a photo of the text from the book; the same text that appears in the post

Disney Imagineering Rules of Brainstorming

Something I think about often, every time someone says “let’s brainstorm ideas” are the rules needed for successful brainstorming. Who better to get these rules from than Walt Disney Imagineering (WDI). This excerpt is from the wonderful little book: The Imagineering Field Guide to Disneyland

  • Rule 1: There is no such thing as a bad idea. We never know how one idea (however far-fetched) might lead into another one that is exactly right. 
  • Rule 2: We don’t talk yet about why not. There will be plenty of time for realities later, so we don’t want them to get in the way of the good ideas now. 
  • Rule 3: Nothing should stifle the flow of ideas. No buts or can’ts or other stopping words. We want to hear words such as “and”, “or”, and “what if?”.
  • Rule 4: There is no such thing as a bad idea. (We take that one very seriously). 

Other, related definitions from the “Imagineering Lingo” section of the book:

Blue Sky – The early stages in the idea-generation process when anything is possible. There are not yet any considerations taken into account that might rein in the creative process. At this point, the sky’s the limit!

Brainstorm – A gathering for the purpose of generating as many ideas as possible in the shortest time possible. We hold many brainstorming sessions at WDI (Walt Disney Imagineering), always looking for the best ideas. Imagineering has a set of Brainstorming Rules, which are always adhered to.

Charrette – Another term for a brainstorming session. From the French word for “cart”. It refers to the cart sent through the Latin Quarter in Paris to collect the art and design projects of students at the legendary École des Beaux-Arts who were unable to deliver them to the school themselves after the mad rush to complete their work at the end of the term.

This book is a fun little read if you’re at all interested in the history or design of Disneyland and can be a great spark for creativity. Highly recommended: The Imagineering Field Guide to Disneyland

The things you own are a distraction to getting started on the right path. The key to getting — and staying — organized is to look beyond the stuff and imagine the life you could be living.

Notes and highlights from It’s All Too Much by Peter Walsh

It’s All Too Much by Peter Walsh

Imagine the life you want to live

“The things you own are a distraction to getting started on the right path. The key to getting — and staying — organized is to look beyond the stuff and imagine the life you could be living.”

That’s the place to start—imagine the life you could be living. Don’t let past decisions lock you in. Every moment presents an opportunity for a new choice or to change your mind.

“The first task I give my clients, and the first challenge I want to present to you is: Imagine the life you want to live.”

On setting up your home

Presumably, you can control what’s in your home. Is there anything there that causes you stress? If so, can you do anything about it? Look at every space in your home and consider if matches with the vision for the life you want to live or if it gets in the way.

“No one should feel stressed out when they open the door to their own home. No one has to. Your home is within your control. It should be the place where you escape all negative forces in the world. Your home should be the antidote to stress, not the cause.”

“Does this house look the way I want it to look? Does this house feel like a home to me? How do I feel when I come home to this place? How do I want to feel when I come home to this place?”

“The single most important factor in deciding what you should have in your home is now clear: Does this item enhance and advance the vision I have for the life I want or does it impede that vision? This is the only question you should ask yourself when looking at the clutter that fills your home.”

“So think about your house. Does each room serve its intended purpose? Is each piece of furniture, countertop, or appliance used to do what it was designed to do? If the answer is no, it’s time to rethink your use of each space.”

How to deal with clutter

Look at every item in your home—from kitchen gadgets to clothes. Evaluate if it’s worth keeping. Does it support your vision? Does it get in the way? Do you feel good when you wear the clothes in your closet? If not, eliminate it now. Don’t settle.

“Ask yourself these questions as you encounter each piece of clutter: Do I use this? How long has it been since I’ve used it? Will I use it again? Is it worth the space it takes up in my house?”

“You should only have clothes in your closet that: you love fit you well now make you feel good when you wear them people compliment you on when you wear them.”

Keep all horizontal surfaces clear
The way you feel about a space is set the moment you step into it. Set the mood for an efficient workspace and keep your office uncluttered by ensuring that any desk surface, countertop, or table is kept clear of paperwork and clutter. If you don’t start piles, they can’t grow.”

Junk mail is your enemy!
Imagine there is a knock at your door. You open the door to see a man with a can of spray paint in his hand. Do you: a) invite him in, or b) slam the door in his face? This is how you should think of junk mail! It’s an intruder waiting to get inside and wreak havoc.”

After decluttering

Control the in/out. When you bring something new into your home, what can you remove? Buy a new toy, get rid of one. Consider cost versus space. Something that takes up a lot of room costs you more. Spend More time deciding to buy bigger items. When you decide not to buy, put that money into an experience fund. Something fun you/your family can look forward to and pay for with the money saved.

“Now that your home is the way you want it, for everything that comes into your home, something must go. The thing that goes must either be the same type as the new item or take up the same amount of room.”

Experience fund:
Every time you stop yourself from making a spontaneous purchase, put the money that you would have spent in a special account called your “experience fund.”

“Pick an experience that your whole household can look forward to — a trip to Paris, the beach, Disneyland, etc. If your child asks for a toy at the store, you can do the same thing. Say, “This toy costs nine dollars and ninety-nine cents. Let’s put that in the Disneyland fund instead.””

It’s All Too Much by Peter Walsh


Photo of large fast food hamburger

Two Reasons Why We Get Fat

I’m re-reading the excellent Why We Get Fat: And What to Do About It, by Gary Taubes and will be sharing lots of my notes and highlights.

So let’s get right to the good stuff. While there will be outliers and complications, the truth is that most of us get fat for two simple reasons:

  • when insulin levels are elevated, we accumulate fat in our fat tissue
  • our insulin levels are determined by the carbohydrates we eat

The more detailed explanation from Why We Get Fat (emphasis mine):

First, when insulin levels are elevated, we accumulate fat in our fat tissue; when these levels fall, we liberate fat from the fat tissue and burn it for fuel.

Second, our insulin levels are effectively determined by the carbohydrates we eat–not entirely, but for all intents and purposes. The more carbohydrates we eat, and the easier they are to digest and the sweeter they are, the more insulin we will ultimately secrete, meaning that the level of it in our bloodstream is greater and so is the fat we retain in our fat cells.

Carbohydrate is driving insulin is driving fat,” is how George Cahill, a former professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, recently described this to me.

So there you have it. Control your insulin levels and you can control your fat. Hopefully the book will cover how to control insulin levels in more detail (I bet it does).

If you haven’t read Why We Get Fat, do so now, I can’t recommend it highly enough.

Debt is Slavery Book Review


Debt is Slavery: and 9 Other Things I Wish My Dad Had Taught Me About Money, by Michael Mihalik. This book is short, to the point, and packed with lots of great advice. I’ve read it three times and I would put this in my top five personal finance books, possibly at number one. I think for someone just getting started with figuring out their debt and finances this is probably the first book to read. It’s short enough to get through very quickly and find some immediate advice and inspiration to get your finances under control.

The book offers this definition of slavery: “The state of being bound in servitude as an instrument of labor” [pg. 23]. Do you ever wake up in the morning and not want to go to work that day? Do you go anyway? Do you go because you really love your job that much or do you go because you owe money to someone (probably many people) and even though you may have a choice of how you’ll earn your money, ultimately you have no choice but to go to work and get that money. Lately, I’ve been dreading Monday mornings as early as Saturday night. I feel trapped and bound to this service by my debts.

“Too many people hate their jobs but are afraid to leave, because they wouldn’t be able to pay their mortgage, credit card bills, car loans, or boat loans. Debt can turn a free, happy person into a bitter human being. Debt can turn you into a slave.” [pg 25].

It’s possible for debt to be good, but debt is still slavery. A mortgage can usually be thought of as good debt, but you still must make sure you can afford the mortgage you are signing up for.

“The word ‘mortgage’ is derived from the Latin word ‘mort,’ which means ‘death’, and the Germanic word ‘gage’, which means ‘pledge’. So ‘mortgage’ means ‘death pledge’. What does that tell you?” [pg 30]

When we spend money, we are really trading our time for the things we buy. We make this even worse when we go into debt to buy things. We are now committing our time in the future to work to earn money to pay for the things we bought in the past. This becomes even more painful if you don’t like your job.

‘Stuff’ ads busywork and stress to our lives. So much stuff we buy we don’t even need. Eliminating unwanted stuff from our lives is an important part of getting control of our finances and getting out of debt.

Experiences are more valuable than stuff. Don’t find happiness only in buying things. You won’t look back on your life when you’re older and fondly remember the stuff you accumulated.

It will be easier to stop buying stuff if we avoid advertising and understand that we are constantly being marketed to and a lot of money is being spent to convince us to buy things.

Make a goal of saving 50% of your income. If you do this, you would have the ability to take a month off from work for every month you work (assuming you’re earning an income from a job and not passive sources). Don’t spend more money when you get a raise. If you keep your expenses the same as before, you can increase your savings exponentially, even as your income may not be increasing at such a high rate.

Money doesn’t buy happiness, it buys freedom. This is my greatest motivator for making more money and getting out of debt right now. I want to be free again.

This book is packed with solid advice, expertly fit into a short, easy to read format. If you’re just getting started with fixing a financial mess in your life, I would buy this book immediately. If you need a little extra motivation and a better understanding of the mistakes of the ‘normal’ American way when it comes to money and work, read this book. I had planned to give away my copy after reading it, but I decided this is one I want to keep on my bookshelf so I have it available to read again when I see bad habits creeping back into my life.

The Richest Man in Babylon

I spent some time cleaning out my book collection today and came across a few favorites that are worth mentioning again. One of which is the The Richest Man in Babylon by George S. Clason.

This is one of my favorite personal finance books and it’s a definite must-read if you are working on improving your finances. Not only is the information excellent, but it’s a short book too (my version is only 144 small pages).

The beauty of this book is that it’s not selling a gimmick or an easy way out. It simply gives you good fundamentals and a simple plan that anyone can understand and implement in their lives.

If you already know to pay yourself first and avoid debt, then you probably don’t need this book. Everyone else should read it as soon as possible. I found it to be one of the best books I read as I was getting started with figuring out my financial mess. This book and Your Money or Your Life are the two that come to mind first when someone asks me where to get started with personal finance.