Browsing articles in "general observation"
Aug
8

Pale Blue Dot

I recently attended HugNation where Halcyon discusses the most recent NASA Mars landing. Discussing the small cost associated with space exploration (the recent Mars mission is to have said to cost $7/per American tax payer) and its worthiness of an investment. Citing what space exploration does for changing the viewpoint of humanity. This discussion has actually shifted my viewpoint of space exploration or reasons for us to invest in such.

I, myself, thought the notion of space exploration was of little consequence to man and more of a sideways step at trying to protect what we do have. My past mode of thinking was that space and the exploration of, was a testament to “ultimate manifest destiny” or a “we’re going to trash this one, so lets start the next one” escape plan. But Halcyon makes some great points and cites an amazing body of work to back up and inspire change of opinion and view via Carl Sagan’s, Pale Blue Dot.

The Pale Blue Dot really speaks to me, because of Carl Sagan’s poignance of current and past world situations, that all of this greatness and ego sits on a tiny speck in the vastness of the universe. With this thought a sense of awe comes forth, everything we know is but a speck in the mass of chaos. Some would progress into, “well than why does it matter?” Shifting the perspective to a notion of how amazing all that we have is. The Earth is extremely unique, and it would be a shame for us to spoil this magnificent space.  Taking care of each other, commrades in a little spaceship floating in the universe, persay. I thought it was worth sharing, hope you enjoy it. :)

 

“It has been said that astronomy is a humbling and character-building experience. There is perhaps no better demonstration of the folly of human conceits than this distant image of our tiny world. To me, it underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly with one another, and to preserve and cherish the pale blue dot, the only home we’ve ever known.”
Carl Sagan, Pale Blue Dot: A Vision of the Human Future in Space

Dec
9

Words of Wisdom from Steve Jobs

I watch this video sometimes when I’m getting ready to make some heart-guided changes in my life, particularly with work stuff. Thought I would share it with you. :)

I find Steve Jobs and his life work inspiring. It’s really great to have these wonderful words of advice from someone like him to lead by example. :)

On leading with your heart

“You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something – your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. Because believing that the dots will connect down the road, will give you the confidence to lead with your heart, and that will make all the difference.”

“Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything – all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure – these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.”

On doing work you love

“You’ve got to find what you love. That is as true for your work as it is for your lovers. Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it. And, like any great relationship, it just gets better and better as the years roll on. So keep looking until you find it. Don’t settle.”

 

May
16

Finding life’s purpose…

Before you dedicate your life
to a person, a marriage, a family;
to a corporation, a political party,
a peace campaign;
to a religion, a revolution, a
spiritual path;
make one other dedication first.
First dedicate yourself to LOVE.
Decide to let Love be your
intention, your purpose and
your point.
And then let Love inspire you,
support you, and guide you
in every other dedication
you make thereafter.

- Dr. Robert Holden, director of the Happiness Project

Feb
2

Dadisms: Dog gate

Dad is in town visiting… He’s been threatening to build a gate for me to keep Annie and Eddie out of the front yard – keeping them away from children and mailmen they seem to think are so much fun to bark at.

I mention it today (I’ve been mentioning it every time the dogs vocally patrol the front yard since he’s threatened this gate-making of his), and this morning he says -

I fail to see the priority of this situation – since none of us are really being threatened life and limb – you, me, the dogs OR the mailman.

Jun
29

"I’m Sorry" & the Vacation Piggy Bank Experiment

Alright, so I’m going to be journaling some new entries regarding self-transformation and the way I goal seek and follow through to make my life just THAT much better. :) There’s a couple reasons for this:

  • I’ve been looking for more direction, focus, and drive regarding what to blog about on aprilholle.com.
  • I’ve been getting a lot of questions from good friends on how in the hell I can do so much and still manage to be healthy, sane and above all else happy.
  • I’m also searching for a way to log my personal goals in a transparent, socially motivating way without having to be in everyone’s face about it.

So, without further ado, I want to tell you about the “I’m Sorry” & the Vacation Piggy Bank Experiment.

“I’m Sorry

I used to have a really, REALLY nasty habit of apologizing for every little thing in life that would inconvenience, disturb, upset, or even affect other people. I say “used to” because its a habit that’s come back to haunt me from the past, something I thought I had broken myself of, but some how it’s come back with a vengeance.

Here are some examples of this horrible habit in action:

  • I apologize for a meeting being held up even though it was someone else’s fault, or when no one else in the meting would even notice we were starting late.
  • I apologize for other peoples laundry not getting done because I didn’t remind them even though they didn’t ask me to remind them in the first place.
  • I apologize for being honest about my feelings because I know they really change the outcome or previous decision someone else has made. I feel guilty for making them have to revise their own thoughts and to have to second guess their own conclusions.

While this may just seem like me being really careful about other peoples feelings, I realized that it was just a plain unhealthy habit to have. Why? Because I realized that when I was REALLY saying to myself were some of the following things:

  • I am unworthy of the time, energy, and effort that another person wanted to put into me or was already expecting to put into the situation.
  • I not only expect of myself what I expect of others, but I feel I need to perform at a level of efficiency that’s inhuman.
  • I should forgo my own opinions, thoughts and feelings, because they’re not as important as anyone else’s, from my greatest enemy to my best friend.

What this talk really boils down to is a self-esteem issue, which I’ve known about myself for a considerable amount of time and actively work on every day. So, it’s time to fix this bad habit up to keep working on building myself up instead of breaking myself down. My man and I have been looking into these kinds of things we’d like to change about ourselves with the others help, and he came up with a great idea!

The Vacation Piggy Bank

Each time I apologize for something that isn’t an honest to goodness apology, I owe the Vacation Piggy Bank a dollar. Then, when we get enough money, we’re going to put it towards a fun trip! The money is going to a good cause and helping me save, but it’s also painful to have to spend that money apologizing for things that really don’t need an apology.

The Experiment

So far the experiment is working! We’re a few weeks in and already I’ve seen a drastic improvement on the number of times I apologize in a day. I’m noticing that I spend more time checking in with myself before giving in to my subconscious temptation to tell myself that I’m responsible for every little tiny thing that could make the world worse off. This experiment is also helping me put these “daily crises” into perspective, now I ask myself, “Does this really matter? In a year, 5, or 10 is anyone even going to remember this moment/problem?” I’ve gone down from 20 (the day I started the experiment) to 3 or so apologies a day now. :) (I told you I did it alot!)

The Challenge

Now that I know it’s working and I’m seeing some good results I’m in search for a REAL Vacation Piggy Bank so that I can have something tangible to look at and interact with to keep up this new tradition. I’m on the look out for a really cool looking piggy bank I can deposit my “I’m Sorry” money into. I’ve found a couple of really good ones so far, but if you know of someone / some place that makes really cute Vacation themed piggy banks lemme know, because I’m on the hunt.

Also, I’d like to hear from you about how you think I can make this experiment stick in the long term while I keep working on boosting that inner self-esteem and push out the bad nasties that keep me down from what I want to accomplish.

Jan
16

An Open Letter to am/pm

My car has been running on empty for almost two days now, I seem to notice that I do this a lot and I chalk it up to my experiences at gas stations as to a reason why I let my life be possibly hindered by running out of gas rather than to take ten minutes and fill up. Below is just one of these experiences that shape this consumer behavior.

I’m pretty busy today dodging from salon appointment to home to do some work in time to get back out on the road to get to a meeting. I have been running on empty in the car for two days, so I decide to stop at the am/pm on the corner of McClintock and Southern in Tempe, AZ to get some gas quickly before I head back home.

I’m not a real big consumer of am/pm because they seemed to be a leader in a movement I noticed a few years ago where gas stations started charging their customers extra to pay by debit or credit to cover their fees from credit card companies to process these cards. Thanks guys. Anyhow, so I stop in to this station because it was close by and recently completely renovated and I thought I’d check out if the experience had gotten any better. I pull in, and I notice flaw #1.

Flaw 1: Poor support column placement.

When I go to get out of my car, there is a support column RIGHT where I would open my door out to. So even though I parked a decent distance from the pump, I still can barely get out of my car. I manage to squeeze out of my car door and go to start filling up. I notice Plus #1.

Plus 1: Pay at pump, yaay convenience for me.

The pumps now take cards at each station instead of at the main pay column in the middle of the pumps. This is helpful to me because I don’t have to go to the pay column, stand in line to pay, etc. I also don’t have to go inside. So I enter my card details, agree to pay the extra fee to use a debit card. I go to the pin pad and there’s a flat label that says Yes and a flat label that says No next to the push button number keys. I assume I push 1 for yes and 4 for no. I push 1 for “yes” and it goes to the next screen, a.k.a. Flaw #2.

Flaw 2: Don’t up-sell me when I just paid you a bunch of money to already do something I think should be standard.

The next question is, “Do you want to buy a car wash?” Ok, I get this, you’re trying to upsell me. You want to offer me a added bonus that I would enjoy. Great, but don’t offer this to me when you just charged me for something I think should be standard when I purchase from you. I can appreciate your gesture out of context as my car is dirty, but I really don’t have the $ or the time.. also you never told me how much extra it would be so no I’m not going to say yes. Here comes flaw #3.

Flaw 3: Inconsistent interface outcomes.

I push four for “no”… the pump beeps at me but the screen to upsell me the car wash is still there… I push four again… this time two beeps from the machine but still nothing happens to get me through the payment process on the screen. Why when I pushed 1 for “yes” it worked but now when I want to use 4 for “no” it won’t? Is this a shitty way to make people have to buy a car wash, do I have to just to pump my gas? So now I think my pump is broken. Shit. Just as I move to get back into my car and go to a different gas station, here comes a guy that has a blue polo on. I’m like oh what’s this guy want? He’s about to be flaw #4.

Flaw 4: Sales guy disguised as customer support.

He’s a decent looking guy, looks trust worthy and decent so I’m not thinking that I’m going to get kidnapped or mugged by talking to him. He smiles, taps on my window (which has some dings in it) and says, “You know, we can fix your windshield for free today if you like.” What? Ok, nothing is for free. I look at him puzzled (and a bit annoyed that he’s selling me while I’m having trouble with the pump) and retort, “What’s the catch, nothings for free?” And he says, “Well you have insurance, probably full coverage or glass coverage, you pay a premium every month that isn’t used.” and he continues, “Since Arizona is a “Driver not a fault state it’s automatically covered in your premium every month.” Ok, what the hell did he just say? Is he trying to sell me a premium monthly service, is he trying to say that it’s already covered in my insurance, don’t I have to pay the deducible before insurance will cover it? I just get more confused and then realize I’m not even HERE for glass service. I say, “Look I’m really not interested, I’m really busy and I’m just trying to get some gas but this pump doesn’t work it just keeps trying to sell me a car wash that I don’t want.”

This one could have been a plus (just like the car wash), but the way it was handled just felt wrong. You’re right those dings in my window bother me, and yea I do want to get them fixed easily and cheaply but they don’t bother me enough to go to an auto-shop. But don’t say things a free when people know the money comes from somewhere. I would have been much more inclined to talk to him about doing it today (if I weren’t so busy) or at a later date if he would have told me more about the service and how little it would cost since they work with my current insurance to take care of the  cost.

Also, tell your sales people to approach people while they’re waiting for gas to be pumped after they’ve finished the transaction with the pump. It was so hard to listen to him while I’m trying to figure out why the pump won’t work. But lets get back to the story…

He says “Oh, I see this problem all the time, let me help.” Incoming Flaw #4.

Flaw 4: If you know something is broken, for the love of God fix it.

This is another situation where it would be a plus if he were just offering help , but he sees this issue all the time, why don’t they just fix it? How many customers does it take to drive away with a bad system before you stop to fix it? I understand if only a few people have this issue, but for the sales guy to notice that he helps people with this issue all the time and then to not fix it.. what the hell.

So, I accept his offer to figure out the “trick” to getting this pump to work. At least it will make him quit trying to sell me a service I don’t even know how it would be paid for. He goes over to the push button interface, and instead of pressing 4 for “no” he actually presses on the flat label “No” and like magic the screen is gone. Flaw #5.

Flaw 5: Inconsistent interface.

Why would all the numerical keys be push button but the “yes” and “no” be completely flat. They weren’t even raised even a little! If you’re going to have buttons to interface with the system, make them look all the same! So, on the next screen comes flaw #6.

Flaw 6: Don’t offer something (pay at pump) that just doesn’t work.

“This card is not accepted.” I look at the sales guy and he says “Eh, that happens all the time too, the card reader doesn’t like some cards, try again.” Flaw #4 strikes again! I slide my card again, and the screen says “Please come inside to pay.”

At this point, I’m over even wanting to buy gas here. I excuse myself from the sales guy and get back into my car, still on empty, to drive to a Shell station several blocks away. Shell an interface I can use (all flat buttons) but charges me for use of my debit card, but at least I can get gas and not be up-sold to every five seconds while I try to figure out an insanely unusable interface.

Nov
28

Happy, Sad and Somewhere in the Middle

By april.holle  //  general observation, life news, self-reflection  //  No Comments

There are some moments in life that have this perfect duality of Happy and Sad to them. They capture many of the beautiful things in life while some how having that tart center of “reality comes to bite you in the ass”. I often admire these situations in life because very rarely is something so emotionally centered that it can share both extreme happiness and sadness within the same activity.

That being said, today I received this Venn diagram from my boyfriend Shawn Vermillion (he likes it when I give him credit for all the awesomeness he brings to the table), and I suddenly knew that there are other people out there that appreciate the beauty of these life occasions that perfectly depict both happiness and sadness.

happysaddiagram

Original image is actually on a shirt at Diesel Sweeties, which I fully intend to purchase to proclaim my love for such magnificent emotional moments. Hmm, I wonder if this makes me bipolar…

Nov
25

Growing Smarter Not Harder

First, a disclaimer, I’m not an economics guru or a politics whiz, so what I’m about to put out here is simply and observation from an American Gen-Y female in the technology and advertising industry. That said, feel free to read on if you’re interested in my perspective.

I was recently reading an article called The Smart Growth Manifesto posted on the Harvard Business blog and I thought it had some great points about smart growth and how we may be able to dig ourselves out of this economic hole we seem to find ourselves in today.

If it’s one thing I’ve learned about making mistakes it’s that there are VALUABLE lessons hidden inside each one that help us grow if only we can understand how we made the mistake in the first place. History repeats itself, and if you don’t understand HOW history happened you can’t evolve your process to avoid those mistakes again.

The Smart Growth Manifesto considers the 20th Century Economy to be based on a poor growth model that was unsustainable, unfair, and brittle. Using what we’ve learned in this 20th Century growth model, the article suggests we move to a smarter growth model that provides sustainability, equality and resilience.

This new “Smart Growth” would be based on four pillars, each of which I really agree with and see happening in many successful start-ups these days. These four pillars are:

  1. Outcomes, not income. We no longer base our net worth on how much money or product we make, but how much BETTER our lives really are. We need to create meaningful, authentic value that really makes a difference in peoples lives not just how much money we line our pockets with.
  2. Connections, not transactions. We don’t look at transaction volume alone but dissect how each transaction is connected and how to increase the overall value of the entire system from supplier to manufacturer to consumer by co-creating and collaborating together instead of fighting over “our market share”. We should know that globally our economies are connected and to rise above competition and create relationships for the good of the whole world.
  3. People, not product. We quit focusing on what makes a cheap product and start focusing on the people who make great products. While you may save money going with the lowest bidder, you also get what you pay for. The people behind great work is what really makes all the difference. We should empower people to learn, create, invent and innovate to help stimulate growth and provide new arenas to build better goods and services.
  4. Creativity, not productivity. We need to base success measurements on creativity instead of just productivity. Creativity would measure how much NEW value is actually being created as opposed to simply shifting old value around to different markets.  This would bolster creation of new ideas, shake up the “status quo” and push businesses and economies to become more resourceful and efficient.

These pillars aren’t only found in economies but in businesses, many new “revolutionaries” are already tossing out the old ways of business for these smart growth ideals. Myself, being in the advertising, internet and technology industries are seeing a lot of new businesses turning the tides of the economic climate that are based on these four pillars. The article states several and I have to seriously agree that when I’m reading these principles I can clearly see them in businesses such as Apple, Etsy, Threadless, Google, and others.

I’d love to hear your point of view on what you think of this article and if this really is a full economic movement to “smart growth”. What do you think?

Nov
13

The Eight Irresistible Principles of Fun

By april.holle  //  general observation, self-reflection  //  4 Comments

I found this video, quite randomly one day while looking through twitter links. It really inspired me. This video repeats a few of the messages I hear so many people say these days, but some how it captures how simple and yet how perfect fun is and how important it is to our lives and our happiness.

Original video link: http://www.eightprinciples.com/

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