Ralf Weiser's Blog – Shake Up Your Snow Globe! ©

Stop doing, shake your globe, ponder, dream, start reaching your full potential – live on purpose and do it with a smile!

Archive for the tag “freedom”

The American Dream is alive and well – Thoughts of an immigrant


The American Dream is alive and well – Thoughts of an immigrant 

Photo: Pablo by Buffer

This post was recently shared through Dr Tom Hill’s weekly electronic magazine (scroll to end of webpage to sign up for receiving his Eaglezine). Happy 4th of July!

These days following the news and social media can be depressing, right? The world news currently are not very positive. Here at home we unfortunately seem to be quite divided over some real and some not so real issues. Despite all of this I am hopeful and upbeat that we will once again be unified in helping each other live the American Dream. There is barely a week when folks ask me why one Earth I am so enthusiastic about living here in the U.S.A. and life in general. That is really easy to answer. We are blessed beyond measure living in a country that nurtures a culture of inclusion, tolerance, collaboration, and it guaranties liberties that I have not found in any other country I have either visited or lived in. The only person in my way of progress and dreams is myself. Many helpful people and organizations are around who can assist you achieving them. Here is a little bit of my journey to becoming an American citizen.

For me it makes me think of my first Thanksgiving in the U.S.A. – and Phyllis. That was 1989, the year I arrived at Philly from my native Germany for what I thought would only be for a 3 year adventure. Phyllis was a friend of a friend who knew a friend of mine at the company I still work for today. A recent divorcee, she rented a room of her little condo to me. I was thankful for having a place to stay. The room was big enough that the only things I had to my name were 2 suitcases full of clothes that did not even make a dent in the room’s closets.

New to country and language I knew no one. She was so warm-hearted and explained a lot of colloquialisms and also taught me everything from laundry to going grocery shopping. I had been in the country only for a few months when the Phyllis asked me if I wanted to stick around with her family for the Thanksgiving holiday. I had to ask her what we will be thankful for and what the holiday was all about. She tried explaining this to me as best as she could. My command of the English language still had a long way to go at that time.

Little did that prepare me for that great cold Thursday in the fall of 1989. I was astounded how many family members and friends showed up. Two big tables were moved together and everyone helped in preparing the food and table for the feast. Then I saw my first turkey. Wow! I had never seen anything like it. When all the food was set on the table I thought to myself that there was enough for a whole football team to show up and still have enough food for everyone.

After saying Grace her family and friends asked me all kinds of questions as to where I was from and what I was doing here in the States. They did not know it, but I was so humbled by that. At that time, Germans were still not all that welcome in various areas in Europe and people there would avoid you and actually make a point to exclude you. Many people’s thinking and actions were still affected by the horrible Nazi times surrounding WWII. Here a former foe was sitting amongst folks whose relatives most likely had fought mine in one or both world wars. Instead of hostility and the usual ignorance I received nothing but warmth, inclusion, and most of all a genuine interest in a total stranger! Wow! Who are these people and would more people act like these folks?

In the many years to follow I found the vast majority of people to hold the same core values. Work took me to visit 44 States so far and across the board I met genuinely nice and genuinely warm hearted people. I began to ponder if it was not time to play a more intricate part of the American society. Who I am is due to my German upbringing, education, and of course my family and friends back there. Who I can be though, I owe to America. I went from being a mechanics apprentice in Germany to becoming a management team member of a successful manufacturing company here stateside. Sure, it took a lot of work to get there, but I am eternally grateful and thankful to this country and its people for providing the most important part: opportunities. It was time taking the arduous path becoming an American citizen. I wanted to help perpetuate helping others pursue their dreams and I could only do this if I could exercise my right to vote.

My family was with me the say of getting sworn in as an American citizen back in 2010. It was such a special day to me and I am sure that the other more than 40 new citizens next to me felt the same way. I was hopeful then as I am today that we will put our political views and differences aside and figure out solutions to our everyday issues. I am confident that our struggles will unify us more than separate us. We are a good people and the world and our kids need us, one nation, under God, indivisible with Liberty and Justice for all. Blessed beyond measure.

Ralf

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How bad customer service is killing the product repair business


How bad customer service is killing the product repair business 

We are supposed to live in customer service heaven. When something breaks on household items, cars, electronics, etc it should not be difficult getting that repaired, right? Well, it appears that this industry’s general direction is more than troublesome in that unwanted, unneeded, and sometimes outright ridiculous staff is being pushed on to customers. Most simply lack technical and subject matter knowledge in order to prevent getting overcharged for needless stuff that is being hawked off as “value added”. The best tactic working for them is instilling fear in the customer that e.g. safety, efficiency, warranty, etc is being negatively affected. Before you know it you may have added 100s of not 1000s of Dollars to your bill.

Here is one of those incidents that happened to me just recently. I went to the local mall (yeah, some are still around) trying to get the battery changed in my watch. The friendly store clerk looked at the watch and then informed me that the battery exchange would set me back by 40 Dollars. Huh? FOURTY Bucks? Three times before I had gone to one of those mall hallway vendors and rarely spent 15 for changing out the battery. “It is 20 for being an expensive Swiss watch, and the other 20 are for making your watch water proof again. We are the only local area store that can offer this service.” I would have walked out after this, but I had a coupon reducing my total to 20 Dollars for the battery change.

The clerk pointed to a special machine – while pointing at it – for achieving waterproof status. I was totally puzzled what the contraption was supposed to do as the back cover of the watch has an o-ring that makes this happen. As long as the part does not sustain any damage no water will enter the watch there. It mystified me what else they could possibly be doing different from what the other mall vendor had done before.

I told her to proceed with the repair; I was willing to risk 20 Dollars and watching the special repair procedure. She took the back cover off and with it the o-ring. The latter was cleaned, greased, and re-installed. Then the watch was put under the glass globe of the special tool and vacuum was applied to it. After a little while she turned around and asserted that the watch will not hold a vacuum and that I should be careful not to put the watch into e.g. a washing machine and “don’t dive with it”. What happened to making the darn thing waterproof and “we are the only company who does this in the county”? It turned out that the special gizmo merely tested the watch, but it did not “make” it anything. In fairness she did not even attempt trying to charge me the extra 20 Dollars for this “service”. I left the store with a new battery in my watch and a giant smile on my face. I had avoided yet another extra charge for something that would not have added any value whatsoever. Grr. How many times do we get charged for nonsense like this? It is really frustrating and also no wonder that people would rather buy new stuff than getting the old stuff repaired.

I like to fix old stuff and if you do too than here are a few thoughts that can help protect you from spending extra money:

  • If the story sounds to crazy to be true, it usually isn’t.
  • Insist getting more info and get it in writing.
  • Insist on getting any old parts back after the repair has been carried out.
  • Do some Internet research and find out what other people may have experienced before.
  • If all else fails, replacing the item with a new one may be the better alternative.

Happy repairing!

Ralf

Here is to you Class of 2017 – Please always chase a better self and live on purpose


Here is to you Class of 2017 – Please always chase a better self and live on purpose 

It is that time of the year: High school graduations are upon us. This one is really special to me because of two reasons. My daughter is one of the lucky high school students who will soon go out into the world and spreading her wings. The other special thing is a speech friend and coach Brett Blair (he is the author of From Autopilot to Authentic: How the Philosophies of Dr. Tom Hill Can Help You Live Your Exceptional Life) held for high school grads in Cary NC. He has allowed me to share his speech with you. There a many speeches held, but this one sticks out to me. The current generation may be making a mess of things right now, but you should really let Brett’s thoughts sink in about how you HS grads will now have the exciting chance helping make important changes for yourself and all of us. So I am asking you as well to please chase a better self and live on purpose – we live in a country that provides so many opportunities challenging to live to your full potential. Let your light shine and never relent. The best of luck to all of you. Here is to you, Katie. We gave you roots and also wings. It is time to spread them wide and take off like an eagle.

Ralf

 

 

Together is Beautiful – Continuing the Journey by Brett Blair

 

Hello graduating seniors. Congratulations! Congratulations to each and every one of you.

 

I, along with your parents, your teachers, the administration, the community, your friends and family, we all honor you.

 

We honor you, and you should be proud.

 

You have completed a significant milestone in your life, and one that will carry with you the rest of your life.

 

Your life.

 

It’s your life.

 

It’s no longer about your parents, your friends, or anyone else.

 

It’s your life that we’re talking about now, and it’s totally in your control.

 

As you venture forth into the world, after crossing that stage on Monday, June 12th, and finally picking up your diploma, you’ll be launched into a whole new journey.

 

For some of you, you’ll be going straight on to college.

 

Others will go to work, and start making some money.

 

Some of you will proudly serve our country in the military, others go to a trade school, community college, or maybe volunteer – here in the U.S. or abroad.

 

I’m guessing that you, the class of 2017, will probably scatter all over the country and maybe even the world.

 

After you graduate, a lot of things will be new and different for you.

 

Some things will be scary.

 

Some things will be fun.

 

One thing I’m sure most of you will experience is a new degree of freedom.

 

Many of you will be living away from home for the first time.

 

You’ll be going from the world of being a kid in your house to being an adult in the big, bad world.

 

You’ll have freedom. Freedom!

 

Freedom is a cool thing.

 

Our country’s fathers – you know their names – George Washington and crew, they fought hard for our freedom, and our military has fought found hard over the last 200 + years to keep it.

 

The Constitution and the Bill of Rights, these things spell out what our great freedoms are as Americans. We should never take these freedoms and these rights for granted, and never forget how blessed we are to live here in the U.S.

 

But there’s another kind of freedom. A freedom that is entirely up to you, and a freedom that you can lose if you don’t live your life in the right way.

 

It’s the freedom that comes from taking personal responsibility for your decisions, your choices, your actions, and overall the way in which you live your life.

 

Freedom! You have the freedom to choose a great career. I made a big mistake here. I originally chose a career based only on the money it would pay. I’ve since learned, and it took me a long time, like over 20 years, that it’s much better to choose a career that matches your passions and purpose and interests.

 

Freedom! You have the freedom to be healthy. Don’t take this for granted. This is almost totally in your control. It overwhelmingly comes from the foods you eat and the exercise you get. At your age, you might not think this is too important. I promise you, it will become very important as you get older. Most of the health problems we have in the US these days come from people with bad habits. People eating the wrong foods and people not getting the exercise they need. You have your full lives ahead of you. I dare you. I dare you to make a commitment to yourself to be super healthy, and then you’ll enjoy the excitement that can come from a life, a long life, based on great health.

 

Freedom! You have the freedom to stay out of debt. Develop good habits around money right now, stick to them, and be free of financial bondage later. If you get a credit card, pay it off every month. If you already have some credit card debt, pay it off as soon as you can. Don’t be like most Americans, with thousands of dollars of credit card debt that literally buries them. Learn about saving. Learn about the magic compounded interest, and learn about the value of long-term investing.

 

Freedom! You have the freedom to have great relationships. Great relationships with your family, with your friends, with your girlfriend/boyfriend/husband/wife, with your employer and coworkers, with just about anybody. The keys to great relationships are being honest and transparent, being present when you’re with people (instead of glued to your iPhone), being a great listener, and just being one who really cares about other people. Caring about people regardless of what they look like, where they come from, how much money they have, how smart they are – just caring about people because they are another human being.

 

Freedom! You have the freedom of living in a great country, and on a beautiful planet. I know that my generation has not done you any favors here, and we’ve left this world in trouble in many ways. Pollution, climate change, poverty, hunger, racism and social unrest, low rates of political participation, intolerance, the list of challenges goes on and on. But, I am confident and optimistic. I’m optimistic because you young men and women are incredible. You are smart and passionate and caring and live your lives on purpose, and with a purpose. I have no doubt that our future, the future of our planet and the future of all people will be better, much better, because of the impact that you’re going to make.

 

Freedom! You have the freedom to choose how you think. You can choose to wake up each day and live in fear and regret. You can do that. Or, you can wake up each day with confidence and optimism and energy. You can wake up, each day, eager to go forth and make your mark as you live your life on purpose, and make a difference. It’s up to, totally up to you.

 

10 years ago, when I was 46 years old, I quit a job, a career, that I had held for over 20 years. For somebody else, it might have been a great career. It just wasn’t the right one for me.

 

I then started my own business. I also hired a coach, a life coach, and this guy taught me a whole new way to live my life. He taught me to dream about my future, and to write it down in great detail. He taught me to get crystal clear on my priorities, and to live my life in a way that balanced my priorities. He taught me to commit to growth, and to grow until the day I die. I’m living my life that way now, and you know what? It’s awesome. If I could go back to the day I graduated from high school, and start living my life that way, living my life on purpose, I can’t image how much different, how much better my life would have been.

 

You, the class of 2017. You can live your lives on purpose.

 

You can live your lives in the direction of your passions and purposes and your dreams.

 

You can live your lives with abundant health – with energy and strength to lean into each and every day.

 

You can live your lives with amazing relationships all around you – an amazing spouse, amazing kids, amazing relationships with your parents, friends, neighbors.

 

You can have a great career or own your own great business, and smartly manage your money in a way that you never get into financial bondage that comes from having too much debt.

 

Living your life this way – living your life on purpose, it’s not the way most people live. That’s OK. A lot of people aren’t living their lives with the goals and determination and vision that you have. A lot of people are confused, and a lot of people are after instant gratification. You know, the best things in life – they take time, they take focus, they take determination, and they take discipline to get.

 

Personal discipline.

 

Personal discipline is the key.

 

Personal discipline leads to personal freedom.

 

Don’t be influenced by other people. Chart your own course, and stick to it. Be independent.

 

As Dr. Wayne Dyer says, be independent of the good and bad opinions of other people.
Have your own moral compass, your own north star, and live your life in that direction.

 

Live your life when you are all alone just like you would if other people were watching.

 

And something else I’ve learned along the way in my life – it is so much better when we all work together, and when we all get along. I think your generation has this figured out so much better than we did when I was growing up. Regardless of skin color, regardless of economic status, regardless of religion or political party or nationality or worldview – we all have the common denominator of being people. We are all people, created equal in the eyes of God, with unlimited potential. And when we lock arms and work together as people, working toward a better future, our potential is even more unlimited.

 

You guys are amazing. I’ve seen your passion and humility and courage and curiosity and love for each other. I’ve seen your intelligence and adaptability and determination. I’ve seen your faith and persistence and creativity.

 

I’ve seen you, I see you now, and I see you in the future.

 

I see you in the future, boldly making your mark on the world, and as a result, making this world a better place.

 

I know a lot of people who are really worried about the future, and think that the future will be worse, not better, than things are right now.

 

I totally disagree.

 

I believe in a better world.

 

I know we’ll move to the use of renewable energy.

 

 

I think we’ll solve the challenges around climate change.

 

I think we’ll eliminate many of today’s diseases and other health problems.

 

I think we’ll find new solutions to hunger and poverty and racism and inequality.

 

I might be naïve, but I don’t think so.

 

I think all these positive, optimistic things about the future for one reason. And, that one reason is YOU! Each and every one of YOU!

 

Personal discipline is cool. It leads to personal freedom. Personal freedom to live your lives in great big, happy, making a difference ways.

 

Thanks so much for giving me so many reasons to be optimistic, thanks for being an amazing group of young people who phenomenally represent Cary High School, and thanks for being you.
God Bless You, and may you venture forth and live the lives of your dreams.

 

Thanks!

It is not the critic who counts – just do the stuff you are meant to do


It is not the critic who counts – just do the stuff you are meant to do 

Someone whom I consider to be a good friend just shared the following quote from Teddy Roosevelt with me.

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”

I read it once and made so much sense to me. I read it again right away as it pulled me right back in. I have tried homing in on the things that only I should be doing. I used to care a lot about what other people would say and I often tried appeasing them. It did not feel right not being all-inclusive with everyone. I had to learn a hard life lesson that I cannot always avoid folks not being happy with me. Do not misunderstand me here. I will always attempt first figuring out how I can make everyone better off with what I am doing. I will just no longer compromise on things when I know that there is a better possible outcome just because there are critics out there who will spend ample time pontificating about what could be done rather than starting to do something themselves. I am with President Roosevelt here. I would rather be the one whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood. I need to be part of the solution and not the problem.

Are you with me?

Ralf

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