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Month: March 2021

Crippled CEO Blog #076: I Answer Tim Ferriss’s Questions, part 2

Crippled CEO Blog #076:

Last week, I answered the first five of the eleven questions posed in the book Tribe of Mentors by Tim Ferriss. People seemed to like the first five, so I’m excited to finish the rest off this week.

6. What is an unusual habit or an absurd thing that you love?

I have so many, actually. The most salient, well-known one is probably milk. Specifically, 2% Publix brand milk with a hint of Hersheys chocolate syrup. This is all I drink. And I don’t mean that as hyperbole. It is literally the only fluid that I ingest. There is a large Yeti cup next to me right now, as there always is, filled with milk. And even though I drink it all day, every day, I still really love it. I still get a tremendous amount of joy out of it every single time. My mom had a similar relationship with coffee, so it might be hereditary. 

I also count letters in sentences and phrases with a speed and accuracy that people seem to find alarming. I do it as a game. The goal is to find naturally occurring phrases in the wild that I hear people say or read that end with a multiple of 10 (e.g. 10, 20, 60, etc.). There are some weird rules to the game that I won’t get into, also, but the letter counting thing has been with me since childhood.

I really enjoy staying up bizarrely late. On weekdays, I go to bed between 1:30 AM – 3 AM. On weekends, I go to bed between 4:30 AM – 6:30 AM. I used to wait for the sunrise on the weekends, but I have trouble making it that late these days as I get closer to 40.

7. In the last five years, what new belief, behavior, or habit has most improved your life?

For many years, I only had one other person with me in the office. First, my dad, and then later, an office manager. If I had some idea or project I wanted done, I was going to do it myself, because there wasn’t anybody else to do it.

Eventually, though, this mindset led to me being the bottleneck for all kinds of things. It took me a long time to realize something obvious: Life Saver doesn’t care WHO does something as long as it gets done. And if I pass along ideas and improvements to other people, there is a much better chance that they actually get done — maybe better than I would have. Now, the criteria for what I do isn’t: “Am I the best person for this task?”, it is: “Am I the only person for this task?” And sometimes, the answer is still yes, and if I’m only saying yes to those things, then I’m able to make sure they get done. 

Listening to audiobooks while I use the restroom has been pretty great, also, like I mentioned in the last post.

8. What advice would you give to a smart, driven college student about to enter the “real world”? What advice should they ignore?

You can mess up/screw off until you’re 40 and still live a great life. And maybe you should. 

9. What are bad recommendations you hear in your profession or area of expertise?

The bad advice I usually hear is the type that sounds right because it’s cautious and risk averse. Stuff about not trusting others, not taking risks, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, and so on. And I think that entire mindset is malarkey.

10. In the last five years, what have you become better at saying no to (distractions, invitations, etc.)? What new realizations and/or approaches helped? Any other tips?

I’ve gotten really good at saying no to invitations to things I don’t want to do. I have a rule that I don’t do showers: actual, bridal, baby, golden, any of it. No showers. The same goes for birthday parties for small children. I’m good.

In business, I’ve gotten better at saying no to unreasonable requests. I tend to be generous by default, so this has been a helpful realignment. I’m also much more willing to say no to anything that disrupts the excellent company culture we have. It’s important, and fragile, and I consider it my personal responsibility to keep it safe.

11. When you feel overwhelmed or unfocused, or have lost your focus temporarily, what do you do? (If helpful: What questions do you ask yourself?)

I don’t know if I can recall a time where I felt like I had lost focus, though I’m sure I have and not noticed, but I have certainly felt overwhelmed. For me, the secret to getting back to being just whelmed or even underwhelmed is a reality check. What’s really at stake? What’s the worst that could happen? And what can I do right now, like literally in the next 15 minutes, that can make it better? A combination of reassessing and then moving forward seems to help when I feel overwhelmed.

And that’s it! Those are the 11 questions. I hope you all enjoyed that, and if not, why did you keep reading? That’s very kind of you.

(I bet you know who did enjoy that. Your mom. She also enjoys my text every Sunday that gives her the link to the latest blog. You can also get this by sending a message to 484848 with the word CRIP as the message. You should do it. It’s good karma.)

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Crippled CEO Blog #075: I Answer Tim Ferriss’s Questions

Crippled CEO Blog #075:

I’m currently making my way through Tribe of Mentors by Tim Ferriss. If you don’t already know, Tim Ferriss is great. 4 Hour Work Week sounds way cheesier and dumber than it is, and Tools of Titans is an encyclopedia for life that’s really worth checking out. 

In this book, Tim sent a list of 11 questions to a gang of super performers, and then curated their best responses.

I’m no super performer, but I thought it might be a fun exercise for myself to go through the questions, and I figured I could share those answers with you all as well. I will do five of them this week, and then do the rest next week. 

And if you have a few minutes, go type Tim Ferriss into YouTube and watch a few things. You’ll thank me later.

  • 1. What is the book (or books) you’ve given most as a gift, and why? Or what are one to three books that have greatly influenced your life?

Never Split the Difference: Negotiating as if Your Life Depended On It by Chris Voss. 

Chris Voss was the chief international hostage negotiator for the FBI. He was forced to learn and develop simple, practical, teachable negotiation methods that worked every time, because in his work, when they didn’t, someone died. He then went to the top business negotiation classes in the world (e.g. Harvard), first as a student and then as a teacher, and quickly figured out that his methods didn’t only work on hostage taking criminals, but they worked well in business and life as well. 

It is rare to get a book on a topic and have the advice inside be so useful, so not obvious, and so well taught. And how many skills are more important than talking to the people around us, which is really what he is offering in the book? If you are a person who talks to other people, highly recommend this one for you.

  • 2. What purchase of $100 or less has most positively impacted your life in the last six months (or in recent memory)? My readers love specifics like brand and model, where you found it, etc. 

I’m hardly sharing any unknown secrets here, but my Yeti cup has really changed my life. As a person who needs another person to refill their beverage, having a large cup of it that always stays cold is rather nice. Also, using the Delivery Dudes bodega / concierge service to get me small stuff like four gallons of milk — that’s been a game changer. 

  • 3. How has a failure, or apparent failure, set you up for later success? Do you have a “favorite failure” of yours?

I failed pretty spectacularly at being born. Seriously, I screwed that up so royally that I ended up permanently crippled. Way to start things off on the right foot, or in my case, the right wheelchair wheel. I could argue that being gimpy has been pivotal in many of my successes. 

If you don’t think that one counts, we will do one more. I started Child Safety Store originally in 2001. I built the website myself. I entered in every product. I wrote every description. I edited all the photos. I ran the Google AdWords campaign. And in just a couple years, it was doing $300,000 a year in revenue. A person could have easily lived off of that income alone. But then I left it on auto pilot. I didn’t care about it. And I just let it… fizzle… until it died. It is the saddest kind of failure, because it’s the one that happens because you didn’t even try.

I started it back up again in 2017, and it is already on its way towards something more special than what it could have been before. I think it needed to die, and I needed to grow some, so that we could get it right the second time. 

  • 4. If you could have a gigantic billboard anywhere with anything on it—metaphorically speaking, getting a message out to millions or billions—what would it say and why? It could be a few words or a paragraph. (If helpful, it can be someone else’s quote: Are there any quotes you think of often or live your life by?)

I’m cheating. I have two. 

The first would be:

Keep Showing Up

Because that’s the key to everything, right? Whether you are writing a novel, learning how to cook, starting a new business, exercising, parenting, whatever it is, the key to succeeding is that you just keep showing up. If you keep showing up, then eventually success is undeniable.

And the other would be: 

Drowning is the number one cause of accidental death for children between the ages of one and four years old. Multiple layers of protection, like pool safety fencing and infant swim self-rescue training, are the solution.

  • 5. What is one of the best or most worthwhile investments you’ve ever made? (Could be an investment of money, time, energy, etc.)

I put an Amazon Echo on my night stand, right outside my bathroom. Whenever I go into my bathroom to go pee (which takes me a few minutes longer than you — start to finish about 6 minutes), I tell her to start playing my audio book. That small amount of time, energy, and money to buy the thing and the books has paid off exponentially.

That silly thing aside, I would say the biggest investment I have made, that has most affected my life, is in the people around me — curating them, building my relationships with them, and weaving them into my life by doing everything I can to change theirs for the better. I have realized that when I find a new diamond in the rough that I want around me forever, I invest heavily in making my life an awesome place for them to reside. I do this primarily because I want people I care about to be prosperous and happy, but a side effect is I end up with friends deeply embedded in my life — we work together, roommates, neighbors, etc. — and I have the very best humans as friends for decades. 

So, that’s it for this week. Next week we will do the remaining questions. Let me know if you enjoyed this, and maybe I’ll do something similar in the future.

(You know whose questions I always answer? Your mom. And I answer them thoroughly and in detail. Your mom also gets my text every Sunday about the latest blog post. You can, too, by sending a text to the phone number 484848 with the word CRIP as the message. You should do it. Don’t let your mom have all the fun.)

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Crippled CEO Blog #074: AND versus OR

Crippled CEO Blog #074:

I think a lot about, and talk pretty regularly, about this idea I live by that I describe as “AND versus OR”. 

Author and legend Jim Collins describes this concept as rejecting “The Tyranny of Or” and embracing “The Genius of And”. (If you own a business, his books are essentially required reading. Highly recommended.)

Have a job you love or make great money?

Nice employees or productive employees?

Happy workforce or disciplined workforce?

Details or big picture?

Succeed short term or succeed long-term?

Build a company that does good in the world or build a company that is really profitable?

Close friends or lots of friends?

Humble or confident?

Smart girlfriend or hot girlfriend?

Cake or ice cream?

The answer to all these, and so many other “or” questions that we are presented with, is BOTH. You don’t need to choose. In so many cases, both is not only possible, it is the best option. You don’t need to settle. You can have your cake and eat it, too. Hopefully with ice cream.

F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote, “The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in the mind at the same time, and still retain the ability to function.“

And I have proven this over and over again. I’ve proven it at Life Saver. Life Saver is a company that makes the world a better place — we are actively reducing the number of child drownings each year, both by physically making pools safer and by deploying a thorough and comprehensive educational campaign. We also make money, because being profitable is necessary to keep doing the things we do. Profitability is like blood or oxygen. It’s not the point of life, but you need it to keep going. And we are successful at it while simultaneously serving another purpose. 

At Life Saver, we have happy, kind, thoughtful employees who are treated well and who enjoy flexibility and freedom. They are also super productive and efficient. Someone might tell you that you have to choose. But you don’t. You can have both. And they didn’t have to choose, either. I believe most people at Life Saver rather like working there, but they don’t have to take a pay cut to enjoy that privilege. They got both. 

And this doesn’t just apply to business. I’ve done it personally as well. Hot and smart lady friend? Check. Awesome home and cool neighbors? Check. Love seeing my friends and love being alone? Check. Being intelligent, hilarious, successful, good looking, AND humble? Checks all around. Especially that humble part. I tell everybody I know how incredibly humble I am. I’m very proud of my humility.

In life and in business, stop settling for one thing or another. Embrace the power of AND. You really can have it all. I promise. Especially cake and ice cream. 

(When I’m with your mom, she embraces the power of AND, also. I won’t even tell you the choices that we don’t make — in an order that would surprise you. You know what other choice you don’t have to make? You can subscribe to the weekly text message notifying you of the latest blog by texting the word CRIP to 484848 AND you can share this with a friend. You don’t have to choose. You can do both. And you should.)

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Crippled CEO Blog #073: Lessons from my Dead Dad

Crippled CEO Blog #073:

Tomorrow is the fourth anniversary of my dad passing away and three days after that will be his birthday.

I’ve talked about him here before. If you’ve been reading these for minute, then you know that my dad grew up in rough circumstances in an abusive home, he volunteered to go to Vietnam at age 17, he led a reconnaissance team that saw lots of combat, death, and killing, he became addicted to heroin, he brought his heroin addiction back to the US, and remained addicted to opiates (which included prescribed methadone replacement therapy) until the early 80’s, shortly after my younger brother was born.  

He was a phenomenal dad to my brother and I, and from what I could tell, a pretty awesome husband, as well. He and my mom started the company that would become Life Saver Pool Fence Systems, Inc. in their garage in 1987. When I took it over in 2003, it was doing over $1 million in revenue with dealers in most major cities throughout the US and occupied a 6,000 sq ft facility. 

By all accounts, when he passed away, Robert Lupton was successful, respected, and looked up to by everyone who knew him.

So, what are some things that we can learn from my dad‘s life?

  1. It’s never too late to start. My dad started Life Saver at roughly the age I am now. He also had my brother and I at about the same time. Everything I saw him accomplish, which was a lot, happened when he was older than I am now. I feel so far along in my track, so deep into my life, that the idea of starting from scratch at this point seems crazy. But that’s exactly what he did. And the second half of his life was great for it. 
  2. Your past doesn’t dictate your future. My dad‘s teenage years were highlighted by abuse. The next 20 years were war and drug addiction. And then he was a great dad and a successful entrepreneur for 30 years. No one who knew him at 55 would have known who he was at 25. And no one who knew him at 25 would have predicted who he’d become at 55. Radical change is possible.
  3. Know your weaknesses and adapt to them, without shame or embarrassment. He would tell me to remind him to get gas at the gas station less than a mile up the road, just moments away, because as crazy as it sounds, he knew there was a good chance he would forget. So, he said something. Other people might have been too embarrassed, but he wasn’t. Also because he knew he couldn’t trust his memory, he had a system for everything. The same things went in the same pocket in the same way every time. He systemized his life to counterbalance his deficits. 
  4. He was reliable. If he said he would do something, he would do it. He paid his bills on time. He was punctual. He kept his promises. He answered the phone when you needed him. All of this sounds so simple, but you have to get a lot of things right in order to be the kind of reliable that you can set your clock to. It’s a good thing to strive towards. Do the people you know trust you when they need something? Do they think you’ll show up when you say you will? If not, why?

There are a ton more we could get into ranging from business to credit scores to not having an ego to the selfless way he cared for his disabled son (me) and his dying wife (my mom). There are many lessons I learned from Dad and the example that he set. But I think that’s enough for now. 

If your dad is still alive, give him a call. Tell him a couple things that you have learned from his life. He’ll appreciate it. I know mine would have liked to read this. I bet yours would like to hear the same from you, as well.

(Do you know who else was a big fan of my dad? Your mom was. She also shares this blog with her friends, which makes her super cool, AND signed up to get the link to the newest blog each week by sending a text with the word CRIP to the number 484848. Be more like your mom.)

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Crippled CEO Blog #072: Curate Your Friends

Crippled CEO Blog #072:

How do we make new friends?

There are a few ways. Someone sits by you in class. Someone sits by you at work. Someone’s sits by you at a concert.

Apparently, we primarily make new friends by people seating themselves in our proximity. 

But in all seriousness, it’s random. We encounter a new person out in the world, we speak to them for some reason — often on multiple occasions — we connect over something, and voila! New friend. 

The problem with this is the vetting process sucks. Yeah, you’re going to naturally avoid obviously crazy people. But most people aren’t obviously crazy. It isn’t readily apparent when you first meet somebody if they are going to be a drain of your energy, create drama, or even be straight up nefarious. That takes time to figure out. And with time, comes a personal investment that is hard to eschew. 

Your friends matter. There is an often repeated wisdom that we are the sum of our five closest friends, and there’s truth to that. Your friends have a massive, incalculable influence on your life. They impact the way you think, the goals you set, the way you spend your time, and your bar for what is acceptable and unacceptable in everything ranging from nutrition to dating to finance.

If our friends are so important, why do we just accept that our friend group is largely accidental — people we have met by chance, invested time in, that we mostly like the majority of, but continue to allow into our lives? I know people who are constantly complaining about their friends. This is insanity to me. 

Why do we accept having friends that aren’t only adding to our lives?

And I’ll be real honest, at the risk of sounding like I’m bragging, the reason I feel comfortable writing about this is because I have what I am describing. All my friends are awesome. There is zero drama in my life. It has taken a long time, and a lot of work, but it’s possible.

So, if the process of making friends isn’t changing, and it’s not, how do we do it? 

  1. Sit in cooler places. If you’re sitting in places where awesome people are more likely to be, someone awesome is more likely to sit near you. And, as we know, sitting near someone is like the only way to meet people. 
  2. Be really cool. Be a person worthy of having awesome friends. If you focus on improving you, you will attract a higher caliber of human. If your life sucks and is filled with drama and problems, you’re going to scare away people like me (and you definitely want people like me). 
  3. Cut ruthlessly. I curate my friends. And a big part of the curation process is I get rid of people who are throwing things off. Just like an employee with the wrong attitude can poison the culture of a company, one bad friend can screw everything up. Get rid of people who don’t treat you the way you want to be treated. Get rid of people who drain from your life instead of adding to it. Get rid of people who don’t act in a way that inspires you to do better, who aren’t role models for you to aspire to. There are things about all of my friends that I want to emulate. Being around them helps me be a better person.

That’s really it. That last one is pretty crucial. It’s tough to do, especially if you’ve known someone for a long time. But you’re not doing either of you any favors by hanging in there. Let them go. Make room for somebody you admire and respect. 

Besides your family and your spouse, the friends you pick are the biggest impact on your life. Put some intentionality in deciding who you want to give that power. It’s worth it. I’ve had crappy friends. I’ve had awesome friends. I really prefer the latter.

(Did you like that as much as your mom did? Probably not. She loves everything I do. You should be like her and send a text message with the word CRIP to the phone number 484848. I will send you a link each week to the latest blog post. Act now while supplies last.)


Join the fam and make sure you never miss a post. Send a text with the word CRIP to 484848. I'll send you the link each week to the newest blog as soon as it's released.

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