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Minimum is Maximum: My Walk with a Minimalist

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I’ve always had this habit of binge watching Ted talks.  The people who have graced the Ted stage have always been influential for our peers and our communities.  One of my favorite talks on the subject of minimalism comes from my friend Colin Wright.  You wouldn’t think of meeting a new friend through TedX, but this was the first place that I’d see his name.  After seeing his first talk called ‘Extreme Lifestyle Experiments’, I found that he and I shared similar philosophies in life.  

Colin gave up his American career to become a minimalist.  He gave away the vast majority of his belongings, and decided that every three months the readers of his blog ‘Exile Lifestyle’ would vote on which place, anywhere in the world, he would live next. Everything he owned had to fit into one bag.  

After some research and light Facebook stalking, I decided to reach out to him personally. At this time I was living in New Orleans and was delighted to discover that he would be returning to the states for a road trip around the country.  One of his stops along the way would be New Orleans.  In a message I assumed would never be answered, I offered him my couch to surf.  To my surprise, he accepted.  

Colin stayed for about five days.  Together we explored the city.  Here’s a taste of what I learned from this seasoned minimalist after our many exploratory walks:

 

What would you consider your formal job title to be?

This is something that changes with some frequency, and any concise answer I give tends to leave out quite a lot. At the moment I’ve been telling people I’m either an author or a podcast host, as those are my two main focuses at the moment.

But there’s really no formality to this kind of lifestyle, and as a result, no formal title.

What was your lifestyle like before you became a minimalist?  Do you miss it?

I was running a branding studio in Los Angeles and living the lifestyle of a driven young person who never had money before and who suddenly was making money. Which is to say I was buying silly things and pursuing goals that weren’t my own. I was also working ridiculous hours and not really paying attention to what that behavior was doing to me, health- and happiness-wise.

I enjoyed many aspects of the work, but as soon as I took a second to slow down and look at the big picture, I realized that I’d need to change something, and quick. I miss elements of that lifestyle, but the things I’ve replaced them with are much better fits for what makes me happy and helps me feel fulfilled.

Tell us about your purging process.  What were the hardest things to let go of?

It took me four months to get rid of all the stuff I had at my townhouse in LA. It got easier as the weeks went by, but especially at first, it was tricky getting rid of the things I had convinced myself I would need.

I had a closet full of nice clothes, for instance, and many of those jackets and jeans and shirts were never worn, and likely never would be. I had build up a series of scenarios in my head for when I would need these things, and how wonderful I’d feel having them on hand when those moments finally arrived. And what that meant, in practice, was that I had a bunch of clothing, and gadgets, and computers, and books, and all kinds of other possessions that were just sitting there, collecting dust, when someone else who might actually put them to use could be getting value from them.

Recognizing that, it all became a lot easier. But until that point, each thing I got rid of made me feel a little less prepared. There wasn’t much sentimentality for the things I got rid of, just a well-entrenched feeling that I was going to be less secure — but that proved not to be the case. The opposite, in fact, since not stockpiling left me with so many more resources to spend on things I actually needed and wanted, when I needed and wanted them.

Is it difficult to remain minimal?  What would your advice be to the average person hoping to become minimal?

Not really. Not once you figure out why you’re doing it, at least.

Like with anything, if you’re forcing yourself to do something painful and there’s no obvious victory at the end of the road, it’s going to be harder to make those changes stick. If you take the time to figure out why you want to focus on certain things more, and reduce the excess and inessential, then it becomes a lot more manageable; you’re no longer sacrificing, you’re moving in a direction you want to go, and if anything you can feel like you’re not getting there fast enough.

My best advice would be to take the time, before you start chucking stuff in the trash can or donation bin, to figure out what actually makes you happy. What’s valuable to you? What possessions really make your life better? Allow you to do the work you care about? What do you wish you had more of in your life?

Asking these questions first will help you figure out what possessions are additive toward your goals, and which are standing in the way. Which are very much worth keeping, and maybe worth investing in further, and which you can easily give up, so that you have more time, energy, and resources (including money) to spend on the good stuff (whether that means possessions or experiences or something else).

How do you define value?

Something that’s valuable is a net-gain for you and your life.

So if a possessions adds value to your life, it’s enhancing something that’s important to you. If it’s a liability, it’s keeping you from something important, or maybe sucking up money or energy that you could be spending on something that’s an asset.

The specifics will be different for everyone. I prioritize experiences and pursuing new knowledge and meeting new people; travel, then, is more valuable to me than it might be for some people, because it makes me happier than almost anything else. For other people it might be anything else in the world — for some people, travel will be a waste of money and time.

That’s why I think it’s vital to understand yourself, first, so that any minimizing efforts are time well-spent, rather than just an empty exercise.

 

Downsizing a person’s life isn’t always an easy feat.  It’s not for everyone. For myself, I found this process paramount in truly knowing the difference between what I ‘want’ and ‘need’.  People often find themselves on autopilot when it comes to defining value within their lives.   Practicing a minimal lifestyle goes beyond just the stuff a person can accumulate.  In a way it’s a method of studying the inventory of worth within your life.  Minimalism can be expressed not only in what you choose not to have, but also in how you make your decisions as a consumer.  It can show you whether or not you can see a difference between having ‘experiences’ or having  ‘possessions’.  

How do you define value?  Maybe going minimal can help you find out.  

What's up!? I'm Katrina. I'm wandering, collecting, witnessing and learning. I'm drawn to all things found at the intersection of art and technology. If I could go back in time, I think I'd be best friends with Mark Twain, Nikola Tesla and Cleopatra. When I'm not obsessing about the human endeavor or the nature of time, I'm probably cooking or dancing.

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Business

Customer Satisfaction Should Be Your Number One Priority

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customer service

No matter what your product or service is, without customers you don’t have a business. This is because customers are the backbone of any business. In fact, customers are so important many businesses have adopted a “customer is always right” policy. Many companies strive to keep their clients happy. However, there are businesses that do not know why customers are important. Here are reasons why your customers should be your number one priority.

No Business

Let’s say that your product is so cool it solves many problems. This is very good but without customers to patronize it, you have no business. Customers are important because without them, your company does not need to exist. Businesses exist to provide products and services to customers. In the entrepreneur world, businesses exist to provide products and service that customers consume. Prioritizing customers will let you learn what they want so that the cycle is unbroken.

Helps You Improve

Customers are important not only because they consume your goods and services, but also because they help you improve. By listening to their feedback, you will learn what can make your product/service better. Many companies spend millions of dollars on R&D but there is no better source than the people who patronize your product. By listening to your customer’s feedback regularly, you can improve and tweak your product so that it gets better each time.

More Customers

Loyal customers are the best brand ambassadors for your products. If they really like your product, they will tell their friends about it. This is good news for businesses because it is free advertising and because it will bring in more customers. Having loyal customers rave about your product to other people is a good way to measure success. By listening to what they want, you are establishing a relationship with your customers. Prioritizing their feedback will gain their trust and they in turn will recommend you to other people.

Quality Feedback

Customers are also the best source of quality feedback. Remember that they are the ones who are using your products on a regular basis. Prioritizing customers means that you are engaging them. You will have good sources for feedback which allows you to analyze quality information. Following this strategy will let your company analyze and respond better to make your products or services improve which could help boost sales.

Make You Rich

When consumers are happy they consume more of your products which can make you rich. How? Customers like to buy from a brand they trust. They are happy to use a product that is of good quality and will recommend your product so that their friends are happy thereby expanding your customer base. The more people that buy from you, the more potential for profit. Most of the time, more profit means more money inside your pocket.

Ensuring that customers are happy and are prioritized is a good marketing plan. Making them number one is a good way to make your business successful. Prioritizing them could start a chain reaction that can propel your business forward.

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Business

Why Amazon HQ2 Should Choose Miami

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HQ2

The unexpected city to be on Amazon’s top 20 short-list is Miami,Florida. Information about the proposal for Amazon has yet to be released. South Florida is currently keeping it a secret, but from the looks of the region, Florida holds the best benefits. Florida has no state income tax, which can save Amazon a lot of money. The founder of Amazon holds personal ties with the city as well. CEO of Amazon Jeff Bezos spent some time in the Miami area. He spent his childhood there and was valedictorian of his class at Palmetto High in 1982. Bezos now has the opportunity to return to dominate the corporate scene of the region. Florida may be the perfect choice for Amazon HQ2.

The massive tech company seeks a city with a high population in order to attract employees. Miami holds a population of 453,579 people and is growing. The location is perfect in size and the site holds special features. The area will cover the southern-region for Amazon, but is still remotely close to the East Coast. South Florida is also a pipeline for Amazon to connect with Latin America. This represents a positive, diverse company. The southern location also emphasizes the importance of weather forecast. South Florida embodies the perfect temperature for businesses. There won’t be any delay due to snow or low temperature, so traveling and delivery will hardly get affected.

Amazon is currently looking to adopt 500,000 square feet of space but will then move on to consume a total of 8 million square feet after 2027. South Florida had offered at least eight sites that is located in downtown Miami. Other locations include government buildings, so in total there are five in Miami-Dad, two in Broward, and another in Palm Beach. Florida had planned out this move drastically and is offering various options to fit the taste of Amazon.

HQ2

The University of Miami and Florida International University are within the region, along with other colleges. The region attracts a younger scene, which is beneficial to companies seeking employment. Miami also provides the Miami International Airport and Fort Lauderdale Hollywood International Airport to Amazon for transportation.

“There are a lot of cities that are showing off for Amazon … We took a different approach. We put out a challenge,” Commissioner Russell said. The message of the video, he said: Miami isn’t for everybody and if you are not welcoming of diversity, don’t come. “We believe that will resonate with Amazon because they do embrace a lot of the values that we have in Miami and they will recognize how this is really a jumping off point not only for South America but for Europe and the world.”

Small businesses and agencies within Columbus are able share their professional insight to Amazon now. This is why Amazon HQ2 Should Choose Miami:

How will Amazon HQ2 affect the economy of the city?

“Beyond the short-term construction and long-term full-time job direct economic benefits, delivering such a high-visibility endorsement of South Florida as the diverse, international and “enterprise-ready” region that is has become, would create the momentum needed for long-term prosperity. South Florida is about so much more than beaches and cruises and bringing HQ2 would reinforce that message for decades”. -Aaron Lee of The iluma Agency.

HQ2

Image From David Balyeat

Amazon is searching for talent in software development and related fields. What is your city’s tech scene like?

“South Florida has seen a vast expansion of tech startups, incubator programs and higher education development. In fact, the 2017 Kauffman Index of Startup Activity recognized South Florida as the leading region for startup activity, ahead of Austin. As the President of the South Florida Chapter of the Entrepreneur’s Organization, I can also attest to our region’s thriving tech and entrepreneurship scene first hand. Our chapter is among the top 10 largest worldwide and continues to grow with mature, scaling businesses as well. Considering that Amazon is much more than just an online store, we also offer one of the few direct backbones to the global internet, right here in Miami. Finally, it’s no accident that several “unicorn” tech startups are based here already, including MagicLeap”. -Aaron Lee of The iluma Agency.

HQ2

How will the community welcome Amazon HQ2?

“Not with a parade, but with an unforgettable beach party. Seriously though, there is a unified and aligned vision across three counties and more than 9 million residents who are ready to embrace and support Amazon. We are also a perfect region for Amazon to test new innovations and reach a global audience, not just a domestic one. Our businesses, residents, organizations and local governments have spent years investing in ourselves to prepare for such an opportunity”. -Aaron Lee of The iluma Agency.

HQ2

Do you support the major’s proposal? Why, or why not?

“Absolutely. As a business owner and South Florida resident for nearly 4 decades, I have the shared opinion that our area has more of a branding problem for enterprise business, versus a lack of opportunity and infrastructure. We have been ready for Amazon HQ2 since before it was an idea”. -Aaron Lee of The iluma Agency.

HQ2

Image From Translating Cuba

Besides financial incentives, what does your city offer?

“South Florida offers a diverse metropolitan culture that combines international influences with a rich history of hard working, but equally fun loving people. We thrive on our diversity and it’s a community that celebrates living. From the arts, sports, entertainment and of course the fabulous weather and beaches, there’s no other part of America like it”. -Aaron Lee of The iluma Agency.

HQ2

What is in your city that isn’t found anywhere else?

“I’d have to say that the rich diversity of our people has helped build a community that reflects the global world we live in today. It’s a region that also reflects the nature of Amazon’s vision and scale as well. We are a city of the world, built by people who have come together from all around it, sharing their culture and experiences to create something truly unique”. -Aaron Lee of The iluma Agency.

HQ2

If you are an agency from South Florida, and wish to contribute, please fill out this form here: https://ownersmagazine.com/need-talk-marketing-pr-agencies-amazon/

*Sponsored by Penji

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Business

Why Amazon’s Second Headquarters Should Choose Northern Virginia

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Amazon’s second headquarters

Among the top 20 shortlist for Amazon’s second headquarters, Northern, Virginia is not a stranger to the massive tech company. Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos have frequently conducted business in the region. Bezos is known to own The Washington Post and Amazon’s cloud service AWS is situated in a huge data center in the northern Virginia region. It is no surprise that Northern, VA is listed on the list. This region proved to be a safe home for Bezos’ businesses, it would only make sense that Northern, VA is the next home for HQ2.

While the nation waits for the announcements of Amazon’s second headquarters, speculations rise as Amazon employees crowd ARLnow.com. The local news-source for Arlington Virginia have reported major traffic from an internal Amazon site. The article reporting the county’s green building council had received over 6,000 page views and 3,500 visitors from an Amazon web page that is only visible to Amazon employees. Amazon’s interest in the community’s dedication to sustainability is predicted to help the company’s future development of a sustainable building of their own.

The area is surrounded by copious international airports including Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport, Washington Dulles International Airport, and Richmond International Airport for Amazon’s consideration  of transportation. The bid for Amazon had reports of the Hub property as a potential site for Amazon’s second headquarters. This 85-acre undeveloped location is near the Dulles Airport, perfect for Amazon’s demands.

Amazon’s second headquarters

Amazon announced that they are developing a second headquarter of up to 8 million square feet in order to accommodate 50,000 workers. The plan to bring in 50,000 lucrative jobs to the new location will create billions of dollars in investment for the community. This opportunity for economic expansion does not come often, but neither does a perfect business location in Northern Virginia that is close to Bezos’ other businesses.

A possible site for Amazon’s second headquarters is on the border of Fairfax and Loudoun counties along Metro’s Silver Line. “We are very excited that Northern Virginia is included on the short list as a potential location for Amazon’s second headquarters,” spoke the chairman of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors, Sharon Bulova. “Fairfax and Loudoun counties are able to offer a great quality of life coupled with an innovative and business friendly culture for future Amazon corporate neighbors and employees. With our highly educated and talented workforce and a location close to Dulles International Airport and a new Silver Line train station, we hope we will have the opportunity to welcome Amazon HQ2 to Virginia.”

Small businesses and agencies within Virginia are able share their professional insight to Amazon now as well. This is why Amazon HQ2 Should Choose Virginia.

If you are an agency from Virginia, and wish to contribute, please fill out this form here: https://ownersmagazine.com/need-talk-marketing-pr-agencies-amazon/

*Sponsored by Penji

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