The Zen that is Urban Gardening

I am a self-proclaimed terrible gardener. Ok, let me correct myself: I am a self-proclaimed novice gardener. I am in my mid-30’s now and before this year it has been more than 20 years since I last attempted gardening. My parents had a huge garden and as much as I looked forward to summers, I hated that it involved having to pull weeds in the garden for hours in the hot, humid Midwestern sun. There was a river behind our house. Why wouldn’t you ask me to do something I enjoyed Mom and Dad? Like go play on the rope swing and jump into the river. Gardening was my summer nemesis. I hated it. Even when we would get a good crop of corn, tomatoes, carrots and the like, it only meant more work for me.

Move ahead several years in my life and I recently attempted to revisit that horrific practice of tending living things in hopes of not screwing it up so badly that you kill your project. I am a bachelor living in Seattle and you can’t throw a rock in any direction without hitting someone that has started a garden on their back porch or at the very least, has a planter box in their high rise apartment that they are growing herbs in. Everyone’s doing it and experiencing at least moderate success. Why not me?

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I started with a blueberry tree last summer. It produced 1 blueberry that I savored for a full minute in my mouth upon finally letting its branches relinquish it. This summer I have a tomato plant that has doubled in size but has yet to produce any fruit, and a blackberry bush that everyone gives me a hard time about. Blackberry bushes literally lines the streets everywhere in the PNW. But, my answer to these pundits is “Hey, those are on the street. This is on my porch. You do the math”. They shrug and concede to my clever response. So, I unknowingly bought probably the most common fruit producing plant in the PNW. I am not a Northwest native so I plead ignorance. And hey, who couldn’t use more blackberries anyway?

My blueberry tree looks the most promising so far. There are several round shapes that have formed on the branches that I assume MUST be blueberries! The best part about growing things is that it gives me a way to exude positive energy into something that is beautiful and natural. It beings me a great sense of accomplishment and joy to see my plants grow and flourish. Even if they don’t produce an abundance of fruit and vegetables, they didn’t die on my watch. Yet.

The Zen I find in all nature is something I have been able to translate into something easily accessible and equally rewarding. The perfect morning consists of breakfast and coffee on my patio, followed by careful tending to my beautiful green things. They are living things and I feel their energy and share it with everything and everyone else around me. Gardening is most certainly cathartic and I definitely recommend that everyone take a shot at growing life.

Lyft/Uber vs. Taxi

To begin, I first want to take note of the fact that I think it is fantastic that the large cab companies now have solid competition for what has always been considered a sort of monopoly in the ride-for-hire world. The development of modern technology has allowed for strong competition in the ride-for-hire market, with competitors directly implementing user friendly mobile technology in developing an easy to use, simple interface that has proven itself as a cutting edge alternative to long established standards in this particular niche market.

I have met so many drivers with both Uber and Lyft that used to be cab drivers that tell me they couldn’t be happier with their choice to leave the big cab companies and basically work at their leisure. No “punching a clock” necessary or boss hovering about, constantly micromanaging them.

While talking to my two buddies recently on the subject, each of which separately own both a limo company and a discount cab company in Scottsdale, AZ they both share my sentiment.

A Few Things I Learned on a Train Trip in the Pacific Northwest

My trip on a train and what I learned:

Trains. If it weren’t for men like George Stephenson, William Hedley, and Timothy Hackworth in the early 1800’s, we would never understand the glory of the locomotive or understand the kind of nostalgic thoughts from an earlier time in history that come to mind when traveling on these archaic inventions.

I, personally, have traveled by train many times in my adult life, but few trips have been as picturesque and grandiose as the trip I made from Seattle to Portland.

Having only lived in Seattle for a few years now, this was the first trip I’ve made solo just simply for the adventure and pleasure of it. Being on the road, or in this case rail, gives me a sense of freedom and openness to the world around me that I always yearn for. I am never in quite as joyful a state of mind or mood as I am when I travel.

My friends and colleagues asked who I was going with and my answer was “My heart and my mind…and my feet.” The shocked responses I received ranged anywhere from “Seriously? I couldn’t do that…” to “Hell yea, man! Sounds awesome… wish I could do that.”

Both responses made me pity them in a way. How did everyone become so timid towards the idea of thrusting themselves into the world around them? I understand people still travel and take vacations, but I truly feel that everyone should, at one point in their lives, at least journey solo and trust their innate ability to adapt to their surroundings and use whatever resources available around them to navigate their way through their surroundings.

But, back to my journey.

Why a Higher Price Point Often Converts Better

On a recent travel to Portland, I struck up a conversation with a nice gentleman who adamantly told me that “price doesn’t matter when making the sale.”

In fact, he said, that often the higher the price, the better and easier the sale.

I asked why, and he said, because we live in a consumer society. People love to spend money. They love to come home with lots of stuff. And they love to have the best because the best means authority, and superior solutions.

He was a master salesman, so I consider myself fortunate that he crossed my path. People cross our paths for a reason! And I’m always looking out for new information and new ways of looking at things.

People are meant to cross our path for a reason

Back to the moral of the story…

He said that when he offers a higher price for a better product or solution, not only do people generally go for it, but they were already thinking the same thing! And they tell him so. And then they buy.

His reasoning is this… if you’re already going into debt for this solution, or you’re already spending a bunch of money on this, why not spend more to get the best of the possible best? Most clients agree.

When someone’s objection is “price,” it’s not the price tag itself that they object to. It’s the price for that solution that they object to. He gave me an example of how someone objected to the price that he was quoting them and he made the mistake of believing him when he said it. He later found out that that same person turned to one of his competitors and bought a slightly superior solution for $75,000 more! So they guy actually wanted to pay more for a better solution!

Often times, crazy enough, you’ll have fewer sales because of a lower price point.

People know that paying more often means higher value, whether it’s perceived value (in the sense of a women’s purse or a huge watch) or actual value (in the sense of superior technology and bells and whistles).

For instance, people often look for a bargain, but they get what they pay for.

Take the home cleaning industry, as an example. I remember a friend telling me about searching for the cheapest carpet cleaning he could find. He found a company, but after they cleaned his carpets, they remained wet and began to develop mildew. So he had to find a better, slightly more costly carpet care service who came in, consulted, and did the job right. It was immaculate.

Same goes for things like suits and clothing… you can find cheap clothing, but how long is it going to last you? How long will that cheap watch last?

You get the idea.

So how does your future look? Are you going to pay more for better value?

If you’re in business are you going to increase your value and charge more? And are you going to be more willing to quote higher prices (and not just to get more money, but to provide actual value!) knowing that people most often take it?

How To Guarantee You’ll Make Money As An Entrepreneur

This post was inspired by an interview with entrepreneur Andy Frisella.

Want to make sure you’ll make it as an entrepreneur? Check this out…

When you first start out in entrepreneurship, it’s all about you. You’re pretty much just thinking about yourself… You want to be wealthy? There’s nothing wrong with wanting to make money.

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So you think to yourself, “What do I need to do in order to get there?” Those are the thoughts that dominate your thinking early on.

And that’s fine! It’s taken for granted that you’re going to think that way. We all need to start there, pretty much. You’ve got to have goals, after all.

You gotta start somewhere. But there comes a point where, in order to get rich and achieve the things you want to achieve, you have to have other people with you, helping you achieve your richness. Rarely will you make it rich just by yourself. Most often, it involves other people. It can happen, sure, but it’s rare.

You have to share your knowledge with other people. You have to lift other people up. You have to invest in people and help people. Lift them up, elevate them. Give them your time and energy. When you do this, the whole “richness” thing becomes about “us.” Your company or your culture becomes about the people and not just about your desire or mission for money. The more people you help and the more people that come aboard, then the more your mission becomes about the team, about the people, about “the us.”

The law is simple… and it’s a law so it ALWAYS applies to this situation… It goes like this: When you start thinking about other people, success comes to you. When you start to serve and provide value instead of just trying to get money, you begin to become successful. It’s incredible! I can attest to this myself. See, when you’re just thinking about yourself and how to get money for yourself, it’s hard to achieve the success you so crave.

What a paradox! You’d think that by focusing on ways to make money for yourself, you’d make it. But it’s a fact. And in my mind it’s been measured. When I focused on providing value and figuring out how to help people or solve a problem, I began reaping the rewards. Give first and then receive. I’ve proven it again and again to myself.

So the Big Moral: stop thinking about making money and start thinking about solving problems for other people. This is what entrepreneurs, successful ones, do.

Traveling to Hawaii? Rent a Car!

First thing’s first, when looking to rent a car on a trip or vacation, you should make plans as far in-advance as you can, so that way you can take advantage of any package deals or discounts.  You can either call or check online for local car rental agencies, or handle it through a travel agency.  Before renting a car, it’s a good idea to figure out which company is best, what car fits your needs, and how to best use it while you’re in Hawaii.

Hawaii roads are breathtaking!

Shopping Around

It’s a good idea to go small, if you can, when looking for a car rental agency.  The independent rentals will have less overhead costs and therefore lower prices for the consumer.  You can look to save around a fourth on your rental fees if you go with the small rental agencies, but if you can get a great deal with any of the major names like Avis or Hertz, go for the best package deal.  The big brands usually offer more flexibility and service extras.

Pay attention to any fees for customer support features, availability, and the number of places you can pick-up or drop-off your vehicle.  If you can help it, try to avoid the airport locations for rental car service; you’ll end up paying an arm and a leg, and at no real gain in convenience.