December 28, 2017

My Top Books of 2017

Another year of giving up fantasy football/sports radio during my commute to read/listen to more books instead. Made it through 29 this year. *Asterisks are my top recommendations with the rest in descending order of enjoyment. Note: Ferris’ book arguably belongs alongside the great sacred texts in terms of practical wisdoms per page. What’d I miss, friends?

*Tools of Titans - Tim Ferris
*Braving the Wilderness: The Quest for True Belonging and the Courage to Stand Alone - Brene Brown
*Pre-Suasion: A Revolutionary Way to Influence and Persuade - Robert Cialdini

Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear - Elizabeth Gilbert
The Challenger Sale: Taking Control of the Customer Conversation - Matthew Dixon
Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood - Trevor Noah
Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook - Gary Vaynerchuk
An Idiot Abroad - Karl Pilkington
Selling the Invisible: A Field Guide to Modern Marketing - Harry Beckwith
What is the Bible? How an Ancient Library of Poems, Letters, and Stories Can Transform the Way You Think and Feel About Everything - Rob Bell
Chief Marketing Officers at Work - Josh Steimle
The Further Adventures of an Idiot Abroad - Karl Pilkington
AskGaryVee - Gary Vaynerchuk
I Must Say: My Life as a Humble Comedy Legend - Martin Short
The Undoing Project: A Friendship That Changed Our Minds - Michael Lewis
Win Bigly: Persuasion in a World Where Facts Don’t Matter - Scott Adams
Karology - Karl Pilkington
Happyslapped by a Jellyfish - Karl Pilkington

Unmarketing: Stop Marketing, Start Engaging - Scott Stratten
All In: How the Best Managers Create a Culture of Belief and Drive Big Results - Adrian Gostick/Chester Elton
Effective Executive: The Definitive Guide to Getting the Right Things Done - Peter Drucker
Account-Based Marketing - Sangram Vajre
The Ultimate Kauai Guidebook - Andrew Doughty
How to Write a Children’s Book - Barbara Seuling
Fodor’s The National Parks of the West - Fodor’s
The Business of Writing for Children - Aaron Shepard
Learn French - Paul Noble
Fodor’s Paris - Fodor’s
Introduction to Programmatic Advertising - Dominik Kosorin

December 27, 2017

Top 11 Musical Xanax Songs of 2017

I listened to all the new musical Xanax this year, so you'd only have to listen to the best. Here are my Top 11 indie rock/chill songs of 2017.

On Ex-Husbands and Wives - Quiet Company
In Undertow - Alvvays
THE SOUND - Noah Gundersen
Cold Blood - Josiah and the Bonnevilles
Mind - Sleeping at Last
Fear Not - Kristene DiMarco
Once a Lover - Sammy Brue
Everything to Help You Sleep - Julien Baker
Pain - The War on Drugs
New York - St. Vincent
On Your Side - Gabe Dixon

December 24, 2017

Balancing Your Finances Is About Enjoying Your Money

This post has been contributed.

Image Credit: Flickr

The importance of financial security cannot be overstressed. However, what can be overdone is the idea that saving and investing in order to build up your funds indefinitely is the main goal of any money savvy person. While saving is a sensible option and investments are a worthy component of any financial portfolio, there is little to say about when you should be enjoying you money and using it to give yourself, and your family, a fulfilling lifestyle.
Understanding Your Values
Money worries and money troubles are a common theme amongst adults of all ages. Even those who live comfortable and save well seem to spend a lot of time worrying that enough is not enough. Part of this is because they are not able to see all of their finances in one place to be able to make a judgement about their own financial security.

One way to do this is to create a spreadsheet listing all of your assets including your home, any commercial properties, your car or cars, your savings and investments plus any other items of value like jewelry or antiques. This will help to reassure you of your financial worth as well as show you where you can relax, where you can invest more and where you can use your savings. This is a lot of work but it is worthwhile to assuage your doubts.

Alternatively, you could look at Investormint for advice on apps that do exactly this for you.

Once you know where you stand with your money, you will be able to make smarter choices. Do you want all those antiques when selling them off could mean buying a share in a yacht? Are you prepared to defer your retirement for another year to pick up a bonus? What do you want from your money?
Enjoy Your Money
If you are financially stable then you should look into ways that you can make your money bring you the joys of life. For years you have watched the numbers trickle up but now is the time to get the things you want, see the places you’ve dreamed of or do the activities you’ve always wanted to try.

The whole point of money is to allow you to exchange it for things of different values: experiences, things and skills. There are no real rules, but assuming that this is your one go at life, you should prioritize your spending on fulfilling your goals, whatever they may be.
Deferred Gratification
Savers can be the most difficult people to persuade to spend because it is such an ingrained habit. And yet, these people will benefit most from deferred gratification and be able to afford to do things that are truly incredible.

If you are prepared to spend years scrimping and saving for the opportunity to take a year out in order to travel the world and see everything, then you should do it. Just make sure you actually do travel the world before it is too late.

December 12, 2017

Don't Approach A Commercial Property Investment With A Residential Head

This post has been contributed.


Investing in any sort of property is a pretty sound bet to make, but please don’t think that all forays into this market are born equal because they are not. So, if you have been approaching the possibility of investing in commercial property in the same way you would for residential housing then you need to stop, take a deep breath and start again. Why? Because the two are not the same.

There is much more you need to consider and that means there is more risk to contend with, from current events in global economics to what services your property offers. To help you out, we’ve pulled together a tick list of the most important things to think over before you commit your autograph to any dotted line.

1. Location, Location, Location
What is deemed to be successful on this front depends on what sort of commercial property you are buying. In residential properties, you look for nice neighborhoods, good schools and good transport links. With commercial, you need to consider the end user, and supplier, accessibility and connectivity; all of which are important to a business’ success.

2. Listen To The Law
When buying residentially, there are codes you need to meet and living standards you need to uphold, but they are nowhere near as stringent as with commercial investments. It is about meeting the Americans with Disabilities Act imposed on public buildings, which you can go to to learn more about, and knowing what a building's allowable purposes are. Essentially, this means knowing a property’s lawful use before finalizing any deal, should it be with an office-based company or a manufacturer of goods.

3. Consider Support Services
There are a lot of support services you can offer that crossover with residential investments, such as supplier a gardener or a concierge or simply hiring a lettings agent. However, there are more to consider in commercial, many of which can affect the rent you receive and the resale value of your property. This is things like parking, security, elevators, service elevators and a plethora of other services. They affect the running of a business and they affect the price you command, so give them due thought.

4. The Clock Is Ticking
Having a timescale in mind is another thing that separates the two different types of property, Yes, in any and all investments, you will likely have a timescale of what you want to achieve financially by when, but this becomes a lot more flexible with commercial investments. That’s why you should be asking yourself certain questions: do you want an immediate return on your investment? Are you acting fast because of a local opportunity? Is this a one-off or are you planning on building a commercial portfolio? The more you can ask yourself, the more you will be able to determine the answers and that is what will encourage the right decision.

As you can see, there are some similarities between the two types of property investments, but the crossover is very tenuous. Residential is bought with the intention of renting it out to a specific demographic. That luxury is not granted with commercial properties.

Decluttering Could Be the Best Financial Decision You’ll Make Before 2018

This post has been contributed.

Who wouldn’t love a nice clear home? Unless you’re a real packrat that loves to hoard things, then pretty much everyone could appreciate a nice and tidy home to live in. Sadly, mustering up the motivation to keep things in order is difficult. However, after reading this article, you might find that decluttering your home could actually be one of the best financial decisions you could make before entering 2018. Sound strange? It really isn’t!

Organising Paper Documents

Let’s face it, as much as we’d love to go paperless it just isn’t happening until everyone decides to unanimously get rid of letters and switch to email. Some important documents, be they tax returns or claims, are going to end up in your mailbox as a physical letter. As shown in this article from, there are plenty of businesses that just haven’t gone paperless yet and there are some reasons for it.

By decluttering, you’ll have an easier time sorting out all of your documents so that you can organise them into folders and have them be easier to manage. You won’t be looking around your entire house for a single invoice and you’ll never lose track of your paper bills. It’s more important than you think to keep these paper documents organised, so start doing it today by decluttering. You’ll find that your finances are much easier to handle and this is incredibly important if you’re running your own business from home. In short, don’t neglect the importance of sorting out your paper documents!

Selling Unwanted Items

If you've ever had an interest in electronics, music or video games then you've probably got dozens of unwanted CDs, DVDs and games laying around doing nothing. A swift decluttering will help you manage your unwanted items and you'll even be able to make a bit of money from it by selling them on sites like It's easier than you think to make a little cash off your unwanted goods, so head over to your loft or garage and start cleaning it up to make a little bit of side money.

If you've got unwanted items that don't have barcodes for easy identification, then you may want to look at local classified ads or look on online auction websites. However, the prices you'll get for larger unidentifiable items will vary greatly, so try to get the best price you can with a little haggling!

Home Efficiency

If you use the central heating in your home then you've probably caught on that if you have lots of clutter, it's less efficient. If you place objects in front of radiators and block sunlight with cupboards and other large items that you don't want, then it's going to make your home that much more inefficient at staying warm over the winter season.

Make your life more comfortable and warmer by decluttering your home so that you spend less on energy bills during these upcoming cold months. It doesn't sound like much, but it's a surprisingly effective way of improving the temperature in your home.

December 07, 2017

How to Make Your Life Generally Calmer

This post has been contributed.

Do you often feel like all the stresses and pressures of life are getting on top of you and making it difficult to function properly? It’s time to destroy that stress and make your life and lifestyle generally calmer if that’s the case. Stress is not a minor problem and it’s certainly not something that can be ignored, contrary to what many people think. It’s a genuine mental health problem, and it can lead to other mental health issues and even physical problem as well.

So how can you make your life generally calmer and easier to deal with? That’s what we’re going to discuss right now so keep reading.

Change Your Manic Routines

If the routines you currently stick to each day are hectic and manic, it might be a good idea for you to change them completely. Doing so will allow you to get more done without the usual stress you’re used to. Create routines for yourself that are simpler and more sustainable; the difference they’ll make will be massive.

Walk and Slow Things Down

Walking rather than cramming yourself onto a train or joining that massive traffic jam can make your start to the day so much calmer and relaxing. There’s something wonderful about walking to work and taking things easy. Slowing down generally and avoiding sources of stress will do you a world of good so you should definitely give it a try. It will also be great for your health too.

Learn How to Say No More

Sometimes, you just need to learn how to say no to people when they’re demanding more and more of your time throughout the day. By taking on less work and helping out fewer people in the office, you will be able to stay on track and do the things that matter most. And most importantly of all, you’ll have less stress to contend with, which has to be a good thing.

Explore the Wonders of Pet Ownership

Plenty of studies and research have shown that owning a pet and having that animal companionship can calm human beings down and make them generally more relaxed. Which pet you choose is entirely up to you and your own preferences. Look for goldfish for sale if you want the simplicity and calming nature of watching them swim. Or if you have time to dedicate to a dog, take that route.

Stop Putting Yourself at the Mercy of Your Phone

This is one of those modern developments that’s definitely not helping us at all. If you are constantly checking your phone and changing your plans based on the latest call or email, not only will you waste time because you’ll be staring at your phone for half the day but you’ll also stress yourself out more. So try to stop putting yourself at the mercy of your phone.

Take action now rather than putting off these kinds of changes until tomorrow. The sooner you act, the sooner you will secure a lifestyle that works for you.

November 30, 2017

The Disturbing Rise Of Social Media In Politics

This post has been contributed.

A group of protestors at the Women's March near the Capitol in Washington

Over the last couple of years, social media platforms have had some dramatic changes which have made their work a lot different. In the past, sites like these were designed for sharing information about your day, not keeping up with hot-button issues and world topics. Of course, though, nowadays, this is completely different. Social media websites are the new political arena. But, as this change becomes more widespread, what does it mean to you?

Before you can start to explore the potential issues caused by information social media, it’s a good idea to look into the things which make it so popular. A lot of people using these services the most are those willing to be the most outspoken. Having somewhere to have your voice heard is a great thing. Along with this, though, a lot of users on these sites won’t be interested in the politics and will be more concerned with the other offerings on the site. Popularity is only an issue when it is being abused, too.

In the modern day, though, it certainly is being abused, and this makes it very hard for normal users to enjoy their browsing. Most people are used to seeing news articles on the websites they visit. In most cases, these sorts of resources are trustworthy, and won’t be annoying to read. But, sometimes, the information they supply will be completely made up. Being designed to look like a normal story, it can be hard to notice these on a feed. This has lead to a lot of confusion in politics, as this shortcoming is highly exploited.

When thinking about something like fake news or misinformation, it can often be hard to understand why someone would do it in the first place. In most cases, this sort of tool is used to get an advantage in the political arena. Of course, though, a lot of the fake stories being produced simply don’t stick and will be very hard to market. To avoid this issue, companies making these sorts of ads will make them more discreet.

Finally, as the last area to consider, it’s time to think about the sort of damage fake news on social media can cause. Take a quality account, like the Moshe Kantor Twitter, and think about the content being produced. Genuinely insightful opinions like this are often pushed down by fake articles. This is a shame, though, as it means that a lot of people are missing out on ideas which could be helpful to them.

Hopefully, this post will inspire you to start disregarding the news you see on websites like Twitter and Facebook. As time has gone on, it has proven impossible for these news stories to be moderated. No matter what a site tries to do, the articles will keep coming through, and removing entire features will be the only way to make it better. Of course, though, this isn’t an issue; you have loads of places to get your political fix, and social media doesn’t have to be the one you choose.

November 28, 2017

Empower Your Church Youth Group Today

This post has been contributed.

Helping out with a church youth group can be extremely rewarding. It sometimes can be challenging too, especially if you think your group might not be getting as much from the experience as they could. Empowering your youths is an important part of the program, and many of them might feel like they don't have a voice or much confidence. Help them feel more empowered by using the following tips.

Encourage Them to Use Their Voice

Your youth group should feel like they're able to speak up, both while doing church activities and out in the wider world. Encouraging them to use their voice is a start, but you should also help them foster the belief that they should use their voice for good. It's also important that they're able to listen.

Help Them to Reflect on Their Thoughts and Actions

Everyone should be able to analyze and reflect on their thoughts and ideas. Sometimes this involves dissecting a certain reaction or opinion they might have, and sometimes it means exploring thoughts more so they can be turned into helpful actions.

Give Them the Power to Lead

Being able to work as a team is an important skill, and learning leadership skills can help make it easier to learn. Being in a leadership role lets them see the challenges of being a leader and gives them a new perspective on how people can work best together. It's great for encouraging confidence too.

Help Them Do Good

Doing good deeds is a great way to help empower your youth group. They can see the positive effects that their actions can have. A service trip is one way for them to do something charitable.

Infographic Design By Youth Unlimited

November 24, 2017

Dangerous Moves for First-Time Investors

This post has been contributed.

If you are planning on making your first investment, it can be difficult to know where to start for a lot of people. For others, they feel like they have stumbled across an amazing opportunity, and this is why they are investing to begin with. No matter what situation you find yourself in, irrespective of how much money you have available to invest, you need to be aware of the danger moves that you should avoid.

  • Chasing news – Chasing news is a terrible move for first-time investors. However, this is something that a lot of investors get sucked into. They go searching for a hot stock tip or the next Apple. It’s important to recognise what you are up against here. You are going to be competing with professional businesses that get this knowledge the second it becomes available, plus they know how to evaluate it correctly and quickly. In most cases, you will end up jumping into the investment when it is too late, or you will make a misguided investment.
  • Investing cash you cannot afford to lose – It is vital to recognise that nothing is guaranteed in the world of investing. There is no such thing as a sure thing. You should never invest using your emergency funds. You should only use cash that you can afford to lose. Of course, the aim is to make sure you don’t lose this money, but you do need to be prepared to.
  • Going all in with one investment – This is something that a lot of first-time investors do when they feel that they have stumbled on an amazing opportunity or someone they trust has informed them of a great money making opportunity. No matter how incredible something seems, investing 100 per cent of your capital into a certain investment is not a good move. Any business, even the greatest ones, can have problems, which can see a dramatic decline in their stocks.
  • Not doing enough research – Diving in headfirst is another danger. On the surface, the basics of investing seem very simple. You want to buy low, and sell high. However, it is a lot more complicated than this. You need to know what low and high really mean if you are to put this into practice effectively. Different conclusions can be drawn from the same information when it comes to this, which is why you need to understand the market and conduct extensive research. You need to look at stock data. For example, Alibaba stock data shows performance, as well as conclusions regarding risks. This information is an essential part of your research because you need to ensure the stocks you are considering are in align with your risk profile.
  • Not having a plan – Last but not least, not having an investment plan is a big risk. Your personal investment policy needs to address your objectives and goals, risks, diversification, asset allocation, and appropriate benchmarks. Without an investment plan, it is incredibly easy to fall off track.

November 14, 2017

Why Atheism and Religion Are Both Cut From the Same Cloth

This post has been contributed.

Religion is something that you either love or hate. You either follow religion deeply and spiritually by surrendering yourself to a god, or you follow atheism and reject the presence of any god. Both have their arguments and both are locked in an eternal struggle for dominance. It’s become such a problem that it feels like both atheism and religion have been taken to such extremes that people have forgotten the true purpose of both beliefs. There are plenty of articles on the internet such as this one from that try to compare the two, but very rarely do we see articles like this one that attempts to bridge the gap between both systems.

In order to shed some light on this opinion, let’s dive into a couple of similarities between atheism and religion.

Are bibles and textbooks really all that different? Image Source

Both religion and atheism build foundations on life

Religion believes that a god created their world and its inhabitants. Most atheists believe that the Big Bang is what started life in our universe. Both sides argue their points, but something is clear: they are both theories and there is no solid proof. However, that’s not what we should be focusing on when comparing the two.

Religion and atheism are both beliefs. One is a belief that inspired texts should be studied and followed, and the other believes that factual texts are what we should be following. The creation of the universe is just the starting point on which both are created. There has to be a start to something, which is why they both have different ways of explaining how we as a human race came to be. In a sense, both atheism and religion have ways of explaining the beginning of our world, but neither can truly be tested so we must rely on faith.

Both religion and atheism are manuals for living

Atheism follows a simple concept: deities do not exist and there is a proper scientific explanation for how everything happens. Religion follows a concept that is, while the direct opposite, actually incredibly similar; deities exist and everything can be explained through faith and god.

The similarity here is that both religion and atheism teach you how to approach life. They are both made to guide you throughout life and to help make decisions easier. Whether you study religion at retreat such as or through our local church, the teachings give you a solid foundation on how you should approach life and how you should make difficult decisions. On the side of atheism, you’re taught to always question everything and to use solid science in order to explain something.

In short, both religion and atheism are disciplines that help you throughout life. They both give you guidance but they do it in their own way. They help you deal with tough situations, they help you learn about life and the world and they have their own set of guidelines that you’re expected to follow.

Some final words

Atheism and religion are often pitted against each other. However, they are fundamentally the same in that they both provide people with guidance in life. No matter which you follow, life becomes easier to explain and live in thanks to the methods used to describe how things come about. Regardless of which system you follow, just remember that both beliefs are created equally.

November 13, 2017

Beyond The Diagnosis - When You're Facing Tough News

This post has been contributed.

No matter what age you are, hearing that your health is failing is tough news to take. You might not even feel that unwell. Perhaps you were expecting the worst? It doesn’t matter because it will always come as a shock that feels like a punch to the gut. Whatever your diagnosis, it’s the prognosis you need to focus on now. You need to know what you’ve got to do to make things better.

Cry, Scream, Shout
The first thing you need to do is digest the news. That’s not going to happen on the day. It might not even happen that month! But along the journey toward acceptance, you’re going to feel every other emotion that exists. Yes, you should cry. Yes, you should scream. And you should definitely shout and yell about how unfair this is. Bottling it up, ignoring it, or refusing to believe it does your emotional and mental health no good at all. Get it out so you can get on with taking action.

Doctors don’t tend to be great communicators. They’re not good at explaining things, and they don’t have time to detail everything that might happen. Your treatment options will be delivered like a menu. What you want is the full ingredients list including the issues of digestion after you’ve eaten it! Research is key right now. Learn everything you can. And make sure you’re getting the latest information like this cancer study that Poseida Therapeutics detailed in an article. Know what you’re up against and what the options are.

Address How You Got Here
Of course, we all start wondering ‘why me’ at some point in the process. You might be asking yourself what you’ve done wrong. Often, it’s just a case of genetics. But there are certain lifestyle choices you might have made that increased your risks of health problems. Simple things that are hard to avoid like stress can be one of the factors. Maybe you smoked, or perhaps your diet is poor? Fix these issues now and give yourself the best chance of living a healthy life going forward.

Gather Your Network Of Support
We all need people in our lives, especially when we’re feeling frail and frightened. Start to mend those relationships that broke down. Engage with friends and family regularly. Surround yourself with the people you trust the most. You can’t do this on your own, and you shouldn’t even try. But there will be times when you want to be alone. And there will be times when you lash out. Just make sure the people around you can handle it.

Do What You Need To Do

Whatever your prognosis, you will have a list of things you want to do. Some of these things will be actions to take to get well again. Others will be actions to take if you don’t. It’s important you give yourself the freedom to do what you need to do. We’re all different, so we’ll approach bad news in different ways. What gives you strength and courage?

November 12, 2017

Knowing Where You Stand With the Law

This post has been contributed.


The law is in place to protect the general public and its best interests. Many of us know what to do if we witness something that seems contrary to the law: we report it to the relevant authorities. However, if you believe that you may be the individual who has come to loggerheads with the legal system, you may not be quite as aware of what is expected of you. The key to avoiding further trouble is to know exactly where you stand with the law at all times: both in terms of being a victim or a perpetrator of a crime. Here are a few key pieces of information that could help you if you ever find that you are a wanted person.

Understanding Arrest Warrants

If you believe that you may have broken a law, there may be a warrant out for your arrest. An arrest warrant essentially means that you are suspected of carrying out an offence, and a police officer is rightfully within their grounds to arrest you should they come into contact with you. They are generally issued if you are suspected of taking part in criminal activity, you have failed to appear in court when expected, or have failed to comply with pre-existing bail conditions. While arrest warrants may mean that you can be arrested, they do not necessarily mean that you will undertake jail time. If you are unsure as to whether there’s a warrant out for your arrest or not, there’s no need to worry. You can find out How to check if you have a warrant relatively easily with the use of simple, specialist online search engines. If you find that you do have a warrant, it’s time to contact your defence solicitor. It is generally best to then hand yourself over to the police rather than avoiding your inevitable arrest.

Being Familiar with the Arrest Process

Your legal rights are liable to vary depending on your location. However, if you are arrested, there’s certain procedure that will take place and a protocol that you should follow to prevent further charges being made against you. Firstly, it is important to remain calm and not panic. Lashing out, using abusive language, or resisting arrest is likely to make the series of events much more difficult and unpleasant for you. Then we have the usual statement that will be used by the officer while you are being placed under arrest: you do not have to say anything to the police, but if you are later charged with a crime, and you have not mentioned, when questioned, something that you later rely on in court, then this may be taken into account when deciding if you are guilty. It is generally best to remain quiet until you have consulted your solicitor, who you will be able to contact once you have arrived at the police station.

Knowing Your Rights

In the Street

If you are stopped by a police officer in any situation, you have the right to request to see their identification documents and their warrant card if they do attempt to arrest you. You can ask why you have been stopped and, if searched, you can request a record of the search after the process has been completed. You also always have the right to be treated humanely and with respect at all times.

In a Police Station

If you are detained in a police station, you can request to see the written codes governing your rights and how you are treated, to ensure that everything is being carried out lawfully. You can also ask to speak to the custody officer at any time. This is the individual who is endowed with the responsibility of ensuring your welfare at any given time. Again, you can request to know exactly why you have been arrested at any given time. Finally, you have the right to notify someone of your arrest and to contact a private solicitor. Do not panic, you cannot be kept in custody for an indefinite period of time.

In Your Home

Sometimes police will be given the authority to search your home. If they do not have a warrant, they will require your consent. If they do have a warrant, they can search your property with or without your consent. There are also certain situations when police can enter your property without your consent or a warrant, though these are less common. This could be to capture an escaped prisoner, searching your property following your arrest, to protect a life, or to prevent serious damage to the given property.

Remember that it is always essential that you know and understand your rights in relation to the law. So keep up to date and conduct further research if you are in any doubt when it comes to any legal situation.

A Christian Approach To The End Of Life

 Note: This post has been contributed. Unsplash - CC0 License Talking about the end of life isn’t a popular topic. But it is something that ...