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Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Career Advice From My Career Mishap

Just so happens I wound up in a pretty good job, at a pretty good company doing very unique work in an industry I was interested in but knew little about. The position wasn't something I was accustomed to, that being operations and technical support related.

I found this gig through a varied, harrowing and often frustrating search. I've been on dozens of interviews and learned a bit about myself and what I want each time. When I landed in my current role, I felt less than satisfied with where I stood in the company. I wasn't doing a ton of work with what I was interested in, but the longer I stayed, the more I was able to feel my way around the subject matter my company deals in. Despite not working with the deliverable, being on the back end made me more curious and forced me to try to learn on my own what the hell we were doing.

Sorry to speak in vague terms, but my point is that this past year has proved that taking a less than ideal job is a calculated risk. Winding up in a "rut" is a bad thing, but if you're able to stay in a less-than-perfect job for a while and get your footing in your real interests while still getting your work done, then you're truly making the best your situation.

Never settle. If you need to make ends meet doing something you don't love, always keep planning. Always keep your Plan B fresh and ready for deployment. If the economy is going to be as bad as many believe, keeping your day job may be necessary, but knowing what you're going to do next is also necessary as well.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Book Review of Seth Godin's "The Dip"

My "Secret Santa" gave me Seth Godin's book "The Dip." Talk about a well timed and thoughtful gift! Knowing who my secret Santa is, I realize that I once spoke with her about entrepreneurial aspirations that we both shared. She is a photographer and I am a creative marketer. We're both in different stages of realizing our dreams.

Seth Godin's book, "The Dip" is an 80 page business novel pleading and begging the reader to quit. Funny how at no point did I ever wish to quit this book.

The premise of "The Dip" is that anyone who wants success in any facet in their life should do some serious soul searching get their priorities straight. Godin asserts that if you can't realistically be the best at something, or dominate a market, then you are wasting your time in doing that thing. "Average is for losers" according to Godin.

"The Dip" wants the reader to be confident that they can overcome the initial curve of difficulty and tribulation that is associated with becoming the best. The book also differentiates between tough learning curves and arduous roads to nowhere.

Many individuals have aspirations but settle for less because of conflicting ideas about what the costs of their dreams will be in relation to their current comfort. Seth Godin rattles you with short, concise ideas that hit the core of what confuses us about true risk versus reward.

I read "The Dip" in less than an hour. I'm forcing it upon all my friends who I think are open minded to quitting something and getting beyond their own personal dips and curves.

I fully intend on reading Seth Godin's other books. I recommend you start with "The Dip."

Now, to get down to my 10,000 hours of hard work. I've got a few hundred so far!

Friday, December 26, 2008

I Need A Small Plot of Land for Green Building

There are a lot of inspiring stories in circulation about innovative green building and land developments all over the country. Pick up a Dwell magazine and you'll see mind blowing contemporary designs in arid desert, lush Pacific forests and secluded Northeast cabin country. But, the whole idea of green building and sustainable design is to have it accessible to the most people possible so that the concepts actually reduce carbon use.

In Lawrence, MA, Powerhouse Enterprises erected an extremely green and energy efficient home. The health and beauty of the house is astonishing. It is being sold for $300,000, which considering the innovation involved, isn't a bad price.

But, I live in Worcester. Why can't these ideas and practices be proliferated to all regions? Shipping a green home long distances (my Lawrence example isn't far, but I'm talking more about somewhere like Arizona) defeats the purpose of building an energy efficient dwelling. All regions can get into something like this, I'm convinced.

What I want to do is get funding from who-knows-where and buy and develop a piece of land in Worcester with a green and cleanly built home. I don't care if I live in it, sell it, or whatever, but this is something I want to do for Worcester. Sustainable living in Worcester with green buildings being marketed and built could bring a new sense of vitality to the region. I love all the three deckers, but retro-fits and condo-conversions get old after a while.

The real estate bubble left a bad taste in everyone's mouth. This idea sounds simply delicious. This is sort of just a stream of conciousness business proposition. But, what do you think of this idea? I've seen something like this happen in Philly. Any suggestions, criticisms or comments?

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Happy Holidays

I've got lots of things to write about and discuss, but today I'm just going to continue hanging with my family and relaxing before the year ends.

I hope everyone has had a magical Christmas, Hanukkah and any other holiday you may celebrate.

Being generous is better than getting a lot of gifts. I re-learn this every year.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

This Isn't A Poetry Open Mic - This Is Our Economy

It is time for economists and Obama enthusiasts (myself included) to stop waxing poetic about the "new economy." Renewable energy has always been available to a capacity. We grasped about for it desperately when gas was $4.00 a gallon and now we're starting to get into the "move slow" mindset that was so prevalent in the civil rights movement. We're giving this movement a sense of novelty and aura that it doesn't deserve yet.

As I scroll through my RSS feeds I read one article after another about how we are either entering into the dawning of a new, clean, green renewable, sustainable, whatever-able era, or how solar, wind, geothermal, biofuel will fall into an unrecoverable abyss while the "clean coal" cheerleaders continue to pump false propaganda at the public which is only meant to keep us on track towards a total carbon economy.

Let's not wait for the morons in congress and the senate to hold hands and offer us a "new deal" with Obama. Obama will create a lot of excitement and executive level motivation, but don't think he's the founder of these principals. All he can do is unleash restrictions on the market that keep renewable energy and sustainable development un-competitive. Who are they to offer us anything? They hold none of the answers. The answers lie within our universities and businesses that are creating these technologies and implementing them in the market.

I am a small business owner now. I want to work in renewables. I don't want to market consumer goods sold by international sweatshop distributors (Wal-Mart, Target, etc). This is a time of doing, not talking. We don't have 8 years to plan. We have 8 years for government to enable and then step the hell out of the way and let people become educated and empowered about how they can turn out economy and the environment around.

When the hardest work is finished and the ship has altered course, only then can we can this the "new economy."

If you were asked to do your part (and I am officially asking you), how would you act? How could your lifestyle be morphed into an ecologically industrious one?

Sunday, December 21, 2008

The 2008 Toyota Yaris Hatchback - Great Snow Machine!

This past February I bought a brand new 2008 Toyota Yaris. It was my first new car and I bought it after quite a few months of searching and bellyaching over pricing. But, my Yaris has served me exceedingly well so far. Incredible gas mileage is now matched with great snow handling ability. The Toyota Yaris is basically a snow machine, but a lot more practical and safe than the kind Todd Palin uses.

I am convinced the Yaris, with some tweaking and modification would make an excellent rally styled car. I went barreling around in my house to the super market to pick up a few things and even when forcing the car into a controlled slide in poorly paved roads (empty roads too, I'm not completely stupid!) I was able to correct and power out of the slide quite easily. Plus, with the transmission being a 5-speed manual rather than automatic, I never felt in danger of an un-intended skid because I was able to effectively downshift while coming to a stop.

I've driven rally cars before, usually extremely powerful and stiff riding beasts of the automobile type, but my Toyota Yaris would hold it's own as far as handling goes. Not that I'm in the financial shape to be able to mod a car to the teeth, but if I could, my Yaris would make a great starting point.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Can You Recommend A Good Business Book?

I like to read a lot. I am always reading at least two books at a time and I usually read about a book a week in all. I have been an absolute fiction freak for the past 4 years, but I'm shifting towards business books a bit more now. The entrepreneur in me is screaming to be let out.

I have been contributing to and reading blogs quite heavily for the past year or so. I've always blogged to some degree, but I became resolved to write every day in a purposeful manner and realized that a blog focusing on issues that people of my generation face would be good motivation to raise the bar each day.

That being said, I've been reading business blogs lately and they have given me excellent motivation and advice for starting my own business. I also reviewed a business novel called "Jack's Notebook" by Gregg Fraley, which I loved as well. Now my appetite is whetted and I no longer crave fiction as much as I do a good business novel. I want to read practical and applicable advice on how people started their businesses and how I can get mine going from the point it's at now.

I'm very interested in any and all suggestions. Whether it's a blog, published white paper, etc. I'm hungry for all knowledge. I'll obviously search some out and whatever I read and really like, I'll share with you.

What business books, or any books for that matter, have changed your perspectives in 2008?

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Disheartening Stories of Contentment

I'm reading a whole lot of blog posts right now saying how Gen Y'ers need to buckle down and forget about career surfing and just stay at the jobs they dislike because of how bad the economy is.

I don't need to be told how bad the economy is. I know it when I see my stocks and when I see what companies are going through. This is no secret.

But, as Mike Davis, a.k.a. The Global Citizen says in his v-log series "Notion to Motion," there is no recession on passion.

Essentially, we all need income to some extent. Some have student loans and/or families they need to support, but there's never any excuse for off putting work towards your dreams on hold.

Every day you may have a couple hours or just a couple minutes to sit down and do something truly constructive that helps your life. Whether it's blogging, developing a business plan or having conversations with interesting people that give you good ideas, you should take time every day to do something for yourself because life certainly takes plenty out of each of us.

I don't say all of this in a narcissistic context. All I mean is that there are certain fine details of each day that need tending and they're unavoidable. Planning for your future to some degree is really the only thing that keeps humans going in a meaningful way. Otherwise you fall into that daily routine of nothingness and habit that so many are subject to.

Some of you might say, "that's just the way it is." But, we all have the ability to choose, so we should make good choices whenever possible.

Never defer the dream.

Monday, December 15, 2008

5 "Green" Reasons Why I Should Buy or Build A House

I've been getting antsy to buy a home in the past six months. Every time I hear whispers of a "bottom" in the market, I count how much money I've got in my savings account and start shuffling through local condo listings. What about my "green" dream home?

I realize condominiums and houses both have their benefits. Condos are basically maintained like apartments due to a condo fee, but there are limitations on what you can do to the structure and property. Homes tend to have a lot more costs associated with them, but they're all your and you can virtually do anything within the law with your property. Now, whether you buy land or work with existing property and make it green.. that's a whole other discussion...

Assuming there is a "real" bottom in the market and it is well publicized, I figure I'll want a house over a condo because:

1. I'll probably have a yard that I can landscape in an ecologically friendly way. If I choose a condo, I'll probably have little control over who gets the landscaping contract. The lowest bidder in all likely hood will have the poorest practices.

2. I can put a windmill on my ecologically landscaped property. Seeing as I'm not the biggest design or aestetic freak you'll meet, I'd love to put a big, honkin' windmill right on my property to give my house that uhm... whatever look. More importantly, it will give me electricity and will eventually pay for itself!

3. You better believe I'll be decorating with solar panels. My solar paneling will be like a rapper's bling... seriously abundant!

4. Upgrade carpentry is at your convenience, not your neighbor's. I won't have to worry about working hours of the building, or other technicalities. I can gut my home and renovate it whenever and for however long as I like.

All this being said, I know there are major financial issues that come along with all of these grand plans. But, people do this. People like me.

To my homeowner people, what do you think of this? Am I correct in my assumptions? Condo owners, how much freedom do you feel that you're afforded?

Friday, December 12, 2008

Self-Defeating or Evolving?

What's the difference between being self-defeating or evolving as a person? As a young person, when you pick a certain path, whether it be the high, low or middle path, you're usually respected on some level if you stick with whatever you choose. If you don't stick with the plan, then people say, "I don't know about that guy/woman."

As a young man or late teenager, depending which way you look at it, I decided to go to college rather than pursue a trade and take over the family business my grandfather and uncle own. I did this for many reasons that aren't necessarily relevant anymore. Either way, I chose to do something and I made it through college. Suddenly, I needed to choose again.

What are my options, exactly? Marriage, kids, house and a 9 to 5? Ha! That's the anti-choice as far as I'm concerned. Things are a bit more complicated in my mind. I could choose to go at my career full bore and hold a few jobs to get my rep. up, which is why I'm already doing. I'm not sure how well I'm doing, but I know I'm working hard, either way.

Also, there's the location question; where do I want to be now and in five years? I've talked a bit about buying a home because it will stabilize my financial situation and give me a sense of place, rather than a frenetic transient lifestyle that I've been used to for my entire adult life.

I'm quite close to settling in one place for a while. It'll probably be Worcester where my family lives and where the cost of living is lower. I'm also close to launching my small biz which will hopefully allow me to be independently employed under my own terms in coming years. I also think I'll be in grad school in September if the schools I'm applying to are not stingy.

All this being said, I feel like it wouldn't take a lot of convincing and a little bit of opportunity to pull up all my roots and take the hell off to wherever the action and interest is in the world. If I got a call from a solar installer or manufacturer in Colorado and asked me to get out there by New Years and get to work, I'd be gone so quick you wouldn't even know what had just happened.

Although, that situation probably won't occur at this point in my career, who knows? More importantly, what does it mean that I want this to occur? Are my constantly evolving ideas and goals a good thing or are they keeping me from achieving anything truly meaningful and measurable in life?

I suppose these are the questions that need to be asked before the year ends. I ask for and appreciate any and all input.

Are you facing and significant urges to change your life around beyond recognition?

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Tag - It's Not Just For Kids Anymore, Bookworms Play Too

My southern New Jersey homie Tara Ronda tagged me to do this little bookworm blog to display the quality of my book collection. I swear I didn't fix this; the book I picked was about 4 inches from my forehead on the shelf of my cubicle. So, here we go:

Rule One: I have to grab one of the books closest to me, go to page 56, type the fifth line and the next two to five lines that follow.

Rule Two: I have to pick five people who love books and who could receive the Bookworm award with honor.

"Maria," called the woman of Pablo and when the girl came in the door she said, "Water for this comrade."
Robert Jordan reached for his flask and, bringing the flask out, as he brought it he loosened the pistol in the holster and swung it on top of his thigh. He poured a second absinthe into his cup and took the cup of water the girl brought him and commenced to drip it into the cup, a little at a time. The girl stood at his elbow, watching him.

-For Whom The Bell Tolls, by Ernest Hemingway

I've read all of the drunkard's other books with mixed opinions. I chose this one as one of my next reads because so many famous people love it. Maybe if I read it, I too will become famous.

My five people will be: Ashley, Gregg, Steph, Sarah, and Connie.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

The Click Almost Heard Around My World

Yesterday was bad. Every little thing in my world was pushing on a vice that had my entire being wedged and crushed. So many aspects of my life are stressful right now. I know I've got it far better than a lot of people out there. I just feel like certain parts of my life are asking for way too much of me and there seems to be less and less of the best parts of my energy and attention to go around at the end of every day. Yesterday I wrote a post about everything I "hate" and as I went to publish it I had a wave of guilt and apprehension come over me. I realized that I definitely want a lot of things out of life right now, but I also have a lot of things I've wanted in the past as well. So, I oped to not publish (thank god).

Here are some cool updates I'm positive about:

I'm building my new businesses with some great resources and inspiration from Jack's Notebook written by an amazing writer, speaker and entreprenurial mind in Gregg Fraley. Also, Mike Davis, a.k.a. "The Global Citizen" has been laying down some quality v-logs on how he is starting a business from concept to operations, or "Notion to Motion". I look forward to it every day.

I'm working on two steady freelance project as well. One is building a website that revolves around early career advice. Great concept. Another is SEO writing. Both are through

At the end of every day I think about how much I want to work for myself full time. Last night I had a conversation with an entrepreneur who said, "you know how people say you'll need 6 months of income to support yourself as you start a business? Make it 3 years of income instead." Basically he meant that you'll need time AND money to make great things happen. I have time, and I'm working on the money part as hard as I can.

Hopefully after the holidays I can get back to saving. Gift buying/receiving is one of my least favorite things to do, but I go along with it. It's one of the few ways I can really show I care about certain individuals. There are other ways, but I can only make people food or sing them a song so many times.

The condo front is still creeping along. I have several friends, mostly couples who own a house or condo. They're convinced I won't find what I'm looking for in my price range of $25,000 to $70,000 in Worcester, but I say foey to them! I think the bottom has yet to be seen and I'm crossing my fingers that when the bottom does come, I'll have the credit and down payment to snatch up a home of my own. Until then I refuse to hop on anything unless it's damn near perfect.

Will 2009 be the year of the reclusive, industrious James in spite of all this economic turmoil? I say "screw it!" Why sit and worry about the economy. Just keep working and creating as long as you're creative.

On a side note, my sister took Albie the cat back to the shelter yesterday. He was sick and simply un-trainable in regards to getting him in the litter box. The Vet said he probably has something wrong with him and that they're unsure of his background because he was a stray and only stayed in the shelter two days before I took him home. I hope whatever is ailing him is fixable and that he finds a good home eventually. As for my quest with for a cat, I have six months to pick any other from the same shelter. Right now I'm going to focus on getting all the cat pee smells out of my apartment first, then I'll worry about being a foster parent to a feline again. I'll be sure to pick more carefully next time, for sure.

Monday, December 8, 2008

How Blogging Saved My Life

Okay, that's being dramatic. I think getting rid of my television 5 years ago saved my life, to be honest. But, blogging as a participatory and observational activity is truly one of the most pleasurable daily things that I have in my professional and personal life.

If the internet was my monarchy, content would be king. I find so many life and career enriching tips and stories in my Google Reader. I think I'll make a JR's Top Ten Blogs List soon.

I feel like my content has been getting so many views lately, not even speaking specifically about my Bailout article but regarding my blog posts and Associated Content articles in general. I'm hitting a stride and I definitely feel like reading and interacting with so many great writers is helping me along.

I just wish I had more time to become more closely knit with my blog community.

2009 will be a year of renewed goals, re-vamped business strategy and a more excellent JR Moreau.

Anybody else planning out their New Year Resolutions yet? What are your thoughts on how blogging communities have affected your life?

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Cat Update

I feel like a Motrin Mom, except I'm a new cat owner instead of a new mother.

Anyways, Albie the cat is back. My cousin found him cowering in the hallway. I guess he hid from the dog somewhere. He seems a little traumatized, but I'll help him get over it.

In the mean time, I'm propping something against the door and making sure thing won't happen again.

A Really Sad Morning

Yesterday, my sister bought me a cat from the shelter as an early Christmas present. His name at the shelter was "Big Al" but I would up calling him "Albie." He's a full grown 5 year old male. He's got orange and white markings on him and is really cute and extremely friendly. He was really scared when I first brought him home, but towards the end of last night he started to come out a bit and want to be petted. I went to bed looking forward to playing with Albie the next day.

Today, I woke up this morning to find my back door wide open and the house freezing. The trash was torn up and Albie was not in his new-found spot. I looked all over the house several times for him, but my fears were confirmed; my landlord let his mastif into the back hallway as he's been told not to before, and the dog pushed open my doors and chased the cat out.

I've looked throughout the hallway, looked outside with no site of Albie. I'm scared for him as I live on a very busy street and many cats have been hit by the drivers speeding up the hill. I'm sad because this damned creature couldn't even have a full day of peace without my asshole landlord stomping around like nobody matters but him.

My sister is going to get her money back for Albie. I don't pay rent to have some asshole's dog destroy my property. He won't get a cent of rent until my sister is repaid and my door has a new, fortified lock put on it.

I'm half way between angry and sad. I can't decide which yet.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Misguided Content

Something happened in the Fall. I stopped drinking again, started writing more deliberately and suddenly my life is all aflame with creativity and desire. I'm cranking out articles every day and now I'm not quite sure what to do with all of this content.

I haven't found a vendor who will pay me respectable amounts of money for my articles up front yet, so I'm basically publishing them with non-exclusive rights on several sights and getting as much up front, and residual payment as possible. I also try to keep this blog update with substantive topics as well.

I feel like I could be doing this more efficiently though. I need a pipeline of conception to payment with a shorter turnaround time and more revenue on both the front end and residual end.

This is my content quandary. Or, call it a wish list for content solutions.

What are your creative queries? Do you find yourself lacking a better plan for monetizing your work?

Thursday, December 4, 2008

My 2009 Conference Wish List

So, I'm starting to see a lot of cool conferences being planned for 2009. I'm mostly interested in "green" topics related to my entrepreneurial goals and it looks like there are some mighty relevant gatherings happening throughout the country.

Which to plan for? I can probably only swing the cost of one. There is a San Francisco and Washington D.C. event that I'm thinking about. I could probably find a friend to stay with in D.C. which would cut costs. Plus I could drive instead of buying an expensive plane ticket.

On the other hand, SF is a place I've always wanted to go. It would be hella expensive if I couldn't find somebody to stay with, but seeing San Fran could be the trip I've been waiting for.

Both conferences I speak of are highly relevant. I'll post more about them at a later date and link back to them to see what you all think.

With the crappy economy, what are some locations or staycations that you're planning as you worry about our country's financial apocalypse?

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Too Much Content - Can't Write It all Down

Who amongst you readers talks to yourself? I talk to myself quite a bit. I'm a good listener when it comes to myself and I try to be a good listener in general. As far as speaking goes, usually when I say something to myself enough it eventually comes out right when I say it aloud to its intended audience.

When I have writers block, I'm sort of like a sad miscreant wandering about in my own head, blurting out non-nonsensical ideas and phrases never to be written down or heard by foreign ears.

I don't have writer's block anymore, so I'm writing down just about every good idea that comes to my head. Even the bad ideas form into good poetry at times.

The only bad thing is, my time is so disjointed and sparse, I have to start like four pieces at a time and work on them rapid fire just so that I don't forget them and have bandwidth to complete more the next day.

If I get behind on what my own brain is producing, I'll be in real trouble. We're talking, JR Goes Crazy kind of trouble.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

I'm Popular for Unpopularity This Week

Last week before Thanksgiving break, I wrote a satirical and theoretical article of which companies I think deserve any kind of bailout. I referenced a car company, a solar company and a financial institution. I didn't say anything explicitly bad about Evergreen Solar (ESLR), except that I thought it got a raw deal in it's stock dilution.

That being said, after angry and concerned emails and comments, I realized that something in my article prompted the title to get picked up by Google Finance and THOUSANDS of people have read with great interest, my satirical and theoretical article on government bailouts.

I feel like I've hit the lottery in a sense. See the screen shot (notice, article B on the upper right hand corner) and then check out the actual article on Associated Content.

...and just to be perfectly clear, I do hold stock in Evergreen Solar (ESLR)

Gifting Like An Educated Pauper

So, I've decided to modify the scope of my gift giving this year. I've been focusing more on individuals and their potential likes and dislikes, rather than setting a dollar amount on how much I should spend. Seriously, who expects the world of others around this time of year when the country is in a recession and everyone is trying their damnedest to get through it. Considering that I don't know many people who are literally hard up for dough, I'm feeling less like pity giving and more like giving them something that will better them and not cost a lot. Books, cooking utensils and useful electronics are along the lines of what I'm contemplating.

I have been thinking so much lately, not just about gifting, but about saving, investing and buying a home. I feel like even though we're in a recession, there are even more reasons to live agressively, especially for a person at my age and of my circumstances.

I feel like if I play it safe, I lose. How are you feeling in the recession right now? Are you thinking big, or just thinking how to survive?

oDesk Makes Interactive Freelancing Easier

If you're looking to freelance and you don't quite have the professional network or experience to confidently jump into your own consultancy yet, check out oDesk. oDesk is an online service that connects freelance providers with buyers. Buyers post ads

I started freelancing part time about 4 months after I graduated from college in December 2006. The first project I got was doing market research for a sustainable economic development conference in Houston, Texas. I worked about 15 hours a week for a few months. It was really exhilarating to get hired for something I'm actually good at and passionate about. I would leave my then 9-5 job with huge excitement because I knew the next few hours would involved me holed up at a local coffee shop doing work that was rewarding, rather than draining and stressful.