Success with Resolutions

Only 20% of new businesses fail in the first year.

80% of New Year resolutions fail in the first month.

What do entrepreneurs have that resolution-makers don’t? How is it that businesses crash on through, while diets and exercise routines simply crash? What is the difference? Why are resolutions more likely to fail? Is it the difference in the rewards? A successful business promises a paycheck and a way to eat, while a diet promises to starve. Or at least it might seem that way.

Possibly a solution to the problem is to create a reward for the resolution.

For instance, someone taking on a new diet should make sure the goal is clear. If the diet is for more balanced blood sugar, a dieter could make the goal be consistency. Chart the progress and make sure there are short term rewards as well as long term rewards. A short term reward might be a cool new gadget to hold drinks, such as a Blender Bottle. With clear expectations and rewards for the effort, success is more likely.

Another resolution-maker might want to carry on with a new exercise routine. Again, the goal needs to be clear. Is it for more endurance? Or is the goal to slim down? Or is the goal to gain muscle mass? Whichever of these, the goal can be so undefined as to be unattainable. To make it more meaningful, the goal needs to be more detailed. Someone trying to gain endurance needs to define the activity, activity duration, and energy spent. The energy spent means how much effort is put into the work. Endurance can be quantified by those three measures. Someone rating their endurance would want to measure an initial event and compare it to later events. A reward in the case of someone riding a stationary bike might be to forego music the first few times around, and then when the endurance improves, reward with music to make the activity more interesting and fun. This kind of reward also reinforces the habit.

To slim down, a person may simply want to fit in their old pants again. Easy enough for the brain, but not an easy map to follow. If a person wants to slim down, they need to define how exactly they’re going to get there. They could say, “More exercise and a modified diet.” More exercise and a modified diet are still generalized goals. If a person needs to eat fewer cheeseburgers, define it exactly so, but with numbers. How many fewer? Does anyone even know how many they eat in a week or a month or a year? If not, and the goal is a number, then it’s time to find out. If the number was twenty, make the goal be fifteen. Same with the “more” exercise generalization. It needs to be less nebulous in its formation. A person should decide how much exercise is already being done and then add to it. Say this person already exercises once a week. They may want to add one more exercise session or four. The number added depends on the person, but success depends on the clarity they give to their resolution.

Consider the business again for a moment. If a person went into business and decided to sell shorts to people who want to workout, would they say, “Let’s sell enough shorts to break even. Ready, go!”

Of course not. They would say, “We’ve spent X number of dollars starting the company. We need to sell Y number of exercise shorts to break even on startup costs, so let’s sell Y + n to make a profit! At least enough to buy lunch. Work for that cheeseburger!”

Define the goal.

Chart the progress.

Reward the progress.

An Optimistic 2020 Review

If you were thinking there couldn’t be a worse year than 2020, think again. There were some really amazing things that happened in the midst of all the coughing and the holding in of coughs and the political freak-outs and the extrovert freak-outs and even the regular everyday mentally-challenged freak-outs. No matter what country you live in, you likely had a mixture of all of the above.

By the way, by extrovert freak-outs, I mean it was a great year for introverts. While extra-verts, a.k.a. extroverts were wigging out because they couldn’t mingle as much as they loved, introverts were saying, “They want me to stay in my house and keep my distance from others? It’s what I was born to do.”

No patience for the year-in-review articles of others, I had to make my own. Even Dave Barry, whose articles are usually quite entertaining, was mostly political this time around, and political is the equivalent of unfunny. Not that reviews have to be funny, but this is Dave Barry we’re talking about. You know, the funniest guy in journalism. Well, as they say, no one can always bat one thousand.

One thing that was kind of funny about 2020 was that there were so many sports arenas without sports, and so few people even talked about it. I mean, all year, the same people I know who would talk endlessly about their sport team, had nothing to say. I should be honest, and admit they had very little to say…until Chadwick Boseman died. Then everything turned to how good Chadwick was, and it was like a dream come true for all of us who get sick of hearing people talk about sports and politics every second of every day (although, in my opinion, sports talk is far better).

Chadwick was the highlight of 2020. And before you say, “Yeah, but he died.” Not only is that a very provincial view, but it’s a shallow view as well. One could at least wax optimistic and easily say, “At least we had him for some of the year.” Chadwick is a Christian, so to die after having done so much for everyone he could is the ultimate compliment. Not only was he a great man, but he left us stories of his good deeds in the middle of a year full of news that was difficult to stomach. News agencies are notoriously scandal-focused, but when Chadwick passed, we saw all those agencies turn their focus on the goodness in humanity.

Included with the great stories of great men, we had some top-notch science going on also. There was a study which discovered spraying water in a fine mist can produce hydrogen peroxide. There is no doubt this is a valuable discovery in light of recent events.

In other science news, still helpful, was the discovery of the ability to genetically engineer tomatoes as a source of a drug used in helping people suffering with Parkinson’s disease. This and the previous science news were found on the Science Daily web site. The idea for this one was to make an efficient way for undeveloped countries to have an efficient and inexpensive source of the drug for Parkinson’s. In my mind it could be an efficient way for everyone on the planet to receive the drug. Plus, who could argue with drug production that could also produce the ingredients for a pizza?

Psychology studies in 2020 were off the charts. It was amazing to many scientists that during a pandemic, with people in quarantine—with no one requiring anything of them—those people still altered their clocks. Twice in the same year, people followed the same pointless tradition of “Daylight Saving Time”, even though they didn’t have to answer to anyone but themselves. Psychologists are still trying to figure out why.

Lastly, there was brief, and in my opinion too brief, mention of alien spacecraft during 2020. The only thing remaining throughout the year was that if you ever got tested for C19 then you know what it’s like to have your orifices invaded during an alien abduction. Hahahahahahaha!

Test of Thumbs

There is a test to see how many words a person can type while using only their thumbs. (The world record is 101 words per minute.)

Two. Two words per minute. That’s how many I can type. About as fast as carving words in a stone slab in the catacombs. Does hyperbole grace every sentence of this post? No, not every sentence. Let’s not exaggerate.

Have you ever tried? Some people I’m aware of can tap out a full novel in a text message.

Thumb-mail. A full-on 18th century letter, typed out with your thumbs? Amazing. Strange, but amazing. Strange to me, because I would lose interest after the first paragraph.

One problem I’ve recognized is that my thumbs are wider than average. To type with the tiny keyboard provided on a cell phone is like trying to smack one ant in a colony with a skillet.

If I was Harpo Marx, I’d follow that sentence with: What that ant was doing with a skillet, I don’t know.

You should be glad I’m not Harpo Marx.

My next question, though, is: Why would anyone need a skill like typing ultra-fast with their thumbs? I can only think of one reason.

A person needs to tell their mother they love her before they get eaten by an alligator. And would it matter if they were swallowed arms first, or not? That would depend on if they could get signal inside the alligator.

10(0) Greatest Guitarists

In honor and in loving memory of Rolling Stone’s amazing long-forgotten list of the 100 best gitardudes ever, I decided to make my own.

Here, for your listening pleasure, is the ultimate, ultimate you know what:

  1. Herbert Butros Khaury: absolute number one of number ones. This TINY guy packed a real wallop with his blazing skill, his sTIMulating singing voice, and his mesmerizing on-stage persona. Seriously.
  2. Sam Wills: okay, not really. I’ve been informed that Tape Face does not actually play the guitar. It’s a prop. Oh well, his show is fun anyway. If you have the time, check him out.
  3. Brian Hugh Warner: always needs a colon, in, on, or around, his/her name somewhere. He/she di’n’t play geetar, but (s)he’s been known to smash a few, and she/he is so good at smashing.
  4. Marshall Mathers: no one knows how many boy groupies you can gather around you better than this amazing musician-turned-poet. Apparently, in the ’90s, boys liked poetry.
  5. Brian Patrick Carroll: is there something wrong with being named Brian? Why do all these Brians change their names?
  6. Bill Righteous: totally righteous, dude!
  7. Bob Righteous: sooo righteous.
  8. John Simon Ritchie: “Something about this boy doesn’t seem right. Maybe you shouldn’t be his girlfriend.” -Top of the top ten things heard ’round him.
  9. Saul Hudson: should’ve kept his real name. It’s cooler than his stage name.
  10. Tyler Joseph: plays ukulele, bass, and six-string. We expect great things from him.

If you were thinking this would go to 100, just add Jack Black to the other 90 spots. There. Done.

Guitar Superheroes

Inspired by the silly, unquantified list recently created by Rolling Stone, which they dared call a list of the greatest guitarists, I went ahead and made my own. (By the way, if you check out their list, make sure you read the comments. There’s a territorial dog in there barking at everyone, “Bro, it’s not that deep. I’m sure there are other lists out there that look how you want them to look; go find them.” Well, I took the barking dog’s advice, even though he wasn’t telling me directly, and I didn’t find anything better really, so I figured it was all up to me. I had to make the ultimate list.)

Creating this list wasn’t easy. Except for the number one spot. Anyone can look at the numbers, yes real numbers, and see who has the simple-truth quantifiable status as the greatest. I used amount of work and amount of influence as the main standards. Certainly skill should play a part in defining someone as “great”, but can anyone continue making more and more albums without any skill? Of course not. Once you quantify it and set a standard, you can see how everyone relates.

  1. Joe Satriani—With around 20 solo albums, the same number of collaborative albums, and numerous students, there’s really no doubt that Joe Satriani surpasses all other guitarists. As a solo artist, he is the most prolific. As a teacher, he has taught many who have in turn influenced and taught others. For collaboration, he is unmatched. You could play the Kevin Bacon game in Satriani’s name, only for music instead of movies. Some of Satriani’s collaborations can be surprising. Spinal Tap? Crowded House? Deep Purple? Yes, all of the above. Joe Satriani is the standard to measure all other guitarists.
  2. Jimi Hendrix—Despite only having four albums, he remains the name most people think of when they think of guitar superheroes, and for good reason. Jimi’s music is experimental. He was skilled beyond his years. Like a samurai to his sword, Jimi was to his guitar. He influenced many to pick up the guitar and play.
  3. Paul Gilbert—Racer X, Mr. Big, and his solo career with multiple, multiple albums. This dude has the skills of a guitar master and is prolific in the music arts.
  4. Joan Jett—Undoubtely influential. Her success didn’t only resonate with guitarists, or female guitarists, or female musicians. She even influenced entrepreneurs the world over with her entrepreneurial drive, with her refusal to accept rejection.
  5. Kim Thayil—Soundgarden. He is the sound and the power. ’Nuff said.
  6. Tom Morello—The same Tom Morello of the bands Rage Against the Machine and Audioslave.
  7. T-Bone Walker—The guy who influenced Jimi to play with his teeth or behind his head, and Chuck Berry to bend the strings.
  8. Peggy Jones—“Lady Bo” or “The Queen Mother of Guitar” for sure persuades many who see her play lead guitar to try the instrument. Not only is she skilled, but the songs she played are still sweet-sounding today.
  9. Chuck Berry—The man who taught everyone to write songs about cars and girls and “coolerators”. He truly makes the guitar playing look and sound as easy as “ringing a bell”.
  10. George Harrison—The main man of the fab four. (For guitar, that is.)
  11. Robby Krieger—The Doors were one of the most influential bands ever due to their amazingly cinematic sound. The guitar sound was, of course, due to Robby Krieger.
  12. Dave Davies—The Kinks, a band who took Chuck Berry’s sound to new levels.
  13. Charlie Christian—An underrated musician by many who look from the outside of the music world. He was an originator of the guitar solo.
  14. Link Wray—Link is credited with the invention of the “power chord”. If you’ve ever heard the Batman theme song, you know his work.
  15. Bo Diddley—Bo is an amazing musician, with superb skills at song writing and guitar playing. 
  16. Jimmy Page—Him of the Stairway to Heaven aesthetic.
  17. Otis Taylor—A blues man of unparalleled skill.
  18. Johnny Cash—A country man of unparalleled skill.
  19. Elizabeth Cotten—An amazing left-handed guitarist, who taught herself and influenced many such as Pete Seeger and Bob Dylan.
  20. Alex Lifeson—The lead guitarist of the band Rush. The fact that Rush has fans to this day says something about him.
  21. David Gilmour—A guitarist of the band Pink Floyd, he has done tons of work for the music community.
  22. Michael Schenker—Scorpions, UFO, Michael Schenker Group. He takes it above and beyond.
  23. Angus Young—The lead guitarist of a band called AC/DC. His style is epileptic, but apparently that appeals to some people.
  24. Eric Clapton—A guitar guy’s guitar guy.
  25. Brian May—The guitarist of Queen. He is regarded by guitarists as an influence. Despite my aversion to his music, I have to respect his skill and apparent effect on others. This list is not a list of my faves, but quantifiably great guitarists.
  26. Joni Mitchell—Folk musician who encouraged the likes of Seal and Prince.
  27. Sister Rosetta Tharpe—She might get overlooked as a great guitarist because she played gospel music. People can be biased. I’m of the opinion that she played so well as to be an example of righteous shredding to many who followed.
  28. Wes Montgomery—Invented thumb picking, a style adopted by many.
  29. Eddie Van Halen—Touted by Joe Satriani as the “greatest guitarist of my generation.”
  30. Michael Anthony—People came to see Eddie and were amazed at Michael Anthony’s skill as well. Bass players of all styles are influenced by him. From Van Halen to Chickenfoot.
  31. Vernon Reid—Another, like Joan Jett, whose skill is so great it affects those outside the music community. He has a world-class talent.
  32. Dick Dale—He brought the sounds of his homeland to the beach and the beach echoed it to the world.
  33. Brian Setzer—Nobody ever listens to or sees Brian play without wanting to be just as cool as him.
  34. Yngwie Malmsteen—The guitar shredder who dared show how closely related heavy metal and classical music really are.
  35. Felicia Collins—She is famous for playing on the Late Show with David Letterman. Her skills have taken her far beyond late shows.
  36. Jack White—The “Midas Touch” guy. His hands are on multiple projects.
  37. Ritchie Blackmore—Rainbow, Deep Purple.
  38. Glenn Tipton—Judas Priest. Similar to Brian May, in my eyes. He triggered the desire in many to pick up the guitar and play.
  39. Alan Jackson—With loads of albums under his belt, this guitar-playing, vocal-crooning, star has 16 albums to his name.
  40. Pete Townshend—The Who is his band. He was often mimicked, but never matched.
  41. Alex Skolnik—Taught by Joe, he played in Testament and has done loads of solo stuff.
  42. Kristy Wallace (Poison Ivy of the Cramps)—Has raised the bar on how much music can be written and played in a lifetime. The Cramps were around from 1976 to 2009. She played lead and bass guitar.
  43. Keith Richards—Of the Rolling Stones, prolific and influential. Check and check.
  44. Dickey Betts—Allman Brothers guitarist who is said to have had an effect on the direction of music as we know it because of his brilliant guitar work.
  45. Geddy Lee—Rush bassist. The outstanding stand out, yes they do.
  46. Carlos Santana—What list of guitarists is complete without Santana? His melodies are pristine. 25 studio albums! What!?
  47. The Edge—U2’s favorite guitarist, not to mention many other’s.
  48. Tim Farriss—INXS is internationally known because of him. 12 albums.
  49. Eddie Vedder—The guy who fronts Pearl Jam. Mike McCready is an amazing guitarist, so why does everyone want to be like Vedder? Tell me.
  50. Shawn Lane—Has worked with Ringo Starr, Johnny Cash, Joe Walsh, to name only a few.
  51. Ross Childress—Collective Soul’s guitarist. He influenced every guitarist who didn’t want to just do grunge in the ‘90s.
  52. Orianthi—Worked with Prince, Michael Jackson, and Alice Cooper. She also has a solo career.
  53. Billy Duffy—The guitarist for The Cult. Amazing skill makes him a guitar superhero.
  54. Suzi Gardner—Nobody rocks like L7. They spawned the Grrrl movement. Highly influential.
  55. Donita Sparks—Nobody rocks like L7. They spawned the Grrrl movement. Highly influential.
  56. Dave Mustaine—His band Megadeth is still in operation after many years. He was the driving force behind other bands. He has undoubtedly influenced many bands both great and small. 15 albums.
  57. Tommy Victor—The lead guitarist and vocalist of Prong. 12 albums and still going strong. Bam!
  58. Jerry Cantrell—Of Alice In Chains fame, Jerry has a huge following.
  59. Bernard Sumner—The guitarist of New Order and Joy Division.
  60. Johnny Marr—The Smiths is his original band. He has skills matched by few.
  61. William Reid—The Jesus and Mary Chain may have borrowed some tricks from Hendrix, but they’ve also moved a future generation.
  62. Larry LaLonde—Taught by Joe, his main band is Primus.
  63. Vicki Peterson—The Bangles was her outlet. She is revered by many.
  64. Flea—Often mimicked bassist of the Red Hot Chili Peppers. Real name: Michael Peter Balzary.
  65. Buddy Guy—So many on this list were influenced by Buddy’s blues style.
  66. Eric Johnson—Award-winning guitarist with a wide range of styles.
  67. Bruce Wingate—The originator of speed.
  68. Jack Steeples—If there was no Adrenalin O.D, would there be any thrash metal at all?
  69. Kristin Hersh—Guitarist of Throwing Muses for 10 albums. College radio is in her debt for that. She also has 11 solo albums.
  70. Wendy Melvoin—Worked with and possibly influenced Prince. Why is her name not more well-known?
  71. Marty Friedman—Worked with Jason Becker on many projects.
  72. Jason Becker—Worked with Marty Friedman on many projects.
  73. Melissa Etheridge—The woman who could do it all, according to guitarists everywhere. She can play, she can sing, and she writes her own tunes.
  74. Shuggie Otis—Plays the blues like a cat out in the rain.
  75. Steve Vai—Plays the guitar with virtuosity.
  76. Denny Laine—The bands Wings and the Moody Blues would have been lesser things without him.
  77. Jack Johnson—Mellow music king, Jack Johnson has spawned an interest in acoustic art.
  78. Mark Knopfler—A legend among guitar players. He has worked with Bob Dylan, Tina Turner, and many others.
  79. Dean Roland—A Collective Soul guitarist. They busted through the grunge curtain right in the middle of it. Platinum selling albums.
  80. Jesse Triplett—A Collective Soul guitarist. With Dean Roland, he made waves. 10 albums.
  81. Jonny Greenwood—From Radiohead, he’s got a fair following.
  82. Herman Li—A shredder who has impressive skills. Terribly influential right now.
  83. Mark Tremonti—Creed, Alter Bridge, a guitarist who has greater influence than he knows.
  84. Tony MacAlpine—13 albums, 5 bands, makes for a most persuasive place among those on this list.
  85. Dave Murray—Iron Maiden guitarist who went on to other projects.
  86. Joe Walsh—Multiple bands and prolific work.
  87. Rusty Cooley—Loads of collaboration.
  88. Mick Jones—The Clash guitarist who influenced Tom Morello, countless punk bands, and many others.
  89. Joe Strummer—Is said to be the heart of The Clash.
  90. Stevie Ray Vaughan—One highly artistic influencer.
  91. Robert Johnson—Played the blues for everyone.
  92. Jeff Beck—Yardbirds, The Jeff Beck Group. He’s been on people’s minds and on their turntables for generations.
  93. John Lennon—He who put his stamp upon the world through his band the Beatles.
  94. Paul McCartney—With John Lennon, he made a sound heard round the world.
  95. Vinnie Moore—Played with UFO, Alice Cooper, and Dio. 
  96. Chris Shiflett—From his beginnings with No Use For A Name and Me First and the Gimme Gimmes, he moved on to the Foo Fighters.
  97. Billy Gibbons—Of ZZ Top, he convinced people to pick up the guitar and grow facial hair.
  98. Cat Stevens—A mad artist who changed his name many times, but never changed his guitar style.
  99. Dave Grohl—The artist formerly known as the Nirvana drummer, picked up a guitar and influenced us all with the Foo Fighters and some work with Queens of the Stone Age.
  100. Chet Atkins—Credited by his peers as one of the most influential guitarists in country music.