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Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Go Green, Save Green

When Mike Lauterborn left the 9 to 5
corporate world on Feb 23, 2010 --
yes, people, one month ago -- he really analyzed everything he was about, doing, thinking, feeling, desiring, etc. One immediate place he looked at though was his spending. He paid off those high-rate credit cards that were giving him little or no point returns for his purchases and got a card associated with his checking account that earns points and is a good rewards tool if he pays the balance every month. He also ditched some unnecessary home services that he deemed wasteful. As an example of the latter, he was paying a private carting service $79 every other month to come get his garbage and recylables once every week. Now with a home office and certainly more available during the day, Lauterborn figured he could take these items to the dump himself. He determined from dump officials that a trunkload of these types of items would cost $4.50 for disposal. So if he just made two treks a month (by buying one extra garbage can and a large storage bin double the size of the typical blue recycle bin), his outlay would be $9/month or $18 for the 2-month period, a savings of $61 compared with the carting service charge. That's no chicken feed. Over a year, that's a savings of $306! That could pay for about 30 cans of Trader Joe's Organic Sumatra java and keep Mike amply and intrevenously electrified and sharp for a good number of daylight hours. So take a look at those expenses people, and see where you can shave some potatoes.

Trader Joe's Organic Sumatra: Nectar of the Gods

These days, with projects left, right and center, Mike Lauterborn is really on the go. That's why he drinks Trader Joe's Organic Sumatra Coffee. It's the goose in his step, the pop in his corn, the ram-a-lama in his ding dong. (OK, scratch that last one) The point is: this is damn good coffee and gets Mike started every day.

Want to be like Mike? Take one scoop Nestle Nesquik chocolate flavor powder and 1-2 tablespoons of Carnation Coffee-Mate French Vanilla creamer and drop into a large mug. Then, take your freshly brewed java and, from about a foot above the mug, pour so that the powder, creamer and java are vigorously agitated. (Mike is often vigorously agitated, but that's another story) The latter pouring technique was one he noticed at a local Dunkin' Donuts and is apparently the trade secret to the decent brew they pump out.

So drink up little campers and keep checking back for more blogtastickness.

Reinventing the Interoffice Memo

Lauterborn and Co. are reinventing the so-called Workplace right down to how they communicate with each other. Take for instance, the interoffice memo...

Traditionally: White, 8.5" x 11" sheet of copy paper with very official headers, date, Who To, Subject, cc's, To Whom This May Concern... all very official looking.

In The Writer's Workshop "Work Without Walls" environment: Any size birch bark found blowing around in backyard, quickly scrawled header identifying the "document" with date, quick little attention line, heartfelt inspiring message about nothing in particular, sender name.

Benefits of the latter: No killing of trees. Abundant, readily available supply of materials as long as the evolutionary tradition of birch bark shedding itself from its host tree does not suddenly cease. Can be stacked and contained in a little dispenser. Can be used as mulch after reading. Smells nice adding a little woody (I said "a little woody" heh heh) scent to your intimate working space. Takes up less room than traditional copy paper memo. No two birch bark memos are the same with each coming in its own shape and pattern. Fun to look at and imagine you see an animal or a country or other object. In the posted photo, we see a clenched fist with extended index finger pointing down, or a possum with his face pointing right, the dark bit on the right-most end his little nose, or an old-style can opener with the "jaws" facing right.

Traditional memos... They're for paper pushers, bureaucrats and HR managers who have not yet learned the joys of Work Without Walls.

New Phrases Enhance Work Without Walls Premises

Against his better judgment and Co-Conspirator advice, Mike attended a local "Get Rich Quick Through Smart Real Estate Investing" seminar, held in a local hotel ballroom. Led by a German-sounding, Norse-like in stature, white South African in a crisp custom-tailored power suit, this event lured a group of some fifty people. Each was hungry to make some dough, be pulled from their going-nowhere current situations, pay off their debts and retire early -- all of which "Lars" said would be achievable for a nominal fee paid to obtain a slick How To guide and training video and by signing up for an additional 3-day course price-tagged at $995. (Old marketing gimmick -- price something just under $1,000 to fool people into thinking that the cost is really not that much -- in their heads $995 is doable; $1,025 is not as it's a number with 4 digits instead of the more affordable 3 digits, despite only a $30 difference in price).

Anyhow, Lauterborn, his Co-Conspirator CC and CC's liege O, sat in and listened along politely, hoping to gain at the very least one usable tidbit of information that they could constructively apply to their entrepreneurial endeavors. They ended up walking with no less than six nuggets, truly a bargain with admission to the event being free.

The First Nugget that tumbled from the Sham Tram was a cute meaning for the word "job": Journey Of The Broke. Agreed there. If you're at a job, it's work, and most likely you're a worker bee making money for someone else, with no control over your personal destiny.

The Next Nugget: "Retire Sooner Than Later". I'm sure we all want to do this but only a small percentage of us will be able to... most of us won't retire at all probably, what with Social Security funds being rapidly depleted, savings rates at all-time lows and debt ledgers crammed to the hilt. But, supposedly "Robert" (the founder of this program who, whether he actually does any real estate investing himself, is getting fat taking $995 here and $995 there from poor suckers for his supposed mind-blowing wisdom) has this figured out. And if he can do it, so can all of us apparently.

Nugget Three: By age 65, a person is going have to have saved $1.25 million to be able to live comfortably in retirement. With community organizer-come-president "The Obaminator" steering the ship that is America into tempest after tempest and onto rocky shores fraught with man-eating giant clams, we'll be lucky to have saved $125 by age 65. Stock up on cat food ladies and germs 'cause that's what we're all going to be dining on in our blue-hair days -- when U.S.A. no longer stands for United States of America but United Saudi Alliance, as most likely we'll have been taken over by a bunch of Middle Eastern sheiks in a government-brokered deal to offset by-then grossly overwhelming debt! You elected this Irresponsible Nut Job people! Tired of him yet?!

Nugget Four: "I was not put on this planet to survive, but to thrive." Now, that one we can get behind. Tracks with our mantra "Stimulate Your Own Economy". Be self-reliant. Captain of your own ship. Head of your own cheese. Master of your personal universe. Top Peel in the Banana Bunch. You get it.

Nugget Five: A nice little trio of words... Opportunity, Knowledge, Action. Again, tracks with the Writer's Workshop way of doing things: Create or identify an opportunity. Learn all you can about it -- the competition, the upsides, downsides, potential, financial gain. Take action -- don't let the idea sit just scratched out on a piece of paper. Make sure to pursue. You've already invested your valuable time in hatching and researching it. Now go after it. Don't worry about the money, it will follow if you take the bull by the horns. In the Work Without Walls world, Co-Conspirator CC is Lauterborn's "Dream Catcher", fielding his constant flow of mental ooze for them to expand upon, revisit and develop into a functioning plan of action.

Final Nugget: Go from "Cannot" to "I Can". Really important. Don't sell yourself short or let anyone tell you you can't do something. If you truly have an interest in a particular area and set your mind to learn it/accomplish it/do it/pursue it/win it/know it/buy it, etc., YOU ARE GOING TO BE SUCCESSFUL. Don't doubt yourself. A Loser is someone who hasn't even tried to tackle something for fear that they cannot do it.

That's all for now sports fans.

Pants on the Ground

Mike Lauterborn was pecking away at his computer
when into his line of vision wandered his 14-year-old son Evan, coming up from the family's basement
playroom. As usual and as is the style of teens these days, the top edge of his jeans were slumped down below his butt cheeks and his boxers-shrouded behind was fully out and on display.

"Evan, can you pull up your pants?!" the writer, seeing this, shrieked, his train of thought derailed.

"Sorry, I was laying on the couch and they slid down," he lamely explained.

"Well, before you come up here, pull up your pants!" the writer suggested.

"I can't stand up down there," the 6'4" Evan said with regard to the 6'2" high ceiling in that area. "So if I can't stand up, how can I pull up my pants?!"

"Pull them up before you stand up!" Lauterborn shrieked, his voice growing noticeably irritated.

"I can't!" the teen continued to defend.

"Don't you know you look like an idiot? Like you don't know any better? How can you even walk?" squawked Lauterborn. Then the writer hit upon an idea...

"You know what I'm going to do?" Lauterborn started. "I'm going to start wearing my pants the same way... so you can see what that looks like. I mean, if it's no big deal, then that's what I'm going to do. It might actually be very liberating." And with that, Lauterborn yanked his own pants down, took a peacock strut around the kitchen and, with pants at half mast (as in the photo posted here that he had his wife snap of him with his new "pants on the ground" look), returned to his typing on the computer.

"So that's going to be me every day from now on, OK? " threatened the writer.

Evan chuckled, hitched up his own pants a bit but, frankly, wasn't sure if his dad -- usually apt to do just about anything -- meant business or not as he returned to the depths of the house.

Time will tell. We'll see who blinks first.

Lauterborn Puts the Fun in Mon-day

It was Monday, approximately 10a.m., as Lauterborn's Co-Conspirator rolled into the Writer's Workshop. Hugs were exchanged per office protocol. The Head Cheese and his little c (inside joke here) set up and activated their computers side by side and started to bang away (on the keyboards that is). Lauterborn sensed there was something amiss. There were unprotected toes in this snuggly Work Without Walls environment as well as bare shoulders that could potentially be subject to drafty conditions. Whipping into action, Lauterborn headed to the 2nd Floor of the Workshop and returned anon with articles of snuggliness, namely large goofy wool socks that had particular awesomeness and allowed for the burrowing of toes... and a long-sleeved N.Y. Giants Championship shirt that allowed for the promotion of the Greatest Team in the History of the Universe and Beyond while providing maximum insulation. As one can plainly see, this made one Co-Conspirator quite content... and thus the day continued.... with a session of Deep Thoughts the first order of business on the office docket.