On Second Thoughs

In life, I believe your second thought means more than your first.

For the first twenty-five years of my life, the scope of my understanding was limited to this idea that people were the constant best representation of themselves. The first words out of someone’s mouth were the most true; Freud tell us they must be! Even if you would like to recant your response, it is still what “slipped out,” and therefore must have some measure of truth too it, right?

As time went on, I soon began to understand how this idea fundamentally conflicted with the idea of an evolving and maturing person. Or at least, my interpretation of these events conflicted.

When I was a child, I used to speak like a child, think like a child, reason like a child; when I became a man, I did away with childish things.

As with any new skill or talent, “perfect practice makes perfect performance.” The only way I can improve who I am is through the constant attempt to be a better person in those moments. It starts with a simple apology, and if I am honest in my effort, I can start to catch myself before I say something from my old mindset. And maybe one day, if I am lucky, the second though becomes the first, and this road has made all the difference.

So yes, I believe the second though is the most important. Your first thought tells me who you are, while your second one tells me who you want to be. I believe it is our challenge to push that second though up closer and closer to the first until it squeezes it into oblivion.

I use to call this inner-conflict. Now I just call this growing up.

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How I Wish Corporations Worked

Wouldn’t it be great if we valued quality over price?

In an ideal world, I dream of a business that starts with the product, making the best it reasonably can, to the greatest measure of efficiency it is able. Then it turns to its employees, and paid them handsomely to ensure there compensation is above market and not just at the sustainable minimum. Finally, it would turn to the marketplace and say “here, this is how much this will cost,” and the American people, knowing this business was formed as a sustainable organization that paid its employees well, would happily pay more for this product because it wasn’t just a product, it was a representation for an entire community.

I wish this was the way business operates, but it isn’t.   And to be honest, we are just as much to blame as the executives with the pinstripes are. You see, in the era of modern technology, we want to pay “the absolute lowest price,” no matter what website or business we have to use to provide that good. Though some of us are still swayed by a friendly cashier or nice shopping carts, the truth is that most of us look at our smartphones before we buy anything. Yes, even me. All the time.

A few years ago, I had a manager at Amazon tell me, “We love Best Buy – they are a great showroom floor for our customers to look at a product before they buy from us.” No lie, it happened. And in that moment, I saw everything troubling about the world of what I call Walmart economics. Unless we are in a negative spin cycle of our great PR machine called TV & Internet, the truth is that people buy from the places that give them the best deals. And to be honest, I cant really blame them. If you have a family, and its Whole Foods or replacing your kids Jeans With Holes, I vote jeans every day of the week.  I certainly believe you have a greater obligation to the wellbeing of your family than you do to the promotion of certain corporate ideals.

Alas, we arrive at our Catch 22. To be honest, I have no solution yet, other than to preach on ideals of integrity and the promotion of what is right. The brass tax is that we live in a world that views people as resources towards individual success. And if we are honest with ourselves, this is just as much on you and me as it is on any executive.

In the spirit of the holidays, I leave you with a humorous quip from BuzzFeed and some staggering facts about Black Friday.


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A Deep Sense of Personal Responsibility

Tonight, the Wall Street Journal reported that:

Apple Inc. executive Scott Forstall was asked to leave the company after he refused to sign his name to a letter apologizing for shortcomings in Apple’s new mapping service, according to people familiar with the matter.

For me, this is a personal issue at its core. I strongly believe that you can measure maturity by an individual’s willingness to accept responsibility. I believe great leaders are those who accept the burden for actions committed in their domain, no matter what extent they were actually involved. To that end, I tip my hat to Apple CEO Tim Cook for releasing Mr. Forestall on the principle of personal responsibility (among others I am sure). While I certainly understand that this may not be the complete story of what transpired at Apple, I do still believe in the message it conveys.

In the words of the honorable Isaac M. Jordan, I believe we are all obligated to strive towards having “… a high sense of honor and a deep sense of personal responsibility.” No matter our place in society or an organization, I strongly believe we should be committed to the principles of honesty and integrity. For me, no remnant of pride is worth such great of a loss to personal dignity.


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Amazon Leadership Principles

I just ran across these principles from Amazon I thought were worth sharing. Of the list, these were my favorite. Enjoy!

  • Leaders are owners. They think long term and don’t sacrifice long-term value for short-term results. They act on behalf of the entire company, beyond just their own team. They never say “that’s not my job”.
  • Leaders expect and require innovation and invention from their teams and always find ways to simplify. They are externally aware, look for new ideas from everywhere, and are not limited by “not invented here”. As we do new things, we accept that we may be misunderstood for long periods of time.
  • Leaders are obligated to respectfully challenge decisions when they disagree, even when doing so is uncomfortable or exhausting. Leaders have conviction and are tenacious. They do not compromise for the sake of social cohesion. Once a decision is determined, they commit wholly.

And two of my favorites:

  • Leaders are right a lot. They have strong business judgment and good instincts.
  • Leaders do not believe their or their team’s body odor smells of perfume. Leaders come forward with problems or information, even when doing so is awkward or embarrassing. Leaders benchmark themselves and their teams against the best.
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Remember This

Thought Catalog just did a great piece of “19 Things to Stop Doing in Your 20s“. Here are the ones that meant the most to me.

  • Stop being lazy by being constantly “busy.” It’s easy to be busy. It justifies never having enough time to clean, cook for yourself, go out with friends, meet new people. Realize that every time you give in to your ‘busyness,’ it’s you who’s making the decision, not the demands of your job.
  • Stop seeking out distractions. You will always be able to find them.
  • Stop allowing yourself to be so comfortable all the time.Coming up with a list of reasons to procrastinate risky, innovative decisions offers more short-term gratification than not procrastinating. But when you stop procrastinating to make a drastic change, your list of reasons to procrastinate becomes a list of ideas about how to better navigate the risk you’re taking.
  • Stop blaming yourself for being human.You’re fine. Having a little anxiety is fine. Being scared is fine. Your secrets are fine. You’re well-meaning. You’re intelligent. You’re blowing it out of proportion. You’re fine.
  • Stop considering the same things you’ve always done as the only options there are.It’s unlikely that one of the things you’ll regret when you’re older is not having consumed enough beer in your 20s, or not having bought enough $5 lattes, or not having gone out to brunch enough times, or not having spent enough time on the internet. Fear of missing out is a real, toxic thing. You’ve figured out drinking and going out. You’ve experimented enough. You’ve gotten your fill of internet memes. Figure something else out.
  • Stop approaching adverse situations with anger and frustration.You will always deal with people who want things that seem counter to your interests. There will always be people who threaten to prevent you from getting what you want by trying to get what they want. This is naturally frustrating. Realize that the person you’re dealing with is in the same position as you — by seeking out your own interests, you threaten to thwart theirs. It isn’t personal — you’re both just focused on getting different things that happen to seem mutually exclusive. Approach situations like these with reason. Be calm. Don’t start off mad, it’ll only make things more tense.
  • Stop ‘buying’ things you know you’ll throw away.Invest in friendships that aren’t parasitic. Spend your time on things that aren’t distractions. Put your stock in fleeting opportunity. Focus on the important.
  • Stop being afraid.
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Beautiful Eternity

This has to be one of the most beautiful videos I have ever seen. I hope it bless you as much as it did me.

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Holding Pattern

Waiting is rarely fun.

A few years ago, I took on the challenge of getting my pilots license. After spending years fascinated at the idea, I finally took classes and started to log my hours in the sky. Let me tell you, it was one of the most amazing experiences I can remember. At only a few thousand feet, it’s like you can see the entire world. Quickly, I was consumed by it and determined to do my solo cross country. After hours in the classroom and hours in the sky, I was finally cleared for solo, and off I went!

Needless to say, once I took off, that excitement started to work its way over to “what on earth am I doing” pretty quickly, haha. About 45 minutes in, I was over Tinker Air Force Base and was called to redirect because of an unscheduled Boeing 747 that was taking off and heading right towards me. Let’s just say the words EVASIVE MANEUVERS took on a new meaning! Now, in all reality, ATC did a great job of redirecting me, but when you are on your first cross-country solo, everything seems more insane that it normally should. 30 minutes later, I was approaching Norman when the tower in Norman came on and told me I was going to do a straight-in landing.

Alas, we get to the namesake of this post. See, for a year, I had trained to use a holding pattern. While it takes a few extra minutes to circle the airport, this is actually your primary opportunity to take care of incredibly important things like your altitude, air speed, approach angles, and flaps. While I had done a straight-in landing before, at 5k feet, I was clearly unprepared for this landing. To make a long and dramatic story short, I dropped at a rate of 1k ft. per minute, and pulled nearly full flaps trying to get my altitude down. Right before landing, I put power back in to smooth out my decent, but as luck would have it, the wind shifted, and I started to receive 15 knot cross winds, which I was clearly not prepared for. A few hundred feet of the runway, I was pushed into a grass landing, which thank God I survived. Needless to say, the tower called me to make sure I was okay… and I chose to go in an have some dinner while my hands shook for the next hour before I made the return flight home!

You see, sometimes a holding pattern is a good thing. While I often try to do everything possible to make a straight-in approach, experience is teaching me that sometimes you need to circle the airport once or twice before you are ready to land. Even now in life, I feel a bit delayed for some unknown reason. But my first flight reminds me that these are the exact opportunities we have to adjust our air speed, set our altitude, and prepare for a landing. While I may not yet know where my next airport is, or where I am heading, I do know what to do in a holding pattern, and that gives me some reassurance.

For those of you following the story, rest assured, I did finally make it back to Tulsa. Though I barely made it before dark, the timing worked out well. Once I got in, I had the celebratory “tail” cut from my shirt, which turned out to be a lifelong dream for my Grandfather to pass down to me.

All in all, I would say flying is a great experience. As long as God is looking out for you, it is a hobby I would highly recommend. 🙂

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Solar is the Future

Friends beware, after writing a 15 page feasibility study for solar energy, I am convinced this is the future. 🙂

 Pardon the DOW plug, this is just a great video 🙂

According to my research, the earth receives 3.8 YJ/year, which is equal to 105x the amount of energy in all proven fossil fuels on planet earth. Where this gets really exciting is when you look at the efficiences of the largest solar farms under development in the US, and compare them to the United State’s current fossil fuel energy consumption of 3,060 TWh per year, you can work out that we only need 18k square miles of solar farms in the United States to completely replace our current use of fossil fuels for electricity. While I am certain my math isn’t 100% accurate, the prospect of supplying the United States with free electricity using only a land mass only 15% the size of the state of Arizona is incredibly appealing.

Now look at these numbers. As of 2011, the United States was spending 1/6th of its GDP on Fossil Fuels, which is equal to around $2.5 Trillion. In contrast, the approximate raw production cost for all of these panels: $985 billion. Estimated direct and indirect jobs created if these were built and installed in the United States: 64.4 million man years of U.S. labor. (separate costing for indirect jobs).

With countries like Denmark already on track to be fossil-fuel free by 2050 and Sweden aiming for 2020, I think the move to renewable is inevitable. Even China, with 1.3 Billion citizens is already spending ~$22/citizen/year to move their grid to renewable, and through these efforts, just crossed the 8% mark this year.

No, where do I sign up for my Tesla Model S. 🙂

No apologies for this plug. This vehicle is awesome. Now if I could just get the government give me a 10 year loan for this car. In exchange, I would be willing to pay the $100k back via a 100% substitue to me paying taxes. 🙂

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The World is Watching

People will always show you their true colors if you are willing to watch and listen close enough. Over time, I have learned that people’s pure character will permeate everything they do. And before you mistake what I am saying, I believe this refers to both the good and the bad. In successful and unsuccessful companies, I have seen people continuously make bad decisions, but you could tell they were trying to improve. Conversely, I have seen people make great decisions, but you could tell it was never for the right reasons.

It has been my experience that one of the best ways you can tell what a person is made of is to look at how he/she treats those that are less than them. As in, look at how they treat people who have less money, or less opportunity, or are on a lower level in some capacity.  Especially in this day in age, there are a lot of brown-nosers out there, specifically when they want something. It is often easy to think someone is a great person when really they are just acting nice to impress a colleague or a (hopefully) soon-to-be significant other.

One of my favorite indicators is to have dinner with people. You tell a lot about someone by the way they treat a waiter/waitress, the way they handle the wrong order, and the type of tip they leave at the end of the service.  I suppose this is similar to why people play golf to size someone up. It is often more valuable to see how people handle failure than to see how they handle success.

Moral of the story: if you have the money, tip generously. If they get your order wrong, understand their job is difficult. And for the love of all things good, if you are having dinner with people that are unemployed or are barely paying the rent – pay for their meal. But let me be clear here, don’t do it out of “charity”. Do it because God has given you too much money and you need to spread it back out to everyone else.

Trust me, the world is watching.

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Giving Everything

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again; because there is not effort without error and shortcomings; but who does actually strive to do the deed; who knows the great enthusiasm, the great devotion, who spends himself in a worthy cause, who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement and who at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly. So that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.”

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