Happy New Year!

Happy New Year!

It is with great pleasure that I say farewell to 2010 and greet 2011 with open arms.

2010 was a very exciting year for me:

1) I finished 5 sprint triathlons! Read more at http://aricintraining.com

2) I set the foundation for my triathlon training dashboard. More to come later.

3) I survived a near death experience thanks to being stung by a bee while riding my bike!

4) I am the author of one of the top not for profit flight simulator blogs in the world. Check it out: http://arealityofmyown.wordpress.com

5) I learned the value of what it means to be honest and sincere in a good friendship.

6) I was able to help a leading cloud computing company understand their business better with some creative analytics and visualizations.

7) learned that I still have a lot to learn.

8) Universal Studios Hollywood is a much smaller park than I expected.

9) I learned how wonderful it feels to have someone by your side through thick and thin.

10) I know that for all the wonderful changes that occurred during 2010, I know 2011 will have many more to come.

11) Learned that there is never a perfect answer to anything.

Overall, I think 2010 was a year of challenges that truly tested my devotion to achieving my goals. I know that I will only achieve them if I am consistent with my perseverance.

Cheers to an awesome 2011!

Between the Brick Wall & the Cliff

You look up and see brick. You look left and then right, but can only see brick. You realize that you are standing in front of a brick wall so large, that its edges can’t be seen.

You look down and see blackness. You are standing on the edge of a cliff with an unknown bottom. Looking behind you, you see blackness as well. Your heart rate picks up speed. You are standing on a block… a block of emptiness.

You are in that area where creativity, inspiration, and thoughts are a black hole. You are unable to complete a thought nor are you able to comprehend.

To move from this spot, you realize you must find something that you already have to find your way down the cliff, over the wall, or around the wall. But, your pockets are empty and the light is fading…

Your mind races with panic, your eyes blink and twitch faster by the second as you think through the situation.

Then, you see a slight light above you. You found an idea by reflecting on your day…

The light gets brighter as you begin to correlate the meaning of the day’s events and start building a pattern of significance.

“Eureka,” your mind shouts as you realize you have a topic for your next post.

Suddenly, the light illuminates a staircase that descends the cliff to a tranquil pond, a bridge and then an elevator to the far side of the brick wall.

As you build your post, connect the thoughts and discover the meaning, the beginning and the end, the far side of the brick is such a beautiful, sunny place.

You look back in bewilderment as you realize the panic was unneeded, that meaning was always there and that spot between the brick wall and the cliff, really isn’t such a bad place after all.

YouTube Is For More Than Laughs

When I saw this article by Medical News Today, I did a classic double take of the headline:

Clues To Brain Injury Symptom From YouTube Videos

When I talk about patterns and collecting data, finding new, cheap, and creative sources of data is often what separates the truly remarkable from the ordinary research projects.   Conducting brain injury sympton research via YouTube’s “funny” videos is certain a cheap and creative way to help save someone from sustaining further injuries:

Their findings could have immediate value in helping coaches make educated, objective decisions about whether to return an athlete to play after a blow to the head.”

You can read the rest of the article at the headline above. 

This is further proof that social media has a growing value, not just in terms of marketing, sales and collaboration, but in helping our society make smarter decisions.  Since patterns, creativity, inspiration and data are four of my lenses, I might start taking another look at Twitter; not as a marketing tool, but as a resource for learning more about human behavior patterns.

Cheers!

Lessons in Customer Experience

Today I had the pleasure of seeing both sides of customer experience; the good and the bad.

First, the bad.  I received a voicemail from the membership department of the gym I am a member of (Goleta Valley Athletic Club), announcing that I had won some free personal training sessions.  I was stoked, especially after spending many thousands of dollars with one of their trainers over the past few years.  Finally, something free. Not quite.  After speaking to the gym and informing them of my history (they didn’t know who I was and never looked at my account), they said I was ineligible because I had already been training.  The drawing was for new members only. Make sense, although the gym just shot themselves in the foot.  Here’s why:

1) No where was there fine print to announce that current members already training with a trainer were ineligible.
2) Pronounced me winner before getting their facts straight.  How hard is it to look up a name?
3) They announce me as a winner and then revoke the winnings, never offering any type of compensation.
4) At no time prior to the announcement did the gym bother to check my history, which would have eliminated my entry, prevented the phone call and I would have been none the wiser.
5) Even after knowing my membership status and becoming aware of my value to their, did they seem to care.

While apologetic, the gym has burned one of their more valuable members.   I have a call into the general manager to discuss the problem further, so I will keep you all posted.

(Update 9/5 – I was at the gym today and they clearly changed all the signage and wording around their alleged drawing to “win free personal training.” The entry forms clearly state that the drawing is for first time clients only.  I am happy to see the gym being more transparent with their eligibility rules.)

Now, the second; the good.  On the heals of being treated poorly by the gym, I went to a popular, health food eatery here in Santa Barbara.   I was so impressed with the service, I couldn’t help but leave a $3 tip in their tip jar.  The gentelman whom took my order was courteous, answered all my questions, and showed sincere interest in helping me make the right salad choice.  They even gave me a discount because it was Labor Day weekend (not quite, but I’ll take it).  Not only that, but the food was brought to me with a smile and a huge Thank you for choosing them. They even shook my hand.    In addiiton, the receipt not only has coupons that I will actually use, but it details the nutritional value of my meal.  The transparency, service, and food blew me away.  I am so happy that good people and good companies still exist. (Check out Silvergreens – Santa Barbara)

It is interesting to me that both of these experiences happened back to back.  After getting burned by my gym, I was not happy to have to order food.  But the food experience was so good, I left smiling! After sharing these experiences, I hope you walk away with the power to think about your day to day experiences with the people you choose to do business with.  Please make your own decisions based on the customer experience.  If companies value you, they will show it.  If they don’t, walk away and give your money to the ones that do value YOU.  It is the power of the consumer.

Finding the Meaning of Life

It hit me one day and made me cry.  They say that it makes you cry when you find it, so I knew that this was the answer and it came down to two words.  In the past, I thought the meaning life was something so complex I began writing long essays and over-analyzing events that I totally missed the simplicity of the answer.

To Inspire

These two words are why I exist.  They are the simplest commonality behind everything I have accomplished in the past.   From building electric cars in high school, to studying abroad, to my passion for understanding human behavior, past, present and future, to inspire is the lens through which I found meaning in all of the events, I just didn’t know it.   I find myself inspiring others through ground-breaking, pioneering acts. As I move toward customer modeling and personal training, these two components of my life further solidify the meaning of the two words.   Customer modeling allows me to inspire others in the company to make smart decisions by providing a new view of the customer they never had before.   Personal Training allows me inspire those who want to change. As my journey from couch potato to triathlete continues, I firmly believe that the answer to sky rocketing health care costs is proper nutrition and exercise.  By using my story, person-skills, and passion for fitness science, I will make the world healthier one person at a time.