Personal attributes of a private investigator [How to become a PI – book excerpt]

Kurt.nzBusiness, career, finance, How to become a private investigator, Personal development

There are some very specific traits common to almost all private investigators (successful ones at least). Having a thick skin. This is not an easy job and you are not dealing with nice people all the time. You will face abuse and you may be treated like the villain by whomever you’re investigating. You need to be able to handle this. Yes, you should try to treat everyone fairly, but you will at times have very uncomfortable conversations. As long as you’re staying true to your own values and maintain your integrity, you don’t need to worry too much about what people think or say about you. Good verbal and written communication skills. A lot hinges on what you say, both on investigations and in court. You need to be able to communicate, persuade and influence effectively and succinctly. Equally, … Read More

Are you training or doing?

Kurt.nzPersonal development

When I was in the Army reserve, we did a lot of training. That’s how you learn. That’s how you get good. Training is a necessary tool, so when it gets real, you know what to do. You’ve done the drills so often that you can do them without thinking. The problem was, there was very little opportunity for me to actually use that training. At least not immediately. The same goes for many people in the military. Even when on a deployment, a lot of your time is spent waiting. Sometimes it was difficult for me to take the training seriously. I have a fairly short attention span. If what I’m doing doesn’t show results pretty quickly, it’s easy to become bored. The alternative doesn’t make sense though. I think everyone would rather a little training before being thrown … Read More

(Book) The Personal MBA – Josh Kaufman

Kurt.nzBooks read, Business, career, finance, Personal development

The Personal MBA - Josh Kaufman

The Personal MBA is a great overview of everything related to business. Josh explains concepts in such a way that anyone can understand them. Yet he goes into enough detail for everyone to come away with actionable points. I literally sat there with the book in one hand and my notebook in the other, creating action plans for the couple of businesses that I’m involved in. Here are my notes: Business is made of 5 things. It (1) provides something of value that (2) other people want or need (3) at a price they’re willing to pay, in a way that (4) satisfies the purchasers needs and expectations and (5) provides the business sufficient revenue to make it worthwhile for the owner to continue operation. Sales Starts with trust. No trust, no sale. Value based selling. What is it worth to … Read More

A way to move forward (when procrastinating)

Kurt.nzBusiness, career, finance, Personal development

Summer break is the time to dream big. I usually come back with dozens of ideas for the new year. How quickly real life gets in the way of them! Here’s a way I’ve found to move forward. For something you really need/want to do, come up with 10 actionable steps you could take right now to move forward on it. Then pick the top 3 and do them. Right now. Why 10 steps? This forces you to think creatively, not just 1 or 2 things you could do. It doesn’t matter if you don’t do all 10. At least you’ll have 3 to make a start on. Finished the 3? Do the exercise again. Your next 10 will probably be quite different (and more useful) now that you’ve made a start.

Which responsibilities are you willing to give away, and which will you keep?

Kurt.nzLifestyle, family, community, Personal development

responsibility_kurt.nz

Physically, our lives are getting easier. We used to gather our own food, create our own warmth, and build our own shelter. Agriculture came along and we let other people make our food. Someone was really good at building huts, so we got them to build ours, doing something else in return for them. These days, we don’t even have to cook our own meals, or wash our car, or take care of our kids during the day if we don’t want to. Human nature is to want comfort. To make things easier for ourselves. Not only that, getting other people to do certain things allows us to concentrate on what we’re good at. Or what we enjoy. We are constantly giving over responsibility for certain areas of our lives. With AI and automation, this will only increase. For example, … Read More

(Book) The obstacle is the way – Ryan Holiday

Kurt.nzBooks read, Personal development

The obstacle is the way - Ryan Holiday - kurt.nz

This is one of those books that you can read at any time of your life, and it’s still relevant. Human nature is to avoid obstacles and look for the easiest path. This directly addresses that, and highlights the benefits to be had by overcoming obstacles. Not just avoiding them, but turning them into advantages. A challenge and a bit of a kick in the pants. The obstacle is the way – Ryan Holiday (highlights, my thoughts in italics) Our actions may be impeded … but there can be no impeding our intentions or dispositions . Because we can accommodate and adapt . The mind adapts and converts to its own purposes the obstacle to our acting . The impediment to action advances action . What stands in the way becomes the way . And from what we know , … Read More

(Book) Influence – Robert B. Cialdini

Kurt.nzBooks read, Business, career, finance, Personal development

Influence-Robert-B-Cialdini-Kurt.nz

Various ways to influence and persuade people through scarcity, urgency, reciprocation, consistency, commitment, social proof, liking and authority. Highlights from the book: Weapons of influence As the stimuli saturating our lives continue to grow more intricate and variable, we will have to depend increasingly on our shortcuts to handle them all. And even when it is not initially successful, she can mark the article “Reduced from __” and sell it at its original price while still taking advantage of the “expensive=good” reaction to the inflated figure. Simply put, if the second item is fairly different form the first, we will tend to see it as more different than it actually is. So if we lift a light object first and then lift a heavy object, we will estimate the second object to be heavier than if we had lifted it … Read More

(Book) Awaken the giant within – Tony Robbins

Kurt.nzBooks read, Personal development

Awaken-the-giant-within-Tony-Robbins-Kurt.nz

I wish I had read this when I was in my late teens or early twenties, as I think it would have had a greater impact then. A very useful tool to make you look at what you’re doing now. What you’re linking pain or pleasure to, what limiting or empowering beliefs you have, your value hierarchy, goals, frame of reference, and states. Attempts to help us master the five areas of life we need to master: Emotional, physical, relationship, financial, time. Awaken the Giant Within (highlights) Lasting change: Raise your standards, change limiting beliefs, change your strategy. Five areas of life we need to master: Emotional, physical, relationship, financial, time. What actions can I take today that will shape my ultimate destiny? The father of action is decision. “This is what I am. This is what life is about. … Read More

Taking risks (what do you really need to live?)

Kurt.nzBusiness, career, finance, Lifestyle, family, community, Personal development, Travel

Taking_risks_backpack_kurt.nz

I was speaking with a friend of mine recently and he made an interesting observation. He said it’s funny how people who have been in the Armed Forces, specifically the Army, even more specifically, the infantry, seem to be more comfortable taking risks and trying new things. We talked about this for a while and the conclusion was this: People who have been in the infantry have spent a significant amount of their career walking around outdoors, carrying everything they needed to survive on their back. They know what it’s like to be wet, cold, tired and hungry. They know discomfort. I know I certainly did. They also know how far they can push themselves and what they actually need to survive. Not only do they know that they need food, shelter, water and warmth, they know how to get … Read More

Good and bad comparisons (giving some guidance to kids)

Kurt.nzLifestyle, family, community, Personal development

comparisons_kurt.nz

One day, in about 10 years, one of my kids is going to come and ask me why we don’t drive a BMW like their friend’s parents do. What am I going to say to that? How am I going to show them the danger of making comparisons like that one? Maybe I’ll tell them of a friend of mine who asked a similar question about 30 years ago. I’ll tell them how hard he worked and how much he sacrificed to get that first flash car. His relationships, a little bit of his integrity, his time. How it satisfied him for about a month until he set his eyes on an even nicer car. Within another month he has traded his in for another, losing a bit on the trade. I’ll tell them how this cycle repeated. And it … Read More

(Book) Ego is the enemy – Ryan Holiday

Kurt.nzBooks read, Business, career, finance, Personal development

Ego-is-the-enemy-Ryan-Holiday

Ego has stopped many people (including myself) from learning, improving and doing really great work. This book is a clear example and reminder of the constant battle we face. Ego is the enemy of ambition, success and resilience. It’s especially relevant in the age of social media, likes and follows. A must read for anyone, regardless of your aspirations in life. This is one book I will be reading again. My thoughts and key takeaways: Ego is an unhealthy belief in our own importance. Stay grounded and do not fool yourself about your own ability. Silence is strength, talking takes away from doing the actual work. To be or to do. To receive praise or do work that is important. Substitute passion with purpose. What steps must you take now? Discipline trumps passion, which can disappear. Remain a student. Have … Read More

(Book) Born for this – Chris Guillebeau

Kurt.nzBooks read, Business, career, finance, Personal development

Born-for-this-Chris-Guillebeau

A book that actually takes the pressure off ‘finding your passion’. It’s not so much about finding and focusing on the one thing that you were born for. It’s more about trying different things, taking calculated risks and thinking about the future. A good book if you’re still working for someone else, feel stuck and don’t quite know what to do next. My thoughts are in italics.   Born for this – Chris Guillebeau (highlights) Even if you work for someone you’re still essentially self-employed. No one will look out for your interests as much as you. What work would you do if you no longer needed money? There’s more than one path you can pursue, and the may lead to the same place. There’s probably one path that’s best of all. Social scripts, norms, expectations can be particularly unhelpful. … Read More

How to evaluate options and make decisions (a different method)

Kurt.nzBusiness, career, finance, Personal development

Make decisions

We’re pretty spoiled these days with the amount of options available to us, we’re called to make decisions every day. Sometimes though, there are so many options we can choose from, we end up choosing none of them. It’s called the paradox of choice. Sometimes we need a kick in the pants just to make a decision. Think back on your last few major decisions. How much easier or harder was it when that decision was made for you, and you had to go along with it? Suddenly, when that happens, you know with certainty whether you wanted to make that decision or not. As humans we don’t like being forced to do something we don’t want to do. My wife will often present me with two options that she can’t decide between. The blue dress or the black dress … Read More

Fulfilling one of your dreams (lessons learned)

Kurt.nzLifestyle, family, community, Personal development

fulfilling_your_dream

A couple of years ago I fulfilled a lifelong dream and became a private investigator. With almost no experience I entered one of the most difficult professions to get into. In doing so I learnt a few things about doing something huge. Something that you’ve always wanted to do, something that may seem impossible, fulfilling one of your dreams.   Three things you need to keep in mind: Things don’t have to be perfect for you to make a start. You’ll almost never be the best straight away, or land your dream position immediately. It doesn’t have to be as difficult as you think.   What does this mean?   1. Things don’t have to be perfect for you to make a start. Things will rarely ever be perfect. For a huge decision we often wait until what we perceive to … Read More

(Book) The war of art – Steven Pressfield

Kurt.nzBooks read, Business, career, finance, Personal development

the_war_of_art_steven_pressfield

A book about discipline. It’s written about making art but it really applies to all areas of life, since to live is to create. My notes from the book: What stops you being creative is resistance. It’s not the act, it’s starting. We have two lives. The life we live and the un-lived life within. Between them stands resistance. Any act that rejects short term and favours long term elicits resistance. “Those who will not govern themselves are condemned to find masters to govern over them.” The more fear we have about something the more certain we can be that it’s important. The professional knows that success is a by-product of work. It may or may not come. You turn a corner when you turn pro. Suddenly you take it seriously and do the work. Principle of priority. Know the … Read More

(Book) Anything you want – Derek Sivers

Kurt.nzBooks read, Business, career, finance, Lifestyle, family, community, Personal development

anything_you_want_derek_sivers

This book is worth 10 years of life and business experience and it only takes about an hour to read. I suggest you just read it, even if you’re not in business. It’s a great reality check for a lot of areas in life. You can do anything you want. Choose wisely. My notes from the book: What’s your compass? Don’t pursue little distractions in life because you don’t know which way to go. Chase your big dreams. Making a company is a great way to improve yourself to the world. It’s your utopia where you design your perfect world. Your business plan is moot. You don’t know what people really want until you start doing it. With CD Baby, Derek wasn’t trying to make a business. He started off helping a few friends out and, with his love of … Read More

Setting yourself weekly challenges (5 steps to changing your behaviour)

Kurt.nzLifestyle, family, community, Personal development

Weka_habits_behaviour

Every year I used to write down these big brave new year’s resolutions. A few things that I wanted to achieve or some habits I wanted to change before the end of the year. No tactics, just a goal. Sure enough, come the end of the year, I was no closer to achieving them. I then thought I’d make it a bit more tactical. I’d break it into weeks and have smaller goals I wanted to do before the end of the week. There’d be about 10 of them. Still no progress. This continued until it was daily goals (still over 5). Very rarely did I ever do even half of them, or significantly change any habits. The problem was twofold. Firstly I had way too many goals to concentrate on. Sure I might achieve the top couple that I’m … Read More

Turning everything into a win (minimising the downside)

Kurt.nzBusiness, career, finance, Personal development

Stepping_Stones_WekaCo

When I travelled to Europe a few years ago I learned French and Spanish using a bunch of Michel Thomas audio CD’s Side note: If you’re wanting to learn French, Spanish and a number of other languages you should definitely look him up at michelthomas.com, if you learn best by listening (like I do) then he’s the way to go. I managed to listen to over 24 hours of lessons in the three months before I left. I did this by simply replacing the music/radio in my car to language lessons instead. 40 minutes commute each way every day adds up to a lot of potentially wasted time! It got me thinking. How can we turn potentially wasted or not ideal situations into something that actually benefits us? Not just by recovering wasted time, but by using situations or experiences … Read More

(Book) What to do when it’s your turn – Seth Godin

Kurt.nzBooks read, Business, career, finance, Personal development

Seth-Godin-What-to-do-when-its-your-turn-book

Another great book from Seth about your turn, in his words: “I think we’re wasting the chance of a lifetime. This is an urgent call to do the work we’re hiding from, a manifesto about living with things that might not work and embracing tension when doing your art.” Here are the ideas that jumped out at me, my own thoughts are in italics. Opportunity? It’s everywhere. Freedom is our problem and freedom is our opportunity. We automatically limit ourselves yet we have so much choice. Being stupid is associated with learning. Embrace the stupid. This might not work. the cost of being wrong is less than the cost of doing nothing. The safest dreams are the ones with no hope of coming true. This is hiding. Concrete dreams are possible. They expose us to hope and risk. Great work … Read More

Only start something if you’re ready to continue it

Kurt.nzPersonal development

The other day I gave my daughter her first taste of chocolate. It took her a while to process the taste, but once she did she didn’t want to stop eating it. Before then, my wife and I could happily open a bar of chocolate in front of her, eat what we want, and then put it away. Without any fear of harassment or complaining. Now we’re reduced to sneaking away one by one, hiding in the cupboard and quickly eating one or two pieces before going back into the lounge as if nothing happened. Once my daughter had the taste for chocolate, she’ll never lose that again. She’ll always see it and know she wants it. That got me thinking, how often do we start things that we don’t actually want to continue? It doesn’t necessarily have to be … Read More

How to figure out what you want to do in life (hint: it’s not about what you do)

Kurt.nzBusiness, career, finance, Lifestyle, family, community, Personal development

I believe that ‘figuring out what you want to do in life’ is the wrong way to look at it for two reasons:   1. What you do actually comes from who you are. Sure you can do things that you don’t believe in, or aren’t really ‘you’. But this is just lying and it’s pretty hard to keep doing this without it eating away at you. Yes, you can change who you are by your actions, but you still need to think about how you want those actions to change you.   2. It’s extremely difficult to figure out what you want to do in life without having done it first. It would be like wanting to be a snowboarder without ever having been to the mountain and touched snow. It looks fun in theory but maybe you won’t … Read More

What are you actually doing right now?

Kurt.nzLifestyle, family, community, Personal development

What are you actually doing right now? A few days ago I was playing on the back deck with my daughter, just stacking toys and pointlessly moving buckets around. As I was doing this I thought ‘I really should be doing something more productive’. And then the question came to me. Why do we feel so guilty when we’re not doing something that can be immediately quantified? I think it’s because we love to immediately measure how we’re spending time. And the easiest way to measure it is by the improvement we see straight away, or the financial reward we get for what we’re doing.   It’s a real struggle to measure our time in other ways, but it’s a very important exercise to go through. We first have to start with what our priorities are. For me it’s my … Read More