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8 Universal Lessons I Learned From ‘Doctor Who’

By Bart Nigro

If not for Google’s creative doodle celebrating fifty years of Doctor Who, I may not have remembered the occasion. After all, fifty years is a long time for the time-traveling Doctor to be exploring the universe in one of his eleven (so far!) incarnated forms. When he first stepped into his TARDIS time-travelling ship, the world was a much different place (the show was first broadcast just one day after JFK was assassinated). Here are eight universal lessons I learned from Doctor Who

1. We’re All Limited By Our Minds…But Likable Nonetheless

Listen, there are no measurements in infinity. You humans have got such limited little minds. I don’t know why I like you so much.”

2. Relationships With Others Teach Us About Ourselves

“As we learn about each other, so we learn about ourselves.”

3. We All Need To Enjoy The Journey…And Make It Fun

“A straight line may be the shortest distance between two points, but it is by no means the most interesting.”

4. Always Be Willing To Change Your Mind (If You Find Out You’re Wrong)

“You know, the very powerful and the very stupid have one thing in common. They don’t alter their views to fit the facts. They alter the facts to fit their views. Which can be uncomfortable if you happen to be one of the facts that need altering.”

5. Computers Are *Still* Only As Smart As The User

“The trouble with computers, of course, is that they’re very sophisticated idiots. They do exactly what you tell them at amazing speed. Even if you order them to kill you. So if you do happen to change your mind, it’s very difficult to stop them from obeying the original order. But not impossible.”

6. Time Is Non-Linear…And Quite Messy

“People assume that time is a strict progression of cause to effect, but actually from a non-linear, non-subjective viewpoint - it’s more like a big ball of wibbly wobbly, time-y wimey… stuff.”

7. There Is Good And Bad In Everyone

“The way I see it, every life is a pile of good things and bad things. Hey. The good things don’t always soften the bad things, but vice-versa, the bad things don’t necessarily spoil the good things and make them unimportant.”

8. The Universe Is A Pretty Awesome Place

“Do you wanna come with me? ‘Cause if you do then I should warn you, you’re gonna see all sorts of things. Ghosts from the past; Aliens from the future; the day the Earth died in a ball of flame; It won’t be quiet, it won’t be safe, and it won’t be calm. But I’ll tell you what it will be: the trip of a lifetime.”

3 Business Strategies I Learned From Indian Casinos


By Bart Nigro

There are a number of Native American Indian communities throughout the state of Arizona. Even though many of these communities are located in remote areas, the tribes have managed to promote Tribal economic development through the use of gaming, with currently 22 casinos in the state alone. Here are three of their top strategies, which can be applied to any successful business.

1. Make the Most of Your Situation

The Native American tribes have taken the land they were allotted by the U.S. government and through gaming turned them into financial oases. They built casinos to drive revenue, and later expanded their resort settings with other amenities. The Gila River community in Arizona “owns and/or operates three casinos, a resort hotel, a spa, an equestrian center, two golf courses, an arts & crafts center, two tribal museums, an NHRA certified race track, a race-car driving school, and a racing-boat course.[1] In business the same rule applies. Regardless of your situation, business model, or economic outlook, have a strategy to succeed in the marketplace.

2. Draw Investors In But Maintain Ownership

Once the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act was passed into law in the 1980s, gaming on the reservations exploded from bingo parlors and lotteries into full-fledged Las Vegas-style resorts. But this didn’t happen overnight. They drew investors and other large public casino-operating companies. Harrah’s Ak-Chin Casino Resort near Maricopa, Arizona, is owned by the Ak-Chin Indian Community and operated by Caesars Entertainment Corporation. Every new Tribal casino required investments to get off the ground, some even from U.S. government grants. Investors in business are necessary to ensure success, no matter the size or operation. Maintaining ownership is vital.

3. Give Your Customers Want They Want

Flashy billboards visible from the Phoenix freeways advertising live music shows, concerts, comedians, holiday celebrations, fine dining and more create excitement. These casinos cater to the traditions of the locals, promoting a full venue of entertainment options in addition to gaming. Tribal owners excel in the secret of giving the people what they want. Many casinos also have sections where Tribal culture is on display. In business, regardless of the product, sales is your driving factor. If you’re not giving the people what they want you’re not going to be successful.

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10 Life Lessons I Learned From Benjamin Franklin


By Bart Nigro

Many of us have heard the saying “Early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise,” but fewer know that this wise advice came from none other than Benjamin Franklin. Yes, “founding father” of the U.S., $100 bill Benjamin Franklin. When Franklin wasn’t busy founding America, running Pennsylvania or their state university, being Ambassador to France, inventing the lightning rod, running the Post Office, or the numerous other things he did which would make this post much too long, he was busy writing sound advice on a number of life lessons. Lessons such as…

1. Know When To Speak (And When Not To)

“Remember not only to say the right thing in the right place, but far more difficult still, to leave unsaid the wrong thing at the tempting moment.”

2. Speak From The Heart

“The heart of a fool is in his mouth, but the mouth of a wise man is in his heart.”

3. Choose Your Time Wisely

“Dost thou love life? Then do not squander time, for that’s the stuff life is made of.”

“Lost time is never found again.”

4. Choose To Be Happy…

“Happiness depends more on the inward disposition of mind than on outward circumstances.”

“While we may not be able to control all that happens to us, we can control what happens inside us.”

5. …And Stay Happy

“Happiness consists more in the small conveniences of pleasures that occur every day, than in great pieces of good fortune that happen but seldom to a man in the course of his life.”

6. Get Along With People

“Be civil to all; sociable to many; familiar with few; friend to one; enemy to none.”

“He that would live in peace and at ease, must not speak all he knows nor judge all he sees.”

7. Pursue Opportunities For Success

“To succeed, jump as quickly at opportunities as you do at conclusions.”

8. Know How To Learn

“Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn.”

9. Learn From All And Be Content

“Who is wise? He that learns from everyone. Who is powerful? He that governs his passions. Who is rich? He that is content. Who is that? Nobody.”

10. Remember That Life Is Too Short (And How To Stay Younger!)

“Life’s biggest tragedy is that we get old too soon and wise too late.”

“We do not stop playing because we grow old, we grow old because we stop playing!”

Related: 7 Life Lessons I Learned From Herman Melville

4 Business Lessons I Learned From ‘The Shining’


By Bart Nigro

If you’re looking for a classic Halloween thriller that will scare the daylights out of you, look no further than 1980’s The Shining. From the creepy music and blood spilling out of the elevator doors, to the twin girls at the end of the hallway, to Jack’s gradual descent into madness, this film has it all…including tips on succeeding in the business environment. Here are four lessons I was able to apply from the movie…

1. Have A Mentor


When Dick recognizes a special ability in Danny, he teaches him that some places are like people…some “shine” and some don’t. We can all use a mentor in the workplace to help us learn and excel in our chosen field.

2. Have Healthy Work-Life Balance


Jack spent the winter working as caretaker of the Overlook Hotel, snowed in and locked away from the outside world, and it didn’t end well. All work and no play is not healthy for anyone. Make a healthy work-life balance part of your life.

3. Have A Support Group


Jack shares his discouragements with Llloyd, the ghostly bartender, looking for hope and encouragement. In business (and in life) it’s important to have special people in our lives for when times get tough.

4. Have A Plan


Jack didn’t have a map or a plan for finding his way through the hedge maze on the property. In our jobs, we need a plan to be successful with projects and milestones. And a backup plan is always essential for those unexpected circumstances.

7 Life Lessons I Learned From Herman Melville


By Bart Nigro

Herman Melville is probably best known as the author of Moby-Dick, an adventure novel about a tyrannical captain obsessed with killing the giant whale that bit off his leg. But he also wrote a number of other books, short stories, and even poetry over the years from a variety of different genres. Here are some of the things he’s taught me…

1. Just Be Yourself

“It is better to fail in originality than to succeed in imitation.”

2. Do Your Best

“I try all things, I achieve what I can.”

3. Improve Your Mind

“Is it not curious, that so vast a being as the whale should see the world through so small an eye, and hear the thunder through an ear which is smaller than a hare’s? But if his eyes were broad as the lens of Herschel’s great telescope; and his ears capacious as the porches of cathedrals; would that make him any longer of sight, or sharper of hearing? Not at all.—Why then do you try to ‘enlarge’ your mind? Subtilize it.”

4. Be Happy

“A good laugh is a mighty good thing, and rather too scarce a good thing; the more’s the pity. So, if any one man, in his own proper person, afford stuff for a good joke to anybody, let him not be backward, but let him cheerfully allow himself to spend and be spent in that way. And the man that has anything bountifully laughable about him, be sure there is more in that man than you perhaps think for.”

5. Choose Your Path

“The Past is the textbook of tyrants; the Future is the Bible of the Free.”

6. Consider Others In Your Actions…

“We cannot live only for ourselves. A thousand fibers connect us with our fellow men; and among those fibers, as sympathetic threads, our actions run as causes, and they come back to us as effects.”

7. …Even Though Others Can’t Always Be Trusted

"Consider the subtleness of the sea; how its most dreaded creatures glide under water, unapparent for the most part, and treacherously hidden beneath the loveliest tints of azure. Consider also the devilish brilliance and beauty of many of its most remorseless tribes, as the dainty embellished shape of many species of sharks. Consider, once more, the universal cannibalism of the sea; all whose creatures prey upon each other, carrying on eternal war since the world began. Consider all this; and then turn to the green, gentle, and most docile earth; consider them both, the sea and the land; and do you not find a strange analogy to something in yourself?"

Related: 10 Life Lessons I Learned From Benjamin Franklin

8 More Business Rules I Learned From Watching ‘Burn Notice’


By Bart Nigro

Burn Notice offers many valuable lessons that can be applied to business (see 8 Business Rules I Learned From Watching Burn Notice). Here are eight more business advice tips Michael Westen taught us from when he “used to be a spy”…

Be A Team Player

"For a spy, deep cover assignments often mean going into enemy territory alone and unarmed. If you want to survive you better have a support team you can trust watching your back."

Be Able to Multi-Task

"Spies are trained to keep track of multiple conversations at the same time. Standing alone as you eavesdrop is too obvious. You need to engage in a cover conversation near your target. Pure lip-reading takes years to master. But confirming what you’re hearing by checking lips is a much easier skill to pick up."

Always Have a Plan B

“When a plan goes wrong, you have two basic options. The first is to accept failure and abort the mission. That works best when you have the resources and time to remove personnel from the field. When you don’t have resources and time, you’re left with option two: Get back in there and salvage the situation any way you can.”

Create Work-Life Balance

“Whether you’re hunting down extremists in the mountains of Kashmir or tracking arms dealers through the streets of Moscow, the life of a spy takes a toll. So during downtime, you work out, eat right, and try to recharge your batteries because you never know what’s waiting for you around the next corner.”

Make A Good First Impression

“They say you only get one chance to make a first impression with an employer. Doesn’t matter if you’re a store manager, or a strong-arm guy, you’ve got to put your best foot forward.”

Choose Your Battles Wisely

“There are some fights you just can’t win. A force can be so overwhelming that no tactical approach in a fight is going to lead to a victory worth having. When you can’t win in a fight, sometimes you have to settle for making sure that if you lose, everyone loses. It works for nuclear weapons; it works for me.”

Keep An Active Network

“Work in intelligence long enough, you hang on to phone numbers. No matter who your enemy is there’s a chance you’ll need them tomorrow. Churchill and Stalin weren’t chummy in 1941, but once the Nazis marched on Moscow they got past their differences.”

Know How To Make Friends

“If you wanna make a friend, solve a problem for them. No problem to solve? Create one.”

5 Business Secrets I Learned From Watching Chickens


By Bart Nigro

Everyone should have the experience of owning chickens at least once in their lifetime. Not only do they provide daily eggs and keep the weeds and bugs under control, but they also give an entertaining and fascinating view into human dynamics. Insights such as…

1. People Always Want What They Can’t Have

Watch a chicken catch a bug. There may be dozens of bugs crawling on the ground below where the chicken is standing, but to the other chickens standing nearby there is now only one bug that matters…and they want it. They will immediately stop what they’re doing and begin chasing the chicken with the bug in its beak all over the yard. People aren’t much different, especially in business. Flash a little of what they want in the form of advertisements, incentives and promotions and they chase after you.

2. People Will Try To Take Credit For Your Work

Chickens are a sneaky bunch. Not only are the greedy but they also like to take credit for eggs that aren’t theirs.  And not only take credit for them but actually try to steal them and hatch them as if they were their own. A lot of people in the office aren’t much different. Keep your special ideas or plans to yourself until it is time to present them to the boss. Then the credit goes to you.

3. Everyone Wants To Work For A Strong Leader

Chickens like to have a strong leader behind them…the rooster. Some roosters are gentle and understanding and know it is their job to protect the hens and keep them safe. Others tear through the yard chasing them down. People are the same way. They like an understanding leader who meets the need, providing a safe environment and opportunities for growth.

4. Employee Accomplishments Need To Be Acknowledged

When a hen lays an egg, she announces it by squawking. Over and over again. Until the rooster crows in acknowledgement. That hen is waiting to be recognized for laying another egg. Praise works in the business environment too, and everyone likes to be recognized by the right people whenever doing a good job.

5. Team Work Is Most Effective

Even though chickens have their own independent streaks, take a peak inside a henhouse in the winter and you’ll typically see them all clumped together in a corner trying to stay warm. They’ve discovered that the key to not freezing is roosting together and using their feathers and body heat to protect one another. In business, team work is best as well, and studies have shown that five is an optimum number for group discussion. Team work also helps eliminate the culture of back-stabbing and fierce competition between peers.

5 Entrepreneurial Tips I Learned From Panhandlers


By Bart Nigro

A life on the streets isn’t something I’d wish on anyone. A continuous search for a next meal and a place to sleep, no safety or security, a general lack of all of the luxuries we take for granted…and always looking for a way to make money. Now I realize that not all panhandlers are homeless, but regardless there is much we can learn about their strategies that can be applied to our own businesses. Here are five such tips…

1. Find a High Traffic Location

Most entrepreneurs won’t be setting up shop on the corner of a busy intersection or the end of a freeway ramp. In fact, many entrepreneurs won’t be setting up a physical location anywhere. But what about a high traffic location online? Is your business represented on one or more sites that potential clients are visiting online, whether social media-related or other high traffic industry-specific sites? If not, get to where the traffic is.

2. Provide Something People Want

Sure, most panhandlers are strictly looking for free handouts, but the ones who are offering something probably won’t be on the streets long. Whether offering to clean windshields, play a guitar or other instrument, or even offering to work for food, people are more apt to give money if they get something in return. In your own business, find what people want and need. Then sell it to them.

3. Have a Catchy Ad

Do a random search for “panhandler signs” and you’ll see the ones that get noticed. Whether they’re creative, funny, outrageous or all of the above, the same technique can be applied to your own business. Just as it’s best not to be dishonest or trick people into giving money on the street, the same rule should apply for your business. “Will code HTML for food” isn’t just for panhandlers (see #2 above).

4. Respect Your Customers

Rude is street language. Not everyone you run across is going to be interested in buying, regardless of how great the sales pitch. And even those who do buy may not purchase the high ticket item. Whether it’s via the street, the phone or some other method, treat your customers with respect and thank them for their time. Rudeness kills a good reputation. You never know when they will be needing what you have to offer next time.

5. You Will Still Struggle At Times

Even those who are successful at panhandling don’t always make the money they need at the end of the day. It could be argued that they never make the money they need since all but a small few would be off the streets if that were the case. And just as they have times when making money is a struggle, that is something true for all of us…especially those of us who work for ourselves. So during these times, realize that things will get better.

8 Business Rules I Learned From Watching ‘Burn Notice’


By Bart Nigro

Now that Burn Notice has completed its seventh and final season, it’s time to take a look back at some of the great business advice Michael Westen taught us from when he “used to be a spy.” Great tips like…

Think Outside the Box

"Just because there are no windows or doors doesn’t mean there are no exits. The thing to look for is an air conditioner unit, that’s where the wall is weakest. Also, people watch doors; they don’t watch air conditioners."

Follow Your Instincts

"To tail someone, you need both skill and instinct. You need skill because the driving is tough; you can’t get too close and you can’t drift too far away. You can’t go too fast or too slow. You need instinct because every turn, every lane change, every bridge raises the risk of being seen. Anyone can be trained to follow a car, but it takes good instincts to know when it’s time to stop following."

Be Aware of Your Competition

"When you realize that an operation is compromised, that your enemies are on the move, you’re on the clock. You have to move as fast as you can to contain the damage and harden your defenses before it’s too late. Sometimes you make it in time, and sometimes you don’t. When you work in intelligence, the worst feeling in the world is knowing nothing. Being caught in something you don’t begin to understand, because it’s not the enemy you see that gets you. It’s the one you don’t."

Choose Your Network Wisely

"Finding a way into a criminal organization is about observing social dynamics. You start with a target. You’re looking for just the right person to approach. People in the inner circle are usually too tough to go after. Anyone with real power is bound to be cautious. Drivers and bodyguards are easier, but they usually don’t have real access. You want someone with enough juice to be hungry for more; someone desperate to make a move. In short, you’re looking for a frustrated middle manager."

Never Stop Learning

"When you work in intelligence, you get used to the idea that some information is worth risking everything for. You sign up for the lifestyle, or the chance to serve your country, or the millions of frequent-flier miles. But finally, it all comes down to putting your ass on the line to learn something."

Know Your Work Environment

"Every environment has its rules and customs, and your survival often depends on knowing them. In Russia, you never refuse vodka, in Pakistan, you always clear your dinner plate, and in prison, you’re careful about making eye contact. Too little eye contact, and you become a victim. Too much eye contact, and you become a threat. Either way, you’re never more than a couple of blinks away from getting a shiv in your back."

Develop the Right Skills

"Making yourself invisible when you need to is a crucial skill for a covert operative; it sounds exotic but it’s not like there’s a super-secret move they teach you at spy school that allows you to vanish into thin air. Often it’s just a matter of quick thinking, fast feet, and strong fingers."

Challenge Your Peers

"A great way to get people talking about their security is to put them on the defensive. Accuse a guy of having bad locks and before you know it he’s telling you where his motion detectors are."

Related: More Business Rules I Learned From Watching Burn Notice

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