Sir Alfred Joseph Hitchcock and Lion.

Sir Alfred Joseph Hitchcock and Lion.

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Do not listen to them

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God bless the not believers

They teach the dreamers how to fly

Love and hate fuel the fire inside their eyes

 -Nikki Jean (Million Star Motel)

God bless the people who do not believe in you. Do not despise them. Without them, you will grow comfortable and lazy. With comfort comes defeat. Only a few people truly believe in Haus of Dinma, and what it represents. Some of the people closest to me, think I am wasting time, and should focus my efforts exclusively on the corporate world. I do not blame them. Sometimes, even I experience doubt, and falter. I started Haus of Dinma because I was fascinated by graphic design, but it was too late to go to design school. I say too late, because I already had an undergraduate degree in engineering and a career in progress. Going back to school to study design was an option, but it would have taken too much time and money. So I decided to get my hands on books and online tutorials, and study graphic design myself. So far so good. 

In addition, I desperately needed to get business smart. Prior to starting Haus of Dinma, I was an engineer/operations person who did not know anything about business. I read “how I did it” stories on Inc.com and entrepreneur.com, but I quickly realized by the time those stories made the front page, that business opportunity was gone. There was little or nothing to learn from the article. What better way is there to learn about business, than to put your money and time on the line? Engineering taught me all the problems solving skills I use, but they often apply in ideal situations.The real world is messy, and full of exigent circumstances. Although having an MBA can be useful, I took enough business classes in college to assume An MBA will not teach me the things running my own business has taught me. Working for a large company will teach me a lot of skills, but will not let me react to, and change things as often as I need to, without requiring me to submit change requests to a higher authority for approval. There are times to wait, and there are times to seize the moment and execute with blinding speed.

My doubters dismiss what I do, they see it as only designing t-shirts. They ask seemingly innocuous questions like? Are you breaking even? Are you selling? Are you doing anything else? Sometimes I am frustrated with their thought process, regardless I hear them out, take what makes sense and disregard the rest. I do not take it personal. Okay, sometimes I do, but I do not despise them because I know they mean well. There is a legendary tale of the pitch Steve Jobs made to John Sculley, former CEO of Pepsi Co. 

Steve Jobs successfully sealed the deal after he made his legendary pitch to John: “Do you want to sell sugared water for the rest of your life? Or do you want to come with me and change the world?

John Sculley was a guy who did all that had been asked of him, he went to the best schools. (Wharton MBA), boosted profits at Pepsi, and eventually rose to become President of Pepsi Co., and then Steve Jobs came along and dismissed what he was doing as selling sugared water.

From John Sculley’s example, you can deduce, the battle against being influenced by people who do not believe in what you are doing, will be an ongoing battle. However, you should not listen to them. If you do, they fill you with doubt. You will begin to see options where there are none, and you will become like them. Become like them in the sense that you will be run by fear. Fear in this case is the 800 pound gorilla in the room. In my experience, these people harbor dreams of entrepreneurship, but are too scared to actually try. They have excuses, they postpone taking risks, and criticize you for taking risks. Eventually, they reach a point where they have worked in the corporate world for so long, they begin to worship it. I visited a senior manager at a top firm last month. During our conversation, the person stated they were counting down to the day they retire, so they can live their lives. The person has ten years left. I thought it was sad for anyone to think like that. What if you die in the next five years, what if you suffer illness that progressively deteriorates your health? This person is postponing life and betting it on a future version of themself they hope will have more time and more resources, but in reality that future version will have less stamina, probably be physically weaker, and may not have the expected financial resources. I am not advocating putting your head in the sand like an ostrich and assuming there is no risk in chasing your dreams. There is a lot of risk. You should only attempt it, if you can bear the risk. Most of what the not- believers say is true. Startups fail. Startups are meant to fail. Even well funded ones like Fisker. The ones that make it, are the exceptions.

We all have lessons, that need to be learned. When it comes to business, I feel a self directed apprenticeship is best. With Haus of Dinma, I wear a lot of hats. I am forced to wear many hats by necessity,  because I do not have the resources to constantly pay other people to do the work. I took photography classes, because I needed to take decent product photos for my online store. I learned how to build websites because I needed an e-commerce website. Now I tweak my websites in the middle of the night whenever I have an idea. The alternative would have been contacting a web developer every time I had an idea, and possibly being held hostage by their schedule. As you can see, I am reaping the benefits of investing the time in learning to learn code. The best thing about this entrepreneurship journey, is I am starting to see opportunity when others see schlep I am developing a killer business instinct and the discipline to execute my vision. I’m still not listening to them.

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Hope

A guy once handed his business card to me. He asked me to help him find a job. I did not have any leads for him, but I took his business card, and in return I gave him what I had, hope. Sometimes hope is all you need.  Hope is all he wanted.

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How I stay calm

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When life throws challenges at me, I find that these three thoughts calm me down. They are in no particular order, and are used depending on the occasion. 

1) This is the most important one. I use it when I need hope. Isaiah 50:7 King James Version (KJV)

For the Lord God will help me; therefore shall I not be confounded: therefore have I set my face like a flint, and I know that I shall not be ashamed.

2) What are you afraid of? Answer = Flesh and bone. What are you made of? Answer =Flesh and bone. This is from the Killers song: Flesh and Bone.  I have found that I am more effective at getting the desired result when I deal with opponents/interviewers as equals. If I make the mistake of imagining them as superiors, all hope is lost. 

3) What would Spartacus do? -Spartacus rarely reacted to opponents with emotion, it was almost always with level headed inspired tactics. Keep calm and look for alternatives. If there are none, make the best choice and hope for the best. Remember, most times, once you get upset, you lose.

Read the post below, if you do not know who Spartacus was, or what the TV show is all about. Though the show is fictional, its psychology is very real.

I say these prayers, do what I have to do, and keep moving. 

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Spartacus fans, the shadow of Rome is upon us.

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I rarely watch TV. I spend most of my time plotting how to build a new Rome in one day. Three years ago I discovered the show Spartacus. The show is about a Thracian warrior who was captured and turned into a slave by the Roman, Gaius Claudius Glaber. Glaber enslaves Spartacus and his wife, separates them, and brings Spartacus to Capua to be executed in the Arena. Spartacus is forced to fight in the Arena against four men at once to provide entertainment to the crowd. Essentially a death sentence. Spartacus defeats his executors, and impressed by his courage, his life is spared. He is handed over to a Lanista, Quintus Lentulus Batiatus who trains him to become a gladiator.

At first Spartacus is incensed by the idea of slavery and maltreatment by Romans, and refuses to be fight. However, silver tongued Batiatus motivates Spartacus by convincing him to fight, win his freedom, and in return he will help Spartacus reunite with his wife. 

Batiatus: What would you do to hold your wife again, to feel the warmth of her skin, to taste her lips, would you kill?

Spartacus: Whoever stood between us.

Batiatus: How many men? A hundred, A thousand?

Spartacus: I would kill them all.

Batiatus: Then do it in the arena. Fight for me, and the honor of my forefathers. Prove yourself, climb to the pinnacle, gain your freedom, and that of the woman you’ve lost.

Spartacus: I did not lose her. She was taken from me.

Batiatus: A man must accept his fate, or be destroyed by it.

Spartacus: Why would I place my fate in the hands of another Roman?

Batiatus: Because of what they hold. Your wife’s? Pass the final test tonight with honor and servitude, call me Dominus, and I will help to reunite you. The choice is yours.

 A lot of things happen along the way, but Spartacus eventually convinces the other gladiators to revolt and breakaway with goals of overthrowing the Republic. They started off with a small band of slaves and expanded to become a full blown rebel army. The Romans did not take the rebellion seriously at first. However, after Spartacus defeated numerous legions sent to end the rebellion, Rome took this seriously enough to beg the richest man in the Republic, Marcus Crassus to assemble enough men capable of defeating Spartacus.  

Every time I watched the show, I felt I was there in the arena, I felt the intensity in every battle. Every detail was carefully thought out.  I learned new curse words: “Jupiters cock”, “fuck the gods”, “take out head from ass and use it for once”. “Glorious Death”. The show had a lot of depth with characters like Batiatus, Crixus, Ganicus, Onemaus, Agron, Saxa, Lucretia, Crassus and more. In the last season, we were introduced to a young Gaius Julius Caesar. Future emperor of Rome.  I cheered for the heroes and wished death upon the villains.  Whenever the season ended, I suffered for a few months. The season finale is today April 12 2013. I do not know what I am going to do, thank God it’s almost summer, and the sun is out. 

What is this connection I have with characters in a TV show? This is the first time I have felt this. Previously, I found it silly when women call into QVC to buy a product and then talk to the QVC host as if they knew her, as if they were friends. They remind her of things she said long ago, and how it impacted them. This also happens to Oprah’s audience. People feel they know her even though they have never met.  I felt a deep sense of loss when Andy Whitfield died, but Liam Mcyntre carried the torch. This is his best year as Spartacus, and he deserves much kudos for stepping into the role knowing he will be endlessly compared to Andy Whitfield. 

Spartacus lost the battle against Rome, but somehow even in death, gained victory. The season’s finale is aptly titled victory. Chinua Achebe, the prominent Nigerian novelist and essayist said in a 1994 interview with the Paris Review, “There is that great proverb — that until the lions have their own historians, the history of the hunt will always glorify the hunter.” Spartacus lost the war, however, in the end, his name will remembered forever. In this case, Crassus and Pompey are footnotes. The idea that one should always be free to do what he/she wants without being beneath the heel of an oppressor resonates with generation after generation. 

Live free.

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Made by Colin Henderson, inspired by the works of Elijah Bossenbroek. 

Haus of Dinma approved!

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The first time I saw this documentary, was on a flight from Orlando, Florida to Cleveland, Ohio. I was listening to music on my mp3 player, while Camelia was watching the documentary. She nudged me and whispered “this is interesting”. I took my earphones off, and proceeded to give the documentary five minutes to make an impression. Five  minutes turned to 1 hour. I was captivated by the way Sister Rosetta Tharpe sang, and amazed by the way she played the guitar. You can watch a 20 minute excerpt of the video here, and then the video will prompt you to continue watching at PBS.org.

Living with no constraints is one of the things I liked about Sister Rosetta Tharpe. Earlier on in her career, she decided she was going to make secular music, even though she was brought up in the Church and expected to stick to Gospel music. A lot of people were disappointed by her decision to go to the ‘dark side’, but Rosetta forged ahead.  She went on tour with fellow artistes regardless of their skin color or background as long as they had talent. Even though segregation was in full effect, and race mixing was frowned upon. She went on tours to England, Denmark and all around the United States. She was an  international star who was revered overseas, but not allowed to sleep in white-only hotels in her home country while travelling from one show venue to another.  To solve this challenge, Rosetta bought her own tour bus, outfitted it with beds for her and her crew, and kept moving ahead. She addressed this injustice in her song: Strange things happening everyday.

 I am always fascinated by people who manage to break boundaries, and forge their own path regardless of opposition or setbacks. People who keep moving ahead, even when it would have been understandable to quit. Sister Rosetta Tharpe was one of those people. Sister Rosetta Tharpe was surreal. 

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I think this beat is the hottest beat right now, so unexpected and quirky!. Macklemore lays down the vocals. Ryan Lewis made the beat. Album is called The Heist. 100% Solid. 

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The crew went to the theater to see ‘Silver Lining playbook’ on Sunday. It is one of the best movies I have seen recently. Without giving much away, it’s about the constant struggle for finding love and acceptance especially when you’ve screwed up and let people close to you down. It’s about love. It’s about redemption. It’s about mental illness and how people dismiss the mentally ill by using the word “crazy”. 

I could relate to the challenges of being mentally ill because at one time in my life I worked in Healthcare with patients who had mental challenges.  I gave out doses of Abilify, Clonazepam, Cymbalta and other drugs, because that’s what the doctor ordered. I had a great time working with them, and they loved me too. At the time, we had instruction manuals that were supplied by the government which stated “Autistic people can’t read facial expressions”. Not true. I worked with them daily for almost two years, and most of my clients could read my body language and facial expressions without me saying a word. They instinctively knew when I was upset at them because they did something wrong, and they knew how to get what they wanted from me or other staff. 

I was waiting to board a plane in Orlando, Florida last week, and the airline flight attendant announced that they were boarding “people with physical disabilities” first. I thought about those with mental disabilities and how easy it is not to acknowledge them since most of the time, their illness can’t be seen by looking at them.

Silver Lining playbook has an all star cast. Bradley Cooper, Robert De Niro, Jennifer Lawrence, Chris Tucker, Julia Styles.

You should see it. It’s triumphant. 

Haus of Dinma grade: A

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Ratpack Photo analysis

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I don’t know what she said, but whatever it was, I’m 100% sure it was sexy. It got the attention of everyone in the room. Frank Sinatra stopped midway to lighting a cigarette. The guy who wanted his cigarette lit stopped his crouching motion midway,  and pivoted his head to look at her. The man in the middle did not know how to react, so he clenched his hand while looking at her. The guy on the extreme right has that mischievous evil grin. The woman to her left, has that “I’m feeling left out” expression on her face. She’s probably used to being the center of attention. 

The woman in question = 100% in control.

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OTIS REDDING. 1941-1967. LEGEND!

Father, soul music maker, song writer, style icon, role model, Man. 

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Now soundtracking Miguel’s “Adorn” at Haus of Dinma Headquarters. 

He has some nice lines, I should use.

These lips can’t wait to taste your skin, baby, no, no

And these eyes, yeah, can’t wait to see your grin, ooh ooh baby

Just let my love

Just let my love adorn you

Please baby, yeah

You gotta know

You gotta know

You know that I adore you

Yeah baby

Baby these fists will always protect ya, lady

And this mind, oh, will never neglect you, yeah, baby, oh, baby

And if they try to break us down don’t let that affect us, no, baby

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This is how we are feeling! Jimi Hendrix’s Bravado + Mick Jagger’s fearlessness + extreme hunger to succeed.

This is how we are feeling! Jimi Hendrix’s Bravado + Mick Jagger’s fearlessness + extreme hunger to succeed.

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