African Adventures – Part 2

So after spending some more time here in Kapsowar, we’ve met a lot of really great people and have been exposed to life in rural Kenya.  This had definitely been a perspective changing experience that Ashley and I have thoroughly enjoyed.  Once we started getting use to the water & electricity not always working, we have been able to escape the societal norms from back home.  No electricity, therefore no hot water = no problem, just fill up a few 10 liter plastic bottles and leave them out in the sun all day to warm up that water for a nice bucket shower.  No lights, no problem, just use the candles around the house, or go to bed early.

But there is certainly a lot more to talk about than just sporadic water & electricity.  The people here are so friendly and welcoming.  They love greeting you and shaking your hand. The standard greeting is, “Habari” (Hello/Hi/How are you), to which you respond Nzuri (Good/Fine).  “Karibu” is the word for Welcome.  We’ve also picked up a few other Swahili words/phrases, but we are still a long way from being able to really communicate well in Swahili.  Most younger people speak English, and often you will find people switching from Swahili to English mid-sentence.  Despite not being able to speak in Swahili, we’ve found that if you speak slow and enunciate clearly, most people can understand you.

Community Health Program

We’ve had the privilege to speak to hundreds of primary and secondary school kids at a Community Health Program every week.  Typically about 5 people go to speak with the kids. The program was started in 2012 as outreach tool to address the rampant number of teenage pregnancies in and around the community. During the program we talk about Sex, STIs (STDS), Abortion, Alcohol, Hygiene, Safety & Nutrition, and how the decisions you make today can affect your future.  If a teenage girl is found to be pregnant, she is often kicked out of the school, and abandoned by the baby’s father.  The overall theme is teaching Abstinence, and why it is important to wait until you are married.

Community Health Program - Kapsowar

Mike speaking about Hygiene, Nutrition & Saftey

 

Moses

One afternoon, Ashley and I decided to go to “center” – the Main Street in town with all the shops. While we were walking we saw Moses, the man who we took to get a CT Scan on our first day in Eldoret.  Being the only two white people on the street, he quickly recognized us and came up to say hello. One important thing about Moses is that he was born with a defect which caused his face to not fully develop. He will need several reconstructive surgeries to fix the issues.  Despite his circumstances he seemed so excited to be alive. There was such joy in his heart.  I complemented him on his t-shirt which said something like “Jesus Christ is the only way to Heaven.” Within a split second he offered to give me the shirt off his back just because I told him I liked it. He was so genuine with his offer, but I wouldn’t let him give it to me… I do not need any more shirts. Yet, he with so little, offered to give me the shirt off his back was the one of the greatest examples of loving your neighbor I have witnessed firsthand.

Ashley & Moses, a few days before we left

Ashley & Moses, a few days before we left

 

The Hospital

Ashley had a great experience working at the hospital.  She was able to take care of NICU (new-born intensive care unit) – something she wouldn’t be allowed to do back in the states as a family practice physician.  She also was heavily involved in the maternity ward, and delivered some babies as well.  Ashley was able to observe multiple surgeries while at the hospital.  The main surgeon has been there for 17 years and is trained in general and plastic surgery.

Ashley in front of the maternity ward.

Ashley in front of the maternity ward.

 

Ashley with a patient

Ashley with a patient

 

20 Mile Hike

On one of our last days in Kapsowar, Ashley and I, along with 2 others hiked up Mt. Kipkinurr.  It just happened to be the tallest mountain in Kapsowar, and also 30 kilometers roundtrip.  We left at 8AM and returned around 4PM. It was probably the most physically exhausting thing Ashley and I have ever done.  But the view at the top was amazing.  We could see Kapsowar and all of the valley in the distance.  Plus, on the way down we saw a lot of colobus monkeys.  I’m not sure we were cut out for that, but it was definitely worth it (at least the first time).

At the top of the mountain

At the top of the mountain

 

New Perspective

Overall we had a great time in Kapsowar.  It was definitely very eye-opening and perspective changing.  After seeing how local people there are so kind, friendly & don’t complain about trivial things – it was very refreshing.  Also, seeing how content people are with what they have – and comparing that to the American attitude of always “wanting more” led me to re-examine all the “stuff” I have & how much I could do without.  

Observing the beauty

Observing the beauty

Thank you everyone for all your prayers and support while we were in Kenya.  We really appreciate each and every one of you.  Without you, this wouldn’t be possible. 

Desktop vs Laptop

Desktop vs Laptop? What do I prefer? What shaped my opinion?

PipedreamEarly Days

The first computer I ever had was while I was still living with my parents.  We had a Gateway 2000, and man was it awesome! Of course, at the time all I cared about was playing Snake, Pipedream, and a easy to hack Wheel of Fortune game where you always could stop the wheel on the $5,000 space if you timed it right.

My First Laptop

Years later, right before college, I decided I needed to purchase a computer to write papers, research, and all the other stuff people did back then before Facebook….I guess hang out on AOL Instant Messenger and Xanga?  At that point in time, laptops were just about the coolest things out there.  I remember when I first opened my new, state of the art Dell Inspiron 6000 Laptop. It was loaded with 1GB of RAM, and a whopping 80GB of storage and only weighed about 8 lbs.  I knew it couldn’t get any better.  Well, fast-forward a couple years later, and this lovely computer was so slow, almost unbearable.  It probably took about 10 minutes to boot up each time.

Back to a Desktop?

iMacAt this point, I knew I need to get something with better performance & longevity.  Apple’s Mac line was very popular with college students. I’m pretty sure over 50% of the people I knew had a white Macbook.  There was an easy way to tell who had a macbook – they would take 35,000 pictures in Photobooth and post them to their Facebook.  Aside from the cliches, Macbooks seemed pretty cool.  But what really got my attention was when Apple was about to release a new version of their iMac Desktop.  Featuring a huge 24 inch screen, and aluminum frame construction, this desktop was like non other.  I knew this would be my next computer.  The speed, performance, and all around beauty of the Mac operating system was perfect.  Once I finally starting using my iMac, I knew I would never go back to a PC.

For several years in college, and many years after graduating, I kept using my iMac.  I didn’t expect it to last past a 3-4 years, but I never had a problem with it. In fact, I would still be using that computer today, if I could have upgraded the RAM past 4GB.  But, being limited to the 4GB RAM, it just wasn’t very efficient to run Photoshop, Illustrator, Chrome, and other programs at the same time.  As reluctant as I was, I knew I had to move on for efficiency sake.

Today 

So after working on a iMac Desktop for 7 years or so, I learned what I liked, and what I didn’t like.  I liked everything about the computer, especially the large screen. The list of what I didn’t like was made up of 1 thing – Any time I had to move my computer from one place to another, it was a ridiculous chore.  So as I started to consider what computer I would purchase to replace my iMac, I was conflicted.  It all came down to:

Large Screen vs Mobility

Having a large screen is great for working on designs & building websites, but being confined to work in one place (my desk) was starting to annoy me.  So, after going back and forth, I finally decided to go back to using a laptop.  Apple’s announcement and release of their new 15″ Retina Display Macbook Pro might have slightly influenced my decision.  

Retina MacbookFor the first 9 months after getting my new laptop, I worked at locations other than my office, pretty much every day.  McAlister’s Deli become a favorite place to work and get some sweet tea.  It got to the point where one time, I didn’t go there for a week straight, and the next time I came in, the manager was concerned they did something wrong and scared me away. (After that point, I realized I had been going there too much, and only go occasionally now)

So, after working on Laptop for the past 16 months, do I miss my iMac?  Yes, but only for the large screen because my new laptop is better in every other way. The perfect solution to this is to buy a large monitor I can hook up my laptop to when I want to see my work on a large screen. I’m still waiting on Apple to release a retina version of their thunderbolt display. As soon as they do that, I’m sure I’ll pick one up and I’ll have the best of both worlds – large screen and mobility.

What I Do For a Living – Then & Now

Throughout my adult life, my line of work has centered around 4 main industries:

1) Commercial Real Estate

2) Online Marketing

3) Web Design

4) Printing

Short Version: I run a Web Design & Printing business.

Background

From the time I was in middle school, I knew I wanted to be a “Businessman.”  What I thought that would look like versus how it looks now is completely different – but overall, I knew I would be involved in business in some capacity.  When I was 12 years old I was mowing lawns on the weekends for people in my neighborhood as a small business/summer job – At the time, I didn’t think about it in terms of being a business, but rather a jpb – but looking back on it, it certainly could have turned into one if I pursed it.

Throughout high school I thought I would go to college and get a degree in Finance so I could become a stock broker.  Then during my senior year of high school, I read a book that completely changed the way I thought about business & my career path.  That book was Rich Dad, Poor Dad – by Robert Kiyosaki.  That book lead me down the path to entrepreneurship & real estate. My dad suggested I should sit for the Real Estate Sales Associate Exam – and so at 18, I had my real estate license.

After high school I went to Oklahoma State University and enrolled in the School of Business. During my sophomore year in college, I learned my university was going to start an Entrepreneurship Program the following year.  I was very excited and scared at the same time.  At that time, I was still pursuing a degree in Finance – I saw that as the safe option, where I could graduate, get a nice 8-5 job and collect my checks every 2 weeks.  So, the thought of an switching my degree to Entrepreneurship was slightly unsettling, but very intriguing and exciting at the same time.  I knew their would be an unlimited amount of opportunities down the road as an entrepreneur.

After College

So after 4 years of college, 2.5 which were completely unnecessary, I received my diploma and degree in entrepreneurship.  Less than a week after graduating, I took the Real Estate Brokers Exam and received my brokers license.  At this point, my plan was to learn the ins and outs of commercial real estate from my father, who had over 35 years experience in the industry.

Do to the nature of the commercial real estate business, there were many days where I was playing the waiting game, and I had lots of time to spare.  During this time, I continued to read more books about entrepreneurship. I would read blogs and do further research online to learn everything I could.

While reading online, I learned about online marketing.  I saw there was a huge opportunity there to create a business based on marketing other people’s products as an affiliate.  The thought of working completely from my computer and receiving commission checks in the mail sounded too good to be true.  And while there were plenty of too good to be true scenarios that existed at that time (and still today) I fortunately did not get caught up in one.   In fact, things started going very well with my new found hobby – Online Marketing, that I quickly turned it into a full time business.  In December 2010, I was able to cross an item of My Impossible List – Make $10,000+ in 1 week (not from Real Estate). I thought this was the perfect scenario…while many of our real estate deals were at a standstill,  I could spend 80+ hours a week growing the marketing business.  I had never been so excited about working before…some days I found myself working in front of the computer for 16 hours straight, without more than a 5-10 minute break to eat every 6 hours. There was a whole world of online business that I never knew even existed….they definitely didn’t teach you this in business school.

etrepreneur

Transition

So after a few years growing the online marketing business, I had acquired a lot of new skills that ultimately would alter the path of my business.  I learned more about how the business world actually works during the first year of my marketing business than I did in 4 years of business school.  Experience trumps education.  One of the new skills I learned was how to put together a website.  I would put together campaigns to market products online – and the focal point of the marketing campaigns were the websites I created. With this new skill I had learned, I saw an opportunity to create websites for other businesses and not just mine.  So after some research, I put together a list of potential clients I could help by designing or redesigning their websites & putting in place marketing strategies for their online presence.

Today

After creating a few websites for clients, I decided to move away from just doing online marketing for myself, and I formed Kinetic Media LLC – a web design, printing and marketing consulting business.  Over the past few years we have continued to grow the business by working with high ticket businesses and non profit clients providing a variety of services.  Whether its designing a new website, creating & printing marketing collateral such as brochures, flyers & business cards etc., or even developing marketing campaigns or sales funnels for our clients – we have a wide range of experience and get the job done – the right way, the first time. After working with many different clients, I found that I really enjoy working with businesses and non-profits to find the solution to their problems and delivering the finished product. 

So there it is – my journey to become an entrepreneur and business owner. While this was a long post, this is definitely the abridged version of my story.  Throughout my journey, there have been many ups and downs, some of which will be covered in future posts.  I learned a lot during each stage of my life, and changed courses a few times, but everything I have been exposed to has lead me to make the decisions & take actions that brought me to where I am today.

My Impossible List

Is this a bucket list post?

No. This is not a bucket list.

This is my impossible list – A list of things I think / or at one time thought were impossible to achieve, plus a few fun random items.  I’ve also included places I want to see and things I want to do. This list is not static and will evolve over time. It exists to provide me a challenge to constantly evaluate my life and what I am doing & where I am going.  I’m not going to fill this list with things just so I can check them off. Life is a journey, not a destination – this is purely about the journey & making it awesome.

To make this journey even more fun and to continue motivating myself to cross items off the lists, I’m incorporating some gamification mechanisms such as levels.  Every time I complete 5 items on my list, I’ll move up a level.  If I go over 6 months without crossing anything off my list, I move down a level.  

 

Currently at: Level 4

 

Level 4 Achievements

Level 3 Achievements

  • Go on an African Safari [March 2015 – Massai Mara, Kenya]
  • Live abroad for 1 month [Kenya, 2015]
  • Complete a Warrior Dash [April 2016]
  • Swim with Sharks [July 2016]
  • See lava flow from a volcano [July 2016]

Level 2 Achievements

  • Do a Jungle Canopy Zipline Tour [May 2013 – Playa Del Carmen, Mexico]
  • Take the Road to Hana (Maui, Hawaii) [July 2011]
  • Complete a 14 day juice fast [February 2011]
  • Help 100 Entrepreneurs Better Their Lives and Lift Themselves Out of Poverty Through Micro-Loans at Kiva.org [358/100 – 42 countries December 2010]
  • Make $10,000 in 1 week [12/2010]

Level 1 Achievements

  • Start & Own a Business [2010 – Kinetic Media LLC]
  • Participate in a Side-hacking Race [2008 – Red Bull Side Hack Race at Ok State! – This was too much fun]
  • 50,000 pushups in 1 year [2007]
  • Visit the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona, Spain [December 2005]
  • Live abroad for 10 days [Spain, 2005]

 

 

Life

  • Help 100 Entrepreneurs Better Their Lives and Lift Themselves Out of Poverty Through Micro-Loans at Kiva.org [358/100 – 42 countries December 2010]
  • Start a Non-Profit
  • Leave a $500 tip at a restaurant
  • Meet Someone New Every Day for 7 Days Straight | 20 days | 30 days | 90 days | 180 Days
  • Give away $1 million
  • Mentor someone
  • Live abroad for 10 days [Spain, 2005] | 1 Month [Kenya, 2015] | 3 months | 6 months | 1 year
  • Create a documentary

Health

  • Complete a 14 day juice fast [February 2011] | 30 day | 60 day
  • No Soda/Tea for 1 year
  • Body Fat below 8%

Fitness

Business

  • Start a SaaS Business
  • Start & Own a Business [2010 – Kinetic Media LLC]
  • Make $10,000 in 1 week [12/2010]
  • Create a multi-million dollar company
  • Write a book

Random [fun]

  • Become Fluent in Spanish | A Third Language
  • Become a Grandmaster of Memory
  • Learn to Backflip
  • Become an Expert Marksmen
  • Participate in a Side-hacking Race [2008 – Red Bull Side Hack Race at Ok State! – This was too much fun]
  • Swim with Sharks [July 2016]
  • See lava flow from a volcano [July 2016]

Exploring The World

  • Go to Every Continent [Africa, Antarctica, Asia, Australia, Europe, North America, South America]
  • Visit All 50 States in the USA [22/50]
  • Visit Every Place on This List
  • Visit 20 Countries | 50 Countries | 100 Countries | 150 Countries
  • Take the Road to Hana (Maui, Hawaii) [July 2011]
  • Do a Jungle Canopy Zipline Tour [May 2013 – Playa Del Carmen, Mexico]
  • Go on an African Safari [March 2015 – Massai Mara, Kenya]
  • Go to Machu Picchu, Peru
  • Visit Christ the Redeemer in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil
  • Visit the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona, Spain [December 2005]

 visited_countries

So there is it.  My Impossible I will come back to this list and continue to add items. Thank you to Joel over at Impossible HQ for the inspiration.

The Beginning

Yes, its 2014 and I’m just now starting a legitimate blog.  I planned on linking to my old Xanga Blog (circa 2005)  & Video Blog (2008), but they both were either shut down because of inactivity, or lack of posts – which is probably a good thing.

So I guess the whole “This is why I’m starting a blog” post is pretty cliche and boring to read.  But I suppose its necessary.

After being inspired by a post from another blog I read occasionally, I decided to follow suit and start keeping track.

Here is why I started this blog:

 

 

So this blog will serve as the digital repository where I document life events & adventures with my family and friends, as well as my musings on a variety of topics ranging from entrepreneurship, marketing, websites, book reviews etc.

I’ve never considered writing as something I enjoyed a lot, but for the sake of reflection and my future satisfaction I will give it a go.

Blog posts coming in the near future include: