Ready for the Kick-off…

Featured

Hey sports fans – Scott here.

This is the launch of my personal blog where I’ll be covering topics that interest me.

Watch this space to get the latest on everything from sports to business to all-things-Kansas City.

Make sure to subscribe to the mailing list to get these posts directly in your inbox.

We’ll talk soon.

~ Scott Asner Kansas City, Missouri

Simple Ways to Stay Healthy Throughout the Workweek

Staying healthy and active all day in the office is a big challenge for all employees. Especially considering that most of our modern workday is comprised of sitting for eight hours in front of the computer.

And while this is the reality that we live in, it is absolutely terrible for your overall health. Everything from your posture, to eye strain, to neck tension – all of these problems can affect your health.

By following a few essential tips, you can stay healthy and active during your working hours. This will improve your productivity long-term and maintain your focus on important work tasks.

Here are some simple ways that help you to stay healthy throughout your workday.

Pack Your Lunch

The brain needs nourishment to perform well, especially if you are working longer hours. One of the healthiest things you can do to ensure you’re getting that vital nutrition is to bring your lunch from home.

Food prepared from home allows you to stay in control of what you’re eating and can give you the edge you need to get through the day. And however tempted a resident of Kansas City may be to visit one of our fine restaurants, packing your lunch helps you avoid the highly processed foods, and it also gives you the choice to pick your favorite foods throughout the day.

Just the act of planning and selecting your groceries with the workweek in mind will prompt you to make healthier choices about what you want to consume. This effect can then snowball into a routine that adds massive benefit to your life and overall health.

This is also a great tip for anyone minding their budget, as you will save a pile of money over time.

Get Up and Move

The act of sitting in a chair all day and staring at a computer screen is a slow killer. Some experts even compare the cumulative hours of sedentary life as being on par with smoking as a negative impact on your health.

It also makes you sluggish and dull.

To combat this and help keep yourself active and healthy, you must spend some time away from your desk or chair. It is essential to take small breaks and leave your chair or desk for a walk just to refresh your mind.

A mere 5-minute break could make a make a difference in your overall health. You can also couple your breaks away from your screen with other tasks that have to be completed – like running that report over to sales or attending that meeting in-person.

You could even incorporate little fitness breaks into your day. Stand up and stretch, look away from the screen, practice proper posture, meditate. Anything to break the habit of sitting in the same position for hours on end.

Keep in mind how much time you actually spend sitting down at your desk. You would be surprised how quickly those hours add up.

Watch Out for Snacks

Tying into nutrition, it is essential to mind how much convenient snacking that you are doing throughout the day. It can be very tempting to leave a bag of chips at your desk, but if you’re not careful, you will find yourself devouring the whole bag before the day is over.

And it’s not just chips that are common in the workplace. Candy bars, sodas from the vending machine, birthday cakes, and more are all normal snack foods that people bring to their desk.

Avoid doing this at all cost because the calories add up quickly and you may not even be aware of it. Combine snacking with the sedentary sitting of the average workday and you have yourself a recipe for terrible health.

One way to avoid unhealthy snacking is by replacing the normal junk food with fruits and calorie-light vegetables like carrots or celery sticks. This way, you still get to enjoy food at your desk, but you are using healthy options instead.

Control Your Caffeine Intake

Also be mindful of is just how much caffeine you consume on a daily basis. It is extremely common for people to begin every day with a cup or two of coffee. On top of the sheer amount of caffeine, there is also the cream and sugars that go into our favorite morning drink. I am also guilty of this, but it does not have to be a bad thing.

A cup of coffee is perfectly fine, but you should try to limit it to just one. You do not want to become reliant on caffeine to function at your best. And for those of you who cannot stand caffeine-free coffee – there are alternative options that you might enjoy.

Hot tea is a popular option, but so is plain old H2O. Our bodies are mostly made of water and most people do not get enough of it. In fact, once you start to feel the sensation of thirst, you are already hydrated to a certain extent. It is recommended that you get 6-8 glasses of water per day.

This is a good rule of thumb, as it will keep you hydrated, prevent afternoon caffeine crashes, and will prevent you from overeating throughout the day.

Conclusion

Your health is essential if you want to work efficiently and if you want to live an enjoyable life. Since we spend nearly a quarter of our lives at work, we have to find ways to use that time to improve or at least maintain our health.

These tips are not an excuse for avoiding rigorous exercise before/after work – but hopefully they give you starting point for how to incorporate healthy habits into your workweek.

~ Scott Asner Kansas City, Missouri

Tips for Being More Productive (Part 2)

Welcome back!

In a previous blog post we discussed some practical ways that people can manage time and hobbies that anyone could develop to improve productivity throughout their lives. Continuing in that same spirit, I would like to include a couple more ways that you may use to jumpstart your workweek and achieve even more success.

Some of these tips have helped turn Eighteen Capital Group from a Kansas City investment firm, into a nation-wide enterprise. Feel free to use them as you see fit!

1.) Get Out of Your Head

Sometimes the best thing we can do to remain productive is to take a break and come back with a new perspective. In our modern workplaces, it’s easy to get stuck sitting in front of a computer for hours at a time – incessantly clicking and typing away. And the more that we sit there, the more stressed and less efficient we become.

This is not how human beings were designed to live and work. It’s also not productive.

It’s advisable to break up hours of work with break periods, to keep you refreshed and avoid feeling overwhelmed. Some people even subscribe to the Pomodoro Technique – which is the act of timing out twenty-five minutes to focus purely on work, then switch to a less intense break period.

You do not have to follow this exact timetable, but it is important to mind how much time you’re sitting and staring at a computer screen. Every hour or so, stand up, stretch, maybe even go for a walk – just anything to break up the sitting.

This can be especially helpful when you feel stuck and need a new perspective on a problem you’re trying to tackle.

2.) Complete the Hardest Tasks First

It is often said that the most productive hours of the day are the ones before lunch. This does not mean that we should push our lunch break back to achieve all of our daily tasks. Instead, we should try to tackle our biggest challenges in the morning hours.

Even if you plan out your day and make a very detailed to-do list, you will inevitably be waylaid by unforeseen events or have to re-direct your time towards things that were not on the agenda. Knocking out the most difficult or most important tasks in the morning allows you to focus all of your energies into those tasks before the distractions start rolling in.

Once you’ve accomplished the heavy items for the day, you then have room to shift focus or take on the random things that pop-up in the afternoon. This strategy ensures that you stay on track as per your original plans, but even makes you more productive as you cross off additional items over the course of your week.

Another point to keep in mind is the post-lunch slump. Structuring your day to address the most important tasks of the day first will focus all of your momentum and energy into the things that matter before feeling tired.

3.) Periodic Brain Purge

No matter your role or industry, we can get overwhelmed with all of the different outstanding tasks and thoughts whizzing around in our heads. It may be difficult to sort out exactly what your priorities should be at any given moment. This is why it is extremely helpful to do a brain purge and regain a sense of control and direction.

The first step is to simply write down all of the thoughts floating through your mind, work-related and otherwise. Upcoming birthdays, upcoming bills, people you should call, things the kids need for school, things to pick up from the store – write it all down.

Just getting it all out of your head and down onto a single document can be a relief in of itself, but then it is time to group these items into categories and prioritize.

Separate each thought into categories according to their urgency and their importance. For example, it may be important to call your mother, but it is more urgent to close the loop on that presentation that is due next week. Responding to an HR survey may be urgent, but not as important as touching base with a client. Whatever your to-dos may be – categorize them in this way until each one is accounted for.

Now you have an immediate compass for tackling the outstanding tasks in your life, and you have a sense of which ones are most immediate and most critical to your success.

*. *. *. *. *

Hopefully you’ve found these additional tips for improving productivity helpful and will be able to put them to use to get more out of your day.

It is now up to you to put them into practice. With the right mentality and know-how, there is no limit to what you can do.

~ Scott Asner Kansas City, Missouri

S.M.A.R.T. Goals for Smart Achievers

You may have read about the importance of setting goals in my earlier blog entry, but today I wanted to make a special point about why it’s smart to set S.M.A.R.T. goals. It makes all the difference in terms of accomplishing your dreams.

What are S.M.A.R.T. goals?

S.M.A.R.T. is an acronym for a popular approach to goal setting that helps ensure that you have the right targets to shoot for and a feasible way of hitting your mark. The acronym stands for goals that are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Timely.

Specific

Make sure that your goals have a specific outcome in mind. It is not enough to just say, “I’d like to be healthier,” because that is too broad and could include too many things to actually move the needle forward on your vision. It leaves too much grey area in terms of whether the goal was met or not.

Instead, state what you will specifically do to get healthier. Leave no room for in-betweens about what will be undertaken to achieve your goal. A better approach would be to identify exactly how you will be healthier. “I will exercise.” “I will eat healthier foods.”

Specific goals help you home in your vision in a clear way.

Measurable

Following up with specificity, make sure that your goals are measurable and can be tracked. If you cannot measure a goal, there is still too much ambiguity surrounding the end-result to actually matter.

To make goals measurable, include a quantitative aspect that is either achieved or not. Going along with the above example, “I’d like to be healthier,” should instead look more like, “I will jog around Kansas City to lose 10 pounds.”

Now we have a specific course of action and a measurable outcome.

Attainable

It can be easy to set unattainable goals when we are feeling our best or are coming off of a massive win. We want to keep the momentum going and declare that “this year is my year!” And while this is a noble thing and is exciting in the moment – it may not leave us better off when actually setting goals for the quarter/year.

Goals should challenge us to move forward, but they have to be attainable. Make sure your goals are within the realm of possibility; otherwise, you are setting yourself up for failure when you are actually trying to do your best.

Relevant

Another problem we run into is setting irrelevant goals that hold no real outcome on our lives. This can happen when we want to do too much at once, or we’re looking for an easy win that doesn’t really contribute to realizing our dreams.

Make sure your goals are relevant and work with other goals that you may have set. Furthermore, they should matter and provide tangible value to your wellbeing – professionally or personally.

It does no good to set a frivolous goal for all of your effort. Tailor them to improve your life as something worthwhile. For example, losing 10 pounds is worthwhile because it improves many other factors of your life and is a great start to a journey of overall improved health. It is also an attainable goal that can be expanded on with progress.

Timely

Lastly, goals should fit within a defined timetable. By including a time measurement to the goal, it comes with a sense of accountability. This keeps you on-track and helps ensure success from your efforts.

Without a time component to a goal, it can be too easy to push off into the future. What is the point of setting a goal if you never really accomplish it or hold yourself to any sort of expectation? Add a timetable to the goal, while also making sure that it is still attainable.

“I will jog around Kansas City to lose 10 pounds in three months.”

End Result

When we sit down to map out goals, it is easy to fall into the trap of idealistic optimism and to shoot for the stars. This is a good thing, but as we’ve seen, it isn’t necessarily the smartest way to go about mapping out your plans.

“I would like to be healthier,” is a goal that is not specific, is not measurable, and has no timetable to judge it by.

“I will jog around Kansas City to lose 10 pounds in three months,” is a much stronger goal as it has a specific outcome, is measurable, and sets a time limit to keep things moving in the forward direction. It is also an attainable goal that has relevance to one’s life.

The end result of applying the S.M.A.R.T. system is an improved chance of taking your dreams and turning them into a reality. Make sure to incorporate this method into your goal setting to be more productive with your time.

~ Scott Asner Kansas City, Missouri

Tips for Being More Productive (Part 1)

The modern world is a busy place. Reviewing memos, catching flights, attending meetings, reading endless e-mails – it adds up to a lot. We’re all looking for ways to make the workday more productive and to accomplish more of our goals in practical ways.

Today, I’d like to share some of my personal tips and advice for staying productive and keeping your edge in this busy environment.

1.) Keep Track of Your Time

Sometimes it seems like there aren’t enough hours in the day to accomplish all of the tasks on your radar. Maybe you start out each day with focus and the intention to mark off everything on your to-do list, but at the end of the day, you still have many items left undone.

If this scenario seems familiar to you, you should consider keeping a daily timesheet to keep track of your time. Keeping track of how you spend your time allows you to get an assessment of your activity and identify patterns of behavior that aren’t as productive as they could be.

You can use a manual sheet or digital excel sheet and block off the hours of the day. Use intervals of 15 minutes to prevent things from becoming overly complicated. Track your time for a whole week to gather enough data, then review the week to identify how you spent your time. If you use a digital timesheet, you can place the information into graphs for easy comparison and additional details.

After a week or two, you will be surprised how much of your day is spent on activities that are relatively unimportant or could be delegated to free up more of your valuable attention. From here, you can make adjustments as needed to improve your performance.

2.) Set Goals, Big and Small

Sometimes we can feel that we are grinding away, but we don’t necessarily have a clear direction of where we’re going or what we would like to accomplish with our time. This is where setting goals becomes an important part of your life.

Whether in business or in life, every highly productive person takes the time to analyze where they are in a general sense, where they would like to be and what it would take to get there. Then, they formulate a plan to achieve specific actions that will move them closer to their end goal.

You too can take advantage of this approach by taking an inventory of where you are, and by setting goals on a small scope (week-by-week) to large (quarterly or yearly). This process will naturally keep you on track toward achieving your dreams.

3.) Avoid Multi-tasking

Multi-tasking is an ability that has become increasingly in demand in our hyper-connected, rapid-paced world. And while it is certainly a skill that can come in handy, it is far from perfect when it measures up to applied focus.

Multi-tasking is the act of performing multiple tasks at one time. This is useful in situations where you are performing low-level tasks that do not require a lot of brain power and just need to be checked off.

The bad news is that multi-tasking is widely ineffective when it comes to more complex tasks and can actually cause you to be less productive in the long-term. That’s because when someone is “multi-tasking,” they’re really just switching between tasks at a rapid rate – cutting down the level of detail and attention that they apply to any given task.

This is the opposite of productive. Instead of taking this approach, you should focus on one individual task at a time and complete them in order from most important to least. This will ensure that you are giving the fullest level of attention to your work and actually free up time as you knock them out one-by-one.

4.) Develop a Passion for Reading

It has been well-established that reading is an important habit to develop for long-term success. It is a fundamental characteristic of successful people in today’s world, from CEOs to philosophers. In fact, legendary investor Warren Buffett is famous for his advocacy of reading, recommending that everyone should read at least 500 pages per day.

Why is it so important to read?

Reading is one of the most powerful tools available to educate oneself and gain the direct insights and knowledge of others. It allows the reader to absorb a lifetime of information on any given subject over a period of hours. Books are a tremendous resource for anyone continuing their educational efforts and advancing their skillset and knowledge base, especially in the business world.

It has also been scientifically proven that reading improves memory and can train the brain for increased focus, making reading a great activity to keep the brain working optimally.

In addition to the immense educational value provided – reading is a fun activity and can be a crucial tool for anyone looking to be more productive.

Onward and Upward

So, there you have it – a handful of productivity tips that will hopefully take your days to the next level in terms of what you can accomplish. If you’re interested in learning even more ways to be productive, check out some of my additional tips, here.

Also, feel free to leave your own tips in the comments section below.

~ Scott Asner Kansas City, Missouri

The Kansas City Royals are Being Sold: What Could This Mean for the Franchise?

Kansas City Royals always brings the heat

My wife and I are long-time fans of the Kansas City Royals, and we try to hit a home game whenever we can; it’s one of our favorite family pastimes. Currently, the Royals are sitting 4th overall in the MLB’s American League Central (AL Cent), but their performance isn’t the only thing fans are talking about and sportscasters are reporting on.

After much speculation, it’s been confirmed that the Kansas City Royals are being sold to local businessman John Sherman, for $1 billion. The official announcement was made by the Royals’ current owner David Glass and his family on August 30th. While Glass explained to Kansas City fans how difficult this decision was to make, there are high hopes that John Sherman will make an excellent addition to the team.

A season-ticket holder, minority owner of the Cleveland Indians, and Kansas City native, John Sherman will be the third owner of the franchise since it was founded in 1969 by Ewing Kauffman. While the prospect of new ownership is daunting to fans, teammates, and management, John Sherman is certainly the right man for the job. This change in ownership could mean a whole new ball game for the Royals, and one that exudes success.

I believe that Sherman will truly be an asset to the Royals, as his experience speaks for itself. As a former minority owner of the Cleveland Indians, Sherman has seen the operations of major league baseball–he knows how the system works and the types of strategies that will evoke prosperity for the team and the franchise as a whole. However, there has been some speculation that Dayton Moore steps away from the general manager’s office while Ned Yost might also make an abrupt departure.

We can only wait to see what the final outcome will be, but it’s important to keep in mind that the Royals have always been a strong and stable franchise–more than any other franchise within the last decade. As a long-time fan, I have hope that this new deal will bring forth a new era for the Kansas City Royals.

~ Scott Asner Kansas City, Missouri

A Brief History of Kansas City

Some people call it “Paris of the Plains,” – others call it the BBQ Capital of the World – or simply K.C. There are a lot of different names for Kansas City, Missouri but I just call it home.

From its early days as a settlement for traders and trappers, Kansas City has been a burgeoning center piece in the American story. Today, the metro area is home to over 2 million people, and is a major business sector and logistical hub in the heartland of the country.

Allow me to give you a short history of this great city.

Founding and Early Days

Kansas City became famous as a waypoint for traders, trappers and pioneers making their way westward.

The area around Kansas City was initially inhabited by Native American tribes (primarily the Kansa Indians and the Shawnee tribe) in its early days before its development by French traders and Missouri’s later inclusion into the United States.

Kansas City itself was founded heavily by the activity of settlers and pioneers who made their way along the Kansas and Missouri Rivers – scouting out the land in search of animals, farmland and strategic points for traders. A prominent merchant and missionary named John Calvin McCoy opened up a store for fellow travelers, sprouting neighboring settlements and what would eventually become Kansas City.

By mid-century, Kansas City had emerged as a key port along the Missouri River, and had established itself as a primary point of interest for travelers as the great westward expansion was underway. The budding town was eventually incorporated into Missouri, although half of the metro still remains in Kansas state to this day.

The Boom

In the late 1800’s to mid 1900’s, Kansas City went through a boom. Due to its prime location as a crossroads to the west, the city became a destination for travelers and newly arrived citizens which brought in some of its most defining qualities.

In 1881, the state of Kansas enacted prohibition laws for its residents – barring the consumption and selling of alcohol. Luckily for those residents located on the western side of the Kansas River, they could get a drink just over the bridge in Missouri where alcohol was still legal. This created a boom in taverns and saloons throughout Kansas City (especially along our famous 12th street.)

The explosion of profitability from these saloons brought in other forms of business (banks, manufacturing, hotels, etc.) and led to the expansion of Kansas City’s influence. The city soon gave birth to its own distinct form of Jazz, as well as placing itself on the map for the world’s best BBQ.

Current Day

Kansas City, Missouri

After the mid-1900’s Kansas City continued to develop along with the rest of the United States. Population growth has continued to climb as the city remains an attractive site for businesses, young professionals and families in the Midwest.

Today, we are the country’s 29th most populous metro area. We are home to a multitude of fabulous schools and universities. We enjoy a multitude of sports teams like the Kansas City Chiefs and the Kansas City Royals – and yes, our BBQ is still number one.

We have more boulevards than Paris, filled with places to see and things to do. If you should be so lucky to find yourself in this part of the country, make sure to visit some of our most notable locations, like the National WWI Museum and Memorial or the famous Union Station.

Until next time.

~ Scott Asner Kansas City, Missouri

3 New Technologies in Real Estate

It’s no secret that I am a real estate enthusiast – not just in my work with Eighteen Capital Group (18CG) here in Kansas City, but also as a hobbyist.

I love learning about the latest trends and seeing where the market is going at any given time, and you can learn a lot by observing industry changes on a macro scale. Like all fields of business, real estate is constantly shifting with the times and the last place you want to end up is behind the curve.

Plus, it’s just incredibly interesting to see how the latest tech is being used for the benefit of the owner and seeker. Every year it seems like there is something new that comes out to potentially revolutionize the industry.

Today, I thought I’d share some of the most exciting things to keep an eye on in the next year.

1.) Virtual and Augment Reality

Virtual reality (or VR) used to be a fantasy of the not-so-distant past. I remember several various attempts at producing a viable concept throughout the 80’s and 90’s, but it seems is if the tech has finally arrived.

Maybe you’ve seen the demos at your local mall, or maybe you’re living an alternate life in the comfort of your home – at either rate, VR is an emerging technology that could revolutionize real estate as we know it.

From experiencing a virtual tour of your place prior to move-in, or seeing your dream home before building – there are several attractive possibilities for this tool. Sure, there are some digital programs out there that let you play around with various design concepts, but imagine a fully realized creative platform that lets you see the end product before your very eyes.

Property owners and builders can host instant and always-available walk-throughs for prospective buyers. And buyers will be able to plan for their future by knowing how their home will look and feel once they move in. This also opens the door to interior/exterior design.

2.) Drone Photography

Drones came onto the scene just a few short years ago and multiple industries quickly found use for flying tech. In real estate, the drone has been adapted primarily to be used for photography and video recording that would have been impossible in the past.

There are some amazing feats being accomplished with drone photography, from a bird’s eye view of the property or neighborhood, to gliding through open rooms. Check out this amazing video, shot with a drone equipped with slow-motion capture: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YrlusuwPvcs

These little machines are controlled by manual or digital remotes and can go upwards of 400 feet – getting amazing footage of land properties or homes for sale. Some drones can be outfitted with expensive, HD cameras that capture hyper-detailed images/video. A professional level drone can cost anywhere between a couple hundred dollars and several thousand – depending on what specs or quality is needed.

This new tech is certainly a game changer for owners trying to showcase their properties, but it will also open up a whole area for business. Costing a couple hundred dollars per flight – drone pilots can make good money, while also offering a fair price for stellar photos.

3.) Improved Data and Platforms

Since the arrival of platforms like Zillow or Realtor.com, buying and selling platforms have completely changed the real estate business. Having properties listed on these platforms has never been more important and can mean the difference between success and failure.

For buyers and sellers alike, it’s important to tap into the massive market looking for specific requirements.  One of the great features of these various platforms is the ability to nail down the exact specifications that home buyers are looking for – allowing them to sort through thousands of listings to compare the most suitable matches.

Gone are the days of “searching and hoping” to find a home that you can tolerate. Now, you can get the home of your dreams curated to your profile and neatly organized by filter options. This dramatically cuts down on the need for a third-party, and will continue to do so as personalized algorithms become more advanced.

These are just a few of the latest technological developments in real estate. It will be interesting to see how these develop and what other advancements come into the fold, but I would choose these as the big winners in innovation.

~ Scott Asner Kansas City, Missouri