Monthly Archives: June 2011

Why I Chose Longboarding

You’ve probably noticed a lot more people riding around on wheeled platforms this year. They’re not regular wheels though, they’re extra wide, and extra soft. The soft, flexible, polyurethanes that we have today weren’t always around. Longboarding today owes its existence to the evolution of durable, yet affordable plastics, not to mention to the invention of trucks.

Of all the many benefits of Longboarding, here are the TOP 5 REASONS why I Longboard.

1. Short learning curve.

When you’re busy, picking up a new sport is the last thing on your mind. But to reap the many benefits of longboarding, it helps that the sport is damn easy to learn. In the words of a fellow Tristan, “There was literally nothing to learn” (in the context of me teaching my sister how to longboard).

WHY is it so much easier to learn than Snowboarding, Skateboarding or Wakeboarding?

The ANSWER may surprise you. Continue reading, or scroll down.

2. Worry-Free Six Pack

When you get into the habit of Longboarding, your six-pack just happens. Impossible? It happened to me, and it can happen to you.

I’ve only had a true six pack twice in my life. The first was when I was in my mid-teens. Back then, I had the self-discipline to go to the gym and do sit-ups 3 days a week. That gym was a dungeon, but it was all worth it for those coveted abs.

Then highschool rolled around. Along comes drinking, weed and income to buy fast food. Opps. That six-pack shrunk to a four-pack, then to two pack.

The beauty of longboarding is that your abs develop naturally as you move from A to B. You don’t have to think about isolating muscle groups, or cramping your back. Your abs develop on their own, because they help you progress in the sport. Your abs are flexed naturally, not forcefully.

What would you do if you stopped thinking about your gut, and started thinking about something else? Who knows. But thinking about your gut is a huge waste of time, no?

There’s nothing wrong with a gut, and you shouldn’t feel shame for who you are. But if you want a solid core, and you’re like me and just naturally lazy, taking up Longboarding will surprise you in more ways than one.  Your woman (man, or lack there of) will thank you for it.

3. Shorter Commutes.

If you’re like most recent grads, you probably take the bus, or public transit to get to work. (I’ll get to you car and bike people in a minute!) The problem with transit isn’t just the speed of the vehicles. Admittedly, the transit stops slow you down, but in many cases transit saves you time because transit vehicles often have the luxury of avoiding traffic with dedicated lanes or by being underground.

What really kills transit as an efficient transportation option (in terms of total trip time) is traveling to and from the stops! Longboards really cut back on this time. Your walking time can be reduced by 2/3rds, with a longboard. Easy. And what about those days when you get up a tad too late and you miss your bus? No sweat- beat it to the next stop! More often than not, you can catch up to the bus with your longboard, and save your late ass from having to make up an excuse. Longboarding is a refreshing way to wake yourself up.

Then there’s the time you save walking in your neighborhood- getting to and from stores, your place, restaurants, the post office, fast food, the bank and so on. Individually, the trips don’t seem like much – 10 minutes saved here, 2 there – but collectively, small savings can free up a lot of time. I calculated that I save 30 minutes per day by longboarding around my neighborhood. That’s a 90 hour savings for a 6 month season (seasons are generally 8 months in Canada, but I took out 2 months to account for rain days).

So longboarding frees up an extra 90 hours in my life, what will I use that time for? Well, I’ll use it for sleeping in. I’ll get more work done in a day. Relax more. Read more. Socialize more. What would you do with an extra 90 hours?

Bike People. I hear your skepticism. Why not get a bike? You murmur. Bikes are, after all, faster than longboards. You’ve got me there.

Here’s the thing. The average speed you travel is not the only factor at hand. Disagree? Then might I suggest you take an airplane to work? Clearly there’s something else at play here- albeit exaggerated in the plane example. Speed isn’t the only factor that affects how long it takes to get from point A to point B.

Taking an airplane would be absurd traveling across town to your office. Why? Because you can’t walk out your front door and onto a plane. You have to set up your flight, and get to and from the airports and wait for your bags to finish rotating around a metal conveyor belt. Waiting, security and boarding will eat away at your time. Now, at sufficient distances, taking a plane does make sense. At some distance, a plane and a car actually take the same amount of time in total.

Total Trip Time = Distance /Average Travel Speed + Set Up Time + Put Away Time + Delays

Now, unlike bikes, with longboarding, you can ride right out the door every single trip. (Most people don’t keep their bikes in their front closets.) And when you’re on a longboard, you can take shortcuts that bikes simply can’t pull of. Bikes make sense for distances of >1 KM. (up to a certain point)

Longboards make sense for distances <1 KM.

I drive. Not a ton, but enough. Cars are good at what they do, and since they’re a permanent fixture of you place of residence, the set up time is pretty modest. But what about parking…

Parking kills your time gains. Looking for it, walking from it, paying for it, defending yourself for where you do it. Don’t even get me started. But hey, you’ve gotta do what you’ve gotta do. Parking is one of those annoying facts of life and owning a car. But you can still save time with a longboard! I longboard to and from my dad’s car wherever I go.

Most people don’t associate time-savings with Longboarding. But here’s the catch- when you’re doing something to save time, you will naturally do it more. Commute your gut into a six pack, and save time in the process.

3. Sweet, sweet carving.

I’ve cross-stepped around the biggest selling point of longboarding. You can carve down a street, the way you carve down a snow-covered hill. You can even propel yourself across mostly flat terrain. No holding onto a rope behind car, though that does sound like fun. I never thought it would be possible to feel a smooth road in the same way that you feel power on a hill, or perfectly flat water at the cottage. I was wrong.

4. The terrain park is already built.

Just take a look in your backyard. If you’re like most people, you live in a city. Your city is your playground. I guarantee that if you live in any decently sized metropolitan area you will discover a ton of great longboarding spots, that are already there!

Board Sports are my thing. I was weened on Waterskiing, and have indulged in Skiing, Snowboarding, Surfing, Wakeboarding, Kneeboarding and Wakeskating over the years. I was never a fan of Skateboarding because I didn’t have the patience, or the tolerance for pain. The fact of the matter is, these sports are great, but I can’t live in the city and get any good at the same time. They simply aren’t accessible. I can’t wakeboard home from the bank, though if anyone finds a way to do this, kudos! Drop me a line.

5. The price is right.

You can get a decent complete for $250. And the nice thing is, you aren’t paying for gas for your boat or for lift tickets. There’s barely any maintenance and you can use the helmets and pads you likely already own. And if you substitute transit, for longboarding you can put those savings towards a better board. Then there’s the value of your time.

Bottom Line: When it comes to board-sports, you simply can’t beat a longboard in terms of value. I discovered Longboarding last year and am on my 2nd season. Today, I’m maneuvering the streets in ways I hardly thought I was capable of last year. It’s really that easy.

5. bonus; help the environment by consuming less fuel.

I’m not saying a longboard the solution to the environmental crisis, but it’s a step in the right direction. The less we burn the better.

Your answer…

So why is Longboarding so much easier to pick up?

Simple- accessibility. Unlike Wakeboarding and Snowboarding, you can typically longboard within 2 minutes of walking out your front door. The result? While the sport might not be THAT much easier pound for pound, it is much MUCH easier to get the time in. Not to mention, you save yourself all the extra work and energy involved in putting on snow gear, or filling up your boat with gas (and recruiting a spotter) every time you want to go out. That effort can be redirected towards getting better, and getting better faster.

And what makes it easier than skateboarding? Cracks. Longboards can ride over cracks with ease, (due to the big urethane wheels). Skateboards can ride over cracks too, but for beginners, cracks can bite, and seriously turn you off the sport.

And lastly, if you’re from Canada, check out our commerce store. We live and processing orders as of Friday August 19, 2011.

Moving Forward

Plunder Ventures is gathering up steam to launch its first venture! Stay tuned. We will be launching very very soon.

Let me give you a hint…

We are going to be wheeling out our first products within the next few weeks!

The Sailboat & the Kayak

This weekend I took a trip to my friend Alizee’s cottage (pronounced Ali-zé). We were all chilling around the dock, when she set out with a friend to take a trip around the lake on her sailboat, the “Fiesty Spirit”. Sometime later, I decided that I was absolutely sick of sitting around the dock doing nothing. I made it my mission to kayak my way towards the girls and surprise them with a casual “what’s up?”

While kayaking, I came to the profound realization that the experience was a great metaphor for goal setting. Let me elaborate.

I was decided. I set out to catch the sailboat. I knew what the boat looked like, but had no idea where it was or exactly how I would catch up with them. I only had the knowledge that I would have to paddle across the lake and away from the cottage.

My energy was high from the get go. “This should be easy” I thought, as I powered through the waves, releasing a ton of energy in the process. It was hard work getting my boat out into the middle of the lake. But as I paddled, I quickly realized that I the sailboat was no where in sight.

At this point, the metaphor really starts to kick in. The sailboat was my goal. It’s probably a lot like your goal when you were starting out. When you first embark on a goal, you start out with only a vague picture of what your goal actually looks like. You build up the goal in your mind, and imagine what it will be like once you realize your ambitions. You may have a strong understanding of what it is, and why you want to get there, but you’re not there yet. It’s an idea, a mission, or a vision. If this isn’t the case, then you haven’t begun the journey at all, and you’re still on the dock drinking a corona.

Like you, I had started out ambitious, but later found myself stuck in the middle of a goddamn lake with the sailboat nowhere in sight. I stopped paddling, rested and reflected on what to do next. And, as always, thoughts of anxiety and self-doubt struck, prompting me to consider taking the lazy route and heading back to shore.

Somewhere and somehow, I found it within myself to persevere. I continued to paddle into areas of the lake that my goal, the sailboat, could be potentially hiding. What’s obstructing my view of that boat? Perhaps they’re behind that island, or down that channel. Eventually, after a good 20 minutes of exporloring, I saw my goal far, far in the distance. It was a white flickering sail on the other side of the lake. “Fuck” I thought. “That’s far”

Now that my goal was in plain sight, I decided that now was the time to go. It was time to align the direction of the kayak with the sailboat and travel towards it at full steam. Here’s the lesson; once your goal is in plain sight, you have a more realistic understanding of how to get there, and the best route to take. This is your opportunity to take action.

Remember. Your goal is still aways away. This is the time for you to decide to quit or stick. Can you get there, and will you be motivated to persevere? In the words of Seth Godin, this is the dip. If you determine that your sailboat is too far away, the currents are too strong, and the boat is moving away from you too fast (and you can’t possible head back), this is your time to quit. In poker, this is knowing when to ‘fold em.’ But before you quit, reflect on how you will feel once the decision has sunk in. Will you have learned something? Will you make the same mistake again? Whether or not you think you deserve the feelings that accompany that decision, you will feel them. You will feel disappointed, failed, and incapable. You will feel like a quitter, because well, you quit! And your mind will punish you for it.

But in my case, I knew that I could get there. The winds weren’t too strong. The boat was drifting around, not speeding away. Yes, the sailboat was far, but I had a kayak! I had strength, determination, will power and a damn good vehicle to get me there. I had, what psychiatrists refer to as “self efficacy” – the conviction that I was capable. I still wanted to get there, and knew what I had to do. Surprising my friends was worth the effort, and besides, it would make for good reflection in the future. I thought “at the very least, I will get some more exercise, and grow” Here’s the lesson; always take the attitude that when pursuing difficult goals, failure is an option, but one that is a last resort. The failure of a difficult goal should always bring you closer to other goals along the way.

So with my goal in sight, I paddled hard for 15 minutes towards the sails. With my kayak aligned, I gained some distance, but I was soon disappointed with my progress. As I got closer to where I thought my the boat was when I first aligned the kayak, the boat moved and got farther away. You may have experienced something similar in pursuit of your own goals.

So what does this mean for you? Well, remember that your goals are never static. They move in response to a changing environment; the winds of change. In pursuit of where I thought my goal was (or, where it was when I first saw it in plain sight), I failed to account for the fact that my goal was actually moving. Remember, your goals will change and move, often moving farther away from you in a direction you can’t predict. So what’s the lesson? Always keep your eyes on your goal. Anticipate where your goal is moving, and intersect it. And, whenever possible, set goals that are naturally moving towards you on their own.

In fact, this is exactly what I did. I quickly realized that the boat was moving back and forth, but in a predicable direction. I could then adjust my course so that I would end up where I thought the sail boat would be, in the time it took me to get there. And as I moved in that direction, I constantly looked to see if my predictions of where the boat was going matched the reality of the situation.

So what happened? As the sail boat became clearer and bigger and my field of vision, so did my understanding of its movement. Think about a time when you pursued a goal, and during the pursuit, the goal actually got farther away! The more distant your goals are, the less predictable their movement will be. This is true for all distance objects, whether they be galaxies, sailboats, or your life’s ambitions.

The point is, remain flexible with the path that will take you towards your sailboat. By changing and adjusting my path as I got closer, I was able to use the new information to revise my rough estimates of speed, drift and pattern, and plot a more accurate course towards the boat. This meant that I could reach my goal faster, and with less energy. The same is true with any goal – the more distant it is, the more you will need to revise your route as you get closer.

As the boat became even larger in my field of vision, so did my motivation. My stamina and drive improved as I knew I would soon be at my goal. However, I noticed that by the time I was very close, about 10% of the way there my motivation plummeted. Like the tortose and the hare fable, it’s easy to get lazy when you’re close to the finish line. This happens all the time, especially as you near the completion of your goal. Your mind might feel like its finished, but you’re not. Here’s the lesson- don’t quit when you’re steps away from the finish line.

And another thing. I think the moral of that story is bogus! The hare should have won! The moral should be “if you’re the hare, don’t take a damn nap in the middle of the race,” not “slow and steady wins it.” Slow and steady looses it, if the hare is driven enough to power through the last stretch!

Both Brian Tracy and Jeffory Gitomer emphasize task execution. Recalling on their words of wisdom, I pushed though the final few meters of water, powering towards the sailboat and impressing those watching on the sidelines. The end is the most important part of the race. Finish what you started.

I got to the boat, and my mind, flooded with endorphins, gave me a pleasant feelings of self-satisfaction. These natural highs are well worth the effort, believe me. You’ve probably felt them after a great work out, or after winning in some form or another. This is your body’s way of conditioning success, and rewarding you for your actions.

When I was on the boat, Alizee told me about how they sail in a zig zag pattern. This was news to me- I had no idea, while on my journey, how or why the sailboat was moving back and forth. This ignorance underscores an important point though. Had I known before leaving the shore how the sailboat moves, I would have reached it faster. While I was able to figure out its pattern on the way, it would have saved time, and been able to take a more direct route had I understood how the boat moves.

Learn about your goal, what it will take it get there, how its moving, and how many other people are heading towards it. Plan ahead (both in terms of your vehicle to get you towards your goal, and your route), and maximize your chances of success on the outset, however you can. The more you understand about your goal, your environment and your direction, the better you can plot your course of action, and predict change over time. All the while remaining flexible and aware of your changing environment and circumstances, in relation to your goal.

In reality, your goals won’t be as easy to achieve as in this example, especially your long term goals. Furthermore, they won’t be easy to set. You might not know what they are until you’re in the middle of the lake. Just remember, without tracking where you’re going, where your goal is going, and how you’re getting there, you’ll be kayaking all day, and you won’t find your sailboat for any reason other than dumb luck.

And in the end, if you don’t ever set a goal to begin with, you’ll be on the dock with everyone else. Or worse, you’ll be stuck in the city doing paperwork.

Welcome to Our World

So you might wonder: What is Plunder Some? What is being plundered? Does all this plundering actually hurt anyone in the process? The answers may surprise and captivate you!

First off, we the founders – Andrei Calinescu and Tristan Parlette – firmly believe that the site needs to exist. Presently e-commerce options are very dull and ho-hum; there’s too much to choose from. It seems like they’re all over-compensating for something by offering a staggering amount of selection aimed at every imaginable demographic and their myopic cat-loving grandma.

So who would you trust to cut through this complex and imposing  tangle of lame storefronts and crummy product offerings to bring you a hand-picked shortlist of the finest items for the discerning online shopper that demands only the coolest and smartest-designed products to add value to their daily life?

Allow us to introduce ourselves. Tristan and I are just the type of people whose tastes can be trusted by the online shopper that thought they had and seen it all. Unequivocally known as gurus of cool products among their social networks, this dynamic duo met at the University of Western Ontario and shortly thereafter discovered their shared love for amazing niche items that were yet unheard of among the general populace. Frustrated with the cumbersome process of navigating the treacherous high seas of the Internet to obtain this coveted booty, the two dreamt of world with a trustworthy online retailer not relying on bombarding every possible demographic with tens of thousands of products. They realized what was needed was a crew with the courage to sift through endless masses of products and plunder only the finest offerings available. The trendy active generation of today is hungry for change. Who wouldn’t want to be known as “The Friend with All the Cool Stuff”? Now you too can be this mythical figure!

We’re building this site for you and for ourselves. We’ve always had an innate drive to acquire or plunder the finest loot there ever was. We will only present you with a list of meticulously screened products that creatively solve everyday problems and enhance your daily grind with novel and ingenious solutions. These are products we’d love to have in our own lives, made accessible to the world!

Rest assured that no one will be harmed in this process, except for the “Wal Marts” of online retail. We will stand out as the treasure trove of the Internet. Such a mighty list of new and ingenious products the world has never seen. We welcome you aboard and will keep you posted!

Okay so I’m green…

This blog will happen, soon or sooner or later… hopefully soon.

I will  release my ideas, one at a time, into the Internet. It’s not an easy thing to do; they’re mine after all. I will also be spreading other people’s ideas, since I’ve already discovered so much.

USE STUMBLE UPON. Learn about everything, discover what you don’t know you don’t know, and alleviate your boredom.

Please stumble responsibly.

Productivity Idea

I’ve started listening to Brian Tracy’s audiobook “goals” in my free time. I highly recommend it, especially for ambitious people who want to get ahead in life.

While I’ve known for sometime that goal-setting is one of the key principles in getting ahead, I’ve always struggled with implementing a system that isn’t a complete waste of time. Tracy has some suggestions (mind you, I’m only on chapter 9), such as following the 80 – 20  rule and setting SMART goals.

For those who aren’t familar, 80 – 20 just means that you should spend 80% of your time executing and 20 % of your time planning goals. Apparently for every minute you plan, you will save 10 in execution. It doesn’t surprise me. I’ve had a mentality “think smarter, harder” for some time now.

SMART goals are from psychology. Basically you want to set goals that are specific, measurable, attainable (but difficult), relevant and time-bound. There are many variations on this, feel free to wikipedia them.

The problem with any of these systems is the great time and effort it takes to track and manage your goals, and to fit them into your current system of managing and accounting for your time. You probably have many friends who are vying for your attention, family members who need your advice, and business colleagues who need you to get things done last minute. Who know what your sitch is, the point is, life often gets in the way of your goals. On top of all that, you’re tired, you may have other peoples’ goals in mind (or pets’), or you might have level of addiction to coffee or weed or alcohol or video games or something else that is eating up your time and your energy in a way that doesn’t bring you closer to meeting your goals.

So when you do finally get around to working on your goals, there are a million reasons why you’re too busy or tired, and you can spend the energy to finish tasks you probably won’t complete anyways. Sound familiar?

While my life’s goals were never THAT unreachable that I couldn’t motivate myself to work on them, it was always unnaturally difficult.

As an entrepreneur, I’ve been taking my problem-solving approach and applying it to various areas of my life. And boy, did I find one gem of a product. I’m not trying to sell you, I’m just trying to share.

It’s called “hiTask.” I’ve done my homework, checking out basecamp, microsoft project, remember the milk, producteev and others. hiTask was the best I found (not to say the others don’t have their merits). It integrates with Google tasks and calender, it is simple, efficient to use, intuitive, and very very very useful. It allows you to set the priority of your tasks, input multiple tasks at once, categorieze the tasks by project, create sub-tasks, input time estimates (and track your time), assign tasks to others and generate reports. The best part is, all of this is free under their basic membership option!

I spent about 3 hours migrating my tasks and to-dos for my business over there, and I know it will save me a world of time!