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Useful Stuff for Thinking People, Free (for Now)

Inspiring Message

Everyone likes free stuff.

I thought I’d share a few resources that are being offered by companies for free right now that might make you healthier, wealthier or wiser during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Not to be too glib about what we’re all experiencing, but I don’t want to look back on this months and years later and wish I’d somehow taken more advantage of those things I have in abundance now: primarily, time.

So if you’re sick of watching Tiger King on Netflix and you’re done perfecting your Sourdough baking skills like I have, read on and learn some useful stuff (Note: I don’t endorse any of these programs and these are not affiliate links.  Just trying to spread the word.  Did I mention I dig free stuff?):

Nikon School Online classes free for month of April

CreativeLive is offering their streaming Health & Wellness courses, free

Poynter Journalism Courses (these are great!) for free

LinkedIn’s Work Remotely Learning Path (16 courses to help when working from home), free

Scribd’s Learning Resources free for 30 days (no credit card required). Like Audiobooks?  Access Scribd’s huge library for free for a month. 

60 Days of Skillshare Courses —you guessed it, for FREE

Bitdegree is offering a number of different learning paths, free during the Covid-19 pandemic, including:  

Blogging for Business course by Ahrefs Academy (normally $799, now free)

Yoast’s All-Around SEO Course (normally $699, now for free before June 1st).

Limitless Entrepreneur (5 day learning retreat) by Melissa Griffin, free

Edit:  How could I forget Arnold Schwarzenegger’s classic at-home exercise plan?   It’s free, you don’t need weights, and you’re out of excuses. 

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Outtakes: the Portrait Moments that Weren’t

Portrait Outtakes

In the photo editing world, outtakes are those images that don’t survive the multiple rounds of editing that allows the cream of your shoot to rise to the top.    The first images to go are the obvious mess-ups: closed eyes, hair issues, equipment elbowing its way into a shot, poor exposure.   The next rounds of editing then refine the selections further until a handful of images remain that I feel proud to submit to my clients:  technically strong, of course, but also appropriate for their brand and their unique story.

Of these, only a small percentage make it to print or screen, meant for public consumption.  In this digital version of the Hunger Games, the rest are discarded and are usually never seen again.  It’s a ruthless, never-ending process.

That’s why I like to go through my past shoots regularly, pulling images that I like that weren’t used.  They may not fit the purpose at hand, but out of context they still are interesting and strong images.

Here are a few from the first couple of months of this year.  I like them because in each case there’s moment that strikes a chord in me.  The lighting, the environment and body language all work together to tell a story of sorts.    I hope you enjoy them as much as I like seeing them again.

Portait Outtakes

 

Portrait Outtakes

 

 

Portrait Outtakes

Five Clicks: Inspiring Reads for Cool Kids

I read, a lot.  But, that wasn’t always the case.  A few years ago I realized I was reading less and less, and decided that was a problem I’d like to do something about.  At that point, with a new business, a young child and plenty of ‘stuff to do’, I was averaging five or less books a year.

Last year, I read 46. “Read” is a relative term, since I consume less and less physical books each year and more e-books and audio books. As a result, I feel like my brain is being exercised and stimulated and the ideas and enjoyment I’ve gleaned from reading has made a big difference in my quality of life (and the way I do business).

Here are five of my favorite reads from last year (2017). All of these books held my interest from start to finish, of course, but more importantly they stayed with me long after I put them down.

Never Split the Difference: Negotiate As If Your Life Depended Upon It, Chris Voss
Former FBI Chris Voss takes you inside actual hostage negotiations and then explains the psychology behind his tactics. Then he uses real-world examples of negotiation that are a little more useful for the rest of us: negotiating a pay raise, a good price on a car, or dealing with contracts and estimates. I love books that change your perspective in fundamental ways, and this book definitely did that.

Ready Player One, Ernest Cline
If you are a closet nerd and/or are fascinated by 80s-era geek references, this book is for you (If you liked Stranger Things at all, you’ll love this book). I’m not going to spoil the story here, but I would highly recommend that you listen to the audio book version. It’s narrated by Will Wheaton, of Star Trek: Next Generation fame, and brilliantly so.

The Obstacle is the Way: The Timeless Art of Turning Trials into Triumph, Ryan Holiday
I read anything I can from Ryan Holiday, all the while regarding his intellect with a bit of envy. This book is an introduction of sorts to the philosophy of the Stoicisim, repackaged for consumtion by modern audiences. The amazing thing is that, due to the nature of stoicism, it doesn’t need much cleaning up to resonate. Worth a read or a listen (I did, four times).

The Antidote: Happiness for People Who Can’t Stand Positive Thinking, Oliver Burkeman
If you’ve listened to gurus like Tony Robbins or even charismatic positive preachers like Joel Osteen, you know what positive thinking is all about. I’m not against positive thinking at all—I’m a fan in general of positive thinking but always felt that there was something missing. Sure, the “Secret” makes you feel good, but….how the hell does visualizing success and saying positive affirmations actually make you happy? This book explores what Burkeman calls the ‘negative path to happiness’, in which the negative thoughts in one’s head and the negative realities of life aren’t sugarcoated or ignored, but recognized and confronted. Great read.

The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business, Charles Duhigg
There are so many books out there on forming positive habits and breaking destructive ones, but this one—written by NY Times investigative reporter Charles Duhigg—breaks down the research behind habit formation and gives science-based tools to start forming better habits–today. It helped me to stop getting overwhelmed and to start taking action on great habits that I’ve managed to keep, now many months later.