Capturing The Beauty of Everyday Life

On December 13, 2012 Mike Leonard bid an emotional farewell to the Today Show.  I’ll never forget it.  I was walking out of the restroom with my boots in my hand, about to leave for the office, when stopped dead in my tracks as Mike’s farewell video began to play.

Mike Leonard

Mike Leonard has made a brilliant career out of turning the hidden beauty of every day life into a master piece that pulls at your heartstrings.  What strikes me the most about Mike’s videos is these emotional and stunning stories are happening around each of us every day.  We just rarely take the time to find the beauty in it as it is happening.

I write on this blog about Leadership and about Productivity.  I offer insight into actions you can take to become more efficient and to fine tune your life so that you may have balance to achieve success in your career but also find the time and opportunity to live a life worth remembering.

What I now realize I’ve never shared is how to remember the times that make your life a magical story.  Why?  Because reflection is not in my strength zone.  For that, I have my wife.  She has taught me the importance of reflection and how to capture the beauty of life in such a way that would make Mike Leonard proud.

Carry a Camera – Thanks to iPhones and other new smartphones capturing the beauty of everyday life is easier than ever.  But if you’re like me you’ll often leave those images on your phone forever, never saving or sharing them.

Shutterfly – Set up an account online then install the app on your phone.  My wife made a folder on my phone for my camera, photos, and shutterfly app.  This makes it easy for me to remember to upload my photos after I take them.

Create A Year Book – Shutterfly offers custom photo albums.  You can simply drag and drop your favorite photos from your account into the books.  My wife made the most amazing book to chronolog our son’s first year.  She makes one of the family every year as well.  Photos of our vacation, funny moments, and just life in general are in these albums.

External Storage – Storage is getting really cheap.  Whether you use iCloud, Picasa, or just a hard storage unit, make sure you’re saving all your images and videos.  You’ll never remember the moments you lose.  I’m always amazed when my wife opens up a folder from years ago and we go through the photos.  It’s like reliving moments that have completely slipped my mind.

 iPhoto – Quickly create stunning slideshows featuring both images and videos.  You can easily drag and drop all the media you want to add to the slideshow and iPhoto will do the rest.  You can add music and narrative to make your slideshow more Mike Leonard and put the beauty of everyday life on display.  My wife’s Aunt and Uncle made us a slideshow like this of our wedding.  We watch it on our anniversary every year.  We stream it from our computer to our AppleTV.

iMovie – A little more involved than iPhoto but more robust, edit the videos you’ve saved over the year into one Mike Leonard style film.  Add narrative, music, and a clever mix of the audio from the videos to create a life long memory.

We’ve all experience those moments in life where you just take a deep breath, close your eyes, and do your best to make sure this moment never leaves you.  That’s the beauty of everyday life but unfortunately, as time passes the moment does just that, it slips away.  Using these tools, you can create amazing memories to relive time and time again.

With the Holidays just around the corner what memories are you looking forward to capturing?

Blog Templates for Bloggers – Why They Matter

Being a serious blogger is not for the weak at heart.  It takes time, dedication, focus and hard work to build a successful blog.  Thankfully, there are many blog templates for bloggers that are available on the web.  These templates are designed to help both the blogger and the reader.

I read many blogs on a daily basis using Google Reader and Mr. Reader on my iPad.  I’ve seen good posts, bad posts, great posts and downright horrible posts that were so bad I didn’t even bother finishing the article.  The content in all of these were about the same quality.  The difference was the blog template the blogger used to write the article.  The template you choose to use when writing your content can make you or break you.

I would compare my earliest blog posts to a personal daily journal entry.  They’re so bad that they are no longer on the web.  As I worked away on my blog, only to find no one was reading it, I decided to make a change.  I adopted Michael Hyatt’s blog template for bloggers.  Why you may ask?  Because it works beautifully and helps keep me sane.

Feel free to use it yourself.  Here is a link to his post about it and a link to his resources where you can download the template itself.  This is why I use it.

Manageability – To be a successful blogger you’re going to need to post consistently.  This can be difficult for many bloggers and is the top reason a blog fails.  Using this blog template has made it simple for me and made the task manageable.

Time Savings – Keeping my posts to 500 words and chunking each post into three main parts (intro, example, rational) keeps me from going on a wild tangent and rambling on.  Using this template I can write a post in less than 45 minutes.

Forced Focus – With a limited amount of words I am forced to get my point across quickly.  This is why Twitter is so beautiful, you thoughts in 140 characters or less.

Improved Readability – Using this blog template allows my readers to easily scan my article for the information they need.  I find that more people are willing to read a post if they know they won’t have to invest much time or effort to receive the benefit.

Optimized For Readers – This blog template gives the reader exactly what they need and nothing else.  The intro lets you know what the post is about, the example tells you why you need to know this, and the rational gives you the information you need.

Using this blog template has literally saved my blog and kept me sane.  I supercharged my writing with ScribeSEO.  You can check out Scribe Plans and Prices here.  Every blogger should be using a blog template to keep their site structured and organized.  I highly recommend using this blog template for any bloggers who need the help increasing traffic while keeping their sanity.

Do you regularly use a blogging template or are you a free writer?

Creating A Personal Success Plan

Success in leadership is often dictated by one’s ability to focus on higher-level ideas and strategy.  What often separates a successful leader from a failure is his or her ability to free themselves from the medial tasks that keep them chained to small ideas and thoughts.  Creating a personal success plan will give you the freedom to focus on what really matters.

A truly gifted leader does not bog himself down with meaningless tasks but preserves his talents for high level, high impact projects.  I realize that Tony Stark is a fictional character in a comic strip and movies but I can’t help but notice how great of a leader he is at times.  I like to think we too can be as cool, confident, and successful as Tony Stark.  What’s more, I believe we can, if only we’ll spend the time to create a personal success plan.

Stark Industries is a global company that brings in hundreds of billions of dollars in revenue.  At the top of the food chain is Mr. Tony Stark.  I’ve watched all the films featuring Iron Man and not once have I ever seen Tony making an invoice, spending hours reading his email, or counting widgets in a warehouse.  No, I see Tony Stark deciding which missile projects to pursue, spurring the creation of the world’s most innovative weapons, and redirecting the company toward renewable energy.  Perhaps, these are a part of his personal success plan.

How many times have you created incredible growth for your company by checking your email?  Yet, many executives perform this task for hours on end every day with little to no impact on the company.  This is simply work for work’s sake.  Without a personal growth plan, you’re set astray, wondering the vast inbox searching for something that’ll flip a switch and get you headed in the right direction.  After all, isn’t that the allure of the inbox, that something amazing might come in?

To really achieve great success as a person in a leadership role, you’ll need to create your own personal success plan.  You can do so by following these five simple steps:

Eliminate – What 20% of the things you do create 80% of your success as a leader?  This is Maxwell’s Law of Priorities.  Ask yourself, what is required (Or in other words, what MUST you do that no one else can do for you)?  What gives the greatest return? And finally, what brings the greatest reward?

Delegate – Learn to let go.  If you performed step one correctly, you’ll now have to rid yourself of 80% of the things you used to do.  Learn to delegate without fear and free yourself!  This is the step most people stumble on when creating a personal success plan.

Create a Life Plan – Dorothy Canfield Fisher says “If we would only give the same amount of reflection to what we want out of life that we give to the question of what to do with two weeks’ vacation, we would be startled at our false standards and the aimless procession of our busy days.”  She’s dead right.  Do yourself a favor and set aside 2 hours to read and complete Michael Hyatt’s Creating Your Personal Life Plan.

Increase Your Productivity – In a world where “there’s an app for that” it is easier and faster now to do almost anything.  I’ve provided you with a few of my favorite productivity apps here.  We all have 24 hours in a day, the best leaders use their 24 wisely and learn to squeeze the most out of them.  Now that you’ve narrowed your activities down to the ones that create the most results, begin to do them better.

Create a Cocoon – I don’t care how good you are at what you do, you’re not going to get anything done if you’re constantly interrupted.  There are many ways to find yourself some focused time to get things done and I suggest use at least a few.  You can schedule a meeting with yourself (I do this), turn off everything around you and lock your door (guilty!), or even disappear from the office for a few hours and work in a Starbuck (you guessed it, I’ve actually done this).  I’ve written two posts to help you find the time to get things done.  Here they are – The Office Is Killing You and Creative Cocoon of Productivity.

Failing to plan is planning to fail.  What sets apart a great leader from a failed leader is their ability to maximize their impact by minimizing the impact the world around them has on their time.  Using these steps to create your own personal success plan is critical to you becoming the leadership professional you long to be.

How can you benefit from creating your own personal success plan?

Using Scribe SEO to Increase Site Traffic

As a leadership blogger, SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is very important to me.  Unfortunately, researching keywords and writing in “SEO Style” can be very difficult and time consuming.  Thanks to SEO Scribe’s new Version 4, SEO is simple and easy.

Have you ever read a web page where it was obvious that the content writer was writing for keywords?  I’ve seen this many times.  It looks like someone threw up on the screen then dropped his or her keyword in the puke 500 times.  The page doesn’t make any sense and it sure isn’t fun to read.

This is often the problem bloggers have when writing.  Do they write for SEO or do they write for their audience.  Thankfully, the guys at Scribe SEO know that for a blogger to increase his or her traffic, the most important thing is great content.  But that doesn’t mean you can’t have great SEO as well.

I’ve been using Scribe SEO for over a year now and most recently I upgraded to Version 4.  It’s been out for a while now but I wanted to hold off on writing about it until I saw some results.  Over the past six months, I have seen an increase in daily traffic of over 300%!  I attribute this increase to posting more consistently and Scribe SEO.  Here are a few of my favorite SEO features that helped me increase my traffic.

On Page Content Analysis – This is much like the former version but with much greater insight.  Just like in the past, you’ll see how well you utilized your keywords in your article.  I always shoot for 95 – 100.  What’s most impressive now is the input you receive in regards to how to improve your keyword rank.  Simply follow the suggestions provided to you and you’ll be well on your way for ranking for your chosen keywords.

Site Score – This new feature of Scribe SEO Version 4 is my favorite.  I can see how well my article ranks with the rest of my site.  To become an authority in your niche it is critical that your site stays consistent with your subject.  Michael Hyatt attributes focusing on only a few topics to a surge in his traffic.  This is because he was becoming an authority on those few subjects.  Scribe SEO now tells you if what you’re writing is consistent or inconsistent with your site’s overall theme.

Link Building – It is important to link back to other pages on your own site.  I used to write these in to the detriment of my content. With the new Scribe SEO, I simply write my article then let them tell me which words in my content will link well to higher-ranking posts I have already published.

Keyword Details – This feature tells you if you can compete for a certain term or not.  This has helped me narrow down my keywords to only those words that my site could rank for.  Finding an opportunity to become an authority and capturing it has helped me tremendously in building traffic.

External Links – This feature of Scribe SEO Version 4 will search social networks such as Twitter to find people who are authorities on your subject.  I use this to reach out to them and tell them about my new post.  When they retweet my post, they know it is something their readers will enjoy.

If you’d be interested in increasing your site’s ranking, I’d recommend checking out Scribe Plans and Prices.

It’s hard enough being a blogger and finding the time to write.  Add in the crazy world of penguin and panda algorithms and SEO and it can be overwhelming. Thanks to Scribe SEO any average Joe can now be an SEO expert.

What do you use to help you?

Allied Equipment Featured on Fox Business Network

I am proud to announce that Allied Equipment will be featured on the Fox Business Network, December 5th between 8:30-8:40 pm CST.

We will appear on Manufacturing Marvels®, a two-minute production on The FOX Business Network that features companies who manufacture exclusively in the United States. Produced by award-winning producers Bob and Jerry May of Marvel Production Group, LLC. and narrated by acclaimed former FOX and ABC anchor John Criswell. The production showcases Allied Equipment’s innovative Modular Gas Treating and Conditioning Equipment and sheds light on our involvement in the global energy market supply chain.

The video clip gives viewers an inside look at Allied Equipment’s manufacturing facilities in Odessa, TX. It also provides information about Allied Equipment’s products and the process of manufacturing state of the art Modular Gas Treating Equipment.

Nationwide FOX Business Network Providers:

Directv – Channel 359

Dish Network – Channel 206

ATT uVerse – Channel 1211 

Please tune into Fox Business Network for this exciting insight into our company and what we do to help the nation produce our vast natural gas reserves and lead our country into energy independence through our Modular Gas Conditioning Equipment.  I am extremely proud of my staff and am thrilled to show them off to my readers via a national broadcast network like Fox!  I hope you enjoy this rare look behind the scenes of Allied Equipment, Inc.

The River by Michael Neale

I saw The River everywhere, all at once.  My friends were all reading it, my family was talking about it, even my Twitter Followers were tweeting about it.  It was being described as a book about a boy growing up and finding his passion.  It was a game changer!  I decided, I must read this book.

Thankfully, I received a complimentary copy of the book through Thomas Nelson Publisher’s BookSneeze Program.  I read a lot, every day. It is rare that I find a book that I just can’t put down.  The story gripped me from the get go with a horrific stranglehold and didn’t let go.

 

The story follows a young boy as he grows up and deals with hardships in his life.  All the while he has a hunger inside him that won’t leave him alone.  The hunger grows to lead him, and the reader, on an unforgettable journey.  The book is entertaining, gripping, and meaningful.

 

So what’s the take away?  The River of course.  In fact, we all have a River.  The River is a calling, a place where our soul belongs.  What makes this book so gripping and what made it a favorite amongst my friends and family is that it addresses something inside all of us.  We’re all meant for something, somewhere.  There are times in life where you find yourself in a place where you just know you belong.  This is the essence of The River.

 

The River is about finding that place, finding that calling, and fulfilling that purpose.  If you’d be interested in reading this book yourself you can purchase it here.  This is the cheapest I’ve found it anywhere, that is, unless you are a member of the BookSneeze program, then it’s free!