Saturday, October 24, 2009

"Knockout Entrepreneur" by George Foreman (with Ken Abraham)

One of the most vivid and inspiring sports memories I have is when I watched the then 45-year-old George Foreman knock out Michael Moorer to regain his title as Boxing Heavy Weight Champion of the World. Since that day, the “Punching Preacher” as they called him has always held a special place in my heart. So when given the opportunity to review his new book “Knockout Entrepreneur” I was happy to do so.

What I found was not far from what I expected. “Knockout Entrepreneur” covers entrepreneurship in the same manner that the QVC commercials covered the George Foreman grill: a bit shallow, a bit campy but for the most part genuine.

Foreman, with the help of celebrity book collaborator Ken Abraham, hits on all the usual topics which every entrepreneurship book seems to rely; the value of honesty, integrity, hard work, perseverance mixed with the obligatory rags to riches stories of real entrepreneurs that we know we’ll have heard of once their name has been revealed at the end. The only real noticeable difference between this book and other entrepreneurship books I’ve read is that Foreman filters all his advice through boxing parallels. No surprise here.

What I did really enjoy about this book were some of the insights into his own life that Foreman gives. The fact that he rose to success with nothing more than a Jr. High education, the fact that he once took on his pet lion as it was trying to attack his brother (and won!) and the fact that he once carried a full grown cow on his shoulders). I will admit, some of his stories that were meant to inspire seemed a bit like justifications for things that have gone publically wrong in his boxing career (he had the opportunity to knock out Holyfield in his moment of weakness but had dreamed the night before that he killed him so he didn’t take the opportunity, or that he could have gotten up when Ali knocked him out in the Rumble in the Jungle, but that he was waiting for his corner man to tell him to get up and didn’t hear the count.)

If you’ve ever thought about being your own boss, this might be a good book to start with. It’s definitely not a complete and infallible resource, but it is fun, and that’s what I expected from George. In all truthfulness, what I really took from this book is that George Foreman is still a guy that I can look up to and would enjoy reading more about (I’m going to look and see if they have “By George” or “God in My Corner” at the local library as soon as I finish writing this up.)

"Satan and His Kingdom" by Dennis McCallum

As I do not typically read books on theology I had a very hard time picking this one up. After reading it I think I understand what may have been preventing me.

In his book “Satan and His Kingdom,” Dennis McCallum takes a very in-depth look at what the Bible truly says about Satan and how it relates to our everyday lives. Though Satan is the epitome of evil, our perception of him is very skewed. McCallum goes to great lengths to show how Satan’s primary tactic is that of a deceiver and though this idea isn’t as scary as the exploding heads we’ve seen in movies, we should be just as frightened.

Ever since his fall from glory, Satan’s primary goal has been to destroy humans, and though he is very powerful, there have been some limits placed on his power. Obviously he does not have to power to simply kill any human at any time or else he would have obliterated the entire earth already. On the other hand, he does have the power to whisper lies, which can cause one human to kill another and thus fulfill his goals. Satan does not have the power to read our minds (even through the psychic network), but because we are sinful beings, he is very well aware of what we will likely do and can make it seem as if he can.

Though I took a lot from the book, there were a couple of very insightful nuggets that really stuck out to me. In the chapter on countering Satan’s moves, the author writes,

“Many Christians seriously underestimate the power of God’s Word. If they didn’t, they would learn more about it. They’d spend more time reading and meditating on it. Actions speak louder than words, and the actions of many Christians clearly suggest that they have never understood how powerful the Word of God is.”

He goes on to highlight an illustration from a book by Chuck Smith. In short, if someone were to attack you on a dark street and start wrestling with you and then pull a knife, your entire focus of the fight would shift to that knife and trying to knock it out of the your attacker’s hand.

As Christians we are constantly at battle with Satan and the Bible is our primary weapon. It’s our knife if you will. Satan’s major focus is knocking it out of our hands and thus preventing us from knowing and loving Jesus on an ever-increasing basis. Be it TV, the Internet, money, our job, school activities or even church activities (yes he is that sneaky) Satan has done a good job at keeping us from our Bibles and of growing our faith by growing closer to our Creator.

Could it have been Satan or a demon that personally kept me from reading this book for so long? It’s possible, but I have a feeling it was nothing more than my sinful and lazy nature that is the culprit, and therein lies the problem. Satan has done such a good job throughout the years that he’s got us doing his job for him. I for one would like to change this behavior.

3 Big Announcements (Finally)

The time has finally come for the long awaited (at least long awaited by me) 3 big announcements post. I was hoping to do them as part of my 100th blog posting, but I felt the passing of Michael Shada was worthy enough to take its place. If you haven’t read that post, I would encourage you to do so. Aside from that, here are my 3 big announcements.

1. Bible Give-Away

I will be hosting a blog tour on November 5th here at joshkidney.blogspot to review the Holy Bible Mosaic. One of the contributors to Holy Bible Mosaic will actually check in with my blog on November 5th to answer any questions that people may have. If you stop by and leave a comment, you’ll be entered into a drawing to win a free copy of Holy Bible Mosaic. My first ever giveaway! I'm hoping more people stop by than just my mom, but if not, mom will be the one taking home the new Bible.

2. New Blog

I’ve debated starting a new blog for a while now. I enjoy writing, and a blog is the perfect outlet, but for a long time I struggled with the idea what to write. After a wide range of ideas, I finally I sat down and hammered out what topic I’m passionate about and would be willing to devote and entire blog to. I realized the thing I enjoy writing about the most is Personal Finance and Time Management. I also realized that most people would find this very boring which is why I’ll be writing those articles on a completely separate blog. I’ll let you know the title and web address as soon as I have the look perfected.

3. India

After a life-changing trip to Ukraine in May with Faceless International, I realized that I’m very much called to the Human Trafficking cause. To help broaden my perspective I’m teaming up once again with Faceless to take a trip to India in January. I will be blogging throughout the trip and would love if you stopped in occasionally to see what the team and I are up to. I would love it even more if you were to become passionate about the Human Trafficking cause yourself and began taking steps to help us rid the world of such a tragedy. You could start by signing this petition.

Stay tuned for a couple book reviews to be posted shortly. One on a book about the true nature of Satan and another on by one of my favorite athletes of all time, George Foreman (I loved him even before the grill).

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Plans are fleeting

He zeroed in on me from across the room with a focus that was almost startling.

I’d been here before, so it wasn’t as intimidating as it could have been. The surroundings were new and so were many of the faces, but the story hadn’t changed. Net new assets and share of wallet, you know, the usual.

I stressed for 3 weeks that I wouldn't be accepted back to the company, but they allowed it and I was grateful. Now I was back and reexamining everything with new eyes.

“I’m Michael,” he said extending his hand to shake mine. “You must be the new guy.”

“Yep, that’s me. I’m looking forward to getting started.”

We made small talk and I explained how I was technically a veteran. I’d put in two full years then took some personal time away and now I was back and chomping at the bit to get moving. Typically small talk is scattered, empty and forgettable and I can always tell the instant someone isn’t paying attention any longer. That instant never came with Michael. Despite the buzz of the sales meeting that was taking place around us, to Michael, I was the only person in the room. It was just he and I. When I mentioned I was a licensed futures broker (usually about the time people’s eyes glaze over) Micheal’s eyes exploded with curiosity and the stream of questions followed. For the moment I felt important and I certainly wasn’t used to it.

The sales meeting came to an end shortly thereafter and I had to leave to get back to studying for the Series 66 test. “Don’t take it lightly,” he advised smiling. I thanked him and left.

Throughout the next couple weeks we would pass every once in a while in the hall or in the rest room. I’d met others from the team and they were friendly but Michael stuck out. When we passed in the hall it wasn’t the normal “Hi, how ya doin.” Even the shortest of interactions made me walk away feeling better about my day and about myself.

Monday. September 28. Finally the hour of the Series 66 was upon me. I’d easily sunk 30 hours or more of the last month into my studies and today was the day I put my knowledge to the federally regulated test. After an agonizing hour and a half it was time to click the “grade” button and despite the strong impulse to vomit I clicked without hesitation. I passed.

Exuberant from my victory I grabbed a quick bite to eat and headed back to the office. Michael and I got to the front door at the same time. We greeted each other and bantered a bit about the market and options strategies, Michael intensely focused as usual and I, my normal distanced self. Realizing we both needed to get to work, we made it short and parted ways. As I walked upstairs to the training room I turned and mentioned I had just passed the 66. “That’s reason to celebrate!" he said, the sun shining across his face through the office glass, "We’re really looking forward to having you on the team” he said , and I knew he meant it.

Michael was killed in a car accident Wednesday morning September 30th on his way to work. He was 25 and left behind a fiancé and a 2-year-old daughter.

I really didn’t know Michael that well. The combined time we spent interacting was probably less than 15 minutes, but in those 15 minutes he was able to leave an impression on me that will not fade quickly.

If there is anything I can take away from this, it’s that even the small interactions we have with people are meaningful.

Don’t take opportunities for granted. In a matter of seconds you have the power to make somebody feel important, to feel special, to feel loved. In doing so, even if they are your last couple seconds, they will be wisely used.