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Welcome to Michael's blog. Michael Andrew, (aka Michael The Maven) is a freelance producer, photography instructor, tech innovator, and when needed, disaster aid specialist.

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07.21.17         movie reviews  


As far as movies go in general, yes, it was amazing.
As far as awards go, yes, it will win many.

As far as Christopher Nolan films go, it was not his best. Ill try to explain.

IN my opinion Christopher Nolan is one of the very best working directors ever, and will go down as one of the best of all time. Take any of his films and compare it to the smorgasbord of terrible films and he always stands out among the rest. He has a very long pedigree of simply amazing films, even since Momento.

I appreciate that Nolan is always challenging himself, and he does stick in one genre. He caught my attention with The Prestige, solidified himself with the Dark Knight series, and pushed far beyond what anyone expected with Inception and Interstellar.

The 3 intertwined stories in Dunkirk was very interesting and new. I appreciated it very much. The cinematography is beautiful and amazing, and yes, I do think you should see it in theaters, but temper your expectations a little.

Im being really nit picky here but a couple of the problems:

There was an over reliance of the Hans Zimmer score to create tension. It got old & predictable after a while and pulled me out of suspension of disbelief. It was too much.

I think Nolan was trying to do too much. Trying to tell 3 stores diluted his efforts and made it harder to connect deeply with any of the protagonists.

What he did well? Made you feel and relive what those soldiers at Dunkirk did. You can feel their desperation, and for that, it was incredible.

It will definitely be among the best of 2017

07.20.17         the maven nation - efficiency podcast  

23 and Me - Episode #009

Good morning everyone! Michael the Maven here. We have a very important weekend coming up where I will be giving away free Kindle copies of the Efficiency Playbook if you sign up at Theefficiencyplaybook.com. We will send you the link as soon as it is available. There is also a way to share that link that can track how many of your friends signed up and you can get the audio book, we can get you as a VIP in my new social network coming up later this year, a free autograph copy of the book. It's free for everybody. You just sign up for the newsletter, we are going to give you the
kindle copy once it is available. It is going to be available in a couple of days. I just to remind you that it is supposed to happen this weekend barring a technical glitch

Today I wanted to talk about that is crazy important if you haven't heard about it already. It can really benefit you in terms of extending your life even. In the history of the world, we don't know how long humans have been on the earth if you're religious, many of you will think it's 6 or 7 thousand years, if you're not religious, it could tens of thousand of years. It's sufficeth to say humans have been around for a while.

In every human that has ever been born has been given a deck of cards, a genetic deck of cards with the problem of not being able to see what those cards are. We have an idea based on how tall we are, our eye color, things of that nature. Just general appearances, these are called
phenotypes. We've never been really able to take a peek at that deck of cards until recently. It's estimated that there are about a hundred and ten billion of people that ever lived on the planet. So if you take all of the people that are here now of the spirits of many thousand of years. Only recently, have we been given the ability to see what these decks of cards are. Why is this important? I want to get into Science of it but genes are physical molecules (DNA) are passed on from the parents to the children. Sometimes DNA makes mistakes when it is replicated. We start off as sperm and egg, a single fertilized egg, a single cell, and that cell replicates. It divides over and over and over. It's a cell division and that what makes a human. That's how humans are created.

If you have a gene that's passed on from one of your parents that have a physical change. One of the sequences, there is a way to see that now. This is really important! Coming back to the discovery of DNA in 1953, Watson and Crick, and some other scientists used some X-ray. There's a lot of ways to figure out that it's a double helix. That is the birth of molecular biology which is how these physical molecules relate to our actual development. It's a whole field of Science.

Now let's skip to 1997 where a movie called Gattaca with Uma Thurman and Ethan Hawke, came out. I would strongly recommend that you watch it if you haven't seen it. It's one of my favorite movies. This film depicts the balance in the struggle between nature, the genetics that we're given versus nurture, our surroundings, our decisions. The aspects of life that are playing on us. This is also a great film about the human realm. I think Gattaca is predictive of the future. It is really interesting because, in the movie, people are no longer judge in appearances, but the genes they're given.

A lot of this is based on every cell that has a nucleus. Your skin cells, your hair cells... if it has that nucleus in there, you can get a full DNA sequence of an individual. What happened recently, in 2000, the human genome project and Celera genomics had a contest where they race into the map the human genome to get a foundation. They basically mapped not everything because there's a lot of genes but they're cataloging the types of genes that control different rotations. If a gene has an exact base sphere change, it could cause a disease. This is why this human genome t is so important, it's because this database can be built of all these genetics diseases. So you can go in now, as of today, 2006-2007, 23 and Me was formed and many other sequencing businesses out there. Essentially the way it works is you swab your mouth, put it in the test tube, send it in, and they do some genomic sequencing. You are not going to get everything but you are going to learn many fascinating things about yourself, about your ancestry, where your genes come from. In some cases, it can help identify genes that you have that might create some problems in the future. This opens the door for a whole new type of science. Pharmacogenetics is one of them. It's pharmaceuticals that are specifically engineered to your own genes specifically. There is a predictive medicine. Scientists and doctors can look at your DNA and they can tell if there is going to be a problem in the future. It looks like a fountain of youth. So what happened was shortly after these services became available, Angelina Jolie, the actress, had a test done and it was discovered that she has a copy of BRCA gene, that contributed to breast cancer.

In the Efficiency Playbook, I talked about knowns versus unknowns and also probabilities. In any time that you can take an unknown and transform it into a known, you're at an advantage. You are dealing with something like your genetics, a lot of really important unknowns within the last ten years, we now have the ability to take a look at that deck of cards that you hold that was given to you by your parents. I talked about this to my friends... " Hey have you done it yet?"
I had it done. I'm happy I am linked to my dad. In 23 and Me, we can see some of my heritage and our ancestry and how it's connected. It's getting better. 23 and Me got me some trouble in FDA for kind of giving a medical advice. It's cleared up now. There are other services out there but coming back to this example, Angelina Jolie basically said there is a chance she can develop breast cancer. She preemptively took care of this. She had a surgery done. She reduced her chances of getting breast cancer significantly because she was able to take a look at her genes.

There are some people who say that 23 and Me test is not perfect for the BRCA gene. there is another company say that there are 250 bucks that are more accurate. But in terms of breast cancer, I think it's very important thing to figure out. Taking statistics in 2014 in the United States
237,000 women and 2,000 men have diagnosed some form of breast cancer. In 2014, there are 41, 200 women and 465 men died from breast cancer. Men get it as well. If this is one of the most common types of cancer among women, it's the number one death for Hispanic women, second most cancer-related deaths for whites, blacks, Asians, American Indians, It's worth taking a peek.

This is obviously related to efficiency because if you do have a gene that could create this issue, this preventive attack can extend your life significantly. I am not a doctor. I cannot give a medical advice, what I am suggesting is do the genetic tests and get the information. Take a look at your deck of cards. I have friends who would not want to do it but note that in the history of the world, there are hundred billion people have lived before us, they never had the opportunity. I think it is super exciting. This is when nurture has finally been able to hop the fence and do something about nature, the genetics that you are given, and we're given the ability to at least at some degree know something to do about it. It is a very exciting time, medically and genetically. I am not an affiliate of 23 and Me, it is a program that I use and want to share with you guys. Get out there and do the research. Read about Angelina Jolie, what happened and all that stuff, it's very interesting!

In any event, that is 23 and Me taking a look at the human genome, your human genome. Again, check out Theefficiencyplaybook.com, there are actually commercials there on the website. Once you register, you can see what's the Efficiency Playbook is all about. Coming out July 22 - 27. I'll send you an email if you sign up. Thank you guys for listening and I'll see you next time!

07.19.17         the maven nation - efficiency podcast  

How Does This Benefit Me - Episode #008

Good morning everyone! Today I'm going to talk about a question, an uncomfortable question that you should make a part of your life. It is going to really greatly improve your efficiency. The question is "How does this benefit me?" This is something that you should verbally say to other people when they come asking for things. In the book, I talked about a lot of wins and loss scenarios. Somebody wants you to do something for them and the reason this question is so important to me because there was a study done I'm sure you've heard of it were nurses at care centers made a list of the top 5 things that people regretted most about not doing. One of them was not saying the right thing at the right time, the right place for the right person. Typically, when people ask me for favors, it is usually pretty clear what they want but sometimes it is not clear what I am getting in return. This may be going to sound super arrogant or greedy. Sometimes it's just a miscommunication, maybe there is a breakdown or maybe I did not understand what the benefit was. I've come to learn that when I ask this question to myself as well to another person, things become crystal clear very quickly. If somebody comes to you and asks you for your time or your knowledge or service or whatever it is without any kind of exchange, in some ways that should be viewed as they're gonna take a little bit of advantage of you. I know this is going to make people disagree with me. But there was a time when I was in Alabama many years ago, I have a pickup truck and I helped some people move in my church. Word got that I have a truck and that I help people move. After a couple of months, I started getting phone calls almost every Saturday morning from people I didn't even know asking to not only use my truck but to use me as well to help them move for free! For no pay! I eventually figured out what was going on and how this was getting out. I confronted the person to stop giving out my phone number to people to become a free moving service. Something I wish I would have done is just ask each of these individuals how would this benefit me. Because when you do that, you're kind of exposing the person to acknowledging that you may not be getting anything in return. If they say it's for experience or for charity or for service, they're basically wasting your time. But if they say they are paying for it and you get the experience or do something for in return, then you have a fair and equal exchange.

It is brutal and almost slap in the face to ask somebody that question but in some cases, you can definitely clear up miscommunication, but it can kind exposes that they are trying to use you. So occasionally, I will ask that question if I don't fully understand the offer or if I feel that they are asking for my time or money. That's a really important question you're gonna be given offers all time. You going to see these offers coming into your lap. One huge problem that I see is that there are individuals out there who can't say no. For whatever reason, they just feel it's mean or it's wrong to say no when somebody comes and asks for help. I would say get comfortable saying no. Maintain that control, maintain your schedule. If you are not sure how you are benefiting from the requests, turn it down. This is definitely a great question to ask somebody when they come to you and it's not really clear what you are getting out of it. "How will this benefit me?"

In any event, thank you guys for listening and I'll see you next time!

07.18.17         instagram  

This combo has been so much fun and impressive, i...

07.18.17         the maven nation - efficiency podcast  

The Maven Nation - Now Live on iTunes!

Im happy to announce that The Maven Nation podcast is now available for subscription through iTunes. I believe this is the best way to follow, and currently iTunes is the only one publishing it. We expect to hear back from other services shortly. Here is the link:

The Maven Nation on iTunes

Im undecided on whether or not we will still post these in the blog, but seems that many visitors are playing and reading the transcripts here so, we will keep it for now.

Any constructive feedback is welcome!

07.17.17         the maven nation - efficiency podcast  

Bait-and-Switch - Episode #007

Good morning everyone! Michael the Maven here! Today we are going to talk about another class of people that I do not like. I think we've all been guilty of it at some point. I probably have done it myself. When I see this in a formal business setting, a huge red flag goes up and I say to myself "I'm not gonna deal with this person anymore." This is the bait and switcher. If somebody promises something upfront and then, later on, reneges because it was verbally given. I can't go on to details of this specific situation. At one point, I would definitely tell you guys about this.

There are people out there who know that a spoken word is very difficult to deal with. If somebody says something, it is very difficult to prove that later if there are no witnesses especially in film production, there are a lot of people who talk. They're talkers and they are not doers. There is a very obvious distinction. Everybody has a film they are working on but certain individuals never actually create a film. They are always talking about it. There is a website service I was trying to sign up for last week. It is all in one service.. all in one... one fee. That sounds amazing and so I go in there and sign up. There were some ad ons that you would spend some extra money for in order to get all the services. That is a bait and switch! It's when you make a promise, it turns out, guess what, that wasn't a promise. I realized that if this is happening during a honeymoon phase when I'm signing up for this product, they are kinda like deceiving me a little bit during the honeymoon phase, they are definitely going to deceive me later on. I decided not to use the service. That one thing alone, in the upsell, wasn't even that much money. It was the principle of it that they would bring you in under one guise and then they switch it to something else the examples that are really sticking out in my mind that I can;t really talk about was those individuals who make incredible promises to a number of people, but because those people did not sign contract, there was no way to prove it.

If you're giving somebody money, with the idea that they are going to pay you back, you absolutely need to have it written down on a piece of paper. This sounds very pity but it forms a legal record that will allow you to recover your money. Another thing that it will is to teach that person that you are not easy to take advantage of, not easy to get money from because there are legal documents.

That is one of the biggest mistakes I've seen in the business world if there are partnership or an agreement or relationship, there is no written contract. That's a huge mistake! That's how you defeat bait-and-switchers... get it recorded on paper with other witnesses there who are willing to testify if needed. Keep that as a red flag, if you see something or business or somebody offering you something and then they switch it, that is a form of deception. It is I believe unethical. I think your word is your bond. If you make a promise to somebody, you should keep it even verbally, even by a handshake. Even still, I prefer written contracts. Your memory sometimes changes.  You may be accused of being a bait-and-switcher just simply because your memory change. But when you have a written contract, the words are on paper and there is no misunderstanding. That solves the problem. So definitely write it down.

Thank goodness I have a really good and close friend who kept the pressure on me in a certain business transaction. Bait-and-switching is a very real, very underhanded tactic that some people will use.. will offer you something, will offer you the world and then once you give them that they want, they just say. "Well, that wasn't the agreement. That wasn't what I said This is mine, not yours." Better believe it. Be careful about those individuals who are offering you something. Get it on paper if the value is over $50.

Thank you guys so much for listening. I hope you have a wonderful day today. And I will see you next time!

07.16.17         instagram  

Sure had a fun time at the track tonight for a...

Sure had a fun time at the track tonight for a real world shoot between the #canon1dxii #nikonD5 and #sonya9 - thank you @tifftshiff for coming to help and taking this picture- I'm learning so much about each of these cameras and getting an idea of each of their strengths and weaknesses. #epicshootout

07.15.17         instagram  

In a sport shooting match up between the 1Dxii, A9...

In a sport shooting match up between the 1Dxii, A9 and D5, each with their manufacturers best 70-200 2.8 lens, which of the three would you think absolutely annihilated the other two? (Hint: it basically happened this am, and it wasn't the one I thought would) I think this #epicshootout will be finished in about 10 days. #squadgoals #a9 #nikonphotography #canonphotography #canon1dxii #sony #d5 #sonya9

07.15.17         movie reviews  

War for The Planet of the Apes

Mixed feelings on this:

Liked: World class CGI, great emotional investment connection with the characters (one of the most important things for any movie). To me the film was asking the question: What defines humanity?

Disliked: Political undertones. Im not a fan of overt political propaganda in entertainment I pay for.It never pays off well for me. There were some editing issues, the mid to late part dragged out. The payoff at the end didn't fit right for me either, it sort of felt like it wasn't so much about the planet of the apes at all.

Recommendation: Very good, an absolute yes no rental, 50-50 on seeing it in theaters. It isn't for every one, but many of you will enjoy it.

07.14.17         the maven nation - efficiency podcast  

6 Mistakes Entrepreneurs Make - Episode #006

Good morning everyone! Today we are going to be talking about the top 6 mistakes a new entrepreneur makes. This is just my opinion, not based on study or anything in that nature. This is what I've seen in the real world, from my friends, and from my photography students. These 6 things that tend to mess up the most when you're starting new. This is in no particular order. Some of these are more important than others but I just want to give you my list.

- They are risk inverse. They are afraid to take chances. I talked about this a little bit in the book. I talked about tearing up a hundred dollar bill. The number one problem that new entrepreneurs have is they are fearful of failure. The truth of the matter is if you are an aggressive entrepreneur, you will look at failure as an opportunity to learn. You want to make a mistake quickly so you attack because you want to fail. And then learn those lessons and make the adjustments and move on. But time and again, this is preventing people from becoming business owners, is because they are afraid. There are a lot of fantastic ideas out there for businesses that I've seen from countless associates. But they do not have the courage or the willpower to bring it too far. That is far more important than a spectacular idea for the business. If you look at more common things such as selling pineapples on the side of the road or cleaning swimming pools, that's something my dad does or  any kind of lawn care services, it's not really a sexy idea but because they are willing to roll the dice as entrepreneurs, they are able to have that business. That is a critical barrier to entry. In my mind, to become an entrepreneur, you have to be brave and courageous to deal with risks. Live with it and not hesitate because of the chance to fail. The best entrepreneur is looking at failure as a classroom. They have full speed.
- There is no competitive advantage to the business. When I say that, what I mean is if you are going to have a business and is going to be spectacularly successful, and you do not have a competitive advantage, somebody is going to come and attempt to steal it from you. This is not really a place to go on what a competitive advantage is. Think of it as a barrier that prevents people from doing what you're doing. This could be a trademark, or a formula, a brand name, a personality.. things that are not replicable. When somebody comes to me and say. " Hey, Michael. I have a business idea and this is what I want to do." I will say. "That's a great idea but the problem is you can't protect it from somebody else steals it." It's very common to see that. No competitive advantage.
- New entrepreneurs often do not understand what marketing is. I have seen this so many times from very talented and creative individuals who make a product, start a business and they're unable to get it in front of those who are their target market... The people who would buy it. There is one example I am thinking of. In this person's mind, marketing is posting a picture on Facebook or Instagram. They believe that is marketing. Well, that is only soliciting to their circle of friends. The truth of the matter is Facebook and Instagram limit how many people see that. If you guys remember business pages on Facebook when it first started, when you post something, pretty much everybody saw it. What a powerful tool. All the people following your business would see and then they changed it. Now, it's only 1% of your business followers would actually see something that you put on Facebook. The idea is that Facebook wants you to pay and it's worth for them. Yes, you have to pay to get your promotion in front of your followers. That's kind of messed up. Marketing is getting your products and services in front of the people who really want it. This means strangers. People who are not in your pool of customers already. Finding new customers. Finding where they are. It's sort of like fishing, you have to understand what kind of fishing going after, where they exist, how to bait the hook, how to get it in front of them. That is a totally different discussion. Marketing is a very common problem. If you are not able to get your product in front of the people who want it, you're gonna have problems.
- Trying to create a business instead of trying to capture a demand for their products and services. For example, an entrepreneur wants to start consignment clothing store. She focused on finding the place, finding the building, talking about rent, figuring out how to set up the storefront instead of figuring out where are the customers that would come to the store in doing some demographic research. Location in retail is huge. Just because you have a storefront does not mean people are going to come. It has to be in the right place. Let's say somebody wants to start a business who needs a web programmer to make the website. They go out and hire one. Spend a couple of thousand dollars and get the website all set up and is ready to go and they do not understand why they are not selling anything. It is because a storefront or a website is not a business. Demand for services is a business. When you have people throwing money at you for something that you have.. now you have a business. That is a business!
Additionally, if you cannot give a product away for free, chances are, you are not going to be able to sell it. if you a new gadget or widget go to your friends and say " Hey, I have ten of these, who wants them." If I am not able to give away all ten of those, I will not invest a lot of money into trying to create a product. That's how the Maven Adapter was born. I had this 3D printer, and I was putting up these adapters that would allow us to connect cameras to window pulling poles and I spent a lot of time developing that. I didn' know what the demand for the product was so I gave it away. I gave them away for a test, not for marketing. I sold out 40 or 50 of them. Just among my friends, I knew there was demand. What I wouldn't do is continue to sell Maven adapter to my friends on Facebook. Once we made the product, I went to the company called Photo Wow, a newsletter for hundreds of thousands of photographers. We had a deal with them and sent them specials offers. That is good marketing because it was a product directly in front of the customers who want to buy it. So if you cannot give it away, you will not gonna be able to sell it.

-  They do not focus on their business. What I mean is if you start a company and after a year or two they're having success and they start to say. "Well, I'm good at this. Let me try to do that." Some other business that is completely unrelated to what they are doing now. That is like creating a brand new business. In a world of entrepreneurialism, the chances of starting a new business venture, if you want to do 10 of them in a row, you will be lucky if 1 or 2 of them pan out. The best entrepreneurs are really good at reading out opportunities because they know that there is gonna be a high chance of failure. There have to be certain things in that business in order for it to work out.
When an individual is an expert in something and they're having success, then they try to go out and start a new business in something else where they don't have the specified knowledge or the skills set to thrive, they merely believe that because they're successful at one thing, they're going to be successful in another. Look at Michael Jordan, a spectacular, number one basketball player of all time. He tried baseball, and he went and played baseball for a little bit and he was good at it but not like he was on a basketball court. So you want to play to your strengths in a  business world. You don't want to find the thing that you're terrible at just because you're interested in it. That is not enough to start a business. You got to have specialized knowledge in my opinion.

- They pick business ideas that they are not passionate about. In the long run, this is not sustainable. If you pick a business or some kind of work that you don't really enjoy, At some point, you will get tired of it and that is a huge problem because then it becomes work. If you are doing something that you truly love and you're getting paid for it, What a blessing that is! So make sure that you pick something that you really enjoyed doing.
So let's summarize: people are so risk inverse, there's no competitive advantage, they do not understand what marketing is, they try to create a business front instead of focusing on demand, they do not focus on what they are good at, and they pick something that they are not passionate about.

In any event, thank you guys for listening! And I'll see you next time!

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