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How do you spend your commuting time? Photo Credit: neoporcupine via Compfight cc

How do you spend your commute? Photo Credit: neoporcupine via Compfight cc

I’m quickly becoming a seasoned road warrior with my new day job and driving nearly 120 miles round trip per day.

I figure that I’ll spend around 10-15 hours per week in the car, so I better make this time productive or at least keep me sane–you can only listen to the top 40 for only so long right?

I bet you have a commute of some sort too since the national average is around 23 minutes according to Forbes.

Now what will we do with all this time trapped in the car?

5 Activities for a Productive Commute to Work

Below are a few ideas of how you can maximize your commute.

Keep in mind, your main task is to drive and to do it safely (Don’t Text and Drive) If these tasks distract you from being a safe driver, please don’t engage them (This was my disclaimer).

1. Memorize inspirational quotes- Have a quote on a 3 x 5 card and review it. Pick quotes by business leaders, quotes from the Bible, or other religious texts.

Just think–by the end of the year you’ll have memorized around 50 quotes!

2. Listen to Podcasts- Podcasts are replacing the radio as way to consume information and as a form of entertainment. Listen via Stitcher or other player of choice.

3. Audio Books- No longer do you have to carry that huge plastic box of books on tape. With one simple click, you can purchase a book straight to your smart phone. Audible.com is a great place to start.

Many libraries also offer free audio books and yes–even the old CD of books if you’re not into all that techie mumbo jumbo. 

4. Pray/Meditate/Reflect- This is an awesome opportunity to engage in a little prayer and meditation.

5. Sit in silence- Turn off the stimulus devices and let your mind wander; just don’t let the steering wheel drift. When else can you have peace and quiet?

Listen to a bestseller for $7.49 at audible.com!

Don’t Squander Your Commute

Believe me I realize that commuting to work is tough!  The traffic is terrible, your back hurts, and that guy in front of you won’t turn off his blinker, yet a commute is a valuable gift.

Don’t squander the time you’ve been given listening to top 40 drivel.

What do you do to make the most of your commute to work?

Gold Miner

Graduation. Celebration. Endless possibilites. New doors opening, old ones closing. I find myself trying to remember what it was like to have just graduated from high school and have your whole life ahead of you.

There is a lot about life and money that I’ve learned since high school gradation. In that light I will offer up a bit of advice for those 17-19 year olds entering into a new era of their lives.

Wisdom and Experience

In life there are two general ways to learn. Experience and wisdom. Experience is a tough teacher that often times includes bumps, heartaches, and empty wallets.

“Experience is a hard teacher because she gives the test first, the lesson afterwards.”-Vernon Sanders Law (Major League Pitcher)

Wisdom is the ability to learn a truth without having gone through an experience.

Having a good mix of wisdom and experience when it comes to financial matters will give both knowledge and motivation to stay on the right path.

Financial Wisdom for High School Graduates

1. Save- Pay cash for items. Save up or don’t buy it. These are great years to learn how to practice the art of savings. Start with an emergency fund to stay out of debt.

2. Work Hard– A bit of hustle can go a long way. You’ll find that if you work hard you’ll end up ahead of your peers that are smarter than you. Whether it is on a job or in the classroom (hopefully both), learn the value of hard work.

“Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.”- Thomas Edison

3. Solve Problems- Find the needs around you and solve them. If you solve others problems you’ll be rich in purpose and/or monetary gain. The marketplace will pay handsomely to those who solve our problems.

4. Create- With most activities in life you can either create or consume. Err to the side of creation and you’ll be a rich person. Why not start a blog to begin creating today?

5. Give– Giving of your time and money will keep humbleness near. Developing an early practice of giving will ensure you have the character needed to handle responsibility and riches.

“We make a living by what we get, we make a life by what we give.”-Winston Churchill

6. Avoid Debt- Fight tooth and nail to avoid debt. There is always another path besides debt, yes even college or med school.  The path to avoid debt is harder in the moment, but in the end you’re free and slave to no one.

  • College Debt- Going to college can pay off in the long run, but you can attain a degree without debt. Debt-Free U is a book that can show you how. Having a college degree won’t ensure a job or career that you’ll love.  There are alternatives to college and learning if you’re interested in why I’m not sending my son to college.  
  • Credit Card Debt- The average college graduate has $4,000 of college debt. You can make it through life without debt by learning how to budget.

“The rich rules over the poor, and the borrower is the slave of the lender.”-Proverbs 22:7 (ESV)

7. Find your own Path– Recent graduate, you’ll hear a lot of advice–even from me. Most of it is good, but you’ll have to decide for yourself. It is your life to live, not your parents, not your significant other, not society. Heed wisdom, but forge your own way.

8. Explore Your passions- The richest people are doing something they enjoy + meeting needs (#3 above) the needs of others. Find your passions, focus on your strengths and make a difference.

9. Start a Business- You are never too young to start a business. Learning how to sell, market, bookkeeping, etc will help you for the rest of your life. You might even start your dream job without needing to go to college. Did you know you can start a business for $100?

10. Improve your Character– Your character is more important than money. Oddly enough many people of character have wealth. Find ways to improve your character. Start with the Proverbs. There are 30 short chapters, so you could read 1 per day. No matter if you are religious or not, there is wisdom that will improve your character and finances.

11. Did I mention avoiding debt? I hear horror stories of how debt has ruined lives in my coaching practice. Please graduate, learn wisdom, avoid debt, and choose freedom.

What do you wish you would have known about finances when graduating high school? 

Photo Credit  dotpolka

row of cubicles

I’m happily heading back to the land of cubicles. Credit mark sebastian

Today I accepted a verbal offer for a 9-5 position in the land of cubicles.

What?!

Yes, I’ll be kissing the freelancing life goodbye, but I won’t be giving up on this blog–in fact I believe my new career will help enhance this site.

What will I be doing? I’ve accepted a position with a large search publishing/advertising company’s Search Engine Optimization (SEO) department.

I’ll be building relationships and links (white hat and natural only) to help websites rank higher in Internet searches and thus have more eyeballs reading their articles and buying their products.

What? Why Would You Leave the Freelance Life?

I know it is all the rage to flee the cubes to graze in greener self employment pastures.

Why would I leave the self-employment life?

I love the freedom and flexibility self employment affords and especially the time that I’ve been able to spend with family.

I view this position as a natural next step to what I’ve been doing for the past few years.

How My Freelancing Work Earned Me a 9-5 Cubicle

For the past few years I’ve been on a quest to learn about blogging; both the back-end technical aspects and my visible content and writing ability.

Beyond creating OnTargetCoach, I’ve also taken on a staff writing position and an SEO contract gig

In a sense I’ve been preparing to take such a 9-5 position for years–I just didn’t realize it.

Remember when I quit my job and turned in my 2 weeks notice in 2011?

By leaving a job that was killing my creativity and following my freelancing dreams, it has lead me full circle back to a 9-5 job that I’m really looking forward to.

What I’m Looking Forward to by Returning to a Cube

9-5 gigs aren’t all that bad. He is what I’m looking forward to:

Live people– I’ve a good number of online friends, but I’ve never met any of them. I look forward to working with real people again an not just interacting with screen names. 
Nerds who “get me”– Technically I’ll be in the IT department, so I’m officially a nerd.

In my interview I threw around blogging and tech jargon and these guys didn’t blink an eye.  I didn’t have to apologize for geeking out like I have to a parties when I talk about blogging. They understood.

Paid to Learn, Paid to Help- I’ll be paid to learn the best practices of SEO and help my clients understand the weird world of internet search.

And Now Back to the News

I’ll keep everyone updated on how things progress with my new position. Until then get back to winning with your goals, relationships, and money.

Where are you career wise? Moving towards or away from cube life?

Spot light on stage

You are the star in your online interview. Think like an actor. Credit ManImMac.

You’ve done it! You’ve found your dream job. After crafting the perfect resume, networking online and offline, and by being awesome–you finally have an interview worth being excited about.

There is just one catch, they want to interview you online. What? Yes, an online interview on your computer’s webcam over the Internet.

Nervous? Don’t be. I’ll share tips on how to nail your online interview.  I speak as a former recruiter who has hired hundreds and hundreds of workers and reviewed untold thousands of resumes.

I’ve also successfully won positions through Skype interviews and phone calls. I even have an online interview on the morning this article was published on Google Hangout. (I wonder if my interviewer is reading this?)

The basics of interviewing in person still apply to interviewing on an online interview. Just think like an aspiring actor and you’ll be on your way to landing the role of your dreams.

Online Interview Tip: Agree to the Audition

“Sure, I’m available for an online job interview over Skype/Facetime/Google Hangout on Monday.” Now you’re wondering, “Just what in the heck is a Skype, Facetime, or Google Hangout?”

Don’t worry about the technology details yet, just agree to the interview and give yourself a day or two to get the technology mastered.

If you don’t have an computer, I’m sure a friend will let you borrow one for this important audition.

Check these guides for the most popular tools you’ll most likely be using for your online interview:

Online Interview Tip: Know Your Director

The Director is the company and the person(s) conducting the interview. It is easy to find (stalk) the hiring company and persons who might be present on the Skype interview.

Don’t be suprised if more than one person is present or if the online interview is being recorded for decision makers to review later.

Scour social media, Google the company, lurk on LinkedIn, etc..for any useful information. You know how. Stalk them online like you used to stalk your ex.

head set with mic

Avoid wearing your ‘cool’ new headset for the interview. Credit bisonblog.

Online Interview Tip: Prepare the Set

An online interview is perfect since you’ll be able to control the environment your interviewer will see.

Now it’s time to test out the technology with on a live test call with a friend or family member. On the live test call have your friend check for:

  • Audio level. Do you need to purchase a microphone or is the built in mic enough? Please avoid headsets!
  • Visual Appearance. How is your head framed? Is the camera too close or too far? How is the lighting at the time of your scheduled call? Ensure the quality of the video call is the best possible. Check out The Technical Setup Behind my Videos on Problogger [Video]
  • Background- Your potential employer doesn’t want to see evidence of dogs, children, or other potential objects that could bias their opinion of you like religious or political stickers on your wall. If you want to go all out build a green screen and place your own background.
  • Practice- Look at the camera, smile, and answer a few practice questions to get used to talking into your computer.
Make sure to clear your schedule for that day informing any family members or roommates that you’ll need the house to yourself during the interview. Also, figure out how to turn off all buzzing phones, email, or other device that could go off during your interview.

Online Interview Tip: Rehearse Your Lines and Tell Your Story

Are you ready to tell your story? YOU are the compelling story in this movie. Know yourself and your story of why you are the best actor for this role.

While they are sure to throw some curve ball questions, you can prepare for those softball generic questions they expect you answer–and answer well.

Rehearse your lines! Start with these few sample interview questions:

What your potential employer really wants to find out:
  • Can this person make my life easier? [Are you hungry?]
  • Will this person help our company make money? [Are you skilled and smart?]
  • Can I trust them? [Are you humble?]
  • Are you a liability? [Are you crazy?]
  • Could they be your friend? [Are you likable?]

Don’t forget to prepare questions to ask to your interviewer. You don’t want to drill your interviewer and be annoying, but you also need to find out if this company, position, and boss is right for you.

Sample question to ask your potential boss:

  • What is your managerial style? [Will you work well with your potential boss?]
  • Can you describe the company culture? [Does this culture fit you?]
  • What would a ‘normal’ week look like [Will you enjoy the required tasks?]
  • Try out a few from 13 Questions to Ask During Your Next Interview.
  • Do NOT ask about compensation or benefits during your first interview.

Online Interview Tips: Lights, Camera, Action!

You’ve prepared and are ready to go. Now it’s time to perform! You’re going to do awesome with these Skype interview tips:

  • Relax and be confident– You’ve prepared. You know your story. You’re wearing your lucky interview shirt. Feel confident this is the perfect role for you and enjoy the process.
  • Look at the camera and smile- Remember you’re on camera, but don’t give them the death stare.
  • Examine the background of the interviewer- Look for objects that give clues about your interviewer or company. Is their desk neat or messy? If you notice a picture of their kid playing soccer and you were a soccer player–use it as a relating point.
  • Pause before answering questions- It is better to wait a few seconds than to give a poor answer.
  • Keep responses short- Restrain yourself from rambling. 60 second responses are sufficient in most cases.
  • Ask questions- This is a chance to use the questions you prepared to discover more about the company, position, and potential boss. You are also interviewing them.

Wait for the Callback

By the time the audition is over both you and the interviewer have a good idea if you’re the right actor for the job. Now is the time to write a thank you note to the interviewer(s) and wait.

If you receive a second interview or job offer then you can begin asking questions about compensation and benefits. [8 Finance Questions to Ask When Considering a Job Offer]

Have you had an online interview via Skype? What tips would you offer? 

Senior Citizen Parachuting

What does a radical retirement look like? Photo Credit Woody H1

This is our third installment about work and retirement. Why did we combine the topics of work and retirement? Our beliefs about working inform our view of retirement.

In part 1 we began to unpack our baggage about work. In part 2, we looked at the deeper underlying beliefs and origins of work. We now turn our eyes towards connecting this thing we called work with the American view of retirement.

Our View of Work Informs our View of Retirement

I believe it is impossible to explore our view of retirement, without fist examining what we believe about work (including careers). Work is a good thing and has roots in the beginning of time.

Working grounds us in our humanity and aligns us with the divine.

If work is good intended as an original component of creation, why then does America flee work and look longingly toward retirement?

American View of Retirement

The recent American view of retirement is to work hard in a career, quit working on a magical day, and then begin engaging in what you really want to do. That could be spending time with family, gardening, volunteering, or playing golf all day.

In the American view of retirement a life of work turns into a life of play, until you you die.

How will this retirement be funded? Savings, 401k, IRAs, pensions, and Social Security of couse. Americans aren’t doing a good job at this goal either with 49% of us not saving for retirement. Add on top of this a failing Social Security system and longer life expectancies and Houston we’ve got a problem.

Where did this view of retirement come from? Should we blame Otto Van Bismark or Francis Townsend?

Along the way we have misunderstood the goal of working. The goal of work isn’t to strive towards a life of leisure where we don’t have to punch the clock.

While I support saving for future goals and for our later years in life– the goal of American Retirement isn’t one that I’m aiming at. I propose a much more radical view of retirement.

A Radical View of Retirement

Retirement is a word that I have come to disdain. It implies a retreat and abdication from life. I wrote about this in my article Retire Retirement.

Based on the canvas of our previous discussion on work, I propose a view of retirement based on the fact that work is good.

Yes, work for pay and a deeper meaning of work–a return to vocation or calling as described by Dan Miller:

“…it’s what you’re doing in life that makes a difference for you, that builds meaning for you, and that you can look back on in your later years to see the impact you’ve made on the world.”

Our jobs and career are an extension of our calling, they give feet to how we’re wired, and guide us to making a difference in the world. We’ll have many jobs and careers–but our vocation and life purpose remain constant.

Live a Radical Life and Retirement

With our vocation and calling guiding us, I propose erasing the invisible lines of retirement. Rid your mind of a date and time when you’ll be able to do what you love after you retire. What are you waiting for?

Since retirement now doesn’t exists, you have permission to live a radical life no matter your age. You no longer have to wait until age 65 to pursue happiness. Go ahead and do work that matters today.

Radical Ideas:

  • Make steps to quit your job (Read Quitter by Jon Acuff)  and transition to a life that aligns with your vocation.
  • Begin a business that allows you to do what you love that meets the needs of others. 8 Lessons I Learned from the $100 Startup  will guide you, like it has me on this journey.
  • Engineer a life that isn’t dependent on living in a certain location. The blog Location 180 gives proof that living anywhere is a viable reality.
  • Create a community that encourages others towards positive and healthy goals like Nerd Fitness.
  • Impact and empower the world by creating organization like Charity Water or Fount of Mercy.

Work Until You Die

It doesn’t matter what our age is, there is work to be done. Vocations and callings to be lived out. This world needs our hands and feet to till up change and spread hope that grows like fertilizer.

Some have said they don’t want to work until they die. If you have a improper view of work–then I agree that is a life to be avoided.

I will work till I die. Living a life of faith. Giving hope. Loving others. Living a radical life. 

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