Valuable Advice: 14 People That Made An Impact In My Life And Why

This is a list that was not easy for me to come up with, because it is very personal.

For that reason, I was not sure whether I was actually ready to publish it.

On the other hand, I pretty much wear my heart on my sleeve – who listens to me and hears me talk, I believe, knows pretty quickly what my deal is.

I believe in honesty. Because what good is a belief if you can not publicly stand by it? I would not want to live my life in hiding. For me personal, I ultimately believe there is strength in sharing yourself, so I am going ahead.

What is the benefit of knowing “my heroes” for you, the reader? I believe it is threefold.

  1. Some people on the list may be interesting for you as well.
  2. Others, for example friends and family members, could lead you to think back about your own family.
  3. Some of the values and beliefs that underly my decisions could be useful guiding principles for your own life.

While doing this list, I also realized just how important some people on this list are in my own life.

Valuable Advice Oma

#1 – My grandmother.

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You are about to be transported to another planet …

… and must write a book to leave your wisdom behind. What are the books that you could write before you leave, with three items that would go in the table of contents?

So the wisdom gained in all those years on Earth, useless (or is it?). What is your legacy, once you are on another planet?

What have you learnt? What can you share? What did you do when all the odds were against you, and still you managed? What are your ten books?

In “Become an Idea Machine”, Altucher has this example: “The Guide to Asking for Things”, and in the table of contents, it would have (a) How to ask so that you get a “yes”; (b) How to ask when the odds are against you; (c) How NOT to ask.

This is actually a great exercise, because it makes us evaluate what advice we can really give to people.

So without further ado, here are my suggestions.

another planet legacy
Another Legacy you could leave behind.

#1 – How to completely forget the environment and get lost.

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The Thanksgiving Spirit: 15 Advanced Ways To Be Grateful

How can we go past the simple “thank you” when we think about ways in which we are thankful?

Of course, we can be thankful for very simple, basic items, like food or shelter. Though these simple things we often completely forget as well!

I am keeping a daily gratitude journal since over a year now, and it has helped me tremendously in realizing what is important to me. lately I have thought about methods to make this daily practise even more impactful.

Here, I have listed 15 items. By the way…

Grateful Dead
The Grateful Dead

GRATEFUL DEAD: The motif of a cycle of folk tales which begin with the hero coming upon a group of people ill-treating or refusing to bury the corpse of a man who had died without paying his debts. He gives his last penny, either to pay the man’s debts or to give him a decent burial. Within a few hours he meets with a travelling companion who aids him in some impossible task, gets him a fortune or saves his life. The story ends with the companion disclosing himself as the man whose corpse the hero had befriended.

And so, in this spirit…

#1 – Think about someone who has done something nice for you in the past year.

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How To Improve Your Mind: 10 Strategies To Develop New Ideas

The 180-Day Idea Machine Challenge is going well; I am learning to develop ideas to a variety of topics, and most of the time it takes me 30 minutes to come up with some ideas and 30 minutes to flesh them out a little bit more.

I thank you all for visiting so far!

Now this gets a little bit meta here. Coming up with 10 ideas per day is possible without a plan, but I wonder whether it might not be easier when we have a clear plan. Ze German that I am, I naturally salivate at the prospect of bringing some order to business! 😉

Honestly, if you are like me, you will come up with 2 – 3 ideas quickly, then #4 is already much harder, and the following 2 – 3 ideas are tough as nails – until it gets easy again. I think what ideas really are are expressions of certain streams in our subconscious minds. For example, when I introduced ways to improve our workouts, the first ideas were about making the workouts harder, then I was talking about better ways to track the exercises and concluded with ideas about our mindset. By and large three different topics.

Thus, I wonder whether you can’t leverage that notion to improve your mind and more efficiently generate new ideas.

You know what else is interesting to me? When I heard the topic “Ten ways to come up with more ideas” aka “Ten ways to improve your mental practise”, I first thought that was a hard topic to come up with ideas for. Too meta, a little wishy-washy. But when there is one thing I have learnt over the last years and decades, it really is this: don’t reject something just because it seems “too hard”.

The next time you are looking at an opportunity and thinking “it’s too hard” – that actually IS the opportunity. – MJ DeMarco

Embrace the difficulty, because under pressure you can come up with your best ideas.

Improve Your Mind Einstein
Albert Einstein during a lecture in Vienna 1921

#1 – Having a weekly overview and decide on one idea to put in motion.

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The Language Of Love: 18 Ways You Can Connect To Others

The “emotional leg” of the Daily Practise establishes a connection with the people you surround yourself with. That is very easily done by doing someone a favor.

If you give things away, people will come back to you. A very good example is the Google search engine. It is literally an empty screen with a field to type in your search. And it helps you find whatever you need on the web.

The result? Everyone is coming back and using Google.

Think about giving value first. You can ask for favors, but ultimately you want to always be giving a little more than you receive.

So, for example, you could think of something you want to make happen for yourself and then think of ways to make that happen for someone else. Or you call a family member you haven’t had contact with in a while and ask what you could do for them.

Now, people give and receive love in different ways.

Gary Chapman has described this phenomenon in his book: The 5 Love Languages. Some people are most receptive to touch, others crave positive affirmation. There are these who value gifts above everything else and those who appreciate having favors done for them. Lastly, a lot of people value quality time.

If you want to communicate most successfully with a friend and deepen the relationship, you have to figure out what your friend’s Love Language is.

However, the same way that others communicate their appreciation differently, you are also most receptive to a specific mix of these five different languages!

And we get to our first idea!

Love Languages Sign Language
“Sign of the Horns” in Heavy Metal – “I Love You” in sign language


#1 – Figure out yours and your friends’ ‘Language of Love’.

You can read a detailed review of Gary Chapman’s book here. You can also go to the corresponding web page and take a test to figure out your language. Why should you know it? Because it can help you.

Some gifts, favor or attention you receive may not seem a lot to you, because they are delivered in a way you don’t really care as much for compared to others. If you know what you prefer though, you can still be thankful and appreciative.

#2 – Try to make a stranger laugh.

This can be someone sitting close to you in the commute, standing in line in the grocery store, or on your way to work. Could be a funny remark or observation, could be a joke you tell, whatever. For example, if you stand in line at the post office, you could suggest that they are probably training their snails to deliver the mail a little faster.

#3 – Pay the coffee of the person behind you in the coffee store.

Or in front of you – whatever works better. It actually works pretty well. People are surprised and then really thankful when you do it.

#4 – Call someone.

A friend, a relative, anyone you know. Or take the person out for a coffee. The point is to have a chat.

#5 – Look for opportunities to do someone a favor.

If the person is carrying something heavy, take the weight off their shoulders. “Wait, isn’t everyone doing that?” You’d be surprised how many people walk by on the street without noticing. Myself included. We often live in our own world without noticing much of what goes on around us.

#6 – Leave a nice comment on someone’s blog.

Or leave a comment for someone who posts a lot of things on Facebook, Instagram or other networks. He or she has a desire to connect to others.

#7 – Small favors.

Watch your environment. Train yourself to see the possibilities. What are things on somebody’s list that you could conveniently do? For example, if your spouse has a DVD case she needs to bring back, and the store is on your way to work the next day, bring it back for her.

In other cases, people may ask you directly to fill in for them at work; or a colleague has to leave earlier and asks who can take care finishing his or her shift.

Now, if you are free, offer to do it! It’s an investment of time, but it will buy you a lot of Goodwill, and the favor may be repaid in kind some time later. Or you simply feel better by giving something and being there for someone.

#8 – An easy way to finding the right gifts.

Listen to what people are saying. So often they mention things like “I wish I had X”, “It would be really good if someone had Y” or “I never seem to get to buying Z”. Write these remarks down. They are gold mines for you! Because what are you going to get your friends for their next birthday, Christmas or some time in between? Exactly, item X, Y and Z.

Or you think about 10 ideas to make X a reality…

If you put these items into an Excel spreadsheet, you will have a nice database of gift items and favors from which you can draw in time.

#9 – Recommend someone and/or his work

Mention someone who created something nice or delivered good work to someone else in a favorable light. Online via eMail – or in the real world.

You could also offer someone a letter of reference if he or she did work on time and in good quality.

#10 – Work for free.

This is especially true when you in the beginning of a personal or business relationship with someone.

#11 – The Benjamin Franklin effect.

Love Languages Franklin
Benjamin Franklin in Paris

If you want to connect with and/or befriend someone, get the other person to do a small favor for you. Even “could I borrow your pen?” works. Now, your colleague has already done you a little favor, and you have a much easier time asking the bigger favor later on.

Benjamin Franklin did that with a political opponent whom he could not easily sway. He heard that this person had a rare book in his possession. So Franklin first flattered him by admiring that book, then asked to borrow it for a day. The next day, he promptly gave it back. His opponent became a friend, because it was easier for him to support Franklin after he had already done him a favor.

If we like someone, we have an easy time doing him or her a favor. So if we are doing someone a favor, our mind automatically backwards rationalizes that we must like that person.

#12 – Under- or better Over-Promise and always Over-Deliver.

Whatever favor you do for someone else, promise what you are sure you can fulfill, then go beyond your initial promise in delivering the work. If you want to make it really count, even over-promise a little bit. You can be a day faster than initially agreed on, or you could do 10% more than what the project outline read.

This builds trust, because the other person knows he can count on you to get the project done.

#13 – Smile when you enter the room.

When you enter the room or approach a group of friends (or even strangers!), smile. Find some appreciative words to address the crowd. If you are rather introvert, look to a person close to you and say a friendly ‘hi’ – you can give good ‘vibes’ to a lot of people simultaneously, and you can build up a fun atmosphere by talking directly to individual people.

If you give good emotions, people will flock to you. It’s truly amazing how that works. I think since humans are ‘social animals’, we have developed instincts that let us directly sense who gives value.

#14 – Some more suggestions – talking to people in different “Love Languages”.

See above for an explanation of the concept of Love Languages.

(a) Language of gifts

Next time you talk to someone for a longer while, e.g. at work, just offer to continue the talk at the cafeteria and get a coffee or desert for them. Or offer the coffee right away.

(b) – Language of touch

If you talk to someone, just touch the person, pat him on the lower arm, end the conversation with a handshake or give them a hug when you know them for longer.

(c) – Language of praise

Praise someone you know – directly. Or recommend a colleague to your boss. Tell them specifically what you like about them: their work ethic, their intelligence, their warmth etc. Recall some specific examples if possible.

(d) Language of time

Schedule some time off – like 30 minutes -, then offer to sit down with someone and talk.

(e) – Language of favors

Ask if you can take over someone’s weekend shift (you might be in town anyway, so you might as well drop in). See whether you can take your friends’ letters with you to the post office. There are numerous other opportunities.

Some of these additional ideas are listed here.

All these gifts and favors are investments into a more stable friendship and a better connection. And when you connect well to one person, others want to be part of that as well.

If you want to check out “Become an Idea Machine”, you can do so here.

Yesterday’s challenge: Click me!

What is this challenge about? This link will teach you more.

And to get back to the main page, you can click here.

Do you have some additional thoughts on deepening your friendships?

Have some of these ideas worked for you?

Let us know in the comments below!

(Pictures taken from Wikimedia Commons.)

How To Improve Your Exercise: 14 Ideas To Challenge Yourself

This is for everyone who does some sort of daily exercise – whether it is going to the gym, daily push-ups or walking 20 minutes to work or your commute.

If you are not currently doing a daily physical exercise, you are missing out! Form the Mayo Clinic webpage: “Regular physical activity can help you prevent — or manage — high blood pressure. Your cholesterol will benefit, too. Regular physical activity boosts high-density lipoprotein (HDL), or good cholesterol while decreasing triglycerides. This one-two punch keeps your blood flowing smoothly by lowering the buildup of plaques in your arteries.”

If you want to improve your exercise – even if it is only walking around the block for 20 minutes – you can always make it more tempting and challenging. Your body gets used to one form of exercise. To continuously grow, you need to challenge yourself.

Here are 14 ideas to improve your physical exercise each day.

These suggestions roughly fall into three different categories.

You can increase the intensity of your workout or physical activity.

You can inform yourself about the workout you are doing and attack it with a conducive mindset;

and you can potentiate your workout by eating clean.

One important caveat: Don’t try to work through any stinging pain. It might be a sign that you are actually hurting yourself. But a dull feeling of difficulty is most likely not a sign to give up 😉

Improve Your Exercise Titanic
If you’re on board the Titanic, maybe just chill out.

#1 – Don’t use momentum.

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How To Grow: 10 Maneuvers To Get Out Of Your Comfort Zone

Getting out of our comfort zone is one of the scariest steps to take. Thousands of years back, when humans lived in hunter-gatherer societies, falling out of your role and getting on a tribe elder’s bad side meant almost certain death.

You macked on the wrong woman or you dared speaking up against the chief? Out in the wild you went. Without any protection from bloodthirsty animals, harsh climate, enemy tribes etc.

So don’t court attention to your case! Don’t go where you don’t belong! Don’t approach a woman before she is ok with it!

That’s probably the reason why stories of people who dared to step out of their comfort zone are so inspiring to us. And this also means… there is a huge upside in doing this and taking a leap of faith.

I recently came upon Jia Jiang’s website. He took action every day – for three months straight – to do something out of his comfort zone. Playing soccer in someone’s back yard, borrowing $100 from a stranger, speaking over Costco’s intercom etc.

The more you challenge yourself, the more vulnerable you show yourself to be, the more you will grow. So there is a huge upside to braving your momentary discomfort.

Here are 10 ideas to get out of your comfort zone…

Comfort Zone Diagram
Outside Growth, There Be Dragons…

#1 – Sing Karaoke on an open mic night

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How To Declutter Your Life: 10 Items To Donate, Toss Or Repurpose

“People buy things they don’t need with money they don’t have to impress people they don’t like.” – Tyler Durden, Fight Club

Minimalism. Declutter and focus on that which is really important to us. So many things that we have don’t fulfill a practical purpose. We got them as gifts; we bought them ourselves because we thought they’d be “really useful”; or maybe we wanted some entertainment. And a bazillion other reasons.

To me though, what is important is to spend your life with people you like. You only have a finite life. You don’t have enough time to spend it with the accumulation of dead objects in a big house that you maybe never fill. 

Think about it: when did you ever need a big room or many different items to talk to your friends? Yes, we need shelter; a house to get back to when it’s dark and cold outside. A little bit of food would be good too. However… imagine you could just up and leave and spend the summer at the French mediterranean coast without worry for a room to store your stuff. Wouldn’t that be great?

Then I saw this tweet:

Declutter JDiLillo Tweet

I decided to follow Joe and play the Minimalism Game. On day one, I threw away one item, on day two two items, three items on day 3 and so on and so forth until I got rid of 30 items. What seems easy in the first days becomes tougher beyond day 15. But in the end, I did it. Altogether 465 items (for math nerds: 1+2+3+…+30 = 15*31 = 465).

Here are some of the items I threw away to declutter my home:

Declutter Minimalism I(…)
Declutter Minimalism III


It is day 15 of the 180-day challenge “Become an Idea Machine“.

Declutter Pile of Notes

#1 – A huge pile of notes

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How To Be A Journalist: 15 Ideas For Investigative Reports

Many events, processes or storylines – like the War On Drugs – that were once an important part of society have vanished without a clear solution.

In other cases, there are lots of correlative effects, like the Gender Wage Gap, without research into any causal relationships.

If we do investigate some of these studies and events in more details, pictures and tendencies can emerge that may shed a light on phenomena in society we can’t really explain right now in a satisfying manner – like the obesity epidemic in the US and other parts of the world.

This article lists some ideas for great investigative reports.

It is day 14 of the 180-day challenge “Become an Idea Machine“.

15 ideas for investigative reports

Investigate Reports Drugs

#1 – What’s the deal with drugs?

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How To Generate Passive Income Within The Next Three Months: 12 Ideas

Generating passive income takes patience and perseverance until you can make a living off it.

However, it does not need to take you long to get started. In fact, when I started this blog, I got $1.85 from Amazon Affiliates program within the first month.

So here is a list with 12 ideas that let you make passive income within the next three months, including the immediate steps you’d need to take to get the project started. 

Of course, you also want to have some idea of your target audience and don’t want to blindly jump ahead.

However, a 20 page business plan can cripple an endeavour before it even starts.

For example, when you apply for funds in biomedical research, even if you have a great hypothesis, you spend 3 months on an initial validation of that hypothesis, so in the end it can feel frustrating because you are not really moving forward, speculating on possible downsides rather than go ahead and just try out your ideas.

If you like some of the ideas I am giving you , just go ahead and “get your feet wet”. The rest will follow the more you look into it.

This is day 13 of the 180-day challenge “Become an Idea Machine“.

12 ideas to generate passive income within the next 3 months

Passive Income Conductors Bag
Buy a street car, take this Conductor’s Bag and collect the money.

#1 – Generate leads on Craig’s List

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