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A Personal Framework for Increased Happiness

Personal Growth Alternative Thinking
I am a firm believer in extreme empowerment on many levels of personal growth. What I mean by that is simple: you have the ability to change almost every aspect about your life. I am constantly revising the way I think, eat, and live in order to better suit my happiness. With this concept comes a constant internal revision process and continuous challenges to change. Fortunately, there are a magnitude of tools and principles to employ that naturally brings about a constant flow towards being happy.

I recently returned from Burning Man which taught me more than I could ever begin to describe. Within the context of personal empowerment, I learned about my significant ability to accomplish goals and impact others. Everyone has a personal modus operandi which they employ to move forward in life. Take a long look at what you do to get to the end of any task, cut out the fat, and streamline your thinking/doing process. I also realized how significant other actors can be in my outcomes. It dawned on me how impactful a gift could be, and what significant alteration a single interaction with someone can have on a life. Approach others as if they held the key to happiness. Treat your relationships as sacred and use them as a platform to lift your spirit and your capabilities.

Change should be considered a certainty along with death and taxes. It’s here and will continue to come regardless of resistance. It’s vital to embrace and direct change to the best of your ability in order to generate the results you ultimately desire. There are always challenges and obstacles that arise throughout life which must be overcome. Take a long look at the changes occurring now, changes that are likely to come, and potential changes we have no control over. Analyze those changes and decipher what kind of impact they will have on your life. Having a better understanding of these changes can assist your decision making skills and put you on the path to maximum happiness.

The only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing.

One of the most vital pieces of information I have acquired is that I know close to nothing. Once I was able to hold this in my mind, I was able to learn exponentially more and get far more help than overestimating my knowledge. Simply acknowledging that I have a very specific skillset and background empowered both my ability to contribute to those around my and their ability to contribute to me. Never again will I hesitate to ask questions or say that I don’t understand. Information is power and to obtain either requires an openness to that which you do not know and cannot control.

There are currently a magnitude of different life aspects I have applied my new way of thinking to. My new approach has led me down avenues I never before thought possible. I have made staggering progress in achieving my goals and dreams which I can easily see and articulate. Constant personal revision for an improved pathway to happiness is vital for my way of living. Incorporating this thought provocation and purpose driven approach has set me up to enjoy each day more than the last. If any of this rings true or sounds bogus, message me and let me know how you feel!

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Harnessing Complaints & Branded Products: Getting ahead of the restaurant game

The southeast United States is full of rich culture, history, and especially food. The amount of deep fried fantasy turned reality left by waist line pushing my pants to their limit. I can’t describe food all that well, but when it comes to the business of restaurants I know what I’m talking about. Hyman’s Seafood, although I felt the food average, they had a remarkable brand strategy that catapults them to success in a highly competitive market.

Beginning with the first impression, Hyman’s quoted a long wait time. It was shorter than we had anticipated, so we decided to wait. They called us to our table in less than half the quoted time. Under promising and over delivering started us off on the right foot. All the way through the dining area, on the walls, and the tables are famous and well known people who had eaten at the restaurant. Everywhere you turned there was a name dropped. What better way to make you feel as though you’re somewhere exclusive?

Our waitress introduced herself, gave us our menus, and got a drink order. Before she left, she mentioned that if we had anything at all to say about our dining experience to let her know. I thought ‘that’s nice to welcome feedback’ and moved on. We had multiple coupons given to us from various other locations giving us free appetizers or dessert. This is a great and affordable way to generate traffic and get people to come eat.

Seconds later, the new manager introduces himself to our table. He had a cheerful disposition and gave us some recommendations on what he liked best on the menu. Then, he told us if there was anything wrong in any way with any of our food, he would like to know and they would fix it. Ok, so the second prompt for feedback is something I haven’t experienced before. The manager left, the waitress returned with our drinks and we told her we needed more time. At that point, the fam starting saying how great the restaurant was and how great the food will be. Nothing had been set in front of us accept a menu and some water, and the compliments already started to flow.

Another man approached our table and gave us a load of stickers. He said if we have these on our person while out in Charleston, there are Hyman’s employees out looking for them. If they see you, they will give you free gift cards or something. Again, a small discount to bring in more bodies to your eatery is a worthwhile investment. After his spiel, he encouraged us to let him or the wait staff know if there was any complaints about anything we ordered.

We hashed out what we all wanted to order and let our waitress know what we wanted. After she left, we noticed the owner come into our dining room. It was easy to recognize him because there’s a large picture of his face and a description of the lineage of owners dating back generations on the front page of the menu. He approached our table and engaged us in a conversation about his place as well as some of the celebrity name drops we had questions about. Before he left, he was sure to emphasize that he wanted to know if there was anything wrong with any of our orders. He said they don’t mind, there’s no reason to have anything you don’t enjoy, and they really care about what we thought. Feedback is extremely important, equally as important as acting upon that feedback. Hyman’s drove that home to every guest. They were practically begging us to tell them what they thought.

After our meal, there was a complaint that was brought to the manager’s attention. He acknowledged it, and after investigation returned to inform us that it was totally just. I refuse to complain about my food in the restaurant, but the constant prompts brought those around me up to the point of comfortability to complain.

With our meal was a free magnet we could pick up when we exit through the gift shop. Gifting is a fantastic policy. I don’t believe in gifting for the sake of getting something in return at some future date (which is likely the motive). However, a gift is sacred and appreciated in all walks of life. It was great to receive one. My girlfriend wanted two (one couldn’t be split among two households). The clerk complied without hesitation. She said never would she ever turn someone down who wanted an additional magnet. Every step of the way the customer experience in Hyman’s is structured to make you feel good about being there.

The last topic I’ll touch upon is the salt scrub. In the bathrooms they offer a salt and oil mixture to moisturize and make your hands smell good. The gift shop has branded t-shirts and mugs as well as hats and whatnot. Then, they have an entire room dedicated to the salt scrubs. A line of sink and sample testers dominate the center of the room, and each of many different fragrances line the walls. You’re introduced to something you didn’t know you liked then presented with the opportunity to have your favorite flavor of your own.

I would not say that I was blown away by the food I received at Hyman’s. Nor would I say that the service was phenomenal. I will say that they have everything in place to succeed in the highly dense restaurant world of Charleston, South Carolina. It’s really a lesson in internal procedures, culture, and continuous process improvement. Everyone had a cheerful disposition (attitude is everything, as they say on their nametags), and we were all they seemed to really care about. So, although I wasn’t amazed by the exquisite presentation or savory taste of fresh seafood, and our wait staff didn’t balance thirty plates on their head while refilling our Coke, we all walked away feeling as though we had been given a positive dining experience. What aspects can you take from Hyman’s to make your business run better? Tell me in the comments!

Photo Credit: Logopedia, TripAdvisor, American Cuisine

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Release Your Creative Mind

Recently I’ve realized that my voice has been stifled since I was a child. Growing up we are told children should be seen and not heard. Don’t talk back. Over time, I have been brainwashed to think the way that those who have held authoritarian positions over me have wanted to me think. What does that mean for my artistic vision?

I’m not going to get into a nature vs nurture debate here. All of it carries equal weight in my mind. What I do mean to do is explore the portions of my mind and creativity that have been impacted by others negatively. As a young child, adults change your thought patterns even if they don’t know it. As an adult, it is important to undo the mistakes that have resonated so far.

So what am I talking about? I’m saying that throughout all my childhood, I wanted to be a painter. Art captivated my mind and I practiced constantly. Teachers didn’t have much time for any of that. What they were preaching came second hand to me, so I was bored. Boredom made me act out. The powers that be slowly, but most definitely surely, redirected my attention from what was interesting to me to what was necessary for them.

Reprogramming a fully functioning brain takes work. In my case, I need to refocus my energy pattern that flows through my brain to enable me to envision and pursue art. Since my brainwaves have been set on a course through math books, sitting still, and shutting up, they need to be taught to travel through the ravine that sparked the fire of childhood ambition.

Technical knowledge is important to get out the vision you have in your mind. If you don’t know how to paint, it doesn’t matter if you can imagine a painting. I have to work backwards to undo what had had originally been done. Reject the traditional ideas about what makes good art, what is the social norm of acceptability, and what everyone else wants to see from you. Un-teach yourself the cookie cutter lessons that subdued your passionate pursuit of unique. None of it matters now. Allow your artistry to be untethered.

Photo Credit: Inc, Exquisite Minds

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How to Prepare for a Photoshoot

If I didn’t prepare, I could probably skate by. I would simply show up and do my thing, then everything could work out decently. However, decent just doesn’t cut it for me. Prepping is essential for me to perform as well as possible. It is very important to put in enough work before the shoot to be confident that you will take amazing pictures.

Always do at least a minimal amount of research on the internet about your subject. If a Google search is all you can muster, you will be glad you at least did that. Knowing your subject gives you a great starting point for envisioning what kind of photo you will be looking for. The more you know, the better your photo will be. Look for colors, hobbies, and interests as well as other photos that you can draw inspiration from.

Kindness in words creates confidence. Kindness in thinking creates profoundness. Kindness in giving creates love.
-Lao Tzu

Never go to your photo shoot empty handed. Gifting is a huge aspect of my life and I always give my subject or my client something. You can get a prop for the photo or you can give a present that won’t show at all. The benefits of this are wide ranging including a happier, more receptive subject and a mutually beneficial relationship.

Know what to bring on your shoot! Think about what the conditions will be as well as what the subject is going to require. If you have to hike to the shoot location, chances are an umbrella and soft box aren’t the best options to bring. Don’t get caught with your pants down without the stuff you need. Prepare your equipment at least the night before.

If you show up unprepared, it will show up in your photos. Getting good images you are proud of requires you know what you are doing. That extends past technical knowledge and into logistics. Think through your entire time behind the camera and about everything that relates to it. Show up ready to bring it each time you have a shoot.

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John Wick Chapter 2

John Wick Chapter 2 Keanu Reeves

Often times I find myself bombarded with, “I CANNOT believe you have never seen (enter movie title here)!” The movie’s now set up to be a smash hit or a huge disappointment. This is how John Wick was presented to me. I do NOT watch ‘dog movies’. They bring an energy into my life that I am never ready to face, and this is why I hadn’t seen John Wick until recently. The movie begins with Keanu Reeves, a retired hitman, losing his wife to cancer. Upon her death, she gifted him a puppy. Said puppy is killed by Russians stealing Wick’s ’69 Mach 1 Mustang. After those 5 minutes, the rest of the movie is Keanu’s rage filled revenge rampage (watch Archer for the proper appreciation of ‘rampage’).

John Wick instantly became one of my favorite action movies of all time. The story beginning in the nature described drove me passionately through John’s perspective. It is simple and got me invested in John’s mission. Keanu’s training did not allow for any disconnect between the movie and real life emotions. His performance was top notch. The car lineup is absolutely impeccable. On top of all that, hitman movies are almost always a hit in my book.

Now, John Wick Chapter 2 overall had almost all the same ingredients as the first. The essential missing ingredient was the compelling story. It left me with a lot to be desired which is not an admirable trait for a sequel. This is the one area that cannot afford to suffer in the follow up. The first story was unique and gripping while Chapter 2 was somewhat unenthused. Also, the score of the film fell short of its’ standard. Scenes from the first stick out predominantly in my mind due to the choice pairing of certain tracks over intensely intimate warfare. The second took a more traditional approach which bonded the movie together in a more traditional and forgettable manner.

Chapter 2 did present excellent uses of color. Neon lights filled bright dramatic streets. Multi-temperature lighting sets gave great contrast between two halves of many scenes. One in particular being Keanu and Common at the bar. Split color lighting sets with heavy warm reds and calming blues gave the entire film a very appealing allure.

One of the persevering components throughout the films is its use of the hitman code. Their world is structured with strict rules followed reverently. It contributed to the mysterious ambiance that surrounds mercenary action. Also, spy, espionage, and mercenary flicks are nothing without supreme cars for gear heads to drool over, excessive weapons selection, or tailored suits, and Chapter 2 delivered.

With the exception of an awkward subway battle and sub-chapter 1 story line, John Wick Chapter 2 was thoroughly enjoyable. Its classical portrayal of masculinity through combat and cars is entertaining. Although it is disappointing that it did not stack up to its’ predecessor, Chapter 2 delivers captivating action and motifs which will bring Mr. Wick back again.

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Tech Specs of My Photography

Cameras have grown and morphed into miniature specialized computers that fit in the palm of our hands. It is necessary to understand technology in order to maneuver a camera. Taking pictures with any device today utilizes new hardware, software, and technical knowledge. The best way I’ve found to begin comprehending any of these facets is to jump right into it.

I currently use a Nikon D750 for almost all of my photography. It is by far the best camera body I own. When shopping for my camera, I had a handful of features that were musts beginning with being a full frame (FX) Nikon. In short, full frames show more area due to a larger image sensor than does its counterpart (DX). I was gifted my first Nikon, and in that way inherently obtained a bias for that brands operating system. By sticking with a brand, or by doing your research, you can ensure that parts or lenses purchased for a certain camera body will work for others rather than constantly needing new equipment.

Video features on the D750 were a large selling point for me. As I narrowed down my selection based upon price, megapixels, and Wi-Fi connectivity I paid attention to video capabilities. The D750 records full HD video from 24 to 60 frames per second. This is far from professional film grade movie camera equipment, but for the time being it offers plenty of opportunity to build upon your skills.

Pictures are captured by the camera body, but it’s the lens that really makes the difference visually. The lens optics are dense and often debated amongst the experts as to what exactly creates the optimal image. Nevertheless, an exceptional lens is key to capturing the exact concept youre striving for. My go to staples are an 85mm Nikkor f/1.8G prime lens and a 24-85mm Nikkor f/3.5-4.5G ED VR wide lens. Each has a unique look, feel, and performance for use in different unique situations.

Equipment accumulation is the bane of photographers for good reason. It is expensive. There is usually a trade off in quality and price for anything and it can be evident in pictures. All situations are unique and require different equipment. Situational awareness as well as equipment familiarity will contribute to having the right stuff in the right place at the right time. Subscribe to this blog to learn more about technical and technological specifications that create a foundation for well made pictures.

Photo Credit: Nikon Rumors

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