Should Old Acquaintance….

Welcome to 2019. Yes, 2019. The number you’ll be writing, just to the right of the crossed out 2018, on your checks for the next month.

It seems as though 2018 must have been a horrific year for a lot of people if you pay attention to their social media posts. Yes, the political landscape is a mess. Yes, your 401K has probably diminished in value. Yes, intolerance for fellow man appears to have hit a new low. But, let’s take a moment and take a breath.

Here are facts:

We only fear the unknown and we are hard-wired to be on the defense against such things. Our brains tell us to expect the worst case scenario and out come the claws. It’s nature. You’re not going to change your defensive mechanisms. But, you CAN choose to respond rather than react. A response requires thought. Reaction doesn’t. Just remember this; if your doctor tells you that you have a reaction to your medication, that’s bad. If they tell you that you are responding to it, that’s good. Choose good. Take time to consider how you will respond to life’s challenges. Politically, it seems as though many have forgotten that we have checks and balances in place to keep anyone from having too much power. Don’t feed the trolls. And don’t look at any one “news source” as being valid. It isn’t. It’s likely not a “news” source at all, but an editorial source. Read, listen and develop your OWN opinion based on the facts you can uncover. Own your feelings. You don’t need any of your Facebook friends to agree with you. Leave social media for sharing pictures of what you’re having for dinner and leave politics in front of the keyboard, not hiding behind it.

Your money. If you are fortunate enough to have a 401k, congratulations. If you’re not maxing it out every year, reset your priorities and get on track to take full advantage of either free matching funds, putting off taxes for a while or both. 401k’s are “play money”. The amount in your fund really doesn’t matter unless you’re ready to take it out. We’ve had one hell of a ride for the past few years and the last quarter of 2018 was likely just a taste of a correction that is on the way. We saw a 15% swing during that time-frame (mostly downward). But remember, if your 401k plan is worth its salt, you are buying all the time. It’s a type of “dollar cost averaging”. As long as you keep buying/investing/feeding the fund, you’ll buy at both highs and lows. The trend is and has always been positive. The market will rise and fall, but plot it for more than 15 years and take a look at the trend. It’s still the place to be and you haven’t lost a cent unless you cash it out at the wrong time. Talk to your plan administrator or a private money manager about your investments. Now is THE time so you can bolster or change your strategies for the entire year. Oh, and never borrow from your 401k for anything less than an absolute emergency.

Intolerance. How have we not learned anything? Tribalism. That’s where we are. It’s “us vs them”. The problem, though, is establishing who “us” and “them” really are. Rich vs poor? Blue collar vs white collar? Old vs young? Carnivores vs vegans? Smokers vs non? Gun owners vs non-gun owners? Black vs white? Male vs female? “The Wall” vs the Statue of Liberty? Democrat vs Republican vs……?

How in the world have we found so many things to hate about one another?

Tribalism” re-introduced itself into the mainstream in 2018 as “deep-thinking types” attempted to place a cause and a label on our division as a people.

Like it or not, we’re all in this together. Take a moment and listen to the other side. It’s tough. Why? Re-read my paragraph about defense mechanisms. We fear what we don’t know. This fear causes anxiety and poor decision-making (or worse yet, NO decision-making).

Learn about other people, groups, tribes and consider their thoughts and feelings. It doesn’t take long, but it’s incredibly difficult to open ourselves to the unknown. While there is safety in numbers, you really don’t have to be part of a group. That is ingrained in us from birth, certainly solidified in our school years and continues in our social and work lives as adults. We want to belong. But that “belonging” has its downside. It’s isolating and it holds us back from learning, sharing, tolerating and caring better for ourselves and one another.

Happy New Year.

Analysis Paralysis (And the Need for Consensus)

“Imperfect action beats inaction every time.”Harry S. Truman

Thanks (or no thanks) to the Internet, a world of information is at our fingertips 24/7.  Yesterday, I asked a friend for some suggested reading on Photoshop and his immediate answer was “You Tube”.  How many different answers do you supposed I’d received had I posed that same question on FaceBook?

As someone with nearly 4 decades of research and analysis experience, I can tell you that when you are trying to pinpoint an answer you’ll find exponentially more data to support what you shouldn’t do than what you should.  In fact, many successful products and services are the result of the culling of negatives more so than an artful assembly of positives.  Most people know what they don’t want; few know what they do.

Today, we can research everything from doctors to cars to coffee and get literally thousands of opinions from people “just like us”.  Looking for a quick bite to eat?  Yelp serves up menus, reviews and driving directions in less than 60 seconds.

We have information available to us on virtually any subject every second of every day.  So much that it’s difficult, if not impossible, to know what is and isn’t correct.  The one overwhelmingly prevalent theme that I have noticed is that most positive reviews or recommendations are for the product or service that a given user has already decided to purchase.  While this is certainly logical, as the purchase of the item puts it in the hands of the consumer, it also poses a “chicken or egg” question.   Are they recommending it because they’d done their own homework, bought it and truly like it over another?  Or, are they simply trying to feel better about what they bought by seeing if others agree?  The Search for Consensus.  (Consider this.  Go read reviews.  You’ll see the same trend and it definitely leans toward the justification theory.)  Rarely will a consumer publicly admit that they made a mistake in their purchase.

Analysis Paralysis.  We become so engulfed in information and obsessed by the need to do the “right thing” that we often do nothing at all; at least not in the time in which it was needed.

At some point we have to just make the decision to do something, anything and at the end of the day it will be our gut that makes the final call. If we’re wrong, we have a lesson from which to make a different, better decision the next time.  If we’re right, great.  Weren’t we smart?

When researching a subject, whether it be Photoshop skills or a new coffee, set a time limit on your efforts.  It’s simply too easy to become distracted by the overload of information or by the other “squirrels” in life.  Do your work, reach your limit and make a decision.

If your decision proves to be wrong, so be it.  Don’t beat yourself up over it. Learn from it.  Share with others and move on to the next one.

What do you think?




Our sister company, VENOMOUS TUNING, sees folks everyday looking for consensus for “what tuner do I use for my GT500?”  They’re not going to find it.  There are large companies that do a good job, but can’t take the time to actually speak to the customers.  Companies that simply have outgrown their internal resources and can’t keep up with the workload and the experience is riddled with disappointment (who wants to wait for weeks on a tune that you just paid for?)  And don’t forget a smattering of little guys that just so happen to own a dyno.  The last thing they “tooned” was a 1999 Subaru but they own a dyno.

Venomous Tuning offers a one-on-one experience for every customer.  We do it by limiting the number of clients we’ll accept.  We’re a few dollars more expensive than the other guys but you’ll get a complete, hands-on custom tune not a “this has always worked” approach.  And, you’ll talk to me.  On the phone, not a helpdesk.

When you’re ready for a completely different level of customer experience, call us at 352-800-4407


Challenges and New Ideas.

From Challenges Come Not Just Answers, But New Ideas

We all face challenges every day.  Some deal with them better than others.  Click the link and take a look.

When you’ve hit a roadblock.

I have a friend who has the uncanny ability to find ways to solve mechanical problems with the simplest of common assets.  Be it a conventional tool or something he manages to whip up, he almost always finds a way around or through a roadblock.  He’s young, so unless he was born to the MacGyver clan there’s no way this comes to him through past experiences.  It just comes naturally.

There are those among us that can visualize the answer and make it happen with little fanfare.  The task simply gets done; no fuss, no muss.

I get there, but it takes time.  I’m an intelligent person, but at times I can focus on the outcome and not the journey.  Wait!  Here’s an opportunity to create New Ideas and build strength for myself and my clients!  This is a good thing.

There is joy in the journey, pleasure in the process and New Ideas can be born when we step back and look at the roadblock from a different angle.

In the past week, my wife and I were told that an idea we’d developed wasn’t what the client had in mind.  It needed to be “80% different” than what we’d offered. How can that be?  That means only 20% of what we had worked on was acceptable, right?

Being no stranger to challenges, I told my wife to not take it personally nor concentrate on what we’d done wrong or the 20% we’d apparently done right.  Instead, step completely away from it and think about what the client really said.  They were attempting to put into words what they liked, didn’t like and their global thoughts.  What they didn’t do was share their vision with us.

We could have looked at the project from a dozen different angles, yet still missed the target.  How?  Because we weren’t awarded the opportunity to do the cursory Client Needs Analysis. 

     I whole-heartedly believe that you need to fully understand the problem to solve it.  Otherwise a lot of time and efforts are wasted.  A Client Needs Analysis gives us the control to take the proper arrow from the quiver and sight it precisely toward the bullseye.  In this case, the client wanted a more abstract answer, thus no question was posed.  No problem was presented so we were shooting in the dark.

Since we missed the mark, what can we learn from the “good” 20%?

Step back, re-examine the landscape and see how you can build on it.  Does it fit at all?  Most of all, pay attention to the process.  Look around you during the journey.  There are lessons to be learned.

Our second effort truly is 80% different from the first.  (We were given an important piece of information that indirectly lead us to a path that resulted in success.)  But, it looked nothing like the prior effort.  It wasn’t just an answer, but an entirely New Idea.  It happened because conventional tools and problem-solving methods weren’t working.  We stepped way back and looked at the task in a completely different manner.  We considered the signs we saw along our journey and used them to guide us in this second effort.

In a second scenario in the same week, I was presented with a challenge while working on my personal car.  Upon hitting a roadblock, I stepped completely back….accessed my resources (friends, manufacturers, and specialists) and quickly moved forward with a great answer that solved my problems.  The answer most certainly was not the one I would have seen had I been focused on the result.  This time, I embraced the journey. I worked the process.

So, while I’m not the one that can look at any mechanical challenge and immediately know how to fix it with duct tape and a road flare, I do find myself enjoying the experiences of learning along the way, so I can remember how it worked the last time.  When I focus solely upon the result I often don’t learn enough through the process.  Nothing that I can “bank” and  use the next time.

Are you embracing the process?  Or allowing life’s pressures to force you into focusing only on the result?

Slow down.