Publishing on Amazon (books)

A few weeks back I published a book on amazon.com titled, Down on the Pharm. I am extremely proud because it was an accomplishment to take my story from ‘thought‘ to ‘paper‘ to ‘amazon‘.  It would be amazing to make a significant amount of money from the book, but in reality I know this is difficult to do.  From a young age, I always dreamed of getting paid to write books because it something I truly enjoy doing.  Down on the Pharm is actually the second book I finished writing.  There are several other books I tried writing, but never really finished.  In particular, one titled Magnolia Hill was about 50-60 pages before I stopped writing it.  

To complete a book, it requires focus and passion for the story you want to tell.  Down on the Pharm is a story I needed to tell because it was a difficult time in my life.  I would not say it is exactly the same as the booked titled The Jungle by Upton Sinclair where he exploits the harsh conditions of worker immigrants in Chicago, but is similar in many ways.  Due to the book The Jungle, many regulatory changes happened and it was a good thing.  It could be possible due to my book Down on the Pharm similar changes could happen to change today’s working conditions.

For those thinking about reading my book Down on the Pharm, please consider this.  I’ve worked in an environment where people were mistreated because the owners of the company felt it was their right to mistreat others.  Specifically, I felt women were looked down upon and not given a fair shot.  I also felt workers were mistreated because the owners knew certain employees had no way out.  The majority of the workforce down on the pharm was Indians (from India) who needed work visas to stay in the United States.  Many of them were smart and held pH.D. degrees.  The owners would bring these scientists onboard straight out of graduate school  because they needed a visa to stay in the United States.  These Indian employees were not paid well in comparison to the industry standard for someone with their credentials.  No health care benefits were provided.  The list goes on and I describe this in the book – Down on the Pharm.

If you are interested, please go to Amazon.com and look up Down on the Pharm by Jack Jingles.  I am excited because years ago, I would not have been able to publish this book as easily.  Amazon is a great stage for authors who want to release their stories without the gigantic costs of doing so.  If you have an idea, I’d recommend you to check out Amazon.  There are some other platforms you can go to, but I thought Amazon was the best one.  I felt it was simple and easy to use.  Fortunately, they are still sending me royalties as people purchase my book.  Unfortunately, it takes 90 days from the time of purchase until you receive your payment.  Fortunately, I do not need the money and I can live without it.  Again, please check out my book Down on the Pharm and support my journey to help correct unfair work conditions.  

Manage your expectations and don’t spend crazy!

In building goals for myself, I am not only digging into my capabilities, but I am also looking around how others are doing too!  If an average American makes $35,000 per year and works for 40 years [reference Tammy Chambless], they will have made $1.4 million in their lifetime.  Sounds like a good amount of money, but in reality- it is not enough for most.  As we already know, most people live above their means and this is obviously a problem.  How do we fix this issue?  I believe reckless spending is ruining our economy over an extended period of time.

It all comes back to goal setting!  Most of us want to make as much money as possible without over-sacrificing.  We eventually find ourselves sacrificing our goals and allowing ourselves mediocrity.  Near the last years of our life, we quickly realize we could have done more.  This is not a position I want to find myself in.  I want to know I did as much as I can and fulfilled all my dreams.  On top of it all, I want to make sure I support my family as best as I possibly can.

As tempting as it is to purchase a new car, even if you have the money- does not mean you necessarily have to purchase a new car.  If you already have a car in perfectly good working condition, then try to extend use because cars are almost always a poor investment.  Similarly, a boat is another poor investment choice that typically does not help you advance in life.  These are just two examples of unnecessary purchases you can save tons of money on.  Think about other things you are tempted to purchase, yet can live without.

If you think about buying a car for $30,000.  You may also be spending $10,000 on interest and other fees.  The value of this car will significantly decrease by the time you pay it off (if you do pay it off).  If you have a mortgage, this was $40,000 you could have used in further paying off your mortgage.  We cannot just think about the original $30,000 sale price because you have interest and fees you need to pay ($10,000 or so).  You also have the loss of saved interest you could have saved on paying your mortgage off faster.  All of these things add up overtime and when you live the right way and make the right financial decisions, you really start to see it paying off.

Patience and managing expectations is a huge piece of it all. Too many people do not seem to get this and it often leads them to failure.  Everyone wants everything immediately and nobody wants to wait it out.  Try waiting it out because it is the right thing to do.  Don’t go crazy making huge purchases because it feels good.  If you are living the same paycheck-to-paycheck lifestyle you’ve been living for years, it is time to change.  Push harder to stay discipline and know things take time.   Good things take time and great things take even more time.  I can talk for days on this because there are endless examples out there we can pick from.  What is your example?

Open minded career

Capitalize when you get the opportunity because you never know when you’ll get another chance.  Throughout my career I’ve been provided with many opportunities.  Some opportunities are bigger than others, but it doesn’t mean the smaller opportunities are less important to my overall success.  So many of the smaller opportunities lead you to the bigger opportunities.

In my career, I have taken several lateral moves and this can be a difficult decision.  A lateral move means ‘no promotion’ and typically no more money.  A lateral move does not mean less work and can be actually be more challenging.  In my experience, lateral moves meant learning new skills, new processes, meeting new co-workers, and proving myself to an all new set of people once again.  So without a promotion, why would someone opt for a lateral move?

A lateral move will broaden your skillset and provide you more exposure to a wider range of people.  If you are anything like me, I want to continuously improve and grow.  Growth is extremely important for me in every aspect of life.  I fear being left behind and want to advance whenever I can.  I have been told as you move up your career, you can relate it to a pyramid.  The broader base is the beginning of your career where you can easily move across cross-functional teams gaining experience in multiple areas.  As you progress towards higher levels, you may become more focused and less likely to move to different functions of your organizations.

I am currently in a role outside my original area of expertise.  As a biochemistry major in college, you’d think I’d be working in a biochemistry or chemistry field.  I currently work in supply chain, which is not what I studied.  I did work for three years as a chemist in a pharmaceutical startup after college.  I went to maintenance, then packaging as an engineer, and then supply chain.  It has been many years in the making and I still have a ways to go.  A long the way I gained my masters degree in packaging and gained much experience in various fields.

My best advice at this time for the younger generations is not to limit yourself to what you are willing to take on.  If you receive an reputable offer in a role you are not to familiar with, don’t immediately turn it down.  This role could lead you to many great opportunities that you could have never even dreamed about.  I am still working on getting to where I want to be, but am enjoying the journey as I travel there.  I also know how to manage expectations because so much does not have overnight.  We all want everything now and in reality, that rarely happens.

Keep on pushing and never give up! 

Life Expectancy

So many say, life is too short.  And if you think about it, life really is too short, so we need to make the best of what we are given.  If you go to https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_life_expectancy, you can review life expectancy by country.  At the top, you will find Japan (83.7), Switzerland (83.4), Singapore (83.1), Australia (82.8), Spain (82.8), and so forth.  Canada (82.2) is ranked twelfth and USA (79.3) is ranked thirty-first, which is somewhat surprising.  Some of the lower life expectancy rates are Chad (53.1), Central Africa Republic (52.5), Angola (52.5), and Sierra Leone (50.1).

For most of us, 80 years does seem like a very long time.  If we convert this to days, we get 29,800 days based on a year being equivalent to 365 days.  I’m not sure about you, but for me- 29,800 days seems much shorter than 80 years even though we know it’s the same.  The first 20 years of your life or 7,300 days of your life, you are probably in school.  The next 40 years or 14,600 days of your life, you are probably working.  This gives you roughly 20 years or 7,300 days of retirement if you planned right.

For me, it is scary to think how short time is because I have so many goals I want to achieve.  For me, this further makes me realize that each day is extremely important.  It also makes me realize planning is crucial because we do not have the opportunity to repeat things more than we have to, especially if you have aggressive goals.  This further solidifies my stance on working both in the corporate world and on my own business in parallel.  I am stabilizing my financial situation and investing in a business I truly believe in.  

Since we know life is relatively short, if you know there is something you want to do, you should do it.  Waiting or delaying is not good for you!  I personally like to say – YOLO (you only live once).  When it is time for me to leave this earth, I want to know I truly lived and I can do this by pursuing all my goals.  Fortunately, I have been doing pretty well lately and I do see a lot of my dreams becoming realities.  I encourage all others to do the same, but know it takes time.  We need to manage our expectations because there can be obstacles in the way.

My goose egg story

It was a week or so before Easter and I was 6 years old living in Ontario, Canada.  At school, all students in my class received an emptied goose egg to decorate with paint and stickers.  After we finished our artwork, we placed the egg gently into a paper carrier basket we made.  We each took the eggs home safely, so we could show our parents the work we did.  At the time my house was behind the school, so I was able to walk the egg in the paper carrier basket home carefully.  Still til this day, 20+ years later, I have this egg and paper carrier basket safely nestled away in my basement.

At the time, I did not expect to have kept the decorated goose egg for 20+ years.  I do not think at the age of 6, I could have even imagined I’d be alive for this amount of time.  I was too worried about the day of (not even the week of).  As life progresses, I feel time speeding up and I plan much further in advance.  All of this is part of being an adult and taking responsibility for your life.  Too many do not plan far enough in advance, which leads to so many issues.  I will not get into this right now because I want to focus on my goose egg story.

At any moment this goose egg could have cracked and shattered into many pieces.  By some chance, I was able to keep it for many years and had it during my long distance relocation from Canada to New Jersey.  There were also some additional moves within New Jersey that this goose egg moved with me.  This goose egg could be around for another 20+ years if I am careful.  It is valuable to me because it brings back memories of when I lived in Canada.  From time to time, it does us good to remember where we came from.  We need to understand where we came from before we can decide where we want to go.  Since I constantly write about my life in journals, I can easily go back and relive my past.  I also have a clear direction of where I want to go.

The goose egg is a perfect example of how I value things.  I want things to last long because I care about them.  These could be people, places, or things.  I also enjoy remembering the past because I feel I’ve had a lot of good times.  I also realize I have a lot of good times coming up.  More on this later.  In success, there are so many ways you can look at it.  Things to do.  Things not to do.  Just remember that there are other things we need to look at too.  We need to enjoy life and remember our pasts.

Talk Like Ted – review

My wife purchased me a book for my birthday titled, Talk Like Ted by Carmine Gallo.  This book describes 9 public speaking secrets of the World’s Top Minds.  I have only read chapter one and chapter two, but can say the book is very well-written and provides great value.  Here are the 9 common elements to all TED talks [reference forbes.com].

  1. Unleash the master within
  2. Tell three stories
  3. Practice relentlessly
  4. Teach your audience something new
  5. Deliver jaw-dropping moments
  6. Use humor without telling a joke
  7. Stick to the 18-minute rule
  8. Favor pictures over text
  9. Stay in your lane

I am very excited to continue reading this book because it is jam packed with so much beneficial information, which I can use in my everyday life.  I can see myself using the learned materials in my career, school, at dinner with friends, and so on.  I will admit, some of the information is stuff I already know, but to read it again- it makes it stick out in my mind.  The same goes for a lot of books I’ve read in this similar category.  There is a lot of information you already know, but the reading of it, digesting it, and using it will make you better in so many ways.

I do wonder why the writer stuck with 9 and did not go to 10 elements as so many do.  The magic number always seems to be 10, which makes me think ‘maybe’ there are really only 9.  From what I can see, I agree with each point very much and I am excited because the writer provides science behind it.  He also provides many true examples from real TED talks that have happened and can be viewed on the internet.  I personally love TED talks for the same reasons so many others love them.  They are interesting and usually inspiring.  Even if I do not care for the topic, the person telling the story makes it interesting for everyone.

Another use of these 9 elements is to become a better persuader.  I am always looking for improvements in the way I influence people.  It usually seems the person that can influence the best will almost-always get his/her way.  So what does that mean and why does it matter?  You can have the greatest idea, but if you cannot influence anyone that it is a good idea, it does not matter how great that idea is.  Nobody will take you up on your offer to venture out and make that idea become a reality.  I do not believe I was taught very well from the start to fine-tune my communication skills, specifically communication to influence others.  These are skills I am picking up much later in life and I do see the benefits from it.

Here is one example of how influencing has bettered my life.  Just several months ago when I took another role outside of my area of expertise, I needed to convince a whole department I was worthy.  I took a step back to understand what I had to offer this new department I wanted to join.  For starters, my reasoning to jump to another department was for broader opportunities and higher pay.  I could not say it was for higher pay, so of course I needed to emphasize the broader opportunities portion.  Since it was true, it was not extremely difficult to figure out a way to pitch it.  At the end of the day, I want the company to give to me and I also want to give back to the company.  Value can be shifted both ways (win-win).  I made sure what I was going to say and how I said it sounded good.  At the end of the day, I was given an offer, which means I did influence well.  I am sure you can think of many situations where you had to influence.

The book titled Talk Like Ted is very good and I recommend it.  I have only read two chapters, but can tell it is well-written, well-thought out, and should have a good finish.  Just for clarity, I was not paid to say this.

Change can be hard…

When we have been doing the something for a very long time, it becomes extremely difficult to change the way we do that certain thing.  I think the majority of people would agree with that statement.  I see it every time I would step foot in a manufacturing plant and talk to the line operator who has been working on the line for 30+ or 40+ years.  I provide an update to what I am doing and why we are doing it.  It typically involves a change to the line operators job.  Immediately they yell, “I’ve been doing it this way for a very long time and that just isn’t going to work for me.”

Some line operators were more willing to modify their work styles than others, but very few long-time employees were willing.  Usually, it is the younger line operators who didn’t mind the changes.  This type of thing is not unique to manufacturing plants.  We can also see this in the office, school, town hall meetings, and the list goes on.  As people who have been doing the same things the same way for a very long time, we are not always excited to change.  It requires work and I understand that, but there may be greater benefits in the long run to making some adjustments.  Those benefits need to be clearly communicated and understood by the people who are being impacted by the changes.

You could be the person undergoing the change, the person pushing for the change, or an innocent bystander.  It is sometimes necessary to undergo changes for the better good.  We also need to understand that it may take some time to get used to the new changes being implemented.  We need to manage our expectations and not expect a change to be easy all the time.  I struggle with it, but after a while if we are persistent these changes become normal for us.  Before you know it, you won’t even remember the struggles of going through the changes.

The last piece to think about is understanding if the changes are truly worth it.  Are these changes valuable or not?  If you think they are not valuable, justify why you think that and do not just say no because you are annoyed.  Too often, people decide without good reason and after this happens a few times, you will not be taken seriously.  Those are my thoughts for today.

Presentation of your hardwork

I continually strive to outperform myself from the day before by pushing harder and working more effectively.  So, what does that mean?

I am improving myself!  I am taking the time to learn new skills and jumping at opportunities that will set me up for success.  Sometimes it gets uncomfortable because I am learning new things I’ve never done before.  It can also be energy-draining!  If I take a step back and look at what I am doing, will it lead me to success?  If the answer is ‘no’, then I am going to need to rethink what I am doing.  If the answer is ‘yes, then I should continue moving forward with whatever I am doing.

Earlier today I gave a presentation on some work I’ve been doing the past few months.  I did not create my presentation overnight and present it.  This is something I knew I needed to build up over several months while working.  I envisioned myself presenting the materials I worked on and being proud of it.  Without this vision, I would not have prepared as well with the goal insight from the start.

I had only 11 slides to work through in 60 minutes.  Each slide was jam packed full of useful information.  Each slide has a meaningful purpose to build on the story I wanted to tell.  The work I’ve been involved with the past couple of months has allowed me to become the expert on the topic.  This prepared me to field any questions that came my way.  My personal experiences allow me to give my perspective on the topic.  I am proud of the work I’ve done and the final presentation at the end.  This will not be the last, but is most definitely a milestone.

With each additional presentation I do, I am building better communication skills.  I am less nervous because I am more confident.  I know in the end, nobody is out to hurt me.  Everyone is listening to learn and support my work.  It is difficult to realize when you are up there, but it is true.  At the end, everyone says great job!  When you really put the time in, you will receive compliments because they know you did your best.

It is very important to present your hard work because you deserve credit.  Someone once said, “it’s about the information and not so much about you.”  I take this message in and realize, it’s not really about me.  It truly is about the information and I can just do my best to make it more enjoyable to listen to me talking.  I want to be liked (of course).  I also want to be a great leader.  I can do this by putting hard work in, being honest, and giving my best efforts.

Don’t lose focus on your priorities

Too often, people lose focus of their priorities simply because they forget about them.  My remedy for forgetting is to consistently document daily in my journal daily.  We should all have 10-15 minutes downtime each day to write some important thoughts into a journal.  Several months after, I type up my journal entries into a word document.  This forces me to review my writings from several months before.  This is my way of remembering goals from months prior and keeps me accountable.

There are certain goals I have that are extremely important to me.  For example, paying off my mortgage is a number one priority for me in my financial world.  At least several times a week I mention this goal in some shape or form into my journal.  This repetition keeps me thinking about the goal and pushes me to determine better ways of achieving this goal faster.  Another goal is to maintain a healthy body and mind.  I maintain a healthy body by going to the gym and eating proper foods suitable for my lifestyle.  I maintain a healthy mind by constantly challenging it and learning new materials.  These are things I write about several times a week too.

Another key to being successful in my writings is to be completely honest.  The only way I will do this is to know nobody else is going to read my journals.  It is a personal item that I can document anything I wish.  I know my thoughts are safe and I can have a real discussion with myself in these ‘diaries’.  If I felt somebody might see them, I may present my thoughts differently for an audience.  We do not want to sugar coat anything in our journals.  We want the pure simple truth, so we can truly assess our situation and improve ourselves.

It is great to look back on where we were several months ago and assess our decisions knowing what we know today.  I often say, why did I make that decision?  Or that was a great choice!  It gives me great pleasure to know I am improving as time passes by.  I hope you can also improve and try out the journal method I am talking about.  Yes- it takes some time, but not a lot of time.  A notebook from Walmart will cost you $0.50 or a few dollars for a really fancy one.  All you need is some paper and a pen to write your thoughts.  Make sure you are consistent and honest.  These two things are extremely important to your success!

Challenges in growing your small business

Here is an interesting article titled, Top 10 Challenges Small Business Owners Are Facing Today on SmallBizTrends.com.  Here are the 10 challenges listed:

  • Healthcare
  • Government Regulations
  • Federal Income Taxes
  • The Economy
  • Tax Compliance
  • Cash Flow
  • Staying Passionate
  • Not Diversifying Client Bases
  • Growth vs. Quality
  • Hiring New Employees

As you can see, just because you have a fantastic idea does not mean you are going to have a successful business.  There is a certain level of knowledge and drive you need to succeed.  In today’s environment, if you have employees- you are expected to pay them a certain amount of money and provide a certain level of healthcare.  Even if you do have the funding to hire employees, it is not always easy finding the right employees for your business and culture.  As we can see, there are a slew of challenges for small businesses and it feels as if there are more things working against us than with us.  How can we change this and be successful in an environment that is not favorable to small businesses succeeding?

I started my business with my father back in 2008 and we didn’t dump all of our money into it.  We started working out of my father’s garage building equipment. We used the tools we had and asked for money down from our customers on each product they asked for.  As time went by and we saved more money from our business, we slowly purchased new equipment and tools to make our lives easier.  These new tools and equipment helped us complete jobs faster, so we could complete more projects each year.  Of course this helped us become more profitable.  We continued to build in my father’s garage for two years until we were able to move into a larger building.  We did not own the larger building and needed to pay rent.  We spent another eight years in this building.

Finally, my father and I saved up a bunch of money and purchased a piece of commercial property for ourselves.  We are still in the process of gaining approvals to build the shop we want and it is most definitely not an easy process. It requires hiring a lawyer, engineer, and working with the town to gain their approvals.  The process is very expensive and not something we could have done when we first started out business.  It is difficult to start a business and also challenging to grow a business.  On top of putting blood, sweat, and tears into our business, we also need to provide money to our town for approvals.  It seems everyone wants a piece of your hard earned money.

If we gave up today, we are only hurting ourselves.  Since we believe in our business and the future of our business, we must continue on.  I said to my father, “we will not let anything stop us from completing this project”.  This project I am referring to is the construction of our new shop on our commercial land.  We are super excited about this journey.  My advice to anyone else in a similar situation is this, do not give up and continue forward.  You will see results if you do not quit and it should be very beneficial.

Business failures – reasons

According to Forbes, these are five reasons 8 in 10 businesses fail.

  • Leadership breakdown at the top
  • Not really in touch with customers through deep dialogue
  • No real differentiation in the market (lack of unique value propositions)
  • Failure to communicate value propositions in clear, concise and compelling fashion
  • Inability to nail a profitable business model with proven revenue streams

I would have to say leadership is an enormous part of how successful a business is.  The leadership team needs to create direction and effectively communicate the strategy throughout the organization.  It does not matter if you are just a small pizza shop or a fortune 500 company.  Without great leadership, the risk of your business failing is high.

Secondly, not being in touch with your customers is a huge mistake.  At the end of the day we are in business because of our customers.  If we are not able to truly understand their needs, then we are just shooting at our targets blindly.  Our customers want to know that we care enough to get to know them and sell them products that meet their requirements.

Third, selling products that are no different from our competitor’s products does not benefit us.  Our customers want to know why our products are better.  This could mean we are better priced, have better quality, provide better performance, and so on.  Our customers want value for their money, which is understandable.  It is our job to provide the value they want to gain their business.

Fourth, even if we do develop a product that meets our customer’s needs, are we properly communicating it to our customers?  For example, if you are selling an energy drink that can boost someone’s energy by 50% for 10 hours, is this being properly communicated?  If this is what is most important about the product and your biggest selling point, you need to make sure the label reflects that.  It would not do you any good to add a bunch of claims on the label that may not matter as much as this priority highlight.

Fifth, we all need profit to stay in business.  It can be difficult to turn a profit if you have a lot of overhead and small margins.  It is crucial to make sure your P&L makes sense and will allow you to take home a profit.  It can pay to do a few paper exercises before you get too deep into the business.  We want to lower our risk of failure whenever we have the opportunity to reduce risk.

These are the five reasons 8 out of 10 businesses fail according to Forbes.  This does not mean there are not anymore.  It is interesting to see what others say about business failures.  There could be 1,000s of reasons for different circumstances, but these are most definitely common reasons.  It does make sense to learn as much as we can about our businesses, customers, strategies and so on.  Education is key to reducing risk.  Nobody likes to think they can fail, but it is very possible.

34 gigabytes of information for our brains daily

The internet if filled with so much information (good & bad).  Our brains are also filled with so much information.  There is an article titled the-human-brain-is-loaded-daily-with-34-gb-of-information, which talks about how our brains take in 34 gigabytes of information daily.  This is an astounding amount of information.  In a 5-day work week, we are absorbing 170 gigabytes of information.  This would fill up an average hard drive of a computer.  We are not retaining all information we absorb because this would be too overwhelming for our brains.  However, we are using the information and experiences to mold who we are.  This means, we will want to absorb good information that will positively impact us and motivate us to be better people.  For example, I would not recommend watching too many extremist videos online that will contribute ‘nothing’ to our future successes and only provide potential harm to the way we think.

As a civilization, we are possibly the smartest we have ever been because we have so much information at our finger tips.  Internet was not widely accessible twenty years ago at the speeds we are using it today.  If I want to find out how fast a cheetah can run or how much horse power is in a certain type of Ferrari, I can easily search on the internet and have an answer within seconds.  If I am working to make a decision for my business, the internet is a great tool to help out with that.  Imagine if this was no longer and we had to go to the library for all of our answers?  Or what if we had to call the Ferrari manufacturer for the answers we desire?  The speed at which we work would significantly decrease.

I am thankful to live in the times we are because we can work so efficiently and effectively with all of the tools we have.  As each day passes, new technologies come out and we are able to work even faster.  The key is to stay up to date with the latest technologies.  These are a few thoughts I had while I wait at the airport on my airplane to show up.  Until next time!