Episode 30: The Best Investment You Can Make

Episode 30: The Best Investment You Can Make

Episode 30: The Best Investment You Can Make 150 150 Carlos L Chacon

1400Think of one big investment that will be made this year.  How will it affect you?  Perhaps there is a large server migration project or move to Azure on the books this year.  Maybe you have been given the ok to try some new feature or have been promoted and have different responsibilities.  You will make many decisions and purchase different things, but the biggest investment you should be involved in is the investment in yourself.

I am joined by Bruce Van Horn, host of the Life is a marathon podcast and the person that introduced me to the E to E ratio.  The Entertainment to Education ratio is a gauge for how much of your time is spent entertaining yourself versus how much you education yourself.  We discuss how this affects your future opportunities but also how it affects your happiness.

How do you keep yourself educated?  I would love to hear it in the comments below

Show Notes

Bruce’s Web Site
Bruce on Twitter

Carlos L. Chacon: This is the “SQL Data Partners” podcast. I am Carlos L. Chacon your host. So, this is episode 30. We are switching gears up just a little bit today.

We’re going to be talking about your E to E ratio and how it affects your opportunities, either in your current position or potentially in getting another position. You’re not sure what your E to E ratio is? Well, stick around and we’ll tell you more about it.

This has been very well received for those I’ve shared it with. However, I can’t take all the credit for it. This concept was actually introduced to me by my friend, Bruce Van Horn, who is our guest on the program today.

Bruce is the host of the podcast “Life is a Marathon,” has written several books and is a frequent speaker on life coaching, self-esteem, personal development and personal branding.

Now, he’s also the first Richmonder I’ve had on the program, so this is a real treat for me. I hail from Richmond, Virginia. I need to share the mic with such a popular fellow from my hometown.

So, Compañeros it’s good to be with you again wherever you might be. I do appreciate you tuning in.

Of course, if you like the program and want others to know about it, I ask that you leave a review of the show or leave a comment on iTunes or Stitcher so others can find out more easily. Of course, you can reach out to me on Twitter at @carloslchacon or by email at [email protected]. I know Bruce has lots of good tidbits for you today, so let’s get to it. Compañeros, welcome to the show.

Bruce Van Horn: Hey, Carlos. Thank you for having me. It’s a lot of fun to do this. Likewise, I don’t get very many Richmonders on my show.

Carlos: Right, yes.

Bruce: It’s just the way it works out.

Carlos: We’re kind of a big, small city, right? [laughs]

Bruce: Exactly. Yep.

Carlos: Great. It’s good to have you on the program.

Bruce: It’s great to be here.

Carlos: I do appreciate you taking some time, as always. E to E ratio. You introduced this at our user group. We had a combined meeting at the .NET Group and the SQL Server User Group here in town. You talked a little bit about the E to E ratio.I’ve been thinking a lot about that ever since, and talking with others about it. I wanted to have you on the show today. Tell us, what is the E to E ratio? Why do we care about it?

Bruce: We care about it because it really does affect our lives and where we go with it, and the choices that we make are important. The E to E ratio — the two Es — are entertainment versus education. Every single human being on the planet has the same 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365…well this year, I guess it’s 366, right? [laughs]

Carlos: There we go [inaudible 2:44] a leap year this year.

Bruce: I think this is a leap year, so we get an extra 24 hours. But everybody has the same amount of time. You have time, I have time, Richard Branson has time. The difference between most people who are successful and most people who are not successful boils down to the choices that we make about how we spend our time.Are we actively pursuing a career, building a business, raising kids? You know a little bit about that. [laughs]

Carlos: That’s right.

Bruce: The choices that we get to make are really between entertainment and education. I obviously did not come up with this. [laughs] I don’t own this. I believe that I was first introduced to this by Brian Tracy. I’ve probably heard Jack Canfield talk about this as well.I’m pretty sure Brian Tracy is really the one who has coined the phrase, the E to E ratio. How do we spend our time? There are some pretty sad statistics about the number of hours the average American adult spends in front of televisions or game systems every single week.

Carlos: I found some numbers from the US Bureau of Labor. These stats are from 2010. I’m not sure if they jibe with what you’ve seen. They’re a bit dated. This sample, for whatever reason, was geared to males who had a six-year-old. I’m not exactly sure how that worked out, but…

Bruce: OK. [laughs]

Carlos: You can gauge that. This is a man who had a six-year-old child. I don’t know if they had more than one child but that was the basis of what they had. They came up with an E to E ratio of 1:42. This goes over lots of different job types and whatnot, so we get a little bit of mix in there. I’ve heard of ratios much higher than that.1:42, that equates to about two and a half hours of entertainment a day to about three minutes of education. [laughs]

Bruce: Exactly. Yeah. Of course, what we’re talking about there is personal education, not the amount of time we’re spending teaching our kids. It’s all about choices. I am going to be very quick to say that there is absolutely nothing wrong with entertainment.

Carlos: We have to have it.

Bruce: Entertainment is awesome. You’ve got to have it, you know? We’ve all watched “The Shining,” right? “All work, no play makes Jack a dull boy.”[laughter]

Bruce: It’s going to be cold and snowy here in Richmond at some point. We need a little entertainment to keep us from getting cabin fever. The problem is that a lot of people use entertainment as a comfort zone. They use it as a medicinal [laughs] substance. We come home. We’re all stressed out about work or about something else, so we plop down in front of the television, or we plop down in front of an Xbox or a PS4, and we just zone out for a while.

Carlos: James Clair talks about systems. You think about the TV room. We even call it the TV room. Everything’s situated around that. The system is built so when we walk in the room, the couch is situated in front of the TV. The remote is there. We just sit down and the system is made so we can be there for a while. Breaking out of that can be hard sometimes.

Bruce: Yeah. It can. When I send out tweets or Facebook posts or whatever, you would be surprised at the amount of pushback I get from that. “I need to watch my TV,” or whatever. You know what? Great. You get to choose how you live your life. I get to choose how I live my life. I honestly cannot tell you the last time I sat down and watched a television program. It’s been years. It has been years.I am a single dad with full custody of two boys about to be 19 and 13. We do not have cable TV in our home.

Carlos: Wow.

Bruce: We haven’t for many years. We have the Internet. They’ve got their PS4 and their Xbox. They’ve got the Netflix. They’re teenagers, so their entertainment ratio is going to be a little higher. For me, I made very conscious decisions. It actually started with me cutting out just watching the news.I used to be one of these guys who, if I was home — which was almost all the time, because I work at home — the TV would be on, and it would have been on one of the news channels. That was the first thing to go. We kept television but I at least stopped watching the news. My wife and kids would watch TV but I would choose to be doing something else in a different room.

There was a little pushback with that, you know, “Why don’t you come and spend time?” And I would do that, but I made choices to feed my brain. I started devouring self-help books like Brian Tracy, in which I encountered the E to E ratio. I listen to a lot of audiobooks, because I have a lot of free time where my brain isn’t doing much, but my hands are busy, like driving, or like running.

I like music, but I very often find myself listening to podcasts or listening to audiobooks versus running. It’s really just about the choices. What are the things that are going to be important to me? I don’t want to look back on my life and say, “I could have started that business,” or “I could have written this other book if I only had more time.”

Carlos: Sure. That’s right. Taking advantage of the open times that we have — and I don’t think either one of us are necessarily saying that you need to go back to school or spend a lot of time with a textbook — that’s not necessarily the type of education that we’re referring to. It’s just opening your world a little bit, right? We’re technology people.Most of the folks that listen to this podcast are technology people. I specialize in the SQL Server space. If you’re not willing to invest a little bit of education into yourself, then you probably should find another line of work. It’s just not going to happen for you.

Bruce: Or at least just be prepared to stay where you are, and not experience growth.

Carlos: There you go. We talked a little about missing some of those opportunities…

Bruce: I often as a life coach do a fair amount of career coaching. People will say, “I just feel stuck.” I’m stuck in my job, I’m stuck in my marriage, I’m stuck in whatever. Well, what are you doing to get unstuck? [laughs] The bottom line is not much. We’re just hoping that something else happens, but you’ve got to be proactive about it. You’ve got to do something.Even if it’s reading…for me, I would even say reading novels. I would stick that more in the education, as long as they’re not really raunchy, smutty novels.

Carlos: [laughs]

Bruce: But for me, I love the novels of Paulo Coelho.

Carlos: Sure. “The Alchemist?”

Bruce: Yeah, exactly. The Alchemist. That’s one of my favorite books. His other books, like “The Pilgrimage” or even “The Devil and Miss Prym.” They’re just great books that also tell life stories about personal development. I love all kinds of literature.

Carlos: There you go. That was probably a little more liberal than I was willing to give, although you make some good points there about other opportunities. While it is a fictional story, lots of good things that we could still put in practice by reading some of those things.

Bruce: Yeah. Reading a book, or at least listening to an audiobook versus watching the movie is so much more stimulating for your brain. I read with my son when he was going through the “Harry Potter” stage. I read all of the Harry Potter novels. I didn’t read them to him, but as he was reading them, I was reading them.We would have dialogues and then come time for the movies to come out, I was so disappointed in the movies because what I imagined in my head was so much more vivid.

Carlos: Interesting.

Bruce: Hollywood can’t actually produce a movie…

Carlos: The way your mind can.

Bruce: …that is anywhere comparable to what the human brain conceive. We come up with accents. We figure out what the characters would look like.It really does stimulate your brain in ways that can prevent brain degeneration diseases such as Alzheimer’s and things like this. It improves your memory. That’s why I’m going to say even reading books, if they’re fiction books, can be really, really healthy for you to do.

Carlos: Speaking of Harry Potter, I have to tell a quick story. I was at a conference. One of the speakers — she’s fairly well-known in our community — she was there with her kids. Her daughter was maybe 11. The speaker, for whatever reason, it was a technical topic, but he started talking about Quidditch.[laughter]

Carlos: He asked, “Does anybody not know what Quidditch is?” She raised her hand. I happened to be behind them. Her daughter looked at her, dropped her jaw, and said, “Mom!” [laughs] “You’re embarrassing me!”

Bruce: “How could you?” [laughs]

Carlos: That was kind of funny, but ultimately the idea is that you might be able to bring up a conversation with someone who has that shared connection. That’s probably the lowest denominator of additional opportunities that could come your way, is by getting to know other people.

Bruce: Create a conversation. That’s one of the reasons I don’t much care for pulp, popular fiction, but I do try to read most of the books that are on the “New York Times” best seller list in fiction, for that specific reason.I may be sitting in an airport. I may be sitting in a doctor’s office, and somebody might have that book, and I can strike a conversation with them about it. It’s just a great way to expand your mind. Expanding your mind is how you expand your horizons.

Carlos: Who knows where those things will take them? Another story I’m thinking about is, Kevin Kline is another well-known speaker/author in our space. I happened to be visiting with him.He was giving all this training. I stopped and I said, “Kevin, how in the world did you become so knowledgeable about all of this? It boggles my mind. I never think I’ll get there.”

He did talk about sacrificing some of his entertainment options in lieu of education. As we mentioned, one of the things that came out of that…we’re not saying you have to study all the time. Kevin, who now works for SQL Century, had a very popular one on Twitter this last summer.

It was called SQL Vacation. He actually took his family, they hit a couple of cities and he would give speeches or demonstrations of technical topics along the way. He was able to make a combination of vacation and work all together. They made t-shirts up. It was kind of fun.

Bruce: I haven’t made t-shirts, but I often take my boys with me while I’m out speaking. I went to the Caribbean. I was the life coaching guest speaker for a seven-day Caribbean cruise back in February of ’15. I’m going to do it this coming February again. Took my boys with me. It was just fun.

Carlos: There you go. We’ve talked a little bit about time. We mentioned podcasts. Obviously, we’re both hosts of podcasts. When you’re in your car in your commute, I think is probably the first place that you could identify where you might change some behavior there if you’re just listening to the radio all the time.

Bruce: Absolutely. Yes. When I’m driving, if I’m taking the boys to or from, I often don’t listen to audiobooks or things like that when I’m in the car with my boys. It’s usually after I’ve dropped them off and I’m on my way back home.[laughter]

Bruce: I get a little bit more windshield time than a lot of dads do, because my 19-year-old actually has a girlfriend who lives in Blacksburg.

Carlos: Oh, wow.

Bruce: We meet halfway in Lexington. We do that, not every once a month, but maybe once a month and a half. There’s plenty of other times. I get out and I exercise. I walk. I run.If I’m alone in the kitchen cooking or doing the dishes, cleaning up, I’ve usually got my ear buds in, and I’m not listening to music. I’m either listening to an audiobook or a podcast. There’s lots of time that you could do this.

Carlos: Let’s talk a little bit about some of those opportunities that then become available once you start to take advantage of some of these things. We talked a little bit about networking and getting to know people. You mentioned the doctor’s office. How did you make the transition into speaking, and having people want to come and listen to you?

Bruce: For me, it came to me rather than I came to it. I do have a fairly extensive public speaking background. I do sling a little teeny tiny bit of code right now.

Carlos: [laughs]

Bruce: I was on the ground floor of the dot-com boom in the late ’90s. I actually was a beta tester for the ColdFusion Web application development language. I knew the Allaire brothers really, really well. As their business grew — long before ASP was available, long before there was anything like PHP — ColdFusion was it, for a long time. A lot of the big companies wanted to adopt ColdFusion as their platform for middleware to talk to SQL Server Oracle databases.While I had a vast amount of experience with that, I’m also an English/Creative Writing major and did a lot of public speaking, so my communication skills are really good. I wound up going to work for Allaire in their training department.

In the early days, there were only five of us who were Allaire ColdFusion certified trainers. When there’s only five of you, you’re in pretty high demand. I’ve traveled all over the world teaching ColdFusion. Public speaking has always come very easily to me. I was also a musician for a very, very long time.

Being in front of people, I’m not shy. Basically as I started to make the transition out of software development into life coaching, public speaking, a lot of it had to do with some of the difficult situations I’ve been through in my life. I’ve experienced the death of a daughter. I’m a survivor of stage-four cancer.

As people have seen how I’ve responded to these types of situations, I’ve been invited to come and talk about them. It really has just sort of been a grass-root’s effort. I didn’t at any point wake up one morning and say, “You know what? I’m going to be a public speaker.”

Carlos: [laughter]

Bruce: It just sort of happened. I accepted invitations, and it grew from there. Now it is what I do.

Carlos Chacon: Sure. I think that’s a great point in the sense of we want to educate ourselves we become more familiar with a variety of different things and then as opportunities come our way we may not be as comfortable with them but if we’re willing to kind of raise our hand and say, “Sure I’ll give that a shot.” You never know what will happen.

Bruce: Exactly. You’ve got to just be willing to try it. I’ve not been afraid to make mistakes. It’s really what I think it comes down to. At least to step out of my comfort zone, because nothing good happens in your comfort zone. [laughs]

Carlos: It’s more the same, right?

Bruce: Exactly. Everything that you want in life is outside of your comfort zone. You’ve got to go get it. You are married at some point you had to step out of your comfort zone and ask her out on a date, right?[laughter]

Carlos: There you go.

Bruce: I am divorced. At some point I had to step out of my comfort and make that decision. Likewise, life changes happen as we are willing to look for opportunities and really just sense whether or not that would be something that would just be fun.For me, public speaking is just fun. There are probably some things that may come my way and I would say, “No. I don’t think I’d enjoy that.”


Bruce: The answer is just going to be “no” there.

Carlos: Very good. Compañeros, we are still early in the year, the new year of 2016. If you haven’t made that decision to try to educate yourself more this year, I hope that you’ll do that. Of course you are on the right track if you’re listening to this podcast.I’m sure you’re listening to others as well. Lots of other opportunities will come your way and hopefully we might see each other on the SQL trail. I would like to switch the gears just for a moment. We’ve come to the portion of the program I like to call the “SQL Family” portion.

We want to talk to you Bruce a little bit more, get to know you better about how you work and some of the things that you do. One of the things that we would like to talk about is tools.

I know we’re going to be talking about SQL tools for coding. In your profession as a pod-caster, as a speaker, as a professional coach. What are some of the tools that you like, how do you use it and why do you like it?

Bruce: For me, I would probably have to say the tool that I use the most is Evernote, simply because I’m an idea guy. I will literally wake up in the middle of the night having dreamed about something that I think to myself, “Oh, that’d be a great podcast topic,” but I know myself.I will have completely forgotten it in the morning. I will roll over. My iPhone is my alarm clock, so it is next to my bed. I’ll fire up Evernote blurry-eyed because I’m not going to put my glasses on, which I need. But I will type something to jog my memory.

If I’m out driving I will fire up Evernote and make notes. I use my iPhone a lot and I love the dictation feature in the keypads. You just tap the mic and then speak to it rather than trying to type while I’m driving. I make a lot of notes.

The reason that I like Evernote is that it syncs across all of the platforms. I have an iPad, I have a laptop or my desktop, so it doesn’t really matter to me where I’m working.

Carlos: There you go. As someone who has drank the Microsoft Kool-Aid. [chuckles]

Carlos: I’ve used the OneNote a little more often. [laughs]

Bruce: Yeah. It’s the same idea. It’s the same idea, just being able to sync across platforms. For me, I’m still the Microsoft Kool-Aid guy when it comes to the computers but for phones I’m Apple all the way.I’ve got the iPhone. I’ve got the iPad, but I’m running a Dell, a Dell laptop. I haven’t switched over to the Mac.

Carlos: There you go.

Bruce: Who knows? I would say that Evernote is probably my biggest productivity tool because it allows me…I’m constantly taking notes. Very often in my life coaching business I’ll keep notes about the life coaching sessions within Evernote. That way, if I’m out somewhere driving and one of clients calls me, then I have access to my notes wherever I am. I just like the full sync of availability of it.

Carlos: Very good. You’ve had a fairly wide variety of experiences, right? You became an English major, had some experience in writing, testing software, slinging code, now you’re a life coach.You read lots of books. Through all of that, trying to bullet that down to just one piece of advice. What’s some of the best career advice that you received and it’s helped you along the way?

Bruce: I would say the best advice that I can possibly give you is something that I had to do for myself. It’s really personal advice that flows over into every area of your life. I spent the majority of my life placing my identity as a human being into the roles that I played as a human being.I was a dad, I was a husband, I was an employee, I was an employer. I was all of these things. I was constantly striving to be the best. To be the best employee, or programmer, or boss, or the best husband, the best dad, or whatever. If there were problems in those areas, I had identity crisis.

At some point the perfect storm hits and nothing seems to be working out in any of those areas. That’s where people have a real identity crisis. That’s why a lot of people take their own lives, because they have no idea who they are.

What I had to figure out how to do was figure out how to be the best Bruce I can possibly be and everybody else benefits from that. I am a better dad than I have ever been in my life. I’m a better business owner than I’ve ever been in my life. I am not trying to be, I’m just trying to be the best Bruce that I can be.

The way I do that is by investing in myself, taking care of myself. First of all learning how to say “no” to things that completely drain me. As a dad, there are times where the kids are heaving and throwing up. You got to take care of the kids. When there’s a crisis at work…yeah, I can put in the 80 hours and get through that thing.

When that becomes the norm and it completely drains you and drains you and drains you, at some point you are over-drawn in your bank accounts. You’ve got to start doing things that make you go hard to be alive. For me it was running and it was reading books that I enjoy reading.

It was saying “yes” to the things that fill my tank, because it’s only out of a full emotional tank that you can serve other people for any sustainable period of time before you run into problems. That would be my best advice, is feed you.

Feed your brain, look for opportunities everywhere but always be growing personally. Always be doing something in the form of personal development to make you better. Whatever that is, to connect with your health, to connect with your spiritual life.

In whatever way that is, to connect with whatever it is that is the source of who and what you are. As you feed that part of you, everybody else will benefit.

Carlos: Everybody else wins.

Bruce: Everyone wins.

Carlos: Very good. Our last question Bruce. If you could have one superhero power, what would it be and why would you want it?

Bruce: I forget exactly what his real power was but I’ve been thinking about this. I’m going to have to go with the dad on The Incredibles.

Carlos: [laughs]

Carlos: OK. I was like super strength. I’d like to hear what…

Bruce: Yeah. He was super strength. He was super-fast too, not like his son was, or was it the daughter? He wasn’t stretchy woman like his wife, but I really enjoyed The Incredibles movie.That or…no, I think I’m just going to stick with that. The dad on the Incredibles.

Carlos: There you go. Being a super dad! [laughs]

Bruce: Yeah. Super dad.

Carlos: Very nice.

Bruce: While saving the world at the same time.

Carlos: [laughs]

Carlos: All in a day’s work.

Bruce: All in a day’s work. Right.

Carlos: Bruce Van Horn, thanks so much for being on the program.

Bruce: My pleasure Carlos.

Carlos: Compañeros, for more information about Bruce and we’ll have some short notes from today’s episode at sqldatapartners.com/podcast. You can go there. We’ll have information about how you can connect with Bruce, his podcast, and he even has a cruise coming up.If you’d like to have some additional life advice from him, life coaching, that will be available for you. As always, thanks for tuning in, we do appreciate it. We hope that you’ll have a great year and we’ll see you on the SQL trail.

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