Why I love Java (NOT!)

In about 2006, I installed some cameras at our place at the lake.

20000101-193141-1

These are Trendnet IP cameras, and they are a little wireless internet server with a CMOS camera sensor in them, and they take a snapshot every 5 minutes or so, and upload the image to a server so we can see a time lapse of activity. Mostly it was for fun, but they have lately grown in popularity dramatically, even making it to the #1 webcam on webcams.travel a few years ago. And they are indexed on google maps of the area.

Sometimes I want to make an adjustment, such as fiddling with the focus or something, and so I need to see live video from the camera. And, there are two ways to do this. One way is to use Microsoft’s ActiveX, which doesn’t run on macs; the other way is to use the Java viewer, which does run on a mac, and depends on Sun’s Java package.

Over the years, there have been many exploits, mostly of PCs, through Java. And, these exploits have been addressed, eventually, through Java updates.

This summer, everything had been fine, until I got home from a trip and wanted to look at the streaming video from one of the cameras. When I tried to launch the stream, Java popped up and told me that I MUST IMMEDIATELY UPGRADE MY JAVA VERSION OR THE INTERNET HACKERS WOULD BREAK DOWN MY DOOR AND DESTROY MY COMPUTER. Well, not really, but the message was about that annoying, and, it positively refused to run my viewer, would not launch it.

So, of course, I upgraded to the latest Java runtime, some version of 8. And… then the site wasn’t trusted and I had to enter it into the trusted sites area (which warned me about impending doom again), and then warned me (in spite of it being in the trusted sites list) that I would surely be killed and/or mutilated if I dared try to run the applet from my camera so I could see the video.

And then, after agreeing that I might get killed or mutilated, it loaded the applet, and sat there with a blank page. See, in spite of me agreeing to the death and mutilation, Java 8 runtime will *not* allow my applet to run. They told me I would have to recode it to behave better. Of course, the applet is in a ROM in a camera in a different state that is not supported anymore and … well, no, there is really no way to fix it.

So, I removed Java 8 from my computer, and started loading older and older versions of Java 7 until I found one that would run the applet and only warn me one time about death and mutilation. Now the interesting thing is that the older version has a security slider that has 3 settings, for medium, high, and very high. This seems fine to me… Java 8, the latest version, has settings for “Almost completely useless”, and “really totally completely useless”. I mean, not really, but the security settings are so extreme that it really is not useful. A little like keeping your weapon locked in a safe that takes 5 minutes to open, when the point of the weapon is to save your life when someone breaks down your door… or like requiring that you keep your fire extinguisher locked in a box in the basement. I used to hate PDF because there was no way to edit it or work with it, and fortunately now there are all sorts of apps that let you do whatever you want with a PDF so it is mostly OK now (and PDF is mostly supported natively in the Mac) But Java, well, this is a different story. As of Java 8, it is no longer useful to me. I will keep my version of 7 around because I do need to see my streams from time to time, but I am really hoping it will get supplanted by something actually useful and not frustration-inducing.

I have a similar dislike of flash in all its forms. Android mostly gets along without flash, and because Apple won’t support flash, I’m hoping it will just die a silent death. Kind of like I hope Java does.

 

–PLH

Arizona’s HOA Rules Just Got Improved!

Great news for AZ landlords! The legislature passed a bill that cracks down on HOAs (HomeOwner Associations):

HOAs; Rental Property

• Asserts that a unit or property owner may use their unit or property as a rental property in accordance with the declaration’s rental time period restrictions, unless it is prohibited in the declaration.

• Allows a unit or property owner, through a written designation, to authorize a third party to act as their agent with respect to all HOA matters regarding the rental property.

• Directs the unit or property owner to provide the HOA with the written designation, which authorizes the HOA to conduct all business relating to the rental property through the designated agent.

• Specifies that notice by the HOA to the designated agent regarding a rental property serves as notice to the owner.

• Prohibits an HOA from requiring an owner or designated agent to disclose any information regarding a tenant, other than the following:
-Name and contact information for any adults occupying the unit or property.
-Time period of the lease including the beginning and ending dates of the tenancy.
-A description and license plate number of the tenant’s vehicles.
-A government issued identification that bears a photograph and date of birth, if the unit or property is in an age restricted community.

Permits an HOA to charge no more than $25 as an administrative fee for each new tenancy for a unit or property, but not for the renewal of an existing lease.
-Requires the $25 fee to be paid within 15 days of the post marked request.

• Prohibits an HOA from the following:
-Assessing or levying any other fee or fine or otherwise impose a requirement on a rental property that is different than on an owner-occupied unit or property in the association.
– Requiring a unit or property owner to provide them with a copy of a rental application, credit report, lease agreement, rental contract or any other personal information.
– Requiring a tenant to sign a waiver or other document limiting their civil rights to due process as a condition of their occupancy of a rental property.
-Restricting or prohibiting a unit owner from serving on the board of directors based on the owner not being an occupant of the unit.
– Imposing any fee, penalty, assessment or other charge of more than $15 for incomplete or late information.

• Determines any attempt by an HOA to impose a fee, penalty, assessment or other charge not authorized by statute to void the fee authorized by statute and the requirement to provide information to the HOA.

• Allows an HOA to acquire a credit report on a person in an attempt to collect a debt.

SB 1454 was signed by the Governor on June 20th, 2013.
ARS Titles Affected: 16

–PLH

The Tatshenshini

A long time ago, before I was involved in real estate, I took some time off working in technology to go on a 4 day river trip in the Grand Canyon. I was hooked… I arranged to leave my job with GTE at the time, and signed on to be a boatman, rowing for Colorado River and Trail Expeditions.

It was a wonderful experience; I got to row through the Grand Canyon several times, and did Desolation Canyon on the Green River, and Cataract Canyon on the Colorado, and Westwater a few times over several summers. I also went on the Tatshenshini river expedition, which is a wonderful trip, in Alaska. As fate would have it, there was a film student on the trip making a film about our little adventure.

I have wanted to see it again many times, but the film was never on the internet anywhere I could find. I ran across an old VHS tape of it a few days ago, and thought I would post it.

Enjoy…

Ice River Journal

A lengthy post about terrorism

Do you ask yourself sometimes, “What could they have been thinking?”

Sometimes this happens when the other person is just in a different place. I recall a conversation I had with a friend who was a businessman, and another who was a whitewater river guide / college student. We were talking about how deforestation in the rain forest was a bad thing; I had mentioned the statistic that the forest coverage is actually increasing now due to less deforestation and more planting and preservation (this was many years ago, I don’t know the current numbers.)

The river guide said that there was never a reason to clearcut the jungle.

Then the businessman spoke up. He said, “You might want to think about that. If you are a native living in the jungle (We called the rain forest a ‘jungle’ then, I’m sure it is somehow politically incorrect today) and you need to feed your family, clearcutting some land to plant crops makes lots of sense, when the alternative is starving to death or not being able to provide housing, clothing, and other neccessities to your family.”

Things can make so much more sense when we put ourselves in the shoes of other people who we are having trouble understanding. (There is an NLP technique that helps with this called Perceptual Positions, and I highly recommend taking a look at using it when you don’t get where someone is coming from)

Let’s look a little deeper, though, and think about our worldviews, and the worldview of someone else. I am generally an entrepreneur; I have several businesses, and I am mostly focused on how to keep them alive and profitable. So I don’t spend much time thinking about violence, for example, and rather than being a strict rule follower, I often look for loopholes or places where I can push the rules to gain a competitive advantage. For me it is a negotiation – I was at a zoning hearing in Pinal county recently, because I had just purchased a property to flip. I knew there was trash on the lot, and I was in the process of getting it cleaned up. I didn’t know that a zoning officer had already inspected it before I purchased and had filed a complaint with the previous owner.

So I got a summons to appear at the zoning hearing, and there were a couple cases ahead of me. It was interesting to watch, as mostly the people told their story and immediately accepted what the hearing judge determined.

When it was my turn, I told my story and then started a negotiation with the judge, and got a little more than he initially was offering, but ultimately he said “I have ruled! This is how it is!” The whole hearing room laughed – because I was still in negotiation mode. Pushing the boundaries. That’s just how I appraoch things. Everything is a negotiation, right?

I have a dear friend who is very much NOT about this; rules are rules, and there are no real grey areas. She would be absolutely horrified at my approach to negotiation with an authority figure. In her world, they are the rulers and you do what they say. In mine, they are a resource to be negotiated with to get the best outcome.

I have another friend who is very concerned with the environment. He has a Prius, he very meticulously separates out his recyclables, never throws used batteries or CFLs in the recycle, etc. He comes from a different point a view, and he would have issues understanding what he perceives as my insatiable drive to make a buck at any cost. For me it is not that, but I am passionate about what I do and work many hours at it — in my world it is not at any cost, and it is not (well maybe not) insatiable.

And because I know him well, I don’t think of him as an environmentalist whacko, but that is a term that other entrepreneurial-minded people might use, as we/they might see him as someone who would sacrifice their business, their income, their family for the environment. His view of my “level”, and my level’s view of his “level,” are likely both inaccurate and lead to many heated facebook discussions (We have all seen them, right?)

What I have been describing here can be modelled pretty well with something called Spiral Dynamics, something I have previously written about. Here are the “levels of consciousness”, briefly, and some examples and rules about them. No level is “better” or “worse” than any other, and we all exhibit the characteristics of the various levels depending on the situation and mood in which we find ourselves. For example, if someone breaks into your house, depending on who you are, you might go Red (power god) to defend yourself, or you might go Purple (Survival) to do whatever they want to protect yourself; or you might go Orange (Achiever) and start negotiating with them. Blue (Rules/Authoritarian) might call the police and hide and wait. And in different circumstances we might all do different things. Green – Take all my money just don’t hurt my plants…

1. Beige – Animalistic – biological urges – Instinctive: as natural instincts and reflexes direct; automatic existence. About self. Example: A very young child.

2. Purple – Physical world and realm of spirit beings overlap. Collaborate for safety and survival. Ancestral ways, customs and kinship offer answers. Succumb easily to authority; about the family or tribe.

3. Red – Power god. My way or the highway. Do anything it takes to get what I want. Egocentric: asserting self for dominance, conquer nature. Exploitive; concern with shame, no guilt. Impulsive and immediate. No sense of the future, of consequences from actions taken today. Example: Gang leader, warlord, gang banger.

4. Rule based – Controlled by obedience to a Higher Power that directs living, punishes wrongs and eventually rewards good works and righteous living. Conforming to norms; feel guilt; search truth, meaning, purpose. Examples: religions, military, the postal service?

5. Orange. Achiever, entrepreneur. Resources to develop and opportunities to make things better and bring prosperity for those with initiative and willingness to risk. Act pragmatically and calculate to get desired results; maneuver through competition and comparison. Example: small business owners, Steve Jobs, Bill Gates when he was younger.

6. Green. Cares about the world, the environment, all people, all life. The shared habitat wherein humanity can find peace and purposes through affiliation and appreciating life’s diversities. We all know people like this.

7. Yellow. Flex flow, big picture, manager. A chaotic organism with underlying order where change is the norm and uncertainty an acceptable state of being as knowledge evolves. Finds interconnections and layered causes; learns constantly; puts function over love, status, rules, or power. Examples: Yoda, Walt Disney.

8. Turquoise. Spiritual. Holistic. Collective consciousness; Oneness. Examples: think of the world’s spiritual leaders, Mother Teresa, the Dalai Lama.

So what does this have to do with anything? I got to thinking about how this might apply to ISIS, to Al Queda, to the tribes and warlords that are causing so much strife. And the statements made by some of our political leaders and aspiring ones, that we need to be tolerant, or that we need to understand them and … well, we have all heard the rhetoric.

The truth is, people rarely move more than one level up or down in the Spiral in a lifetime. And people of one level have a really hard time understanding the life circumstances of people more than one level removed from their own.

ISIS and related groups seem to be run by Reds, and they use their organization (Blue) to recruit others. They are driven by a religious purpose; failing to obey means not just death, but that they will burn in Hell forever (and not get their 21 virgins.)

I think that much of that part of the world is Purple, or Red, and it is a natural evolution to Blue (rule based) that makes order out of the chaos. But there is Blue and there is Blue… As Orange achievers, we can relate to the Blue rule based folks. We might not agree with their rules, but we can understand them. We don’t really understand the violence, why so many are driven to beheadings, torture, denigration of women, and all that. And if we are Green or Yellow, we have lots of trouble with this.

The higher levels encompass the lower ones; so a Yellow or Green has a much better chance of appreciating the Red, Blue and Purple; but the lower levels have almost no shot at understanding the higher levels. A Red will come to appreciate that they need rules to survive in the society, but it is a leap to becoming an achiever and near impossible to get to Green from there.

So while we in the Western world, who are generally blue/orange/green, can have some appreciation for the deplorable conditions that exist in some areas of the Middle East (and in the inner cities of the West!), the predominantly Purple/Red/Blue societies in the middle East will be hard pressed to relate to us. This is why the woman who was helped by a clinic for free later returned to blow it up along with the Doctor who treated her. No sense of the future, no sense of responsibility beyond this moment, following the Rules set forth by her worldview, in spite of a Green physician who just wanted to help her.

To win the war on terror requires the near total eradication of the levels of consciousness prevalent in their society. The best way is through education and example. Their environment needs to change. They need to evolve from a primarily tribal/Red society into a primarily rule based Blue/Orange achiever society. But they have been in that place for thousands of years, and not much has changed.

Negotiation and treaties won’t work, because most Reds have no sense of the future, and treaties are about future behavior. Negotiation doesn’t matter, because they will say anything to get what they want in the moment. Sure, they have a rule based Blue organization, but the leaders are Red. The rules apply to the members, not the rulers. (Sound familiar?)

This frustration with constant broken promises is what leads many to want to bomb them into oblivion. But that won’t solve the problem, because the next generation will be in the same place again, in the same levels of consciousness, acting the same way. History shows this to be the case. It will solve the problem temporarily, but not permanently.

The only permanent solution is education and indoctrination into a society in which most of the people are at a higher level of consciousness. Right now we have the opposite happening: the terrorists are infiltrating our society and indoctrinating people to become like them. We don’t need to understand them; we need to convert them, to educate them.

Until our leaders figure this out, we will continue to think about military solutions, or negotiations and treaties that cannot work. Further, unless we stop the indoctrination of children into a mostly red religion, this problem will continue. More about this in a future post. But think about this: What part of muslim society has the greatest chance of influencing their children?

 

–PLH

To Rent or to Buy? A Historical Perspective.

I am a member of a Facebook group of real estate agents. We talk about all sorts of stuff, and lately, there has been lots of talk about how most Millenials are renters rather than buyers. There are many reasons for this, but a big one is that they grew up during the housing crash and watched their parents and their friend’s parents lose their homes, and have their credit destroyed.

To really understand what happened, and what it is all about, we need to go back pretty far, to when the government got involved in home loans. There is a pretty decent history of it here, and it is telling. The government, as one of the New Deal policies, created agencies to guarantee home loans, and to reduce the large down payment that was required to buy a home. They introduced the 30 year fixed loan, and they had good reasons for doing this.

When a family buys a house with a substantial down payment, they have skin in the game. They will take better care of the home, they will be much more apt to make the payments, but more than that, they have real pride of ownership and have provided a stable living environment for their family. Family stability, having a home base, pride of ownership… these things are important. My parents owned their first home for only a few years, then moved to another where they lived for the next 40+ years. The first home I bought, I stayed in for more than 20 years.

In that time, the loan is paid off or paid way down; some states have laws that prevent any re-financing or have related restrictions (interesting that these states suffered the least from the housing crash…) So what does a family situation look like, 25-30 years after purchase?

– The home is almost paid off, or totally paid off.

– There is LOTS of equity in the home.

– There is no house payment after it is paid off.

– When the wage earner passes away, or retires, there is no house payment.

– When both parents pass, there is a substantial legacy for any offspring, due to saving money for 30 years in the home, plus the increase in home value from market pressures.

To make decisions like this requires a long term outlook. Someone who is renting, other than for just a short time, generally will have a much shorter timeframe outlook than someone who wants to buy a home. The housing crash caused by government interference in the markets, followed by further interference to cure the wrong problem, resulting in much tighter loan standards, has led to a situation not dissimilar from before government interference started: Fewer families own homes, the 1% own homes and rent them out to everyone else. We see this in Phoenix with one of the largest homeowners begin Blackstone, renting the homes out to families who can no longer qualify for a loan.

Buying is one of the best things a family can do. Sure, there are issues, especially in a highly mobile society where a job change might require a move across the country – and when that happens, someone with a longer term outlook might rent out their home (for more than the loan payments!) and rent in the new city for a little while to save up for a new down payment, and to get to know the area well so that a good decision can be made for where to buy the next home.

There are other options, and other problems as well. We’ll discuss that in an upcoming blog post.

 

–PLH

Landscape Lighting

There are a few inexpensive things that we can do to make our homes look nice. Recently, I bought a set of landscape lights from Amazon. I got the cheaper ones. They are nice, they have four bulbs, and they use regular old incandescent lamps. The lamps look like this:

These are bright, and they work great! But, they seem to burn out pretty fast, like in a month or two. And, they pull lots of power – these are 20 watt bulbs, I think, and the transformer can handle only 4-5 of them before it gets unhappy. So I thought, gee, there ought to be some alternatives, maybe some LED lamps?

I looked on Amazon, and there are some, but they are pretty expensive. So I turned to eBay. The first set of lamps I found that would work are these:

 

 

 

 

 

They also work, but are sort of dim. They also got really hot and didn’t last long. So back to the drawing board… I finally found these on eBay:

 

 

 

 

 

 

These work GREAT! They are bright and do not get hot, and so far they are holding up well. They only cost a little more than the incandescent ones if you get them at the Depot, and seem readily available on eBay. They are a little too tall to fit into the fixtures I have, but if you bend the wires a little bit they fit in at an angle and work just fine.

 

Enjoy your landscape lighting!

 

–PLH

The Dodd Frank Act – or the Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act – Questions

Now that more of the rules of this Act have taken effect (January 10th, 2014 was the magic day), we all have questions about seller financing. Aside from the draconian rules implemented to damage the weak housing market further (see previous post) , some rules went into effect regarding seller financing of residential properties.

I wrote an offer yesterday that contained seller financing. As I wrote it, I had to look up the law and make sure the seller was not in violation of any of them. Did I do it right? I have no idea. And I don’t thing anyone can tell me, at least not yet. So in summary, this is what I think it looks like (please correct me if you have better info!)

First, there are two sorts of seller financing. There is the one you can do one time a year, and the one you can do three times a year. For three times a year, the seller must own the property and the seller can pretty much be any entity (Person, Trust, LLC, Partnership, etc). For this type of seller financing, the loan cannot be a “high cost” loan, and other restrictions apply, relating to amortization, balloons, prepayment penalties, and loan costs. The seller must make an effort to determine the ability of the buyer to repay the loan, although they don’t have to keep records of this (which just seems … stupid). So what is a high cost loan? One that exceeds the Average Prime Offer Rate by more than 6.5%. How do you figure that out? This nifty calculator purports to do it: http://www.ffiec.gov/ratespread/newcalc.aspx

OK well that is not the whole story. See, it is 6.5% for a 1st lien and it is 8% for a 2nd. So… if I want to make an expensive loan, why not loan $1000 at 10% (say) and the remaining balance as a second for 11.5% ? Then it is not a “high cost” mortgage.  I have no idea if this would work, and we probably won’t know until there is a legal case settling the matter.

Now if you want to make a high cost loan, you can make one per year, provided the seller owns the property, the property is the security for the loan, and the seller is either a person or a trust (no entities). Again, these rules are for residential properties which are deemed to be owner-occupied as a primary residence. These rules don’t apply to vacation homes, second homes, etc.

In short, be VERY careful doing seller financing. The good news (at least by my reading) is that hard money loans may still be possible for non-primary residence flips. But who knows?

-PLH

Drones in the Hive

I’ve been thinking a bit about all the ramifications of the recent revelations that Amazon and UPS are talking about “smart” drone package delivery to a consumer’s doorstep. Presumably, autonomous unmanned aircraft are not far behind. I love technology. Still, in thinking about these aircraft in densely urbanized locations, my head starts to spin. UAVs in civilian applications are actually a few years old; for instance, there’s an article in Smithsonian’s airspacemag.com from July, 2009, called “Unmanned Traffic Jam” by Douglas Gantenbein; among other things, it refers to the utility of drones for express deliveries. July, 2009 – nearly 4 and 1/2 years ago. Here’s a few notions that impact land use controls and local governments where their downtowns are concerned–in no particular order of importance, perhaps:

A. Federalism: who ought to control the use and pathways of these drones? Does it make any difference in answering the question how dense the population is on the ground beneath the air space to be traveled by drones?

B. Speaking of air space, what about unused development rights over fee land? Is the FAA going to require easements for avigation? Who will pay for those, if so? Is such regulation, whether federal or state, going to constitute a regulatory taking?

C. Suppose the decision is made to route drones above the busy streets or other city rights of way. Who’s issue is it to resolve conflicts with utility lines, transit overhead lines – and what about issues of pedestrian and vehicular safety? Is it really likely there never will be a failure of power followed by plummeting into the right of way? Who are the liable parties, in that case? Is this analogous to bad roadway design or the failure to post warning signs in the personal injury context?

D. What about the impact of the decision where to allow drone “air space” on future development of aerial human transport systems? If Elon Musk’s “loop” or “tube transport” human movement system is only 25 years away, are drones going to compete, or impede, the development of above-ground transportation? Who gets to referee that conflict?

E. Transportation has been a general/comprehensive planning element in cities for about as long as those plans have existed. Shouldn’t “freight” transportation within a city’s limits include aerial transportation? Will that prerogative be preempted at the federal or state levels?

F. What will be the role of HOAs in this realm? Will communities be able to ban or control the hours of operations of such systems? Should they be allowed to exercise private contract powers? Or, will these organizations be preempted by governments, as in the circumstances of satellite dishes or cell towers?

G. What are the multi-purposing angles of this conversation? Drones will be plenty expensive, and there will be opportunities to make them do more than one job. Should drones be equipped with cameras to aid in traffic movement studies (vehicular counts, for instance)? What about aiding in “congestion pricing” studies and enforcement? Should they track the movement of your vehicle into and away from the city center, to be sure that you’re properly accounting for your usage? Who should have access to that information, and for what additional purposes?

Perhaps this sounds like the stuff of science fiction; but now that the FAA has chosen 6 sites including some in slightly dense but not highly urbanized areas, there seems to be some momentum directed toward allowing these UAVs. The FAA could use some food for thought from the land use planning and law communities, I think. Biologically speaking, except during the brief queen-mating season, drones in the hive are a nuisance and sometimes even a menace to the survival of the hive.

Buyer and Seller classes

Just a quick note, we will be teaching a couple of short (one hour) classes, one on the home buying process, one on the home selling process. We’ll also provide up-to-date market information for the Phoenix market. The home buyer class will answer questions like –

– How do I know how much I can afford to spend on a new home? – Where is the best place to start looking? Do I need a real estate agent, or can I just call the number on the sign (or in the Zillow ad)? – What is the process, how do I protect myself, what inspections should I get? How do I find a home inspector? – Before I hire a real estate agent, what are the 3 things I need to ask them?

We’ll answer these questions and more, in a short one hour class. If you are interested, you can sign up here: Home Buyer Seminar

Similarly, we will also have a class if you are thinking of selling your home. We’ll answer questions like –

– How do home buyers find my home? – What is the biggest selling feature for home buyers? – How can I be sure the buyer will be able to afford my home? – What are some things I can do, to make my home more attractive to buyers? – Do I need a real estate agent to sell, or can I sell it myself? What about Zillow or Trulia?

And of course we’ll answer any other questions you might have. Get your tickets here: Home Seller Seminar

Robbins’ Date With Destiny – An Insight

Each year for the past few, I have had the privilege of supporting Tony Robbins’ event, Date With Destiny. And every year, I try to find words to describe what these events are about — and every year I fail. Are they about motivation? Not really. Are they huge money makers for Robbins? Yes, but I believe he delivers far more value than the price of the event. Are they just a big rah-rah? Well, there is some of that, but it is a side effect rather than the Purpose. So what are these events about, then?

Let me back up. My story starts about 7 or so years ago, when I was in a place in my life where I was not really sure what I wanted to do, what I should do — and so I started talking to people for whom I had lots of respect. I talked to the owner of a large local business who had been through some hard times and come out the other side in amazingly great shape. I talked with an out of state friend who has bought and sold more than 100 businesses in his lifetime. I spoke with a very successful real estate broker. They all had interesting advice. And they all recommended that I go to a Robbins event and see what might happen.

And yet, I still wasn’t ready. The tipping point was when I watched Tony’s 20 minute talk on TED, about why we do what we do. This talk was recommended to me, out of the blue, by a friend who is not particularly successful, but she is pretty much happy all the time. She hasn’t been to any events, but knew the TED talk would interest me.

Before the talk had ended, I was on the phone booking tickets to go to the weekend event, Unleash the Power Within. Before going, though, I bought one of his books; one of the earlier ones. I would not say it was well written, but I could immediately put what I learned to use (and talked my way into 1st class on a flight).

I had no idea what I had gotten myself into. First, I found out that I was going to walk barefoot across hot coals. It isn’t the process of doing it that is important, rather it is a metaphor about being able to accomplish stuff you never thought you could. Before the event started, we wrote down a limiting belief and threw it in the fire – another metaphor about limiting beliefs. Most of the weekend turned out to be about limiting beliefs, and how they can affect your life.

Robbins came to the stage around noon or 1PM. and he did not leave the stage until we went out to do the firewalk after 11pm. Not to pee, not for a break. And at 11PM he was still delivering with as much or more intensity as when he began 10 or so hours earlier. It seemed impossible, and I saw it with my own eyes.

The first half day of the event, Tony asks if anyone is suicidal, and of course in a crowd of 3,000+ there are always a few. He talks about physiology – how we stand, breathe, and move; about Focus – what are we focused on? And about the words we use. These things comprise a State, and to demonstrate, Tony finds someone who is depressed, and stands like they are standing, breathes how they are breathing, tries to focus on what they are focused on — and he says, “Well crap, you have no choice BUT to be depressed if you do all this!”

It reminds me of the peanuts cartoon where Charlie Brown talks about having the right posture to be depressed.

Then he talks about something he developed called Human Needs Psychology – that we all live our lives based on 6 human needs, and what makes the difference is which two needs we value most, and what our vehicles are for achieving these needs. He often takes someone who is suicidal and looks at their needs structure. It becomes obvious pretty quickly what is going on with them.

UPW is a 4 day sprint, while Date With Destiny is a 6 day marathon. UPW covers human needs, and limiting beliefs, and there is a day of information about diet. All in all it is a really interesting event, and by itself can change people dramatically. And it is only the tiniest introduction to what Robbins has to teach. What I learned at UPW alone took my closing ratio in listing appointments from maybe 35% to closer to 65%, mostly because of what I focused on right before the appointment.

DWD is a much deeper study. Participants are asked to look at their core values. What do you value most about life? Love? Honesty? Integrity? Fun? We make a big list of all the ones we can think of (individually) and then rank them in order of importance. Similarly, we look at feelings we want to avoid – Hate, disappointment, betrayal, embarrassment, etc. Whatever list the participant comes up with. And we also rank these in terms of worst to best.

Then, we talk about what has to happen so that we feel each one. These are the rules we have subconsciously made up about our desired and undesired emotions. The really interesting part at this point is that it is easy to see conflicts, and easy to see that we tend to make it really hard to feel good, and make it easy to feel bad.

The end result of DWD is to reprogram your mind with a list more likely to make you happy, and also to implant the rules about these things. A typical rule about love might be that someone feels love only when their spouse smiles at them every day and dresses how they like and doesn’t pick a fight. So, almost never, right? A new rule about love might be anytime they see their spouse; anytime they smile at them; anytime they think about them. Lots easier!

Another piece of the puzzle is something Robbins calls the Primary Question; this is a question people ask themselves, almost without thinking about it, several times a day. Mine used to be, how can I fix it? Presuming everything (and everyone I met) was broken. A friend of mine asked himself “Why live?” and another (who had not had a relationship lasting more than a month in her 35 years) “Why doesn’t anyone love me?”

Can you see how asking ourselves questions like these, repeatedly, might lead to some poor outcomes?

And yet another big piece of DWD is all the time spent on relationships. Robbins doesn’t just talk about, but vividly demonstrates, the differences between male energy and female energy, and between light and dark energy. Robbins says that for any intimate relationship to work, there must be male and female energy. There are feminine men, and there are masculine women in addition to the conventional roles. A good friend of mine has a great relationship with his wife; it’s just that when you stop in to see them, she’s in the garage with a power screwdriver building something, and he’s making the bed, or cooking. They have that polarity, and it works great!

Robbins demonstrates that many issues occur when a masculine man has been feminized by society, or their work, or something else, so they are masculine, but wearing a feminine mask; and sometimes they put a second masculine mask on over the feminine, so they are really messed up. Similarly, society has masculinized women – from powerful women in the workforce, or women who got divorced and had to stand up and “be a man” to support their children or for other reasons – we see all these examples, in the flesh, and we can come to understand how their relationships might have some issues as a result. When I was dating (hindsight is 20/20…) I tended to be more feminine, and I dated very masculine women (national trampoline champ, national champ gymnast, rock climbing instructor…) and as I became comfortable in the relationships, I tended to lose the feminine qualities I had and my masculine core would come out, and … well, it just wasn’t pretty; two guys (two people with strong masculine energy) in a relationship. Or not.

Another piece is that passion in relationships comes from uncertainty, and from the balance of light and dark energy in the relationship. If we have total certainty all the time, it gets boring. So we need a bit of variety to juice things up! And again, Robbins provides great examples, stories from his life and demonstrations from the audience.

All this is what goes on, on the surface. At UPW there are no teams, just a room full of folks. At DWD, participants are put in large teams, and each team has some leadership people associated with it. This is where the true magic of DWD happens. The event leadership makes a huge effort to connect with every member on the team, and deal with any issue they might have that is holding them back in life. Whether it is someone who was abused, just broke up with someone, lost a loved one, had a business failure — whatever their issue is, the leadership team leaves no stone unturned in attempting to help them. We aren’t trained psychologists, but many of us are coaches, and a surprising number have had outside training either in coaching, or The Work, or are NLP practitioners or trainers. So we have gotten halfway decent at talking people through big issues.

Robbins does most of the work for us; he picks people from the audience who want to ask a question, or share something. If it is something that will serve more than just that one person, he will go deep with them, talking to them about how their behavior or outcome has been governed by their beliefs, or their rules, or their need structures, or primary question – and these discussions often cause many other audience members to have deep insights into their own issues. Then, often, someone will come up to one of us with a request like, “could I please talk to you for a moment?” and we are ready to see how we can help.

I keep going back, because I see the difference we make in people’s lives; my hallucination is that I have saved dozens of relationships, prevented at least two suicides, and given many who had given up hope something to live for. I know it is not all a hallucination because I am still in touch with many of them. I also know that when Robbins has an interaction with someone in the room, he follows up with them, often for more than a year.

One of his DVD products, The Ultimate Relationship Program, is full of video clips taken from various events, including many DWDs, and the interactions are unpacked by an award-winning psychologist, Cloe Madanes. The product is so well received that Doctors can get continuing education credits from going through it. And, he and Cloe have created a new class of coaches, Robbins-Madanes Strategic Interventionists (quite a mouthful…) We are trained to use Tony’s techniques to help people.

The seminars are not about motivation; they are about personal growth. And just as the event leadership is there to help participants grow, the leadership gets there a couple days early and we talk about our outcomes and growth plans; and we are all deeply committed to each other’s growth and learning. We all keep in touch through social media, and there are YES groups all around the country where we spread the word. I love these events also because one of my top needs is growth. Happiness often does not come from achievement, but rather from progress. This was an important distinction for me.

The education I got from UPW and DWD, and other Robbins events is probably more valuable, in terms of life skills, than any other education I have ever had (including 4 years of college, 2 post grad, and lots of other stuff). If you think you might be interested in learning a little more about yourself, drop me a note. I’m happy to share.

-PLH