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Month: March 2014 (page 1 of 2)

In Memoriam… Dr. James D. Strauss

Dr. James D. Strauss, Lincoln Christian University

If you’re fortunate, you’ll have a teacher or professor who leaves an indelible imprint on your life.

One of my seminary professors, Dr. Jim Strauss, had that effect on many of his students. Dr. Strauss died this past week and was remembered at LCU on Monday.

I had Dr. Strauss as a professor for only two classes at Lincoln Christian Seminary. In the spring of 1993, I was in Lincoln for my first semester as a student and Jim was in his last as a faculty member. I remember being struck by his room-filling personality, sharp mind, and generous spirit.

As a classroom teacher myself, I still use some of the phrases that Dr. Strauss liberally lobbed about. He’d fill the chalkboard with names and ideas, often abbreviating them, telling the class, “We’ll put this in code so the outsiders won’t know.” And when he’d ask a question and students offered answers that weren’t exactly what he wanted, he’d say, “Well that’s not false…” I’m passing along Dr. Strauss’ legacy, the funny bits at least, to the next generation.

The funeral/celebration service was recorded and is shown below. To get a sense of his personality and wit, scroll ahead to 16:27 and watch Jim playfully respond in an interview from a few years ago.

Why I’m Going Old School with My Shaving

Let’s face it: for many men, shaving is an expensive drudgery.

Currently, a 10-pack of Gillette Sensor Excel 2 cartridges, the model I’ve been using for nearly 20 years, costs around $21. A cartridge usually lasts me about a week before it starts to pull at my face intolerably. I’ve tried the fancier 3-blade cartridges but they’re even more expensive: $25 to $30 for a 10-pack, depending on whether you want the Mach 3 or Mach 3 Turbo flavor. And the super-premium cartridges with even more blades? Fuhgeddaboudit.

I’m probably spending $100/year, then, on cartridges. Your mileage may vary.

So that takes care of the expensive part. Drudgery? I tend not to shave if I don’t have to. And judging by the number of unshaven guys I see in my circles, I’m guessing they don’t care to shave any more than I do.

So mostly I’ve been looking to save some coin on something I have to do nearly every day. And if I can make the task more enjoyable (or at least less toilsome), that’s icing on the cake.

I considered two alternatives to solve the problem:

Dollar Shave Club is a subscription shaving supply service that has attractive pricing (as little as $1/month) and a funny commercial. I’d have given it a try but a couple friends used it for a while and they weren’t all that jazzed about the blades.

What about retro?

Old School: The Double-Edged Safety Razor

If you pop over to The Art of Manliness, you’ll find an article entitled, “Learn How to Shave Like Your Grandpa.” It explains the technique and tools behind “wet shaving” with a double-edged (DE) safety razor. This is, in fact, the kind of shaving my grandfather did: I remember seeing the razor in his medicine cabinet when I was a kid.

The Art of Manliness has a nifty instructional video to acquaint wet shaving newbies with the process:

After doing some quick research at The Art of Manliness, Badger & Blade (a site for shaving aficionados–whom I didn’t realize existed), and Amazon, I decided to take the plunge into wet shaving. The up-front costs may set you back more than when buying into a cartridge system but the long-term consumables are way less expensive. You can spend more or less on a razor, brush, and other supplies depending on your budget and interest.

Here are the tools I’ve chosen:

From what I’ve read, it’s important to experiment with different blades to find the best choice for you. After you land on a favorite, you can buy double-edge razor blades in packs of 100 for as little as $10. Compare that to a 10-pack of modern cartridges for $20 (or more) and you should be able to recover your initial safety razor investment in less than a year.

So How’s the Shave?

While a typical cartridge razor is very forgiving, there’s a learning curve with a safety razor. I’ve used my new safety razor twice. To be honest, I expected that going retro would trade me cost savings for a worse shave. Here are a few observations:

  • The shave is as close as you want it. Already get a good shave with your expensive cartridge system? You can get that close–or closer–with a DE safety razor. I’ve started with the Feather blades (made in Japan) and they’re very sharp. Maybe a bit too aggressive for my face but, again, I’m experimenting.
  • It takes a little more time. It takes me maybe five minutes at the most to shave with my GIllette Sensor Excel 2. The first couple shaves with the safety razor have taken about 10 minutes. Some of that, I’m sure, results from my inexperience. But the process is also a bit more involved.
  • The experience is exquisite. Yes, I said exquisite. It is a sensory-rich experience. The fresh menthol scent of the shaving cream fills your nostrils. Swirling the brush in the lather cup and the feel of the bristles against your skin beats slopping some slimy air-compressed goo about your face. And the razor itself (at least, the one I purchased) has a solid heft to it that makes it feel more like a well-crafted handmade tool instead of mass-produced plasti-chrome gadget.

After a couple of shaves, I’m pleased with both the quality and experience of old school wet shaving. I’ll check in again after I have a few more miles behind me.

Is a DE safety razor for everybody? Probably not. But maybe you’re the kind of guy who’s learned how to tie a bow tie, enjoys quality writing instruments, or appreciates good timepieces. Wet shaving may appeal to you. And if you’re willing to take the time to learn the process and invest in the right tools, you may take your daily shaving routine from drudgery to delightful–and save some money in the long run.

Want a raise? Follow these 10 steps.

Some people think getting a raise is about having a conversation with your boss when they’ve put in their time.

They’re wrong.

It’s really about doing great work and communicating regularly with your boss.

These 10 steps show you how to do it right.

Note: The other day I posted some success tips for internships. Follow the same advice in the article and do exceptional work, but you may not want to ask for a raise. Instead, focus on building a great relationship with your mentor/supervisor so they’ll give you a great recommendation when you’re ready to look for work.

Don’t you need to be a charismatic extravert to be a great leader?

In a word, no:

Let’s look at the relationship between extraversion and leadership effectiveness.  Some studies have found a relationship, but it is so weak that it is difficult to draw conclusions from it.  A much stronger relationship has been found when looking only at particular types of jobs: extraversion predicts performance in jobs with a competitive social component; for example, sales.  And if we look at extraversion in more depth, it can also predict other less desirable outcomes such as absenteeism.

Introverts and ambiverts of the world, unite! There’s hope for you.

via HBR Blogs

Resume and Cover Letter Advice for College Interns – March 2014

Every semester at Lincoln Christian University, I coach students who are looking for internships. We talk about the kinds of qualities organizations want from interns and what they need to do to stand out in a sea of applicants. My colleague Mike Nichols, who has  students prepping for internships this spring, asked me to pull together some resources for his students. Here goes.

Keep in Mind

  • This is not about you; it’s about what you have to offer and how you can help the employer.
  • Your resume doesn’t get you hired, it gets you an interview.
  • Employers are afraid of making a bad choice and want to reduce risk. The less risky you show yourself to be, the better your chances of being hired.
  • Employers may give your resume only a few seconds. Make sure it captures their attention and interest.
  • Everything you do in the hiring process should answer this: what separates me from the 20 other people applying for this job? Here are a few ways you can stand out.
  • Do everything you can to be helpful to your supervisor. Remember that she will be less productive while you’re on the job.
  • Focus on building good relationships with everyone. You never know who can help you find work after you graduate.
  • Hone your communication skills–it matters so much more than you think.

Books

48 Days to the Work You Love – Dan Miller. While there are tons of good books available for job hunters (including the excellent What Color is Your Parachute), Miller’s 48 Days is my one-volume pick. The first few chapters help Christians sort through the ideas of calling, giftedness, and work while the reminder of the book offers practical tips for resumes, cover letters, and interviews. Right now the Kindle version is only $2.99. I already have the paperback and just bought the Kindle edition. Boom.

Linchpin – Seth Godin. Why would someone want to hire you? After you’re hired, why would they want to keep you around? How do you become the person they can’t live without? Read this book.

Articles

“The Importance of a Good Resume” – The Art of Manliness. Walks you through the various parts of your resume with good suggestions for each section.

“How to Write a Resume That Will Land You Amazing Work” – Chris Brogan. Sort of the article equivalent to Seth Godin’s book above.

Take a marketing class with Seth Godin for less than $10

My students know a couple things about me:

  • Reading and learning are a big deal (I think it’s a key to making yourself stand out)
  • I think Seth Godin is one of the best guys around who can help you understand how to communicate your value

Here’s your chance to capitalize on both of those.

Seth is offering a class on SkillShare called, “The Modern Marketing Workshop.” The class is self-paced. You’ll get some instructional videos with Seth and walk through a series of project exercises that can “transform the way you and your team tell your story and grow.” You could use this for your existing business or one that you want to start. Either way, there’s good stuff here.

I’m taking the class and you can, too, for less than the price of a decent lunch. Here’s how:

  • You can pay full price for the course–$19–here.
  • Use the discount code SETH15 and pay $16.15 (that’s what I did).
  • Use my tell a friend link and pay only $9 for the course.

Seriously–it’s $9.

To take a class with Seth Godin and make something that could change your business, your life, and your customer’s lives.

The real cost will be your time and effort. But I reckon it will be worth it.

What are you waiting for?

What’s the simplest way to set up a website for my small business?

A friend of mine emailed to ask how she could set up a website for her business. In particular, she mentioned Bluehost and Squarespace, and wondered if either of those might work for her.

She’s not a techie and she doesn’t have a big budget so I wanted to recommend something that would be affordable, easy to use, and yet still look professional. Here’s how I responded:

Bluehost is a hosting company, which means that you effectively “rent” server space from them but you still need to install the software to run your web site. And you’ll do this on your own or have someone else design and administer the site. I do that with some other web sites of mine (namely, Gowin Family and my personal blog). These are self-hosted WordPress installations running on virtual servers via HostGator, a different hosting company. This is NOT the direction you want to go.

Squarespace is different–it’s a complete hosting and web site service. It’s fairly simple to use, looks great, and is very reliable. That’s what I’ve used for my photography business over the last 3+ years and I’m very pleased with it.

It’s kind of like the difference between buying a Mac or a PC. You buy a PC and you still have to buy software to make movies or record music, whatever. You buy a Mac and the computer comes loaded with iMovie, GarageBand, FaceTime, and other programs that let you do the things you want to do right out of the box.

Bluehost is the PC; Squarespace is the Mac.

There’s a newer hosting/web site service called Wix that’s becoming popular. It’s the same approach as Squarespace but I’ve not used it.

Squarespace has a $16/month plan that would be ideal for you. I think Squarespace is the best solution for someone who wants to have a business web site but doesn’t want to geek out on all the technical behind-the-scenes issues.

Those are my thoughts; how would you advise my friend?

Wife gone. Husband home with six kids. Instagram videos ensue.

Six 15-second segments that summarize my weekend without Suzanne but with the six kids.

Dr. Rob Maupin: College is more than job training

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UPDATE: Rob’s talk is now online–watch it here.

What’s the purpose of college?

As a parent, what do you hope your child gains from four (or more…) years of higher education? Are you concerned about the cost? Are you concerned that the moral/ethical foundation you’ve helped your son or daughter establish over 18 years will last once they leave home?

My friend and colleague at Lincoln Christian University, Dr. Rob Maupin, spoke to a group of parents at Traders Point Christian Church in Indianapolis on Tuesday to discuss these issues. Rob dispelled several common myths about college (hint: college is NOT job training) and then offered suggestions for the parents to help their students prepare for success in their 20s and beyond.

Rob teaches in the Intercultural Studies department at LCU. You can follow him on twitter at @MaupinRob or check out his brand new blog and web site at RobMaupin.com. If you’d like to book Rob to speak to your parents, youth group, or consult with your church leaders, just drop him a line.

Getty Images makes millions of photos available for FREE use on blogs, social media

Need legal photos for use on your blog?

You’re in luck.

Getty Images, one of the world’s largest stock photo agencies, announced that it would make images available for free use on blogs and social media services. You’ll need to use Getty’s embed feature (shown above) to get the images to display on your site, and the images can only be used for noncommercial purposes.

Details on the new service and access to the library are on Getty’s site here.

This is no doubt a boon to bloggers; not sure how it will affect the photographers who make the pictures.

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