I’ve become a ‘Stand-Up Guy’

StandingdeskThe sort of image that may come to mind when we see or hear the term “Stand-Up Guy” has nothing to with today’s topic (although I can attest to being a “Stand-Up Guy” most of the time). Instead, I’m using the phrase in reference to my recent decision to start using a Stand-Up Desk, also known as a Standing Desk.

Most of us have heard or read in various articles that sitting all day at the office is not good for our health. But how bad can it be when we’ve been doing it for decades? Sitting seems so natural, why all the publicity now on why it can be detrimental to our health. I recently listened to The On Point Podcast with Tom Ashbrook, a very informative podcast where various expert guests were on board to discuss and provide some interesting points (based on research) about the pros and cons of sitting too much.

Several studies have been conducted on the subject. For example, research conducted by Kaiser Permanente in California enrolled more than 80,000 men aged 45 and older about a decade ago in a study to see how the time they spent sitting and engaging in physical activity affected the odds they would develop heart failure.

No one with existing heart problems was included in the study.

Over 10 years, the researchers followed up on the health of these men and here’s what they found:

Not engaging in much physical activity was more strongly associated with heart failure than just sitting a lot. But each behavior was linked to an increased risk for heart failure.

Men with the lowest level of physical activity were more than twice as likely to develop heart failure than those in the most active group. The men who spent the most time sitting were also more than twice as likely to develop heart failure than those who sat the least.

The study did not definitively correlate being more sedentary or exercising less to causing heart failure. The activities and heightened risks were associations. However, the findings are consistent with a growing body of evidence that sitting and a lack of activity aren’t good for your heart.

In addition, The American Cancer Society tracked 123,000 people for an 18-year period and found the death rate was higher in people that sat more than six hours per day.

In another study with over 200,000 participants, researchers noted that even active people (those who exercised for at least five hours a week) had an increased risk of death if they sat longer.

Sitting too much also increases your chances of type 2 diabetes, even if you exercise regularly. A 2013 study of 63,000 Australian men found that the risk of type 2 diabetes rose with an increase in sitting time.

Using your major muscles — such as those in your legs and back — speeds up your metabolism. But when you’re sitting, those muscles aren’t being used. That can slow down your metabolism and lead to weight gain. Enough weight gain leads to obesity, which plays a part in high blood pressure, some cancers, gallbladder disease, osteoarthritis, breathing problems, and more.

There was also this one test conducted by a company which showed that standing desks improved productivity by up to ten percent.

With all of this research pointing toward the benefits of sitting less, I was eager to incorporate it into my lifestyle and I did so about 2 months ago. When I stood up at work for the first time, it wasn’t that bad because I’m generally a physically active guy. In addition to exercising at the gym 3 to 4 times a week, I have worked in positions in the past that required that I move around and about throughout the day.

The transition was not difficult. As of this writing, I use a standing desk for about 80% of my work day. Standing has helped me to remain more focused while working on various tasks. I also feel more energized and motivated throughout the day. My physical well being has also improved.

Although standing while working works for me, it may not be for everyone. The reality is, sitting isn’t necessarily bad. It’s sitting for long periods of time without movement that’s the killer. In fact, staying in any position for too long isn’t healthy. So if you choose to sit for your entire work day, be sure to stand up for a few minutes every hour or so. And more importantly, if you choose to stand while working, understand that doing it incorrectly can cause more harm than good. Know the rules!

In many of the studies about the negative effects of sitting, researchers are pointing toward regular physical inactivity as the problem. Familiarize yourself with the various research on the subject, stand up and stay active. While you’re at it, here are a couple of great articles about The History, Benefits and Uses of Standing Desks and Everything Science Knows Right Now About Standing Desks.

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The McLuhan Hypothesis

Philosopher Marshall McLuhan states that people adapt to their environment through a certain balance or ratio of their senses, and the primary medium of the age brings out a particular sense ratio. McLuhan sees every medium as an extension of some human faculty, with the media of communication thus exaggerating this or that particular sense. In his words, “The wheel…is an extension of the foot. The book is an extension of the eye… Clothing, an extension of the skin…Electric circuitry, an extension of the central nervous system”. Whatever predominates media will influence human beings by affecting the way they perceive the world.—[Reference]

The Medium is the Message

McLuhan is especially insistent that an analysis of media content is meaningless—misses the point—since it is the medium which carries the lion’s share of the communication. Simply put, the medium affects the body and the psyche in relatively unconscious ways; thus it is more powerful than the message, which largely appeals to the conscious mind. By placing all the stress on content and practically none on the medium, we lose all chance of perceiving and influencing the impact of new technologies on man, and thus we are always dumbfounded by—and unprepared for—the revolutionary environmental transformations induced by new media.


Imagine a world where dreams meet reality. Where the childlike hopes and wonders that dwell within each of us do not always fade into cynicism over time. Imagine a world where happiness is not an ambition we hope to achieve sometime in the distant future, but rather a familiar constant that is experienced daily. Imagine a world where the frequency of finding and keeping true love is more often than not. Where smiles and joy far outnumber tears and heartache. Imagine a world where all this and much more is possible. A world where anything is possible. Just imagine…

That you didn’t have to imagine.

Because you don’t.

In reality, anything is possible. And the only way that dreams cannot meet reality, the only way that the hopes and possibilities that lie within your grasp die…

Is if you let them.

The Future of Marketing Strategy

The primary focus of marketing strategy and promotion used to be to create compelling advertising campaigns that would get the consumer’s attention and drive awareness. Once potential customers were aware of the product, the sales team could then go to work on closing the deal. That business model is no longer effective. In today’s business environment, promotional campaigns are less likely to lead to a sale, simply building awareness and walking away is more likely to enrich your competition.

Successful brands are becoming platforms that do more than just drive consumer behavior, they have to inspire customers to participate. In the digital age, brands are no longer mere corporate assets to be leveraged, but communities of belief and purpose. As digital technology pervades the physical world, the principles of scale are changing in a profound way. Ordinary people are co-creating their experiences with marketers. Products themselves are becoming services. Supply chains are giving way to demand chains. Marketing has changed forever.

Creating Valuable Content

Whether you’re a content marketer, blogger or advertiser, creating content that is of value to your reader should always be an area of focus. In an environment where large amounts of information is being created and published daily, it’s as important as ever to create content that attracts the readers attention while providing useful and interesting information.

Here are 3 areas to consider when creating content for your audience:

It needs to provide a solution to a problem or challenge

Think of an area where a real challenge exists and write with the intention of providing a solution that your reader can benefit from. Focus on your reader’s desired outcomes. Instead of primarily writing about services or ideas you want to pitch, focus first on what the reader is going to get out of it.

It needs to be interesting

Material about any subject is widely available throughout the internet. How do you stand out?  Add a bit of personality to your content, be enthusiastic and passionate about your subject. Tell a memorable story and add a personal slant that your reader can connect with.

It needs to be useful

Does your subject capture your readers attention by providing information that can be used right now or filed away for future reference? Does it provide a means to an end, such as: Can it help your reader get closer to their goals? Does it educate? Does it inspire or motivate your reader to take action? Will your reader be likely to share this content with others?

In addition, consider the type of audience you’re trying to reach and brainstorm ideas on how to best reach that audience. Choose a platform and work on the goal of being a leading provider of information on that platform. When you leverage this kind of focus, you will be providing an experience that both you and your readers will benefit from.

Your Customer as Brand Advocate

Businesses always promote how much they care about customer service when in reality, many consistently fail to deliver an exceptional level of service that creates repeat customers.

Earlier today, I visited Yelp.com to review what customers were saying about a certain organization I had planned to do business with. To my surprise, out of 20 posted reviews in the last 2 years, 15 of them were (poor) 1 star ratings. That is unacceptable.

In today’s multi-channel, multi-media business environment, the customer’s voice now reigns supreme more than ever before. With easy access to social media, customers can easily vocalize and promote a positive or negative experience far and wide.

According to Nielsen’s 2013 “Global Survey of Trust in Advertising” (which surveyed more than 29,000 Internet users in 58 countries about 19 forms of paid, earned and owned media), 84% of consumers worldwide say they trust word-of-mouth recommendations from their trusted friends and families — an increase of 6% over the past six years.

The survey also revealed some interesting info on content marketing including:

“Owned advertising, in the form of content and messaging on brand websites, was the second most-trusted advertising source in 2013, with 69 percent of global respondents indicating they trust this platform, up 9 percentage points and from a fourth-place ranking in 2007.”

Of course, your marketing and advertising strategy will continue to play an important role in attracting customers. Whether that customer returns in the future depends mostly on their initial experience. Easy to say but a challenge to implement unless your business’ mission is aligned with the objective of providing the best experience for both your internal and external customers.

The ultimate goal is a satisfied client that will act as an advocate for your company and brand. Advocates are so satisfied and impressed that they will post freely on social media, promoting your service and spreading brand awareness without any expectation.

A Different Perspective on Goal-Setting

I just read an article by “Dilbert” creator Scott Adams in the Wall Street Journal which I found quite insightful.  In the article titled “Scott Adams’ Secret of Success: Failure”  Mr Adams discusses the lessons and skills he has learned from his failures over the years (and there have been many). He further makes a good case on why setting goals and following your passion is asking for trouble.

It took a few minutes to wrap my mind around the concept but after re-reading the article, it started to make sense. He writes:

Throughout my career I’ve had my antennae up, looking for examples of people who use systems as opposed to goals. In most cases, as far as I can tell, the people who use systems do better. The systems-driven people have found a way to look at the familiar in new and more useful ways.

To put it bluntly, goals are for losers. That’s literally true most of the time. For example, if your goal is to lose 10 pounds, you will spend every moment until you reach the goal—if you reach it at all—feeling as if you were short of your goal. In other words, goal-oriented people exist in a state of nearly continuous failure that they hope will be temporary.

If you achieve your goal, you celebrate and feel terrific, but only until you realize that you just lost the thing that gave you purpose and direction. Your options are to feel empty and useless, perhaps enjoying the spoils of your success until they bore you, or to set new goals and re-enter the cycle of permanent pre-success failure.

The idea of goal setting has been so ingrained in our collective psyche by a variety of books, lectures and advice over the years that many have accepted the paradigm that goal setting is the end all be all of achievement without question. The article invites the reader to consider different methods of achievement that may work just as well. One method that the author points out succintly is the use of a “system” instead of a “goal”.

… being systems-oriented, I felt myself growing more capable every day, no matter the fate of the project that I happened to be working on. And every day during those years I woke up with the same thought, literally, as I rubbed the sleep from my eyes and slapped the alarm clock off.

Today’s the day.

If you drill down on any success story, you always discover that luck was a huge part of it. You can’t control luck, but you can move from a game with bad odds to one with better odds. You can make it easier for luck to find you. The most useful thing you can do is stay in the game. If your current get-rich project fails, take what you learned and try something else. Keep repeating until something lucky happens. The universe has plenty of luck to go around; you just need to keep your hand raised until it’s your turn. It helps to see failure as a road and not a wall.

In my experience, I’ve seen plenty of failure along the way, but I’m still of the opinion that specific and measurable goals are still valuable as they serve as a guidepost to achievement. Systems however can also be put in place as an additional method on the road to achieving our objectives.  The article’s explanation of success breeding passion, and luck meeting opportunity, are perhaps the two most distinct and valuable take-aways for me. Tomorrow will always bring uncertainty and some goals will never be achieved due to the randomness of life. Our experiences should inform our choices and be part of a system to build upon; adding discipline and passion to the process can also serve as fuel to keep us going as the going gets tough.

As Winston Churchill once reminded us:  “Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.”