Interview: Pledgehammer

Posted by 9 March, 2009 (2) Comment


How are your goals been going for 2009? I came across a website that I thought would be beneficial for all of the goal oriented people out there. It’s called Pledgehammer. Instead of just setting goals and forgetting about them, you now have the option of putting your money where your mouth is at. We were lucky to have Andrus Purde, the cofounder of Pledgehammer, answer a few questions and tell us about his website.

Can you tell us about yourself?

I am an online marketer by profession, an avid reader, kitesurfer and traveler and a big believer in setting goals. I’m originally from Estonia but currently live and work in London.

Why did you start the website – Pledgehammer? How does it work? Why should people use Pledgehammer?

Pledgehammer, like many other things in this world, was started because of a personal need. I’d been writing down my various goals and resolutions for years but this wasn’t very systematic and I didn’t have a good way to keep track of the goals made in various times. There was no great eureka moment in creating Pledgehammer – myself and two co-founders just worked the original vague idea into its current shape.

How Pledgehammer works is very simple. You make a resolution, for example exercising regularly or taking up a new hobby, choose a deadline and a financial incentive. You can then share it friends and family to increase positive ‘peer pressure’, they can also cheer you on the site. Pledgehammer sends an email upon the deadline and (nicely) asks to donate money to charity if your resolution happened to fail. This way there is some good in failing pledges, too.

Pledgehammer doesn’t make anybody’s resolutions true, people do it themselves. What we provide is a simple way to write your goals down, make them easy-to-share and provide a financial incentive with a charitable touch. All of this will give some extra help that is much needed for sticking to a resolution.

What are some of the more outrageous pledges you’ve seen posted?

Most pledges are what you’d expect them to be from losing weight to paying back credit card debt to learning new languages. But there are indeed some resolutions I can only assume are jokes, like someone resolving to “choose one of my girlfriends”, “not be a dumbass” and “take better care of my tractor” by a certain date.

What future plans do you have for the website? Is either a Facebook or iPhone application in your future?

No man is an island, and the same goes for websites. We’re of course looking to improve usability and add features but perhaps more importantly we need to make Pledgehammer work on the facebooks, twitters, iphones and other platforms of this world.

I see that most of the charities are in the UK. Do you have any plans for charities in North America?

We’re actually looking for more charities in North America to work with. If you work for a charity there please do get in touch by emailing

Is there anything else you’d like to share?

Firstly I’d like to thank everyone that has made pledges so far and wish them good luck in sticking to them. And I’d like to tell anyone that has failed their New Year’s resolution already that it’s never too late to re-do your resolution and get back in the saddle. Why not start again today?

Again, I want to thank Andrus for his time. In the spirit of goal setting and giving to a charity, I’ve signed up to make a pledge at Pledgehammer.

I will run a marathon by the end of this year or I am giving $100 to Cancer Research UK. Check out my pledge here!

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Categories : Interview,Personal Development Tags : , ,

What Time Do You Wake Up?

Posted by 5 March, 2009 (10) Comment


I’ll be the first one to admit that I am not a morning person. I try really hard to be chipper and happy in the morning because I want to be happy around other people. I typically wake up at 5:45 a.m. to start getting ready for work, but after a few snoozes, I usually get up around 6:00 to 6:10. In the past few weeks, I’ve been waking up at 5:00 a.m. to see if I can gain 30-45 minutes of productivity which has consisted of writing for this blog.

In the past few months I have focused on being the best person I can be. All of this is well and good, but I’ve also placed a focus on living life to the fullest and really just enjoying life. I recently joined Toastmaster. I get REALLY nervous when speaking in front of a large group of people. I also just ran my first half marathon. My wife and I also started taking dance lessons.

I was really disturbed by a recent conversation I had the other day at work with a fellow employee.

We were both washing our hands and I said “hey, how’s it going?”

In typical fashion he said “not bad, and yourself.”

I said: I’m doing well and I’m just trying to wake up. I’m really tired today.”

His reply “Oh, I don’t bother waking up until about 3:30 p.m. when it’s quitting time.”

I was completely floored by this comment. You mean to tell me that he drifts through out the day without meaning and doesn’t wake up until it’s time to go home at 3:30 p.m. For you number junkies out there:

Hours at work: 1840 hours per year (assuming 40 hours per week, 46 weeks per year (on the low side)).

Hours alive: 8736 (assume 52 weeks per year)

Hours awake: 5824

Assuming the individual drifts through working hours basically asleep, this person is “asleep” over 30% of his life per year.

“Some people die at 25 and aren’t buried until 75.” – Benjamin Franklin

I don’t know the guy or his situation so perhaps I am reading into things, but the gentlemen I spoke with appeared to be healthy. He was probably between 45 and 50 years old. He appeared to be in fairly good shape. How could he potentially combat this situation? Through reading and study of self improvement and happiness books, one would learn that you have the option of controlling 40% of your happiness. How do you think this gentleman would look back at his hours during work if he was laid off? Do you think he would treat his hours at work differently if he only had a short time to live?

More than anything, it comes down to appreciating what we have NOW. It’s easy to take a job, a spouse, kids, family or friends for granted.

What steps can a person take to refill the appreciation tank?

  1. Imagine what it would be like not to have some of the things in your life. Sadly enough, many people have lost their jobs in the past year. I know my wife and I have really come to appreciate our jobs much more than before because we’ve seen the financial hardship that a job loss has placed on many families.
  2. Go volunteer! It’s easy to live life by simply going through themotions. You wake up, go to work, pick up the kids, go home, eat dinner, go to sleep then repeat. Well, try volunteering at a homeless shelter. This will quickly make you appreciate your family and your home.
  3. Write down what you are thankful for. The written word is powerful. I know writing helps me remember and provokes me to think about things more so than if I were not writing them down. A technique found in “The How of Happiness” suggests that people can increase their happiness by writing down five things which happened during the past week for which they are thankful.

What are these steps towards great appreciation going to do for you?

  1. You will most likely be happier and have more meaning in your life. As you begin to appreciate things more, they’ll have more meaning to you and this will create greater satisfaction in your life knowing that you have these items that mean so much to you.
  2. You’ll develop better relationships. You friends and family will see that you appreciate them more. As is the usual gesture with a friend or good people in general, they will want to reciprocate this appreciation and thus put forth more effort into the relationship.
  3. If you appreciate what you have, you are less likely look at what other people have (The Joneses). This will create less of a “one up” environment and most likely have a positive effect on your pocket book.
  4. If you have an appreciation for the people in your life, you’ll often see a reciprocation from a family member or a friend if that is who you have focused your appreciation upon. This greats a positive foundation that will hopefully duplicate many times over creating a better world for all of us to live in.

Are you awake? Are you waiting for a certain time of time before you start living?

Photo by Mayr

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Categories : Personal Development Tags : ,

6 Reasons Why I Joined Toastmasters

Posted by 8 January, 2009 (15) Comment


Toastmasters is an international organization that helps people hone their communication and leadership skills. Per the Toastmasters website, the organization was founded in Santa Ana, CA in 1924.

I have contemplated joining Toastmasters for a fear years, but I had never acted on it. Last year, 2008, I attended a few meetings through out the year. Towards the end year, I had an opportunity to speak for my work group at a meeting at Rice University. I declined the opportunity to speak in front of such a distinguished group out of my fear for public speaking. I decided I will not allow my fear of public speaking to hold me back anymore.

1. Fear – The most obvious reason for joining Toastmasters is that I want to rid myself of the fear of public speaking. I am terrified anytime I am speaking in front of more than a handful of people and that is not acceptable to me any longer. I’ve always had a fear of public speaking, but I think the embarrassment that really propelled my fear into an all out panic came during my freshman year of college at UT Austin. I was in an English literature class and we had to take turns reading out of some novel. While reading out of the novel in front of the class, I froze. It probably wasn’t a big deal, but I heard a few people snicker. I’m sure that all sounds pretty lame, but from that point forward, I’ve had a pretty difficult time with public speaking.

2. Networking – I want to use Toastmasters to network with other coworkers. I figure it’ll also help me fulfill my quest to be more social as indicated in my goals for this year.

3. Confidence – Anytime you conquer a fear or achieve a goal, you are going to feel good about yourself. I don’t think I’m that bad at public speaking, but I feel that Toastmasters will help boost and sustain my confidence in public speaking so I don’t miss future opportunities to “stand out” from the crowd.

4. Life SkillToastmasters is yet another tool I can add to my tool box that adds more value and increases my ability to be employed. Even if you are not employed and perhaps volunteer for a non-profit organization, public speaking is a valuable tool that you will be able to use in any facet of life.

5. LeadershipToastmasters will also give me the ability to sharpen my leadership skills. Members in Toastmasters are often asked to run meetings and other activities that would allow me to sharpen my leadership skills.

6. Think on your feet – During Toastmasters meetings, people are put on the spot and asked to give an impromptu speech about the topic presented. I’ve participated in this before and it’s really interesting what stories I’ve been able to put together because I don’t consider myself to be very good at impromptu speeches. I’m more of a sit, think, analyze, and then speak sort of person.

Are you an accomplished public speaker? If so, were you a member of Toastmasters? Is public speaking something you fear? Please feel free to leave a comment!

Photo by: Iggy

External Resources

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Categories : Personal Development Tags : ,

Goals for 2009

Posted by 5 January, 2009 (13) Comment


Last Thursday I did a blog post going over my goals and my self-assessment. It’s 2009 and I’m excited about all of the great things going on this year. Let’s take a look at my goals for this year. I’d love to hear about your goals for 2009!

1. Run a marathon this year – I had the goal of finishing a half-marathon last year and that did not quite happen, but we are signed up and training for a half-marathon that we will run February 28th.

2. Complete a sprint triathlon event – I’ve never done any sort of triathlon event so this could get very interesting. I can swim, but I would not consider myself to be a strong swimmer. I have a lot of difficulty with my breathing technique.

3. Earn $10,000 through entrepreneurial endeavors – I am defining this income as income through a side business. As of now, those three avenues could be through real estate transactions, ad revenue through my blog, or through Forex trading. I am not limiting what avenues I can or will make money in, but I suspect that most of it will come from those three vehicles.

4. Earn $1,000 in monthly cash flow by the end of the year – I would rank this as the most difficult or second most difficult goal. I anticipate this cash flow to come from rental properties. At $1,000 in monthly cash flow, that would require us to acquire four properties which would be quite a bit for beginners.

5. Limit checking personal and blog related e-mail to 3 times per day – I am constantly checking my e-mail. I feel I spend a lot more time on there than I probably should.

6. Start a pot luck dinner group – I’m pretty excited about starting this group. My wife and I both would like to be more social and we think this would help us to accomplish this.

7. Read 25 book this year – I ended up finishing 11 books last year and I’d really like to step that up in a big way this year so I doubled my goal.

8. Save $15,000 for this year – I think this is very doable. This includes maxing out our Roth IRA’s at $2,000 per account.

9. Continue posting 3 times per week – I currently write two articles and a “Cool Links” feature that highlights great stories from around the web. I was able to sustain that for more than 6 months so I have no doubt I’ll be able to continue that through 2009.

10. Join the Toastmasters – I have always been afraid of public speaking. My stomach gets into knots and I get extremely nervous. I want to face my fear and conquer it.

11. Be more social – I like to be around people, but I feel like I don’t socialize as much as I should.

12. Have a party this year – We did not get around to having a party so we will definitely make that a priority this year.

13. Learn how to cook and be more conscious about our eating habits – I have my standard lasagna dish, but outside of that, I don’t really have any dishes that I cook on a regular basis. I’d like to broaden my horizon as well as put an emphasis on a healthier diet.

Photo by: Wili Hybrid

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Categories : Personal Development Tags : ,

10 Simple Ways to Overcome Disappointment

Posted by 1 December, 2008 (12) Comment


Everyone is disappointed at some point in their life. Perhaps you didn’t receive the grade you were hoping for on your math test. Maybe you didn’t perform as well as you had hoped for in the big championship soccer game.

My recent disappointment is that despite a good amount of effort, my wife and I have not secured our first real estate investing deal that I put into my goals for 2008. We’ve had quite a few that were very close to going through, but we haven’t quite made it over that “hump”.

Disappointment can be an ugly thing. Disappointment can be a temporary feeling for some people or it may drag others to depression depending on the severity of the disappointment and the mental state of the person. Disappointment has actually been classified as a type of mental stress (see reference).

So, what are some ways to overcome disappointment!


1. Exercise – If something is bothering me, I exercise. I don’t exercise to try and forget about the problem necessarily. I exercise and work through the problem in my head and I seem to always come to a solution. Perhaps it’s the endorphins helping out, but I seem to always come to a resolution.

2. Focus on the Future – There’s a reason why the rearview mirror in a car is small, but the front windshield is large. Focus your attention on what’s in front of you. Sure it’s good to know about the past, but DON”T DWELL ON IT!

3. Be with Friends – It’s amazing what being around friends will do for a person. If you are disappointed about something, find and friend and go talk about your disappointment. A lot of times people think their situation is unique when more often than not, many people have been through the same situation. Plus, it’s good to talk it through and a lot of times you’ll realize that it’s probably not a big deal in the grand scheme of things.

4. Focus on What Makes You Happy – If you are feeling disappointed and watching a comedy makes you happy, go down to the store and rent a comedy from a DVD rental center. If you have kids and they make you happy, go play with them. It won’t take long before you forget about your disappointment.

5. Go Read – Reading can be a great tool to get your mind off of what’s bothering you and allow you to focus on the story in the book. Who knows, perhaps you’ll find that reading is a new hobby for you if you are not already an avid reader.

6. Go Walk Your Dog – If you have a dog, walking them is a great way to keep your mind off of your disappointment. A lot of the dogs I’m around are soi friendly, it’s hard not to forget about your disappointment.

7. You Have Your Health – Despite your disappointment, you have your health. I know I get caught up in sports, goals and activities, but instead of focusing on the fact that we came up short in a soccer game or didn’t quite complete a goal, I focus on the fact that I have my health. I have a lot of friends that are not able to play soccer due to their health so I am certainly thankful for the opportunity to still play.

8. Be Alone – This my seem counterintuitive to some of the other ways to overcome disappointment, but sometimes and for some people, it’s good to be alone. I know I sometimes enjoy being alone so I can have some quite time to myself without the distraction of the television of other noises.

9. Motivation – When I am disappointed about an outcome, it motivates me to not to want to feel that way again. For instance, I’m disappointed that I will probably not make my goal of purchasing our first real estate investment. Instead of hanging my head low over the fact that I didn’t accomplish that goal, I’m going to regroup and double my efforts!

10. Forgive Yourself – Just as you are taught to forgive others for their wrongdoings, you must live to forgive yourself and realize that you are human and not perfect. Things don’t always fall the way you want them do, but if you plan and put enough effort into your goal, you’ll definitely give yourself a good chance at realizing that goal.

What other methods or tricks do you use to overcome disappointment?

Photo by Diabloooz, The-O

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Categories : Happiness,Personal Development Tags : , ,