Browsing Tag: advice


    18 Men & 18 Letters on an 18th Birthday

    December 16, 2015


    My son turned 18 years old today. For a boy, that’s a tangible step toward manhood — a special occasion that is worth honoring and celebrating. It should be a Big Deal.

    About a month ago, I invited 17 other men to help me make it a Big Deal. I asked them to write a note/letter to Sean and gave them some ideas to get the juices flowing:

    • What do you know now that you wish you knew when you were 18?
    • If you could go back and talk to your 18-year-old self, what would you say?
    • What advice would you give to a young man on his 18th birthday?

    I can’t claim ownership of the idea. It was mentioned by the father of a young man who was on a video that I watched a couple years ago while taking a men’s class at Bethel Church. As soon as I heard it, I knew I wanted to do it.

    So I sent out letters before Thanksgiving — yes, actual snail mail letters! — to 17 other guys, a few from the McGee/McGann family and the rest good friends. Some are friends from all the way back in college, some are much more recent friends. Some of the men know Sean, and some don’t. Likewise, Sean knows and has met some of them … and some he doesn’t know at all. Some are Christians, some aren’t. Some are conservatives, some are liberals. They ranged from 30+ years old to almost 80.

    I asked them to write as little as a paragraph or two if that’s all they had time for, or as much as several pages if they felt so inspired. Most wrote several pages. A couple also sent back gifts, which was incredibly generous. But the most important thing, in my opinion, was the time that they gave to share their wisdom and experience with the next generation.

    All 17 men accepted the invitation, and all wrote wonderful things for Sean on his 18th birthday. Below are 18 of my favorite pieces of wisdom/advice, which I’ll present in random order and without attribution, because I didn’t think to ask the men for permission to make their words public and associate their names with those words.

    1. Don’t try to emulate or become what someone else is, be the best Sean McGee you can.

    2. Don’t believe you’re entitled to anything. You must work for it. Everything.

    3. Fortune favors those who are prepared.

    4. Always remember there is RIGHT and there is WRONG.

    5. The older I get, the more I realize that The Beatles knew the secret to life: “All you need is love.”

    6. Don’t worry about your future, but do care about it.

    7. Make use of every single moment you have.

    8. Somewhere along the line I woke up one day and realized that life was a choice. A choice to be happy instead of sad, a choice to do rather than not, a choice to have deep and meaningful relationships that could uplift me rather than not.

    9. Put down your damn devices. Be with yourself. It is difficult. It is good for you.

    10. I didn’t find what I was supposed to do with my life until I was 37. You’ve got time. Try everything.

    11. When you are approaching 40 and looking back on what you’ve accomplished so far, be able to say to yourself, “I have no regrets. I’m proud of where I am and what I’ve accomplished.”

    12. With your adult life unfolding in front of you, you have the great privilege to pick a track to run on. I would encourage you to really pick a course that goes along with what makes your heart jump. If you have passion for something, you’ll fully engage in it and become great at it, and people will pay for greatness.

    13. Make good choices about what you’re going to do, of course, but pretty much say YES to opportunities to travel, learn new things by having hands-on experiences, and by helping others. Those things will shape you into a smarter, kinder and more compassionate person in the years ahead and they will help you learn to adapt to the changes in life you’ll surely experience.

    14. Make it a priority in your life to treat women as equals, not objects. Show respect by saying NO to places, products and temptations which denigrate women, which cast them as toys or servants or trophies.

    15. Reading good books is important and feeding your mind with positive thoughts will help you in your life. I am sure you have heard the saying “garbage in, garbage out.” Well, feed your mind with good things and good things will come out.

    16. Don’t take the easy way out when faced with tough decisions. The hard way is almost always the right way.

    17. Do admit that, even though you’ve been brought up going to church, you have doubts. God made us and lived in our shoes as Jesus, and knows our difficulties and doubts. It’s no use pretending we have it all figured out.

    18. Draw outside the lines, laugh, cry, serve others, make great friendships and live the best life you can ever live.

    Gentlemen: Thank you from the bottom of my heart for giving your time and energy to help my son have such a memorable 18th birthday. It means the world to me.


    How to Add Your Photos to Yahoo’s Weather App

    April 22, 2013

    Yahoo launched a new weather app last week, and it’s getting rave reviews. Pretty amazing, because there’s only so much you can do when it comes to presenting weather info, right?

    What Yahoo’s doing differently is crowdsourcing stunning photos from Flickr users. Here are a couple screenshots I took last night:


    Every image is credited to the photographer in the lower right, and that credit links to the photo page. (The credit is easier to see in the app than in my screenshots.) So, while Yahoo isn’t paying photographers for these images, they could be sending some nice traffic and exposure. And that leads to the obvious question:

    How Do I Get My Photos in Yahoo’s Weather App?

    1. Sign up for a Flickr account, or sign-in if you already have one.

    2. To have your photos considered, you have to be a member of the Project Weather group on Flickr. Join that group.

    3. Submit your best weather-related photos to the group. Your photos won’t automatically show up in the group. Yahoo has a team of moderators that reviews images for possible inclusion in the Yahoo Weather app.

    In addition, there are some photo-related guidelines you need to know about. These are detailed in a Welcome/Help message that’s posted in the group. The guidelines include:

    a) The photo should depict one of these weather conditions: Clear, Cloudy, Rain, Storm, Fog, Snow

    b) People shouldn’t be the focal point of the photo. If it has people, they shouldn’t be identifiable.

    c) Horizontal-shaped photos should be at least 1024px wide by 554 px high

    d) Vertical-shaped photos should be at least 680px wide by 1024px high

    e) Square photos should be at least 1024px by 1024px

    f) No borders, frames, timestamps, etc. Just clear, unadorned images.

    g) THIS IS IMPORTANT: Your photo has to be geotagged using Flickr’s map-tagging tool. That’s how they know the photo’s location.

    If you don’t geotag your images, you’ll get an error message like this when you try to submit it to the Project Weather group:


    As best I can tell, the title and description of your photo don’t matter. That amazing New York photo above, for example, is titled “Civilizzazione / Civilization” and, even though it mentions New York in the description, Yahoo gets the location from the geotagging, not the description.

    4. You’re done! Sit back and wait.

    Yahoo says you won’t be notified if they choose your photo. It’ll just show up in the Project Weather group someday (Yahoo says it should be reviewed within 30 days, but that group is getting popular so I think it’s going to be longer than that.) and you’ll see “Project Weather” listed on your photo page under the Groups section.

    More Tips for Yahoo Weather Photos

    As I said above, Yahoo is looking for photos of these six specific weather conditions:

    Clear, Cloudy, Rain, Storm, Fog, Snow

    Photos are also being assigned based on time of day. The Help page says

    The frequency at which your photo displays in the app depends on the number of photos in the group that reflect the same weather condition, location, and time of day as your photo.

    So if you geotag your photos, that takes care of the location. If you shoot photos of those six weather conditions, that helps your chances of getting your photos included. And then there’s the “time of day.” My guess is that Yahoo will be looking for photos that match these times of day:

    Sunrise, Morning/Daytime/Afternoon, Dusk/Sunset, Night

    But that’s a guess on my part; Yahoo doesn’t specifically call out how many times of day it uses. But the team is obviously reviewing each image and assigning it to show in the app at certain times of day.

    So that’s it. Pretty simple to submit. But maybe not easy to get your photos in the Yahoo Weather App. I’m not even going to bother submitting any Hawaii photos — I’m sure Yahoo will have a zillion to choose from. So I’ve mostly submitted photos from my hometown area, where there are likely less pics to choose from.

    Hopefully in a month or so, I’ll spot my photo(s) in the app and do another post about that!

    UPDATE: It didn’t take a month. It took less than 24 hours, as I wrote about here: BAM! Already Got One Photo Approved for Yahoo’s Weather App.


    Need Some Painting Tips?

    August 13, 2012

    paint-squareI found this article via my Zite reader, which I love, and decided to blog about it A) for the benefit of anyone who happens to be reading this, and B) for my own future reference.

    I’m not much of a painter, but I do enjoy small projects. I’d like to have the courage to do more painting, but I’m afraid my lack of knowledge and experience will lead to something Very Bad.

    So, this article was extremely helpful:

    Real Life Lessons from a First-Time Painter

    Be sure to read through the comments, too, which are filled with even more smart tips and advice for newbie painters.

    (Stock image via Used under license.)


    Why I Hate “Cool”

    April 25, 2012

    cool-dudeThere’s nothing more uncool than “cool.” And people who feel they have to try to be “cool.” And the things they do or say in the name of being “cool.”

    Yawn. Boring. Dumb.

    To clarify, I’m not talking about the word “cool” itself; if I see something on TV or online that’s interesting, I’ll still say, “Oh, that’s cool” or something similar. That’s not what this is about.

    This is about the bigger version of “cool,” where people try to be something they’re not. (And usually fail miserably at it.)

    The Problem With “Cool”

    Cool doesn’t care. Cool is indifferent. Cool doesn’t think it has to try because … it’s not cool to try. Cool would rather fail than try, because trying isn’t cool. Trying implies caring. And caring isn’t cool.

    Cool thinks it’s above everything else, better than everyone else.

    Cool wants to fit in — as long as it fits in with other cool. Everything else is uncool, and to be ignored (at best) or just outright mocked.

    None of My Heroes are/were Cool

    I don’t know if you can ever learn anything from “cool” people. But I do know that you can learn a lot from uncool people. John Wooden was certainly uncool — maybe the most uncool coach in sports history.

    How cool is it to demand that your players put their socks on in a certain way, so that they’re less likely to get blisters? How cool is it to write love letters to your wife every month for years after she’s died? He did that, too. (I happen to think that’s pretty cool; but if you’re “cool,” that kind of passion is the furthest thing from cool.)

    You know who else isn’t cool?


    They’ve never been cool. About anything. Since day one, they’ve cared and been passionate. I don’t always agree with the things they’re hot about, but I love that they’re hot about a lot of things.

    In fact, here’s how Brian Eno described U2 and coolness in an article about the Achtung Baby recording sessions:

    Cool, the definitive Eighties compliment, sums up just about everything that U2 isn’t. The band is positive where cool is cynical, involved where it is detached, open where it is evasive. When you think about it, in fact, cool isn’t a notion that you’d often apply to the Irish, a people who easily and brilliantly satirize, elaborate and haggle and generally make short stories very long but who rarely exhibit the appetite for cultivated disdain — deliberate noninvolvement — for which the English pride themselves.


    It is this reckless involvement that makes the Irish terminally uncool: Cool people stay ’round the edges and observe the mistakes and triumphs of uncool people (and then write about them).

    I’ll take someone who’s “positive” and “involved” and “open” (those are Eno’s words) every time over someone who’s “cool.”

    My kids are getting to the age where being “cool” is important. I’d much rather they be themselves, no matter what anyone else thinks or says.

    That’s really the only way to be cool — to be yourself, 24/7. We’re all uncool. And the sooner the we all realize that … well, that will be a very cool day.

    (Stock image via Used under license.)

    How I Lost 26 Pounds in 2.5 Months

    March 26, 2010

    I woke up today, stood on the scale, and good news: I reached my weight loss goal!! Woo-hoo! I’ve lost 26 pounds since January 6 and now weigh what it says on my driver’s license.

    Now, I’m no diet guru or health expert, and I’m really hesitant to write this post because it’ll look that way … but, a couple things:

    1. Whenever I mention my weight loss (including today on Twitter), people inevitably want to know how I did it.
    2. If, by sharing this, I can help even one other person lose some weight and get in better shape, it’s worth it.

    So let’s throw caution to the wind, shall we? Here’s what I did…
    Continue Reading…


    How to Be the Best Hotel in Town

    March 9, 2010

    Two things that the typical hotel can and should do to be better than everyone else:

    1. Provide real towels. I don’t understand why every hotel around offers those small, barely-fits-around-your-waist towels that no one loves. It would be so easy to offer regular-sized towels.

    2. Provide real toilet paper. I also don’t get why hotels all feel that they have to offer that industrial strength stuff that’s barely softer than sandpaper. Bust out some Charmin and separate yourself from the competition.

    Why don’t hotels do this stuff? Is there some industry rule that towels need to be small and toilet paper has to be rough?