Prepared to Pivot

It was a simple plan. Fly to Malaysia, get collected by a family-friend, and drive to her place in George Town.

But there was a problem. When I landed at the airport in Penang, my friend was not there. It was 11:30 p.m., and I was curbside. Had it been less humid, I still would’ve been sweating.

An hour passed. Most of the passengers from my flight had already gone. There was an announcement over the Airport’s P.A.: “The airport will be closing in 30 minutes.”

Already, I’d noted fewer taxis. And while I didn’t know much about the airport, I knew that it was approximately 30 minutes away from the capital, George Town. I knew little of Penang (and Malaysia in general), and I hadn’t any way to contact my friend. What was at first curious started to become concerning, especially as I heard the announcement: “The airport is now closed.”

Moments ago passengers were exiting baggage claim, greeting loved ones, and securing transportation. Now I could hear moths banging against light fixtures. But there was one taxi remaining. Two German tourists were loading their gear into the trunk. I dug deep to resurrect my three years of high school German. “Entschuldigung, entschuldigung,” I said. “Sprechen sie Englisch?”

Fortunately, they spoke some English. They agreed to let me share a taxi with them to George Town. Upon arrival, since I hadn’t a place to stay, and since it was now almost 1:00 a.m., and since the local hotels were fully-booked for Chinese New Year, my new German friends agreed to let me share their hotel room as well.

Upon waking, I learned that the hotelier spoke little English and that the hotel was without Internet. I hit the streets, and over the next three hours I determined that most of the local businesses (including Internet cafes) were closed because of Chinese New Year, and they would remain closed for the next few days.

I pivoted.

Pivoting requires one to move decisively after gathering as much information as possible. I listed over a dozen options (ending my holiday was not one of them). The most viable was to take a bus to Thailand. So I did. And 9 hours later I was enjoying a can of Singha on the beach in Phuket.

The takeaway is this: I had a plan. (I planned to see Malaysia. I planned to stay with my friend.) Tenacity is important, but we mustn’t try to force a round peg into a square hole. In travel, just as in life and in business, assess whether you are advancing an agenda or forcing it. If it’s the latter, be prepared to pivot.

Press Release

ARIMA BUSINESS SOLUTIONS LAUNCHES ACCOUNTING & BOOKKEEPING SERVICES

Arima Business Solutions (ABS) is pleased to announce the launch of its Accounting and Bookkeeping services for small businesses.  Realizing that one of the most persistently overlooked needs of a small business is having books that are clean, accurate, timely and meaningful, ABS is excited to introduce its cavalry of high quality accounting and bookkeeping services.

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“Bookkeeping services round out our suite of financial solutions to our clients, and this makes us (and our clients!) happy.”

ABS, known for its premier offerings of CFO and financial analytics services, is now able to fill the entire suite of accounting and finance responsibilities, from CFO strategies and treasury management to the offering of outsourced bookkeeping.  The “ABS way” of accounting is to provide specialized focus on cash controls and internal audits, fraud detection and prevention, preparation of clean records for smooth and accurate tax returns, and analysis and insights of company balance sheets and cash flow statements.

From streamlining and automating the monthly and year-end accounting closes to installing processes and checklists for simple maintenance of squeaky-clean general ledgers, ABS is confident that its infusion of accounting leadership and technical expertise will become a very attractive alternative for small businesses.  For more information on ABS Accounting and Bookkeeping services, contact us at info@arimabiz.com, or call us at 818-710-3899.

About Arima Business Solutions:

ABS is a business management consulting firm located in the heart of the San Fernando Valley (SFV).  ABS specializes in small business management, financial and marketing excellence, solving problems for owners and stakeholders.  With a deep set of skills and know how on running the financial, operational and marketing areas of a small business, ABS is uniquely equipped to provide 360-degrees of client service.  A one-stop, end-to-end solutions provider that tackles the most urgent issues facing a business.  Finance consultants often do strictly finance while marketing firms focus mainly on sales and branding.  The best solutions are balanced solutions, that examine not just one, but all of the key areas that are important to the business.

Start a Tradition

In 2003, I enjoyed New Year’s Eve at a surf camp in Fiji.

While I’m still a horrible surfer, I inadvertently established a tradition that has brought me great pleasure: beginning the New Year in a new country.

It began in Nadi, Fiji. I was solo. Just me and a rag-tag collection of would-be travelers. As the hours to the New Year drew close, two Fijians scaled a palm tree, grabbed a few coconuts, mixed the coconut water with rum—and voila—it was party time!

The following year brought Edinburgh—along with heaps of Scots in kilts, toting their homemade whiskey for warmth. I was on Princes street, flanked by the old world and the new. (On one side was a medieval castle. On the other, a Baby Gap).

By the time I met Michelle, I was several countries into an established tradition, one that she could now be part of.

And with Portugal, Dubai, Buenos Aires, Sicily, La Paz, Barcelona, Tokyo, Singapore, and Maldives now under our belts, people rarely ask us what we’re doing for New Year’s. Instead, anyone who knows us simply begins with “So where are you two going this year?”

Indeed, traditions abound. Some develop accidentally. I have four friends from college, and we’ve managed to make one trek to Las Vegas every year (with rare exception) for the last 23 years. The question isn’t, “When will we see each other?” The question is “Which month will we be going to Vegas this year?”

Some traditions are cultural. My wife’s family gathers at the cemetery every year to clean their ancestors’ grave sites . . . to pay respect to those who are no longer with us, to honor them by making sure they are not forgotten.

Some traditions are religious. I was raised a Buddhist. Each year my parents would take my brother and me to the Vista Buddhist Temple’s Obon Festival. I’d marvel at the muscular Japanese men, wielding wooden mallets at mounds of rice resting atop a wood block. They’d pound the rice until it became pasty and began to resemble what would become mochi. (When my mom asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up, I told her I wanted to be one of those guys . . . the guys who swing the wooden hammers.)

People enjoy traditions for all sorts of reasons: to celebrate child birth (the Red Egg and Ginger party comes to mind), to celebrate love (via Valentine’s Day or anniversaries), or to honor those who’ve served (Veteran’s Day or Memorial Day).

Many of our traditions have been passed down from one generation to the next. We grow up looking forward to these traditions, planning for them, knowing they are good for us, knowing they make us better.

What’s of note, though, is that you may certainly create your own traditions. I know some triathletes who do a birthday swim every year: 100 x 100 yards. That’s 10,000 yards (not a big deal for a swimmer, but it’s a fairly sizable swim set for most triathletes).

Every year my dad—a competitive and talented cyclist—rides twice his age. I remember accompanying him on his birthday ride when he turned 58. We’d gotten to mile 57, and I was thinking, “Okay. It’s almost time to turn around. And then only 58 miles to go.” But my dad, always eager to push himself, said we should ride a few more miles before turning around, just in case our route wasn’t measured correctly. I figure we rode at least 120 miles that day. (Last year my dad turned 70, which means he rode 140 miles . . . if not more . . . on a hot day in August.)

While habits are performed daily, or weekly, or monthly, traditions are different. They are over-arching annual goals that our habits help advance. A well-chosen tradition should make you better.

Consider creating a tradition this year. You’ll be glad you did.

Surprise Yourself

I don’t like surprises.

It’s not that I don’t champion spontaneity. It’s that I see my day as a closed-energy equation, one where I’ll need to allocate my energy stores in order to perform optimally. If I don’t know what’s going on, then allocation becomes sub-optimal at best.

There is a scene in Pretty Woman, where Julia Roberts’ character describes herself as a “fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants kinda girl.” Well, that may work for many. But I am not a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants kinda guy.  In fact, if I had a playbook that identified the rules in my life, this would be one of them.

Of course, as is often the case, there are exceptions. There are moments in life—when you’re with your significant other, or spending time with your kids, or sifting through a work-related problem or a health-related issue—when surprises make you smile. These moments give you a reason to keep going.

The other day, for instance, I awoke exhausted and unmotivated. I struggled to read a few pages from a sports biography, brushed my nose when I was endeavoring to brush my teeth, haphazardly applied sunblock, and made my way downstairs.

As I drank my espresso and ate my oatmeal, I seriously considered skipping my swim and run session in favor of going back upstairs to get a few more hours of sleep. After all, my wife and dog were up there. And they looked (and sounded) comfortable.

But I reminded myself that the decisions I make when it’s early in the morning—when it’s dark and cold—those decisions shouldn’t be trusted as much as the decision I made the night before, when I was clear-headed. When I had a plan. When I was motivated.

So I trudged on, got into my truck, and reached the pool just after 5:30 AM. I was still exhausted.

They say a car uses a lot of energy to start. But it relies on far less energy once it’s rolling.

Well, I’d used a lot of energy that morning just to get into my jammers and onto the pool deck. But once I got into the pool, and once I did a warm-up of 500 yards, I started to feel pretty good.

Half way through the workout, the whiteboard indicated that we needed to do another 500. This was not all out. Just a 500. So I swam, with effort, but I didn’t go anaerobic or hypoxic. Typically, if I were going hard, I’d come in around 7:05-7:10.

When I hit the wall, my time was 6:51. (I didn’t believe it at first, but after conferring with my Garmin, I was convinced). Wow. I was officially surprised! And it was not on a day when I felt rested. It was not on a day when I exuded motivation. I hadn’t even gone all out!

Michael Phelps would likely hang up his Speedos if he ever swam a 500 in 6:51. But I was absolutely stoked!  It was a reminder that, indeed, most rules do have exceptions. And if I can be a party to these sorts of exceptions in sport, then bring ’em on!

To permeate a quiet confidence, to know that your happiness cannot be taken away from you, not today . . . that is the benefit of a breakthrough. That is the benefit of a stunning surprise in sport.

I suppose you can’t plan to surprise yourself. But perhaps if you take a chance, take a risk, push yourself—perhaps you speak up at a meeting, or organize a family getaway, or learn a musical instrument, or a foreign language. Perhaps you find a trail, or a pool, or a bike. If you take a chance . . . if you put yourself out there . . . it’s exciting to see what can happen.

Believe in the power of you. Allow yourself the luxury of dreams. Make the time to pursue them. And you might just surprise yourself.

Heroes

I like to romanticize the hero. He dons a cape. She flies an invisible jet. It is not a flea but The Tick!

The truth, though, with due deference to Comic-Con fans, is that the real heroes are first-responders, fire fighters, police officers, and members of the armed forces. They are people who put themselves in harm’s way to protect us, to assist us, or to save us.

But there are other heroes. Few organizations classify their strongest assets as heroes, but we should aspire to be the workplace hero.

“Calculation never made a hero.” —John Henry Newman

“A hero is no braver than an ordinary man, but he is brave five minutes longer.”     —Ralph Waldo Emerson

Workplace heroes share common characteristics.

Ownership

Heroes of the office ooze ownership, also known as accountability. They don’t pass the buck. They consider excuses an abomination. And they are most empowered when something goes wrong and they take responsibility for it.

Commitment

Workplace heroes do not simply start something, only to let others finish it. If it means staying later, listening longer, or starting over again, they do what must be done. They know the difference between delegation and fulfillment.

Heart

Heroes execute from the head, as well as their heart. They bring passion into the workplace. This is consistent with the Dicky Fox message in Jerry Maguire: “If this is empty (he points to his heart), this doesn’t matter (he whacks himself on the head).”

Consider ownership, commitment, and heart. How might these characteristics compel you to become the workplace hero?

Work Ethic

“I shine ’cause I grind” is the chorus for a Crime Mob song that is on my playlist. On especially tough days, I’ll click my iPod to that song, and I’ll repeat the chorus over and over: “I shine ’cause I grind, I shine ’cause I grind.”

Like most things, you have to look for the motivation. But sift through the verses of this song, and you find the line: “I got an aura about myself, and that’s greatness.”

It’s funny, but I still remember the look on my colleague’s face when I told her (after a long training run) that it was a mental victory. She was perplexed. And I proceeded to explain that I wasn’t motivated to train that day. (This was exercise, not business training, but both have a lot in common.)

Her response was perfectly warranted: “But you LOVE to train!”

Sometimes we forget that people bear witness mainly to our actions, and rarely do they get a glimpse of the inner battle, the war declared between body and mind. Sure, there are almost always moments during training that are “perfect.” They are Ferlinghetti’s rebirth, a renaissance of wonder. You’re weightless, in flight, one with the Earth’s rotation.

But often it is a battle to get out that door and onto the track, or the bike, or the pool deck.

Like many things I know are good for me—eating broccoli, watching a TED Talk, cleaning the house, bathing—sometimes I’m simply not in the mood.

And that’s where you must have strategies in place in order to set yourself in motion. Momentum, as they say, is a cruel mistress.

“Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.” —Thomas Edison

“A professional is someone who can do his best work when he doesn’t feel like it.” —Alistair Cook

So what is your plan?

Visualization

Ask yourself, “How will I feel once I’m finished?” (I even go as far as “feeling” that sense of fulfillment and accomplishment before I’ve begun).

Motivation

Watch motivational YouTube videos. There are so many videos (2-3 minutes each) that might compel you to start moving.

Transformation

Try to change from the outside in. Get all of your gear on so that even if you don’t feel like an athlete, an entrepreneur, a CEO, a top-performer, you look like one. (Of course, if these things don’t work for you, do not ever underestimate the power of caffeine.)

I stand by this quotation: “Luck is the last dying wish of those who believe winning can happen by accident. Sweat, on the other hand, is a choice.” If you are at the top of your game (as an athlete, or as a parent, or as a professional), or if you are striving to reach the top of your game, then you likely have something in common with those committed to performing optimally. You are consistent. You do what you need to do, especially when you don’t want to do it. In other words, you shine ’cause you grind.

And because you do, “You got an aura about yourself, and that’s greatness.”