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Monthly Archives: March 2009

Hello New Jersey…

Filed under Events, Travels

Today, I will be speaking to 2,000+ teenagers in lovely and scenic New Jersey.  I’ve been really looking forward to this event and am excited about the day ahead. 

I will be doing a keynote at the opening general session and a couple of workshops this afternoon. 

I hope the sessions all go smooth.  If you screw up in front of that many students, your blunder is bound to end up on YouTube…

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Are You ‘Good’ Or Just ‘Not Bad’?

Filed under Thinking Out Loud...

Interesting question to think about…

I recently heard this question in the context of parenting.  Are you rewarding your kids for being good or for not being bad?  There’s a significant difference there. 

Think about how this plays out in your own life. 

Grades.  Friendships.  Quality of work.  Relationship with parents.  The list could go on and on. 

“Not bad” is Mediocre.  Average.  Normal.  Boring.  Dull.  Lame. 

Anyone can be “not bad” at something.  But being “good” requires effort, hard work, and dedication. 

Which one are you being? 

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Having The Courage To Make Necessary Changes

Filed under Thinking Out Loud...

For most people, change is difficult.  We prefer stability, security, and some other word that starts with ’s’. 

But change is a necessary part of life.  And in order to make those changes, it’s going to take some courage on your part.  If you continue to do things the way you’ve always done, you’re going to continue to get what you’ve always got. 

I had a situation come up last week where I had that simple choice.  I’m working on a new project that we’ve already put a lot of time and thought into when I realized we needed to make a significant change.  It was going to cost extra money and a little bit of stress to make this change, but it will be worth it long term.  I battled with the decision but knew in the end, the change needed to be made. 

It would have been easier to leave things as they were, but that wouldn’t have helped the situation.  Most of us are good at seeing changes that need to be made, but usually fail when it comes time to actually making the change.     

What is the change in your life that you know needs to be made that you have been putting off? 

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Great Weekend In Indiana & Kentucky!

Filed under Events, Travels

I had a great weekend speaking at the Indiana FCCLA State Conference in Indianapolis and then heading south to speak at the Kentucky 4-H Teen Summit.  Great groups of students at both places!

Jen Staley put on a wonderful event for FCCLA and Mark Mains led a great group of students and leaders at the Teen Summit.  Well done!  I’m actually doing events for both of them again in a few months, which I’m looking forward to.

I’m home briefly and then I head to New Jersey this week for the FBLA State Conference…

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What Did You Do Before _____?

Filed under Thinking Out Loud...

Recently I read a blog post about a new online service and the writer posed the question, “What did we do before _____?” 

Have you ever thought that before? 

I know I have.  I think of remarkable products and services like the iPhone, Amazon, Craigslist, and Google.

It got me thinking…what could I create that would fall into this category?  What could I be a part of…what could I change…what could I improve on…what could I dream up that would cause someone to say…

What did we do before ______?

As you think, dream, brainstorm, and create today, keep that question in the back of your mind.  Be aware of what’s around you that would qualify in this category. 

Create something remarkable today.  Better yet, be remarkable today. 

What product or service would you put in this category? 

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In Case You’re Bored This Weekend…Episode 6

Filed under Blogs, In Case You're Bored This Weekend..., Websites

Here’s your weekly dose of interesting websites, blog posts, and articles for you to check out…


  • Pandora - I may be late to the party on using this service, but it is a sweet internet radio program.  You can basically create customized radio stations based on artists or songs you like.  And best of all…it’s FREE!  It doesn’t hurt that there is an iPhone app as well.
  • Fonolo – Ever had this experience…you need to call customer service about something but you play this game: Press 2…hold…Press 5….hold…Press 1….hold…ok, you get the idea.  This service lets you not only bypass the “phone tree” of several major customer service 800 numbers, but they also get them on the phone for you.
  • Rescue Time – I just started using this, so I’m interested to see if it’s valuable.  I spend the bulk of my day on my computer and occasionally my ADD creeps up, and I start drifting away to other programs or applications.  This free service tracks what programs you spend your time on and gives you feedback about where you’re wasting time. 
  • CreditKarma – This is the first actual free service that you can see a ballpark figure of your credit score.  Most “free” services get you your credit score for free after you pay for their program.  With CreditKarma, you don’t enter any credit card info, and it’s totally free.  I knew my credit score and tried this for comparison, and it was actually pretty accurate. 

Blog Posts/Articles:

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Where Your Money Goes For A Gallon Of Gas…

Filed under Current Events, Money & Finances

There was an interesting piece in Money Magazine this month about how your money is broken down when you pay for a gallon of gas.  I had always kind of wondered what factors went into the price, so I thought I might share this info with you.

Here is the breakdown for a $1.68 gallon of gas…

  • $.95 – Crude-Oil Suppliers – This is the biggest expense and what we’ve heard the most about in the news recently.  Canada actually reaps the largest share of our crude-oil dollars.
  • $.23 – Oil Companies – These are the big boys such as ExxonMobil and BP who make their money on oil drilling, refining, and distribution to gas stations.
  • $.23 – Your State & City – These taxes vary widely state to state and city to city.  For example, New Yorkers shell out $.41 a gallon, while Georgia residents only pay about $.12.
  • $.18 – The Feds – As of now, Washington’s piece of the pie is fixed.  But of course Congress thinks this amount should be increased.
  • $.10 – Service Stations – Gas stations actually make very little, if anything, on the gas you pump.  Where they make their money is through drinks, snacks, and other random junk we buy.

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BIG Vs. little – Which Is Better? (March CHANGES Update)

Filed under Personal, Thinking Out Loud...

I’m two months into a little project I started at the beginning of the year to make small adjusts and changes in my life.  Some of them are habits to implement while others may just be one-time changes that I’ve been meaning to do.  You can read more about the original concept in the post, “Introducing Small Changes To Your Life,” and also from the January update, “Putting Progress Before Perfection.”

Before I get to my update for how my February changes went, I wanted to think out loud for a second regarding which is better…

BIG CHANGES Or little changes

I’ve been thinking about this in the context of personal finances.  Is it more important to get a lower interest rate on your credit card balance or to switch to energy-efficient light bulbs that save you a few extra bucks each month?  Is it better to sell your car so you can pay cash for something more affordable or to save money by buying groceries in bulk?

Most of the time we lean more towards the BIG CHANGES as being more valuable or worth the effort.  Saving a few bucks here or there on energy-efficient light bulbs or buying groceries in bulk doesn’t feel like that big of a deal.  But if you make a few changes like those, collectively they can have a BIG impact. 

So which is more valuable?  To me, it’s not an either/or answer but rather something that needs to be both/and.  Sure you can make the obvious, BIG changes in your life that improve things, but sometimes some of the little tweaks and adjustments can have just as significant of an impact.             

What are the changes, both BIG and little, you need to make?

CHANGES for February

  • Make a Will – I got this done.  We completed some estate planning documents and even got them all notarized.  The one thing I still need to do is make a few copies of them and distribute to family members, so in case something were to happen to us, they know what to do. (Grade: A-)
  • Take Vitamins – I picked up some multi-vitamins at the beginning of the month, but way too often, I just forget to take them!  I’ve been taking them usually 3-4 days each week. (Grade: B+)
  • Get My Passport – Alright, I didn’t really make any progress on this.  I printed out the application a few months ago, so I dug through my files to find it, pulled it out, set it on my desk, and there it has sat for the entire month. (Grade: D+)

CHANGES for March

  • Get My Passport – Obviously, this is a carryover from February, but I still need to get it done. 
  • Learn To Solve A Rubik’s Cube – March is full of time in airports and on airplanes so learning to solve a Rubik’s cube may be a good way to pass the time!
  • Eat Something I Would Normally Never Try – Like I said, I’ve got a lot of travel in March, so when I’m in a new city, it’s usually a good excuse to try somewhere new for dinner.  So while I’m trying a new place, I’ll try a new taste (man that was corny).  I’m up for recommendations for some exotic, random item I should try to find… 


Every Professional Was Once An Amateur

Filed under Thinking Out Loud...

I remember hearing this quote a few months back and being struck with how powerful, simple, and true it is. 

Every professional was once an amateur.

Often times when you are a high school or college student and you aspire to someday be the best in a particular field or industry, it can seem like a very daunting and challenging task. 

If you play basketball, it’s tough to think about being the best when you watch LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, or Michael Jordan play your sport.  If you want to be a writer, it seems overwhelming to be the next John Grisham, Stephen King, or J.K. Rowling. 

It may be tough to grasp this when we think about these world class professionals, but…

At one point, they were all terrible at what they did.

I bet truth be told LeBron and Kobe have air-balled more shots than they want you to know about.  Writers like Grisham, King, or Rowling would probably be embarrassed if any of their very first writings were ever uncovered. 

Because for all of us, when we start out doing anything new, we usually suck at it. 

So if you’ve got a dream to be the best at something someday, don’t compare yourself to those who have been doing it longer than you.  Because whether you realize it or not, they were once an amateur just like you.   

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What Causes You To Take Action?

Filed under Thinking Out Loud...

I read a lot of different blogs and magazines, so I’m frequently coming across websites, programs, and tools that I find valuable.  But I noticed something yesterday.  I spent some time looking at various websites or new tools I had heard about and some I signed up for and others I just passed on. 

I guess I started wondering, if I saw the value of each of them, why did I sign up for some and just click off of others? 

Let’s look at it from another angle. 

When you go to the store and see something you really want, why is it sometimes you justify making that purchase right then and other times you acknowledge you can live without it? 

Why is it that a 53 year-old who has never exercised a day in their life can decide to run a marathon and several months later, cross the finish line completing that goal? 

I guess my question is really this: What Causes You To Take Action? 

Here are a couple of ideas why I think you take action…

  1. Where You Are Going Is Greater Than Staying Where You Are – Anything that you take action on: starting to exercise, starting that new business, going to college, or using that new program all require you to leave what you’re comfortable with and enter into the potentially uncomfortable.  So why would you do that?  Because you realize where you’re going is greater than staying where you are, so you’ll make the journey.
  2. The Investment Is Worth The Sacrifice – We all want a good return on investments.  Often we think of investments in terms of money, but of course, it can also be used for time.  So again, why would you make any change or try anything new?  Because you realize the investment of time you would make is worth the sacrifice for the potential return.  For example, if you come across a new resource that by implementing will save you 30 minutes a day and it will take you 2 hours to learn and master, that seems to be a pretty good investment, because you would “recoup” your investment of time after 4 days.     
  3. You’re Not Content With Where You’re At – In order for you to improve in life, you have to make changes.  If you think you’ve arrived or if you become content with where you’re at, you’ve started down a slippery slope. 

Why are you willing to take action?

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    Grant Baldwin is a relevant leader and an engaging communicator who is making a significant impact in the lives of students across the country.

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