Scott Stawarz personal blog

Improve your Retirement Savings

How can you improve your chance for a succesful retirement?

Retirement Calculator

“one of the best things you can do to improve your chances at a successful retirement is to use a free online retirement calculator”

via:  http://www.fool.com/retirement/general/2013/05/18/1-simple-step-to-dramatically-improve-your-retirem.aspx

Save 20%

Wade Pfau, professor of retirement income at the American College, which trains financial planners, has crunched the numbers to find a safe level of saving that would have worked in every historical market stretch going back to periods beginning in the 19th century.

He found that setting aside 16.6% of income and putting it in a diversified portfolio of [60%] stocks and [40%] bonds did the trick every time. (Good news: Employer matches count toward that savings rate.) That’s if you’re consistent about saving over 30 years.

A slow starter must ramp up higher — a 45-year-old with two times salary saved would have to go for 20%.

Savings Table
Let’s just say for a 40 year old who has no savings.
As I look at this chart, If this 40 year old wants 70% of his or her Final Salary,  this person would have 30 more years to work & save (accumulation phase) (retire at 70), and expect to live 30 more years in retirement (retirement phase) (die at 100), then this 40 year old must save:  23.27% consistently for the next 30 years (this savings rate includes any employer matches).  They would then invest this savings 60% in stocks & 40% in bonds.  When they retire, this person would then be able to take 70% of the final salary out of their savings every year.
The key to retirement savings: in your best Dory voice:  just keep saving, just keep saving, just keep saving, save at least 20%!

Seth’s Blog: Crash diets and good habits

The secret is showing up.

Your audacious life goals are fabulous. We’re proud of you for having them. But it’s possible that those goals are designed to distract you from the thing that’s really frightening you–the shift in daily habits that would mean a re-invention of how you see yourself.

Organizations can always benefit from better habits. Every day. Do that first.

via Seth’s Blog: Crash diets and good habits.

Self Reminder: practice intentionality

A simple practice of intentionality: before you do the next action online or at work, pause a moment, close your eyes, and mentally say your intention. Why are you doing this? Is it out of compassion for others, or yourself? Is it to make someone happier? To improve the world? Out of gratitude for the work and kindness of others?

And then, as you do the action, be mindful of your intention.

This is a small step, but in those few moments, you will be living an Intentional Life.

via » An Intentional Life :zenhabits.

A great reminder to think and act with intention instead of mindlessly.

Great Dad Action List

Love this list by zenhabits on what to do to be a great Dad

  1. Sing with them.
  2. Run around with them.
  3. Make believe with them.
  4. Read to them daily.
  5. Dance with them.
  6. Tell them corny jokes.
  7. Paint with them.
  8. Make videos where they are the star.
  9. Set a healthy example by being active and eating well.
  10. Show them how to be independent.
  11. Teach them critical thinking, rather than just obedience.
  12. Teach them how to teach themselves.
  13. Don’t nag.
  14. Don’t be overprotective.
  15. Show them you’re proud of them.
  16. Let them make mistakes.
  17. When they get hurt, use that moment to teach them how to deal with pain.
  18. Show interest in what they’re interested in, and don’t make it seem trivial.
  19. Show them how to work passionately.
  20. Spend some quiet cuddly time with them.
  21. Make them pancakes with faces.
  22. Have Nerf dart gun fights.
  23. Play board games.
  24. Take them on hikes.
  25. Play sports with them.
  26. Show them how to use a knife.
  27. Be honest.
  28. Honor your commitments.
  29. Love your wife, and treat her with respect.
  30. Be compassionate to others, and them.
  31. Be happy with yourself.

» The Tiny Guide to Being a Great Dad :zenhabits.

Simple question of Religious Faith

I’m a Christian, a catholic to be exact. I know its a strange time to question your faith. Don’t get me wrong. I have no doubt that God exists. I also believe in Jesus Christ. Here’s the thing, I don’t know enough about Mohammed to know if Islam is for real either. It certainly could be. Why do I ask this?

I’m a trained scientist. As a scientist, one is trained to identify a problem. Form a guess or an explanation for the problem. Then identify predictions based upon your guess. Finally test or experiment with your guess and observe objectively during the experiment.

Through life experiments, one edict I have found to be more true than not is when there are multiple hypothesis that are correct for the same problem, then the truth lies in the combination of all the hypothesis.

For example, when my income increases, it could be due to more work I’ve been doing. It could be due to my using my existing time wisely. It could be increased concentration, focus, and motivation causing more avenues of income. In reality, its a combination of all these forces.

I’m beginning to question faith from a scientific viewpoint. Who’s to say, that Judaism, Islam, Christianity, Buddhism, Hinduism, and Folk Religions are all right or all wrong. I venture to guess that each of them have some things correct & some things wrong.

If I believe that, then I must go a step further and wonder why am I Catholic? Is the sole reason for my being Catholic that my family raised me a Catholic. If I was born in India, would I be a hindu? If I was born in the mid-east, would I be an muslim?

Or would I have arrived at Catholicism and/or Christianity as my religion regardless?

Christmas time is here. We celebrate Christ’s birthday. Yet, I have decided to wonder about Religion.

Here’s the thing that worries me. Why did Christianity spread so fast and so far? Why is Islam growing so fast and so far in modern times? What if Fanaticism is really the cause of the growth of religion?

We’ve heard of many holy wars. The winner of the war proceeds to rule. If you are a person who wants peace and wants to live a normal happy life, wouldn’t you accept the religion of the winner of the war in order to seek the life of the least resistance. Additionally, wouldn’t the winner of the war try to convert or destroy the loser of the war?

You might ask, what brought this on at this time? Its something that’s been brewing in me for a while. Yet, I watched an historical fictional piece about the philosopher and mathematician Hypatia and the Roman time where Paganism, Judaism, and Christianity all converged in the city of Alexandria. I won’t give away the movie, but the movie provides a plausible and though-provoking example of how Christianity might have grown. Since, I am taking a more dedicated approach to my writing. I decided this was my topic today.

The winner’s of war God wins is not not the God I know. That’s not the Christ I know. Yes, we should defend our freedoms and our faith. Yet, we should also behave like Christ. Demonstrate compassion and love for everyone even in the face of danger.

I don’t know enough about the other religions, but I have to imagine much of the core message is the same: Be good to your neighbor. Treat them like you would treat yourself. If we all do that, Life will be good. Forcing someone to commit to a religion doesn’t seem the appropriate method of evangelism. That’s my deep food for thought today.

Yet, even with my questioning everything, I still Believe. I guess that’s why they call it Faith.

Topics, topics, topics & don’t discount yourself

Last week, I mentioned that I joined a mastermind group.  I’m not sure I’ll blog every meeting, but, for now, it feels right to write.  I want to listen to my gut, and go with the feelings.

Topics in the wind

This week, we were supposed to claim our topic.  We had some exercises to flush out our topic, and help us to decide what our cornerstone content will be about.

If I graded my assignment, I’d give myself a C-.  I didn’t really follow the directions.  The assignment, was really to identify 5 things that you know about your topic.

Now, I’m not sure what path my focus or passion should take next.  I’m torn between a few different routes I can take.  So instead of talking about 5 things I know about my topic and flushing out the details, I decided to brainstorm my topics.

The idea is to identify a topic that I can do with Elegant and Ease.  This topic must combine my innermost passion with my existing skills and knowledge to create products and services people will buy.

So, Here’s my assignment that I did:  Identify an Idea you have passion and knowledge around.

If you have more than one idea, pick up to three different ideas and complete the assignment using those ideas.

Here are my three ideas:

1) Train the Trainer: The Three T’s: Teaching Simplified
Use my 11 years expertise as a trainer and a former training manager to help others to become trainers/leaders in their own departments/businesses.  Teachers are not born, they are made.

2) Technology: Personable Training Online.
Use my expertise as a technology consultant to build some online classes to help others solve their business problems. Specifically related to Google Analytics, Search Engine Marketing, Search Optimization, Websites Development, Windows Server Administration, and SQL Server.  (Feels like a crowded space. Doesn’t everyone who needs to know, know how to do this stuff yet? )

3) Fitness, Food, Money: Habit forming
Describe the dynamics of competitive challenges and how group social pressure improves the likelihood of achieving your goals. Use this topic to drive users & traffic to my still in genesis-staged project:  dogdare.us a habit forming website.

4) Decision Making Alone.
The art of making decisions in today’s crowd-sourced society. Quick, decisive decisions are more important than ever.  At the same time, most of us don’t make a decision without consulting our friends, family, facebook, twitter, and web research.  How can we improve our decision making skills to improve our lives and businesses?

5) Read, Experiment, Implement, Repeat.
Becoming an expert in any field. It has been said, that 10,000 hours is the required practice time to become an expert. However, aimless practice will only make you an expert at aimless practice.  10,000 hours of practice must be deliberate. So, What is Deliberate Practice?  How can I figure that out for myself.  Read, Experiment, Implement, Repeat.

6) Parenting – Its hard.
A retrospective from a work-at-home father.

51% time, parenthood is the most sublime joy you’ve ever felt.

49% time, parenthood is an incredible pain in the ass.
That one percent makes all the difference.
via:  http://www.codinghorror.com/blog/2011/10/on-parenthood.html

 

I totally agree with this assessment of parenting.  I think most of our parenting articles, blogs, and books are written with females in mind.  With more educated fathers staying at home and/or taking a more prominent role in the parenting process, I think there’s a great opportunity for a parenting book that’s both humorous and informational regarding parenting from an active and involved male perspective.

How’s that for three topics?  Doh!  Did I forget to count?  I have six topics.  See.  if I wanted to, I could keep going and going with topics.  Now granted, I have to say a few of these ideas would require a little bit more research to flush out into large topics.  I understand now, that was the point of the exercise.  “Five things I have learned about…”insert topic here.  I didn’t really do that at all.  I just thought of topics and didn’t really follow it.

So, how do I narrow my topic chose so I can complete the assignment?

Now, There is one topic that I do with total ease and elegance.  The topic is Technology Training.  This topic is a mental battle. On the one hand, I read about lots of gadgets.  I read about the latest websites and follow hackernews.  I follow Apple, Google, Microsoft, Twitter, Facebook, and whoever else’s latest advances.  I aim to be on the cutting edge and technological futurist with business in mind.

Here’s the dilemma: the minutiae isn’t as passion driven these days.  In the beginning, I would code javascript just for fun.  I’d set-up networks just for fun.  I’d build my own database-driven web applications just to test out the new database or code that I’d just discovered.  I’m not doing that as much these days.  Granted, and I have a lot of different responsibilities now rather than when I was starting out in technology.

Yet, the more things changes, the more I feel they stay the same.   The minutiae and the individual details are the same.  Once you know the inner nitty gritty details of one web development language, you can learn them all.  Once you learn Windows 7, Windows XP, Windows 2000,  you can learn them all.  Once, I’ve learned SQL Server 7, 2000, 2005, 2008, mySQL, and others, I feel like I’ve learned them all.  I know I’m generalizing here and over-simplifying it, but really that’s how I feel.  I’m bored with learning the depth of technological details.  Its almost like been-there-done-that feeling.

See my dilemma is that my personal passion is waning on the details.  I tend to enjoy the bigger picture these days.  The grander scope.  In my consultancy practice, I do that just.  I get to dabble in the details while applying large vision of technology solving problems.

So, if I’m less passionate about the details I need to know in order to be a successful technology trainer.  Why even list this topic as a possible cornerstone content area?

First, I can do this with ease and elegance.  Learning new technology, passing technology certification exams,  using the new stuff in real-life where applicable, all comes easy to me. It merely takes a little bit of time.  Even then, if I needed to and the students were okay with the idea, I know I can teach a technology class even if I didn’t know the technology.  I’d learn the technology as I was teaching it, and the students would be learning too.  This is how easy technology training comes to me.

Second, I wonder if I’m discounting my talent.  Not everyone can teach and not everyone can discern technology.

Third, when I’m teaching a technology class, no matter how many times I have taught the class, I still get jazzed and fired up during the class.  My students’ love that passion.  I always say, if the students are bored listening, then I’m going to be bored presenting.   I don’t like to be bored.  So, I bring enthusiasm to the class. My Passion brings out the best in the students.

Why am I not sure still?  Competitors, Competitors, Competitors.

There are so many competitors in this field: I can list off a few just here

  • http://codeacademy.com/
  • http://peepcode.com/
  • http://teamtreehouse.com/
  • http://www.codeschool.com/
  • Tons of Technology Training Centers across the Country
  • Not to mention Universities and other Institutions.
  • http://trainsignal.com/
  • http://railscasts.com/
  • http://www.learnitfirst.com/
  • Oh yeah, who could forget all the free content at http://Youtube.com & http://Vimeo.com & http://www.ustream.tv/

Then there is:

  •  http://www.about.learnopia.com/
  • http://www.litmos.com/learning-management-system/sell-online-courses/
  • http://www.liveperson.com/experts
  • http://www.wiziq.com/courses/create/
  • http://www.odijoo.com/
  • http://www.prfessor.com/
  • http://edufire.com/
  • http://tenbux.com/

If I keep researching, I could find tons of competitors. It seems in this crowded and commoditized field that marketing and sales tactics will matter more than the content.

Another reason, I’m not sure about technology training: I just wonder how long I can keep learning new things and staying a head of the curve.  At some point, it seems, that the technology passes an instructor by. There are plenty of information technology employees out of work only because their skills were diminished due to the ever increasing cycle of innovation requiring increasing quantity and quality of technology skills.

As you can see, I’m really battling internally about using technology training as a cornerstone topic.  On the one hand it seems like the natural and best fit.  On the other hand, I’m not sure my passion lies there.  Is my passion diminished due to the competition?  Is my passion diminished due to my desire to move on and try something new?  I’m not sure.  So, its really difficult to complete assignments when I’m not sure about the topic to pick.

What do you think?  What’s the most marketable & best niche topic I have listed?  If you know me, where do you think my passion lies?

  1. Train the trainer
  2. Technology Training
  3. Fitness, Food, Money: Habit Forming
  4. Decision Making Alone
  5. Read, Experiment, Implement, Repeat
  6. Parenting – Its Hard!
  7. Other:

First Draft: About Scott v 0.1

I recently met with a newly formed master mind group involving some very new and old friends. If you are not familiar with a master mind group, I suggest you read Think and Grow Rich. Here’s the quick run down: A mastermind is a group of people who collectively work together to help us all achieve our dreams and goals.

This particular group was started by my friend Coach Culbertson.  If you have not had a chance, you must see coach talk.  He’s an amazing motivator and is rather entertaining.  Anyway, our first assignment was to create an About me page.

Now, I have written bio’s for myself before.  In fact, you can read my long-ish version of the bio at my company’s site: Octavity Services page.  In addition, you can read my shorter more personal biography at my personal blog:  scott.stawarz.com.  Or maybe, my Fitness biography at Simpleweight’s about page (okay, that last one needs some work). I’ve also written biography’s for various technology training center’s.

So, I wanted to go into this assignment with an open mind.  I wanted to clear my past, and just think about what I want to say as an expert and for the future.  So, here’s my very rough, First Draft.  I’m almost embarrased to post it, but part of my growth experience needs to be bringing this out in to the wild.


Scott Stawarz

Scott Stawarz Mountain Biking in Oahu

A passionate contemporary technologist and world-class problem solver, Scott helps business owners use technology to improve profit. He also teaches how to become a world-class trainer. Scott’s super power is converting technology & business language into layman terms that solve everyday problems. He has been a technology trainer for more than 10 years and has helped businesses get the maximum firepower out of their I.T. budgets. He set off on a quest to— (I really don’t know. If I actually knew what it was, then this would be easy. Still figure out what my quest is).

As a software engineering consultant, Scott helped Livenation.com, a $5 billion/year company, save gobs of money by converting an antiquated paper back-end ticketing process system into a web based application that is now used across the midwest amphitheaters and concert venues. As a Technical Trainer, Scott trained thousands of students on complex technologies to solve real-world problems. Besides speaking and teaching, Scott is an out-sourced Director of IT for Small Business.  He is currently directing experiments in Conversion Rate Optimization for improving website leads.

Scott’s ideas and work have been recognized by his parents, his brother, and his wife (change this?). In the past, he has worked with a bunch of people (Do I need to identify who?). Scott’s latest book, The Three T’s: Teaching Simplified (still need to write this), is available at Amazon.com.

Scott Stawarz has played jazz trombone since 1985. He has completed multiple olympic distance triathlons, and he thinks of himself as a polymath. As a fitness aficionado and technology geek, he is not afraid to admit to loving food, reading, and the internet. Tweet @scottstawarz to connect with him, he’ll be glad you did. And while you’re here, why not sign up for Scott’s latest FREE ebook, “I don’t know what the…(Still have to write that ebook) ? Just leave a comment or put your name and email into the box below, and I’ll send it to you when the ebook is written.  🙂


Like, I said, this is a rough draft. I’m still working on this, and I’m not sure which way I want to go. I have lots of passions: Fatherhood, Husbandry, Finance, Life, God and Spirit, Technology, Politics, Jazz, Fitness, Health, I could go on and on etc… Figuring out my passion is a challenge. Figuring out what comes easy to me and something that I do with elegance and ease is a challenge. If you know me, What do you think? what do I do with elegance and ease? I know its not dancing. I dance like a tin robot who’s been sitting out in the corn field getting rained on. Stiff as a board.

Parting thought

I often think deep. I often think about life.  In my thoughts, I wonder if the meaning of life is learning to become self-less and giving.  What do I mean?  When we are born, we are born selfish.  I mean we have to be.  As a baby, you only care about: eating, sleeping, pooping, and receiving love, of course not necessarily in that order. As we grow older, as a toddler and a young grade-school child, we actually demonstrate great compassion and self-less-ness, but we are still incredibly needy.  Then, puberty kicks in and of course, during these difficult teenage years, we become the center of the universe.  As we begin to age and have our own kids, we gradually learn to give.  We give ourselves to our wife, husband, friends.  we give ourselves to our kids.  We give ourselves to our country, our business, and for the lucky some, we give ourselves up to the divine.  Yet, are we giving because we’re selfish or self-less?  Eventually, we are humbled in our old age, and we relinquish our independence and become needy and learning to give up everything we ever received.

I’d love to hear your comments about my First Draft Biography.  I’d also love to hear what you think my talent is.  What do I do with elegant and ease?  When I have a conversation with you, what topic do you see my passion rising?