Thursday, January 4, 2018

4 Tips to Avoid Travel Disasters (clearly, some of you need this)

Since I travel a lot, to a wide variety of places, I see many travel disasters happen to other people, disasters which could have easily been prevented. Most of them don't happen to me any more because they happened once. Here are four tips which, if followed, can erase 80% of your problems both huge (my computer was stolen) and small (I couldn't brush my teeth this morning):

  1. Have at least two pieces of government ID. For an extra $30 (when renewing by mail) you can get a passport card when you get your passport. I always have at least my drivers license and passport card. That way, if I lose one, I can always use the other as ID to get on a plane to get home. They accept the passport card for travel in the U.S. , Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean. It cannot be used for international air travel. I presume that means you can get into the Caribbean or Mexico by cruise ship with a passport card, or drive to Canada or Mexico.
  2. Anything you absolutely must have, never let go. This includes my computer, phone, ID , money and credit cards. While I have to let my computer and phone go through security, I have my ID and cards in my hand when I go through the scanner. I mean, literally, never let go of it. I never check my phone , computer or contacts.
  3. Bring a small overnight bag. Think you are smart because everything is in your carry on? Think again. Overhead storage is full and now you need to check it and your flight is late so you are spending the night in Minneapolis. So, you're in first class and you are sure they'll be room for your bag?  Guess what - the second leg of your flight is on a smaller plane and roller bags don't fit in the overhead. You'll have to check it but, gee, too bad, your bag didn't make it on the flight so you are meeting that client tomorrow morning wearing the same clothes you had on this morning. If I check a bag, my carry on is a bag small enough to fit under the seat next to my computer. It includes clean clothes for 1 day, charger for my phone and basic toiletries like toothpaste, toothbrush, contacts and deodorant. If I only have a carry on , I have a small cloth bag in it that I can throw my one-day stuff into in a few minutes if it turns out that I have to give up my carry on to baggage claim. 
  4. Realize that you can get your prescriptions filled almost anywhere in a pinch, that includes contacts, prescription medications. In Missouri, I realized I only had 5 days worth of contacts left and I was not going to be home for two weeks. I was able to get a trial pack for the next five days from a local optometrist, and my optometrist's office emailed me the prescription so I could get another three months' supply in Missouri. What if you can't get hold of your physician? There have been occasions when I was coaching and an athlete forgot or ran out of a prescription, we were out of town and could not reach their doctor. In that case, if you go to a local pharmacy with the empty bottle with your prescription they will usually give you a few days' supply if it's something you absolutely must have, like anti-convulsants. I'm pretty sure they will not do this for controlled substance like pain pills, for reasons that should be obvious.

When I'm not traveling, and sometimes even when I am, I'm working on making educational games.  Head over to the app store and check out Aztech: Meet the Maya - learn history and math, improve your Spanish (or English)

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Benefits of the 100 Things Challenge

Why would I want to reduce the amount of stuff I own? Well, there is the obvious cost of shipping it, and I find that most people don't really start getting rid of a substantial proportion of their stuff until they have to pay to move it. As the billions of dollars spent on storage units shows, many people don't get rid of stuff even if they have nowhere to put it.

Even if we do discard a third of our random stuff when we move, irrational creatures that we are, we promptly start replacing it.

Why do we do that? As I said in my first post on this topic, because we've bought into the idea that "excess equals success".  It's the old idea of "He who dies with the most toys wins" - which I have always thought was stupid. Hey, if you're dead and I'm not, I'm pretty sure that I won. Think about it as if you are judging a judo match. One person is dead but has a much more expensive judo gi. Who do you think won? Well, I'm pretty sure it's not the dead guy.

The advantages of having less stuff

The more stuff you have, the harder it is to find what you really want in the clutter of the things you don't need or even use. It's like trying to find a needle in a haystack, or one specific needle in a needle stack.

Reducing what I own to 100 things (or so) has made me focus on:
  • What are the things that make a difference in my life, like glasses? Just identifying the things that make a real difference makes me grateful, for example, that I live in a time when my vision can be corrected well enough to let me do almost anything. I have a phone that I can carry around and call anyone, anywhere in the world. That's pretty amazing. I think I'll keep that.
  • What are the things I don't care about that much, that are just in the way? Thinking that I can only take 100 things made it easy to get rid of a few dozen right off the bat. "Well, if I can only take one pair of dress shoes, it isn't going to be these!" 
  • What are the things I like best? If I can only end up taking 7 or 8 shirts with me and wearing each one four times a month, you'd better believe those are going to be shirts that are comfortable. I'll bet most people have some clothes that don't fit that well, either because you gained/ lost weight or they never fit in the first place because they were a gift or bought when you were drunk or high (oh, no, I didn't mean you would do that, I meant some other people).
Here is a kind of ironic fact - initially, having fewer things may mean I go shopping. I realized that I have a lot of clothes that once belonged to one of my children (because I do hate to shop) and, for example, I may not have 5 pairs of pants that fit perfectly and are not well-worn but, hey, I have 15 pairs of pants so why buy any more. 

Reducing the amount of stuff you own makes you evaluate what matters to you. Am I going to bring a judo gi to Chile? I expect most of my time to be spent working on 7 Generation Games, creating games for the Latin American market. I know many people in their sixties and seventies who are still practicing, studying and teaching judo, and good for them. However, just like people who were good basketball, soccer or football players in their twenties, many judo players give it up and go on to focus on their careers and families.  Right now, I'm thinking that I probably won't be doing judo in Chile because I don't expect to have much free time.

It's funny how focusing on your stuff can cause you to focus on your other choices in life as well.

Heading out to Missouri in a few hours, then to North Dakota. If you want to meet up to talk about judo, reducing the clutter in your life, video games or just drink beer (or coffee if it's early), give me a holler.

Monday, December 25, 2017

More on my 100 things challenge

I know, I know, it's the Christmas season and the post-Christmas sales and we're all supposed to be buying as much stuff as possible, but, as I said in my last post, I'm heading in the opposite direction.

Since I am going to be working for months in Chile AND I've been trying for what seems like forever to cut down the amount of stuff in my life, I'm trying the 100 things challenge and trying to get by with only 100 items.

I've already used up 6, all related to being able to see - contacts, glasses, sunglasses. So, what else is a must have?

7. Laptop, including charger and adapters.

8.  iPhone including ONE charger.

9.  iPad. It uses the same charger as the iPhone so I'm not bringing a second. I plan to load at least 100 books on it before I leave. Maria says that is cheating but a) it will probably be hard to find technical books written in English in Chile and b) she can make her own list. Someone who still has boxes stored at my house has no room to give me advice.

10.  One 32 or 64 GB flash drive.   I'll bet there are 20 of these, at least, in the house. It's ridiculous.

11. One microphone/ headset . I'm not including that as part of the computer because I don't REALLY need it for the computer to work and if I start not counting computer peripherals things could snowball really fast.

12. One week's worth of underwear. Another blog I read on this challenge said she counted all of her underwear as a group, but Maria said if she were me she'd take 20 pairs to minimize the times she had to do laundry. It probably says something about me that I didn't get to underwear until I had accounted for all of my computer stuff.

13. One week's worth of socks. I must have at least 40 pairs of socks, so narrowing it down to 7 or 8 is going to be a change. I already threw 3 pairs into the give-away bag today.

14. Running shoes, which are also the shoes I wear to work almost every day. I have 3 pairs of these, so I'll have to pick one.

15. Dress shoes for those times when I have to wear a dress or a skirt.

So far, just starting this list has helped me fill up a bag of stuff to get rid of. There is some book about getting rid of clutter that says you should look at each object in your house or office and ask if it brings you joy. There have been plenty of people and experiences who brought me joy, but I don't believe there has ever been a THING that brought me joy, although I hear there are sex toys for that.

No, for me, the more practical question is it worth shipping 5,600 miles? I think we don't ask ourselves this question often enough:

Why do we have this stuff?

If you're wondering if there is any benefit in this 100 thing challenge, the answer is yes. For that, read my next post.

While you're waiting for our bilingual game from Startup Chile, head over to the app store and check out Aztech: Meet the Maya - learn history and math, improve your Spanish (or English)

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Startup Chile and my 100 Things Challenge

If you didn't catch it on my Facebook Live / Instagram Live you might not know our company, 7 Generation Games, was selected for Startup Chile! So, I will be heading to Santiago in a few weeks to work on developing a game for the Latin American market.

If you just read this blog and don't know me personally, you might not know that I am sort of an "anti-hoarder" and am constantly going through our house throwing or giving away clothes that don't fit anyone, books no one reads and electronics no one uses.

Living in a one-bedroom apartment in Chile will give me the perfect opportunity to winnow down everything I use to less than 200 things.

If you're not familiar with the 100 things challenge. It's a pretty simple idea: .

  1. "Excess does not equal success".
  2. Reduce everything you use to 100 things.
Now, this isn't a hard and fast rule that you MUST have a magical number of 100 things and everyone who does it is free to make up their own rules. For example, one person counted underwear as a group, as one item and a phone and its charger as a single item.  The originator of this challenge, David Michael Bruno, limited his 100 things to "personal items" since he is married and has kids, it's probably a lot easier to implement this for yourself than insist everyone in your household do it. 

I can see how these rules can allow you to really cheat, though. I must have at least 40 pairs of socks and there are at least a dozen iPhone chargers in this house. So, I decided on these rules, but I may revise this before I go.

  1. Any item I need counts as one item as a group. For example, I wear disposable contacts and can't see without those. My 6-month supply of contacts is 1 thing. 
  2. Since I planned to do my laundry weekly, I counted a week's worth of socks as 1 item, a week's worth of underwear as a second item. Anything beyond that gets counted separately.
  3. A pair of something is one thing. A pair of shoes, a pair of socks, a two-piece swimsuit. 
  4. If something is useless without a thing, then it counts as part of that thing. For example, a computer and charger are one thing. A microphone is a separate thing.
  5. Any gifts or purchases will have to replace something I get rid of.

So, I'm starting today to winnow through my things and see what I absolutely have to have and what I don't need at all.  I'm going to start with my list of things I absolutely must have. Once I get past 25, I think there might be some things I will switch off the list but these are things I use every day.

  1. Contact lenses
  2. Reading glasses  -  I am taking 2. I'm counting these as one thing because I really will be unable to work if I don't have them, and these are prone to breaking and being lost. Currently I have at least 5 pairs in the house, so I'll leave the other 3 here.
  3. Prescription glasses - for when I'm not wearing contacts
  4. Sunglasses - two pairs, one because my optometrist says I really need to wear sunglasses to reduce my chance of cataract surgery and the second because I got 3 pairs for Christmas and could not choose. Besides, I like sunglasses

So .... my first six things all have to do with being able to see, but it brings home to me how fortunate I am to live in the time and place I do. The funny thing is that when I was competing in judo, without correction, my vision would have actually qualified me to compete as visually impaired, if there had been such a classification back then. Because I could not afford contacts, I actually trained and competed  "visually impaired" for my first seven years in the sport, including winning a national championship and the U.S. Open. Once I got contacts and could actually see the scoreboard, the time and my coach, it was pretty helpful. 

I expect to learn a lot from this 100 things challenge, including thinking about  what I value and why. So, 94 things left. Suggestions welcome. I'll let you know how it goes.

To see what other things made the cut, read this post.

Want to know if I'm seeing any benefits from the 100 things challenge? Well, as a matter of fact ...

While you're waiting for our bilingual game from Startup Chile, head over to the app store and check out Aztech: Meet the Maya - learn history and math, improve your Spanish (or English)

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Life after judo competition - the horror !

Do you ever wonder what happens to those elite judo players after their peak competitive years are over? You see them at the dojo every day for years on end - and then they are done on the international circuit, maybe get married, have a couple of kids. Ever say, what happened to ....

I thought it would be fun to post some follow ups on some of my former teammates. One of the more interesting, of many, is Brian Herskowitz. He was a top player in the lightweight division for many years, originally from Texas, competing out of Tenri Dojo in Los Angeles, along with yours truly. Where is he now? He says he's still competing because he is winning the masters divisions. I'm going to ignore that.

Here is where the horror comes in. 

Brian started a career in Hollywood when he moved to California. He has been a writer and producer for years. He is currently the chief creative force behind the Horror Equity Fund. I'd encourage you to go check it out and invest.

So, yes, he went from judo competitor to actor to screenwriter to producer and now he manages a fund that invests in horror movies. I asked him why horror and he told me that it's the genre that has the highest return on investment. Think about it, most of the comedies or action films have high dollar talent, costing you millions of dollars. Horror films need a couple of blondes, a dumb neighbor and a guy with a chainsaw. Okay, well maybe it is more complicated than that, but you get my point. 

If you're a judo player and at all interested in horror films, investing or just want to tell people that you financed a movie, you should take a look at Brian's current project. It's a little different than the crowdfunding model my company has used, where we pre-sell games and if we get enough backers, you get a game, a poster or some other product. Crowd equity allows you to invest in the production, so if you invest $100 in his fund and the films they make end up making 20% profit, you get $120 back.

Seriously, if just everyone he competed against invested $100 in this project it would be funded today and I know most of you people are in your 50s and 60s by now. You have to have $100 saved up and your life isn't THAT exciting (oh, hush up, I know you people) that you wouldn't like the chance to be part of producing and financing movies. Maybe you'll make a few bucks. Who knows?

Back a fellow judoka!

I know from having done projects like this myself that the NUMBER of investors matters. If you can go to a meeting asking someone to invest $100,000 in your fund and say, "I had 450 people back us in a crowd equity campaign" that provides some evidence that you can generate interest in your project.

When we did our Kickstarter campaigns, I really appreciated the support I received from some of the people in the judo community. It's nice to know that people are still interested in you and what you are doing.

As for what the rest of the judo players from the 1970s and 1980s are doing - if you know, please post it in the comments. We all know I'm really nosy.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Do you think you're a bad ass ?

I'm feeling generous - I've had a good week, meeting with terrific people, spending time with my wonderful family - so, even though I don't owe you anything, Mr. or Ms. Badass, I am going to give you a valuable gift. Are you ready?

Here is my present - THE TRUTH - that no one else bothers to give you because they really don't care about you. Frankly, I don't that much, either - hey, we're talking about truth, and the truth is, I don't even know you -  but, like I said, I'm feeling generous today.

Why is your life fucked up?

Since we are talking truth here, let's be honest. Your life is NOT the way you want it to be. You are not in a relationship or, if you are, it is not the way you want it to be. You can't trust or respect the person you are with. Whatever. You KNOW this is not what you want. You don't have the job you want. Maybe you don't have any job. You don't live in the neighborhood you want. You aren't making enough money for the lifestyle you want. I could go on but you know what I am talking about.

Perhaps you had a bad childhood - your parents were abusive, absent or addicted to drugs. You went to schools with teachers who didn't care, lousy facilities, old textbooks. No one gave a damn about you.

I understand all of that. I'm sorry it happened. Honestly, I am . That sucked. I'm sure it was hard for you.

Since, we're being honest, though, answer this question:

Did you make it better or worse?

My point is that  you can screw up your life by doing something huge like armed robbery where the gun goes off and you accidentally kill someone and go to prison for 20 years. You can also screw up your life by making 2,356 small, stupid decisions.

Let me give you two examples:

Every week, I visit schools all around the country where I see students who are ignoring their teachers and texting their friends, having conversations with the person next to them. That's a decision you make.

Often, I talk to students who are making C's or worse in their classes and when I ask them about it, they admit that they are not studying, not doing their homework.

In both these cases, students tell me that the class is "boring" or it's "hard".

Whether it's in high school, college or at work, you are going to have to do some things that are boring and hard.  So, here is where the bad ass attitude comes in:

Why should I? You can't make me!

Nope. I can't make you. I don't even know you so I don't even care to make you. The TRUTH is that if you started out in a bad situation in life (and we already agreed that sucks) then you are CHOOSING to make it worse. Yes, it is not fair that you were born into a family with parents who did not have their shit together and no money and it is harder for you. That totally sucks but you have a choice every day and you are choosing to make it worse and thinking you are a bad ass.

Is being a bad ass really that useful?

Ask yourself, when you are making decisions on how to use your time whether it is useful to you. Maybe you think you are being "tough" and "showing them" and "damn the man". I would question that.

Let me give you a personal example. I am president of two companies. One does statistical consulting and the other makes video games that are pretty cool and teach math, social studies and English. I have four wonderful, beautiful daughters and one was UFC champion, acts in movies and has been in a couple of TV shows. Two of them wrote a best-seller together. I have a Ph.D. , was a world judo champion, published a book , Winning on the ground, and wrote a bunch of scientific articles. I'm sure I've done some other stuff I've forgotten.

If we met, we might have a lot of things to talk about - judo, start-ups, getting a Ph.D., teaching college, raising children - and often people I meet either in person or on-line talk about that and a good time is had by all.

However, there are those people I meet, both in person and online who start conversations with - "Your daughter got knocked out." or "You think you're so great."

Do you think that is going to be useful to you in any way? Erik Erikson said that "It is better to be someone bad than no one at all."

I have to tell you  this - being a "bad ass" is boring and not exceptional at all. You just go into my pile of "people who said stupid shit to me". I  can remember most (probably  not all, but more than you would think) of the people who donated 1 million grains of rice in the free rice contests over the years, to help the World Food Program, people who backed us on Kickstarter or the person I met at a tweetup who gave me good advice about soccer camps for my youngest daughter.

When I was young and winning everything in sight, practically every club I went to visit had some idiot who wanted to prove how tough he or she was by trying to beat me in practice. I can't tell you the number of people who tried to fight me outside. Some of them I did fight.

Know how many of them I remember? None.

My point is, that you think you are being a bad ass by being rude, insulting or threatening to people who might be in a position to hire you, give you an A, give you a recommendation for college, fund your project or whatever. You're not. You're just being stupid, hurting yourself, and not even being original. Next week, they'll have forgotten your name.

The only people you are impressing by being a bad ass are other people's whose lives are equally fucked up.

Build your future. Work hard. Learn. Don't act like a jerk.

The choice is yours.

You're welcome.

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Walk for Apraxia with 7 Generation Games & Ronda Rousey (plus the Balgrin)

I had a GREAT morning with some of my favorite people!
The Childhood Apraxia of Speech Association of North America was having a walk to raise awareness and money for supporting children with speech disorders, right in our home town of Santa Monica so our  7 Generation Games team came out in support. Well, not Dennis, he had to dog-sit Chunk, who is hiding his face in shame in this photo since he and Ronda's other dog, Mochi, got in a fight and the little boerboel got the worst of it.

If you read My Fight/ Your Fight, you know why Ronda is holding a Hulk Hogan wrestling buddy as our mascot for the Walk to Talk. If you didn't read the book, go get it now!

We invited other people to join our team and we had a couple of takers from San Diego and a few more from Covina.


After her speech, Ronda gave out medals to each of the kids, because each one is a star in their own right. If you want to hear her speech, check out the video at the bottom.

Have a computer? Do you care about math and history? Check out our FREE demos.

win screen with characters from Spirit Lake

I didn't have any real point here, I just like this picture

Several people have mentioned the would have liked to have heard the speech. Well, if you weren't in Clover Park this morning, here you go!

Thank you to Diana Sanchez, Project Manager at 7 Generation Games, for all of the photos and video