10 Tips to generate seed capital to invest into a profitable idea

For the majority of people, financial freedom rarely comes from working for somebody else. Unless you are some high-level senior executive in a large corporation, chances are your “day job” is not going to make you very rich. Professional practices that are typically associated with higher pay (doctors, lawyers, etc.) really are a private business of people working for themselves. And, unless you get some unusual level of satisfaction and pride from your work and have no ambition to go way beyond that, the environment where you cannot choose your hours, your clients and your activities, but where you, instead, report to someone else and do a pre-defined set of tasks that is making money for other people is going to get boring pretty quickly.  Add this to the fact that tax legislation in most developed countries encourage business activities much more than salaried jobs by preferential taxation rates, benefits and credits – which, in the end may let you keep more of what you earn, rather than sharing it with your government – and the advantages of working for someone else (most of which usually boil down to just “job security”) quickly fade away.

But even if you disregard the innate fear of most people to start their own business (duly fueled by over-quoted statistics that “over 80% of all businesses fail in the first five years” – which is not true, by the way), one of the biggest problems for new entrepreneurs has always been finding the seed capital.  It is true that in the era of internet technologies, you can fund your online (and, sometimes, offline) business for under $100, but it still helps to have a bit of a budget before you start, to have one less thing to worry about.  Especially if your business involves initial investment into some equipment or something along these lines.

Read more

Importance of reading ingredient lists and nutrition labels – Part II

(Continued from Part I here)

Sodium

While there might be various dangerous sources of sodium, such as monosodium glutamate (or MSG) or a plethora of sodium-containing food additives, such as sodium benzoate, sodium bicarbonate, sodium citrate, sodium nitrite and sodium acid pyrophosphate – all of which should be avoided completely, Sodium Chloride (or table salt) is the primary source of sodium in processed foods – it’s a preservative and dehydration agent so it is heavily used to inhibit bacterial activity (bacteria need water to survive and multiply).  And packaged foods usually have a lot of it.

Sodium has been blamed in the past for high blood pressure, but recent studies show that this might have been a bit overstated – while loading up on table salt is probably still not a very wise move (and if you avoid processed foods and, as an occasional condiment, use natural, less-processed or unprocessed salts, such as Himalayan pink, which is less in sodium and higher in potassium than other salts – it would be quite hard to overconsume sodium), what might be more important is the balance between sodium and potassium intake.  Sodium and Potassium are the two most important minerals in your body as jointly they regulate the most vital activities, such as carrying nutrients in and out of all your cells, helping your brain communicate with muscles via sodium-potassium ion exchange, etc. – and potassium offsets the hypertensive effects of sodium. When increased sodium intake is countered by equally sufficient potassium intake, most symptoms associated with excessive sodium intake – such as water retention, hypertension, cramps, heart irregularities – usually go away.

So, if you (sigh) do go for packaged food occasionally, at least try read the label and pick the one that has a balance of sodium and potassium – both are usually prominently disclosed on a nutrition label.  Better yet – keep in mind that foods that are OK to consume from a box, a can or a bag do not usually have high sodium content, because none (or very little) is added during processing – let this be your guide when you pick packaged foods.

By the way, if you are an endurance athlete, involved in competitive sports or generally exercise a lot, you might be losing more than the usual amount of sodium (and other electrolytes) through your sweat, so denying yourself salt completely may not be in your best interest – but, again, try to replenish lost minerals through natural and least processed foods.  Drinking soy sauce (which may contain up to a staggering 7 grams of sodium per 100 g. of the sauce), or even, more realistically – specialized “sports drinks”, such as Gatorade (which usually contain a lot of sugar and, potentially, chemical additives, as you read in Part I) is not the best way to do it.  Feel free to season home-cooked foods to your taste and monitor your reaction – if you feel like you are retaining too much water or, if you already have problems with hypertension – dial back.

Carbs and Sugars

Carb and sugar content is, probably, the first thing I look for, when reading nutrition labels, because of how easy it is to let it through your guard and how important it is not to.  You will notice that I do not separate (simple) sugars, such as sucrose or table sugar and other (potentially more complex) carbs, because, eventually, even complex carbs are broken down by enzymes in your body into simple sugars, such as  glucose, and further participate in metabolism in a similar manner.

Read more

Setting financial goals

New Year’s Resolutions

We all know that around these days in early January, a lot of people start working on implementing their New Year’s resolutions – apparently, there is something special about “starting clean” on January 1.  To be honest – I could never understand why people don’t make important decisions immediately instead of waiting – sometimes for several months!.  I’m sure you’ve heard many people say about some bad habit “OK, starting from the New Year… [I will stop doing that]” – even if the New Year was months away!

The sad part is that most of the goals enthusiastically set at the end of the previous year will not be reached.  The energy will fizz out in a couple of months and most people will be back to where they started – and keep making promises to themselves to re-start again, starting the following January.  Hey, I get it – most people have very busy lives.  But “busy” doesn’t necessarily mean “productive” – very few are aiming for meaningful results and end up being trapped in an endless rat race.

Making New Year’s resolutions appears to be a big thing in North America specifically.  Interestingly enough, certain cultures that celebrate New Year do not have resolutions – they have New Year wishes (as I, being a representative of one of such cultures, vividly recall from my childhood memories).  You’d be surprised, but some are actually surrounded by funny superstitions of unknown origins, such as – to make sure your wish comes true, you have to start opening and pouring Champagne only when the final countdown to midnight begins, then quickly make a wish and drink it before the countdown ends – and some similar nonsense.  The other day I came across an article that teaches you, step by step, how to make a New Year wish come true).

Silly, I know.  I want to think that in our day and age, nobody really believes that there is some special New Year’s Eve magic that would make your wishes come true, but somehow these traditions continue.  Here is the interesting thing, though – when it comes to most people, there really isn’t much of a difference between these two approaches, because most resolutions never graduate past being wishes and dreams.

Take money, for example.  Read more

Alpha women lift weights – here is why

At some point in time, several decades ago, it all went horribly wrong. Fueled by clever marketing to support a wide variety of fitness machines, accessories, clothing, books and gadgets, it was conventionally decided (or, rather, force-fed to consumers) that women should be limiting their physical activity to aerobics.  It was the “womanly” thing to do – this was apparent when you looked at crowds of bikini-clad, tanned girls on covers of magazines, TV personalities promising Buns of Steel from a few relatively simple movements and complete absence of any reference of realistic free weights in women’s fitness routines.

The idea of a woman touching a barbell, or even a dumbbell seemed outrageous.  Thanks, to a large degree, to horrid images of female bodybuilders from the 80s and early 90s that scarred the imagination of many feminine-shape-seeking ladies with overdeveloped deltoids and lats, huge pectorals instead of breasts, enormous quads and, pretty much everything Arnold Schwarzenegger was sporting around that same time, minus the accent .  “But I don’t want to look like a man!” rightfully objected the women – and flocked into countless gyms conveniently offering “lighter” exercises more suitable for women.

Read more

Importance of reading ingredient lists and nutrition labels – Part I

It never ceases to amaze me how many people still don’t pay any attention whatsoever to what they eat, despite the fact that even the most stubborn medical minds acknowledge that our diets control pretty much everything that happens in our body – diseases, performance, longevity, mood – you name it.  This is even more discouraging, given that a lot of that information is available to consumers – you just have to put two and two together (and, perhaps, know what to look for).  This article will discuss the caveats of nutrition labels and ingredient lists – what to look for, what to avoid, and how not to fall prey to sneaky marketing tactics used by some food manufacturers. This knowledge should be your governing principle when buying any packaged food.

You already know that to achieve an Alpha-level performance, what you eat matters more than anything else – mess this component up and you will never achieve any meaningful long-term goals in anything else.  The ground rules are simple – most of the time, your best choice is mono-ingredient food.  You know, the stuff that is not pre-packaged, the stuff that only has one ingredient in it – fresh produce, fresh meat, fish, etc.  Once you start venturing into packaged foods, chances are you are going to end up with less of a food, but more of a food substitute – a cocktail of processed offcuts or rejected produce and added chemicals, stripped of most nutrients and cooked using highly inflammatory oils.  Not a very appetizing picture, regardless of the pretty colors and ridiculous claims made on those boxes.

Read more

The non-conventional approach to ripped abs and all the proper curves

“I just need to get rid of stomach fat – what is the best ab exercise?”

“I exercise a lot, but can’t get six-pack abs!”

“I look fit, but could trim my thighs a bit – should I focus on leg exercises?”

“I look fine from the waist up, but my butt looks too big – I guess it is just my genetics?..”

These questions and statements pop up all the time and reflect the fundamental misunderstanding about the mechanism of fat loss and exercise. What is worse – you get constantly misled by ads and “specialized” exercise programs (“buy that awesome targeted workout DVD and get the abs as ripped as the guy on the cover has!” – yeah, I wish…).

So, can we do something about those pesky muffin tops, love handles and beer bellies? With all the misinformation out there, can we pinpoint the real solution to trimming down problem areas? You bet! But not the way you would expect…

Read more