Becoming Legendary Don't drown in the Quo

November 8, 2016

Corporate Housing has its Perks

Filed under: Uncategorized — John Jones @ 6:07 pm

Corporate Housing has its Perks

If you get sent to a town to work for an extended period of time – about three months or so, I recommend staying in corporate housing. There are lots of choices for you, but hotels are cramped and expensive and apartments require you to purchase furniture (sure you could go rent some stuff from Aaron’s for a few months, but it is a headache – trust me – been there and done that).

The cool things about corporate housing (aka short term furnished apartments/suites) are as follows:

  1. It’s turnkey – you walk into it and can relax because everything is there for you to live for an extended stay.
  2. Most of them have nice furnishings – you aren’t going to have to sit on old couches or sleep on hard beds. I guess it depends on which one you stay in, but all of the ones I have stayed in are well-stocked with top of the line furniture.
  3. The bathrooms work well – There is nothing as bad as having to stay in an extended stay with low water pressure, lukewarm water, and hard to flush toilets. The corporate housing suites I have stayed in have all prided themselves on providing the cleanest and most operational bathrooms I have ever had. Most of them are better than the one I have in my permanent home. That’s saying a lot.
  4. Customer service – The owners and workers who run these corporate housing sites typically care for those who are staying with them. The hotels I have stayed in have workers who don’t seem to care about those who are staying there. But I have found that corporate housing workers get paid more and receive better training from the owners of the sites. It’s nice to know you have people who actually care about what you want and need while you are living away from home.
  5. Size of rooms – The suites I have lived in don’t make you feel claustrophobic – there is plenty of room to live rather than to just survive like you would in a hotel room. I love having a bedroom that is separate from my workspace and my den.
  6. Work happens – Once when I was working with several Texas colleges in a specific region, I found that the set up of the corporate housing seemed to make it easier to work than in other spaces. I attribute this to the lighting in these spaces – There is no fluorescent death lights above your head – there are soft lights that keep you from tiring out as quickly.

Now as I mentioned before I’ve only stayed in a few corporate housing sites and I know my experiences with them may be too generalized. Maybe there are some really cramped and stinky. But I have heard from other travelers who have stayed in the various options and also in corporate housing and they agree with my take on it all. Wherever you end up, I wish you the best possible stays. Feel free to comment on this and let me know what you have found to be most true.

November 7, 2016

Great House/Terrible Yard

Filed under: Uncategorized — John Jones @ 6:33 pm

Great House/Terrible Yard

I am just as bad as a lot of people who buy houses and pay most attention to the structure of the house and the way it is designed without paying much attention to the front and back yards. I recently moved into a super cool looking place in Southwest Lubbock and admittedly I fell in love with the vaulted ceilings and the sweet wood floors without doing much studying of the yards in front and back. Now, once I moved into the house I did notice that the front yard was mostly dirt with the occasional weed sticking out. And when I went to the back yard I saw that it was actually turf that grew huge stalks of weed that were nearly impossible to chop down. Anyway, I am just issuing a warning for all of us who don’t pay attention to the outside of things.

If you find yourself in this sort of situation, I want to recommend that you research companies that do landscaping in Lubbock. There are a whole lot of them and some are much better than others. Believe me, I have dealt with both kinds. One very professional group that not only does Lubbock landscaping but also does basic yard maintenance – they even hang Christmas lights (holiday lighting to be PC). I am friends with the owner of the company and I can assure you that you will get quality full-service care for your lowly yard. The company’s name is Lubbock Roots (www.lubbockroots.com) and I hope you will check them out over some of the other big name companies in town.

Beyond my recommendation of a specific company, I want to know that several other companies are able to not only give you a decent looking yard, but which can also bring transformation. If you want to raise your property value, find one of these companies who have a staff designer who maps out what sort of landscaping you can have. Why not have a front and back yard that are just as beautiful as the interior of your house? It can be done. I used one of these companies and they totally morphed my yards into more than respectable spaces. I can say that I am even proud of them and regularly receive unsolicited positive comments about the way things look on the outside.

Okay, that is just my two cents about landscaping and lawn care. Feel free to comment about what I had to say above. If you know of other companies that have on staff designers and who have really done a good job making your outside look as good as your inside, please comment and share your thoughts.

Thanks and be well.

October 24, 2016

Regrettable Decisions?

Filed under: Uncategorized — John Jones @ 5:51 pm

Regrettable Decisions?

Looking back on life it is difficult not to see poor decision-making that leads to positions in life, which cause regret. It also leads me to compare myself with people who made better decisions, which put them in enviable positions. I hate to be a wish-maker, but I think I am one.

I lie in bed and just stare at the ceiling and wonder why I didn’t do what my friend Pax did when he was in college. Pax is a super nice guy and he chose to go the extra year to become a church architect. As a Christian, he took his love of building and combined it with his training to become a wealthy man who spends his time doing exactly what he wants to do. I wanted to get out of school quickly so I went the four year route and got out of school (with a useless double major) as fast as possible. My meaningless degrees took me to interesting places for a good fifteen years but then I couldn’t do it anymore. As well, what I was doing was not lucrative and any one who says that don’t want wealth is crazy. Don’t believe them. Having money is bad if you love it and crave it above all else. But having money to pay your bills, get you onto fun vacations and lead you into ease when it comes to monthly bills is wonderful. As a man who lives paycheck to paycheck, I can assure you Pax is much happier than I am.

As I stare at that blank ceiling of mine, I also think of a friend of mine named Linda who went the Higher Education route, with all of its student teaching and extra work. She did more then (Masters and PhD.) and now she is making plenty of money leading one of the best colleges in Texas to great places in the ranks of education. She made wise decisions from the start and now she is wealthy and a woman of great respect.   I wonder why I didn’t do that.

Even my friend who does landscaping in Lubbock as well as installing holiday lights at Christmas loves what he does and makes a really good living at it – He just got some capital together and started his own business years ago and is now a well-respected leader of a fantastic company.

I hear that voice in my head that says, “Stop wishing and stop comparing your life to others.” I hear that voice loud and clear but I cannot say it is easy to follow it. I will say that I never expected to have the nervous breakdown I had and that I never expected to have my vocational identity taken away from me. That was unfortunate and I still have not recovered. But I keep thinking that if I had gone another direction in life I wouldn’t have allowed that overwhelming pressure crush me.

As I take my eyes off that night ceiling, I think this: “Your life is not over. You can make new decisions now that will lead to better ends.”

Is that true?

Is being 43 years old too late to erase some of those old decisions and make new ones?

I’d love some comments on this. Anyone out there find themselves in similar situations? Anyone out there turn their lives around and get back to a place of good? I hope you will share with me what happened to you and how you made it back to good.

October 10, 2016

Capital Campaigns: Going Virtual

Filed under: Uncategorized — John Jones @ 5:11 pm

Capital Campaigns: Going Virtual?

This post comes from the poolside of my Lubbock Corporate Housing space – nice place.

If you are a church leader who has decided to do a church capital campaign, what have you decided to focus on? What sort of help do you need inside of your church? What sort of help do you need from the outside of your church? Are you sure you really want to do this? Are you sure you really want to do this? These are key questions for any church team that has decided to embark on what can be a really tough journey. Many a church has divided over capital campaigns for the following reasons:

1. What is deemed to be manipulative marketing

2. A call for everyone to give a lot more money when money is tight

3. Guilt trips given out from the pulpit

4. No use of internal influencers

5. No effective change agency methods

6. Poor overall communication

7. Refusal to use virtual imaging to get people to see what they are giving to

8. No use of stages (everything is thrown at the congregation at one time)

9. Hiring capital campaign “experts” who don’t follow through with what they promise (usually hired because they are cheaper)

10. Strong personalities (dominators) who hijack important budgetary meetings

11. Use of Scripture that is taken out of context to fit the pitches

12. The simple fact that most of the congregation does not think new buildings are needed

13. A church that has a history of factions and splits over small things

With all that being said, there are a lot of churches, which need to run a capital campaign and they need as much internal and external support as possible. Yes. That’s right. Sometimes churches actually do need to expand their spaces so that more ministry can be done. The rooms are packed with congregants and church growth is being stymied for that reason. Who wants to turn away people from the sanctuary doors because people are packed in like sardines. And even if new buildings or new space is not needed, there are always needs for renovations. So, I’m recommending a company who I think can really help you navigate this church design process. I know that over the years, Gone Virtual Studios has strategically evolved into a one-stop shop for the 4 most common and needed communication services in every capital campaign (video, visualization, print design, and web design) which helps streamline the process and improves quality and effectiveness throughout. You can see more at Gonevirtual.com but I have worked with them and think they can really help you Capital Campaigners. No matter who you choose, I want you to look back over the thirteen reasons why churches divide and try to avoid them. Good luck and God bless!

September 29, 2016

What is it about Starbucks?

Filed under: Uncategorized — John Jones @ 3:26 pm

What is it about Starbucks?

I spend a lot of time in various Starbucks around my city – one in particular and I’ve started to ask why I like it there. It’s not the coffee or the Frappuccinos or any food from their pastry or lunch display. And it’s certainly not because it is cheap. I have spent thousands of dollars in there – sad but it adds up.

So what is it?

Architects of Starbucks are smart. They know how to design exteriors that welcome people in. They know how to design interiors that keep people there. Starbucks architects and builders know how to persuade us psychologically. And there is a sort of community built inside of each one. I made two great friends that I hang out with simply because we saw each other so much at a Starbucks. Maybe that is the best of what they do – they help to bring a version of community to a world of over-individuality. I don’t want a local coffee house and I couldn’t tell you why. I want Starbucks because it attracts me to it. I get sucked in by Starbucks and I want to be there because it feels comfortable and safe. The colors are just right for me and the baristas are usually cool and definitely well-trained. I can count on them to make my drink exactly as I want it, day after day. I even love that they remember my name and welcome me like Norm on the television show, “Cheers.”

With this in mind, I wonder why church architects typically cannot bring the same sort of design to the interiors or exteriors (in most cases) of sacred buildings. I’m not saying that every architect in the world cannot pull off some of Starbucks charm so that people are drawn in and so that people want to be there as much as possible. Why don’t people show up at churches to meet up with their friends? Why aren’t students coming to churches to use free wi-fi to study and hang all day? Why is community built better at a coffee shop than at a church?

As a pastor, I am amazed that a place where God-followers come once or twice a week for an hour or two for some worship and study cannot draw people in. Why are churches so unused? Think about that – most churches are mostly empty for most of the week. Can’t there be better vision cast from a church’s foundational build as to how to draw people into a safe and comfortable place to hang out with friends? Where is the sense of organic community that exists in Starbucks?

I’m not saying that churches have to become Starbucks clones, but there has to be a change of some kind so that church spaces are filled up every day of the week – and not just with schools.

I don’t have the answer to any of this. I know two architectural companies who have a clue how to get this sort of thing done, but there aren’t many others. I hope for a shift in this tendency. Churches are where people need to congregate to live out life.

September 22, 2016

How does a building that holds art become art in itself?

Filed under: Uncategorized — John Jones @ 6:24 pm

How does a building that holds art become art in itself?

My wife and I went to live in Los Angeles in 2002 so we could pursue our creative sides. She was and is a great singer and I am a writer who thought he could press out more excellent literature while surrounded by a new city with the reputation of churning out beautiful things – creative all around us who were chasing a dream. We found out we were just two of the many people who came to Los Angeles to pursue cool ends. My wife found her place singing both back-up and as the front woman for several bands that performed on Sunset Strip. I found my place in bars and coffee shops typing away to create characters who could live out my vision for screenplays and books. We both did our best, but that’s really not the focus of this little article. The focus here is architectural art in the big city and how we found a perfect place to breathe it in weekly.

The Getty Art Museum is just one of those places that houses art – some of the most amazing art is on display inside of its walls. But The Getty is not just a normal building with a few doors and windows. It doesn’t let the art inside be all the beauty you can see. The buildings at The Getty are art in themselves and I found out that this design was done on purpose. It began with architectural renderings and 3D animations so the owner could see into the future of this beautiful place. Then these visionary plans were put into play and out popped a building rooted in beauty. Before any of its paintings were hung on its many walls, this place was art. Even the way you get to the actual Getty (a cool tramway that creates anticipation as you motor up) is lovely and fun.

One of the main reasons that The Getty impresses me and achieves its beauty is its use of outside grounds. As you pass from building to building you get to see plants and flowers and the wide open blue skies spread out above you. It’s in this way that even the setting for an art building is used to make the picture complete.

September 16, 2016

Struggling with house-work

Filed under: Uncategorized — John Jones @ 4:53 pm

Struggling with house-work

I was sitting at the new Starbucks near my house trying to concentrate on my own work that is ever so important and vital to the world turning on its axis when I noticed a girl sitting at the table next to me. No, this was not like noticing a girl for the sake of flirting because I am way beyond that stage – 21 years of marriage with a lovely girl have tamed my chase. But, I did notice that she was reading a book. I don’t know about you but I am always interested in seeing what the book interests of strangers are – are they reading anarchist materials or cookbooks? So, to satisfy my curiosity, I kept up a furtive glance until I saw what type of literature she was filling her mind with. Turns out she was reading a book called, When things are hard in real estate. Something like that – it probably had a better title than that, but it’s what I’m going to call it because I can. Anyway, from that title and seeing her other papers I gleaned that she must be a real estate agent trying to sell Lubbock homes for sale and homes for sale in Lubbock are, or have been, selling like hotcakes. From what I knew, the market for housing was booming due to the growth of the city, but after seeing this girl taking aggressive notes from the book, I changed my mind a bit.

Maybe the real estate market has ceased being a sellers’ market – maybe there is too much housing being built – maybe the demand is off – too much supply. Simple macroeconomics…Suddenly I felt bad for this stranger and wondered if she was struggling professionally as a realtor. Most of the realtors I know always seem to be closing on a house – smiling and bouncing around like selling houses is as easy as boiling an egg. I also know several people who have left their jobs to become real estate agents in this region. But maybe this is a huge mistake. I have to admit I have considered taking the realtor exam and using my charm and charisma (and humility) to make some serious cash. But if this nice lady sitting next to me was having a hard time selling Lubbock homes, it must mean that it’s not as easy as some people make it out to be. I wondered, “Was it this woman’s particular sales style that was making it hard to sell houses?” “Had she been trained poorly by her specific agency?” (I know that if you work for the top company in town – Coldwell Banker – you get better quality training than at other places – at least in Lubbock.) I wanted to ask her why she was reading the book, but I thought it might be mean to rub her nose in her failure.

I know what it is like to fail at a job and not be able to overcome its innate challenges. I know what it is like to be trying as hard as I can to make money in commission jobs and still not succeed. I wanted to encourage this woman, but who was I other than an empathetic voyeur? I left it alone. I left her alone in her thoughts and troubles and took my coffee outside where there was less sadness in the vicinity.

What a weird journal entry, huh?

I don’t know why this stuck with me so much, but it did so deal with it.

Feel free to comment.

July 20, 2016

Tech Terrace homes for sale

Filed under: Uncategorized — John Jones @ 7:52 pm

Looking for a house in Lubbock: Tech Terrace

There are so many great homes for sale in Lubbock and plenty of realtors to get you into one of them. But, not all Lubbock homes for sale are in the best spots for growth. This article is all about where I recommend you might start to look…

One of the most obvious neighborhoods to search is called Tech Terrace. Tech Terrace is located on the east side of Indiana Avenue and west side of University from 30th street to 19th street. One drive through the neighborhood will reveal beautiful and original housing choices. Many of them sprawl across two lots and most of the rest of the houses will show very definite character. My wife and I looked long and hard at this neighborhood. It’s an area that was often referred to as the medical district because it is so near the two major hospitals in Lubbock. As far as Tech Terrace is concerned, the biggest drawback is the influx of Texas Tech students now residing there. Over the last several years, rich parents have bought up a lot of “investment homes” in the area for their kids to live in while attending Texas Tech, which is so close to this neighborhood.

I will say that it is a smart move for parents to do this because they would have had to spend money on their kid’s housing somewhere – might as well buy up a place they can get some equity with while having possibly two other roommates paying rent. Brilliant idea for those who have the initial capital. That being said, the larger number of students in the area has certainly changed the feel of the neighborhood as a whole. What once was a neighborhood filled with old money Lubbockites, is now a mix of young and old.

I’m not picking on Tech students by the way – They want nice accommodations close to campus and they want to have some fun while living in these spaces. They want to live it up during this part of their life and I don’t blame them either. But, it’s something to be aware of as you seek Lubbock homes for sale. Don’t just see the beautiful houses in this area and jump in with a bid on a house there without checking up on the neighbors. You want a home that is good in every way and you most likely want one that is quiet and safe.

I’ll write some more on other neighborhoods in future articles. Check back soon.

July 18, 2016

Home Sweet Corporate Home

Filed under: Uncategorized — John Jones @ 8:27 pm

Home Sweet Corporate Home

I’ve always been amazed at people who are in constant transition because of their work. They are always moving around from place to place dragging their suitcases and essential life kits to wherever their bosses tell them they are needed. Sometimes they stay in hotels, but if they need to be gone for a period of a month or more most of the time they end up staying in corporate housing. Now just because I say corporate housing I don’t mean that the places are dumps – little cubicles with a two by four bed and a hole in the ground – fluorescent lighting and fake plants. These spaces are not like being stuck in a work situation in Scranton. These spaces are actually quite nice, even in comparison to suite hotels and are welcomed by most of these traveling workers. Anyway, there has been an influx of working travelers who work in the oil fields and drilling for new natural gas. They have been making their way from Midland all the way to Lubbock now and the ones who work on the rigs are some tough hombres. Some of them have been at this business of oil work and even fracking for a long time and really don’t have a permanent home. They don’t have a home sweet home. They have a home sweet corporate home. I wonder what it would be like to be like to live this sort of existence – back and forth from Lubbock corporate housing to Midland corporate housing. Do these people have families? If so, do they travel with them? What is their vision for life? Is it all about making good money? Or is just a personality thing with them? I have been married for 20 years and I had to travel away from my family for a year, but I ended up getting an apartment, which was kind of hard because I had to buy a bunch of furniture that I was going to have to get rid of when I left. Anyway, I recall being pretty lonely out there in Dallas while my family was in Lubbock. I don’t think I am suited for this kind of temporary life. Okay that was just on my mind…I leave you with this question: Do you think you could live out a temporary existence in different corporate housing (or apartment) settings and if so, for how long?

July 13, 2016

Best Colleges in Texas

Filed under: Uncategorized — John Jones @ 7:30 pm

Best colleges in Texas

If you are a high school graduate and you are looking to go to one of the best colleges in Texas (which is a matter of opinion) I want to recommend that you think about beginning your higher education at a two-year college. My favorite one is Western Texas College (http://www.wtc.edu) located in Snyder but I know other people who would swear by another one. Which one you pick would be up to you (do your research on their graduation rates and connections to other larger colleges), but there are advantages in going with any of them. Below are some of those advantages.

  1. Typically these two-year colleges offer online degrees – colleges in Texas with online degrees allow you the freedom to get your classes (accredited) done without having to leave the comfort of your home. I am big on studying in my house shoes and pajamas – I just tend to think better when I can roll out of bed, knock out my course work and go back to bed. No need to get ready and no need to impress any of your fellow classmates. I will say that you will need to be a self-starter, because if you aren’t this option will kill you. If you cannot motivate yourself to do things without a professor threatening you to get your stuff done, you will need to go to a physical classroom. That being said, you should still consider going to one of the two-year options.
  2. Two-year colleges often help you get your basic courses done – All of us have to take a set number of required courses to complete any four-year degree. These courses at a four-year college cost as much as any other of their courses. I recommend taking care of these classes at a two-year school because they usually have smaller class sizes and they are usually more affordable. Who wants to spend a ton of money on a humanities class or an accounting class when it can be done cheaper and with a more manageable class size. I’ve never understood why students (even students enrolled in four-year colleges) don’t take advantage of a two-year school to complete these classes. These courses will usually transfer to your four-year school.
  3. Two-year colleges often offer classes that you would not see at a four-year college – Often there is an emphasis on courses specific to a career. For instance I know that some Texas Colleges offer classes in specialized horticulture, welding and Pre-veterinary medicine to name a few. Colleges like this that offer you an opportunity to get a job right after graduation in two years rather than four.
  4. Finally, for you athletes who aren’t going to be able to play Division one sports, these two-year schools might allow you to continue your athletic fun – If you want to be a part of a team, you don’t have to just join intramurals.

Okay, that’s my take on why you should use two-year colleges before going on to a four-year school. Happy school hunting!!!

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