difficult to use, please let me know!