Tag: Life

Embrace What You’ve Got

What’s the fastest and easiest way to be happy? Be grateful for what you’ve got. In today’s world of marketing, it’s hard to tell the difference between what’s an advertisement and what’s real life. Our social media accounts are full of people touting how perfect their lives are and that they’ve got it all figured out.

*Disclaimer: I’m not writing this blog because I think that I have figured it out and have all of the answers. This is just a matter of my observations and opinions of which I am grateful for.

While all of the positivity is a welcome change from a world of negativity, it can have negative effects of discontentment, jealously, and self loathing. If you are having any of these strong feelings, perhaps it is a good opportunity to take a hiatus from social media and check your feelings. Take a breath and figure out where they are coming from. Make note of those feelings that are genuine that you want to work towards making a change.

Be grateful. Being grateful is having appreciation of what you have, who you are, and what you’re capable of. Focus on your abilities and what makes you unique. You can be grateful for your great looks, but you’re only ever going to look so good.

Do it often. Make it a part of a ritual. Perhaps when you wake up, before you eat, while your brushing your teeth, whenever. I have never heard of anyone overdoing being grateful, so do it often. I actually carry a gratitude rock with me, which is a little trick that I learned from the book The Secret. Every time that I come across the rock in my pocket, it reminds me to be grateful.

Maybe your in a really tough place where it’s hard to think of anything worth being grateful for. Try starting with very broad topics like the sunshine, food, the air we breath, family, friends, and this blog. As you practice being grateful, you’ll start to discover all of those little things that you previously took for granted. Practice truly feel the emotions of being grateful. Feel it in the pit of your stomach and the smile on your face as you think about all of those things that your grateful for.

Watch your life change. Bringing gratitude into your life will change it. You’ll begin to look at things with a healthy genuine positivity and this will translate to great things throughout all other aspects of your life.

You Make It Look So Easy

Have you ever watched someone do something that appeared to be effortless for them but when you tried it was seemingly impossible? Sure. We all have. That skate boarder that lands an impossible stunt, the ballerina’s graceful performance, the actor, the athlete, the rapper, the entrepreneur…

They all have the same thing in common, preparation. Let’s face it. It takes years and years of practice and preparation to operate at the highest levels in any profession. We get to see people perform at the top of their game for entertainment or inspiration, but what we don’t get to see is the effort that it took for them to get there. We don’t get see the countless hours of practice, the early mornings, the late nights, the strict regiments, or sacrifices.

One the most difficult concepts to wrap my head around throughout this journey of entrepreneurship is how easy it looks for so many others before me. By the time that we recognize a successful person, they have already spent years preparing and practicing. What we see is an instant success. We tend to see someone that just happened to get lucky or have natural abilities. Sure. Luck and skill have a huge role in success, but you can prepare for luck and hone in on a skill.

This has been a difficult concept for me to grasp as I look at the greatest entrepreneurs of our time for inspiration. They are so far out of my league that I cannot even imagine performing at their level. It’s difficult to relate to their beginnings and what they are accomplishing today. Intimidating? Absolutely. Why? because I am trying to compare myself to Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, Mark Zuckerburg, the quintessential entrepreneurs.

I think it is important to have role models and heroes. They keep us energized and dreaming bigger than a life that we can imagine. But, I also think that it is important to have an individual perspective. This is to know your personal intent and what success is for you as an entrepreneur. So you’re not a billionaire, that’s okay. Tell yourself it’s okay.

Now that you don’t have to sit trying to come up with the next billion dollar idea to compete with the greats, get to work preparing and practicing for your success. You’ll eventually have your friends, family, and possibly the world saying, “Wow, they make it look so easy.”

 

The Lebanon Community Responds

I asked and the Lebanon City residents answered. In an earlier blog, Lebanon Paper Box: Day 40, I asked for feedback from the community of Lebanon on their ideas of what they would like to see incorporated in the the old Lebanon Paper Box building. Here is a recap of some of the responses that I have received so far. 

It has been a little over a week since I published the blog post, Lebanon Paper Box: Day 40, and hit social media to solicit some suggestions and ideas about what the community would like to see at this predominant landmark in Lebanon City. The suggestions have been enlightening and has provided a glimpse of what is on the minds of the community, albeit only a small segment was sampled. I have received feedback from over 50 residents thus far.

Below is a consolidated recap of the suggestions that I have received. They are not listed in any particular order. Some of the ideas come as no surprise, while others were very unexpected…

  1. Homeless shelter
  2. Veteran shelter
  3. Roller skating rink
  4. Something tech related and interesting
  5. Recreation center
  6. Retail stores
  7. Apartment building with affordable housing
  8. Ballerina school
  9. Art gallery and studios
  10. Karate school
  11. Public clinic
  12. Go karts
  13. Something similar to the GoggleWorks in Reading
  14. Trampoline park
  15. Museum of the history of Lebanon
  16. Grocery store
  17. Skate park
  18. Chick-Fil-A
  19. Place for kids to play
  20. Community center
  21. Lebanon annex of the Spooky Nook Sports complex
  22. Connect with the Lebanon county Career and Technology Center during renovation
  23. Great location with a bike trail. I’d be so happy just to see it restored

A common thread, throughout a majority of the suggestions, is that Lebanon City is in need of community events and affordable things for residents to do. Primarily for the younger residents. It’s also clear to see that there is a lot of pride for the city and residents are passionate about providing programs for the homeless and our Veterans.

Based on all of this information, I have some research to do to better understand what programs already exist and where there may be some gaps to fill. Perhaps there are already some things in place that may require some public education, or perhaps not. Ultimately, the extent of feedback is motivating in that there is a community that cares. In time, there will be the a call for participation and action to help bring opportunities to fruition, this will be the true test of the community spirit.

The call for suggestions has not only spawned a list of ideas, but it has also created some dialogue between residents on the official Facebook page of the Lebanon Paper Box building. The conversations have been a mixture of constructive and destructive criticism. I have not been moderating the conversation as I want everyone’s voice to be heard. After all, criticism is a sign of doing something and making a contribution.

“To avoid criticism say nothing, do nothing, be nothing.”
– Aristotle

In the meantime, keep the ideas and suggestions coming! Also, give some thought to how some of these ideas can be accomplished though other initiatives. This is just one building in the City of Lebanon, but it can be a part of a bigger movement to help bring life into the surrounding community. This is bigger than one person or one building and it is going to require the effort of many.

If you want to become more involved in the Lebanon community, but don’t know where to start, feel free to reach out and I can help.

 

 

Routines: The Struggle is Real

I never quite appreciated the power of having a routine until now. Simple things seem to become overwhelming without having some kind of structure in place.

Throughout my life, I’ve been told about the power of having a routine. This is a skill that I have taken for granted and haven’t given much thought to for so much of my life. Although I have been successful, it turns out that I’m not really great with maintaining a routine and I need quite a bit of improvement in this area. I have always had a predetermined structure and really never gave defining a routine much thought.

My early introduction to routines in my life were based around school. Every day started and ended at the same time. I did not control the day or have any say in when I got started. There was no room for error or I would be waiting outside for a bus that I had already missed.

In today’s work environment with varying work locations and telecommuting, maintaining a consistent routine feels like it can be quite a challenge. How are you helping your associates create routines and personal accountability? How are you keeping yourself accountable to your routine? If you don’t currently have a routine, where do you start?

The book The Compound Effect, written by Darren Hardy, may help provide motivation to make the changes necessary to live the life that you desire. Getting into a routine, like honing any kind of habit, takes baby steps. It’s the little everyday decisions that will give you the life that you desire or lead you to disaster. If you’re feeling that your life is spiraling into chaos and you’re overwhelmed by the thought of how to move forward, I highly recommend picking up a copy of The Compound Effect. I have read it several times and also have the audio book to listen to whenever I need a boost in personal motivation. I’ve even purchased copies of this book to give to friends.

I am curious about whether or not you have a routine. If you have a routine, what do you do and what part of your routine seems to work the best? Do you wake up at the same time every day? Do you do anything differently on weekends or days off? How has your routine evolved throughout your life?

Could you keep up a routine like Elon Musk? Here’s Elon Musk’s morning routine—and his top productivity tip

If you haven’t developed some kind of daily routine, give it a try. You may be surprised by how much your life can change. Don’t miss the bus.

Lessons Learned: Contractors and Friendships

Warning: This post comes from fresh emotions of disbelief, frustration, anger, and disappointment. The identities of the parties involved have not been disclosed so that they can take full responsibility for destroying their own reputations. (they’ll know who they are)

If you have done any kind of research on becoming a real estate investor or have even simply considered having some work done on your own house, then you’ve heard the horror stories related to contractors. We’ve heard all of the stories about contractors abandoning projects, taking the money and running, or spending way over budget; but we simply didn’t have to worry about any of those issues. We have a contractor that makes promises they will deliver, someone that won’t leave us hanging, and someone that will grow with us and our business. We have a friend that is a contractor. It’s going to be the best business relationship ever and we are going to take over the rehabbing world!

Well, that was the plan…

We were in the process of building a dream team. Our contractor was highly motivated. His energy and motivation was contagious and inspirational. We couldn’t wait to settle on a house and begin the demo process. The realtor that we were working with was the contractor’s girlfriend. She was also a very driven person seeking to catapult her career to new heights. The ambition that they brought to the table was a sure win. The cool part was that they were working to build a brand together like a wannabe Chip and Joanna Gaines couple. They have the cute kid to exploit in marketing gimmicks and even bought chickens. The perfect family to compliment the perfect business partnership.

Things started out with a bang. There was a ton of commotion and activity around the rehab as old fixtures and debris was being removed from the house. We would get excited every time that I’d stop by the job site to check out the progress. We have to admit, seeing the result after demo was a bit overwhelming trying to imagine how everything would be put back together again. That worry quickly subsided because, heck, I’ve got the best team looking out for our interests. I’ve got faith in them and we all benefit when the job is complete; the realtor gets the listing and commissions and the contractor agreed to a percentage of the profits, so of course it’s in all of our best interests to get the house rehabbed and on the market as soon as possible.

Until it’s not…

Not long after the demo was complete, there seemed to be a distraction or two. There had been some exterior improvements that really screamed progress. A new roof and siding transformed the curb appeal of the house and created quite a bit of excitement around the neighborhood. We were excited about the new look and could see the potential. We couldn’t wait to see how the improvements inside would turn out. While we were excited about the progress of the rehab, the contractor was increasingly excited about a new house that he was about to build for him, his girlfriend, and the cute kid. The contractor assured me that this would not impact the progress of the rehab since he is a professional and capable of managing multiple projects. Yeah right.

It’s still very painful to reflect on how naive we were to expect things to get better. We would drive to the job site weeks on end without any signs of life or progress. Repeated calls to our contractor would go unanswered. When the calls would be answered, we would get a line of excuses, promises, and revised timelines to completion. We would cut our losses and verbally agree with our contractor that the new timeline is what it is and swallow our frustration. This process happened over, and over, and over, and over again…

Trying not to live with regrets…

We regret not firing our contractor. We regret this decision every single day that work drags on at the rehab. Our weakness was doing what we felt was the right thing in helping a friend. After all, he helped to open our eyes the opportunities and excitement of rehabbing. He had already invested time and energy in the project and we still wanted to give him the share that we had agreed to. We offered to help find sub contractors to complete the work and got lip service that he was working on it and that he will be there to finish the job. We started talking with other contractors to see if they could provide guidance on how to go about getting things finished without our contractor “friend”. Throughout this entire endeavor, we never ever considered abandoning our agreement to give him the negotiated percentage of profit. We continued to look out for his interest in the project that he abandoned. It’s like we cared more about his share than he did.

Gah!!!!!

So this post could go on and on about the specific details of frustration and disappointment that we are facing, but it makes us sick to think about how ignorant our contractor has been that we are trying to complete this deal with some kind of profit. This is a job that should have taken 6 months, but has missed the deadline by almost a year. The optimist in us thinks that at least there is a benefit from a capital gains tax perspective, if there’s even a profit.

In the end, the worst part is being disappointed by the so called friends that we thought we would build our dreams with. Their loss. They have turned into nothing more than shysters. If they continue down the path that they are on then they are destined to have a run in with karma and a few terms like fraud and embezzlement.

We shouldn’t even care anymore…

Honestly, we just want to move on and still make good on all of our promises. However, the contractor expects to underdeliver, break all promises, go over time, go over budget, steal, and then ask for more money… haha!!

Fortunately, we have not let this experience deter us from our real estate endeavors and we are already wrapping up our next project with a new contractor with much more success. Subscribe to our blog to get notifications on our future posts and learn about what we have done differently to ensure that we have chosen a honest contractor. We personally recommend Hawk Rock Construction or Five-Star Contracting which serve Harrisburg, Pennsylvania and the surrounding areas.

** Oh yeah. I forgot to mention the ending of the business relationship with the realtor. She completely forgot about us until it was time to list the property so that she could cash in on a commission. She was simply too busy with building her own house and self indulgence to pick up the phone, even once in over a year! Even after giving her a chance for redemption and trying to come up with an amicable resolution, she was arrogant and ignorant to the end. Which reminds me… where’s the buyer that you said that you had? Oh wait, never mind. Don’t care. You’re fired.

Preamble: It All Begins With Your Parents

Like it or not, who you are to some extent begins with your parents. If that’s bad news to you, then the good news is that you are not your parents and you can control you own life. Take the good and learn from the bad.

My mother and father grew up in a fairly depressed area of Northern Pennsylvania. Long before they were born, the area was known for manufacturing and coal. That boon came and went and now people are simply trying to get by. My parents recognized that they did not have very many opportunities if they stayed, and they wanted more for their eventual family. So they decided to move away in search of better employment and quality of life. They headed to South Central Pennsylvania and settled in the suburbs just outside of the Harrisburg area. The rolling hills of Perry County was going to be their new homestead. My mother and father moved into a trailer sitting on the land where they would eventually build the home that I grew up in. At this time, you had to save a 50% downpayment to build a house and interest rates for loans were upwards of 15%. 

Both of my parents began their careers working for the State of Pennsylvania at the Liquor Control Board. My dad would go on to hold several different positions within the State Government before ultimately retiring. My mother had a break in her career to raise my brother, sister, and I then later returned to the Liquor Control Board where she ultimately retired.

My parents have three amazing children, of which I am the middle child. We were, what I considered, a pretty average middle class family. Both of my parents worked hard to provide the necessities and even the luxuries, like braces for our teeth and a private education in a Catholic School. We had a comfortable three bedroom ranch house with a huge yard to play in as kids. The only struggle was the one bathroom that the five of us had to share.

Previously I mentioned that my mother took a break in her career to raise the family, but in reality it wasn’t really a break. She worked even harder during that time and, looking back, my parents made a lot of sacrifices for the things that I took for granted growing up. My mother gave up her 8-4 office job to be at home for us when we got off of the bus and to volunteer at school functions. At night, after my dad would get home from work, she would head off to her part-time job working at the local pizza shop or Hill’s (the now defunct department store chain).

I don’t tell my parents often enough, but I have a lot of admiration for their hard work and dedication. Perhaps that’s were I get my work ethic and unyielding desire to achieve. I know that my childhood was far from rough in comparison to others out there. I believe that it is because my parents took the initiative to give my siblings and I opportunities that they didn’t have. Had they stayed in their hometown, I can’t imagine where I would be today.

We all come from somewhere. While my childhood was not filled with seemingly insurmountable adversity, I didn’t grow up with the proverbial silver spoon in my mouth. My parents were not business owners and their approach to finances was to simply save money in bank accounts and IRAs, which is what we are all told to do. We are told to do well in school, go to college, and get a good job working for someone else. Check, check, and check. I have done all of those things and I know that there is more out there…

Regardless of our upbringing, we can become whoever we want to be! The struggle that we all face is going against the grain. Surround yourself with people that add value to you life and share similar dreams and aspirations. That’s the purpose of this site. We can all help one another succeed and break through the barriers of norm that we are surrounded by.

Perry County Land.jpg

15 Acres of Land in Perry County that I own about 1 mile from where I grew up

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