My name is David - thanks for visiting. Over the years I've done a lot of things, from electronics to property management. But the one thing I love to do is help people BECOME something in Life.

I was taught that my life is not just about me; it's about helping others. So yeah, if you want to sell real estate fast and/or make money with it, well - I can do that.

On the other hand, if you want to GO, DO, and BECOME something in this life, you're in the right place! This is our "Human Charter," to GO, DO and Become. It's why this blog exists. So get started!

19 December 2010

Poinsettia, A Floral Nice Guy. Mistletoe - Not So.

Todays update is another trek down the path of things we assume, but may not really know about. I threw this together, when I did a little reading about that Holiday plant we all know and love, the Poinsettia...

The story goes like this: The perennial holiday favorite, the poinsettia, is a deadly plant fit only to look at. One bite of its lovely leaf and the unlucky eater of it will succumb to a hideous, excruciating death.
Well... something like that.

70 percent of people polled were certain the poinsettia is poisonous, anyway. But, as it turns out, this is just another urban myth.

The Poinsettia, [i](Euphorbia pulcherrima[/i]), is a species of flowering plant indigenous to Mexico and Central America. It's name is derived from one Joel Roberts Poinsett, the first United States Minister to Mexico. The good minister introduced the plant into the US in 1828, where it was hitherto unknown. It's connection to Christmas comes from a 16th Century Mexican tradition; in Mexico it is called "Noche Buena," the Christmas Eve Plant.

But the tale of it's lethality started back in the early 20th century when the young child of a U.S. Army officer was thought to have died from eating a
poinsettia leaf -- a story which was later retracted. But, as these things have a habit of doing, the toxic nature of the poinsettia took on a life of its own.
After all, who needs the truth when a good story is to be had?

But you urban pundits take note: According to the American Medical Association, ingesting poinsettia produces little to no ill effect. It may be mildly irritating to the skin or stomach and may sometimes cause diarrhea and vomiting if eaten. But you can say that about most of the plants and bushes in your own front yard.

Many other experts take sides with the plant, too.

- An American Journal of Emergency Medicine study of 22,793 cases showed no fatalities, and furthermore that a strong majority of poinsettia exposures are accidental, involve children, and usually do not result in any type of medical treatment at all.
- POISINDEX, a major source for poison control data, says a 50 lb child would have to eat 500 bracts (leaves) to have any kind of reaction at all.
- The Society of American Florists has also weighed in. They worked with Ohio State University to thoroughly test all parts of the poinsettia and concluded there are no adverse effects, even in large doses.
- In 1975, the United States Consumer Product's Safety Commission denied the requirement for warning labels for poinsettia plants.

As for your pets, the American Veterinary Medicine Association of America does not include poinsettias on its list of plants that are a threat to animals. The ASPCA likewise states that ingestion of poinsettias may cause mild gastrointestinal tract irritation, including drooling, vomiting, and/or diarrhea -- but nothing severe or fatal.

Mistletoe, another holiday favorite, is not so innocent. Mistletoe can do more than inspire the lovelorn to smooch beneath it. This parasitic plant, found in hardwood trees, can cause gastrointestinal distress, a slowed heartbeat, and other reactions if ingested. It's primary chemical constituents are known as 'viscotoxins' and although not thought to be generally fatal, it can cause severe reactions in humans.

In pets, mistletoe may cause gastrointestinal disorders, cardiovascular collapse, dyspnea, bradycardia, erratic behavior, vomiting, diarrhea, and low blood pressure. Yikes!

So the Poinsettia gets a bum rap... who knew? Because it is in the spurge family of plants, those sensitive to latex may suffer an allergic reaction to it. But overall, the old standby holiday decoration is pretty benign and can be enjoyed without much worry. So, make sure the mistletoe stays tightly fastened above your door, but fear the poinsettia no more.

17 December 2010

Niagra Falls Teaches A Lesson?

I was looking at some pics of Niagara Falls yesterday, from back when it was dammed in 1969. To be precise, the overflow that leads to the American side falls has a very narrow inlet, spanning only a few hundred yards. It was blocked up back in '69 to assess its condition and allow for work to be done along the banks.

It turns out that this part of the falls is actually a small side flow of the greater Niagara River. Its shallow and more of an overflow eddy alongside the more familiar Canadian falls. And in fact there are THREE falls... Bridal Veil, Horseshoe (Canadian) and American.

We normally see the image of rushing water flowing over the Canadian falls, a small boat full of intrepid tourists at it's feet and boom! - that is what we think of. But Niagara Falls is far more than this. It is actually a tight bend, a diversion, in the course of a river flowing NORTH (did you know that?), with side flows, rapids, eddys and whirlpools.

Below the falls is a huge mass of rocks and boulders, normally hidden by the cascading water. These have been deposited by eons of erosion, completely hidden from view. So, not only are there things we normally don't see above the surface, there is something grand happening beneath the water, too. Finally, it is all located smack dab in the middle of a built up, urban landscape. It isn't far removed from civilization at all. In other words, it is far more than our popular image leads us to believe.

Anybody familiar with this place probably knows all this, but Ive never been there.
So when I learned all this, I wondered: How many things have I taken for granted with only a small bit of information to go on?
I mean, here is one of the greatest wonders of the natural world and I know so little about it that I have mostly a wrong impression of it.

Worse yet, how many people, friends, cultural notions and a million other things am I not getting the whole picture on? It just boggles the mind.
I mentioned in yesterday's update that I had gotten my hair cut. My cosmetologist is named Miriam Garridos. Now, I don't know if she would appreciate me talking about her, but I'll risk it. I think she's worth it.

Miriam is from Central America. She is a legal immigrant who came to America with her son 12 years ago. They went through all the legal red-tape to make the move and have lived here since. She recently got her citizenship and works hard. She embodies the idea of opportunity knocking.

Ive really been thinking about this idea of Opportunity lately. Miriam, for example, hasn't had it easy. She is not rich, and she is not on the government dole absorbing taxpayer money. She works and takes care of her son. She pays bills and she jokes about the cost of heating. But I have never heard her complain.
She considers herself lucky to be here and to have taken advantage of the opportunities presented to her.

I'm sure she sees it simply, that she is DOING what she must to achieve her aims. I have not asked her about her dreams, but I'll wager she learned a long time ago that action makes things happen. I also suspect she sets more goals than dreams.

I cannot imagine her "playing the victim," complaining and blaming others for her difficulties. She knows that nothing good comes easy. She left her home and her family to make a new life here, after all... that alone was hard. But she had to do what was needed.

Brian Sher talks about this in his book, "What Rich People Know and Want To Keep Secret." He says the one thing which sets success apart from failure is doing things one doesn't want to do. You can't complain about things or stop because it is hard. You cannot blame others if they don't "make it happen" for you - You must GO, DO and BECOME, if you are to achieve anything.

I'm certain Miriam would agree.

16 December 2010

Opportunity versus Security

"Opportunity and Security are different things"

I read this today and I simply had to add it. I was waiting to get my hair cut and was reading ESPN magazine. The article this appeared in was about NBA players who go to the European and Russian leagues, when their NBA star contracts are let go.

Those players that go to Europe find that they are given 2 year contracts with a third year as option. But they can be let go at anytime - it isn't binding as it is here. Often the player must do a lot of diligence to learn about the signing team in Europe. sometimes they don't pay according to the contract, leaving a player wearing a big name on his shirt - but without his paycheck.

The alternative, of course, is to leave pro sports behind and fade into the crowd. Maybe a minor coaching job will surface, but bottom line its back in the herd for most of these NBA flash-in-the-pan players. Im not talking about the Michael Jordan type players - I refer to the almost nameless, everyday players out there. The Euro/Russia leagues offer a chance to keep playing and stay in the game.

The point of course is that there are few safe opportunities. Usually a lot of sweat, effort and occasional danger is associated with opportunity. Much of success is dependent on the individuals ability to lay the proper groundwork. It is said that a single adjustment is all it takes for people's lives to change to greatness. But no one promises that the adjustment would be easy to see, or handed to you wrapped in tidy packaging.

I tip my hat to those players who continue to GO, DO and BECOME, taking the leap over the pond.

15 December 2010

What are you doing to test yourself? How are you pushing yourself to greater things? In fact, ARE YOU doing this?

I have recently undergone HAZMAT Response training, wherein I (and my team) were trained to respond to the spill of hazardous, even deadly, chemicals. I mean, this was the real deal - we dressed in sealed space suits, we resolved toxic spill situations and for all intents, we saved lives. In the process, I found out what my associates were capable of, who "had my back," and when the chips were down who could be relied upon to act quickly, coolly and bravely in the face of a dire challenge.
This was very comforting and enlightening.

But it led me to wonder how many of us deliberately place ourselves in trying situations. I'm not suggesting that HAZMAT Response Training is the only answer, even if I think it would benefit anyone. But, ask yourself: "Am I forcing myself to do things that I am afraid of? AM I DELIBERATELY TESTING MY LIMITS AND TRYING TO REACH BEYOND THEM?"

If you are like most people - you are not. You move at a slow pace, you avoid risk and you look for the easy way to get somewhere. That is normal; it's what most do.

It's also why people don't leave the "dream phase" of their lives. We are told that we need to dream big, to be all we can be... but putting dreams into action requires us to often go into frightening territory. That part is left out of the promotional materials, somehow.

But it is this attribute, the willingness to face fears and challenges come what may, that sets the achiever apart from the dreamer. Every hero, every great and unknown success story, has this as an element of their life. Nothing was ever achieved merely by dreaming - it is the DOING that we remember. And while it may be fraught with dangers, real and imagined, it has to occur.

So again, ask yourself as you dream big, "When dreaming has run it's course, am I ready to face my fears, to sweat and to WIN?"

27 March 2010

Don’t be the Best - Be Chosen

Do you believe you offer the best service, product, or skills in your area… yet maybe you are still not getting the results you are looking for? “Hey!” you say, “What gives? Don’t people want The Best?”.
Well… no. Contrary to popular belief, there is a different reality behind why your customers choose you - or your competitors.

Who Gets Chosen?

Think of McDonalds hamburgers for a moment. They are the top-selling hamburgers in the world. But, are they the best hamburgers? Most people I ask say, “No”! So how did they get to be number one, and chosen so consistently often? Because there is more to success than being the best!

Now, I’m not criticizing the fast food industry; in fact, it has done a superb job of combining two of the most desired things on the planet: Fast and Food.

We like fast food because it meets specific needs. Under certain circumstances, people will trade the absolute element of quality for speed… and if you can put a little “special sauce” on it, well, so much the better.

The point is, McDonalds’ success isn’t about being the best. McDonald's became so successful because their food doesn’t taste bad and is occasionally innovative. But more importantly, they are chosen so often.

“Success isn’t about being the best at what you do, it’s about being consistently chosen to do it.” - David Hutton

Here’s a radical idea I’d like you to consider: There really IS no such thing as The Best! If we could actually agree on what is best, everybody would choose it. But the next day, something else would come along and be the New Best. So, fortunately for us in business, people don’t necessarily choose what’s best… they choose what they are comfortable with.

In other words, people will choose what they FEEL is the best for them. That’s right, I used the “F” word: FEEL! People buy or choose to deal with others based on their feelings. They may know McDonald’s isn’t the best, but they know it is dependable and fast, all the time - which gives them a feeling of trust.

So, logic may get them to you, but they SELECT you based on the feelings they get because of you. And that is the secret to being consistently chosen.

Before we go further, let’s look at the logic part of this. This logic says you must have something to offer something that people want.

To meet this need, you pursue the methods, tactics, and knowledge behind what you do. For example, McDonalds makes decent burgers from good ingredients, cooked to the right temperature and they serve it fast. That’s the logic behind the product and is what initially draws people to them.

So let’s be very clear at this point: You should be as good as you can be at what you do so you can bring value to every exchange.

But simple skill and knowledge are not enough; they are one sided and are just the price of admission. After all, anybody can make hamburgers and, indeed, many are considered better than McDonalds. Yet “Mickie D’s” remains at the top.

Because they know there are other factors at work besides “being the best” and they exploit them. McDonald’s continually asks the one important question:

“What really matters to the people that are our customers?”

This was brought home to me recently while attending a real estate appraisal and valuation course, where we were given many lengthy, tricky, even crazy exercises in figuring gross square footage of a property. The class complained loudly over these seemingly unrealistic problems.

But I reminded my classmates that we must learn all of this so we can quickly and accurately evaluate the properties we are entrusted to sell or buy for our clients. That’s a “no-brainer,” as they say. That’s the science we spoke of a moment ago.

But square footage doesn’t sell a house by itself… it gets you in the door. The fireplace, the backyard or kitchen, the local schools or golf course – that’s what sells. The “feel” of experiencing these things is what people ultimately focus on. It’s all very personal – and far removed from the science.

McDonalds gets this; their advertising combines a simple musical jingle with an emotionally charged slogan, “I’m loving it.”
They know that once you start singing these words and putting it together, mentally, with their hamburgers, they have you. Being the best is no longer important.

Everybody wants the same three things; Love, Money and Prestige. They want to be cared about, have some security and be acknowledged as ‘someone’ in the world. So instead of being the Best, be good. Then ask yourself these questions:

1. Do I know what really matters to the people that are my customers?”
2. Do I have care and concern in my business transactions – and is it detectable?
3. Can I show proof of my integrity, stability and value?
4. Will people ultimately end up looking good, by doing business with me?

Answering these questions with “Yes,” will be the stuff of my next update.

02 March 2010

Warren Buffett Speaks

I'm asked all the time about making money in the stock market. Well, I'm no expert... I'm still working on it. But plenty of people are and Warren Buffett is one of them. He is arguably the world's greatest stock investor and a bit of a philosopher. He pares down his investment ideas into simple, memorable sound bites. So lets look at them, shall we?

Rule No. 1: Never Lose Money.
Rule No. 2: Never Forget Rule No. 1.

Buffett lost about $23 billion in the financial crisis of 2008. So how can he tell us to never lose money?

Its the mindset of a sensible investor. Don't be frivolous. Don't gamble. Don't go into an investment with a cavalier attitude that it's OK to lose. Be informed. Do your homework. Buffett invests only in companies he thoroughly researches and understands. He doesn't go into an investment prepared to lose, and neither should you.

Buffett believes a successful investor doesn't focus on being with or against the crowd. He remains focused on his goals.

Rule 3: If The Business Does Well, the Stock Eventually Follows

Buffett knows that investing in a stock equates to owning a piece of the business. So Buffett seeks out businesses that exhibit favorable long-term prospects. Does the company have a consistent operating history? Does it have a dominant business franchise? Does the business generate high and sustainable profit margins? Finally, is the company's share price trading below expectations for its future growth?
If so, it's a stock Buffett may want to own.

Buffett never buys anything unless he can write down his reasons why he'll pay a specific price per share for a particular company. Do you do the same?

Rule 4: It's Better to Buy a Great Company at a Fair Price Than a Fair Company at a Great Price

Buffett is a value investor; he likes quality stocks at rock-bottom prices. His goal is to build more operating power by owning stocks that generate solid profits and capital appreciation for years to come. During the recent financial crisis, he stockpiled great long-term investments by investing billions in names like General Electric and Goldman Sachs.

To pick stocks well, set down criteria for uncovering good businesses, and stick to their discipline. For example, seek companies that offer a durable product or service and also have solid operating earnings and the germ for future profits.
Or, you might establish a minimum market capitalization you're willing to accept, and a maximum P/E ratio or debt level. Finding the right company at the right price -- with a margin for safety against unknown market risk -- is the ultimate goal.

Remember, the price of a stock isn't the same as the value you get. Successful investors know that.

Rule 5: My Favorite Holding Period Is Forever

How long should you hold a stock? Buffett says if you don't feel comfortable owning a stock for 10 years, you shouldn't own it for 10 minutes. Even during recent times, Buffett loyally held on to the bulk of his portfolio.

Unless a company has suffered a sea change in it's prospects, such as impossible labor problems or product obsolescence, a long holding period will keep an investor from being too fearful or too greedy. Fear and greed cause investors to sell stocks at the bottoms or buy at the peaks -- thus destroying portfolio appreciation for the long run.

From Stephanie Loiacono and

The recent financial meltdown didn't change anything. The unfussy sayings from the Oracle of Omaha still RULE! So you see, we don't have to be experts when we already have them in our back pockets.

P.S. I do wonder, though, how Mr. Buffett would fare if truly lost everything.

18 February 2010

The other day a young man, named Ryan, asked me what I thought he should do. He had many ideas about what he might do, and mentioned some of things he had dreamed of doing. He even had reasons why he wasn't doing other things because "..right now, I'm not able to do them," as he put it.

As we talked he began the familiar litany of reasons why he CAN"T do the things he mentioned. He had some great ideas, some real life changers. But his speech was peppered with a constant stream of why he cannot do them. Some of these negative notions had come from others, and some he had decided on his own.

After listenting to him I laid out the simple formula that could get him where he wnated to go:
1. First decide what your Prime Directive is.
This isn't so much what you want to do, but that which you know you should be doing. There will be time for big dreams later - at the moment, there are things you should be doing to advance yourself to the next step. Decide what that is.

2. Stop listening so much to the naysayers.
For example, Ryan had been told by his father in law that one of the hings he had looked into would only lead to problems, hardships and ultimately, failure. But I saw a different reality - if he gave that thing an honest effort of only 80%, he would make more money than he had ever dreamed of, gain prestige and obtain a respected position in the community. It was done before by others and wasn't earth shaking, meaning it was very possible. SO who should he be listening to?

3. Eliminate CAN'T from your own vocabulary.
Our internal dialogue should be guiding us to where we need to go - not knocking us back to the ground. The one person you should be able to trust is yourself. So focus on CAN phrases. Instead of saying, "I cant do that because..." say, "I can do it, and here's how, why, etc." Direct your mind to see the solutions and face the difficulties, as opposed to cutting off your own legs - - and doing nothing.

Winston Churchill once said, “When I look back on all these worries, I remember the story of the old man who said on his deathbed that he had had a lot of trouble in his life... most of which had never happened”

If you are going to GO, DO and BECOME anything, you have to first be convinced that it is the right thing to be doing at this time. Then you have to choose your counsel well, from among those that realistically support you. And finally, you have to face the fact that you CAN do whatever it is you choose, as opposed to stopping before you start.

24 January 2010

I listened recently to a radio program about the the "letters" of great men and women. Down through the ages, the written letter has given insight and solidity to the people that fill our histories. Through the letter, we are privileged to catch a glimpse of their inner workings.

Interestingly, it is the letters they DIDN'T post that often reveal the most about them. The next day, before the postmans arrival, they were reconsidered and tossed in a drawer or box... never sent to their recipient. More than a few reputations have been saved because of the unsent, hand-written missive.

One of the unseen impacts of electronic communications is that we guard our words less and less. We don't speak with significance or care, and we write well-considered letters far less than in the past. Some of us may have simply stopped doing so. Electronic "laziness" has set in, frankly.

But, that doesn't eliminate the power of the word. Modern arrogance does not remove the onus of being earnest and saying what matters. Firing off whatever pops into your head, trying to "keep it real" or be spontaneous... well, that is a poor salve for being insincere.

So, I recommend you attempt to treat ALL the things you write as serious. Everything you write in internet forums or post to your blog, for example, can be seen by the world. The internet has given us far more exposure than our predecessors ever had; millions of people can read what you say in the electronic age. And our words last a long time - I recently googled a topic, and stumbled over something I myself had written years before. Obviously, this makes it all the more important to be aware of the impact your words may have.

So, if you want to avoid membership in the "Foot-In-The-Mouth Club," behave as if you are writing a letter each time you begin clicking the keys. Consider what you say and how you say it, expecting that it cannot be retrieved or undone once you hit "SEND."

SUCCESS TIP: Do you want to really make an impact on someone? Send them an old-fashioned letter, card, etc. You WILL be remembered for it - I guarantee it..