Marching Towards Spring And Wonderful Things

Today, was a beautiful Sunday! It was such a hectic week that I realized I never reviewed the sheet music for the 2 church services I was singing at this morning. Normally, the music is emailed to me on Wednesday so I can review and rehearse during the week. With the crazy week, it was never emailed to me and I was so busy with twice daily conference calls for the Merchant Services company that I never followed up regarding the missing email.

I was early on my ride to church, so I was hoping I would have time to quickly review my music before the service. As luck would have it, there was no more than a moment for a quick glance. I’m happy to say we had a wonderful morning of music. My brain was hyper focused and I impressed myself with my improved sight reading skills. I’ve had this position as a music minister for over 6 years and I’m so blessed to work with such amazing musicians. Plus, my spanish has improved since taking a job where I get to sing in espanol.

I have a fun cryptocurrency project I’ve been working on this past week. I was able to collaborate with my partners on the project today. I think tomorrow will bring some great results. Of course, I’m not a financial advisor, but crypto is on sale right now. So is most of the stock market. If you’ve been thinking of investing, this might be the perfect opportunity to go on a buying spree. =)

I didn’t get my walk in today, but I did get a great afternoon with my family. I saw my baby niece. She’s walking and starting to talk. It’s amazing how quickly kids grow up. I spent time with my dad and my brother at a birthday barbecue. I was able to see both of the LA sisters. I helped my dad with some paperwork and emails to kickstart his week. We talked some business and prioritized our current architecture projects for the week; ADU (1) , Dance Studio, ADU (2), Restaurant, ADU (3) & 2nd Story Addition. That’s a project a day. This is going to be a productive week for us.

This week I have 5 leads and 2 appointments for the merchant services company. I’d love to book 12 new clients this month. That’s 3 new clients a week. I know that’s ambitious, but I love challenging goals.

Cheers to your success this week too!

TofuAlan

Leap Day, Fitness Routines and Merchant Services

Leap Day has always been interesting to me. I had a friend in high school who was born on February 29th. When I turned 16, he turned 4. Who gives a 4 year old a driver’s license? When I turn 48, he’ll ONLY be 12. His children are older than he is now. maybe even twice his age? =)

Routines are another interesting thing . If we aren’t consciously aware of it, we fall into routines without even realizing it. This year I want to focus on implementing conscious routines into my life. I’ve limited my screen time on my phone. I’ve added more walking into my daily life and even started running again. Lap swimming is next on my list. I renewed my gym membership, so now I can get started swimming in March.

I plan to start journaling too. I hope to blog more often here, and on my other websites. Once a week seems reasonable to me. I’m excited to improve my typing skills. Oh yeah, did I ever mention I never took a typing class in high school or college? One reason I’ve been putting of writing is because it takes me so long to type with my hunt & peck method. Although, I must admit, typing “properly” is taking even longer, but it’s fun to see the letters “magically” appear on the screen.

March is going to be a fun month. Along with starting my swimming routine, I’ll be launching my new Merchant Services Company. Yes, this is not a new business for me. but now I’m going solo with my own office. I had a heart to heart with my former business partner and he encouraged me to go solo. He’s going to keep all of the customers I brought to the table, so this will be a complete new start for me. As of last Friday, my application was officially approved and I’m ready to start saving my fellow business owners and entrepreneurs on their merchant credit card fees.

Some of you might be wondering what a merchant services company does, so I’ll happily tell you more about it in a future blog post. I’m still thinking up a name for the new corporation which will house the merchant services business, so I might be running some names by you. Of course, I’m open to suggestions.

Cheers!

TofuAlan

Ride Sharing is Caring

My mother was in town for 3 weeks. It was a fun experiment in getting around town.

As I mentioned before, I was recently in a car accident and my car was totaled. Instead of replacing my car right away, I thought it was the perfect time to try a travel experiment in my life.

A couple years ago I heard about someone who decided not to drive for a year. It seemed like an impossibility for someone living in Los Angeles, but with my current circumstances, it seemed like the perfect time to try this for myself. 

Pre-Birthday Musings.

I always thought I would die before I was 21 years old. In fact, I thought I might die before I was 18. When my 18th birthday approached and passed, I was bewildered that I was still alive. I then presumed I must have made a mistake and 21 was my new expiration date.

I had a near death experience at the beach when I was about 9 years old. I was a very confident and strong swimmer, but I was ignorant of how to respond when caught in a riptide. If it wasn’t for a fast-acting uncle, who was also a trained lifeguard, I might have been swimming with the fishes. Or is the expression, I would have been fish food? After that experience, I had a vision, or more likely a dream, or maybe a waterlogged hallucination of future me dying very young.

I have survived 3 major car crashes. All 3 occured while I was at a standstill. The 1st car accident was a hit-and-run which occurred when I was a teenager. I was waiting at a red signal light and a car speeding down the hill didn’t stop in time and knocked me into the intersection where 2 other cars just barely missed me. The car that hit me, backed up and made a right on the cross street to get away from the scene of the accident.

Once I got my bearings and restarted my car, I chased down the car that hit me in an exhilarating car chase and we were finally able to exchange contact information. As it turns out the driver didn’t have car insurance, but my uninsured motorist policy kicked in. My 1966 Ford Mustang was fully repaired after the accident and it was better than new with a shiny new paint job! My advice, always spring for the Uninsured Motorist Policy.

The 2nd car accident occured on the newly opened 105 freeway while I was on my way to teach a swing dance class near the LAX Airport. I heard and felt something out of the ordinary while driving and thought I might have blown a tire. I safely pulled over to the right shoulder of the freeway to inspect my front tires for damage. While I was looking at my front right tire, I felt a wave of light brush over me and I heard or maybe felt a familiar voice say, “get back in the car and put on your seatbelt.”

I’m not one to argue with preternatural voices and feelings, so I did what I was told and got back into my car. As I was inserting the strap into the buckle, I looked up into my rearview mirror and saw an opalescent white Lexus attempt to illegally speed past a slow moving car by using the left shoulder. The driver realized too late that I was already parked on the shoulder blocking his way and he attempted to swerve back into his lane.

He was traveling too fast to avoid my car and as I was watching the approaching Lexus in my rearview mirror (strangely in what felt like slow motion), I locked eyes with him and I could see the fear in his eyes as he struggled for control of his vehicle. I took a deep breath to relax my body and slipped my car into neutral in preparation for the inevitable collision.

He clipped the rear left corner of my car while veering back into his lane sending my vehicle into a clockwise spin. The front right corner of my car (where I was crouched just moments before while inspecting my tire) crunched into the wall to my right. When the car stopped spinning, I was facing oncoming traffic. Several drivers pulled over to help me out of my vehicle and give me their contact information as witnesses to his erratic driving. My car was totalled, but I was able to walk away from the accident without a scratch.

I called my dance partner, who was driving separately, and she was on the scene within minutes. She was crying as my car was loaded onto the flatbed of the tow truck. We were only a few minutes late to teach our dance class, and our client was totally understanding of the situation. My dance partner drove me to the hospital after dance class and the doctor said the physical movement of dancing was probably the best thing I could have done to help calm my nerves and muscles, but I should take it easy the next few days.

The 3rd accident occured on Friday the 13th of last year. I was waiting at an intersection to make a left turn. As the signal light turned yellow and then red, I started making my left turn and a brand new BMW ran the red light and T-boned my passenger side of my vehicle. When my car stopped spinning, I was covered in glass from shattered passenger window and windshield. I remember thinking that it looked like I was covered in diamonds.

I was meeting a new friend for dinner and I was less than a mile from the restaurant. When I called her, she jokingly said the only excuse for being late was if I was in a car accident. When I told her what happened and she finally believed that I wasn’t joking, she asked where I was and was there within 10 minutes. She thoughtfully showed up with orange juice, some juice smoothies and snacks. She shared them with me and the driver of the other vehicle and said the sugar would help with shock.

She waited with me until the police took our statements and the tow trucks towed our cars away. She then drove me to an amazing Korean Restaurant where we were able to finally enjoy dinner. I’m so thankful for thoughtful friends and because I was able to walk away from another car accident I consider Friday the 13th my lucky day!

I am thankful to be able to journey yet another rotation around the sun. Many more than I ever thought I would be able to. I’m excited to add another candle to my vegan birthday cake and use this borrowed time to bring smiles and joy to everyone I meet.

Cheers!

TofuAlan

WDW, It Requires People To Make The Dream A Reality!

While walking through the Magic Kingdom in Orlando, Florida, my sight was drawn to this shield on a wall surrounding a construction site. It read, “You can dream, create, design and build the most wonderful place in the world… but it requires people to make the dream a reality.” – Walt Disney.

As my birthday approaches, I look back upon this past year and the many years before it, and I am thankful for all the people who have had their hand in shaping my life. There were those whom I shall never know. The ancestors who built their lives and raised their children. Those children repeated the process and after generation upon generation, eventually my parents were born.

My parents meet in college, (I should really inquire about how they met and get the whole story). How much of their meeting was chance? It blows my mind to think about that. Eventually, they get married and several years after, I am born.

I am born into their group of friends, acquaintances and families and we are linked for life. My godparents come from this pool of friends and I see them throughout my life at all the special occasions, including my birthdays. They had children about my age and I wonder where life has taken them since we lost touch?

People flow in and out of each others’ lives. Some are there for a short time and some are there for decades. I realize that it also takes effort on my part to stay in touch. Late at night, I think about souls I have met and I am thankful for them in my life. Some have shuffled off this mortal coil. I think about them the most. Death had a huge impact on me as a child, and I carry those who have died with me in my heart, more than I realize.

I am very thankful for my teachers in preschool, kindergarten & elementary school. I was a rambunctious kid and they had more patience with me then I may have deserved at the time. Their patience really helped to motivate me in school and gave me a love of learning which I still have to this day.

I may have been a dream for an ancestor long past? Of maybe, I am just a link in the chain for a future which was dreamt ages ago? Either way, I strive to live true to the dream I have for myself. I know I can try to do it alone, but why go that route, when I have chosen friends who will walk, run, dance and skip along the road with me?

I thank you for being part of my life and I hope I can help inspire you as others have inspired me. Remember, you don’t have to build your dream alone. There may be more help available than you realize. Sometimes, though, all you need to to is look around and ask!

Cheers!

TofuAlan

Walt Disney World Adventures In January Two Thousand Nineteen!

I love to work! In fact, I consider myself a workaholic! But, several times a year, I book a trip out of state, to force me into another “state” of mind. This month, I’m in Orlando and I also booked a trip to Amsterdam to attend a friend’s wedding later this year in July .

I wouldn’t say I’m a HUGE DIsney fan, but I must say I have a great time anytime I’m at a Disney amusement park. Do I have a Disneyland Pass? Yes! Hmmm… Maybe I’m a bigger Disney fan than I thought I was? So, what am I doing in Orlando? Well, it just happens to be my birthday weekend, so why not travel across the country to visit the Magic Kingdom?

I usually work from sunup to sundown, and maybe a few hours beyond that. It’s coming to my attention that maybe this isn’t the norm for most people. I always, ALWAYS travel with my laptop, so I can sneak in some work when I have a spare moment. An extra bonus about traveling to the east coast, is that I’m now 3 hours ahead of California time. It makes me feel so responsible when I can reply to emails and phone calls 3 hours earlier than normal. It also makes it easier when I return home to hit the gym early in the morning.

I took the redeye from LAX to MCO. I was marveling at the ease of travel these days. In the past, I would beg a friend to drive me to the airport, but now a shared ride service like UBER or LYFT make it super convenient to travel around town.

A friend of mine in Los Angeles always complains about how hard it is to meet new people. I find it interesting that I always meet new people and it usually feels very spontaneous. As the saying goes, it takes 2 to tango, so I know the mathematical equation needs to start with 2 people. Or maybe, it just needs to start with 1 person, and that person is YOU.

I can rely on the OTHER person being open to meeting new people, or I can take responsibility and be in the “vibration” of wanting to meet new people. By taking the initiative, it makes it so much easier, because now I can just be ready to talk to anyone who is willing to talk to me.

Oh boy, this may sound like so much new age mumbo jumbo. I must say that it simply falls into place when I’m in the right vibration. Tonight, after taking the whole day off to wrap up a project, I was pleasantly surprised to meet an outgoing gal and her friends while visiting THE EDISON in Orlando, (which is modeled after THE EDISON in downtown Los Angeles).

My new friend, who shall go by the code name “J” approached me and said hello. We danced a few songs and then I met her friends, and then she met my friends, and it turned into a HUGE dance party. Now, I can chalk it up to coincidence, or I can give credit to my friends and our fun loving attitude and seizing the moment. =)

It’s still the beginning of the year and if you want to meet new friends, the first step, is to be open to the idea of meeting new friends. I consider myself an introvert, but I have learned to be more outgoing by practicing being outgoing. I took baby steps; talking to people in an elevator (which is always fun and potentially against the rules), talking to my cashier in the checkout line (as long as it’s not too busy), striking up a friendly conversation at a bar, or even volunteering time at a local food bank and talking to fellow volunteers. Sometimes, the conversation can be stilted at first, but it gets easier with practice.

Whatever you’re interested in trying more of this year, practice by doing more of that thing. I have found that www.MeetUp.com is a great resource, especially when I’m visiting a new city. If you want to explore the outdoors, join a local hiking group. If you want to start running, sign up for a 5K run. They can usually direct you to local training groups. If you want to explore new dining experiences, join a local foodie group, and if none exists, start your own and see what happens.

Many years ago, I had a dining club in my neighborhood and it was fun sharing my dining experiences with my friends and their friends. By special request, I’ll be starting up my dining group again very soon, so If you’re in Los Angeles, I would love for you to join me.

Good Luck on your adventures!

Cheers!

TofuAlan

Done Is Better Than Perfect

This has been an exciting week for me! It’s the 2nd week of the new year and I’m still (mostly) on point with my 2019 goals and intentions. I’ve read and made my bed daily. I’ve hiked Inspiration Point twice and I’ll probably go again this weekend. My daily steps need some help, but I did log in 24,000+ steps yesterday while swing dancing at Lindy Groove in Pasadena, CA.

I have been voraciously consuming the podcasts from Side Hustle School and I ONLY have 582 more to go until I listen to all the past episodes. Today, while listening to episode 588, Chris Guillebeau mentioned a quote which electrified me. The quote was: “Done, is Better Than Perfect.” A quick google search and the quote has been attributed to, Sheryl Sandberg.

Done, is better than perfect, really resonated with me. As a perfectionist there are many times I find myself frozen when I’m so close to completing my goal or project. Ever since I was a child, I would have a paralyzing fear of not doing my work perfectly. This has been an issue for me my whole life, but when I heard the quote today, I suddenly felt a huge weight lifted off my shoulders.

Currently, I have about 20-25 work projects which need to be completed this month and I was feeling overwhelmed with the amount of time I would need to complete everything perfectly. When I applied the quote to my work, I suddenly realized I could still do Grade A work without the pressure of making it Grade A+ work.

I do amazing work! I’m really good at what I do. That’s not just an idle boast. Because of my perfectionist upbringing, I have really honed my skills over the years. One thing I am very aware of though, is that the time needed to bring a project from great to perfect can be an additional 30-35% of additional time.

Many times, I would look at the competing work in my industry and I was baffled at the projects which would pass inspection. If you compared my projects to similar projects done by someone else, you can definitely see the difference. When my “competition” was getting hired for more work than I was, I was profoundly, perplexed. I questioned one of my long time clients about why I wasn’t being hired as often. He said, “because all I need is a quick sketch, and you’re trying to create a photorealistic oil painting worthy of a classical master.”

In my effort to, “just get it done,” I’m happy to say that I had an idea for a “Side Hustle with my buddy Frank. We were talking about it last year, and I decided to just make things happen. I stayed up late one night and built a prototype for our website with some sample products I thought we could market. Now, to select a handful of products we will actually be selling on our website.

It feels good to have it DONE. Well, in reality, the website is nowhere near perfection, but it’s created and just needs to be refined over the next year. Normally, I would have wanted it to be be perfect before I let it go live. I know I am a work in progress, but I see the value in getting the job done instead of getting the job done PERFECTLY!

Best of luck to getting your work DONE this year. I’m excited to work on www.FrankAndAlan.com this month and to completing at least 15 of my other projects over the next 2 weeks.

Cheers!

TofuAlan

Wishes Come True, It’s All Relative and We Bid Farewell To 2018!

It’s hard to believe that it’s already the last day of the year. It seems like just yesterday I was writing my new goals after hiking to the top of Inspiration Point. Note to self, dust off your hiking shoes and get ready for the beautiful view from Inspiration Point TWICE this week.

As I look back on the year, there were a lot of great things which happened. I met some fantastic new friends, I reconnected with friends from my past, I read a lot more books than I did in 2017, The Burrito Project expanded across California in 5 major cities and I was able to launch several new businesses.

On the flip side, there are quite a few things with LOTS of room for improvement this year. While managing 5 seperate businesses, I felt bombarded by phone calls, email & texts which were seriously limiting my productive work time during the day. I thought outsourcing all of the communication to someone else was the answer, but it created more problems.

In an attempt to wean myself off social media, my phone and almost all electronic communication, I attempted to have my assistant(s) return my emails and phone calls for me, but too much fell through the cracks. I ended up creating more issues with my clients and friends due to non communication which could have easily been prevented with a simple phone call.

A new business coach recommended creating boundaries with a time schedule for when I returned phone calls, texts, emails and participated in social media. I’m excited to put this tactic to the test this year, so expect to hear from me more consistently. It’s difficult to give that personal touch when it’s not me giving that personal touch. I guess sometimes I need to learn things the hard way.

It’s all relative, so beware when you compare yourself to other people. I like to have an idea of what’s going on around me, but I prefer to focus within, versus without. One of the reasons I like setting goals is to see how I measure up to my past performance and accomplishments. I’ve always liked setting goals which make me stretch, but I also sprinkle in some simple goals just for fun.

Some of my simple goals are making my bed, reading for 30 minutes a day and spending 15 minutes a day organizing something in my bedroom or office. One of my goals which I need to actively work on to complete is reaching 20,000 steps per day with my fitbit.

Some friends tell me I should set my daily goal to 6,000 or 8,000 so I’m guaranteed to hit it everyday. Although I’d love to hit my personal target EVERYDAY, and that is my continued goal for 2019, I’d much rather miss my target goal of 20,000 steps and settle for 16,000+ steps. For comparison, my friend is completing his/her goal everyday, while I only hit my goal a few times a week. Now, when you compare actual steps for the week, I’m usually in the lead. I’m twice my friends size, so maybe I should be hitting 25,000 steps per day. It’s all relative! =)

If you’ve had a chat with me this past year, you probably know I love cryptocurrencies and will chat crypto almost anytime and anywhere. I was analyzing the market in 2017 and I officially entered the market in January 2018. I made my first purchase of bitcoin on CoinBase and while I was waiting for my bank transfer to go though, BTC dropped from $15,500 to under $12,000 in the 7 days it took before the transaction was complete. That was the perfect introduction to the volatile world of cryptocurrencies for me. Wow!

Despite that almost 25% drop in BTC value, I was even more curious and started mining bitcoin, dash & ethereum. Among my fellow crypto enthusiasts, we would talk about missing the opportunity to buy BTC at prices below $10,000. Well, as luck would have it, bitcoin has been below $4,000 for most of December 2018. I guess wishes really do come true. Thank you Santa for the HUGE sale on BTC. These low prices have more than made up for the high prices I paid earlier in the year! Yes, bitcoin is about 20% of what it was a year ago in December 2017, but for comparison, BTC is 4 times HIGHER now in December 2018, than it was in December 2016. I guess everything really IS relative. 😉

Mining is no longer profitable with the price of BTC so low, but trading has been very nice to me. It just goes to show, when one door closes, another door opens. I’m excited to be trading bitcoin and etherium over the next year and look forward to turning on those mining rigs again when the price rises to a profitable level.

As we bid farewell to 2018, I hope you learned a lot this year and can apply your new knowledge to the next 365 days and beyond. Happy Holidays and Happy New Year!

Cheers,

TofuAlan

Leaders Are Readers

I think I first heard the phrase, “Leaders are Readers” when I was a teenager. I didn’t think much about it, except that I liked that the phrase rhymed.

I loved to read so it wasn’t much of a stretch to read more books, but maybe just an encouragement to read different types of books. Summer was my favorite time of year because with my extra time, I could bury my nose in all my favorite summer reads and maybe add a few new ones after finishing my favorites. I always had a copy of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings with me on summer vacations and I loved to peruse the libraries of the cabins we stayed in or the shelves of books whenever and whenever I would see them.

Libraries were fascinating to me. The ability to travel in time or to far flung places just by cracking open a book. Both my parents would take me to the public library as a child. I loved the smell of books, the rows and rows of tall domino like shelves stuffed with all sizes of books and periodicals, and the reverent quietness which most people had at the library. The hushed whispers and the rustle of turning pages felt like church to me.

My Uncle Jimmy loved to read too and I remember how excited he was to share his growing library of books on tape. He lived 12+ hours away from me and he listened to lots and lots of books while driving. I thought listening to books was interesting, but I loved the tactile connection I had to the pages when I was reading a book. Years passed and soon my friends started using a Kindle (or other electronic device) to read. I still loved reading with a physical book in my hand, so I never adopted the new technology.

As I started working more and more, I found I had less and less time to read. I read several books a week as a kid and now I was lucky to squeeze in a few books a year. I was driving a lot more for work and as much as I resisted it, I started listening to Audio Books. To be honest it felt like I was cheating, and I often felt like I should go read the physical book later when I had the chance, but those chances were hard to find. I finally embraced this NEW way of “reading” and I’ve been excited to add more book titles to my audio book list.

I recently discovered that I could get audiobooks from my local library and depending on the app I used, I could borrow up to 15 books a month for FREE! Audiobooks easily led me to various podcasts (which took me years to finally adopt) and now I’m a voracious listener. It’s standard for me to have an audiobook or podcast on and I usually only pause it when I’m writing or if I have company.

I heard a lecture by, Jim Kwik, the brain and learning expert, and he said leaders  and CEOs read 4 to 6 books a month. At the time that I heard that I was reading 4 to 6 books a year if I was lucky. He broke down the time needed to read an average book and for most books, 45 minutes a day of reading will do the trick. With an average reading speed of 200 words per minute and the average book containing 64,000 words, with less than an hour a day of reading I knew I could get back on track to reading a book a week.

There are so many skills I need to learn and improve on. If I’m to be a better leader for The Burrito Project and in my other businesses, I know I need to expand my thinking, mindset and knowledge. Books are magical! I can read a book in a week which is filled with lifelong knowledge and insight from an authority in their field. These life lessons and professional tips can be learned from a successful person who is willing to share their mishaps and gems of truth. Books can be a timesaver because the knowledge of a lifetime is condensed into a book which can be read in days. I’m great at making mistakes, but reading is a way to learn from other people’s mistakes and hopefully save myself some grief.

Last week, 5 new business books arrived in the mail. I’ve already finished one of the books and I started on the 2nd book this morning. On this Star Wars Day, I’m reaffirming my commitment to reading, expanding my consciousness and learning the skills I need to become a better human being, businessman, entrepreneur, speaker and leader in my community.

May the 4th be with you!

Cheers!

TofuAlan