Are You Getting Enough Vitamin N?

Coal Creak Trail and Falls in Lafayette, ColoradoVitamin N.  You may not have heard of it.  In fact, if you go to your local drug store, you won’t find a bottle of it on the shelf.   That’s because vitamin N is something we get for free just by going outside and admiring the grass, the trees, the clouds, and the sun.

Vitamin N is nature.  With more and more of the population living in cities and high-density apartment/condo buildings, nature is becoming more and more distant in our daily lives.  While humans have dominated the earth and learned to control fire, extract resources from the planet and make some pretty incredible things with those resources, we must not forget that we are part of nature.

Just like we bring plants into our shelters, we must also make it a point to step out into nature itself.  Here is how:

  • Seek out parks.  While hiking isn’t available, you can still sit under a tree and take in the sunshine, the rustle of the leaves, and the wind in your hair.
  • In the urban environment, seek out well landscaped areas.  Newer shopping areas typically have streets lined with trees.
  • Do a Google Search for trails near your house.  Even in urban areas like Denver, more natural recreation paths are available like the Speer Blvd aqueduct.
  • Plan a weekend in the mountains.  Get out and explore areas within a half day drive to a day’s drive from home.  Plan time hiking and exploring the area.
  • Sign up for a community garden plot.  Sites like Growing Gardens might have a plot in your area.  There is nothing like dirt under the fingernails and a fresh tomato!

Getting your vitamin N fix is easier than you think.  Experience the birds, the leaves, and the sun.  They are all a part of your soul.

 

Reframing a Dysfunctional Life

Reframing a Dysfunctional Life

Patterns and Creativity of a Dysfunctional LifeIt can be risky letting yourself by vulnerable.  It can hurt at times, but it can also be superb.

As I embark on a new project to write a book, I ask for your patience, acceptance, and open-mind.  As I look back over my life, I see some awesome experiences, some not so great times, and I see a childhood rooted in dysfunction.  This dysfunction made me who I am today, for good and bad.

In “Patterns and Creativity of a Dysfunctional Life”, I hope to share my life along with some educational and restorative exercises to help anyone who is willing to try them.  Having grown up with the false sense of what a perfect life was supposed to be, I struggle a bit to create the life I want and dismiss this concept of perfection.

While we are all different with varying needs, various interests, and equally varying skills and personalities, defining success isn’t so hard as it is time consuming.  The life you create does not have to be based on the learned behaviors of a dysfunctional environment.  In fact, the life you create must be based on your true soul, your true passions, and not from any other source.

Join me on Patreon as I begin this journey.  It seems a bit scary, but the product of being vulnerable will have an impact on our society.  A positive impact, I hope.

Early 2018 Updates

It is time for a quick update on my 2018.  I have been pretty lax about posting here as most of my content is being posted on my Patreon profile.  For just $5.00 per month you can get access to all of my content.  Content includes articles, podcasts, and videos on business, analytics, productivity, wellness, and creativity.   The focus is providing inspiration and knowledge to enhance your own experience. So head over to my profile and sign up.  Just don’t watch my horrible intro video.  lol

Onward to the good stuff!

Aric’s Q1 2018 Update

Shapr

Are you tired of LinkedIn?  Has LinkedIn gotten a bit personal? Tired or recruiters harassing you who have never looked at your profile?  Luckily, there is a cure.  It is an app called Shapr.  Think of it as the Tinder app for professionals and networking.  You signup easily and then you tell it up to 10 skills and give it your location.  It matches you to professionals with similar skills and interests.  You can then chat, meet for coffee/lunch or even just have a video call.

For me, it has been phenomenal in networking with fellow analytics gurus in my area.  I have already met with a half dozen and have developed a broader network for clients and employment opportunities.  It is great.  By comparison, LinkedIn is embarrassingly bloated.  lol

The Creative World

Early in my career, I cared a lot about gadgets, tech, and having cool stuff.  After a few moves and having to deal with all that stuff, I have decided to significantly downsize.  No more stuff for the sake of having stuff.  I have reduced my furniture down to the essentials, dumped half the stuff in my kitchen I never used, or used only once, and reduced my wardrobe down to a week worth of clothes.

This leaves the door open for more creativity.  Not only do I have tons of room in my small studio apartment, but I have a free mind as well.  Not being surrounded by all that stuff has cleared the air.  I now look forward to coming home and using this great space for projects and expanding my business.

After seeing technology de-innovate over the past two years (iOS 11 is backwards) with minimalist interfaces and complicated gestures, more and more data collection, and annoying ads everywhere, I have begun reducing my reliance on tech.  I am planning on getting rid of my iPhone and replacing it with a dumb flip phone.  I will use a small tablet for the sake of convenience at the coffee shop.  I will also dust off my S95 camera so I don’t miss anything and can document my adventures at any moment.

Having less technology around me reminds me that Americans truly work too hard.  We are given the conveniences so corporations can profit from us, keep us connected.  I don’t mean a conspiracy theory, but look at Europe, they are happier and work less than we do.  Do we really want driver-less cars so we can start work the moment we leave or houses?  Just stop and ask yourself, what is technology really doing for me?  If you love it, great.  If you wonder if the grass is greener with less tech in your life, give it a shot and cut back.

The creative world comes alive when you limit the technology, the stuff, and clear the air in your home.  For me, I have renewed energy for podcasts, creating online courses for SpiralAnalytics, and even painting (I recent took up acrylic).  Let creativity shine!

The 3 Words

You might recall, I started off the year with three words to define my 2018.  Inspired by Chris Brogan’s concept, I chose active, plan and explore.

Active – Going well in respects to my physical fitness and being more active physically.  I do have a bit of work to do with becoming more active in my community.  I have not identified a non-profit to volunteer with.  Longmont offers a few historical ideas, as does Erie and Louisville.  I also need to get out more in the evenings after work.  So, active is okay, but needs more focus.

Plan – Daily to do lists and progress charts are just a part of my plan.  Plan really refers to knowing what I need to do, learning, and being prepared for the next step.  For instance, I am considering leasing a car.  I am doing research into what may fit my needs, as well as asking the question, Is this the right time?  Plan is about being prepared to make an educated decision and executing that decision efficiently.  Overall, Plan is going well.

Explore – Not only explore beautiful Colorado, but also explore what I want to learn, new hobbies, and try new things.  I haven’t done many weekend road trips, but I have been exploring N Scale model trains. I have also been researching changes in social media. Exploring cars for a potential a new car lease, and dabbling in painting and sketching.  I have also been exploring platforms to host online custom online courses.  So, exploring has been busy.

SpiralAnalytics

Ah yes, my analytics consulting business.  Things are going well.  Busy with clients in Colorado while designing, authoring and recording online courses to share my knowledge and experience with analytics. What was supposed to be launched in December of 2017 with a WordPress blog and a few membership plugins turned out to be a lot of work and is almost ready to launch with Thinkific. SpiralAnalytics wants to educate and share our knowledge so our users can live in a data driven world and help them launch or refine their own career in analytics.  Stay tuned… SpiralAnalytics is just getting warmed up.

This update has gotten a bit longer than I thought, so I will stop here.  Head over to my Patreon profile and consider a $5/mo subscription.  There is plenty of content over there to make your $5 well spent.  Keep thinking about those three words and how they define your actions.  Finally stay tuned for our first online course, authored by yours truly!

Caio!

 

 

 

Going Beyond the Box

Think outside the boxBoxes are great for containing things. Whether moving or just trying to clear the clutter, a box comes in very handy.  You might even choose a box with some character, scratched out handwritten labels, shipping stickers and ancient yellow packing tape.  Yes, the box is a great thing.

But a box can also describe the perspective we live in.  Along the lines of “stuck in a rut,” living inside the box is a familiar place.   The box is the universe we live in, not only the physical space of home, work, the grocery store and the coffee shop, but also the mental world, the thoughts, the emotions, and the perspectives on the world.  By this definition, the box can start to take on a different feeling.

The life you live is the sum of the decisions and actions you make.  These decisions have many different types of influences, be it from your friends or networking group or from the thoughts which pass through your mind.  While many of us are quite content with the box we’ve built for ourselves, others may not be.

Change is how your box changes shape, color, and even location.  “Think outside the box” is a phrase we often use to set loftier goals for ourselves.  In fact, personal growth happens most when we step outside the box we’ve come to love.  A life of learning, new places, and new people is a great way to keep your box changing forever.

Here are some ideas to go beyond your box:

  • Take an online course – many are free and cover a wide variety of topics.
  • Join a book club – Sure, Oprah comes to mind, but reading is a great way to expand your box, as is engaging in discussion.
  • Invite a peer out to lunch – Not only do you get to experience a new atmosphere, but you share the experience with someone and bond with them.
  • Learning a new language or instrument – Learning to speak German or how to play Pachelbel’s Canon on the piano, the process of learning something new stimulates brain activity and makes you feel good.
  • Meditate – breathe, let your thoughts go, and relax.  Reflect on the thoughts which come up naturally and be prepared to write them down afterward so you can take action.
  • Take a vacation – it does not have to be an exotic place like Thailand, but a change of scenery is enough to get you thinking differently and open your horizons
  • Take a different route home from work – this is one tip I love and practice daily. You never drive home the same route day after day.  This opened me up to new routes and I found some places to visit at the same time.

While the box is a really cool thing, it is okay to think about life outside the box.

A Decade of Learning

For a bit more than the last decade, my career has focused on data and data visualization within sales, marketing and finance.   From understanding data architecture and database design to deploying insightful and effective reports to teams across the organization, I have come to appreciate the profound role data plays in today’s highly competitive marketplace.

Understanding how to use data and integrating it into one’s daily routine is a challenge for many.  As I reflect back on my career and the challenges for sales reps and analysts ahead, I chose to shift gears and focus on sharing my experiences with a greater audience.

Saalun - Sales Analytics University for Reps and AnalystsWith the purpose of sharing my skills, I created Saalun.  Saalun is short for Sales Analytics University.  The subscription based service is geared toward sales reps and analysts.  While sales leadership can also benefit, the product is to help reps get the training they need without relying upon corporate leadership to provide it.

While we are just launching an early preview, we will open the doors in Q4’17 with content, newsletters, webinars and podcasts.  Head over to our site and signup for notifications, early previews, and the latest news on this exciting project.

Need a Sales Team Dashboard?

Monitoring your sales team is a major part of success.  Sales managers and executives need a simplified media to review key performance indicators KPIs to understand how their sales team is performing.

Such a simplified media is a dashboard style report which includes both charts and data tables which report KPIs pertinent to the business.   In a for profit business, typically revenue generation is at the top of the KPI list, followed by product performance, rep performance, and then rep productivity metrics.

Example Sales Team Management Dashboard

Spiral Analytics’ Example Sales Team Management Dashboard – Available for $5 through Fiverr

Since simple is good, Spiral Analytics, the name of my analytics solution company, is offering a gig through Fiverr.  The $5 Gig provides a basic template and setup for a sales team dashboard which follow the metrics above.  Additional charts and the ability to maintain the dashboard for you are available at additional charge.  For more information, send us an email below.

Send us an email inquiry

Jumping Into Die-cast Model Collecting

As you get older, collecting things is a great way of expressing yourself.  With collections fitting into the life category of hobbies, just about anything can be considered a collection as long as you have more than a few of the same type of object.

As a car guy, I am an avid automotive follower, having collected just about every issue of Car and Driver magazine from 1992 to 1998. That is a lot of car magazines.  I even started writing my own automotive news and review journal when I started college called MotoCrazy.  Although I never actually published it publicly, it was a great for me to explore my automotive interest.

Fast forward to 2014 and my love for automobiles has not changed.  I still follow automotive news, review new models with skepticism and joy, and even yearn to take a new model for a spin.  While my current day job does not allow me to collect real cars, the world DieCast Models does.

It started with a search on eBay for a 2008 Mazda3 model by AutoArt.  I wanted to have a model of the very car I drive today.  However, I didn’t bid high enough and lost the first auction only to discover paying well over $100 for such a model would have been justified since I have not seen one come for auction since!  Urgh!

As I dove deeper into the world of diecast models, I found a fascinating world of scales, brands, and qualities that were as diverse as the planet we lived on.  My first purchase was a 1967 Pontiac GTO by Danbury Mint in gorgeous Purple Plum paint.  The 1/24 model was intricately detailed and set me back well over $100, but it is worth every penny.

After getting my first purchase behind me, I grabbed a 1995 Ford Explorer by Maisto and quickly learned what sort of quality I expected in a model.  While it was dirt cheap, the quality of this Explorer left me wanting more, almost feeling as though I had been cheated.  The door gaps were large and obvious, the headlights looked fake and the interior was more form than detail.  Clearly, future models were going to have to be a little higher quality.

Diving into DieCast Model Collecting is a lot like real world car shopping.  First, you get what you pay for.  Buy the cheap model and you will get a cheap car.  Buy a high end model and jump for joy, put it on the shelf and relish in its detail.   Second, shop around for the car that best fits your needs.  Numerous manufacturers make a 1966 Pontiac GTO and offer various levels of detail.  Even the higher end manufacturers offer different touches of details. Find the right mix that works for you.  Finally, size does not matter in the respect that 1/18 models are HUGE and 1/64 models are tiny and lack details.   Decide what you are comfortable with and how big of a shelf you have, then buy the scale that fits best.

I am quite happy with my collection so far.  In fact, I have concentrated on buying mid-1960’s GTO’s from a variety of manufacturers, but mainly in 1/18 scale.  My favorite is a 1/18 ERTL-American Muscle 1966 GTO in gold.   I am also collecting each and every model of Saturn I can find. Currently I have a 2002 Vue and SC2.

My 1/43 collection is taking shape, mainly in the form of European cars from the mid-1990’s.  From numerous Saab 900’s and 9-5’s to a Mercedes C180 and Mercedes C36, the 1/43 scale is nicely detailed and offers a nice compact size.  They are also a bit less expensive than the larger 1/18 scale.

DieCast model collecting offers an environment parallel to real world car shopping.   The best part is not having to have a 50 car garage to park them in.  Decide what makes your enthusiasm kick and buy it.  And if you come across an AutoArt 2008 Mazda3 5-door along the way, please let me know.