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Linchpin: How To Be Indespensible

Posted by on Oct 24, 2013 in Personal Development | 0 comments

Photo by pickinjim

Photo by pickinjim

Linchpin: Are You Indispensable?

Over the last few decades businesses have become all about lowering costs. Finding cheaper materials, cheaper processes, and cheaper labor. Because of this, many jobs have been shipped overseas or automated. Job security has become a thing of the past, and “keep your head down and work” is no longer effective. So what can we do to protect our jobs and make ourselves more happy at work?

According to Seth Godin, become the “linchpin”, the person who is indispensable at work and holds everything together. Not by just being more efficient, which is also good, but by being more creative and human, an artist. A restaurant can replace a good server without too much trouble. But it is much more difficult for them to replace a server who is so friendly and helpful that customers actually come because of her.  She becomes the linchpin, holding the customers and the restaurant together.

If you just follow rules and do your job, you are likely to get bored. You are also likely to get replaced if your job can be done somewhere else for cheaper. But by going beyond your job duties and creating, making things better, and doing work that matters, you become irreplaceable to the company. You can do the work and solve the problems that no one else can.

In classic Seth Godin style, the Linchpin is short and sweet.  He makes his argument, gives examples, and then sets you on you way to go try it out. There isn’t a lot of fluff.

What you do get is a lot of emotion. He really believes in the ideas in the book. In fact, he begs that you put these methods to use.

A great read with a lot of great advice.

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Fixing Back, Shoulder, and Neck Pain

Posted by on Oct 23, 2013 in Health | 0 comments

Photo by Suze Duke

Photo by Suze Duke

I injured my shoulder when I was in high school. I was learning Karate at the time and we were practicing throws. The person I was training with threw me; my arm went, but my body didn’t. My shoulder has never been the same since.

I have tried stretching, strengthening, acupuncture, and massage all to no avail. My shoulder feels better immediately after, but the pain comes back. The pain doesn’t necessarily come from using it too much. A lot of the time, it will start hurting when I am shopping or even just standing.

Then it finally came to me. The initial pain came from an injury, but the chronic pain was coming from something else: bad posture. I don’t know exactly where the bad posture came from ( I would guess two decades of carrying a heavy backpack didn’t help), but it is something I can fix.

I am now doing more stretching and exercising focused on my upper back and shoulders. I think the biggest change, though, is that I am aware of it. Every time I go to the bathroom I take a look in the mirror and fix it (pushing out my chest and extending my upper body seems to do it). I also think about it when I walk, when I run, when I shop, and when I am talking or waiting.

I can’t say yet that I am cured, but I can say that the pain in my shoulders and neck have lessened. I have also noticed that when there is pain, I can reduce it by by simply fixing my posture.

Next time you are in front of a mirror take a look t your own posture. Are your shoulders slanting, your neck bowed forward, and your chest caving in? It is likely causing a lot of your shoulder and neck pain, and likely giving you headaches. Don’t let it!

****Update 11/16/2013****

After writing this article I came across this great video. It is a very simple 3 minute with exercises that really work well. Give them a try and you will see what I mean.


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New home, new diet, new life!

Posted by on Oct 11, 2013 in Hawaii, Health, Travel | 0 comments

Photo by Matt McGee

Photo by Matt McGee

It’s been quite a while since I have written here on Simplistic Thoughts. There are a number of reasons for the hiatus. There have been many things that I wanted to blog about, but never was able  to do so because of the big changes in my life.

For the last 5 years I have been living in Miyakojima (a small island of Okinawa). My wife and I moved there after we had enough of the busy life in Tokyo. It’s an absolute beautiful place with some of the best beaches in the world and a very unique culture (the video in the top right corner of the page is of pictures I took in the first year). We loved it!

We were also able to do amazing things and have incredible experiences while we were there. My wife worked as an English trainer for the teachers and learned hula and lei making. I taught English, did internet marketing, learned the sanshin (an Okinawan banjo) and the ukulele, and tried a number of diets and exercise routines. We also ran a half-marathon, went diving and snorkeling, cave exploring, and volunteered at various events. Most importantly, we made great friends. Sounds like paradise right?

Unfortunately, Miyakojima is a small island and doesn’t provide a lot of opportunity. Jobs are few and the types of jobs available are even more limited. While there we also began to start eating more healthy. We switched to a more vegetable rich diet and since then have switched again to a complete whole foods plant based diet. For those of you who have been in Japan, you know how expensive (and difficult to get) a lot of vegetables and fruits are.

However, it was really the plans to start a family that finally made us decide to move back to the US. I moved back to California in May to look for a job with a university while my wife waited for her green card.

It was  a difficult transition for me. I left most of my friends, and being back in California was a bit of culture shock. The area had grown so much in the eight years I was gone. I realized that to live in the area I had planned, I would have about an hour and a half commute to work everyday. I also missed the subtropical weather of Miyakojima.

I looked at moving to the surrounding states, but none of them really seemed like a good place for me. It was actually my father who first suggested Hawaii. We had planned to move to Hawaii for a short span of a couple years in the future, but I never really considered it as a main home….until then. The more I researched, the more it seemed perfect to meet our needs. It is in the US, but we can still get a lot of the Japanese products and foods we are used to. The weather is warm year round and it is located in between our two families. Could a place really work out for us this well?

After waiting four more months for my wife’s green card, we met (her coming from Tokyo and me from California) at Hilo airport just a few weeks ago. I will save the slightly crazy story of the first week of our arrival for another time, but we our now settled.

We have a very small apartment, our car has Hawaii plates, we are getting used to the area, and hopefully will have locked down jobs in the close future! So far, we love it here! Now that things are a little more settled, I will be writing more often. There are so many things I have learned and experienced that I can’t wait to share!

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How to Achieve Your Goals

Posted by on Dec 12, 2012 in How To, Personal Development | 0 comments

What was the last goal you set? What was your New Year’s resolution? Did you accomplish it? As we approach the end of the year, people will be making new resolutions for things they want to accomplish or changes they want to make in their lives. But with such a high failure rate, less than 40% of people in their 40s complete their resolutions. This drastically drops as we get older, with only 14% of people in their 50s achieving their resolutions (you can find more of the data here). Why is it so easy for us to lose our way or give up? Simply put, we don’t make clear enough goals. Without a clear goal, timeline, and plan you are likely to fail. Below is a list of steps you can take to help make sure you follow through with your next resolution.

Choose something you care about

Most of us are easily influenced. Watching a movie about a rock star can make us want to learn to play the guitar. The problem is that feeling will wear off and you will eventually give up when you reach the first difficulty. If you have always wanted to learn the guitar, and it’s something you often think about, then go for it. I’m not saying you shouldn’t try new things, but when you set something as a goal/resolution you should have a better reason than “it sounds like fun”. It should have a positive impact on your life. Decide how doing this will make your life better.

Be clear

Goals that aren’t clear can be changed or even forgotten. The more specific you make your goal the more likely you will follow through. If you are finding it difficult to make  your goal specific, then it might not have met the first criteria. People usually choose a goal such as: I want to lose weight. The problem is that you don’t know where the finish line is. I would ask “What is your target weight?”, “Are you looking to bulk up or just slim down”, “Why do you want to lose weight?”, “What will you do when you lose the weight”, “When is your deadline?”.

Choose a deadline

Choosing a deadline allows you to break what ever you are doing into smaller units and create a timeline. Without a date you can draw an activity out endlessly. If you plan to accomplish it in a year, you can break it into smaller pieces and set up landmarks to meet for each week or each month. You can then reward/punish yourself for making or not meeting them. Without a deadline, a goal is really more of an idea. Choose an agressive, but realistic deadline.

Do your research

There are many methods to do just about anything and they are not all equal. Take your time to find the best materials and methods. They may not be the most common. Choosing the wrong ones can mean the difference between easily achieving your goal or giving up.

Have a backup plan

What happens if you get off track. Your diet was going perfect and then the holidays came. It happens. Everything may not go perfectly. Have a backup plan for when you get off track. Also, schedule in times when you can get away from your goal (if it is something difficult) and go crazy.

So what is your goal for the New Year?

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10 Survival Words for Japanese

Posted by on Nov 19, 2012 in Japanese, Language | 0 comments

If you are going on a trip to Japan and don’t have time to learn to speak (you leave tomorrow), here are a list of Japanese words that should help you find the train and let someone know you are hungry. They won’t allow you too have even a basic conversation, you’ll need a lot more words for that, but they will allow you to take care of your very basic needs.

1. Doko (どこ)-where

2. Ikitai (いきたい) -I want to go to

3. Sumimasen (すみません)-Sorry, excuse me。

4. Ikura (いくら)-How much

5. Otearai (おてあらい)-Bathroom

6. Arigatou (ありがとう)-Thank you

7.  Byouin (びょういん)-Hospital

8. Tabetai (たべたい)-Want to eat

9. Nomitai (のみたい)-Want to drink

10. Eigo (えいご)-English? 

You can find the original list with descriptions and details at Japanese Words.

I also recommend that you take some tools with you. One great (and free) one is Imiwa for the Iphone. It is a complete dictionary and will allow you to look up a lot more words. It also shows you the common Japanese words first. You can find it in the Apple App store.

Another great dictionary for Japanese is It’s available online and contains a lot of example sentences and ways to look up Japanese characters.

Please feel free to leave any comments about other words you feel should be added to the list?

DO you speak any other languages. What 10 words would you recommend for those languages?


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Smart Financial Advice

Posted by on Nov 8, 2012 in Money | 0 comments

Humans have gotten more intelligent as time has gone by. Unfortunately, with all the technology, our fast paced lives, and the overwhelming amount of options, it seems more difficult than ever to get good sound wisdom. So that’s why a lot of times, good sound advice comes from a long time ago. A book like the “The Richest Man in Babylon”, written in 1926, is quite a treasure  in our time of high unemployment, a lot of foreclosures, and a lot of uncertainty,

I had read this book several years ago back when I was in college and really enjoyed it. I decided to purchase it again on kindle and once again realized how wise the “money laws” in this book really are. I truly think that the world today would be in a better situation if everyone followed this advice.

The book lays out the five laws of gold (money). If you follow them, money will come to you in larger and larger quantities. If you don’t, then you will always be chasing it.

The first of the laws is to save at least 10% of every dollar that you make. This is very practical, but something that most people nowadays don’t follow. 10 percent is the minimum and of course you can always do more. I would personal recommend 20-30%. I will leave the other laws for you to read.

I highly recommend this book for anyone wanting to get a head financially and away from money problems.But what if you are in debt? The book covers this too, and gives a simple formula to not only get out, but to start saving money as well. People who are way behind on their bills may need to take these ideas to the extreme or have their interest rates adjusted. Paying 19% interest rates over a long time, will keep your permanently behind.

Lastly, I will leave you with a quote from the book “Where the Determination is, the Way Cab Be Found”



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