5 Minute Journal Review

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I know I’m late to the party as some of you are concerned, but I recently started journaling (again). I have dabbled with journals before, both on paper and digital. All of the previous efforts have been a simple free flow of my thoughts on a blank canvas. I didn’t ever get to a place that I found valuable with journaling.  There were days that I just didn’t find motivation to write. I also had the problem of looking back on what I wrote and not seeing much value.

This time is different. I’m using a product I heard about on Tim Ferriss’ podcast on Mindfulness. It’s called the 5 Minute Journal. I will admit I was a bit skeptical about ordering it, as it seemed like a really simple concept that I could recreate on my own without buying their journal. I knew up front that it was one page per day, and each page was divided into Day and Night. I also knew what the bullet points were (they show you on their website).

Now that I have the journal and have been using it, I’m pretty comfortable in saying it’s money well spent. Right away, it’s physically a nice product. The size is nice, not too small to write in, but not so big that it’s uncomfortable to pack away in a bag. It’s a fairly rugged little book too, so I don’t worry about it being destroyed before I’m through it. It’s covered with kind of a course fabric, which makes it nice to stay put in your hand or lap (I typically journal in bed).

The biggest thing for me is the structure. For me, quickly opening the journal in the morning and having those bullet points is the key to the system. Now that I’ve been using it, I can’t see myself getting the results on my own in a blank notebook.  When I write in the morning and see those 3 lines to fill in, it makes me think about it.  Some days it comes easy, and I could probably keep going. Other days I really have to dig and be strategic to get the lines filled in. If I were doing this freehand, I think the inconsistency would derail the effort pretty quickly.

The method is important for me too. The items they have chosen to include force you to set short term goals each day that you can control, and face yourself each night. If you’re like me, after a few days of forced admission of falling short, you will start to be a lot more mindful about getting the things done that you set out to. Flat out, I’m getting things done for myself.

The journal also includes two fields (morning and night) that are centered around gratitude, and the last field is affirmations. While there’s no way to prove the effectiveness of these, I feel that focusing on these items has improved my mood and satisfaction within my own life. At times, I can be fairly pessimistic. I’ve noticed a drastic improvement in this area since using this journal. My wife has also commented that I seem happier since I started this.

So far, so good. The one thing I hope they will offer in the future is a different version for repeat customers. The first ~50 pages are an introduction to the journal. I can see where this is valuable to get started. However, I don’t need it next time. It’s a pretty minor complaint in the grand scheme of things, but it’s the one thing I would pick on just a little bit.

Overall, I highly recommend the product. I hope some of you will try this and let me know if you agree with my evaluation.  If you want to buy it, here’s a link to their website.

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I made a tough choice to let my BICSI RCDD go at the end of 2015.  It wasn’t easy, but I think it was the right choice. Way back in 2006 when I took the exam, I was working with bid specifications that required the credential. It was a good decision to get it. I got a job that I wouldn’t have been considered for because I had it. However, it hasn’t really been relevant to my career since 2008. I renewed in 2009 and again in 2012, even though it was tough to get the CECs and required conference in. This time, I couldn’t justify it.

The first reason I decided not to renew my credential came down to career relevance. I’m simply not involved in the Structured Cabling Industry anymore.  To break this down further, I had to address the possibility of ever going back to that industry. For the RCDD credential to be relevant, I think I would either have to be bidding on structured cabling projects or designing projects. I don’t see either of those things happening, especially in the short term.

The second reason I decided not to renew is the financial aspect.  There are essentially three components that add into this: the yearly membership fee, the renewal fee every three years, and the requirement to attend a BICSI Conference at least once every three years, which primarily have been in Las Vegas, Anaheim, and Orlando/Tampa. The math I came up with is that it’s a minimum of $2000 every three years to keep it active, and that doesn’t consider the time and effort to get CECs retired. Considering I don’t think it relevant to my career anymore, it doesn’t seem like a good decision.

I don’t think it’s my place to criticize the program because it doesn’t work for me, but the program could be different if BICSI wanted to keep people like me around.  One option might be a way to suspend a credential instead of walking away from it. Another might be to drop the conference requirement.  That part bothered me a bit. On more than one occasion, I never went to one educational session at the conference, but still was awarded 15 hours of credit. One conference, I flew in and out on the same day just to check in. This isn’t serving a purpose to me other than forcing attendance.

Closing this chapter in my life has made me think about opening another. Perhaps a security certification or more education is on the horizon for me. We’ll see.

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Podcast Episode Number 6

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In Episode 6, Danny Lynch (@trilasonet) joins me to talk about Surveillance Design.  Topics include: lenses, lighting, pixels on target, camera types, and storage among others. There’s a lot of information in this episode. Design is a complex part of selling surveillance.

I’ve known Danny for a few years, and it was fun doing Part 1 of this series.

Here’s the image referenced in the podcast that Danny created:

Danny Picture

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Podcast Episode Number 5

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In this episode, Chris Daniels (@chrisinreald) is back to talk about his new loud form of entertainment, social media, and good surveillance video.

I apologize for the big break, it’s been a busy summer, and I decided to spend my time doing other things.  I’ve also resorted to simply posting the interview.  I think this will be easier for me to get episodes out more regularly.

Here’s a Link to the video: http://youtu.be/9H-QMNbfIoY.

Rain Storm

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Podcast Episode Number 4

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In Episode Number 4, I interview Scot MacTaggart (@mactaggart). Scot and I discuss video from an Atlanta jewelry store robbery (linked below) and get off on a few tangents.

YouTube Robbery video

News Story with $940k value

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Podcast Episode Number 3

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In Episode Number 3, I interview Colin Bodbyl.  You can find Colin at @colinbodbyl on Twitter and at www.zeecure.com.  Colin and I discuss cameras recording the sky, a marketing video showing a little too much wall (and sky), and Brinks yard signs.

Colin also provides some great insight on how to handle aging equipment in customer facilities.

Here are some links to the videos:

Meteor Video 1

Meteor Video 2

Marketing video

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Mobile Video Usage

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When smartphones became mainstream, it became inevitable that video would find it’s way into our pockets. In a very short time, it’s become a given that most recording platforms have mobile apps making this possible.

Based solely on my experience, adoption is less than 50%, which blows my mind. I have a hard time understanding why users don’t go mobile, based on the following:
-Low cost of adoption
-Minimal setup, most of which is already being done for remote access through thick client
-High probability of carrying compliant devices

The benefits seem to justify this minimal effort. Enabling mobile access gives you the ability to look in live from anywhere with cell coverage, expanding your ability to monitor systems. People that do use the mobile apps (again, based on my experience with Avigilon) seem to be very happy about the ability to consume video when they want to with minimal effort. They report being able to keep in touch with their facilities better with less effort.

I’m in the Midwest, and one use case I hear a lot is looking at cameras to see how much snow is on the ground, if plows have come by, etc. That information could save someone a trip to check things out. Or maybe it just saves a few minutes by not booting up the laptop. I understand that a few minutes of sleep at 4am means a lot.

There are users that use tablets for safety reasons. It’s nice to know what’s around the corner if a guard is out walking on patrol. I use mine when I hear a noise in the night to see if anything is going on outside.

Many people who have allowed me to present have seen my wife come and go throughout the day. It’s nice to be able to see if she’s home or not at a glance.

Believe it or not, the most common reason I hear why customers decide not to use mobile video is also the biggest reason that they use it: that it would give the boss an easy path to see what’s going on. For the most part, if a business owner or executive knows it exists, they want it. It really comes down to who is buying and “owning” the system.

Mobile video is a fantastic tool in certain environments in my opinion. As with all technology, it will only get better.

What do you think? Do you see the same trends and use cases that I do?

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Podcast Episode Number 2

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In Episode Number 2, I interview Chris Daniels of USA Security in Minnesota. You can find Chris at @chrisinreald on Twitter. You can also see Chris’ handy work at the USA Security Blog.

Here’s a link to the Sheboygan Bank Footage we discuss in the podcast. Here’s an alternate link.

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Podcast Episode Number 1

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Washington Post Story

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Networking and Adding Value

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When I was younger and got in to sales, I read all kinds of books that told me I had to network to be successful. I joined networking groups, attended industry meetings, and tried to meet whoever I could. I guess I was networking, but I wasn’t getting great results by just meeting people.

Looking back, the piece I was really missing was value. I was doing fine shaking hands and exchanging cards. Since I hadn’t really added any value when making introductions, people had no reason to call me. I wish someone had told me sooner.

As my career went along, I eventually got to a situation where I had more to do as a salesperson than time would allow. So many targets, so many products to sell, so much potential! At this point, I learned that starting the conversation with what’s valuable to the customer was so much more successful than going through a pitch on a product. So many times, after describing every detail of a product, a customer would tell me it’s not going to work, they’re not willing to change products, etc.

I had wasted their time and mine, so how likely was a second appontment to talk about a different product?

The most important thing I learned through this progression was that in order to get something from someone, you have to give something first. Give a recommendation, advice, a lead, or at least a joke. If at the end of a meeting, your customer can’t identify something you’ve given them, I have some bad news: you’re likely not getting another invite.

For example, I recently had a dealer arranged meeting with an end user where I ended up recommending traditional intrusion products over video surveillance. It worked out awesome. Both the end customer and dealer felt bad that they weren’t purchasing anything from me. Since then, I’ve gotten several referrals from the end user and the dealer has brought me in to several other opportunities. I could have tried to force a sale, got a poor outcome, and and two disappointed customers. Instead, I gave away some knowledge that I have and will continue to get paid for that for a long time.

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