Be Obsessed or Be Average – Chapter 2 Questions

I wanted to be able to access these questions anytime, anywhere, so I typed them up and put them here 🙂 Be Obsessed or Be Average (BOBA) by Grant Cardone…

Personal Interests

  1. What excites you right now?
  2. What’s so exciting to you right now that you would do anything, ANYTHING, to accomplish it?
  3. What bores you? That you don’t want to do…
  4. What is the thing or things that you have always wanted to do?
  5. What don’t you want to do, no matter the payoff?
  6. What do you do that causes you to forget to eat?
  7. What have you been interested in since childhood?

Money Motivation

  1. What are you willing to do for no money?
  2. What would you like to do for a lot of money? Your dream job…
  3. If money had nothing to do with your life, what would you do with your time?
  4. What amount of money would give you the security that you believe you need?
  5. What amount of money would you need to have choices in your life?
  6. What amount of money would you need to have complete and total financial freedom?
  7. What amount of money would you need to really make a difference for the better, not just in your life, but in the lives of others?

Skills and Talents

  1. What can you do better than anyone?
  2. What are some of your native skills?
  3. What have you always been good at?
  4. What have you always been bad at?
  5. What skills or talents do you have that you ignore?
  6. What are you terrible at, and shouldn’t ever be doing?
  7. What are you doing that is a complete waste of your time and talent?
  8. In what areas do others think more of your abilities than you think of your abilities?
  9. What are some skills you need to develop?

Market Research

  1. What is a product or service that you complain about repeatedly, every time you use it?
  2. What great idea have you had for starting a company or inventing some thing but you have not yet done it?


  1. What do you want to be remembered for 100 years from now? Hint: they won’t talk about how much money you had…
  2. What contribution can you make to society that you would be so proud of?
  3. What do you want to make sure people never say about you?

Other Inspiring People

  1. Write down 5 names of successful people that you admire.
  2. What are those people doing that you admire the most?
  3. What do all those people have in common with each other? What is the common link?
  4. What quality do you wish you shared with those people?
  5. What do you have in common with that list?
  6. If you could meet anyone, dead or alive, who would that be?
  7. Who is the most supportive person in your life today?


  1. What makes you feel good?
  2. What gives you energy?
  3. What activity bores you and does not make you feel good?
  4. What things are you doing that you later regret?
  5. What bad habits do you need to stop?
  6. What good habits do you need to start?
  7. What do you need to do more of that would make you feel better about yourself?

What if?

  1. If you were going to write a book, what would it be about?
  2. If you knew you couldn’t fail, what would you do?
  3. If you could be known for doing just one unbelievable, great thing, what would it be?

>>Pick up the book here: Be Obsessed or Be Average
>>Pick up the book here: Be Obsessed or Be Average

Using LiDAR to Identify Tree Species

The city of Seattle just had a plane fly over it, emitting lasers to gather a 3-D point-cloud image of the entire city. This is called LiDAR (it’s also a technology that’s being used in “self-driving cars”.  During a meeting with the company supplying us the data, it was mentioned that tree species could be identified using the data they pulled. I became a bit curious as to how tree species are identified via LiDAR.

One document I found was a doctorate dissertation by Sooyoung Kim titled “Individual tree species identification using LiDAR- derived crown structures and intensity data”. Although it was written in 2007, very old for the tech field, I believe the fundamentals will still be relevant. I picked this one because it was the only paper I found that included multiple methodologies for tree species identification (and perhaps I have a soft spot for other UW students). As a bonus, the data for this study came from the Washington Park Arboretum in Seattle – so it is likely that the methodology that worked in this study will also work in the rest of Seattle due to the fact that there will likely be many of the same species.

So, let’s jump into it! The paper outlines 3 different methods for identifying vegetation:

  1. Individual tree species identification using LiDAR intensity data
    1. Light intensity data – that is the intensity of the light that bounces back to the LiDAR device – is typically the quickest way to distinguish conifer from deciduous. Intensity of conifers hovers around 30% whereas broadleaved deciduous trees often have intensities of closer to 60%. This approach works best for leaf-off datasets, however… We have leaf-on data.
    2. Therefore, LiDAR intensity data has stronger potential for species classification when augmented with 3-D structural data of the tree. Having both leaf-on AND leaf-off data can improve the accuracy of this methodology.
    3. There are methods for isolating individual trees. Once these are used, each individual tree can be tested for height, crown diameter, stand level estimates, biomass, and stand volumes. To be honest, I don’t understand every word in this, but they are using the LiDAR data to automatically read the shape of the tree. This will be covered more thoroughly in section 2, below.
    4. This study got better results in March than in August. Also, they ended up using light intensity data to classify trees because they realized they could – even though it did not appear to be in previous literature mentioned in the article. So that’s cool!
  2. Individual tree species identification using LiDAR-derived structure measurements
    • Crown Structure Measurements
      • Height and crown diameters
    • Vertical Distributions of Laser Returns
      • Picture a cone. Picture passing LiDAR over a cone. You’re going to get many more laser point returns from the base of the cone than the top of the cone. So, the “Vertical Distribution of Laser Returns” assigns a height to each return and summarizes the tree by the number of returns per height range. I hope that makes sense… the explanation on page 68 confused the heck out of me until I read it several times.
    • Upper Crown Shape
      • This methodology is required for trees that are touching or close together… The portions of the tree that are touching another tree are ignored and only the upper crown is considered for measurement.
    • CONCLUSION: “The relative height percentiles could not separate broad-leaved and coniferous species although they could explain some structural characteristics for specific species. The length to width ratio indicated significant differences between broad-leaved and coniferous species.” Leaf-on data provided better classification accuracy.
  1. LiDAR-based species classification using multivariate cluster analysis
    • Supervised vs Unsupervised Classification
      • Supervised: the species are grouped in advance, and are used to classify future observations
      • Unsupervised: clustering is used to find and group similar data (trees)
    • This portion of the study was done using intensity data. The author recommends that people use both a leaf-on and a leaf-off dataset.

The data for the flyover we received was taken in late summer, with leaf-on conditions.  The company supplying us the data claimed to be very confident that they could supply us with accurate species identification. It will be interesting to ask them what may have changed since 2007 to ensure that we get the right information with only a leaf-on dataset (no leaf-off dataset). I am inclined to trust them, believing that their confidence was not a marketing ploy. Time will tell!

DRiVE – The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us

I’m just finishing up reading through a book called “DRiVE – The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us” by Daniel H Pink. It’s a quick read and presents some great scientific studies as little stories.

It was long assumed that extrinsic motivation was required for any task (e.g. a mouse will go through a maze to find cheese. A monkey will solve a puzzle for food and praise. A mapper will implement Portal to a new Org Unit for praise and satisfactory scores on the yearly review).
This turned out to not be true at all. Mundane, difficult, boring tasks can be goaded with rewards and punishments, absolutely. But rewards and punishments also can make creative, fun tasks into work instead. What’s more, the promise of extrinsic rewards has been proven in many studies to decrease creative & problem-solving abilities… Which is most of our work as GIS Analysts at an electric company.

Many newer, highly successful business models now rely on the fact that people are intrinsically motivated to do their jobs! (Google, Best Buy when it was booming, Amazon, some successful startups, etc.) People in this framework require pay that is competitive with the market, people need to live.  But there are more important factors in employee productivity and turnover rates. According to Pink, the Three Elements employees need are:

  1. Autonomy – The ability to choose some things about work; could be hours, location, type of work, etc. Notably: many companies have had success (Google, for example) in implementing time for employees to work on any project they wanted, no matter how unrelated it was to their typical work. Other companies have become ROWE’s – Results Only Work Environments
  2. Mastery – Some have called this the state of “Flow”. Surfing. Having your “head in the game” because the game challenges you and is what you love. You learn a bit more every week. This doesn’t have to be your job but you do have to get into the state of flow as often as possible. This is typically exercise for me. I work far better when I exercise rigorously & regularly… Which is strange because it has nothing to do with anything I do at my job. At all.
  3. Purpose – One member on my GIS Team at work has this down. She creates these great Story Maps for the RSJI department. The maps she makes for that department are a particular work of art; they are very fulfilling to her. One thing most teams could do to promote greater purpose in work is to set goals – with solid, borderline emotional reasons behind the goals.

The rest of the book is a tool set for implementing these big ideas into your life and workplace. I highly recommend the read if you get the opportunity! Just for fun 🙂

Risk Assessment

I had the opportunity to attend a risk assessment training through SCL. The employees at SCL can get a bit divorced from the financial and legal risks of large projects in their silos – no skin in the game – so SCL is also paying people to assess these kinds of risks. Here’s standard project management risk management, as noted from the training:

Risk Management

  1. Identify
    • This is brainstorming.  Assess all the risks. Invite representatives from every category of stakeholder to the table, or even better? All the stakeholders! Different groups of people will have different concerns about the project, which can be very valuable to note!
  2. Analyze
    • Write all risks like this: PROBABILITY & IMPACT of some EVENT, or PIE. Likelihood of the risk, cost of the risk (not just dollars but also time, resources, etc.), and what the risk is specific to its One risk may have multiple causes and these are actually separate risks (eg delays due to a labor strike vs delays due to late resources).
    • It may help to graph risks on a probability/impact chart (simply low to high). Analyzing the risks in this way will help you to make decisions in the next step.
  3. Respond
    • Determine the action, or response, you will have to the risks. Maybe you’ll be preventative, and if you can do that, that’s great! Maybe you’ll have a plan of action ready in the event that the risk is realized, and that’s great too! Maybe you decide not to do anything about the risk because it’s so small or so unlikely. The key is in thinking your response through ahead of time so you don’t lose momentum.
  4. Control
    • Go over the risk assessment on a regular basis. Make changes as necessary; risks may change (especially in our multi-year projects) and the documentation should reflect that.

That’s the long version, for multi-million dollar projects in the public sector. How does that apply to someone attempting to start a small business and grow that to a sizable and even a bit reliable? Take the example of someone who currently has the safety net of a job, or perhaps their parents are paying to put them through school and this person is motivated to build something on the side.


  • All the money you put into the business. You could lose it all. That’s paid up front and should never be put on credit. Only play with money you are willing to lose! There is a 90% chance that the first money you play with, you will lose! Don’t let that stop you.
  • Becoming successful will also make you very busy! I would say that there is a 99% chance you will be busier than you want to be at some point in time should you choose to take on an entrepreneurial endeavor while also going to work or school full time. One thing you can do to mitigate this is to be prepared to pay someone (friends, family) for help OR prepare to hire a virtual assistant as business starts moving
  • Being sued. There may be a 5% chance at most of being sued for copyright infringement or something else unless you’re doing something very wrong. The best thing to do to combat this risk is to prevent it. Do not use Google images to find pictures for your ads; there are open source & free pictures available through Pexels and other similar websites. Do not sell Disney, Nike, or other products with brands; sell generic stuff and move towards white labeling when possible. Etc.
  • You may quit your job. There is a risk that you will start making money on the side, so much so that you will want to quit your job. There is a risk… that you will make a decision? No need to place a percentage on a personal decision. This risk is entirely under your control. Don’t get sloppy at work. Become successful outside first, and use that to buy your freedom (and quit the rat race) as soon as it’s comfortable.
  • What if you quit your job and then hard times come on your business? There is a 30% to 60% chance that “hard times” will come to an entrepreneur.  Hell, a 99% chance that income will take a short dip at some point. We’ve all heard of algorithm changes in Amazon that made people quit FBA, incoming competition, and a million other things that will force an “adapt or die” reaction. That’s entrepreneurship. Some things to mitigate? Save up a year’s worth of living expenses outside of your company and not in a retirement account. The reason why should be obvious. Set up at least 2 or 3 streams of income after you have your first pumping strong. If on stream gets completely taken out? You’ll have 2 others to focus on and grow to cover the loss of the first one. Finally, you can ALWAYS go back to a temporary job waiting tables or some other entry level position you were doing before you took the jump.

There are likely other risks, these were the ones that came to mind for me. Go over risks like this with yourself. Fear of risks can keep you from performing optimally; your lizard brain takes over, you sleep in, get sick, and avoid making dreams come true. When it boils down to it? Making it as an entrepreneur is more freeing and safer for you than miserably, begrudgingly showing up at a corporate environment for 30+ years.

My First Online Sale

I set up a drop-shipping business. My first store was TERRIBLE; poorly designed, poorly branded, poorly validated, and the possible profit margins were low because I was following a “Free + Shipping” business model with no knowledge of how to convert first-time buyers into relationships that would come back to buy again and again. It’s tough! So much to build. My goal was to get some success as quickly as possible so that I proved it could work to myself.

Once I got my god-awful website up I proceeded to buy advertising on Facebook, and MAN were my first ads terrible.  I didn’t even write copy on them; I just put up a product carousel with pictures of the items being sold as well as their prices. I ran 10 ad sets at $3 per day.

Within a few hours, I actually made a sale. I profited about $4 or $5 net of ad sales… At the time.

It’s not actually THAT easy. I allowed my ads to run for a day, quickly sinking my profit from the initial sale. I was getting NO clicks. Like one or two; horrible Click Through Rate (CTR) by all measures, especially for a “Free + Shipping” product. I put out a “better” ad that increased my CTR substantially but did not convert. My first sale was a total fluke!

I’m currently working on a better strategy. I’m getting higher-quality products with larger profit margins. I’m writing copy for my ads and website – and specifically targeting (and offering a solution) to a common problem people have. I’m setting up my website in a way that should promote multiple items in a shopping cart. I’m branding the website and placing logos on the products in order to add legitimacy to the site as a whole.

My first sale was a total fluke. A sham! A failure, even. But it was a great learning experience for at least 3 reasons:

  1. I proved that this can work. I got somebody to click a link, look at what I’m selling, pull out their credit card, and buy it. My first sale was not a material success at all; I lost several multiples of my gross profit. It was an emotional success; it gives me the drive to push through all of the work that a working business model requires. Which brings me to:
  2. I learned that it’s not easy. For as lazy as I made it sound like I was in getting my first sale, I actually worked at it for hours each day over 2 weeks. I was only lazy relative to what it takes to build a brand, a website, write copy, and provide customer service in a way that works. Could someone start making money quicker than the way I’m currently doing it? Absolutely. But I’m setting up a framework that should allow me to make somewhat “evergreen” sales in a scalable way.
  3. I learned that I’m passionate about this. This drives me. I wake up early to work on my business. I work on my business after work. I work weekends. I never expected to have something light me up like this, but I’ve taken it on as a challenge for myself. And I’ll always be able to grow and push the limits of what I believe to be possible.

I recommend, no matter what you want to attempt in life, go try it. Right now. Swing at it. Dive into it. Tackle it. Set yourself up to get some success as rapidly as possible. Get lucky, work like a dog, make failure impossible, whatever you gotta do. And when you get there, you’ll have learned and experienced a lot. You’ll know what to change and you’ll get this incredible rush. Then? Chase that feeling into greater future success. That’s how you make your dreams come true.

Building A Brand

What would it take to build an image from the ground up? I attended a seminar last night put on by the Western Washington Chapter of the American Advertising Federation, AAF Seattle. I happen to be launching an apparel website later  this week, and asked for the best advice the panelists could give someone so fresh and new to the game. There was a lot of great information on the latest tools and technology; temporary methodologies which are important but will be irrelevant quickly.

I also received some advice that was a bit more like a diamond. This advice has been true since the history of brands. Here are the two KEY takeaways I got when I asked about building a new brand from scratch:

  1. Do one thing REALLY well.
  2. Continuity.

And these two things work best together, as a team.

Do One Thing Well

You want to do one thing so well that people will come back for it. Maybe it’s something as simple as telling jokes, or perhaps it’s information on a topic in which many people are interested.  It could be a service people have trouble getting elsewhere. They point is that you do this thing SO well that people would want to come back for it. It’s what you’re (or your brand is) memorably good at.

Do It With Continuity

Execution is key! Do the thing you’re great at regularly. Set yourself a schedule to do it weekly, daily, monthly, depending on your ability. Do it as much as possible, and even do some of it for free! Act like it’s your favorite thing in the world, the only thing you want to do, your purpose on this planet. Let people know when to expect you and you’ll have them coming back every time. Don’t focus on selling, just focus on giving.

How They Work Together

This will make you market like a celebrity rather than like just some company. People will become excited about you! They’ll come back wondering, “hat’s next? What’s next?” And you can sell something on the side. Gary Vaynerchuk put it like this: “Give value. Give value. Give value. And then ask for business.” People will buy from you if you have them coming to you regularly for content, and you also occasionally mention your store or something that makes you money (your store, your brand).

Thank you.

A big thank you to the people who loaded me with business cards and great advice after the seminar. You all seemed like great people. Nik Amar, Forrest Sallee of, Michael Huang, Philip Bruno of M&C Saatchi Mobile, and of course AAF Seattle. You all were a blast!

The US Incident Command System (ICS) – in Harmony with Project Management?

What do ICS and Project Management have in common? Answer: A lot.

The Incident Command System (ICS) is a planned response to any type of incident including natural disasters, terrorist threats, and large-scale planned events. ICS is a nationally standardized methodology (Canada has a copycat program by a different name) which allows responders to stabilize the situation, save lives, and restore conditions to their new normal.

I couldn’t help but notice a few correlations between Project Management and ICS as I sat in ICS-300, an ICS class. Here are some of the highlights:

  • Emphasis on Communication – Projects require communication for success. A communication plan is a standard part of the Project Management Framework. ICS allows for a Communications Unit within the Logistics Section.
  • Unity of Command – This is the idea that people should only have to answer to one boss. We’ve all seen this happen. Working in conditions with multiple bosses leads to passive-aggressive behavior and complacency. The importance of having clear accountability to one person or objective is huge. As a worker, decide on who your one boss is for the project and ignore the rest. As a leader, make sure that the people directly working for you understand their accountability to you, and delegate below that point as much as possible. Issues with those below the level of people who answer to you are actually issues with the people who answer to you; take it up with them.
  • Structure of ICS Team Addresses Many Portions of Project Management Framework – I’ll start by saying that the Project Manager is not likely the Incident Commander; the Project Manager’s role is likely closest to the Planning Section Chief, with some overlap in many cases to Logistics Section Chief and Liaison Officer (likely others at times). The Project Sponsor would be closer in role to the Incident Commander. A Public Information Officer would be the marketing or public relations division (or similar) in the Project’s parent company. The Operations Section Chief in ICS would be the Team Leader in Project Management; someone to have direct and regular contact with the Team Members – Strike Teams, Task Forces, Single Resources.

There are some minor differences, technical differences in paperwork come to mind. It may be that many attempts to create a formula for quality leadership will result in some resonance with these concepts…

There is a key takeaway for anyone involved in some long-term goal, lofty objective, or complicated project; every one of these ICS positions, or portions of the Project Management Framework, will be required. Problems will arise if portions are missed, or the project could fail. Planning to have every position fulfilled, either by YOU or SOMEONE ELSE, will keep even the craziest projects manageable.