Northwest Trip, Part 4

The afternoon sessions started off with elective breakout sessions.  I attended two such sessions that were blocks apart from each other.  The first session I attended was held at a Unitarian church school.  I attended the session of Jamie Tardy, titled “The Eventual Millionaire”.  It was a seminar on how millionaires start their own businesses based on Jamie’s experiences as a business coach and interviewing many self-made millionaires.  The overall outline was that they get an idea that consists of the person’s skills, a need in the public, and asking others what is needed.  This did not necessarily involve passion, which goes contrary to what a lot of bloggers in the field of entrepreneurship would give as advice.  The next step is to evaluate how the business would affect the type of lifestyle that one would prefer, as this is an often overlooked consideration before it is too late.  SWOT analysis is vital at this point.  SWOT stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Testing.  Also, good old-fashioned feedback from the right people is also helpful in this evaluation phase.  This point is a pass or a fail.  If the idea passes, move on.  If it fails, then it is time to revisit the idea phase until it is just right.  The final phase is to get moving on the business, planning out the logistics, a brief plan, and future goals once the initial phase is over, so that there is direction.  At this point, it is worth it to get a name for the business, and an LLC because the business may grow faster than anticipated, so being protected ahead of time is important.  Once the business is successful, one sign is that people will start to sue the business, which happens quite often these days.  One thing that I got from it to apply right now is to come up with 20 business ideas each day.  However, I have not applied this since coming back from the conference due to the fact that I am in the middle of moving once again.

I then ran down the street for the next breakout session, which featured the Irish polyglot, Benny Lewis.  He gave a speech on his strategies to master a language in a three month period.  He told us of his story where he had an engineering degree from Ireland, but relocated to Spain for employment after graduating.  He only knew English, and was trying to learn Spanish, but he was getting frustrated with conventional techniques, and was about to give up learning any Spanish.  Briefly, this involves buying a $5.00 Lonely Planet phrase book in the language that you are tryi8ng to learn.  Memorize some phrases, but instead of rote memorization, us mnemonics or singing techniques to burn the phrase into memory.  He used romance languages as an example of learning a new language.  When learning these languages, it is important to note that the French Normans invaded England around 1000 AD, and they brought their language with them.  The nobility and royals spoke the Norman language, with Latin roots, while the commoners spoke a form of English with Germanic roots.  So to guess a word in a romance language, try finding a fancier version of the English word, and change the ending of the word to fit the romance language.  This can also be applied across more European language groups, but it may be more limited.  This was the first phase of the strategy.  The next thing was to find a native speaker of the language, either in person or online (he listed many online resources for this, including Skype) to speak with them in whatever broken form you can.  Then, once there is comfort is some phrases, grammar can be studied, and it will make more sense because the application of grammar is already seen.   This involves as much immersion in the new language as possible, which does not require travel, but requires creativity for language immersion.  Luckily, the internet exists these days, and there are many online websites, videos, and radio programs in many languages that can be accessed. The second half of the talk was Benny Lewis debunking common misconceptions and limiting beliefs that people bring towards language learning.  Some examples were that language learning dies off at age 14.  That was only the case in feral children, where children were abandoned and lived in the wild, NOT a second language.  He then gave a list of websites that have language learning materials for free or at low cost.
There were more lectures at the main stage, but I skipped those last few talks to spend some time with my brother for the evening.  The evening consisted of going to Hamburger Mary’s for dinner, and getting lost on the Downtown Streetcars.  Hamburger Marys had delicious burgers.  Later on, I found out that this particular chain of restaurants caters to the gay community, where the term “Mary” is a reference to a gay man of the early 20th century.  I wanted to check out the restaurant because of the catchy name, but when I think of the word “Mary”, I was thinking of the Virgin Mary or my former neighbor who was called Mary.  I guess I am very oblivious to such jargon.   The menu had a lot of innuendo to describe the food, but I did not think much of it at the time.  Our check was delivered to us in a high heel.  I thought all of this was around a woman named Mary, and that this was her presentation, but it was not.  My brother and I then left the restaurant and headed down to the  exciting nightclub district surrounding the Portland State University campus, or so we thought.  When we got to Portland State, the atmosphere was dead.  We found a dive bar and asked the people there were the nightclubs were because we did not see any.  They told us that the neighborhood around Portland State is pretty dead during the summer and that we would have to go to Old Town or Vancouver, Washington to get to some good night clubs.  So, we headed back to Old Town.  However, by the time we got there, we were becoming very tired, and it was only 9:00 PM!  We decided to go back to our hostel.  So much for a night out.  I guess the jet lag got the best of us that night.  The next day, I talked about my experience at “Club Disappointment” to my other friends attending the conference.  We only went down to the Portland State campus district because of some advice that we got on the airplane from that old man I wrote about earlier a couple of days before.

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