5 Things We Can Learn From Chapstick

The great thing about learning is that it is not confined to certain times or locations. Learning can happen anytime, anywhere.

I like to highlight this fact by, once a month, looking at things we encounter on a daily basis and seeing what important lesson we can from them.

In today’s installment of “Five Things We Can Learn From Everyday Objects” we are going to talk about something that I use everyday…

5 Things We Can Learn From Chapstick

1. Habits Are Powerful

Every time I leave my house I check for four things — my keys, cell phone wallet and chapstick. I will not go on my way until I pat down my pockets and confirm I have all four. I can’t remember when this started, but it became a habit of mine and now I do it without thinking. It is so burned into my brain that I would probably forget to wear underwear before I forgot chapstick.

2. It Is Easy To Overlook All The Details

I need to amend the above statement. I don’t leave the house without my keys, cell phone, wallet and lip balm. I rarely have the actual brand Chapstick, but that doesn’t stop me from referring to my lip balm as such. This is what is called a generic trademark. This is when a brand name takes over a generic name due to popularity. Just like how a Band-Aid is actually an adhesive bandage. I bet you may not even know you do this for many brands. Want to find out? Here’s a fun list of generic trademarks.

3. A Little Goes A Long Way

I used to have a chapstick (or lip balm) problem. I figured that if a little was good, a lot was better so I would cake the stuff on. My lips were so greasy, that it looked like I had just been smooching a stick of butter. After awhile I learned that with so much chapstick on, butter was the only think I would have a change of kissing, so I dialed it way back.

4. People Want Variety

There are hundreds of versions of lip balm. You can choose based on brands, packaging, flavors, strengths and price. There are very few things where one size fits all.

5. Can Find Ways To Turn Anything Into Anything

When doing research for this post I learned that chapstick played a role in the Watergate scandal. Apparently the chapstick contained hidden microphones used by E. Howard Hunt and G. Gordon Liddy, the leaders of the Watergate break-in team. Here’s a picture of them.

Advertisements

5 Things We Can Learn From Seat Belts

The great thing about learning is that it is not confined to certain times or locations. Learning can happen anytime, anywhere.

I like to highlight this fact by, once a month, looking at things we encounter on a daily basis and seeing what important lesson we can from them.

In today’s installment of “Five Things We Can Learn From Everyday Objects” we are going to talk about something that I hope we use everyday…

5 Things We Can Learn From Seat Belts

1. Good Ideas May Not Come As Fast As We Think

The very first car was invented in 1886. The first car crash was reported to have taken place in 1891. You’d think seat belts would have come shortly after. You’d be wrong.

It wasn’t until 1955 that a patent was submitted for an automotive seat belt. And it wasn’t until 1968 that it became a law at required all vehicles (except buses) to be fitted with seat belts. We put humans into outer space before we required cars to have seat belts. And it wasn’t like the delay was because the problem was new. Car accidents had been happening for 77 years. Sometime it just takes a little longer than we may think to come up with a good idea.

2. Common Sense Isn’t Always Common

Seat belts save lives. Research has found they are 50% effective at preventing fatal injuries for drivers. If we don’t want to die, it makes total sense that we would wear seat belts. Yet some people still do not wear them. According to the National Highway Safety Administration, 88.5 percent of drivers and front seat riders buckle up. While that is a high percentage, that still leaves 11.5 percent that apparently do not want to be safe. I guess that is a good reminder that no matter how good your product is, you just can’t convince everyone to use it.

3. We Are Always Influencing Our Kids

If I haven’t thrown enough facts at you, here’s another one…children are likely to be buckled 92% of the time when adults in the car use seat belts, as opposed to 72% of the time when adults are not using them. Even when we think they aren’t watching, we are influencing our kids. I guess we should make sure we are doing the right thing.

4. Thing Don’t Work As Well When They Get Twisted

I’ve never really understood how a seat belt gets so twisted. It is in the same place every time I use it, but somehow it gets tangled up from time to time. Unless you make Twizzlers, this is not something you want to happen to your product.

5. There Can Be More Than One Way To Do It

According to Wikipedia, seat belts come in the following different types:

  • Two-point
  • Lap
  • Sash
  • Three-point
  • Belt-in-seat
  • Four-point
  • Five-point
  • Six-point
  • Seven-point

Apparently there are almost as many types of seat belts as there are Oreos. Speaking of which, I am actually a little surprised that there isn’t a type of seat belt called double stuffed. Sounds like a good business opportunity if anyone wants in…

5 Things We Can Learn From The Internet

The great thing about learning is that it is not confined to certain times or locations. Learning can happen anytime, anywhere.

I like to highlight this fact by, once a month, looking at things we encounter on a daily basis and seeing what important lesson we can from them.

In today’s installment of “Five Things We Can Learn From Everyday Objects” we are going to talk about an object we so clearly use everyday that I can’t believe I haven’t covered it already…the Internet.

Yes, the internet. You know, that thing I’m using right now to write this, and you’re using right now to read this. It is something we’ve become so attached to that I recently heard someone comment that he hopes his niece is born with WIFI, since he will be spending a lot of time with her. I doubt that will happen, but I also doubt it will prevent him from finding another way to get online.

5 Things We Can Learn From The Internet

1. Don’t Become A Dinosaur

I think it might be an Internet law that when you talk about a website that fell from grace, you have to mention MySpace. You probably know about how MySpace took the Internet by storm in the 2000s only to fall by the wayside and see sites like Facebook and Twitter pass it by. There are plenty of other examples like Hotbot, Ask Jeeves or Crumble-ology. Okay, I might have made up that last one, but it definitely sounds like something that would have been online at some point.

Are we becoming the MySpace of our profession? Are we destined to be the Crumble-ology of our craft? (Actually now that I think of it, Crumble-ology sounds like something you would study in culinary school). To avoid a similar fall of the face of the earth, we need to be constantly evolving. Learn a new skill. Take up a new hobby. Enroll in a Crumble-ology course. Anything to keep on, keeping on.

2. Everyone Has A Voice

Imagine what the Internet would look like if only a select few could add to it. Sure it might still be interesting, but it wouldn’t be nearly as great. You might get awesome sites like ESPN.com, but you wouldn’t be able to hear random dudes make up words like Crumble-ology (that is the last reference, I promise). My point is, the Internet is so great because we never know who is going to chime in with the next great idea.

When we are chasing our dream it is important to keep our ears open. We can be so narrow minded that we forget that everyone has a voice. We may bypass a helpful idea because we are not listening to the speaker.

3. Even The Best Things Can Seem Scary

I fear many things, but the World Wide Web is not one of them. But you’d be surprised just how many people think are afraid of the Internet. They think every email is out to steal their identity. Just hearing the words, “open a new window in your browser,” makes giant butterflies dance around in their stomach.

There are many great things out there, but for each one I am sure you can find someone afraid of it. I may laugh at someone’s fear of the Internet while at the same time being ashamed to acknowledge my own fear making new friends. In life, as online, even the best things can seem scary. Our ability to step into that fear helps shape just how great that thing can be.

4. Even With Convenience, We Get Lazy

I have a friend who teaches high school Biology. He told me he has one rule when his students write a report. You can’t rely solely on Wikipedia. He is not some crazy anti-Wikipedia nut job who spends his evenings concocting a potion with the hopes of destroying the online encyclopedia. He is simply trying to teach his kids to explore the internet and find multiple sources. He even explains that if they are afraid of venturing too far from Wikipedia, they can use the sources footnotes on the site. They barely have too look for other resources, yet time and time again he receives papers that simply cite Wikipedia.

As we go after our goals, we might get lazy. Despite having an enormous amount of resources – talents, friends, education – we get caught looking for the easy way. Much like my friend’s students we look in one area for all the answers. We need to not be afraid to look around and see what else this world has to offer.

5. Too Much Information Is Overwhelming

There is so much to learn from — and on — the Internet that I probably could have titled this list 1,000 Things We Can Learn From The Internet. But that would have been too much. The readers would be overwhelmed and probably wouldn’t make it through the first 20. Just because we can go on and on, doesn’t mean we have to.

 

5 Things We Can Learn From Podcasts

The great thing about learning is that it is not confined to certain times or locations. Learning can happen anytime, anywhere.

I like to highlight this fact by, once a month, looking at things we encounter on a daily basis and seeing what important lesson we can from them.

In today’s installment of “Five Things We Can Learn From Everyday Objects” we are going to talk about something we listen to, but can’t talk back to…

5 Things We Can Learn From Podcasts

1. You Can Pick Anything You Like

Do you like sports? How about politics? How about books or booze or board games? No matter what you like, there’s likely a podcast for that. Nothing is off limits. Anything you can think of has the potential to be a successful podcast.

2. If It Doesn’t Exist, Create It

If you read that last paragraph and thought, “you are so wrong Adam. I am Exit sign enthusiast. There are no podcasts dedicated exclusively to Exit signs.” Then start one. Chances are you aren’t the only Exit sign fan. Maybe there are others out there who would listen to your show. Or maybe not. You’ll know until you try?

3. Anyone Can Do It, But You Have To Stick With It

You do not need the backing of a radio station to start a podcast. You just need a microphone, something to talk about and lots of patience. Anyone can do it, but that also means that anyone can do it. There’s a lot of competition. If you are not willing to stick with it, you might want to think twice.

4. You Don’t Have To Do At Their Speed

I listen to nearly all of my podcasts at 1.5x speed. It allows me to listen to more podcasts more frequently. I can finish a 30 minute podcast in like 20somthing minutes (this isn’t a math blog). I can also listen to podcasts at 0.5x the speed (although I would never do that) Just because someone created a 30 minute podcast, doesn’t mean that is what I have to spend on it. Just because others are doing something at one pace, doesn’t mean you have to follow that speed.

5. Sizes May Vary

Some podcasts are long. Some are short. Some promote products. Some are just a labor of love. Some make money. Some don’t. There are many reasons to do something. Why are you doing what you do?

5 Things We Can Learn From A TV Remote

The great thing about learning is that it is not confined to certain times or locations. Learning can happen anytime, anywhere.

I like to highlight this fact by, once a month, looking at things we encounter on a daily basis and seeing what important lesson we can from them.

In today’s installment of “Five Things We Can Learn From Everyday Objects” we are going to talk about an object we always want to have at our fingertips…an object that conveys power and control…an object that is the source of many fights…the television remote control.

5 Things We Can Learn From A TV Remote

1. We Have To Press The Right Buttons

TV remote controls are pretty awesome. With the simple click of a button we can pause a show, watch two shows at once, or change channels. So much power with so little work. But there is a catch. We can’t just point the remote at the screen and press any button. We have to press the right buttons. One wrong button and we could be watching MSNBC when we meant to watch Fox News. It may not seem like much, but the right buttons make a big difference.

It is said that a good coach or great boss knows how to press the right buttons for their team. They know when to yell vs. when to console. They know when to pull back and when to push ahead. This knowledge can make or break the success of a team. The same is important on our individual projects. Knowing what buttons to press, and when, can be the difference between going in reverse or moving forward.

2. We Need Power

Don’t you just hate when the batteries in the TV remote go dead? It always happens at the worst time and there are no other batteries in sight. Without power, our remote is useless and we are left with a button-filled paperweight.

When we do not have power, we are useless. I’m not talking about power as in muscles or command of a room. I’m talking about sleep. Recharging our batteries. I once I sat in a meeting where one woman slept the entire time. Not only was she useless during the meeting, but I’m guessing she was useless for the rest of the week because she missed what was covered in the meeting. She was basically a button-less paperweight.

3. We Have Power When We Have Control

The person who controls the remote controls the TV. They decide what is watched and watch is skipped over. Many fights have been fought over who decides what to watch. Ultimately, the holder of the remote decides.

Now that I have shared the earth shattering news that we need to get some sleep, let’s talk about the other type of power we need. We need control. When we are in control, we are way more efficient. We control our diet and we lose weight. We control a room and people listen. We control our bowels and we do not need diapers. Control is very important.

4. It Helps To Know Where We Are Turning

For my TV, I know that channel 206 is ESPN. When I want to watch ESPN, I know exactly what to do…press 206. If I didn’t know what channel ESPN was, I would have a very difficult time getting there. I may eventually find it, but it would take many more steps.

In life, it helps to know where we are turning. It also helps to know what we are looking for. Just like looking for sports on ESPN, looking for a career change or a new diet is a heck of a lot more difficult if we do not know where to turn.

5. We Can Do It From Here

The reason the phrase “turn the channel” exists is because we used to have to get up and physically turn a knob to change channel. Imagine having to get out of your comfy recliner, stumble over to the TV and use our hands. Sounds awful, right? Thankfully those times are long gone. Now we can change the channel from the other room if needed. God Bless America.

Thanks to fancy inventions and amazing technology we can do a lot from where we are. We can work with people from all over the world from our comfy recliner. We can go to school in our pajamas (I guess we could always do that, just now we don’t get funny looks). The world is more connected than ever and gone is the excuse “I would change, but I don’t want to move.”

5 Things We Can Learn From Spellcheck

The great thing about learning is that it is not confined to certain times or a specific location. Learning can happen anytime, anywhere.

I like to highlight this fact by, once a month, looking at things we encounter on a daily basis and seeing what important lesson we can from them.

In today’s installment of “Five Things We Can Learn From Everyday Objects” we are going to talk about something that is very important to this blog…

5 Things We Can Learn From Spellcheck

1. We Need To Turn It On

Spellcheck is pretty amazing…as long as we turn it on. There was a time when, without realizing it, I had turned off spellcheck in Microsoft Outlook. I only noticed it when I reread an email and found numerous spelling errors. I started to scold spellcheck and wonder why it wasn’t doing the one job it was created to do, only to realize that I was the one who messed up. I somehow turned spellcheck off. I fixed my mistake and from there on out, the many errors in my emails lit up like a Christmas tree.

We are surrounded by many great resources, we just need to make sure there is nothing preventing them from doing their job.

2. It Helps To Have An Extra Set Of Eyes

My blog, much like my life, is filled with errors. I rely on spellcheck to help me fix the errors in my blog. I rely on friends and family to help me fix those errors in my life. We can all use help from something, or someone, looking over our shoulder to make sure that we are on the right track.

Just make sure it is someone you trust.

3. No One Is Perfect

My grandpa’s last name is Moncher. Spell check always wants me to change that to Moocher. Spellcheck either really thinks my grandpa likes to sponge off others, or it is just a reminder that no one is perfect.

If we do not expect spellcheck to be perfect, why should we expect our friends and family to be perfect?

4. Use Technology To Your Advantage

I am a lazy speller. Most of the time, I probably do know how to spell a word correctly, but I also know that if I just get close, spellcheck will help me get the rest of the way. This allows me to save time. Because I know spell check will help me clean up the finished product, there is no need to have my train on thought interrupted by trying to figure out if interrupted has two r’s or not. We are surrounded by wonderful technology. As we are looking to improve our spelling, our sleep or any other aspect of our lives, we can use this technology to our advantage.

As an old commercial once said, “There’s an app for that.”

5. But We Need To Do Most Of The Work

Spellcheck helps me get the rest of the way, but I still need to do most of the leg work. Per my example from above of spelling “interrupted”, if I just write “inte” spellcheck wants me to change it to “inch.” If I just write “interr” spellcheck wants me to fix it to “intern.”

No matter how much great technology we have at our fingertips, is up to us to do most of the work.

5 Things We Can Learn From Gum

The great thing about learning is that it is not confined to certain times or a specific location. Learning can happen anytime, anywhere.

I like to highlight this fact by, once a month, looking at things we encounter on a daily basis and seeing what important lesson we can from them.

In today’s installment of “Five Things We Can Learn From Everyday Objects” we are going to talk about gum…

5 Things We Can Learn From Gum

1. Nothing Lasts Forever

Remember Fruit Stripe gum? For those of you who don’t, it was a striped stick of gum that had a deliciously strong fruit flavor. For about 37 seconds. In less than a minute, you were left with a beige flavorless jaw workout.

I’ve never quite understood how some gum lasts a long time, while others lose flavor quickly. I don’t even know why gum loses flavor in the first place. All I know is that Fruit Stripe is great, but I want my products lasting more than 37 seconds.

2. Don’t Believe Everything You Hear

Once it is swallowed, gum is subjected to the same treatment as any other food. After it is recognized as useless by our digestive system, gum travels the same path as all other waste products.

True story.

But that is not what we hear about gum, is it? We hear that it stays in our stomachs for seven years. So why is gum always associated with this urban legend? Not sure. Once a rumor gets started, it is difficult to make it go away.

3. More Isn’t Always Better

One dollar is good. One hundred dollars is much better. Doesn’t work that way for gum. Chewing one piece is good. Chewing one hundred pieces will make you look like a chubby baby. We like to think that the more the merrier. But as in the case of gum, or messages in a group text, more isn’t always better.

4. Be Careful Where You Step

There are a few things in life you want to avoid stepping on. Cracks (or you’ll break your mother’s back), giant holes (or you’ll break your own back), and legos (you’ll want to smack your child’s back) just to name a few. Somewhere near the top of that list you’ll also find gum.

Anyone who has stepped in gum has two questions: what moron would just spit gum out on the sidewalk and why does gum stick to my shoe, but not my teeth? Since I can’t answer either, I will just advise you to watch where you step.

5. You May Never Expect What Can Help

I want to talk to the person who discovered that peanut butter helps remove gum from your hair. How many things did she try from pantry to remove the gum before she was successful with Skippy? Was she happy to have the gum out, or unhappy to have peanut butter hair? What did she use to remove the peanut butter…sprinkles?

I may never have the answers to my questions, much like you may never expect to receive help from where you do. Some things we just can’t see coming.

5 Things We Can Learn From Silverware

The great thing about learning is that it is not confined to certain times or a specific location. Learning can happen anytime, anywhere.

I like to highlight this fact by, once a month, looking at things we encounter on a daily basis and seeing what important lesson we can from them.

In today’s installment of “Five Things We Can Learn From Everyday Objects” we are going to talk about silverware…

5 Things We Can Learn From Silverware

1. Some Are Meant For This & Some Are Meant For That

Have you every tried to eat cereal with a knife? I never have, but I imagine it results in Joker-like scars and soggy Fruit Loops. Knives are great, but they are not meant to be used to eat cereal. That job is more suited for a spoon. Certain types of silverware are meant for certain types of jobs. Same can be said for people.

As much as I enjoy rhyming, I will never be Busta Rhymes. And as much as I enjoy pretzels, I will never be Auntie Anne. We are not meant to do everything, and that is okay. Maybe I am meant to be the first person to use Busta Rhymes and Auntie Anne in back to back sentences, who knows?

2. Teamwork Makes The Dream Work

Forks and knives are like the John Stockton and Karl Malone of cutting steak — the cutlery version of the pick and roll. Individually, they are still pretty good, but together they are legendary.

As we just learned, some things are meant for this, and some are meant for that. And some time, they are meant to work together.

3. There Can Be Strength In Numbers

Until a year ago, my house only had 4 forks. My brother and I were forced to do dishes more often than an IHOP. I don’t think we realized that forks are not just something that comes with the house, (still learning that lesson about a hose) they can actually be purchased with money earned at our adult jobs.

Luckily for us, our cousins (younger cousins, mind you) heard about our fork problem and purchased us a brand new set of 10 forks. Well, let me tell you…having 14 forks made us feel like Charlie (of Willy Wonka fame) with his golden ticket. We were ready to take on the world.

Education. Funding. Help. What could you use more of? Most things you need don’t just come with the job. You have to go out there and get them yourself. And if that doesn’t work, casually drop hints around my cousins and maybe they will get it for you.

4. Don’t Get Rusty

While we didn’t have many forks, we did have plenty of knives. Only there was one problem. The knives cut as well as an adult trying to use those blunt, tiny scissors found in a kindergarten classroom.

Much like a businessman who does things because “that is how we have always done it” our knives were old, rusty and in need of a social media lesson. We had the correct tools, but weren’t getting the results. Not until we got new knives did we see how much easier life is when we stay sharp.

5. When You Can’t Find What You Are Looking For, Create It

I like to believe that someone in the early 1900s was eating spaghetti and ice cream at the same time. The ice cream kept falling through the fork, and the spaghetti wouldn’t stop slipping off the spoon. They grew frustrated at having to keep switching back and forth between utensils.

Anyone could look at that situation and say, “Who eats spaghetti and ice cream together? Sounds like the habits of a psychopath.” But in this make believe story, this person was not a psychopath, but an inventor. Out of this conundrum the spork was born. If you have never used a spork, just picture something that looks like a silver fire emoji. Not quite a spoon, not quite a fork, it is curved around the edges and pointy in the middle. Great for eating spaghetti and ice cream together…I assume. I doubt my story is 100% accurate, but the point remains the same. Someone had a problem, found that the solution did not exist yet, so they created it themselves.

 

This Year In 5 Things We Can Learn

The latest 2016 recap might be my favorite segment that I write. It is the one where I look at things we encounter on a daily basis and see what important lesson we can from them.

Here’s a year’s worth of “Five Things We Can Learn From Everyday Objects”

5 Things We Can Learn From Calendars

5 Things We Can Learn From Superheroes

5 Things We Can Learn From The Great Wall Of China

5 Things We Can Learn From Disney Dads

5 Things We Can Learn From Fans

5 Things We Can Learn From The NY Times Crossword Puzzle

5 Things We Can Learn From The Arizona Cardinals

5 Things We Can Learn From Our Couch

5 Things We Can Learn From Books

 

 

5 Things We Can Learn From Books

The great thing about learning is that it is not confined to certain times or a specific location. Learning can happen anytime, anywhere.

I like to highlight this fact by, once a month, looking at things we encounter on a daily basis and seeing what important lesson we can from them.

In today’s installment of “Five Things We Can Learn From Everyday Objects” we are going to talk about books…

5 Things We Can Learn From Books

1. The Cover Is Actually Kinda Important

The old saying goes, “don’t judge a book by its cover.” I agree that this is good advice, but I think we should reword it to “don’t only judge a book by its cover.” The cover doesn’t tell the whole story, but it does say a lot. Publishers spend hundreds of hours and thousands of dollars to create a cover that catches the eye of the reader. Yes, the cover can only do so much. Not even a perfect cover can save a terrible book, but I think it is okay to be influenced a little by the first thing you see. Just don’t let that be the only thing that influences you.

2. References Carry Weight

I haven’t done the math, but I would bet that more than 50% of the books that I read I learn about because they were recommended by other authors I follow. Either I hear about them on Twitter, or I read the endorsements on the back of the book. Knowing that someone I trust and respect feels strongly about a book makes a big difference. No wonder employers ask for references in a job interview.

3. Greatness Comes In All Shapes & Sizes

At the time I am writing this, the top 10 best selling books on Amazon include both Killing the Rising Sun: How America Vanquished World War II Japan by Bill O’Reilly and First 100 Words by Roger Priddy. The former is a 6″ x 9″, 336 page book described as “An enthralling, gripping account of the bloody battles, huge decisions, and historic personalities.” The latter is 4″ x 6″, 26 pages and said to have a cover that is “softly padded for little hands to hold.” They are about as different as Dr. Seuss is from Dr. Frankenstein. Yet, they both sell a ton of copies. You can be different and still be great.

4. Sharing Is Caring

Non-fiction books share knowledge. Fantasy books share imagination. Children’s books share fun. And book readers share experiences. If you’ve ever read a great book, chances are you have told someone about it. Whether in books or other aspects of life, friendships have been strengthened and bonds have been tightened thanks to sharing.

5. Your Work Finishes Quickly But It Can Last Forever

Books are funny things. They can take many years to write, but just a few hours to read. However, the great ones stay with us long after we put down turn the last page.