What to do When You’re Stuck in Traffic

black commuteThe average commute is 25.5 minutes. Which doesn’t sound like a lot until you do the math:

25.5 minutes one way is 51 minutes per day
51 minutes x 5 days per week is 255 minute per week
255 minutes x 50 weeks per year is 12,750 minutes
12,750 minutes is 8.8 days per year in your car.

9 days a year is way too much time to waste. So how do you make better use of your commute?

Catch up on phone calls.

Depending on where you live, this may not be an option but if it is, this is a great way to keep in touch with friends and family you have a hard time finding time to call. I usually call my mom one morning per week.

Go to School

Ever wanted to learn US history, how to write an iPhone app, or even Theology but didn’t think you could find the time? You can and it’s free. Yep, 100% free if you have a iPhone. Apple has a service called iTunes U where schools like Stanford, Yale and Oxford publish lectures from some of their best professors and instructors.

Listen to Podcasts

This is what I do. Over the years I’ve discovered some podcasts that have great content (again, FREE).

  • EntreLeader- This podcast is all about Dave Ramsey teaching you how to run a business. Sadly the quality of this one has gone down since the original host left, but there is still enough of Ramsey’s common sense advice to make it worth your time.
  • Andy Stanley Leadership Podcast- Great thoughts on leading any type of organization from a guy who’s been doing it for over 20 years.
  • This Week in Tech- THE podcast to keep up with what’s happening and on the horizon in the tech world featuring Leo Laporte

This next podcasts is not for anyone who can’t buy a ticket to or who doesn’t like R-rated movies. The language can be VERY rough. You’ve been Warned! Don’t write me hate mail if you listen and get offended by the language.

  • Marc Maron- Maron was a down and out stand-up comedian when he started doing a podcast from his garage back in 2009. Now he’s insanely popular because he’s smart and has developed into a great interviewer.

Listen to Sermons

The amount of great bible teaching and preaching available online is amazing. A few of my favorites are:

  • Brian Mayfield- One of the best local church preachers out there
  • Dr. Brett Burleson- Love this guy’s teaching but I’m biased because we used to worke together.
  • Andy Stanley- maybe my favorite preacher. Insanely practical but still very biblical.
  • Rick White- Great teacher who knows how to relate to anybody
  • Bruxy Cavey- Canadian pastor who is crazy smart.
  • Mark Driscoll- the cussing preacher, although I do prefer his older stuff.

Old School Preachers

  • Johnny Hunt- If you like your preacher to have a little volume and occasionally give a big foot stomp, Johnny is your guy
  • Mac Brunson- Maybe the most well-read preacher’s you’ll ever hear.
  • Adrian Rogers- Yes he’s dead, but my-gosh, that voice! It’s like God is talking directly to you.
  • David Jeremiah- Maybe the best pure bible teacher alive.

OK so that’s what you should do, now here’s what you shouldn’t do

  • Text
  • Tweet-OK, so maybe I don’t always follow my own advice, but the world deserves to know I just got cut off!
  • Facebook
  • Sit in the left lane blocking me.

Now you know how to build a better you instead of listening to some stupid morning radio show or flipping off the guy who just cut you off the next time you’re stuck in traffic.

PS Know any podcasts or preachers I should be listening to? Leave a comment.

Elvis Got Married At My Church

elvis tatI grew up in a small town in northern Alabama. Small enough that we didn’t get a McDonald’s until I was 12.

Because the town was so small, there wasn’t a lot to do in the mid to late 70′s, so it didn’t take much to get the whole town all spun up. People in town were so desperate for excitement, they’d believe anything. And I do mean anything.

Like for instance the time a crazy woman convinced everybody she was going to marry Elvis. Not only was she was going to marry Elvis, the wedding was going to take place at the First Baptist Church. This was before the internet and snopes.com so there was no way for people to find out if it was true or not. Wait, there actually was. The pastor and all the deacons kept telling people Elvis was not going to be in the building. But none of that mattered and the day the wedding was supposed to take place, deacons (my dad included) were posted at all the doors to keep people out.

Needless to say, Elvis didn’t show up.

That’s the thing about the South, we’re generally a trusting bunch and if you repeat a rumor long enough, folks will start to believe it. No matter how much evidence there is to the contrary.

Like what we thought you had to do or have to be a real man.

You could break them down into three categories:

BALLFIELD

When you’re a kid it’s all about who can run the fastest, jump the highest or throw a ball the farthest. At least it used to be before a bunch of puds took over and started making dumb-ass decisions like banning dodgeball and playing Tag in elementary school, but that’s another rant. Anyway, pretty soon the lines were drawn between the guys who were good at sports and the ones who weren’t. The good ones were put on a pedestal and considered more boy than the ones who had two left feet.

It continued on as guys started playing organized sports and a kind of jock Darwinism took over. Every time you moved up a level, fewer and fewer guys could play at the higher level. Until you got to the pinnacle of small town life, varsity football. Every guy who plays is automatically thought of as a real man. Especially the ones who got recruited to play college ball. Any guy who signs a Division I scholarship is granted “The Man” status.

If you’ve ever been to a 10 year high school reunion, you already know how the story ends. “The Man” that used to have 2% body fat and head full of hair, now has 2% hair and a body full of fat.

That’s why the ballfield is a false indicator of masculinity, guys get old and can’t play anymore.

BEDROOM

Part of being “The Man” is girls want to be with you and will happily crawl in your backseat to prove it. That’s when the second false indicator of manhood kicks in, the bedroom.

The more girls a guy has sex with you, the bigger stud he is (but the girls are all sluts. Hmm. Another rant I’ll need to write about). This one is as tough to convince guys that it’s false, as it was for my pastor to convince people Elvis was not getting married at First Baptist. Partially because sex is fun but mainly because the negative, long-term consequences of having sex outside of marriage take longer to show up.

A guy’s brain is a weird thing. Before about age 25 a guy’s brain is still developing, which means it’s still creating connections around significant milestones (Where they happen, what the circumstances are, etc..).

Take a guy’s first sexual experience. If it’s in the back of the car, parked in the middle of nowhere, trying to get it done before he gets caught or the girl changes her mind, then that’s what imprinted onto the guy’s brain of what sex is supposed be like. It’s something that has to be done in secret and fast.

On the other hand, take a guy who waits until his wedding night to have sex. He commits himself to a woman for the rest of his life in front of family, friends and people who he wouldn’t want to disappoint by breaking his commitment. Then he has sex. That’s what is imprinted onto his brain of what sex is supposed to be like. Part of a committed relationship that has been blessed and approved by people he loves and respects.

Which one do you thing is going to have the more satisfying sex life? BTW, when both the bride and the groom are virgins, the divorce rate is less than 10%.

So after a guy has finished playing ball and has dealt with the bedroom, the last way a guy is considered a man is the billfold, or how much money and stuff he has.

BILLFOLD

If the people of my hometown had been as easy to convince that Elvis was not getting married as it is to prove that the billfold is a false indicator of manhood, I wouldn’t be using it as the opening to this story. If you believe that money and stuff are an indicator of manhood then what happens to the guy when he loses it? Did he suddenly lose his manhood? What about the guy who loses his house to a hurricane or tornado? What about the guy who’s business goes under because of a bad economy?

Money and stuff are lousy indicators of manhood because it’s too easy to lose them.

Just like the people in my hometown learned who to believe the next time they heard Elvis was coming to town, experience has taught me there are better ways to identify a real man.

More to Come.

What about you? What do you think are indicators of a real man?

(Thanks to Joe Erhman for the ballfield, bedroom, billfold idea)

21 Things to Know by 21-How to Listen

21“Wise men are not always silent but they know when to be” -Unknown

 

Want to know if that girl is interested in you? Want to know if your prospect wants to buy your product? Want to know if the guy interviewing you is really interested in hiring you? You actually can know the answer to all of these questions so easily, people will think you can read minds. 

How? By knowing and leveraging one fact every person has in common, they love to talk about themselves. The way you leverage that fact is very simple: next time you’re in a conversation, shut up. Use the equation of one mouth and two ears which means you listen twice as much as you talk. 

People really do like to talk, especially about themselves and they will follow any man who listens to them. Whether it’s a child, spouse, girlfriend, boss, or co-worker. Everybody is looking for someone who will listen.

So how do you do it?

  1. Look the Person in the Eye- Not only does this let them know you’re listening, it also allows you to pick up on the way 80% of information is communicated between people: non-verbally
  2. Ask Good Questions Make sure they are not questions that can be answered with one word.
  3. Have Open Body Language- Uncross your arms, lean in towards the person are two good ways to let the other person know you’re listening.
  4. Turn Off Your Phone- I know this may seem like torture and a hard habit to break, so start off by putting it face down on the table, or in your pocket. Then work your way up to turning it off.
  5. Have Noble Intentions- I’m not kidding when I say good listening is like a Jedi mind trick to use on people. You will simply own their souls, and you’ll be tempted to take advantage of the power if your intentions aren’t pure.
  6. Wait a Couple of Beats Before You Respond This way you won’t cut someone off who was just taking a breath AND it will help you avoid my biggest weakness, coming up with a brilliant solution/answer/response while the person is talking instead of listening.
  7. Genuinely Give a Crap About the Person You’re Listening to and What They’re Saying Insincerity is easy to spot.
  8. The Best Tip is to Simply Stop Talking. Learn to embrace the awkward silence. Most people can’t and that’s why they will tell you stuff they never meant to instead of enduring a few seconds of silence.

When all else fails, just do the math of how you’re made, two ears and one mouth: listen twice as much as you talk.

Benefits of being a good listener

You’ll get real smart, real fast. It’s amazing how much you learn when you listen.

If you’re married, your marriage will get better. If you’re looking for a wife, better women will give you the time of day.

Bonus Tip: The most counterintuitive thing for most guys is to not give answers/solutions when listening to their wife/girlfriend. But she really does want you to just listen. It may seem like doing nothing to you, but it’s not to her.

There’s really not a downside to learning how to listen.

Got any additional tips for becoming a better listener?

Curious vs Complacent

photoEver wonder why some guys are successful while others are failures? Most of the time it’s because of which crew they’re a part of, Curious or Complacent.

Curious guys win in life because they’ll figure out what they’re curious about. Sometimes that means formal education, sometimes that means mentors and sometimes it means just figuring it out on your own.

Complacent guys fail because they wait to be told what to do. Which is why they end up in crappy, low-paying jobs.

Curious people ask “why?” or “how does that work?” or “how did you get started ______?” or “tell me how you did that?

Complacent people say “he must have known somebody?” or “he’s just naturally smart and never has to crack a book” or “he’s talented so he never had to work at ______” or “he’s just lucky”

That’s why complacent guys are miserable and failures but Curious guys are successful and happy.

Which are you?

How to Save $1378 in 2014

Saving money can seem impossible.

Part of Dave Ramsey’s plan for getting out of debt is to accumulate $1,000 in cash to use as an emergency fund. The reason is your car will break, you’ll get speeding ticket, or have a wreck and have to pay your insurance deductible. If you don’t have the cash, you’ll have to go further in debt.

Whenever I teach about finances, the question I get asked most often is “How can I save $1,000 if I can’t pay my bills as it is?” Well, I’m going to show you how and at the same time, help you develop the money saving habit.

The reason most people fail when they attempt to save a $1,000 is they try to do it all at once. Then when they fail, they give up because they think it’s impossible. The genius behind this process is it’s gradual and starts with an amount of money anybody can save, One Dollar.

dollar bill

This idea is so insanely simple, I wish I had thought of it. You put $1 in your savings in account in week one. Then you add one dollar more per week for every week of the year. By the last week of 2014, your savings deposit will $52 and you’ll have $1378 in your savings account. Boom! you’ve got your emergency fund AND you’ve developed the habit of saving money every week.

Here’s the spreadsheet I use to track my deposits. If you want an Excel or Numbers compatible version, send me an email to info@deelauderdale.com.

It will only cost you $3 to get on schedule for 2014. You in?

52 week savings plan image

The Secret Southern Success Sauce

I love Darius Rucker’s song “A Southern State of Mind” because it talks about what it’s like for a new kind of Southern Gentleman to live in today’s world. A world that hasn’t figured out how to deal with him, because he does things that seem strange. Like using good manners.

“And those girls out in California they don’t understand
They don’t like it when I hold the door or when I say yes ma’am
They act like I done something wrong and they give me the evil eye
I say honey I’m sorry I’m in a southern state of mind

I could be anywhere
In my heart I’m always there
Where they drink sweet tea and they raise you to be polite
No changin’ who I am
That’s the way I’ve always been”

It’s too bad people don’t talk like that any more. I blame the internet. People will type things they would never have the nerve to say to someone’s face.

A New Kind Of Southern Gentleman’s Guide to Good Mannersteacup_2449961b

I’m not talking about holding your pinky in the air when you’re drinking a cup of coffee. I’m also not talking about being treated like a servant. I’m talking about treating other people the right way. Being able to have dinner with a group of people and not make them sick by the way you eat. Good manners are how a guy lives without embarrassing himself.

Manners (n)-the socially accepted way of behaving.

The Basics:

  • Say “Thank You”, “Please” and “Excuse Me” – Your mom was right when she said these were the magic words.
  • Hold doors for people, especially ladies- even if some feminazi gives you the stink-eye.
  • Use “Yes ma’am/No ma’am” and “Yes Sir/No sir”- I think this is the secret southern success sauce. No one ever lost a job because he said “Yes Sir”.
  • Always ask, never tell others when you need something from them.

If you’re thinking good manners are something right out of Mayberry and don’t matter in the 21st century, let me tell you a secret. When a man sees a young guy using good manners, he pays attention and remembers. That young guy goes to the top of the list. If there are two equally qualified guys applying for job, the chances are the guy with the best manners wins. The reason is good manners are a great indicator of a guy’s character.

It doesn’t matter what color you are, how much money you have or even how much education you have, anybody can have good manners.

Manners Quotes

“I am always saying “Glad to’ve met you” to somebody I’m not at all glad I met. If you want to stay alive, you have to say that stuff, though.”
― J.D. Salinger, The Catcher in the Rye

“Good manners will open doors that the best education cannot” – Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas

“You can get through life with bad manners, but it’s easier with good manners” -Lillian Gish

Are You Making a $94,000 Mistake?

photo (1)If you’re a guy between the ages of 18 and 25, you might be making a $94,000 mistake. How? By going to college.

I know this flys in the face of everything you’ve been taught. All most guys ever hear in school is “go to college”, like it’s the magic answer to all of your problems. These same people will quote the statistic that college graduates make $45,000 per year but high school graduates only make $30,000. $15,000 per year for 30 years is $450,000 more money! Who wouldn’t sign up for college after hearing that? Even if the average bachelor’s degree in the US costs $127,000, you’re still over $300,000 to the good.

All of that is true. The problem is, it only tells part of the story, because it assumed the only two choices are a high school diploma or college degree. Actually there’s a Door Number 3-Trade School.

Here’s a partial list of the jobs trade schools can train you for:

  • Welder
  • Electrician
  • Computer Tech
  • Draftsman
  • Plumber
  • HVAC Tech
  • Aircraft Mechanic
  • Power Company Lineman
  • Chef

Two responses are usually:

“But only dummies who can’t get into college go to trade school, right?”

“You can’t make any real money doing those jobs, can you?”

Before I give you the numbers, let me tell I know several guys who went the trade school route and they have all done really well. One even had his house paid off years before he retired.

The numbers don’t lie.

The average yearly salary for a trade school graduate is $42,000. Remember the average salary for a college grad? $45,000. Yep, just $3,000 difference. I know that’s still $90k over 30 years but that’s only part of the picture.

That bachelor’s degree that enabled you to make that extra $90k, cost you $127,000 but the trade school graduate only spent on average $33,000. A difference of $96,000! So in reality the college graduate could end up $6,000 behind the plumber when it’s all said and done.

I know I haven’t accounted for raises and I want my doctor, dentist and lawyer to have a degree, but my point is college is not automatically the best choice for every guy. Some guys have a natural ability to work with their hands. They’re great mechanics, electricians or whatever and going to a 4 year university is a waste of time and money. This may be one of the reasons there is a 40% college dropout rate.

Another advantage is these kinds of jobs don’t get shipped overseas. It’s kind of hard for a mechanic in India to change the brakes on my car. Plus, you may have to move, but I’ve never met an honest, hard-working mechanic who was out of work. Or you can always be you’re own boss.

I’ve got a Bachelor’s and a Master’s degree, so I’m obviously not anti-college. What I am is a realist. It’s not hard to see that we are running out of skilled tradesman and that means the ones who are in it will be able to name their price. That’s why guys need to think very seriously before they make a $94,000 mistake.

Stop Outsourcing Your Manhood

mr-sheller-bigSouthern gentlemen have certain a way of looking at life:

  • Tea should always be iced and sweet.
  • Coffee is always hot
  • Any soft drink is a Coke
  • Beer should be ice cold

Southern gentleman also know how to change a tire, unclog a drain, mow his lawn and generally take care of his stuff. He can afford to pay other people to do it but he knows just because you don’t have to do something doesn’t mean you shouldn’t. He’s a big believer in not outsourcing his manhood.

Shelling Peas

When I was a kid there was a man named Mr. Charles Smith, who was one of the most self-reliant men I’d ever seen. Mr. Smith could make anything with his hands. Our church was celebrating some sort of anniversary and Mr. Smith made a scale model of the old church building.

But the thing I remember most about Mr. Smith was he built a machine to shell peas. For those of you aren’t from the south, let me explain why this was so revolutionary.

A big part of summer time in the south is planting a garden full of vegetables. Of course if you plant it you have to pick it. Then you have to process it. Which meant long hours sitting in a rocking chair on a porch shelling peas. Or getting the peas out of the pod. It’s mind numbingly boring and it feels like you can work for hours and still not have very many peas in your bucket. It other words, it sucked and I hated doing it.

Now you know why I was so amazed the first time I saw Mr. Smith’s contraption. It had a tray built of wood about 2 feet square and the bottom was made of mesh just big enough for a pea to fall through. The tray was attached to a motor that would vibrate the peas until the pod would pop open and the pea would fall through the screen into a bucket. Sheer genius! And he built it with his own two hands without YouTube or Google.

Mr. Smith could figure out a solution to a problem. That’s why it’s hard for me to imagine Mr. Smith calling AAA to change his flat tire.

A Problem

Calling AAA to change a tire, hiring a guy to mow your lawn, getting a plumber to unclog a sink. All of these are tasks that any guy can do. There are tons of websites were you can learn how to do anything.

Here’s the thing, just because you don’t HAVE to do something, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t (or at the very least, know how to do it). At the root of the being a southern gentleman is self-reliance. Knowing how to take care your own stuff.

The problem is too many guys are outsourcing the tasks that help them become a man. They are outsourcing their manhood.

Why Should I?

The reason you should stop outsourcing your manhood is there’s something in it for you.

  • A sense of accomplishment
  • Develop Problem Solving Skills
  • Raise your testosterone level (maybe not scientifically provable, but it does happen)

Most guys miss this. They see changing a tire as a huge pain in the ass. I know it doesn’t make sense but you do get a sense of satisfaction when you change that tire. It’s those times when you feel most like a man.

So stop outsourcing your manhood and learn how to be southern gentleman.

PS

Shelling peas is exempt from the things you’re not allowed to outsource and so is shucking corn (if you don’t know what that is, trust me, you don’t want to). Why? Even a southern gentleman has limits.

21 Things to Know by 21-How to Handle a Firearm

I’m pro-gun and proud of it. I believe firearms have been a critical part of our history and will play a significant part going forward.

But only a moron would ignore the fact that there are way too many accidental shootings in our country. The answer is not to ban firearms (especially handguns), the answer is to teach people how to safely handle a weapon. Both for their safety and mine.

I’ve heard the basics of handling a weapon communicated a million different ways but this is the only way that’s ever stuck with me. It’s based on THINK:

T-Treat Every Weapon Like it’s Loaded

H-Handle Every Weapon With Care

I-Identify The Target Before You Pull the Trigger

N-Never Poing the Muzzle at Anything You Don’t Intend to Shoot

K-Keep the Weapon on Safe and Your Finger Off of the Trigger Until You’re Ready To Fire

Simple, right? Whenever you see a firearm, THINK.

OK, now you know how to handle that Glock you just bought even though you’ve never fired one before in your life. Now you want to be able to hit what you aim at. Being a good shot breaks down into how you hold the firearm, how you aim and trigger control

The Grip

How you hold a fireram AKA the grip is important because you’re basically trying to control an explosion with your hands. Especially when you start firing large calibers like .45 and .44 magnums. Plus, you’re only as accurate as your grip.

First, form an L shape with your dominant hand, your thumb should be extended away from your fingers. Then hold the gun so that the bottom of the slide and the top of the backstrap rests on the top of the squishy part of your hand. Now, wrap your fingers (minus thumb and index finger) around the grip of the pistol.

Take your index finger and point it straight out and rest it on the trigger guard but NOT ON THE TRIGGER. Your thumb rests under the slide on the opposite side of the gun, pointed toward the target.

Now for what to do with your weak-side hand. Bring it up around the hand already gripping the gun. Place your index finger under the trigger guard, on top of your strong-side middle finger. Your weak-side thumb should rest on top of the strong-side thumb in the exact same position. Both thumbs are now pointing towards the target. The pictures below will help your see what I’m talking about.

cheaper than dirt

 

 

 

 

 

Thanks to Cheaper Than Dirt for the great pics.

*These instructions are for a semi-auto but the principal also works for a revolver.

The Aim

Proper aim is actually easier to understand with pictures than anything I could write.

sight alignmentOnce you’ve gripped the weapon and aimed it’s time to fire. You want to squeeze the trigger, not pull it. In fact, you should squeeze the trigger so smoothly that you’re surprised when the gun fires. This will keep you from flinching and missing low and right.

Now you can head out to the range for practice because the only way to get better is to run a few thousand rounds through your firearm. Any good range will have a range-master who will be glad to answer questions and offer tips.