Thursday, September 1, 2016

Early To Rise

Increase your productivity by waking up earlier.

On the Page

Recently I listen to an episode of the podcast, On the Page, a podcast designed for screenwriters, you can "join professional script consultant Pilar Alessandra as she demystifies screenwriting and answers your questions about script craft and story." I stumbled on this podcast in search of resources for creative story telling.

The guest in Episode 468 was Marc Haimes, a screenwriter involved in several successful films and currently working on many projects. In the podcast, Marc revealed one of his secrets to getting things done: He wakes up early. Marc said he prefers to start working at 5AM with the goal of being 70% done with his work by 10AM. He referred to the 5AM hour as yielding "triple dividends," the 6AM hour as yielding "double dividends," and from 7-9 as a "good time" to accomplish his tasks. Marc likes to plan for the next day as he turns into bed by asking questions he needs to answer in the morning. This way, his subconscious can start working while he sleeps.

Facebook Post

The next day, as I was perusing by Facebook feed, I noticed that several of my friends had shared an article titled, "Why the most productive people start their day at 4 a.m. (yes, we're serious)." In the article, the authors wrote about currently well-known individuals who rise early:

  • Tim Cook (CEO of Apple), 3:45AM
  • Richard Branson (found of the Virgin Group), 5:00AM
  • Michelle Gass (Kohl's department stores), 4:30AM

I shared the post on my Facebook feed, and many of my friends commented. It turns out that some of them also rise early, ranging from 3AM to 5:30AM.

An Ancient Practice

In researching for this article, I typed "Ben Franklin early to bed early to rise" into Google Search. One of the first results was a brief article at Wikipedia on this topic of waking up early. Who knew this warranted its own entry on the iconic online encyclopedia? The authors of the articles quoted Aristotle, the Greek philosopher, "It is well to be up before daybreak, for such habits contribute to health, wealth, and wisdom."

I previously wrote about Anthony Trollope, who wrote from 5:30-8:30AM every day before starting his full-time job as a postmaster for the British postal system.

Throughout the Bible you will find many examples of characters rising early. Abraham rose early to see if Sodom had been preserved or destroyed. Jacob rose early after his vision of the ladder to heaven. Joshua rose early to vanquish his enemies. Moses rose early to meet with God. In a time when the availability of natural light moderated activities, it was necessary to rise early in order to take full advantage of the entire arc of the sun, from sunrise to sunset.

Benefits of Rising Early

Below are a few benefits I came up with for rising early.

  1. Local quiet time for personal improvement - In this international economy, someone is always awake and working, so you won't be able to find a time when everyone is sleeping. However, it is still fairly quiet locally wherever you are. You can use this quiet time for developing a spiritual practice, exercise, writing, reading, or some other personal improvement activity.
  2. Fewer interruptions - Because most people and animals are asleep, you can accomplish activities with fewer interruptions. Writing documents for work, responding to e-mails, and individual brainstorming are easier if you do not have to worry about family and professional interruptions.
  3. Sense of accomplishment - By getting an early start, you can have a larger portion of your day's work completed well before the day ends.

Challenges of Rising Early

  1. Extra effort is required. If you are not naturally "a morning person," you may have difficulty waking up at such an early hour (whether it is 4AM or 5AM). However, a good alarm clock and a personal commitment to start earlier can help.
  2. Early bedtime discipline. Based on the number of hours of sleep you require (I prefer 7 hours), you will need to adjust your bedtime to accommodate an earlier wake up time. 
  3. You need a plan. Waking up "just because" may not provide the motivation you need to wake up early. Develop a plan for how you will utilize your early morning time. Find a spiritual book or program to study, answer questions from the night before (like Marc Haimes), or commit to an exercise routine. 

I encourage you to try waking up an hour earlier for at least a couple of weeks. I believe you will see an increase in productivity.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Listen to a podcast daily

Never quit learning - listen to a podcast daily

A combination of broadcast and pod, short for Apple iPod, a podcast is an episodic audio or video program available for download via the Internet. Podcasts span a range of subjects, lengths, and publishing schedule.

Podcasts are a great way to learn new information and/or be entertained. Podcasts are:

  • Free
  • Easily downloadable—downloads can be scheduled
  • Available for a wide range of topics—current categories at Apple's podcast store include arts, business, comedy, education, games/hobbies, government/organizations, health, family, music, news/politics, religion/spirituality, science/medicine, society/culture, sports/recreation, technology, and TV/film.
  • Asynchronous—you control when and where to listen, including the ability to rewind and fast forward content.

Another great benefit of podcasts is that you can download them to your smart phone to listen to while exercising, commuting, and working.

I listen to a variety of podcasts including political commentary, screenwriting, investigations into the paranormal, grammar tips, and literary history and news. It is possible that none of these may appeal to you. That’s fine. Search for the podcasts that will be interesting.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Notes on Selling Your Story in 60 Seconds

This post contains my notes on the book Selling Your Story in 60 Seconds: The guaranteed way to get your screenplay or novel read by Michael Hauge.

Even though I am not a screenwriter or novelist, I have collected and read several books on the craft of story. The principles of story are applicable in any type of narrative writing, whether it is a business presentation, personal letter, or non-fiction account of events.

Selling your story in 60 seconds

According to Amazon, I purchased Selling Your Story in 60 Seconds in 2011. In a recent review of my planners I came across my notes from my reading of this book. The concept of providing a short pitch of your story is similar to giving an elevator speech.

From the back cover:

  • How to design, perfect, and present the 60-second pitch
  • The 10 key components of a commercial story
  • The 8 steps to a powerful pitch
  • Targeting your buyers
  • Advice from 40 major screenwriters, novelists, agents, and executives
  • Pitching templates for every genre

10 Components of a commercial story

  1. Hero*
  2. Empathy with the hero by creating sympathy, putting the hero in jeopardy, making the hero likable, making the hero funny, and/or making the hero powerful
  3. Setup of the story
  4. Opportunity presented to the hero
  5. Outer motivation* (desire) consists of one of four visible goals: win a competition or love of another, stop a negative event from occurring, escape from a place or person or situation, or retrieve thing of value
  6. Conflict*
  7. Hero's arc (character development throughout the story)
  8. Deeper issues that tap into universal human themes or issues
  9. Antecedents (previous or similar stories)
  10. Your passion for the story*

Components with a * are most essential for making a pitch.

60-Second pitch

The best way to introduce your story to someone is to start with "I think the best way to tell you about my story is to tell your how I came up with the idea" or "I've always been interested in ...." Then provide some personal detail relevant to your story.

Next, transition to, "What if ...?" Based on how you arrived at the idea for your story, walk listeners through the scenario you considered, "What if a young man whose relatives were just killed set out on an adventure in the universe?"

Finally, provide a detail about the hero, his or her desire, the essence of the conflict in the story, and one unique element.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Read a blog post daily

Never quit learning - Read a blog post daily

Blogs are proliferating everywhere online. A truncated version of "web log," a blog is an information page that consists of several entries, known as "posts," usually with the most recent appearing at the top of the page. Most blogs feature the ability to search for various posts either by keyword or date. It is easy to start a blog, and many begin this journey but abandon it along the way. Millions of blog sites exist.

The vast majority of blogs are hosted by Blogger, part of the Google family, or Word Press. For the purpose of searching for information, it doesn't matter where a blog is located as long as it is easy to find and maintained with current information.

President Theodore Roosevelt was an avid and prolific reader. On a typical day, he read 2–3 books, sometimes more! However, some recent statistics suggest that people are not reading books like previous generations.

Consider these findings from the Barna Group: 

  • 35% of adults say books are too long 
  • 41% of men and 28% of women feel books are too long 

Percentages of respondents that feel books are too long:

  • Elders (born before World War II): 27% 
  • Baby Boomers (born between 1945 and 1964): 30% 
  • Generation X (born between 1965 and 1981: 31% 
  • Millenials (born between 1982 and 2003): 49% 

Considering that from one-third to one-half of people believe that books are too long, blogs are the perfect solution. Most posts are fairly short and, if following the proper structure, clearly delineate different sections by using headers and lists. This structure accommodates both those who will take the time to read the full post as well as those who will only scan the highlighted information. Regardless of your interests there are blogs for you. Search for an area of interest and add "blog" to the search. A listing of blogs related to your search topic will be displayed.

Saturday, August 6, 2016

July Update

Blog Posts

How to give an elevator speech
Use a technique taught by Hilton Johnson to deliver the premise of your business, product, or service in two sentences, also known as an elevator speech.

Government image sites
Below is a list United States government image sites. In addition to specific image sites, many government agencies also have Instagram and Flickr accounts.

Write your book in a weekend, Part 2
This post is based on notes from a couple of different webinars I attended in 2009 and 2010.

Be willing to learn
Never quit learning - Be willing to learn.

Free image sites
This post is a review of several free image sites.

Master your tools
Never quit learning - master your tools

Find answers on the Internet
Never quit learning - find answers on the Internet.

Made to Stick - reading notes
This post is a summary of the book Made to Stick by Chip and Dan Heath.

Read a book monthly
Never quit learning - read a book monthly.

Writing 365

I have been faithfully writing every day. As of yesterday, my word count is 320,576. At the beginning of the year, I wasn't sure if I would achieve 365,000 words by the end of the year. However, instead of focusing on the end of this journey, I have kept my focus on the goal of writing at least 1,000 words per day.

Since I have been recording the number of words written for each category for each day, I am able to analyze writing patterns throughout the year. Below is a chart which shows how many times I wrote in each category by month. I did not include the journal category, as I have written consistently every day. On some days I wrote more than one entry for the ebook category.

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Notes on Quick and Easy Guide to Effective Speaking

This post contains my notes on the book The Quick and Easy Guide to Effective Speaking by Dale Carnegie.

Many individuals are familiar with Dale Carnegie's book How to Win Friends and Influence People. The Quick and Easy Guide to Effective Speaking is another book Carnegie wrote based on materials from his highly successful course he started teaching in 1912.

I read this book in 2012, the 100th anniversary of Carnegie's unique and effective method for improving communication. What follows are my notes as I recorded them in my 2012 planning journal.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

10 reasons to write a blog

A blog is an extremely versatile tool that can be used for marketing, writing, and reference.

I have maintained two blogs fairly consistently over time. I keep recipes online and periodically add to the collection at my vegetarian recipe blog, The other blog is this one, I wrote my first post in January, 2011: Play. While my consistency in posting has waxed and waned since then, I am definitely glad I have maintained, and continue to add to, this blog.

Below are ten ways blogs can help you, regardless of your profession, interests, or goals.

1. Blogs can be a great marketing tool.

If you have a business or are selling a product, blogs are a great way to generate leads by offering education information related to your business, services, or products. Visit for great resources of marketing with blogs. I reviewed Ray's blogging webinar in 2014.

2. Blogs help you write regularly.

Some bloggers post every day while others post less frequently. Like every recurring activity, posting daily vs. posting once a week can make a significant difference in terms to the number of posts written by the end of a year. Since I started this blog I have experimented with various posting schedules, including taking extended breaks. Currently I try to post 3-4 times per week. This fits with my scheduled of other activities. I also use the scheduling feature of Blogger to write several posts and then schedule them over a period of weeks.

3. Blogs are flexible.

You can have a blog focused on a specific topic, and you can also use blogs as a platform for other types of writing. Nina Amir wrote a book and teaches others how to blog a book. Instead of writing in a word processing application, a blog can be used to organize posts into chapters using hashtags. Blogging a book provides the ability to write consistently (daily, etc.) while accumulating several words and chapters over time. Blogs can be configured to be public or private, so you could write extensively without anyone else seeing your work.

4. Blogs are a good personal reference tool.

Many of the topics I use as blog posts are for my own later reference. I like to put notes on my blog, especially if there are links to books, sites, and other resources. I use the custom Google search feature regularly to find information on my blog.

5. Blog content is easily sharable. 

There may be times when you want to share information on Facebook or Twitter but the information itself requires more than 140 characters or a few lines to share. By writing a blog post, you can then share the post on any social media platform, including Twitter, Google+, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc.

6. Blogs provide a hub for transmedia.

As I have written about previously, transmedia means sharing the same content on multiple platforms. You can write a blog post and use the content to create a video, SlideShare presentation, Instragram and Tumblr images, etc.

7. Blogs can function as a basic website.

You can buy an inexpensive domain from Google Domains, GoDaddy, or other sources and link it to your blog, as I have done with this blog. In addition to the regular list of posts, you can also create pages with additional information.

8. Blogs can be customized.

Both Blogger and WordPress offer a variety of plug-ins, such as lists of posts, images, etc., to enhance the functionality of your blog. Additionally, you can adjust the look of your blog and layout of various elements on the page.

9. Blogs are interactive.

Unless the feature is disabled, blogs allow the ability to comment on posts. This is a great way to interact with readers who find your blog.

10. Blogs include tracking statistics.

In the back office of my blog, I can see the number of views for each blog post. Additionally, I can view the number of total views on a daily basis, and the primary sources of views.

Start today

If you don't already have a blog, today is a great day to start. You will be amazed how quickly posts will accumulate over time. If you already have a blog, please share it in the comments below, and use this post as a reminder to review how regularly you post and what you can do to make your blog even better. 

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Read a book monthly

Never Quit Learning: Read a book monthly

For one of my classes in high school, I wrote a paper on aspects of the Roman Empire. Josephus, a Jewish historian, wrote one of the books that I needed. My school's small library did not have the book. Instead, I had to order my own copy of The Collected Works Of Josephus. When the large volume (about the size of a dictionary) came, I used it for probably thirty minutes! Still, it was a resource that I needed at the time. Today, if I needed to read Josephus again, I could simply utilize a free, online source.

Books have never been less expensive and more available than they are today. Even with today's online bookstores, you can't really appreciate how many books are published unless you visit a library or bookstore. I enjoy visiting a brick-and-mortar physical bookstore such as Barnes and Noble or Books-A-Million. It is always interesting to me how books are available that no one ever buys. In the life cycle of traditionally published books, books that are prominently displayed at the front of the store one month may end up in the dollar bin later on, or at best, heavily discounted. Even sadder, I was at a charity thrift store, where donations of items are sold inexpensively, and saw 100 brand new copies of a book.

There are three basic formats for books: print, electronic, and audio.


Printed books are traditionally how books have been published. Until the mid-1900s technologies did not exist to sell books in other formats. Even with the variety of technologies and devices available today, books and information printed on paper are still the most permanent and most portable. Print does not require software updates or electronic devices.

In 2000, my office gave me a new Palm Pilot. The Pilot was popular at the time and provided functionality to keep track of appointments, contacts, notes, and e-mail. I transferred all of my information into the device and it worked well ... until the battery died. There was not a way to replace the battery, and so I reverted back to a paper-based planning tool. I still use a paper-planning tool. Even if I still had the Palm Pilot today, most likely I could not retrieve the information in an electronic format to load into another, more contemporary device.


Even though I still purchase books printed on paper, I also buy electronic books, known as “e-books.” E-books are convenient because they can be viewed on a variety of devices including computers, smart phones, tablets, and dedicated e-book readers. For books designed for's Kindle platform and for Apple's iBooks, content is available concurrently on all devices, so you can start reading on your computer and keep reading on your smart phone. E-books are also usually less expensive than their printed counterparts.

Soundview Executive Summaries provides succinct, four-page summaries of business books. One of the factors they use to rate books is shelf life. If a book covers content that is likely to be out-of-date in a short period of time, it has a short shelf life. Every four years, as part of the lead up to U.S. Presidential elections, a variety of political commentators, and increasingly the candidates themselves, publish books. Mitt Romney was the Republican candidate for President in 2012. The books about him are now available secondhand for as little as $0.01! Alternatively, books that cover broad topics can remain popular for years.

To help me decide on whether to purchase print books or e-books, I use the following criteria, created here as a flow chart.

Audio books

Audio books are especially useful when traveling, whether part of a daily commute or long trip. Audio books, like e-books, work across many platforms. However, unlike e-books, audio books are usually more expensive than printed books. The primary reason for this is due to the extra costs to produce and record the reading of the book.

Whether you purchase books new or used, or borrow from a library, take the time to read one professional book per month. In addition to books that may specifically focus on your area of expertise, many broad categories such as communication, marketing, sales, and personal improvement are beneficial to read.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Made to Stick - Reading Notes

This post is a summary of the book Made to Stick by Chip and Dan Heath.

I first wrote about Made to Stick: Why ideas survive and others die in March, 2011. I later included the book on a list of paradigm-changing books in 2015.

The notes below are from my 2011 journal. I have been reviewing my journals for blog post ideas, and I thought this would be a good follow-up to the initial book review.

Chapter 1 - Simple

  • Have one core message stated at the outset.
  • Avoid decision paralysis - don't focus on all options.
  • The message should be compact - like proverbs.
  • Using existing knowledge, add new information with comparison (new movie ideas are compared to other movies).
  • Use metaphors.

Chapter 2 - Unexpected

  • Get people's attention (surprise) and keep it (interest).
  • Expose the part of your message that is "uncommon sense" (surprise, unexpected, twist).
  • Create mystery to sustain attention (for example, wherever there are questions without obvious answers, unexpected journeys).
  • Curiosity is created whenever there is a knowledge gap.
  • Ideas should be provocative but not paralyzing.

Chapter 3 - Concrete

  • Life is not abstract.
  • Concrete language helps people, especially novices, understand new concepts.
  • Teachers take an existing schema and overlay a new layer of abstraction.
  • Concrete is memorable.
  • The more concrete the illustration, the better (more memorable). If an idea can connect with multiple areas of mental processing, the more "sticky" it will be.
  • Simulation is preferred to illustration.
  • Use props because they encourage brainstorming and comprehension.
  • Use specific examples rather than abstract statements.
  • "What the world needs is more fables."

Chapter 4 - Credible

  • Anti-authority - tell stories using real people, situations, and examples.
  • Remember the power of details - specific details make a claim real and more believable.
  • Translate statistics into meaningful, understandable units (1 out of 3 people in the U.S. vs 100,000,000 people in the U.S.).

Chapter 5 - Emotional

  • Focus on the individual - not the population.
  • When presented with charitable needs in Africa, people who read statistics gave less than those who read about a specific child.
  • Feeling and calculating are processed differently with different behaviors.
  • Semantic stretch occurs when an idea is overused (the word "unique" is no longer special).
  • Get self-interest into every headline or presentation. Spell out the benefit of the benefit. 
  • WIIFY = What's in it for you?
  • If people can imagine themselves doing something, they are more likely to actually do it.

Chapter 6 - Stories

  • Stories provide simulation (knowledge about how to act) and inspiration (motivation to act).
  • Stories let the audience mentally test how they would react - the audience is not passive.
  • Simulating past events is more helpful than predicting outcomes.
  • Mental practice done when visualizing a task from start to finish improves performance significantly. 
  • Mental practice produced two-thirds of the benefits of actual physical practice.
  • Stores put knowledge into a framework that is life-life.
  • "We must fight against the temptation to skip directly to the 'tips' and leave out the story."
  • Always be looking for stories to illustrate your content.
  • In a study, 63% of participants remembers stories, but only 5% statistics.

If you found this summary to be informative, I encourage you to buy the book and create your own notes.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Find answers on the Internet

Never quit learning - find answers on the Internet.
When I was eleven years old, my parents purchased a set of the 1980 edition World Book Encyclopedia. This multi-volume set included a book for each letter of the alphabet and also included some additional reference materials, including a two-volume dictionary. I loved these books. Whenever I had a question about something or when my brother would ask, “I wonder how they make that?” I would be found in our small family library reading about the answer. Although the World Book Encyclopedia is still published (the current edition is available for around $1,099.00), information changes so rapidly now that it seems like printed references would quickly become out-of-date.

Today, when I wonder about something, I conduct an Internet search. The top three general search sites are Bing, Google, and Yahoo! I use these interchangeably, with similar results for web searches, images, and news. Google is so popular that it has become a genericized trademark, a euphemism for searching online (e.g., “Just Google the answer.”).

My father taught computer technology at the university level. While the emphasis of computer science is software development and programming, my father's work was in the area of electronics and computer design, assembling various components onto a circuit board and then programming it for applied functionality, such as robotics. I grew up with computers and computer parts in the house. For a time, my father also built computers for others. I never had an interest in building computers, but was exposed early to computers and have always been an avid user of software.

Now, I have become the software help desk for my family. When they have a formatting question in Microsoft Word or a formula question in Microsoft Excel they call me. If I don't know the answer I search for it online, often while on the phone with them. When I inevitably asked, “Did you search for the answer online?” the answer is “No, it's easier to call you.”

For virtually any topic you can type, “How do I” followed by the topic:

  • How do I … create a HTML table? 
  • How do I … save a Keynote presentation as a PDF? 
  • How do I … get to the power settings on a Mac Air? 
  • How do I … make cream cheese frosting?

Chances are, if you are wondering about something, someone else in the world has also thought about it and published an answer online. Blogs, wikis, frequently asked questions (FAQs), and other websites will hold the answers. The challenge is that, just as every individual is different, each answer you find may differ in terms of its technical accuracy, application to your question, and relevance.

Internet browsers include functionality to save webpages as favorites. There are also several browser add-ons or applications for tablets and smart phones that permit you to quickly save or share a webpage for later reference. At the time of this writing, two popular are and Both feature accessibility across all of your devices. When you find useful answers save the page.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Master your tools

Never quit learning - master your tools

In France, there is evidence that even thousands of years ago people made visual records of their current events. It is likely that rock or pieces of charred wood were used to make these drawings. Throughout the world are other evidences that people have been drawing and writing for a long time. As technology advanced tools were refined and improved.

However, even when drawing on a cave wall with a charred stick, there's a right way and a wrong way to hold the stick. If you hold the charred end, only your hands will be left with evidence of your efforts. These early artists had to master their simple tools.

Mastery of tools is what separates amateurs from professionals. I love photography and have a digital single lens reflex camera (SLR) that enables me to customize the aperture, shutter speed, white balance, and many other parameters. Once I've taken several pictures, I can take the SD memory card out of the camera and transfer the photos to my computer where I can edit them using Adobe Photoshop or some other program. Like my SLR camera, Photoshop is replete with so many parameters and features that it take can many hours of study, reading, and experimentation to learn all of the different effects, tools, and ways to manipulate your images.

Most of the time, I just use my smart phone camera to take pictures. The native camera app allows me to edit the pictures as soon as I take them wherever I am. If I need a deeper level of editing, I can turn to any of the many photography apps I have installed. Most of these apps allow me to share photos directly to the Internet on Facebook, Flickr, Instagram, and other similar sites.

Even though I enjoy photography, I am not a professional photographer. The time and energy needed to master the SLR camera and sophisticated editing software does not interest me. I want to take and edit photos quickly. However, I have learned how to use the features of my phones camera and editing apps.

Benefits of mastering tools

Mastering your tools provides two benefits. 
  1. By taking advantage of shortcuts and built-in features, you can maximize your productivity. You can take repetitive actions faster and more efficiently. 
  2. Mastery of the tools you use will build your competency so that you not only have more skills, but can also share information with others.

Regardless of the technology you use, you can find tips by searching on the Internet. Additionally, most of the user manuals or online help sites will provide information on features and shortcuts.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Free image sites

This post is a review of several free image sites.

Last week I reviewed government image sites. If you are looking for high quality images - especially of military action and space - these sites are fantastic.

Several websites exist which provide stock photos at no cost, and there are no royalties required either.

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Be willing to learn

Never quit learning - Be willing to learn

My mother-in-law has a couple of factors that present technological challenges for her. First, as an emigrant from South Korea, she does not speak much English. Second, as a senior citizen, she does not have the same technical fluency with computers, smart phones, and the like as my teenage old daughter does.

When her classic cell phone, a flip phone, stopped working, I suggested that she take my iPhone 4S. Although I like to think of myself as a generous son-in-law, my motivation was partly self-serving. By giving my phone to her, I could upgrade to a newer model.

My mother-in-law accepted the iPhone, but assured my wife and I that she only wanted to learn how to use it for phone calls and, she added, maybe to use Face Time, the built-in feature for video chatting, to speak with my wife. However, the next morning she told my wife that she wanted to download some apps to watch news from Korea.

Over the next few weeks my mother-in-law learned how to type on the phone's small on-screen keyboard (in Korean, by the way) and to even send emoticons to my wife when texting.
It is never to late to learn something new. The saying “You can't teach an old dog new tricks” is not really true, literally for animals or figuratively for people.

I once knew an elderly gentleman, Robert, who loved to learn. Robert started working on his doctorate of philosophy in history when he was 81 years old. Working through the curriculum over a few years, he graduated at the age of 85!

My great uncle Alban was also curious about new technologies. Long before the Internet existed as it does today, with a variety of online options for e-mail, he used a box that connected to his television to send e-mails to family members. He was in his eighties at the time.

Did Robert and Alban wait until they were octogenarians to adopt an attitude of continually learning? Of course not. An attitude of learning should be developed early in life. At whatever age you are now, you can choose to be willing to learn. What can you do today to adopt this attitude?

First, whenever you come across something that you are unfamiliar with, take the time to learn about it, whether that means finding a solution to a problem or increasing your knowledge. If you are reading and encounter a word you don't know, look it up or write it down to look up later. Even if you don't remember the definition later, taking this learning action will help you; it will strengthen your mental powers. Likewise, if someone mentions facts during a presentation, meeting, or sermon, ask for the reference and verify the source yourself.

Second, look for opportunities to learn. Books, webinars, classes, online articles, and so on are more available than ever. Many resources are free.

Third, be open to alternative points of view. We have a tendency to evaluate quickly when listening to others present their opinions. Take the time to understand where others are coming from. While others are speaking, try to refrain from already crafting a response. By taking the time to listen to others, you may learn something about them or the situation you are discussing.