Teach your phone new tricks – Google Voice enhances the existing capabilities of your phone, regardless of which phone or carrier you have – for free. In my view, Google Voice is the 2nd most useful product offered from a set of Google apps. Here’s why.
What is Google Voice
Google Voice gives you one number for all your phones, voicemail as easy as email, free US long distance, low rates on international calls, and many calling features like transcripts, call blocking, call screening, conference calling, SMS, and more. Google Voice allows me to select any of my phones (fixed line and/or mobile) to connect me with the caller.
What features work for me
One Number – I have set up a nice network of phones closest to me for Google Voice to call. So I am no longer limited by a handset or carrier and I can always give just the 1 number to people.
Online voicemail – Should I miss a call or choose to not accept a call Google Voice will divert the user to my online voicemail (which can be customized to each caller) and record it. No big deal here right. But here is where it gets better. I also receive via email and SMS a transcribed version of the voice mail and if I log in to Google Voice there it is again, the transcribed version.
Call screening – Everytime someone calls me on my Google Voice you go through my virtual secretary who asks you your name and then tries to connect with me. I can choose to decline the call if I’m busy or am getting spammed and it goes directly to my voicemail.
Do not call block – In Google Voice online interface I can “Block” callers from ever calling me again. This is great since in Australia we have the “Do Not Call Register”. A government ran website protects individuals privacy by stopping certain telemarketing calls to fixed line and mobile telephone numbers. In the USA (as far as I’m aware) there is nothing like this. This is where Google Voice helps.
Protecting my privacy
This means that I can still keep my fixed land line and mobile (cell) numbers but now I give out my Google Voice number to people I meet at meetups, real estate agents, car dealers etc… if one of them abuses my number or passes it to a telemarketing agency I just block them in Google Voice and Google Voice will no longer connect me with those callers. Simple.
Also, since there is a screening feature which allows Google Voice to 1st call me and ask me whether I want to speak with the individual trying to connect with me I always know who is calling me before I say g’day. Should I wish not to speak to them, Google Voice will tell the caller I am not available and they can leave a message for me. Talk about a personal assistant!
When Google Voice launched into Beta I was one of the lucky few American’s to get access to it. Google also gave out a bunch of free 25 business cards with the Google Voice number. Since then I have paid to have a lot more printed since I love the simplicity of these cards and the fact that I can hand these to people I meet.
Welcome back for more juice on Flotation Tanks. If you have not read my previous post “Floatation (isolation) Tank – fringe science?” then I highly recommend you go there first and read the introduction to understand what they are, the benefits of the experience and see some screenshots of tanks I’ve been in, in Sydney (Australia) and San Francisco (USA).
Let’s delve inside – how to temporarily turn off your 3 senses
The tank is not airtight – it is designed to let air in via the roof.
It’s pitch black inside. Used to disassociate your visual senses from the environment.
The tank environment is humid – 37° celcius (99° Fahrenheit) – your body’s temperature. Helps with disassociating your kinestatic senses from the environment.
Around 10 inches of water in the tank with 800 lbs. of Epsom Salt dissolved in it. When you lie back you will float like a cork. Your ears will be under water. All places I’ve been to provide you earplugs. Use them to cut out all remnants of noise. That’s how your auditory senses are disassociated from the environment.
Keep the salt out of your eyes. Once inside do not rub your eyes or touch your face – the salt is very strong and even a small drop will sting. Make sure you have a towel near the tank to dry your hands before touching your face / eyes. The same goes for any cuts you have on your body. Make sure you cover them up with Vaseline or similar to stop the salt from entering the wound.
At the beginning of each float set an intention for what you would like to accomplish during your float. Then enjoy the float – the rest of the journey your mind will take you through.
What to expect during a float
The following is based on my experience. Each experience varies but they all share similar stories.
First 20 minutes is calming down your mind and relaxing your body. First timers will find it strange to let go at first because being buoyant is a strange feeling and letting go of tension without touching anything in the tank is even stranger – yes you do float in the tank without touching the bottom or the side walls. When the tension pain is gone that’s when you have fully let go (especially neck muscles).
Concentrate on your breathing – in through your nose and out through your mouth. Try this approach, 4 seconds in, hold for another 4 seconds and 2 seconds out (I will cover breathing techniques in a future post and why doing it correctly is super important). Also try to resist moving or scratching an itch. During the start of a meditation session when your senses are slowly being turned off, your brain will send signals to your body to try to awaken them – this will come through as an itch or a muscle twitch. Resist it for couple of minutes and it will pass. Concentrating on your breathing will also help you with the fight against the “monkey mind”. The monkey mind are random distracting thoughts which rush in and out of your mind.
After 20 (or so) minutes have passed you will find yourself in an open minded state. Your mind should feel clear & open, your body free of tension. This is the relaxed state. Your mind will be in a frequency state called Alpha. A state which you can also use for accelerated learning.
After another 20 minutes (40 minutes into the float) you will enter Theta state. You will be conscious in this state and know when it comes.In this state your subconscious mind awakens and your concious mind will experience auditory and visual hallucinations. You will feel as though you have separated from your physical body and are pure energy, a part of something greater. Monks practice years to reach Theta in a concious state. Do not resist. Do not get frightened. This state gives you access to insights, bursts of creative ideas – a key state for “reality creation” through vivid imagery.
After 1 hour of floating, soft music will start playing inside the tank. This is your queue that the journey for now has came to an end and it’s time to go back to the reality we call society.
With time you will want to float for longer and longer. I have floated for 2 hours before and even though it may sound like a long time there is no sense of time during a good float. John C. Lilly was known to float for up to 6 hours and trained himself to reach such high states that his experiences are what some people would call out of this world.
I would love to hear your experience in the tank. Please use the comments section below to share your journey in the tank.
Common questions & answers
Q: Will I drown if I fall asleep in the tank? A: No. You are always buoyant, floating on top of the water like a cork. Same as the dead seas. If you did roll over, the strong Epsom Salt in the water would instantly wake you up.
Q: I have a fear of being alone in the dark, drowning, not having enough air, claustrophobia, and others… A: For some the first time might be a bit overwhelming. You can go in and out of the tank as you please. You can use the tank with the door completely open, you can keep it partially open, or you can close it. There is no particular way to use the tank that is more correct than another. Any way you use it, that is comfortable for you, is correct. But once you relax and let go you will experience peace and tranquility and want to come back for more.
Q: I did what you said to do and nothing happened. What gives. A: Practice makes perfect. Like anything in life you need to immerse yourself in it and embrace the offering. I recommend you give it a go at least 3 times and each time be open and willing to let go.
This is my personal favorite – Floatation Tank. I have been floating from early 2008 and enjoy every session. 1 hour of floating is about the average you need to get the same as 6 hours of sleep. This 1 hour passes quickly, time doesn’t exist in the tank, and when you finish your session you will feel as though you just had a brain & body massage. The feeling is amazing and lasts for most of the day.
What is an Floatation (isolation) Tank?
A floatation tank (also known as isolation tank or sensory deprivation tank) is an enclosed chamber filled with approximately ten inches of warm saturated solution of Epsom Salt. A solution so dense that even the thinnest person floats supine with the entire body at or near the surface of the water like a cork.
The buoyancy counteracts the effects of gravity, giving the floater a sensation of weightlessness. The chamber is pitch-black and silent. In the absence of sensory input to the logical side of the brain, the left side of the brain synchronises with the creative side (right side) and creates a free state, at peace. In this state, the brain releases vast amounts of endorphins. Most floaters report enhanced mental powers. Virtually everyone finds the experience immensely pleasant.
While the state of relaxation may be deep and profound, the individual’s brain stays dreamily alert. To get technical, the brain gradually shifts from its usual “alpha” state to generate theta waves, the state-of-mind that Buddhist monks try to reach through hours of meditation and years of training. You can achieve this in a matter of minutes just by floating! Best of all, the effects of floatation are cumulative – the more regularly you float, the better it gets.
Why float – the benefits
Reduces stress & anxiety
Reduces heart rate & blood pressure
Reduces muscle tension
Stimulates endorphin production (providing relief from chronic pain)
Stimulates Alpha & Theta brain waves (associated with creative insights and meditative states).
Rest and Recovery – one hour of floating is equivalent to 6 hours sleep. Great for Jet Lag recovery!
and in alternative medicine.
In more detail…
Promotes total calm & peaceful relaxation; eliminates fatigue and jet lag; improves sleep; alleviates stress (mental and physical); energises, rejuvenates andrevitalises.
Stimulates left/right brain synchronisation; shifts brain waves from Beta to lower frequency Alpha, Theta and even Delta; creates mental clarity, alertness;increases creativity, problem solving; heightens visualization; deepens meditation; expands awareness, intensifies acuteness of all the senses, accelerates learning.
Enhances hypnotherapy and self-hypnosis; increasesmotivation, diminishes depression, anxiety and fear; facilitates freedom from habits, phobias and addictions.
Decreases the production of Cortisol, ACTH, Lactic Acid and Adrenaline; increases production of endorphins; quickens rehabilitation and recovery; relieves pain – arthritis, migraines, injuries etc.; boosts immune function. Improves circulation and distribution of oxygen and nutrients; reduces blood pressure, pulse, heart rate and oxygen consumption.
The safe sensory isolated environment is naturally conducive to relaxation and peace of mind. Released to float in suspension without the body experiencing the effects of gravity and outside distractions, your entire being achieves levels of rest and higher state much deeper than you have ever previously experienced.
The man behind the magic – Dr John C. Lilly
The first floatation tank was developed in 1950 by the American neurophysiologist Professor Dr John C. Lilly while working at the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) in Bethesda, Maryland. Together with his associate Dr. Jay Shirley, Dr. Lilly became intrigued by the question of the origins of conscious activity within the brain. The question was whether the brain needed external stimuli to keep its conscious states active. Lilly and his associate set to work trying to devise a system that would restrict environmental stimulation as much as was practical and feasible. Lilly’s first tank was one in which the floater was suspended upright, entirely underwater, head completely covered by an underwater breathing apparatus and mask (now you know where the producers of “Altered States” got their ideas!). Over the years Lilly continued his experiments with floatation, simplifying and improving the general design of the tank. Dr. Lilly found that he could float in a more relaxing supine position, rather than suspended feet downward in fresh water, if more buoyant salt water was used. Other refinements, such as water heaters with thermostats sensitive enough to keep the water at perfect temperature, an air pump to keep the air in the tank fresh, and a water filter for the re-use of the Epsom salts, were added over the years. By the early 1970’s, Lilly had perfected the floatation tank in much the design used today.
Dr Lilly is also famous for the historical work with Dolphins which has allowed Dolphins to be treated as intelligent & protected creatures.
If you want to read more about Dr Lilly, his amazing journeys into the subconscious & work with Dolphins, check out his books:
Ekhart Tolle’s message is simple: living in the now is the truest path to happiness and enlightenment. And while this message may not seem stunningly original or fresh, Tolle’s clear writing, supportive voice, and enthusiasm make this an excellent manual for anyone who’s ever wondered what exactly “living in the now” means. Foremost, Tolle is a world-class teacher, able to explain complicated concepts in concrete language. More importantly, within a chapter of reading this book, readers are already holding the world in a different container–more conscious of how thoughts and emotions get in the way of their ability to live in genuine peace and happiness.
The association of one self to something which is not you may be caused by the ego mind holding onto false self (false identity). Fearing to let go due to loss of its identity. Finding one’s true self is achieved by letting go all that is not you.
Eckhart Tolle said something very powerful on this topic… “Death is a stripping away of all that is not you. The secret of life is to “die before you die” — and find that there is no death“.
This is a fable about the importance of seeking a higher purpose in life, even if your flock, tribe, or neighborhood finds your ambition threatening.
"To go anywhere you want you must begin by knowing that you have already arrived." - Jonathan Livingston
“Most gulls don’t bother to learn more than the simplest facts of flight–how to get from shore to food and back again,” … “For most gulls it is not flying that matters, but eating. For this gull, though, it was not eating that mattered, but flight.” Flight is indeed the metaphor that makes the story soar.
The book follows a unique bird named Jonathan Livingston Seagull. Jonathan gets the ultimate payoff: transcendence. Ultimately, he learns the meaning of love and kindness. This is a spirituality classic, and an especially engaging parable for adolescents.
Watch it on Netflix
Inspired by Richard Bach’s best-selling novella Jonathan Livingston Seagull, this live-action family drama follows the quest of a young seagull to transcend the boundaries of his flock.
Malcolm Gladwell delves into the viral life of ideas and the power of gut reactions. Malcolm Gladwell poses a more provocative question in Outliers: why do some people succeed, living remarkably productive and impactful lives, while so many more never reach their potential?
Superstars don’t arise out of nowhere, propelled by genius and talent: “they are invariably the beneficiaries of hidden advantages and extraordinary opportunities and cultural legacies that allow them to learn and work hard and make sense of the world in ways others cannot.”
Successful people rise on a tide of advantages!
From Mozart to Bill Gates, Malcolm Gladwell builds a convincing case.. “some deserved, some not, some earned, some just plain lucky.”
Bits of trivia from the book, Outliers:
Why most pro hockey players were born in January,
how many hours of practice it takes to master a skill – 10,000 Hours – Magic Number for Success?
why the descendants of Jewish immigrant garment workers became the most powerful lawyers in New York,
how a pilots’ culture impacts their crash record,
how a centuries-old culture of rice farming helps Asian kids master math.
Anthony Robbins – Unleash The Power Within – Story
Outliers: The Story of Success book reminded me of Anthony Robbins – Unleash The Power Within, 2mm experience in golfing. How 2mm difference at the put makes a yards difference once the ball is in the air.
Jim Collins explores what makes a great company but looking at a list of 1,435 companies that made the leap and some that did now. Settling on 11–including Fannie Mae, Gillette, Walgreens, and Wells Fargo — and discovered common traits that challenged many of the conventional notions of corporate success.
Making the transition from good to great doesn’t require a high-profile CEO, the latest technology, innovative change management, or even a fine-tuned business strategy.At the heart was a corporate culture that rigorously found and promoted disciplined people to think and act in a disciplined manner.
The book offers a well-reasoned road map to excellence that any organization would do well to consider.
Nuggets of insights
Managing your problems can only make you good, whereas building your opportunities is the only way to become great.
“Stop To-Do list” is more important then the To-Do list.
Greatness is a conscious choice.
Your people aren’t the most important asset, the “right” people are. These people are selected by character attributes and not on specific educational background.
It’s “who you pay” not how you pay. “Hire 5, work them like 10 and pay them like 8”.
Best people do not need to be managed.
Strong people are motivated by performance.
Put your best people on your best opportunities not problems.
I’m buzzing full of positive energy! Today (28th June 2009) I attended a seminar by Jairek Robbins on Creating Certainty in an Uncertain Time. Plenty of take home learning’s, life techniques and I even got to have a great conversation with Jairek.
About Jairek Robbins
JAIREK ROBBINS — http://www.jairekrobbins.com
Jairek offers his lifetime experience growing up in the Personal Development industry. From spending time in Denmark with John Grinder the Co-Founder of NLP to Leaderships Academy with the Anthony Robbins Companies.
At 20 years old Jairek was coaching individuals from around the globe, sharing with them the Jairek Robbinsuniversal tools, ideas and strategies it takes to create an extraordinary quality of life and Business.
As a speaker Jairek shares his unique view of what it takes to create an Extraordinary Quality of Life, define and achieve consistent lasting results in your profession, as well as clearly assists in creating a powerful vision for your overall success.
Jairek has his BA in Psychology from the University of San Diego and has spent his entire life immersed in the Personal Development Industry. In working towards his greatest passion of helping people achieve their peak potential Jairek was awarded in 2008, “The Congressional Award, Gold Medal”.
From 2006-2008 he served as a representative of Robbins Research International 1 of 11 organizations under the Anthony Robbins Companies. He advised and consulted with Fortune 500 companies, executives, managers and sales professionals in the areas of personal and professional achievement and sales mastery. During this time he traveled 48 weeks a year speaking to over 400 companies giving presentations and running training programs throughout the world.
By far the easiest way for an Australian Citizen to work in the USA is on an E3 Visa.
The E3 visa is a United States visa for which only citizens of Australia are eligible. It was created by an Act of the United States Congress as a result of the Australia-United States Free Trade Agreement (AUSFTA) for Australians going to the U.S. to work temporarily in a “specialty occupation”. A specialty occupation covers anyone with a Bachelor’s degree with a body of specialized knowledge. In my case this was a Bachelors in Computer Science, MBA and the specialty knowledge I held within the company which would ultimately help the International arm of the USA firm expand.
“The E3 visa allows for the temporary entry into the United States of individuals who are to perform services in a specialty occupation for a U.S. employer. It currently applies only to nationals of Australia, their spouses and children under the age of 21.”
A bit about the E3
Takes around 1-2 months to organise.
Costs you a non-refundable application fee of US$131 and your employer (sponsor) around $4,000.
E-3 visa is renewable indefinitely (in 2 increments) as long as your employer is willing to sponsor you.
Spouses may work in the United States without restrictions on what is called E3D (D is for Dependent) once they have successfully filed and received a work permit (form I-765).
Your intention is to depart the United States upon expiration your authorized E3 stay.
Not a path to a Green Card.
You can only apply for th E3 within Australia. Not U.S. This creates some headache when wanting to switch to an E-3 offboard from a student scholarship or Visa Waiver Program (VWP).
You need to have a job offer from the U.S. before you can apply for the E-3 visa.
Why not H-1B (at first)
Takes longer to acquire.
Spouse cannot work and needs to be on a H4 dependent visa. Unless your spouse gets sponsored by a USA company for a H1B Visa.
Subject to the 65,000 annual world-wide visa limit. E-3 annual quota is 10,500 E3 visas to Australian’s only.
What your sponsor (the employer / their immigration attorney) may ask you for
Your & your partners history in the USA and where you stayed,
Prior USA visa details (Visa Waiver Program (VWP) is not counted),
Any prior refusals / cancellations to the USA,
Any immediate family that is a U.S. permanent resident or U.S. citizen,
Past 10 year history of travel around the world – for security purposes,
Countries which have issued you passports,
Your Bachelor’s degree for an “education evaluation”. Australian degrees are typically 3 years while USA 4 years. Uncle Bill needs values education highly, wants to see are a not cheap labor and are professional – nothing to worry about,
Your resume to show work history which may also be used to obtain the equivalent 4 year degree pass for Uncle Bill,
Military service details (if applicable).
What you need to do in Australia to organise the E3
Once your employer (your sponsor) has successfully lodged a Labor Condition Application (LCA) with the US dept of Labor they advise you to organise an appointment with the US consulate. During this time while you wait for the LCA (green light), you should be doing your part to apply for the E3 visa.
Step 4: Pay the application fee of US$131. This can only be done at the Australian Post, you walk in and tell them what you want to pay for. No need for any special document. They act like a holding bank for the US consulate.
Step 5: Gather additional required documents – your employer / attorney will provide these to you in the 1 bundle. These will be the documents the employer would have asked you (see above). You will need these for Step 6.
Step 6: Personally appear at the U.S. Consulate with:
Job offer letter,
DS-160 confirmation page,
Original Australia Post receipt confirming the payment of the Visa application fee,
Pre-paid self-addressed envelope (registered post) – make sure it’s those tough plastic envelopes since your passports will be coming back in this,
2 passport sized photos for each required Visa
the bundle of documents your employer provided you.
and most importantly to get accepted in the interview, make sure you bring documents (evidence) which indicate you intend to return to Australia once employment ceases. This is done through documents like real estate investments, proof of a return airfare or financial ties. A statement is typically adequate. Don’t forget the intend of the E3 and your stay of 2 years.
It’s a bit of work from both sides but in the end it always pays off. Just don’t forget to communicate with your employer (sponsor) to speed up the process of organizing documents.
Can I apply for a Green Card on the E3?
There are risks. Since E3 is not a dual intent like the H visa’s, i.e. the intention to be here temporarily or to file for a green card. The way around this is to consular process for your green card. As a practical matter, when you have filed the second step of the green card process, you must disclose that on any immigration petition. An officer could decide not to renew the E3 even if you are going to consular process.
What other safer ways can I apply for a Green Card?
Ask your employer nicely if they can sponsor you on a H1B. You at maximum 5 months before the E3 expires. This is going to cost them a lot more than the E-3 but is definitely worth it if you and they value each others business.
What is the process of renewing the E-3
Start this process with your employer 5 months before your visa expires. You WILL have to leave USA to do this. You can either go back to Australia for a holiday or to Canada and apply at any U.S. Embassy or Consulate which processes non-immigrant petition-based visas. Read this PDF on more detail about extending your E3 visa: http://www.uscis.gov/files/pressrelease/E3_010606PR.pdf
How long can I stay in the U.S. after I finish my job?
You can stay 10 days after you finish your job. This is NOT enough time to transfer your visa to a new employer (unless you started earlier) or apply for a different type of visa. You and your spouse (if under E3D) will be forced to leave the country. This is why you should carefully think about your intent in the USA before committing to anything long-term financially (house) or personally (starting a family).
Not many employers know what a E3, only H1B visa. If your company sponsored you then they know but if your spouse needs to find work on a E3D, make sure you can educate them on the whole E3 visa, how it works and it’s similarity to the H1B visa.
If you are interested in the journey my wife had with getting the paperwork and job organized under a E3D visa as an Occupational Therapist then click here to read her story.
Check here for a reliable moving company that can arrange your move to New Zealand or Australia fast and effortless.
To guarantee a safe and relaxed atmosphere while abroad, here is a bunch of things you should sort out before leaving Australia. This list is based on stuff I had to do. Note, the following is only after you have decided that you are going to become a non-resident for Australian taxation purposes. This you become automatically if you consider yourself “living” overseas and are not going on a limited short term contract or transitory fly in.
For me, I am a non-resident for Australian taxation purposes.
Note: The following is NOT advise. It is what I did and I'm sharing
this with you. I highly recomment you seek expert advise from a
financial / tax specialist like http://smats.net who I use to take care
of all financial needs. Yes I searched long and hard to find these
guys since most financial / tax specialists I spoke to in America
were unsure how to best manage my international investments in
light of also being a full time tax resident in America.
Stuff to do before you leave Australia
Notify your banks and inform them that you are leaving Australia and thus are a non-resident for tax purposes. This will allow your banks to automatically deduct 10% from your interest when it is credited to your account. Also repay off any debts that you might have taken, for you wouldn’t want moorcroft debt recovery company to be tailing you all the way to Australia.
I left my Superannuation where it is. You now have the right to pull it out should you be in a financial hardship but it’s safer to leave it there in case you return. Also it’s not worth making any superannuation contributions whilst you are abroad since no tax deducation is available to make this a worthwhile excercise.
However it becomes a taxable income in Australia and must be reported to the ATO. However all costs related to the ownership are claimable and offset any tax. Basically your family home becomes an investment property and you will start accumulating tax credits should you return back to Australia. Tax credits can be used later to offset your taxable income once you start working in Australia potentially providing years of tax free income. Of course pending on the amount of investment property you have to do this.
If you have property investments and are they receiving an income you will need to file an Australian Tax return every year. Find a good accountant who you can relay on to look after your investments in Australia and have the ability to communicate via email with them. You want to make sure your assets are well protected and you have a team of specialists who will look after your best interest.
HECS (if you still own it) will continue to be due should your taxable income in Australia be over the $36K mark. Else there is no requirement to repay the loan unless you wish to make voluntary payment. I’m lucky to have repaid mine a few years back. Before you leave, try to repay it if you can so you don’t have this cloud over your head while abroad.
Your Australian credit cards are worth keeping. If you have credit cards with annual payment just keep them running. There is nothing more damaging then to shut down your credit card and have your credit history erased. Also should you visit Australia (and you will) you will want to use one of those credit cards to make payments. Just make sure you have repaid your credit card dept before leaving Australia.
Finally, nominate someone you can trust to be your mail handler. You will still receive mail and will want to make sure that this person you trust can either scan the mail and email it to you. You can also check out http://www.earthclassmail.com/ which scan your postal mail and emails it to you automatically for a very reasonable fee.
Now your set to go and explore the new land of opportunity.