Driving Yourself to Happiness

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Everyday Power Blog

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Guest Blog Post by Valerie Alexander of www.speakhappiness.com

Everything you achieve in a day depends on your attitude that day.  Sure, you can be angry, frustrated and grouchy and still get a lot done, but those accomplishments are diminished by your lousy mood.  The best way to move confidently towards your goals, and get farther and farther each day, is to be happy, regardless of your circumstances.

What is the one attitude killer most of us face before the day even starts?  Our drive to work.  How often has your day been ruined before it begins by a horrible commute?  Did it make you feel out of control to be stuck, with nowhere to go…stewing?  I bet that didn’t make for the most productive workday, and definitely not the most enjoyable.  How could it?  You started in a happiness hole.

But there are some easy techniques you can practice every…

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Are You an Indigo?

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Someone recently told me that I am an Indigo Person.  I’ve heard of Indigo Children who have special ESP or telepathic powers, so in hearing this, I was kind of surprised and laughed to myself.  However, she may have been on to something, because there are a lot of characteristics I found very similar to myself.  It’s quite interesting and learned a lot about myself.

Self understanding – which leads to self acceptance. Or, if the indigo in your life happens to be someone other than you, the goal is to understand her or him as best you can and again, be better equipped to accept them as they are. The non-spiritual version is just that indigo people (children and adults) are gifted souls. They have a lot of creativity, a lot of intelligence, and a sense of mission. The spiritual version, then, is that indigos are, in general, old souls or at least souls with great spiritual depth. I think this definition is the most telling because an indigo is really defined by his or her soul and not necessarily how they express it.

The power of the indigo lies in his or her soul, which lies underneath their external personality. This means they go through the same process of waking up to their essence as other people do, although generally at a more accelerated pace. During this time, they often go through some pretty rough times, and can fall into chronic negative emotion.  Indigos, at least deep down, understand themselves to be powerful and highly valuable. They see through the lie that people are not that.  Even if they are so incredibly destroyed that they stop fighting, they will still feel a sense in such situations that things are dreadfully wrong.

They have powerful instincts guiding them in many areas of their life, and dismiss ideas or systems which conflict with their instincts. Because of this, indigos rarely accept anything that has not been explained to them. They don’t like to do things just because everyone else does or because someone else told them to. They ignore rules unless someone explains to them why they have been put in place, as well as structures, routines, disciplines, rituals, or decorum that doesn’t make sense to them. They often stand out like a sore thumb in society unless they’ve learnt to camouflage themselves.  Because of this, when they grow up indigos are usually involved in some alternative means of living: entrepreneurship, writing blogs, art, alternative therapies, freeganism, activism, etc.

There is no love like indigo love. When an indigo can’t find another indigo to pair up with, they’ll often be seen with older people who tend to be more sensitive and more capable of seeing the gem in the indigo’s soul. (In general indigos don’t have hang ups about age as they see people for what they are, not what their label is). Indigos are warm people at heart and enjoy contact. This is because most humans have been infected by a cultural sickness. Indigos express themselves as all humans deep down want to express themselves but don’t have the clarity or bravery to do: lovingly. Touch, hug, kiss, “I love you”. They love for the damn pleasure of it. And unlove is incomprehensible for them.

Indigos have come here to make a change, and deep in their soul, they feel that. They have huge energy and huge creativity, as well as intelligence – and these things want to be expressed. I don’t know where I heard this bit of advice but it rings very true to me – indigos should have an outlet for their creativity while they are waiting to know what their mission is in life. Our energy is strong and will find an outlet whether we want it to or not – and this could be in negative forms such as obsessive thinking or worrying as well as addictions or even excessive spirituality. As I said, indigos have huge energy. Whatever they do, they do intensely. They are often geniuses – or called that – in part I think because of their capability of single-minded focus on what interests them. On the other hand, if something does not interest them they are very good at NOT focusing on it.

Indigos are usually multitalented. Their interests lie in anything creative, anything that expresses personal power, anything that expresses joy (particularly humour), healing, communication, spirituality and personal growth. They are capable of guiding themselves easily by their ability to “just kind of know” what to do, their gut feeling, etc.  As I said, indigos feel things more powerfully. Their sensitivity is part of this. In general they FEEL more – more pain and more pleasure – because they are closer to their being.

Indigos need three things especially in life. Self-understanding, which I hope I’ve just given you. Connection with people who understand and accept them for who they are (mostly other indigos). And actualisation of their personal power, feeling like they are making a difference in life. I’ll provide you with some resources for each of these in turn.

Sleeping With Fate – Full Movie

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This is a full-edited cut of “Sleeping With Fate,” a film starring and co-produced by my good friend Vonn Harris (click for his Facebook Page) back when he lived in Baltimore. Being his breakout film, he also starred in Razorblade City, which soon was being sold all over the globe. Since this film, he has appeared in films and television shows like “Girls,” “Lincoln,” “Tower Heist,” and “America’s Most Wanted.”

Feel free to watch and share the clip to show your support of the arts community and the talent we enjoy to see make their way to the top. I enjoy seeing people do what they love, even when the budgets are low. It goes to show that you can be creative in any situation to reach your goals.

DISCLAIMER: May not be suitable for all audiences due to language and content

Branding Your YouTube Channel

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60 hours of fresh content is uploaded to YouTube every minute. With that amount of information being uploaded, the likelihood of your company or brand being the source of the next “Harlem Shake” craze is not that great. However, that does not mean smart brands can’t use YouTube to garner a significant amount of views and grow engaged followers.

Video content allows companies to present their brand with a sense of passion, enabling them to give a personal look that is simply not possible with static content.

Begin by starting a Branded Channel. Creating a branded channel is essential to building a following on YouTube. You need to complete a few steps to ensure all visitors can quickly see that this is your official channel. A first step is to be sure you change the channel’s layout to the new design. You should next add some channel art, your website, and social network links. Every channel has an “About Us” section which should be completed so visitors can learn more about your brand. If your video content will feature humorous or whimsical content, then consider inserting some fun into your company description, don’t simply user your PR boilerplate.

Don’t Neglect the Search Benefits. While every brand wants their video content to go viral, it’s just not going to happen on its own. An overlooked benefit of your average video is how it can help SEO by building out a company’s organic content.

Rankings in Google can especially be improved by the presence of YouTube content because it fundamentally sees videos with a lot of views as being more important than others, and its algorithms give a higher rank to sites that contain video.

Make sure to encourage User Participation. Many companies invest an inordinate amount of time and financial resources to create professionally produced videos. While such videos might be warranted for complex and lucrative initiatives they can be a waste of money when the video is intended for individual consumers. A smart approach to produce some of this content is to encourage user-generated videos as responses.

A traditional method of attracting such content is through a contest offering with a “show the world how you use our product,” kind of pitch. Beyond contests, brands should think of other incentives that can drive users to create engaging content, such as group adulation or the enticement of building the user’s own channel.

All of this content does the best when it is driven organically, where the user really enjoys a brand and is able to make related videos without restrictions. One caveat – not all users will want to produce content that is positive towards your brand. If you encourage users to help you with YouTube marketing, then you need to actively manage the account to either remove or interact with negative content. Also be aware of bots that maliciously spam your videos with “dislikes” and negative or offensive comments.

Unless the content is offensive, then it might be a good tactic to create a rebuttal response or at the very least create comment entries to dispel any misconceptions or incorrect statements.

It’s hard to produce the qualities of a video that will make it appeal to a broad audience. You need some humor, but capturing a certain spark requires some luck and the ability to capture the essence of what the viewing public currently desires. And remember there are hundreds of millions of YouTube users, so appealing to a niche audience can still represent a massive amount of individuals.

Produce Quality Content Regularly. Mastering YouTube marketing takes time and regularity. It really is a marketing strategy that deserves attention from marketing in order for it to be successful.

Companies should formalize their plans for YouTube, with a schedule for the creation of content, distribution methods, and eventual comparisons of ROI. Building a group of channel followers can require a considerable amount of work, but the payoffs can be immense once a critical mass is reached.

Brands should not put all of their work and finances in one video with high production values, but focus on producing multiple pieces of content released over time that look presentable but don’t have the expense of commercial-quality productions.

For companies that are just starting out, a good first step is to simply share other popular videos in order to gain some channel followers. It’s important to only share content that depicts what you want and still has some sort of value for your brand presence. Sharing other’s content does not carry the same weight as your own productions, but it does begin to set the stage for your brand’s characteristics and gives a glimpse into the style of your upcoming proprietary content.

Keeping an Eye on Your Channel. Using analytics and testing videos against each other can bring formal marketing tactics to your YouTube channel. As testing sheds light on trends and the types of content with the best ROI, then you can adjust your tactics to invest more time and resources in the top performers. You should attach a real budget to YouTube marketing efforts so it can be included in broader marketing channel comparisons and become another metric for management.

YouTube can be a very powerful tool to help build awareness for your company. That said, the odds of having a viral video on YouTube about your brand are very, very slim. A better approach is to use YouTube the way you’d use any other platform — set objectives, develop a strategy and execute the tactics. By using this approach, you have a much better chance of success than by simply uploading a video in the hopes it goes viral.

I welcome you to watch this video from one of my favorite business marketing minds, Seth Godin, on how to get your ideas to spread:

Unique Compliment (Written by my Grandpa)

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                        My greatest  most unique  compliment

 

In July of this year,  Rhea and I along with her daughter and husband journeyed to Spokane to hear a concert given by the musical group, Earth, Wind & Fire.  EWF first hit the scene in 1970 and has maintained its popularity since then.  Four of its original members are still with the group.  Unfortunately, I was going through my Shostakovich period in the 70’s and did not know about EWF.  What brought them to my recent attention was my granddaughter, Courtney, who is pursuing a career in marketing.  She has been specializing in working with musicians and has had a contract with EWF for several years to do what I think of as Public Relations. She has traveled with them on tour to such places as Australia and Singapore.  Through this relationship she has got to know all of them (about 20) very well, even to the extent that she refers to them as her “second family”.  When I first learned of this relationship through many photos, I remarked to her how much I admired the fact that a Missoula girl could seamlessly move into a black group.  She acknowledged that she gets a few raised eyebrows from old friends during her occasional visits home, but she is happy that she has found the world outside of Missoula.

 

When she wrote to me of the coming performance in Spokane, I resolved to go.  My primary interest was in meeting the group and to see first hand their enthusiastic response to Courtney.  I asked her if she would be there to introduce us around. She expected to be able to do so, but in case she had a scheduling conflict, she was sure that they would greet us warmly and show us a good time.  So, off we went to the Northern Quest Resort to spend the night and listen.  The hotel is new and very nice and contains a Las Vegas size casino (It is owned by an Indian tribe who are therefore permitted to have gambling on their premises.)  Unfortunately Courtney was not able to attend, so we were on our own.

 

The hour arrived to find our seats and we joined several thousand other fans. The venue was next to the hotel on a beautiful grass lawn covered with thick plastic sheets for protection from the folding chairs used by the audience.  As we walked through the gate, I had an uncomfortable feeling about what was ahead.  Each person was given a small plastic bag containing earplugs.  I am very sensitive to loud noises and occasionally have had to leave concerts because of the noise.  The little bag contained the message “See the instructions on the box for proper use”.  Since we did not have access to the box, we were on our own.  I tried for a long time to get the things into my ears, but was not successful.

The group finally came out, greeted the audience and began playing.  I should note that we were close to the stage and directly ahead of our seats was a huge bank of loudspeakers.  I was certain that they could easily carry the music to Spokane, 12 miles away.  As the music got louder, my hearing of it disintegrated into a very loud noise with indistinguishable musical sounds.  I wish that I could have heard it as the crowd was really into it.  They were laughing, dancing, clapping, etc. The musicians were versatile in the way they handled their instruments and several danced as they played.  They obviously were having a good time, and so was the crowd. One particular couple fascinated me:  a gentleman in his 70’s, dapperly dressed and obviously trying to project an image of youth.  His companion was an attractive 20 something black girl.  They walked back and forth through all the aisles, embracing, dancing, kissing, talking to people along the way and sometimes drinking a glass of beer.  They repeated this throughout the performance.  I wondered if that could be love that I was witnessing.

 

About half way through the second half, I could no longer handle the noise.  Also, the loudspeakers were vibrating so strongly that I feared that the pulsating sound waves hitting my chest would affect my pacemaker.  Therefore I left my seat and slowly worked my way through the enthusiastic fans to the exit.  After distancing myself from the stage and loudspeakers, I calmed down and decided to wait at the exit gate for Rhea and the others.  Eventually Rhea joined me shortly before the end.  Since I had really hoped to meet some of the musicians I walked over to the souvenir counter where they were promoting photo opportunities with members of the group.  However, I decided against this upon learning that the cost was $100 cash.  Instead, I made a mental note to donate $100 to the Salvation Army.

 As we stood waiting, several thousand happy people swarmed passed us toward the exit. After a couple of minutes two young girls walked by.  When they saw us they stopped in their tracks.  One of them (about 19) accosted me in a loud voice:  “How old are you?”  She obviously never expected to see anyone of my advanced age, complete with walking cane and white hair, attending this performance.  I replied politely “Young lady, that is a rather personal question.  However, I am happy to tell you that I am 84 years old.”  She was astounded and asked how I liked the show.  I mumbled something that I hoped conveyed my approval.  She then produced a camera and asked if she could take our picture (she never explained why).  Of course I said yes, put my arm around Rhea and she clicked the shutter. As she started to continue on her way, she turned back and left us with a parting comment  “You guys rock”!!!!

Wow, I am not sure what she was telling me, but from the look on her face it must have been something worthy of great respect and that I had earned it.

And that, my friends, was the most unique compliment I have ever received.

 

Spencer Manlove 2012

Watch Out for Trapstep

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Electronic music has entered a new era of unprecedented creative and economic development, surging into mainstream culture like a bass-heavy tidal wave. Conceived nearly four decades ago as a grass-roots, avant garde, underground movement couched prominently in Europe, the maturation of what we now commonly call “EDM” has brought with it the inevitable complexities and controversies of “adulthood.”

Trapstep is a sub-genre to Dubstep in combination with Trap and  some interesting high hat techniques with whatever the DJ/Producer feels flows with the track.

No matter your views on Electronic Dance Music (EMD), there is one thing for sure – it never fails to keep things interesting in this ever changing industry. The new movement seems to be Trap EDM, or to put it simply, “Trapstep” and it may be blowing up faster than the entire scene itself. If you are not familiar (and I don’t blame you) it’s pretty simple. Imagine all of the wubs, womps, build ups, drops, etc. you surely are used to hearing by now but throw in a looped T-Pain or Meek Mill beat with an overwhelming amount of random ad-libs ping ponging through your speakers. That’s trapstep…and it’s pretty awesome.

Does it appeal to a larger demographic? Probably, although I am dreading the day when I fill up at the gas station and two big guys roll up in a tricked out Cadillac blaring tracks like this from the radio. Many top producers are already on board with the movement including Skrillex, DJ Scream, Drumma Boy, Flosstradamus and Trap-A-Holics so if you dread this already, you are in for the long haul.

There is one group of guys who are going to take this genre to the next level, and I’d be surprised if we don’t see them at the Grammy’s in 2014.  They are not only making a music movement, but a social movement…look out for aColorWar coming later this year.

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Must Read: A Whole New Mind

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This is one of, if not my favorite business book I have ever read.  I recently picked it up the other day again and plowed through it in less than three days.  In this book, Pink helped me understand once and for all how as a right-brainer I’ve been living in a world of alpha left-brainers. Throughout the book, you learn about six senses: design, story, symphony, empathy, play, and meaning. Frankly, the six that Pink has selected are nowhere near complete. The list of senses, of lenses through which to view the future and one’s integration with the future, will be somewhat different for each of us. As we move further into the conceptual age, we’ll identify more and more primary concerns that will join this initial list. The transformation is in process; more will surface over time. 

Pink first explains the functioning of the human brain , its left and right sides and what they stand for, in a very simple and non jargon approach. His personal understanding of the functioning of the brain using the MRI scan technology may appear over simplistic to a well trained medical professional or psychologist. But the information is sufficient to guide us through the subsequent chapters that fully engage both the sides of the brain. He argues convincingly that we’re moving from an Information Age to a Conceptual (creative/inventive) Age, because of: Abundance (we’re living at the top of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs), Asia (left-brained work is outsourced there because it’s been commoditized, and thus cheaper), and Automation (things that are solved by a strict set of rules–heuristics–are better crunched by microchips). He argues that in the coming age those with more inventive minds will be more valued. 

Pink describes what he calls the “Six Senses” 1) Design–making things not only functional but engaging by design; 2) Story–developing a compelling narrative from the data; 3) Symphony–seeing the big picture and gathering seemingly desperate parts into a harmonious whole; 4) Empathy–fostering caring relationships with our family, friends and colleagues at work; 5) Play–the need to have fun at whatever you do; 6) Meaning–seeking purpose and the greater good seems to define us uniquely as humans.

The examples quoted under every topic are simply great. To cite one such example in the chapter on Story :

The queen died. The king died. (LEFT BRAIN)

The queen died and the king died of a broken heart. (RIGHT BRAIN)

The first line conveys a fact. The second line conveys a story and we can feel the love. Stories combine context and emotion and appeal to our hearts. Unfortunately, most professionals focus on facts. Doctors interrupt patients on an average once in 23 seconds looking only for clinical data. But if they listen to the patients’ stories, the context and emotion can make a big difference, in addition to the facts.

 
Another good example I enjoyed reading is Design. Design is the process of bringing new forms that the world has never seen. It is a combination of utility and substance. The CEO of a major car manufacturer claims that his company is in the art business and transportation is incidental. Design schools are the ones that can transform our products into things of joy. No wonder this profession has started gaining so much attention even in countries like India. 
 
This is a book that can make a huge difference to your personal and professional life, irrespective of what we do for a living. The world so far was dominated by left brained professionals or those whose who predominantly excel in using the left side of the brain. The admission tests to get into the best of today’s professional courses test our analytical, arithmetic and verbal skills. The good news is that we have done well so far. But the bad news is that in the industrial age followed by the information we have utilised only one half of our brain, that is the “left”. Welcome to the conceptual age which demands our “right” and rightfully so.

We now live in an era of abundance (the wide range of goods at rock bottom prices at the neighbourhood shopping mall), Automation ( computers take over repetitive jobs) and emergence of Asia ( off shoring of white collar jobs at fractional costs). Today’s products and services are an outcome of sequential, analytical and logical thought process of the L-centred professions. To succeed in the next age which is conceptual, we need to wake up and kick start the right side of our brain argues the author. For example we need abilities to synthesize not just analyse. Synthesis is the ability to assemble the parts and see the whole thing while analysis is the ability to focus on specifics. The conceptual age needs high concept and high touch, a combination of right side capabilities along with the left side strengths. These then become the winning combination to differentiate, add value and succeed.

The message is clear. The professional of the future is one who can appreciate the finer aspects of life that includes beauty, meaning and happiness.

 
 

Monday Motivator

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Welcome to Monday!

I want to talk about setting expectations for yourself.  Sun Tzu, Buddha, Jesus, Henry Ford, Greek philosophers and many others all recognize one important human characteristic. “If you think you can do a thing, or think you can’t do a thing, you’re right”

Mental Blocks

I learned to swim at a very young age, and eventually part of the program I was required to do a series of dives off starting blocks when I started to compete. While attempting to do them in the beginning, I sometimes hurt myself as I was still in elementary school diving off what seemed like the high dive at the time. In retrospect it was probably not a serious injury, however, it placed a mental block on my brain and gave me a sense of fear. Even today, though I no longer compete, there is no way I can climb up on to a starting block without this incident rushing into my mind and creating immense adrenaline.  Eventually, after much determination and practice, I was able to become one of the top starters on the team. I learned to turn that fear into a positive thing.

While the ability to dive off a starting block is no longer important in my life, my brain continues to put up blocks for other more important activities. In fact, psychologists tell us the brain is very good at finding and remembering reasons not to do something.

Deliberate plans are required to overcome the blocks our brain puts in place.

Setting Priorities

While it’s easy to be busy and crank out the tasks on your to-do list, it’s a bit more difficult to choose to do the important things, to live your life by priorities that you set for yourself. But living a life of smart priorities is one of the best ways to become much more effective, to make the most of your time and reach your goals with less effort. Instead of running around like a chicken with no head, you can walk calmly in the right direction.  Do less, but be more powerful in what you do. Something I still need to remind myself of is that priorities are not what you say they are—they’re what you actually do. So take a moment to reflect on how you spend your time, what your priorities have been lately, until now. And reflect on whether those are the priorities you want to live by.

What you accomplish this week is up to you. There may be some things which are genuinely out of your control. If you do not think it is possible, however, you probably will not ask, and if you don’t ask the opportunity might just go away.

Today’s Actions

The moment you give up is the moment you let someone else win. If you’re in business, the very first question you must ask each morning is ‘What opportunities are there that can or need to happen today today?’

Extend this to everything you do by asking the question ‘Is this  going to help me achieve my goals today, this week, or this month?’

I will leave you with a quote by the wonderful Thomas Jefferson:

“Determine never to be idle. No person will have occasion to complain of the want of time who never loses any. It is wonderful how much may be done if we are always doing.”

Have a great day!

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Staying Relevant in Music Through Content

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The modern paradigm is here today, gone tomorrow. When what you want to do is stay in the public eye, in people’s minds, you don’t want to be forgotten. That is why the traditional album format could be working against you if that’s where your focus still lays.  If you’re an itinerant musician and you want something to sell at shows, a CD is the easiest route, but certainly not the most modern approach.

There’s just too much information today in the music industry. And no matter how big of a story you have, you can be trumped by somebody else or just plowed under by the detritus coming down the pike. Your album is in the rearview mirror only moments after it’s been released unless you keep it relevant. You have to create constantly now. That’s the only way you can stay in the public eye.

Look at the public. It used to be that the mail came once a day, you got it when you arrived home at the end of the day. Then, you could only check e-mail with a wired connection through your AOL. Now, you go to dinner and everybody’s on their phone, constantly. They just cannot stand being disconnected.

But that’s what many musicians are today, disconnected from their audience. Your fans are not tweeting about your latest release, because it was most likely months ago!

It’s almost like you’re making a movie. Right when a film has been playing in the theaters for a week or two, it’s gone and on it’s way to Redbox!

But let’s forget about the movie business, which is challenged so greatly and doesn’t realize it quite yet. Let’s focus on music. The number one thing a fan wants is more music by his favorite act. But rather than deliver said music, today’s bands put out an album and then lay low for a few years, while their functionaries try to convince everybody who doesn’t care that they should. Forget about the new audience, focus on the old. The old will sell you to the new. If you satiate them.

And the way you do this is via new music. But it’s not only music. It’s connection.

You’re better off answering e-mail, responding on Facebook, making news on Twitter. There’s no thrill like getting a Twitter response from your hero. You tell everybody you know. Virility is rampant. Forget the newspaper, that’s where news goes to die, it’s there last. News is for today, tomorrow is for brand new news.  It’s not the media’s job to keep you in the public eye, it’s yours!

Soon, there’s not going to be anywhere for you to buy a CD. The world has already started the transition to streaming. There’s nothing you can do about it other than make phenomenal music. We live in a direct to consumer society.  Amazon, Google, and Apple already know it and are adapting to be able to react quickly. Some musicians unfortunately don’t know it yet. They want someone else to do the work for them. They don’t want to take risks, they don’t want to fail, they don’t want to try new ways. The new way is your bond between you and your fans. If he or she doesn’t think you’re living in their house, you’re doing it wrong.