Many of us may have already dropped our New Year’s Resolutions by now, but I personally believe there’s no wrong time to make a positive change in your life. Here are some tips for those looking to be more efficient in 2023.
Break Tasks Down Into Smaller Pieces
The urge to procrastinate is hard to resist and I’ve learned that breaking down work into smaller chunks is very helpful when trying to concentrate. When looking at a big project or task, take a step back and zero in on what can be done first. One of the easiest ways to do this is to allocate a manageable amount of time you can dedicate each day to working on the project to make it feel more manageable.
Figure Out What Needs to Be Done First
Whether it’s for work or chores at home, look at what you need to do and think to yourself “What could cause a problem if I don’t get it done now?” For work, if a specific task is due that day, you’ll want to make finishing it a priority. At home, if you’re choosing between cleaning up a spill on the living room carpet or cleaning the oven, you’ll want to focus on cleaning up the spill before a stain can set. Prioritizing your tasks each day helps you become more productive on a day-to-day basis.
Write Down a List of Your Tasks for Reference
Many of us are leading busy lives with to-do lists we can’t keep straight from day to day. If you’ve got a busy day or week ahead of you, take a few minutes to write down a list of everything you need to get done. It can be easy to lose track of what you should be doing, so it’s handy having a list to refer back to. Plus, if you’re someone like me who loves having a to-do list to check off, you’ll feel even more accomplished when you finish!
Learn to Say “No”
Sometimes in the name of being efficient, we say “yes” to everything thrown our way. But to be efficient, you can’t take on more than you can handle. Learn to know when your plate is full and be comfortable turning down others so you can prioritize yourself.
One of the most crucial parts of being more efficient is taking a break. If you’re operating at full speed 100% of the time, you’re bound to burn out. Your body and mind need time to recuperate if they’re going to be as efficient as you want them to be. If you want recommendations on books to read in your downtime, check out my blog here.
When your life gets busy, it’s easy to succumb to the stress and get overwhelmed, but life doesn’t have to be that way. I hope these tips will help guide you so that your life throughout 2023 is more efficient than ever.
As many face financial difficulty in the wake of the pandemic, you may look for ways to boost your income. Real estate provides great benefits for those looking to diversify their portfolio and avoid riskier investments. Here are five reasons why you should invest in real estate:
When tax season arrives, real estate investors are able to write off fees for managing their properties. The costs of owning and operating can provide some decent tax breaks. If you’re able to sell your property for more than what you bought it for, then it won’t be counted as taxed income.
Chance to Build Capital
If you invest in the right properties, you’ll be able to expand your capital by selling it once its value has risen. One of the main goals of investing in real estate is to build out capital, or cash. What’s important is making sure you’re investing in the right properties and knowing the right time to sell.
In times of economic turmoil, such as the one we’re currently facing, diversification can be key to protecting you from riskier financial investments. If certain stocks are facing a downturn, your real estate could still be increasing in value, protecting you from greater financial harm.
Stable Cash Flow
Renting out property to tenants is a good source of additional monthly income. After mortgage payments and any supplemental operating costs, the additional profit leftover is yours to take. Just make sure you’re renting out to reliable tenants. You don’t want to constantly be short of a check by the end of the month and have to cut into your own funds.
As inflation increases prices, property values also increase. You’ll be able to make more for higher operating expenses in order to compensate where you’re paying more in other areas.
Figure out what kind of real estate investment is right for you. Do you want to rent out a property to families or business owners? The most important thing when investing in real estate is choosing the property that aligns with you and your goals. You’ll want to choose a property that will ideally move up in value instead of depreciating. Either way, you’ll be able to expand your financial resume and receive several financial benefits.
If you want to learn about ways to boost the resale value of property you already own, read my blog here about home renovations I recommend.
Traveling can be stressful. As a seasoned traveler myself, I know how much effort goes into trip preparation. Today, I wanted to share some tips about aspects of your vacation you may put on the back burner. Here are some tips to keep in mind as you plan your next vacation.
Never Underestimate Lines at the Airport
It may seem overkill to get to the airport hours ahead of takeoff but it’s essential to keep in mind. Some international travelers are waiting up to four hours to get through security. Don’t miss out on your dream vacation because the line for TSA is moving too slowly. Better to be early and bored than to miss your flight entirely. If you’re looking for a good read to pass the time waiting in the terminal, check out my blog about some of my favorite mystery novels.
Traveling expenses can add up pretty quickly. Create a travel budget that will account for essentials like food and lodging but remember to take experiences into consideration. Give yourself room to make some pre-planned “impulsive” decisions on your trip.
Invest in a Quality Suitcase.
Many travelers fall victim to the overpacking impulse. This can be a pain when you’re trying to consolidate the number of bags you’re checking at the airport. Invest in a suitcase that can compensate for any last-minute additions to your clothes for the trip and anything you decide to purchase while you’re away.
It’s always important to know some of the ground rules for where you’re traveling. You should know. What’s a big no-no? Are there any cultural differences? Is there any special clothing you need to pack? Look at the weather forecast and be prepared for different climates depending on the time of year. You don’t have to know the ins and outs of everything but it’s good to have a general knowledge of the area you’re visiting so you can ensure you have the best trip possible.
Don’t Be Afraid of the Tourist Label
Tourists tend to get a bad rep. Many people get caught up trying to avoid judgment from locals but as long as you’re being respectful, embrace your status as a traveler. Don’t be afraid to ask for directions or visit the monument already clogged up with other visitors. They’re popular for a reason!
Preparedness pays off but make sure you don’t get too caught up in the details when you’re traveling. It’s good to have a plan so you can make the most out of your time but don’t sweat it too much if things get knocked a bit off course. Wherever you’re going, enjoy your visit!
Selling your home can be stressful. You want to make sure you’re fully capitalizing on the space you have but might not know where to start. Here are some ways to increase the resale value of your home and take full advantage of what your home has to offer:
Improve your curb appeal
You want potential buyers to be drawn in from the moment they see your house. There are many small changes you can make to improve your front porch and yard. Enhance your landscape with trees, flowers, and bushes to help frame your front yard. Expand your front porch with an inviting and comfortable seating area and welcoming light fixtures. Also, easy changes like a fresh coat of paint or new doors can make all the difference.
Build or convert space
The next best way to guarantee an increase in the value of your home is to add square footage. However, if an addition isn’t in your timeframe or budget, consider converting some unused space. Do your kids have an old playroom they’ve outgrown? Consider converting it into a home office space. With such a large portion of the workforce working from home, having an area devoted specifically to work could be a major selling point for homebuyers.
Make your home more energy efficient
More and more buyers are looking for ways to be energy efficient in their day-to-day lives. By incorporating energy efficiency into your home, you’ll be doing the work for them, making your home all the more enticing. If you’re curious about which green tech to incorporate into your home, check out my blog about the best green tech here.
Enhance your backyard
Upgrading your backyard can offer new recreational benefits. With so many people now working from home, and so many others still concerned about shared spaces, many have incorporated the outdoors as an expansion of their everyday space. A deck or pool can transform a backyard into a place in which potential buyers can easily imagine spending long stretches of their time.
These renovations can make all the difference in upping the value of your home. When making these changes, it’s important to keep in mind what sellers are looking for. Whether it’s planting more flowers or building a fire pit, figure out what changes make the most sense for your home, and more importantly, for your buyers.
As a lifelong Kansas City native, I’m always eager to show off the sights that make this city special. Though the Midwest can sometimes be overlooked for its vacation appeal, there’s plenty of hidden treasure to explore, especially here in Missouri. Here are some of the best sights Kansas City has to offer.
The Arabia Steamboat Museum offers an in-depth look at the historic sinking of the Arabia in 1856, as well as its recovery in 1988. The Missouri River claimed hundreds of steamboats along its 2,500-mile route throughout the 1800s. When the Steamboat Arabia originally sank in 1856, it brought down 200 tons of unknown cargo. Over a century later, the recovery of the ship brought with it a modern-day treasure-hunting story. Visitors get a glimpse into the past through the Arabia’s uniquely preserved materials. From clothing to fine china to children’s toys, this museum will capture the attention of all ages. The Arabia’s preservation is still in progress, so you always have more to look forward to in future visits.
Founded in 1909, the Kansas City Zoo has reigned the wild into the city for locals and tourists alike. The Kansas City Zoo is home to over 1,700 animals. They even have cameras for a live look at the animals after zoo hours. Their website offers a sneak peek at the more than 200 species represented at the zoo so that visitors can familiarize themselves before getting to meet them in person. From Allen’s Swamp Monkey to the American alligator, the Kansas City Zoo has everything an animal lover could want.
Another must-see, especially for any baseball fan, is the Kauffman Stadium. Originally opened as the Royals Stadium in 1973, Kauffman is the sixth oldest stadium in the country. It gained its new name in 1993, in honor of the team’s former owner, Ewing M. Kauffman, and his contributions to the team. I recommend taking the chance to watch the Kansas City Royals play at home during their 50th season. Kauffman Stadium has seats that can accommodate any price range and guarantee an exciting ballgame experience for everyone. View the Royals Hall of Fame or book a stadium tour.
If you’re looking for the “billion-dollar experience” at no cost, visit the Money Museum at the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City. The Money Museum shows visitors how millions of dollars are processed through the Federal Reserve Bank each day. Guests can view Harry S. Truman’s coin collection, lift a genuine gold bar, and interact with numerous digital exhibits. The Money Museum is a fun and free way to learn more about the U.S. economy.
Kansas City has something to offer for all ages and interests.
Hi everyone! Michael Gortenburg here! Over the course of my career, I have always put focus on how to make housing more energy-efficient and environmentally friendly.
In 2022, it is easier to make environmentally-friendly changes to your home that will save energy and money. If you dread getting your electric or gas invoice every month, here are a few upgrades you can make to help shrink your bill.
If you are looking for a new way to power your home, consider installing solar panels on the roof of your house. Solar panels convert sunlight and heat into energy and reduce your reliance on the more traditional power grid. You can use the energy directly or store it for later use. While this option can be a bit costly, it is a long-term investment in using a renewable and sustainable resource that will save you considerable money down the line.
LED lights are the most energy-efficient bulbs on the market, so you can have incandescent lighting without the environmental impact. Unlike halogen or CFL bulbs, LED bulbs don’t radiate as much heat. They don’t emit UV rays or contain any toxic materials like mercury. LEDs are also incredibly durable, some even lasting up to 20 years without going out, saving you money every year.
Another must-have piece of green tech for your home is a smart thermostat. As summers get hotter and winters get colder, you may find yourself adjusting your thermostat more and more just to stay comfortable at home. Smart thermostats control the temperature for you, making sure that your home stays the perfect temperature regardless of if you need heat to keep warm or air conditioning to cool off.
Smart Power Strips
We are all familiar with the traditional power strip. You know, the ones that plug all of your cords into a single outlet? If you keep those strips on even when you aren’t using your devices, you might not be thinking about how much energy you’re still using by keeping them plugged in. If this sounds like you, consider switching to a smart power strip. This piece of tech uses a remote to turn off the device and save energy, money, and the environment.
Making your home environmentally friendly is an investment that shouldn’t break the bank. Adding green tech to your house is a simple way to live a more sustainable and energy-efficient life. Do you have any green tech in your home already? Let me know on social media!
Hello! Michael Gortenburg here and greetings from Kansas City!
Throughout my life, I have been fortunate enough to travel around the world to visit some of the most spectacular countries and their noteworthy attractions. From the bustling streets of Tel Aviv to the beaches of Cuba, I’ve seen a lot beyond the borders of Kansas City.
One of my favorite trips was the one I took to Greece. Not only does the country have beautiful views, but Greece is rich in culture and history. If you find yourself going there anytime soon, here are a few places you should consider going to on your visit.
Cities and Islands
If you love seeing the remains of history and incredible art, Athens should be a no-brainer on your itinerary. Visit the Acropolis to see the most important landmark in the country and the New Acropolis Museum, which is the largest modern structure built so close to an ancient spot. The Acropolis is home to the remains of several ancient buildings including the Parthenon, the Old Temple of Athena, and the Theatre of Dionysus Eleutherius.
If you’re looking to let loose on vacation, look no further than Mykonos. Mykonos is a Greek Island known for its vibrant nightlife. You probably hear “Mykonos” and think of white buildings with beautiful blue accents, but it’s so much more than that. Whether you’re looking for wine tasting, a boat ride around the island, or nightclubs, you won’t be disappointed with what you can find there.
From ruins to islands, the sightseeing in Greece is second to none. The country has so many beautiful views that you can’t find here in the United States.
Greece has a rich culture, history, and most importantly, cuisine. Using wheat, olive oil, and wine, in combination with other specialty vegetables and proteins, cheeses and herbs, Greek culinary traditions will blow you away. I would definitely recommend trying Greek Baklava, a layered dessert made from filo dough and filled with chopped nuts and sweetened with honey. The dish has taken a variety of forms throughout the Mediterranean and the Middle East, but there’s nothing quite like it in Greece, where they make it with 33 layers of dough.
If you like wine or olive oil, Greece is the perfect place to try both. Look for bountiful vineyards and groves for distinctly Greek wines and olive oil made from freshly picked olives. Did you know that Greek olive oil is considered to be a superfood? Studies have shown that it can reduce blood pressure and cholesterol, fight cancer, and so much more.
These are just a few things to enjoy on your next trip to Greece. It is so important for us to experience and immerse ourselves in other cultures, and expand what we know about history, food, and people. Travelling is good for the soul and I wish you the best of luck as you explore the world.
Do you have any travel tips for Greece? Let me know in the comments below!
As many of you know, I take pride in my Jewish heritage. The values of Judaism have always guided me in my personal and work life and today I wanted to talk about one of the most important values: Tikkun Olam.
Tikkun is most often translated to “repair,” but it can also be used to mean improve, fix, or prepare, among other definitions. Olam in modern Hebrew has come to mean “the world.” So Tikkun Olam is a concept that means “repair the world.”
In Jewish teachings, it is any activity that makes the world a better place, and everything we do is an opportunity to fulfill this task. Whether we are fixing what is broken in the world or improving something that already does some good. It’s a key theme in Jewish tradition, and in the stories, we pass down through the generations. Whether it’s donations to those who need it most or days of community service, we can all do little things to make the world a better place for everyone.
I want to encourage everyone to take some time out of their week to make the world a better place, to repair the world bit by bit. There are opportunities everywhere and all we have to do is take them. As a matter of fact, here in Kansas City, there are many organizations that you can volunteer with to take part in Tikkun Olam. Here are a few recommendations for places to start.
Volunteer KC, Inc.
Volunteer KC works to support nonprofit organizations and homeless outreach groups by providing volunteers and donations to those who need it most. In 2020, their volunteers spent 1,830 hours putting together food boxes, donations, and resources that totaled $482,000. That is an incredible impact on the local community, especially at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. If you are interested in volunteering with them, visit https://www.volunteerkc.com/volunteer to learn more.
Nourish KC works to ensure that everyone has access to hot, fresh, and nutritious meals. They have three different programs: Kansas City Community Kitchen (KCCK), Food Rescue, and Culinary Training. They envision a community where all people have equal access to healthy food. During the height of the pandemic, the KCCK served nearly 88,000 free meals to anyone that came to their door. NourishKC’s volunteer program offers two shifts every weekday and some weekend opportunities. To learn more, visit their website here.
This is the perfect place to volunteer for anyone who loves working with animals. Wayside Waifs is committed to finding the perfect home for adoptable pets and is the largest pet adoption campus in the area. Whether you like dog walking, community education and events, or working in the vet clinic, Wayside Waifs has opportunities in nearly every area of the shelter. For more information on volunteering your time, click here.
These are just a few places where you can spend your time embracing Tikkun Olam in the local Kansas City community. Tikkun Olam isn’t difficult, but we must commit to making it a part of our everyday lives.
I think author Krista Tippett said it best, “It insists that each one of us, flawed and inadequate as we may feel, has exactly what is needed to help repair the world that we can see and touch.”
Anyone who knows me knows that I have a soft spot for automobiles (you can check out my previous blog on this subject here). I love that each one provides an entirely unique experience. A car doesn’t need to be fast to give me a thrill. All it needs to have is soul.
What does that mean? It means a car that is itself an experience. A car that has its own personality, its own flaws and defects, its own unique way to move along the road. A car that reminds you at every moment that you are in something special, and the experience is yours and yours alone.
Modern cars with all the bells and whistles can give you that, and I’ve driven some incredible ones that use hybrid technology. The electric motors provide tons of torque while the engine gives it power once you off the line. There is nothing like being pushed deep into the seat by the g-force of a launch. It is invigorating.
At the same time, old cars (most of which are pretty slow by today’s standards) can provide unique experiences as well.
Recently, I’ve been interested in something that bridges the gap between old cars and new – they are called “resto-mods.”
Resto-mods are essentially old, classic cars that have been completely stripped down, then rebuilt using modern parts. So, for example, you could have a 1969 Lamborghini Miura, an absolutely beautiful car but with incredibly unreliable performance, and replace its engine, suspension, transmission, and brakes with modern parts from a contemporary Lamborghini. Is this sacrilege? To some people, yes absolutely it is. But if you are more concerned about enjoying your car than getting the approval of others, it could be a good option. After all, would you rather spend your time fixing your car, or driving it?
Resto-mods are still considered the black-sheep of the car collecting world; however, but I believe that is going to change. Younger people are used to driving reliable cars and most are completely unaccustomed to doing their own repairs. They want immediate gratification, and a resto-mod can give that to you.
Most of the resto-mods currently on the market are American cars, especially muscle cars from the 1960s and 1970s. That makes sense because those cars are notoriously easy to work on. Large engine bays mean you can reach everything without removing half of the bodywork, and simple engineering with minimal electronics makes doing things like engine swaps a lot easier.
Now most of those resto-mods are done by home mechanics, so just imagine what you could accomplish if you used the kind of resources that could pay for a hypercar. You could have one of the most unique classic cars around, with modern-day performance to match.
Imagine a Jaguar E-Type from the 1960s with a reliable and efficient drivetrain. Or a Mercedes Grosser with a Bentley W12 engine. Or, for a laugh, how about a Volga with a new Porsche engine and carbon brakes? You get the idea. The possibilities are endless and there is nothing wrong with having a little fun, no matter what the purists say.
What do you think? Do you think this modern twist on classic cars is a cardinal sin? Or are they ok in your book?
Today I wanted to talk about a key element of success — reading. It’s no surprise that reading is a common denominator amongst many of the biggest names in business, and almost all entrepreneurs have a book or two they accredit to changing their lives and shaping their careers.
Warren Buffet credits his business philosophy to “The Intelligent Investor,” by Benjamin Grahman; Douglas Adams’ “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy changed Elon Musk’s life — and boy, did it! Sometimes it’s not a business book that gives you your “Eureka! Moments,” but nevertheless, it’s important to be constantly consuming new content to stay sharp and creative if you want to succeed. Bill Gates takes up 50 books a year, Warren Buffet reads 500 pages a day, Mark Zuckerberg challenged himself to read a book every other week and Jeff Bezos is also an avid reader.
With that, I thought I would share some solid recommendations for you to check out:
The Art of War by Sun Tzu
It is a common book suggested by business leaders, but it has such fundamental lessons that I would be remiss if I did not mention it. This 6th century BC book is still used for military strategy today and has direct translations for business strategy and management. Based on Chinese warfare and military thought by the legendary general Sun Tzu, this book can be used to gain advantage of opponents in negotiation, understand office politics and foster a sustainable and positive corporate culture.
Check out some of these quotes to get an idea of its timeless insights:
“The supreme art of war is to subdue the enemy without fighting.” — Sun Tzu, The Art of War
“Treat your men as you would your own beloved sons. And they will follow you into the deepest valley.” — Sun Tzu, The Art of War
Some strategies don’t change within 25,000 years. This is a must read.
The Innovator’s Dilemma: When New Technologies Cause Great Firms to Fail by Clayton M Christensen
There’s nothing better than using your predecessors to guide your own success. There’s a reason why Isaac Newton said: “If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.” This book offers the success and failure stories of the world’s biggest firms and creates a guide for capitalizing on innovation. It encourages you to strategically think about the best times to take big jumps in your business — especially as it pertains to technology. It also covers situations when demand might not meet your innovations, which could destroy the business you already have.
This book is a great guide for when you come up with your next big disruptive innovation idea.
Blue Ocean Strategy: How to Create Uncontested Market Space and Make the Competition Irrelevant by W. Chan Kim and Renée Mauborgne
This book is championed by business schools around the country and illustrates a simple strategy that revolutionizes how people think about how to beat competitors.
A good takeaway from this book: avoid the cutthroat competition of going to a business market (or a bloody “red” ocean) and instead look for bluer waters, where you can swim to success unbothered. Sometimes it is much easier to become top in your field by finding your own niche than by trying to directly compete against more established enterprises that already own their respective markets.
Check out the full read for more insights into this idea.
How to Win Friends & Influence People by Dale Carnegie
This classic book is perhaps the most well-known from Carnegie, and for good reason.
It gives practical tips for establishing relationships in business and in your personal life as well. Relationships are the foundation for success in many ways, so learning skills that allow you to cultivate meaningful and impactful connections with those around you is something that pays for itself many times over.
This book shows you how simple it really is to do — although getting yourself to follow them is a different challenge.
The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R Covey
All of the habits that Covey suggests in this book seem simple — but they have a profound impact.
The one I want to stress the most is the habit of continuous improvement that Covey calls “sharpening the sword.” Covey stresses that through meaningful progress and growth, you will propel yourself along a path of personal freedom and success. One of the main things you can do to “sharpen the sword” is read! So by reading Convey’s book, you will be already starting to develop one of those highly effective habits.
In business, the best way to be on top of the competition is to diversify your perspective, reimagine solutions to our world’s biggest issues and do things that spark your creativity. Reading the worthwhile thoughts of great thinkers is one of the best ways to do just that.
So while we are still stuck at home for the time being (although it is exciting that we are slowly opening up in Kansas City!), I suggest you spend some time reading.
This lists is a great place to start and will help give structure to your thoughts and your business ideology, but business ideas can come from anywhere. Start with whatever you have on your shelves, and who knows, you might think of your next big venture or inspiring idea.
Until next time,
~ Michael Gortenburg, Founding Principal of Eighteen Capital Group (18CG) in Kansas City, Missouri.