Archive for Personal

Great Day Today and A New Sport(VIDEOS)

By · March 28, 2012 · Filed in Personal, Sports · No Comments »

This’ll be a short one. First off, here’s the greatest encounter I could have in Spring Training:

Yes, that’s 2010 AL MVP Josh Hamilton, who was also on his way to another MVP in 2011 until he got hurt. Granted, Verlander probably still would’ve won it, it would’ve been a much closer race. Here’s to him winning another in 2012 and the Rangers finally winning the World Series!(unless of course it means beating the White Sox in the playoffs).

In addition, I “invented” a new sport today, should I call it BOLF or Baseball Driving Range?

Protected: Pitching Practice 03.16.12

By · March 16, 2012 · Filed in Personal, Sports · Enter your password to view comments.

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Shinedown: Proof That Rock Music Is Not Dead!(Video)

By · March 13, 2012 · Filed in Entertainment, Personal · No Comments »

True story… back in 2004 I was HUGE fan of Tantric and had the opportunity to see them live. There were 3 opening acts. One was a local band. The second was Silvertide, led by an eccentric lead-singer named Sebastian who was compared to Chris Robinson of the Black Crowes. The third was Shinedown. I didn’t know who they were beforehand and instantly recognized them when they played the following hit song:

45 by Shinedown

Before the show, which was at Pop’s, a small bar in Sauget, IL(across the river from St. Louis, MO), I ran into a group of guys standing by a tour bus. I had Meet N’ Greet passes for Tantric and did not know if it was before the show, between sets or after the show. I even called the venue and they didn’t know. Finally, I decided to ask the guys standing by the bus for more info on the Meet N’ Greet as they looked like “roadies”. By this I meant they looked like musicians, however, I knew they weren’t in Tantric and I didn’t recognize them. The response I got was “Sorry man, we don’t know.” Those “roadies” ended up being the members of Shinedown! They put on an AWESOME show which included a call to “pull out your lighters” when they played “45″ and I got to meet Tantric between sets which was a great experience in and of itself.

Since then Tantric has changed lead-singers and haven’t quite achieved the commercial success they deserve while Shinedown has gone on to be one of the biggest names in modern rock.

Here’s my favorite Shinedown song:

 

Proof That There Is A “Before”

By · March 5, 2012 · Filed in Business Education, Fitness, Personal, Sports · 1 Comment »

“Goals are nothing more than dreams with a deadline.” – Anthony Robbins, Awaken The Giant Within

Oftentimes you hear stories of great success and they usually try to make them sound more impressive by saying “well this is where they started”. Many of these “before” stories are exaggerations and I’m here to prove that this is the “BEFORE” that will be followed with an amazing AFTER.

It’s been too long since I posted here and for good reason: I’ve been busy!

I just want to make it known that in addition to being a better husband, son, brother and friend I have THREE big goals that I am setting TODAY. I will be doing a video journal on here(and YouTube as well) to keep up with my progress for at least one and possibly even ALL three of these goals.

As of today, March 5th 2012 I am 28yrs old. By January 6th 2017(I will be 33yrs old) I intend to accomplish the following:

1) Build a net-worth of at least $1m

Today: I’m far from it with student loan and credit card debts and only a little amount of money in savings. However, our business is growing day by day and I have a full-time job in addition to the business to help take care of paying down the debt.

Tomorrow: Jefferson Franklin Tax Services(JFTS) is my baby! Thankfully I am blessed to be partners with the two most important people in my life, my father and my wife. Each day is another day closer to making JFTS a household name. The goal has been set now it’s time to “fill in the blanks.” I have plenty of ideas for the direction of JFTS that will get us there, but bottom line is it will be more about what the MARKET tells us to do than what I tell us to do.

2) Run a Boston Qualifying(BQ) Marathon Time

Today: The current requirement for my age group(M18-34) is a 3:05 or less finishing time which equates to about a 7:05/mi pace. Currently I am running around an 8:30-9:00/mi pace for long-runs, however, when I reached my all-time worst of 274lbs I was running 3mi in about a 10:30/mi pace and in less than 3mos I ran a 1:43:16 1/2 marathon which was 13.1mi at approximately 7:52/mi.

Tomorrow: Not saying that I’ll run the BQ in my next marathon(Rock N’ Roll San Diego on 6/3), however, I am realistically shooting for 3:45(~8:35/mi). From there it’ll be a gradual improvement(don’t want to get hurt) until I can meet whatever the BQ requirement is by 2017. Keep in mind for 2011 it was 3:10 and thanks to the popularity of marathon running it has become 3:05 and who knows it might be 2:55 by the time I’m ready to qualify.

3) Tryout For and Make an MLB Roster

Today: File this under the “unfinished business” or “prove the doubters wrong” category. I reached the peak of my baseball career soph yr of HS, however, my decision to pursue acting and modeling as well as not really fitting in with the other “jocks”(I was a social butterfly in HS) led to losing my passion for baseball. Quitting baseball half-way through my soph year is a decision I regret to this day. Another decision is that I never took full advantage of my natural advantage of being left-handed and as such never really worked on pitching. After a 4yr hiatus I got back in and was rustier than the hull of the Titanic. Since then I have played on and off. A bad taste in my mouth that I need to rinse was the sickness of making the University of Illinois Club Baseball team only to “ride the pine” for most of the season. Despite working on my “fundamental flaws” I could still never make the cut and at least the team itself was successful, but if I would’ve played to my potential we could’ve won it all. Instead we got 2nd place at the NCBA World Series. As far as my pitching goes I was clocked last year at 75mph and have a splitter/change-up… bottom line is I need to add about 10mph to my fastball while developing precision control and perfecting

Tomorrow: I will have to keep a laser-focus and realize that declaring this publicly is going to set me up for plenty of scrutiny and ridicule, especially from some of my old teammates who will just laugh at this idea. I even got a vote of no-confidence by a current MLB manager who I asked during last year’s Spring Training, “I’m 27yrs old, what do I need to do to get on THIS field?” and his response was “well that 27yrs old part is gonna hurt and I can’t lie, it’s gonna be a 1/1million chance.” Personally, I like those odds! Like Jim Carrey’s character Lloyd Christmas said in Dumb and Dumber “so you’re saying there’s a chance?”

For those of you who don’t like YouTube, here’s another link to the video Declaration of these goals.

Enjoy! And please leave comments(and keep it cool, any negative comments will be filtered, deleted and ignored).

Protected: The Turning Point – Why I Finally Made The Move!

By · February 16, 2011 · Filed in Business Education, Entertainment, Personal · Enter your password to view comments.

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Happy Valentine’s Day My Love!

By · February 14, 2011 · Filed in Personal · No Comments »

What better way to share my love than to announce it to the whole world!

Here’s my dedication to a wonderful marriage and a wonderful lifetime together with our song….

Looking forward to a wonderful celebration today and I will try not to talk too much about baseball since today is the day that Pitchers and Catchers report to Spring Training ;)

I love you baby!

My Love, My Life, My Wife!

Rockin’ N Rollin’ To A New PR at the Arizona Half Marathon!

By · January 16, 2011 · Filed in Fitness, Personal · No Comments »

It has been a while since I last posted. As was the case before, I have been very busy working on the business, however, I’ve also been training for the Rock N’ Roll Arizona Marathon. When I first decided to run this, a little over a week ago, I knew that finishing the race would not be a problem since I had already ran a few 13.1mi runs measured by my RunKeeper(RK). The issue was whether I could make my “unofficial” PR of 1:47 as measured by RK an official time.

Today started like the two Chicago Marathons I ran. I woke up early and made sure to be uber-prepared, from having my snacks(aka the free samples I got at the Health and Fitness Expo) to using Body Glide on every part of my body that could possibly chafe. I got to the start line and tried to find my pace leader. On Friday I went out on a limb and figured I could run with the 1:45 pace group, I made this decision based on the fact that all of my current training runs were done with a “bulky” Camelback on my back for hydration and I always started out at too fast of a pace which resulted in positive splits aka a slower pace in the second half than in the first half. An example was starting off at around a 7:25/mi pace for the first 2 miles only to finish at an 8:13/mi pace overall.

Today I took no chances and stuck with the pace leader, Brian, for the first 4.5mi only to break away so that I wouldn’t fall behind at the next hydration stop(somehow Brian didn’t stop for any and when I did, I fell behind). After pulling ahead I realized that I had enough energy to stay ahead. Next thing I knew the miles were going by and I still wasn’t gassed, but still wanted to save it all for the last 0.5mi or so, which is what I did. I picked up the pace for the last 0.5mi only to trick myself into believing I was close to the finish to start my final sprint about 0.1mi too early. Either way, I still finished well ahead of my goal, with an official time of 1:43:13. Best of all, I had enough energy afterwards to go for a bike ride with my wife and I still have plenty of energy which means I have confidence that I can keep up that pace for an entire marathon. The only issue is I need to still cut about 40 seconds off my pace to get to my goal of a Boston Qualifier time.

Some of the highlights:

-running with Gerry, a 66yr old guy originally from Wales, who now lives in Vegas and also set a new PR of around 1:45!

-running with a fellow runner in Vibram Five Fingers, he was wearing the KSOs though. We also finished around the same time.

-running with a younger guy(in his late teens/early 20′s) who had a picture of a family member who died in combat who told me around Mile 10- no stopping from here on out! To which I replied “we have to finish strong for our fallen comrade, he gave his life for our freedom, the least we can do is finish strong.”

The funny thing is that of the thousands of pictures we’ve taken in the last 5yrs, we didn’t take any today, however, I’ll hopefully have a “MarathonFoto” picture up soon, for now here’s Adi and I with Meb Keflezighi, winner of the 2009 NYC Marathon, the first American to do so in almost 30yrs. Oh yea, he was also a very nice and inspiring individual who wrote a book about his triumphs in life, titled “Run To Overcome”. It is not only about his running accomplishments, but his struggles early in life coming from Eritrea, one of the most oppressive nations in the world which is actually ranked below North Korea in “Freedom of Press” meaning that they don’t even have the freedoms we enjoy from our 1st Amendment, let alone the rest of the Bill of Rights….

Adi and I with Meb, an amazing and inspiring man!

The Challenge – A Great Way To Get Started In Internet Business

By · December 25, 2010 · Filed in Business Education, Personal · No Comments »

Merry Xmas to all! My gift to you is my take on one of the best free training programs out there on how to earn your first $1 on the internet, The Challenge:

Disclaimer- I have yet to do the 2010 version now known as “The Challenge”, my experience was in ’09 with the then named “30 Day Challenge”, however, the main difference is instead of 30 straight days of training, this year it is split into 7 one week modules with one week in-between so instead of 4 weeks, the live version was split into 14 weeks. The training is up all year and you can do it at your own pace, so you could do it in 7 weeks or if you were really crazy, you could do it in one.

As internet guru and face of The Challenge Ed Dale states- it is absolutely free or “there is no charge for awesomeness”. This is half-true, Ed being an A+ marketer is a pioneer of the “freemium” model, where you give a base product for free and up-sell premium versions, one such example is Market Samurai(MS), the keyword research software that is essential for competing in The Challenge. You get a 40 day free trial, but after-wards need to pay for the full version. With clever “act now pricing” emails, most buy it at a discounted price of $79-99, while some are unlucky enough to buy at the full-price of $149, then again, from using MS I can vouch that it is worth a LOT more than that!

MS is worth the money just for the fact that a business owner can use this to make sure that any Internet Marketing/SEO company offering them services claiming “First page results on Google” are actually targeting “Golden Nugget” keywords. These are the keywords that meet the criteria of High Demand, High Relevance and High Commercial Value, not just easy to rank keywords that’ll make no difference in getting traffic or customers to your business. For this reason, MS is just one of a few items I ended up paying for last year. The list of items I bought were: MS, Traffic Bug(TB), WordPress Direct(WPD), Hostgator Domain, Hostgator Hosting and 30 Day Challenge Plus(30DC+). Of those, only the domain and hosting were absolutely necessary, MS is great, but I could’ve lived without it, WPD was not very necessary and TB and 30DC+ were items I had absolutely NO need for, especially at the level I was at.

I could go on and on about my dissatisfaction with TB and 30DC+, but Ed Dale uses very subliminal marketing that I can’t fault especially being a fellow business owner myself, however, I will say he does border on “used car salesman” with his tactics. To top it off, he overuses superlatives such as “This is the best program for” or “You can’t live without” to the point that I had to remove myself from his email list just so I could stay focused on the LESSONS of the 30DC and not the products/services for sale.

As far as the service itself, it is phenomenal, to the point that 30 days of lessons here are worth more than any internet marketing course you’d take at school! It’s also worth as much if not more than other programs offered by internet marketing gurus that range from a few hundred dollars to well over $10,000. You learn Internet Marketing 101 which starts with “The Magnificent Symphony of Four Parts”. The symphony goes:

MARKET – TRAFFIC – CONVERSION – PRODUCT

In layman’s terms, it equates to: research your market, get traffic to your site, get that traffic to buy an affiliate product you offer and ultimately develop your own product based on the market’s needs.

This is where most businesses fail as they focus on the product first instead of the market which is a sad reality as many people have great product ideas and even go as far as developing them only to find that there’s no demand.

To further break down the symphony, each part correlates to a portion of “Supply and Demand” economics:

MARKET(Demand) – TRAFFIC(Potential Customers) – CONVERSION(Actual Customers) – PRODUCT(Supply)

These ideas also play into the “Golden Nugget” keywords. As keywords represent your market in Internet Marketing since you’re aiming for #1 Google rankings you need to make sure you’re targeting the right keywords. For the sake of the challenge, market research is very essential as targeting the wrong keywords will lead to failure and frustration. The keyword I settled on was “best sports cars”, which I now know was a poor choice, mostly because you want to stay away from words like “best” which attract more lookers than shoppers and instead go for “buy sports cars” or “sports car comparison”.

For a keyword to be “Golden Nugget” it needs to meet the following criteria: less than 30,000 competing sites(SEOC), more than 200 searches/day(SEOT), atleast a 15% ratio of Phrase matched searches to Broad matched search(PBR) and a Search Engine value of atleast $30/day(SEOV).

If any of those words look like Chinese, the simple way to put this is you are looking for low supply(SEOC), high demand(SEOT), high relevancy(PBR) and high commercial value(SEOV). This is something most companies pay entire marketing teams millions to research and thanks to Market Samurai you can have these metrics at your finger-tips in seconds for a fraction of the cost!

These lessons along with the day by day video training and interactive forums make the Challenge a must for ANYONE looking to get into an online business, however, be aware of all the up-sells and stay focused on applying what you learn instead of sitting on the knowledge as I did. If you apply this you are all but guaranteed success in your business, just try not to get confused and discouraged as many do, depending on the keywords you target it can take 5 days to 6 months to get first page rankings on Google. However, you are ranking for valuable and relevant keywords, not just keywords. Case in point this site ranks #1 for my name, yes I have a #1 ranking on Google, however, no one searches for me and I really don’t aim to make any money off this site, so this #1 ranking is virtually worthless.

Merry Xmas and many good luck to all in your endeavors for 2011!

First BQ Pace – Well, sorta…

By · December 8, 2010 · Filed in Fitness, Personal · No Comments »

If you haven’t read it yet, please check out my post: Fastlane To Health – How I’ve Lost 42lbs in 77 days in it I discuss the journey I’ve taken and one of the destinations I plan on reaching is running a qualifying time for the Boston Marathon.

For those who don’t know, Boston is THE premiere world marathon, while the other world majors(London, Chicago, New York and Berlin) all have the opportunity for open enrollment, thus anyone can sign up, Boston requires running a qualifying time in an officially timed marathon. The times are broken down by age group and according to the Official Boston Marathon Website a qualifying time for a Male, Age 18-34 is 3hr and 10min or roughly 7:16/mi, however, if you think it’s not that hard don’t let that pace fool you, you lose a lot of steam over 26.2mi and as such it is much better to use a running calculator, like McMillan to see that in order to maintain a pace of 7:16/mi over that long of a distance, you must be able to run ONE mile in 5:37!

Now with that out of the way, here’s where I started just a few short months ago:

I was at 274lbs and running 3mi at a pace of around 10:36/mi which would translate to a 5hr 21min marathon… almost 1hr slower than the time I ran in Oct ’09 at the Chicago Marathon(4:33:04). Needless to say I was WAY off my game.

Well flash forward to today….

42lbs lighter and much, much faster! That translates to just under 7:16/mi or a BQ pace, however, if you extrapolate it using the running calculator I’m more likely on pace for a 3hr 39min marathon. Either way, that’s a net gain of 3:20/mi in just a few short months, granted any gains now will be minimal as it’s near impossible to cut another 3:20 off my mile pace, however, considering I’m still about 20-25lbs off my goal weight the extra 1 minute I need to cut off my 5k time to reach a pace of 6:16/mi should be easily attainable, given that I maintain the same work/training ethic, although I plan for replacing my long bike rides(currently 50mi) with long runs(13.1mi aka Half Marathons or more) now.

Stay tuned for more!

And oh yea, as for my tools of the trade, Vibram Five Fingers Bikila:

The 69th Anniversary of Pearl Harbor – A Day In Infamy and How It Compares to Today

By · December 7, 2010 · Filed in Personal, Politics · No Comments »

Today is the anniversary of one of the most important days in American History. It is the anniversary of Japanese attacks on Pearl Harbor which led to US entry into World War II.

Both of my grandfathers served their country for this cause and sadly, I never had a chance to talk to either about the selfless choices they made to serve this noble cause as my mother’s father passed away before I was born and my dad’s father passed away when I was only 7 and had yet to even learn about US or World History.

In fact, if you have any family or friends still alive that served in World War II, please make it a point to thank them for their service on this day of remembrance, much like thanking any Veteran on Veteran’s Day or showing our support on Memorial Day. Although, in my opinion we should celebrate these heroes EVERY day and not just one day out of the year, which sadly most people just see as another day off of work or school.

With that in mind, I think it’s important to see the differences in this country from 1941 to 2010:

Pearl Harbor(then) vs. 9/11(now)

First off, it is important to note that Pearl Harbor was an unprovoked attack with a clearly defined aggressor nation- Japan, while September 11th was a rouge group of mostly Saudi Arabian nationals with a few Egyptians, Emiratis and Lebanese, however, no true leader state and certainly not the nations we attacked in response- Iraq and Afghanistan. Even though Afghanistan was believed to be the protectorate of Al-Queda leader Osama Bin-Laden, they held little to no responsibility in the actual attacks as Al-Queda we’ve found is a worldwide network with not one specific nation to represent their interests and only a few that foolishly sympathize with their cause.

In addition to being behind the attack on Pearl Harbor, the Japanese of World War II were a much more formidable foe than Al-Queda, who despite utilizing the idea of suicide attacks to cause collateral damage are nowhere near the size and strength of Japan’s “suicide bombers” who were aptly named “Kamikaze Pilots”.

All-out support(then) vs. half-assed support(now)

For World War II it was a full-scale effort from the battlefield to the Heartland. Unlike today where the furthest most will go is sending a small care package to a soldier abroad, the Americans of World War II gave up many luxuries that us spoiled, lazy Americans of today take for granted.

In fact, they’d laugh at the garbage of today like “yellow ribbons”, bumper stickers or “car flags”, when they were going the extra mile, converting factories used to make cars and toys into military use and as such people were willing to cut back on resources such as plastic, tin and oil to support the greater good. All this while people of today would call giving up their behemoth SUVs “un-American” or even “Socialist”, the people of World War II thought there was nothing MORE American you could do than sacrifice for the greater good!

War of Necessity(then) vs. War of Aggression(now)

I could argue that it’s near impossible to classify a war as a “war of necessity”, however, World War II was just that! After exhausting all diplomatic outlets even after Germany had invaded Poland, Western Europe finally acted and it took this event on 12/7/41, 2 years after the official start of the war to get the US involved. Thus this was a “war of necessity” as there was no other way. However, today, while what Saddam Hussein did was atrocious, he did it within the confines of his own country, aside from his attempt to invade Kuwait in the first Operation Desert Storm, he never really posed a threat anywhere close to what the Axis Powers of World War II did.

In the end, as much as you can try to justify Operation Iraqi Freedom or The War In Afghanistan, both are Wars of Aggression, even if Saddam did have the WMD’s(which he didn’t) or the Taliban did consort with Al-Queda to assist in 9/11, it would pale in comparison to what we have in the US and unlike the Cold War ideal of Mutually Assured Destruction, any Iraqi or Afghani nuclear, chemical or biological attack would’ve been met with complete annihilation of Iraq and/or Afgahnistan and only those countries.

Soldier of then vs. Soldier of now

The soldiers of World War II were ALL able bodied men, there were no exceptions, from the young farm boy in Oklahoma to baseball superstars Ted Williams and Joe DiMaggio. Today, it is mostly the young farm boy who still believes in his country or it’s the legacy child whose parents, grandparents and so-on served or worse, the inner-city teen who feels their only way out of the ghetto is in the Army and has no idea what he’s signed up for usually because of an over-zealous recruiter who cares more about promotions and quotas than the well-being of this young man.

To compare generations, my grandfathers BOTH served in World War II while for my generation, only my brother and one of my cousins served. I had the opportunity to serve, however, I was almost a victim of the above mentioned overzealous recruiter who was more interested in getting his bonus from signing me up than realizing that I was on my way to college. He wanted to sign me up for the Reserves, when in reality he should’ve been signing me up for ROTC. Thankfully I was able to get out of the Reserves, otherwise I would’ve ended up in Fallujah or Kabul instead of Champaign-Urbana.

One of the few heroes of our generation similar to Williams and DiMaggio was Pat Tillman.

Pat gave up a multi-million dollar contract and made his commitment with little fanfare and never really gave a reason as to why he made the sacrifice he did. Sadly, Pat was killed in combat and even worse, his death was originally stated as enemy fire only to be exposed as a lie since he was killed by “friendly fire”. The cover-up alone gives weight to the idea that Pat’s death was not accidental and someone wanted to shut him up, most likely because he was on to the fact that this was a “war of aggression” and he was not the type to keep his mouth shut. In fact there is a documentary, titled: The Tillman Story which shines a light on the entire story, a movie that I am desperately waiting for to come out on DVD as it is not currently being shown in my area.

The Economy of Then vs. The Economy of Now

Back then the country went to war in part to pull out of The Great Depression, as evidenced above, people were willing to make sacrifices, mostly because they didn’t have much to begin with. Another sacrifice that was made was purchasing War Bonds, where people would loan what little money they had to the government to help fund the war in exchange for a small monetary return on their investment, but a larger return on their investment in the form of safety and freedom.

The wars we’re in now are quite the opposite and in addition to The Housing Bubble and The Financial Market Crisis of 2008 the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have led to an unprecedented budget deficit to which we might never recover. And why not? Because no one is investing in the government! Everyone is led to believe that putting our trust in the government for security and freedom does not require investing money or effort because they’re all corrupt and incompetent. While I will agree that the some politicians are cowards and most of them are probably corrupt, I realize that they are the necessary evil to keep us safe from any threats, domestic or abroad. The other majority of politicians are usually greedy and incompetent, I could go on and on about them, but the bottom line was it was their aggressive nature and inability to reason on the two wars we are currently in that got us there in the first place. The cardinal sin some political leaders are guilty of was giving in to the greed of Main Street trying to sell the American dream to those who couldn’t afford it by ignorantly extending credit lines and mortgages to those who couldn’t afford them, mostly because most of the few profitable industries we currently have tie back to defense contracting, where only a select few are actually profiting from these wars. This greed of Main Street no less was fueled by a greater, more calculated greed from Wall Street and as such our economy is still in shambles while Main Street and Wall Street had to work together during World War II to ultimately lead to the greatest economic boom this country has ever and will ever see in the years immediately following the war.