Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Benefits of the 100 Things Challenge

Why would I want to reduce the amount of stuff I own? Well, there is the obvious cost of shipping it, and I find that most people don't really start getting rid of a substantial proportion of their stuff until they have to pay to move it. As the billions of dollars spent on storage units shows, many people don't get rid of stuff even if they have nowhere to put it.

Even if we do discard a third of our random stuff when we move, irrational creatures that we are, we promptly start replacing it.

Why do we do that? As I said in my first post on this topic, because we've bought into the idea that "excess equals success".  It's the old idea of "He who dies with the most toys wins" - which I have always thought was stupid. Hey, if you're dead and I'm not, I'm pretty sure that I won. Think about it as if you are judging a judo match. One person is dead but has a much more expensive judo gi. Who do you think won? Well, I'm pretty sure it's not the dead guy.

The advantages of having less stuff

The more stuff you have, the harder it is to find what you really want in the clutter of the things you don't need or even use. It's like trying to find a needle in a haystack, or one specific needle in a needle stack.

Reducing what I own to 100 things (or so) has made me focus on:
  • What are the things that make a difference in my life, like glasses? Just identifying the things that make a real difference makes me grateful, for example, that I live in a time when my vision can be corrected well enough to let me do almost anything. I have a phone that I can carry around and call anyone, anywhere in the world. That's pretty amazing. I think I'll keep that.
  • What are the things I don't care about that much, that are just in the way? Thinking that I can only take 100 things made it easy to get rid of a few dozen right off the bat. "Well, if I can only take one pair of dress shoes, it isn't going to be these!" 
  • What are the things I like best? If I can only end up taking 7 or 8 shirts with me and wearing each one four times a month, you'd better believe those are going to be shirts that are comfortable. I'll bet most people have some clothes that don't fit that well, either because you gained/ lost weight or they never fit in the first place because they were a gift or bought when you were drunk or high (oh, no, I didn't mean you would do that, I meant some other people).
Here is a kind of ironic fact - initially, having fewer things may mean I go shopping. I realized that I have a lot of clothes that once belonged to one of my children (because I do hate to shop) and, for example, I may not have 5 pairs of pants that fit perfectly and are not well-worn but, hey, I have 15 pairs of pants so why buy any more. 

Reducing the amount of stuff you own makes you evaluate what matters to you. Am I going to bring a judo gi to Chile? I expect most of my time to be spent working on 7 Generation Games, creating games for the Latin American market. I know many people in their sixties and seventies who are still practicing, studying and teaching judo, and good for them. However, just like people who were good basketball, soccer or football players in their twenties, many judo players give it up and go on to focus on their careers and families.  Right now, I'm thinking that I probably won't be doing judo in Chile because I don't expect to have much free time.

It's funny how focusing on your stuff can cause you to focus on your other choices in life as well.

Heading out to Missouri in a few hours, then to North Dakota. If you want to meet up to talk about judo, reducing the clutter in your life, video games or just drink beer (or coffee if it's early), give me a holler.

Monday, December 25, 2017

More on my 100 things challenge

I know, I know, it's the Christmas season and the post-Christmas sales and we're all supposed to be buying as much stuff as possible, but, as I said in my last post, I'm heading in the opposite direction.

Since I am going to be working for months in Chile AND I've been trying for what seems like forever to cut down the amount of stuff in my life, I'm trying the 100 things challenge and trying to get by with only 100 items.

I've already used up 6, all related to being able to see - contacts, glasses, sunglasses. So, what else is a must have?

7. Laptop, including charger and adapters.

8.  iPhone including ONE charger.

9.  iPad. It uses the same charger as the iPhone so I'm not bringing a second. I plan to load at least 100 books on it before I leave. Maria says that is cheating but a) it will probably be hard to find technical books written in English in Chile and b) she can make her own list. Someone who still has boxes stored at my house has no room to give me advice.

10.  One 32 or 64 GB flash drive.   I'll bet there are 20 of these, at least, in the house. It's ridiculous.

11. One microphone/ headset . I'm not including that as part of the computer because I don't REALLY need it for the computer to work and if I start not counting computer peripherals things could snowball really fast.

12. One week's worth of underwear. Another blog I read on this challenge said she counted all of her underwear as a group, but Maria said if she were me she'd take 20 pairs to minimize the times she had to do laundry. It probably says something about me that I didn't get to underwear until I had accounted for all of my computer stuff.

13. One week's worth of socks. I must have at least 40 pairs of socks, so narrowing it down to 7 or 8 is going to be a change. I already threw 3 pairs into the give-away bag today.

14. Running shoes, which are also the shoes I wear to work almost every day. I have 3 pairs of these, so I'll have to pick one.

15. Dress shoes for those times when I have to wear a dress or a skirt.

So far, just starting this list has helped me fill up a bag of stuff to get rid of. There is some book about getting rid of clutter that says you should look at each object in your house or office and ask if it brings you joy. There have been plenty of people and experiences who brought me joy, but I don't believe there has ever been a THING that brought me joy, although I hear there are sex toys for that.

No, for me, the more practical question is it worth shipping 5,600 miles? I think we don't ask ourselves this question often enough:

Why do we have this stuff?

If you're wondering if there is any benefit in this 100 thing challenge, the answer is yes. For that, read my next post.

While you're waiting for our bilingual game from Startup Chile, head over to the app store and check out Aztech: Meet the Maya - learn history and math, improve your Spanish (or English)

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Startup Chile and my 100 Things Challenge

If you didn't catch it on my Facebook Live / Instagram Live you might not know our company, 7 Generation Games, was selected for Startup Chile! So, I will be heading to Santiago in a few weeks to work on developing a game for the Latin American market.

If you just read this blog and don't know me personally, you might not know that I am sort of an "anti-hoarder" and am constantly going through our house throwing or giving away clothes that don't fit anyone, books no one reads and electronics no one uses.

Living in a one-bedroom apartment in Chile will give me the perfect opportunity to winnow down everything I use to less than 200 things.

If you're not familiar with the 100 things challenge. It's a pretty simple idea: .

  1. "Excess does not equal success".
  2. Reduce everything you use to 100 things.
Now, this isn't a hard and fast rule that you MUST have a magical number of 100 things and everyone who does it is free to make up their own rules. For example, one person counted underwear as a group, as one item and a phone and its charger as a single item.  The originator of this challenge, David Michael Bruno, limited his 100 things to "personal items" since he is married and has kids, it's probably a lot easier to implement this for yourself than insist everyone in your household do it. 

I can see how these rules can allow you to really cheat, though. I must have at least 40 pairs of socks and there are at least a dozen iPhone chargers in this house. So, I decided on these rules, but I may revise this before I go.

  1. Any item I need counts as one item as a group. For example, I wear disposable contacts and can't see without those. My 6-month supply of contacts is 1 thing. 
  2. Since I planned to do my laundry weekly, I counted a week's worth of socks as 1 item, a week's worth of underwear as a second item. Anything beyond that gets counted separately.
  3. A pair of something is one thing. A pair of shoes, a pair of socks, a two-piece swimsuit. 
  4. If something is useless without a thing, then it counts as part of that thing. For example, a computer and charger are one thing. A microphone is a separate thing.
  5. Any gifts or purchases will have to replace something I get rid of.

So, I'm starting today to winnow through my things and see what I absolutely have to have and what I don't need at all.  I'm going to start with my list of things I absolutely must have. Once I get past 25, I think there might be some things I will switch off the list but these are things I use every day.

  1. Contact lenses
  2. Reading glasses  -  I am taking 2. I'm counting these as one thing because I really will be unable to work if I don't have them, and these are prone to breaking and being lost. Currently I have at least 5 pairs in the house, so I'll leave the other 3 here.
  3. Prescription glasses - for when I'm not wearing contacts
  4. Sunglasses - two pairs, one because my optometrist says I really need to wear sunglasses to reduce my chance of cataract surgery and the second because I got 3 pairs for Christmas and could not choose. Besides, I like sunglasses

So .... my first six things all have to do with being able to see, but it brings home to me how fortunate I am to live in the time and place I do. The funny thing is that when I was competing in judo, without correction, my vision would have actually qualified me to compete as visually impaired, if there had been such a classification back then. Because I could not afford contacts, I actually trained and competed  "visually impaired" for my first seven years in the sport, including winning a national championship and the U.S. Open. Once I got contacts and could actually see the scoreboard, the time and my coach, it was pretty helpful. 

I expect to learn a lot from this 100 things challenge, including thinking about  what I value and why. So, 94 things left. Suggestions welcome. I'll let you know how it goes.

To see what other things made the cut, read this post.

Want to know if I'm seeing any benefits from the 100 things challenge? Well, as a matter of fact ...

While you're waiting for our bilingual game from Startup Chile, head over to the app store and check out Aztech: Meet the Maya - learn history and math, improve your Spanish (or English)

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Life after judo competition - the horror !

Do you ever wonder what happens to those elite judo players after their peak competitive years are over? You see them at the dojo every day for years on end - and then they are done on the international circuit, maybe get married, have a couple of kids. Ever say, what happened to ....

I thought it would be fun to post some follow ups on some of my former teammates. One of the more interesting, of many, is Brian Herskowitz. He was a top player in the lightweight division for many years, originally from Texas, competing out of Tenri Dojo in Los Angeles, along with yours truly. Where is he now? He says he's still competing because he is winning the masters divisions. I'm going to ignore that.

Here is where the horror comes in. 

Brian started a career in Hollywood when he moved to California. He has been a writer and producer for years. He is currently the chief creative force behind the Horror Equity Fund. I'd encourage you to go check it out and invest.

So, yes, he went from judo competitor to actor to screenwriter to producer and now he manages a fund that invests in horror movies. I asked him why horror and he told me that it's the genre that has the highest return on investment. Think about it, most of the comedies or action films have high dollar talent, costing you millions of dollars. Horror films need a couple of blondes, a dumb neighbor and a guy with a chainsaw. Okay, well maybe it is more complicated than that, but you get my point. 

If you're a judo player and at all interested in horror films, investing or just want to tell people that you financed a movie, you should take a look at Brian's current project. It's a little different than the crowdfunding model my company has used, where we pre-sell games and if we get enough backers, you get a game, a poster or some other product. Crowd equity allows you to invest in the production, so if you invest $100 in his fund and the films they make end up making 20% profit, you get $120 back.

Seriously, if just everyone he competed against invested $100 in this project it would be funded today and I know most of you people are in your 50s and 60s by now. You have to have $100 saved up and your life isn't THAT exciting (oh, hush up, I know you people) that you wouldn't like the chance to be part of producing and financing movies. Maybe you'll make a few bucks. Who knows?

Back a fellow judoka!

I know from having done projects like this myself that the NUMBER of investors matters. If you can go to a meeting asking someone to invest $100,000 in your fund and say, "I had 450 people back us in a crowd equity campaign" that provides some evidence that you can generate interest in your project.

When we did our Kickstarter campaigns, I really appreciated the support I received from some of the people in the judo community. It's nice to know that people are still interested in you and what you are doing.

As for what the rest of the judo players from the 1970s and 1980s are doing - if you know, please post it in the comments. We all know I'm really nosy.