Awards don’t make Eulogies, but people do

I don’t care about awards. I don’t care about trophies, plaques, or certificates. It’s fun to go out and bust your buddies for what you have and they don’t *cough-Dan check out my German Armed Forces Proficency Badge* but at the end of the day, it’s a ribbon, or a coin or a plaque that sits on a wall or a rack and slowly wastes away.

Some people are in it for the awards; they want to be known, and they want to display their accomplishments; different strokes for different folks. But awards are trivial, material things. Very few material things hold a lot of meaning. Most we can do without.

If you don’t know what I mean, go live out of a backpack for a few weeks and you realize how much you really need in life.

There is something though, that is better than any reward I’ve received.

As I wrap up my time in Michigan, I did receive a small award for my time here. Coins in the military have been a long-standing tradition, and are still a very cool thing to this day. But the real award I got wasn’t a certificate or a coin; it was from the people I worked with.

It was at 0200 when my eyes were bleeding from reading another training document and working with QC’ing. It was grabbing a co-worker a coffee when they didn’t ask for it, but surely needed it. It was asking what I could do to help, and doing quality work when someone wasn’t able to delegate themselves.

The real reward was that person standing next to you, ready to take on the next task and a silent acknowledgement of “we are in this together, let’s get it done.”

And at the culmination, the person I worked for turned around and said “Sir, you’re good people.”

A simple phrase, but one that carries more meaning and recognition than any material thing.

The acknowledgment of not being a good soldier or officer, but being a good human being. And I would much rather have those who matter realize the good people, as opposed to those who don’t matter recognize me.

When it’s all said and done, although grim, I like to think of my eulogy sometimes and what someone would say. And at that eulogy, they don’t remember awards, they remember the man.

-Lil Kevy

Data doesn’t lie, so don’t lie to your goals.

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The game of telephone, is simply data management. It starts at the source, with quality data, and then, through multiple steps in the process, gets to the end user who has something completely different to say.

Data is simply information, and data management is simply the maintaining of that information.

For years, I have worked in some form of data management. Whether it was in college, working in data collection, entry and sorting, to then working at a hospital in sorting data and maintaining my own database on safety events.

Very quickly, you learn that data runs the world.

With this experience, it now seems trivial when I look back at the goals I have been trying to achieve and how I have not been applying or tracking the data in it.

“I want to lose weight, I want to save money, I don’t know where my money goes, and I have my goal and I don’t know how to reach it”

All these simple goals and questions can be answered by looking at data, and then adjusting your behavior of the data.

Even if you know where things go, such as wasting your money on eating out all the time, seeing the hard data of exactly how much you spend, will maybe help jolt you awake! Even better, it shows you how re-allocating your funds can further another goal you have.

But it doesn’t just work for money, it works for other goals too.

By using the data you already have, and then projecting and tweaking your future decisions based off of this information, will actually allow you to accomplish your goal.

So get out there, lay out your goals, and get after it.

-Lil Kevy

Your life is an investment…..How are you spending?

IMG_3709.JPGThe biggest difference between money and life, is money is replaceable, we are not.

We invest in our retirement, invest in our stocks, our business, in whatever to get that return on investment, that coveted ROI. Real Estate has about a 3 percent annual return, other avenues we try to get 8 or more percent to make it worth putting your money there.

People are so quick to look at all their monetary investments, because its quantifiable. I put in $100 dollars and a year later I get $120 back.

But would you spend that $100 if you knew you were only going to get $50 back? Or if you knew you were going to get nothing back?

No, because it’s illogical.

Now take that same concept and apply it to your emotions, your time, and the people you surround yourself with.

When you apply this to your emotions, you realize that there are things you can and things you cannot control. When you realize and begin to recognize that, then you begin to invest your emotions more wisely. If I know you cannot change the fact that a car accident happened, or that my boss isn’t moving anytime soon, then you realize that wasting your time and emotion on the issue is pointless. Not only is there no return, but there is negative consequences of this. It can not only affect you, but affect your loved ones, affect your job, your goals, and your life. So don’t invest your emotions, in things you cannot change.

When you apply this to your time, you can see how much time you waste in a day. We have 24 hours in a day, if you sleep 8, work 8, and then use 4 hours for getting ready, commuting and eating, which still leaves 4 hours a day of complete white space. 4 hours to do with as you please. Granted, some work more or sleep less, but the principle is still the same. As each day goes by, you do not get that time back. So don’t waste it.

When you apply it to the people around you, you realize who the people who you should keep in your life. If you invest your time and emotions in a friendship, or relationship that is one-sided, or you are constantly being used, then you are wasting this. Now the heart doesn’t always agree with the head when it comes to things like love, but using logic can help you make poor decisions.

In the end, whether you’re 27 or 72, continue to invest wisely, and always make sure you get some sort of ROI.

-Lil Kevy

3 Lessons from Craigslist Cars: Your favorite ride to hate

Turning the key in the ignition, the motor sputtered and quickly turned over to hear the roar of the beast.  Grinning like a kid on Christmas, I turned to my father who came with me and he knew I was sold.  I was 15 and test driving a rusted out 1992 Jeep Cherokee.  Its faded maroon paint and wood paneling just added more and more character to the vehicle, and for $550, what a deal!

I quickly handed the money over to the man with a bull-nose piercing selling it and drove it home, the disappointed look of my father in the rearview as I drove my new found love home.

But, as quickly as I had fallen in love with the car, the quicker I hated it.  After getting it home, I set off the alarm, and didn’t know how to shut it off.  It quickly filled my parent’s quiet neighborhood with its repeated boat horn until the battery died….Strike 1

The next day it rained, and as I quickly hopped in the Jeep to avoid getting soaked, I found the roof leaked more than the Titanic…..Strike 2.

The day after, I drove it across town, to the lake, for a one day lifeguard training.  I got about halfway there, and then smoke began to billow from under the hood of the mighty beast…..Strike 3.

Although she did not last long, as I rode around in my rusty dream for a summer before selling her, I did love that car.  And since, I have bought and sold a handful of cars on Craigslist.

Here are a few tips, so hopefully you fare better than I on your next hoopty car purchase!

1.  Make sure it has a Title!  If you’re buying something used, make sure it has a title and you get the seller to fill out a Bill of Sale (depending on your state).  Not having the proper documentation with your vehicle turns a beater car into a $500 lawn ornament in a matter of seconds.  Also, ensure that the person selling you the vehicle is the one on the title.  It seems simple, but there are a lot of scams out there.

2.  Know what to look for, and if you don’t, bring someone who does!  When I went to look at my first car I knew it had to have a title and 4 wheels, and my father knew about the same.  Do your research on the vehicle you are going to look at, and bring a trusted second set of eyes, and preferably a knowledgeable set too.

Look especially at things like:

-Tires: check to see if they are rotted or dry-cracking.  Also check the tread level, although this may seem like a small thing, this can quickly turn your $500 car into a money pit.

-Brakes: although cars are designed to get you from A to B, make sure they can stop you when                 you get to B!  Make sure that the brakes aren’t soft or spongey, and that they work properly.

– Rust: In New England, rust is a huge problem with the amount of salt that is poured on the       roads every winter.  Bring a flashlight, and make sure you get under the vehicle and look for rust patches, rot and holes.  Just because a car has a great motor and low miles, doesn’t meant that your foot won’t go through the floor one day when its rusted through.

3. The last thing, is negotiate!  There are hundreds of cars everyday that’s sold, from one beater to the next.  Don’t ever feel pressured, or obligated to buy something, and most people never list their vehicle at their bottom dollar price.  Cash is king, and use this experience to hone your bartering skills.

In the end, beater cars are some of the best love/hate relationships you will ever have.  The memories and experiences from cracking them up, to making stupid modifications (I swear ripping the muffler off my 98 Cadillac was one of my greatest life choices to date) and will leave you with some fond memories for when your kid pulls up in a jalopy in 20 years.

-Lil Kevy

3 steps to make Decision Stew

Steps to Make Decision Stew

Life is full of decisions, thousands upon thousands of decisions, every single day.

“What should I wear?”

“What route to take to work?”

“Do I want to eat this delicious blueberry muffin?”

(Last one isn’t really a decision, who doesn’t love a delicious blueberry muffin?!?!???)

We make thousands of decisions everyday, some thought-provoking and some second nature.

However, with every decision we make, we are affecting our lives with second, third and up to umpteenth order effects.

Some things are small, like not eating the delicious blueberry muffin makes you hungry later in the day…

Others are larger; should I purchase a car or house? How will this affect my bank account, my daily operations etc.

So here are three steps to help you decide and make intelligent decisions:

1. Fact finding: Figure out what you’re actually deciding on! This is sometimes easier said then done, however it’s a critical step. Make a pro and con list in your head or on paper for larger decisions. Find out the effects of your decision and examine every angle. Look on the internet, talk to others who have made similar decisions, and throw all these facts into your stew.

2. Talk to your advisers! When I want to talk to the smartest person I know…..I talk to myself! Hahahaha, but seriously, talk to trusted people. Talk to people who have made a similar decision before, talk to people that make sound decisions, and people that know you well. Present them with the choice and a little background and see what they have to say. Also, ensure you present to them some of the facts you found in step 1, and explain to them your thought process AFTER they give you their initial opinion. This allows them to have an unbiased mind base on what you say. If you talk to 5 trusted individuals, they may all give you the same answer, but with five different ways to achieve it. Very similar to asking 5 people for directions to a destination. They all accomplish the goal of arriving, however, they each have their own benefits and drawbacks. Take all this info, and throw it into the pot.

3. Take time (if possible). It takes all of 17 seconds to choose to devour a delicious blueberry muffin (can you tell I’m hungry?). However, when faced with a larger decision, like a major purchase or a career move…..there is no better solution than time. You don’t cook good stew in a minute….you let it sit in a pot, simmer, and allow for all the flavors, ideas, experiences and facts to meld together into your final outcome. With some things, you can’t take time, and you have to trust your gut and your experience, because at the end of the day, YOU are the only one who can answer for your decisions. Not your pro and con list or your trusted advisers, but for most decisions….you can let your stew simmer for a little while.

At the end of the day, after all of these steps….you can still have crap stew. Not every decision in life works out in your favor. The quality of the ingredients, the way you heat up the stew, the spices, etc. all have an effect on your decisions, and either way you have to eat your stew.

Gather the facts, get some ideas, give it some time and execute, and hopefully the end result doesn’t taste too bad.

-Lil Kevy

Thankful to be here

Thankful to be here

The reflection of the fireworks glimmer across the lake as I reel in another empty hook. Chris Stapleton’s “Parachute” plays in the background and fills the humid Michigan Air.

This is what America is all about.

Independence Day celebrates the signing of the Declaration of Independence. But this day isn’t just about memes of George Washington, or fireworks, it’s a day worth so much more.

It’s a day that allows us to realize how great of a country we live in.

We have improved roads, so people can safely commute to work. We have a Legal system which is far from perfect, but a system none the less. We have schools for our youth to attend, free of charge to the child or family. The majority of us do not fear war lords or crime in the street everyday. We do not fear our house being blown-up in an attack.

We are not war-torn, we have food and water and places to rest our heads at night amongst our loved ones.

We are far from perfect, but we are a lot better off then many other places.

So on days like July 4th, or any other day a year, sit back and realize, that you’re pretty damn lucky to live in the good ole US of A.

Goat intestines to squirrel stew….life lessons are everywhere…..

A few days ago, while at work, a co-worker came in and offered up some homemade stew. He raves about the homemade vegetables and the sausage in it, and finally about the two squirrels he nailed with a BB gun and had cooked up in it.

As he picked up the ladle and scooped up a hearty serving, my stomach was both nervous and excited, but I gladly accepted a bowl with a smile.

The first bite was delicious. The savory vegetables almost melted in my mouth and the squirrel itself added a certain sweetness. As I consumed the bowl without a second thought, it made me realize how many people wouldn’t.

The same as when I was in Tanzania a few years ago. We had gathered for our early afternoon “Chai time”, with all the teachers from our school. As we moved in line to grab our chai and bread, they offered us a bowl of soup. Not wanting to be rude to our host nation, we all partook.

Turns out it was goat intestine soup, very salty and bland, but our hosts smiled as we gladly accepted a bowl.

Life has taught me, from a humid high school on Tanzania, to my very own office, that different cultures are all around us, and they all have something unique to offer.

Even within the good ole’ US of A, we have different cultures (needless to say, the chef of the squirrel stew was from Georgia originally, haha).

Life is too short to say no, to be close-minded, and to not experience new things.

So next time you’re faced with a new experience, or a bowl of questionable stew, dive right in, because you never know what you’re going to get.

-Lil Kevy