Posts Tagged ‘travel’

It was February of 2011 and I had just finished up an amazing visit to the city of Chicago with a few friends and a few new ones.  A blizzard had gone through Minneapolis/Saint Paul, and an airport closure that had cancelled thousands of flights back into MSP meant that it was going to be a busy day at the airport at Midway Airport in Chicago.  I didn’t have to be back at the office until 11 am that next day, so I called Delta Airlines and offered to give up my flight on the early 7 am flight in case my seat was needed by anyone needing it and took instead a seat on the later 9:30 flight.

Now that I had a couple of extra hours in the morning, I decided to go out with a bang in Chicago.  Found a bar called Halligan – an old Irish bar and Firefighter hangout – which had great specials and a lively atmosphere.  I met more awesome fun people and enjoyed my last night in the city.

Even with the later flight…you can imagine after a good night out I still managed to be running late for my flight.  Good thing I was already packed….j quickly showered, grabbed my bag and made my way towards the train to the airport.  As I reached the Delta ticket counter at Midway, the ticket agent informed me that I was supposed to be on the 7 am flight….my change request was never processed and because of the cancellations the day before, there were no other seat openings for the rest of the day.  The old me would have been fuming….but the new me just laughed it off.  I’d find a way to win.

I didn’t panic…in fact, my first thought was that I was absolutely starving and saw my misfortune as a chance to get breakfast, haha!  I got back on the train and headed back towards Downtown Chicago, found myself a Starbucks and planted myself there to plan my strategy.  I called my personal assistant to put them on alert for any openings on Delta that may arise, while I navigated my options on the ground.

My first thought was to find a rental car and just drive back to Minneapolis.  After combing through my travel site, it appeared that because of all the travelers whose flights were cancelled, there were absolutely no cars left in the entire city of Chicago.  Wow.  How else can one get out of Chicago?  I then remembered….MegaBus.

With a smartphone equipped with Google as my only ammo…I searched for MegaBus and found their central location.  I hopped back on the train.  Along the way, I struck up a conversation with a few of the passengers about sports, the city…had such a great time that we exchanged contact information and we still keep in touch to this day.  I arrived at my stop and found myself somewhere on the Southwest side of Chicago.  I quickly realized, only to be confirmed by the lady at the desk, that I wasn’t at the ticket office or the place that the bus actually picks up travelers….I was at the bus garage.  There were about a half dozen drivers who were either on the lunch break or about to start their day sitting at a table playing dominoes and watching Sanford & Son.  I needed to go BACK downtown to the stop.  One of the drivers overheard my dilemma and offered to take me downtown an hour later, he was heading that way anyway.

The next 60 minutes was just a cool experience filled with great conversation and just taking in the comradarie of these bus drivers.  The nicknames, the jokes, the competitiveness of the game, the shop talk…I was completely immersed and in awe of the friendship and the family they created for themselves.  It was just one of those times that you realize that people often spend more time with the people they work with than their own families….your work family is a family too.

I arrive downtown at the stop on Canal Street to a crowd of people awaiting their bus out of town.  I instantly spot a gentleman collecting tickets, ask him where I BUY a ticket, and he tells me that I have to call or go online.  I call the 800 number, thinking I’m 20 minutes away from finally getting on my way back home….only for the ticket agent on the other end to tell me that there are no openings on the bus for TWO MORE DAYS.  Again….there was nothing I could do but laugh it off.

Next move, I call my personal assistant to see if there is any progress on either any seats on flights or any rental cars.  Zero zilch nada.  I decided to just head back to the airport and actually talk to an agent at any of the rental car companies and see if there happens to be ANYTHING available.  I get back to Midway and go to the Hertz counter….and was told that there is a minivan available, but I’d have to go to the location in Chinatown to get it.  Ugh. 

Another train ride!  At this point I’m absolutely just loving the adventure.  I hop BACK on the train eagerly hoping the train moves faster so I can get to the rental car before anyone else puts a claim on it.  I was more excited than a kid on a road trip asking “Are we there yet?” repeatedly.

The train got about 4 stops away when I get a phone call.

“Rich, where are you?” my personal assistant asked.

“I’m on the train heading to Hertz to get a rental car.” 

“I found an opening on the 4:25 flight out of Chicago back to Minneapolis.  I can hold it for you, but you need to get back to the airport NOW to claim it!”

I always think of this story when I find myself in a situation where I’m met with an initial disappointment.  Sometimes it’s just NOT EASY.  Obstacles will be put in your way sometimes, but you have to FIND A WAY TO WIN.  Sometimes, these obstacles are put in your way as a test…a test to see if you want it bad enough.  In my experience, if you have faith that you will get it, if you are determined to get it, and commit to action….the universe will conspire to make it happen for you.  It’s not guaranteed, but one thing that is guaranteed is that you’ll never get what you want with a crap attitude and quitting at the first sign of resistance.  My (extra) day in Chicago could’ve been viewed and perceived as one big headache….but it was a great learning lesson that gave me the opportunity to grow and meet MORE people along the way.

Determine what you want.  Free yourself of distractions.  Be open and aware of your surroundings.  Be prepared to sacrifice.  Have faith in yourself and your abilities to navigate the course..

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20140622-153922-56362590.jpgYou know what I’m talking about. Your friends post constantly, like clockwork, each and every Sunday night about it. The old “back to reality” in the morning. Mine was so bad when four years ago when I worked as a software sales manager that it started right when I left the office on Friday night; because I knew, like clockwork, as sure as the sky was blue, that the Monday morning alarm clock would be going off again…signaling the beginning of a long, stressful work week.

If you love your job these days, you’re lucky. Most these days aren’t in your position. A lot of people are working at jobs that they are clearly overqualified for and underpaid. A ton more actually love their job but despise the fact that they are financially shackled to it. Meaning…if disaster were to strike, if tragedy were to present themselves, they’d have no other way to support themselves and their family. Because they know of no other way to do that, they continue on doing the only thing they know.

That’s exactly where I was four years ago this month. June of 2010 was when the decline of my job and the increase of the unhappiness set in. I began questioning if my hard work and the stress was worth it. Sure, I made money, but more time and effort were demanded of me in return for less and less money. This is when I had my first thoughts of leaving. But because I knew of no other way…I stayed.

What happens when we love our jobs but begin experiencing this type of resentment for it is because we realize that we’d rather be doing something ELSE with our TIME. Whether it be spending more time with our family, spending time on vacation, seeing the world, giving back more to the community, whatever our dreams may be….we’d rather be doing THAT than exchanging time in our life for dollars in our wallet. But because we stay so busy with our JOBS, we hardly have any time to devote to our DREAMS.

I believe that God out dreams in our heart not to torment us, but for us to have at least one bit of intrinsic motivation to go for them. For us to have some type of gauge to let us know – and that gauge most often shows us through depression, unhappiness, uneasiness, stress – that what we’re doing isn’t bringing us any closer to what we want.

How would it feel for you to not have to wake up to an alarm each Monday morning? To still be able to provide whole-heartedly for your family, not just financially, but with the most important currency there is, TIME? To be able to serve others, something that most of us are conditioned not to do because we’re so worried about taking care of ourselves first?

Whatever it is you want to do, take a step towards it. Don’t wait. Take steps TODAY. Like Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu said, “the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” MLK once said, “Faith is taking the first step even when you can’t see the whole staircase.”

If you are currently looking and are open to a concept that will get you not only in the right direction, but to your destination, click on the “Work With Rich” tab above.

I’d like to take the last day before this holiday weekend to recognize some friends who have had some absolutely remarkable things happen for them these past few months! We can always stand to step back for a few moments and appreciate the good things in our lives. I heard a saying yesterday that will stick with me for quite some time – “You can’t get a good look at the picture, if you’re part of the frame.” Well today, I’d like to show some recognition to my friends for some of their recent accomplishments.

1)

Great work on your mile run, Bill!

Bill Lage of 365 Things To Do In The Twin Cities recently ran the Medtronic Twin Cities 1 Mile, and ran it in 10:06, coming up short of his goal to run it in under 10 minutes. However, when the official results were posted on the website, Bill’s time came in at 9:37.9! Strong work, Bill!

2)

Andrew Lonergan promotes a healthy lifestyle and raises awareness about Diabetes Prevention on “Project Not Me”.

When my friend and business partner Andrew Lonergan told me last summer that he was going to be appearing in a new reality show, I thought he had gone crazy. But he is. Project Not Me will be airing this coming fall on Lifetime and is part of the Diabetes Prevention Program, aimed to raise awareness, help those that are at risk of Type 2 Diabetes and how people just like us can prevent this disease. Can’t wait until it airs, Lonny!!!

3)

David and his girlfriend Krystal in Las Vegas

In this economy, it’s scary for people of all ages. Just this week it was announced that two local Minnesota companies will be cutting jobs. Social Security will not be around for us. College kids are pumping millions and billions of dollars into their college education with little to no return on that investment because the job market is so dry. Well, tell that to my friend David Helegeson who got started with The Coolest Travel Club In The World about 10 months ago. With one decision to do something different in the travel industry, he has grown an organization of over 1200 customers allowing him to achieve the rank of Marketing Director in a worldwide, world-class company. He also received news that he will be speaking to hundreds of people at a conference in Cedar Rapids, Iowa in June to train people how they can do the same thing themselves. Proud of you, David!

4)

Lisa Larrive at her recent book signing for Grateful For Gluten-Free

My good friend and business partner Lisa Larrive has written a book called “Grateful For Gluten-Free.” It’s about a young girl named Gabby who has celiac disease. Gabby cannot eat foods with wheat or gluten, and she loves it when her Mom makes her favorite gluten-free food – PANCAKES! Gabby’s journey helps her discover how grateful she is to live gluten-free – not only because it is delicious, but because it can be fun too! Great work, Lisa, in raising the awareness for celiac disease and the gluten-free lifestyle. Please give her Grateful For Gluten-Free Facebook Page a like, and purchase a copy on Amazon.


I’ve never heard of this guy, but obviously we think this is pretty damn cool!!!

SINGAPORE — Korean entertainer Kim Hyun-joong plans to kick off his “2012 Asia Fan Meeting Tour” by high-fiving all 3,000 people expected to turn up – a first for a pop star visiting Singapore.

Event organizer “Running Into The Sun” said the original plan was for Kim to high-five 500 fans selected from the audience but Kim was insisting on high-fiving everyone.

“I know it’s not going to be easy and I hope that even if it is a really short moment of high-five, the fans would know how much I appreciate their effort and support,” he said.

He will meet his fans at the stadium exit after the event ends.

Kim told The Associated Press on Thursday he’s confident security won’t be an issue.

The tour that starts Friday includes Hong Kong, Taiwan, China and Thailand. Organizers say Kim will high-five everyone at fan events in Hong Kong and Taiwan, too.

Kim is part of the boy band SS501 and became hugely popular across Asia after appearing in the 2009 Korean TV drama “Boys Over Flowers.”

His solo debut album, “Break Down,” was released in 2011.

Taken from The Huffington Post. Read Full Article Here”>

It’s National High Five Day!!! Check out a recent tour of Saint Paul, Minnesota….high fiving people on their lunch break!!!

Taking It All In

Posted: April 11, 2012 in Uncategorized
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Taking it all in, Downtown Saint Paul, MN skyline

From time to time when I’m in between appointments, I go to a local park to gather my thoughts, relax for a bit, to take it all in.  This life is all about sprinting and recovering.  Give it all you got, and then give your body and your mind time to rejuvenate. 

In recent months with my on the road travels, these parks have ranged from Saint Cloud to Alexandria to Grand Forks, North Dakota all the way to Clear Lake, Iowa to New Ulm, Mn.  Today, I’m at Harriet Island Regional Park, right across the Mighty Mississippi in Saint Paul, Minnesota.

Even when we have all the support in the world on the outside, it often feels like we’re fighting all alone on the inside.  No one can truly know what we’re thinking, how we feel, what we want.  Unless we talk.  Unless we let the world KNOW.  Thats the action part.  Most of us don’t ACT for fear of what the REACTION will be.  With personalities, Einstein’s theory doesn’t always hold true that for every action there must be an equal an opposite reaction.  Most of the time, when others know exactly WHY you’re doing something, they’ll be right there with you every step of the way.  You give it all you got.  Give every ounce of your being because you believe that the outcome will be good.  Shit, not just good, phenomenal.  And you don’t stop until its done.

There will be many obstacles.  There will be people telling you that you’re crazy.  There will be people telling you that it’ll never work.  There will be doubters, naysayers, negative Nancies.  You’ll lose friendships.  People will stop calling.  There will be times when you just want to take a break from it all and call up those old friends and dround your sorrows in a beer or two.  And there will be times where you’ll catch yourself taking a step back and wondering to yourself if it’s all worth it.  You’re exhausted.

I first read Stephen Covey’s “7 Habits of Highly Effective People in the summer of 2010.  I was working as a sales manager for a software reseller in downtown Minneapolis.  Business was good, customers were happy, but the bossman knew that something was missing.  He had the whole managerial staff to read that book, and every Thursday in our meetings we would have what seemed like a five hour discussion.  This came about three months after my knee surgery, right after I was taken off the four months of painkillers, so I wasn’t in the best state of mind…if you know my story, that state of mind would only get worse in the coming months.  So, with the paranoia that comes with the withdrawal, I began questioning why my boss was having ME read this book.  Am i in danger of losing my job?  Wasn’t I doing enough for the company?  I’ve just spent the last four months crutching my crippled ass to the light rail to catch to work because i couldnt drive when the docs said i should have taken a long-term disability leave?  Haven’t I done enough??  Why am i sitting here having a freaking discussion about how to be more effective??

If you’ve read the book, you’re miles ahead of anyone who hasn’t read it.  If you were to ask me what my favorite “habit” is, it could vary from day to day, but right now, the one that is on my mind is “Sharpen The Saw”.

There is a story of a woodcutter.  He was the fastest woodcutter in the company.  He was tall, big, strong, and no one could cut as much wood as him.  Then one day, another woodcutter joins the company and cuts more wood than him.  The first is outraged.  How could this NEW guy cut more than ME?

It continues this way for weeks, until one morning, the new guy shows up thirty minutes late.  The old pro licks his chops because he knows that today will be the day he will regain his top spot.  He is beside himself when at the end of the day, the new woodcutter not only chopped more wood, but by a bigger margin than ever before!  He is livid!  He finally goes up to the new guy and asks him, “How, just HOW could you come in thirty minutes late and STILL chop more wood than me, and MUCH more than before?”

“I took time to sharpen my saw.”

And this is what today is about.  There are going to be times when you wonder and doubt if its all worth it.  There are times when you start to think that you’re not making any progress.  Take the time to Sharpen The Saw.  Brush up on techniques, processes, practice…or take some time for yourself.

Today I’m sitting in a lot on the banks of the Mississippi, watching the barges go by, looking at the Downtown Skyline of Saint Paul, listening to the birds, feeling the wind blow, watching the trees sway in that same wind.  There’s alot more going on in this world than the little battle thats in my head.  And that comforts me.  This world is SO much bigger than me.  Be a part of it rather than apart from it.  You don’t have to do it all yourself.  Just do a little, you’ll be amazed at the outcome.  Then keep doing it.  But remember to Sharpen The Saw.

A nurse has recorded the most common regrets of the dying, and among the top ones is ‘I wish I hadn’t worked so hard’. What would your biggest regret be if this was your last day of life?

A palliative nurse has recorded the top five regrets of the dying. Photograph: Montgomery Martin/Alamy

There was no mention of more sex or bungee jumps. A palliative nurse who has counselled the dying in their last days has revealed the most common regrets we have at the end of our lives. And among the top, from men in particular, is ‘I wish I hadn’t worked so hard’.

Bronnie Ware is an Australian nurse who spent several years working in palliative care, caring for patients in the last 12 weeks of their lives. She recorded their dying epiphanies in a blog called Inspiration and Chai, which gathered so much attention that she put her observations into a book called The Top Five Regrets of the Dying.

Ware writes of the phenomenal clarity of vision that people gain at the end of their lives, and how we might learn from their wisdom. “When questioned about any regrets they had or anything they would do differently,” she says, “common themes surfaced again and again.”

Here are the top five regrets of the dying, as witnessed by Ware:

1. I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.

“This was the most common regret of all. When people realise that their life is almost over and look back clearly on it, it is easy to see how many dreams have gone unfulfilled. Most people had not honoured even a half of their dreams and had to die knowing that it was due to choices they had made, or not made. Health brings a freedom very few realise, until they no longer have it.”

2. I wish I hadn’t worked so hard.

“This came from every male patient that I nursed. They missed their children’s youth and their partner’s companionship. Women also spoke of this regret, but as most were from an older generation, many of the female patients had not been breadwinners. All of the men I nursed deeply regretted spending so much of their lives on the treadmill of a work existence.”

3. I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.

“Many people suppressed their feelings in order to keep peace with others. As a result, they settled for a mediocre existence and never became who they were truly capable of becoming. Many developed illnesses relating to the bitterness and resentment they carried as a result.”

4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.

“Often they would not truly realise the full benefits of old friends until their dying weeks and it was not always possible to track them down. Many had become so caught up in their own lives that they had let golden friendships slip by over the years. There were many deep regrets about not giving friendships the time and effort that they deserved. Everyone misses their friends when they are dying.”

5. I wish that I had let myself be happier.

“This is a surprisingly common one. Many did not realise until the end that happiness is a choice. They had stayed stuck in old patterns and habits. The so-called ‘comfort’ of familiarity overflowed into their emotions, as well as their physical lives. Fear of change had them pretending to others, and to their selves, that they were content, when deep within, they longed to laugh properly and have silliness in their life again.”

What’s your greatest regret so far, and what will you set out to achieve or change before you die?

Read the original article at The Guardian.

Sharpen The Saw

Posted: February 15, 2012 in Uncategorized
Tags: , , , ,

Work Smarter, Not Harder

Read the original article here.

Habit #7 in Steve Covey’s The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People is called “Sharpen the Saw.” Covey uses the common analogy of a woodcutter who is sawing for several days straight and is becoming less and less productive. The process of cutting dulls the blade. So the solution is to periodically sharpen the saw.

I’ve found that in practice, however, most people fail to understand what sharpening the saw really means. If you’re overworking yourself and your productivity begins to fall off, common wisdom says to take a break, maybe even go on vacation. However, that isn’t sharpening the saw — that’s putting the saw down. When you put down a dull blade for a while, the blade will still be dull when you pick it up again.

Sharpening the saw is actually an activity, just as the analogy suggests. Think about what it would mean to sharpen the saw of your life. Here are some saw-sharpening ideas:
1.Exercise
2.Improve your diet
3.Educate yourself (read, listen to audio programs, attend a seminar)
4.Learn a new skill
5.Join a club
6.Meditate
7.Write in your journal
8.Have a deep conversation with someone
9.Set some new goals or review/update your old goals
10.Organize your home or office
11.Go out on a date
12.Clear out a bunch of little tasks that you’ve been putting off
13.Read this blog

Now the woodcutter can’t just alternate between cutting wood and sharpening the saw indefinitely. Downtime is needed too, but it isn’t the same as sharpening the saw. The woodcutter can become even more productive by sharpening the blade, studying new woodcutting techniques, working out to become stronger, and learning from other woodcutters.

Forgetting to intentionally sharpen the saw can lead to a feeling of burnout. If you merely alternate between productive work and downtime, your production capacity will drop off. You’re still working hard, but you don’t feel as productive as you think you should be. When you sharpen yourself regularly, you’ll find that you can flow along at a steady pace week after week without getting burnt out.

Whenever I feel burnt out or overwhelmed, taking a day or two off helps a little, but not very much. What yields a much greater benefit for me is attending a weekend seminar, reading an inspiring book, or having an interesting conversation. It’s common to see people return from a conference with a notable spike in motivation that lasts for weeks. But this isn’t really a break or a vacation — going to a conference is an activity, but it’s the kind that often increases energy and motivation.

How are your various blades doing? Your skills, your knowledge, your mind, your physical body, your relationships, your motivation, your commitment, your capacity for enjoyment, your emotions — are all of them still sharp? If not, which ones are dull, and what can you do to sharpen them?

Last week, Team Poolside and members of High Fives Are Free embarked on a 8 day 7 night Western Caribbean cruise, but they took out time from their amazing vacation for what we call DreamMissions. DreamMissions is a unique way to travel – volunteering your time to help others while taking an amazing vacation. While in Belize, Team Poolside helped out at the Liberty Children’s Home, a shelter for abused and abandoned children, many who have HIV.

Here are just some of the pictures taken while on this DreamMission. Team Poolside is proud to announce a $1950 donation to Liberty Children’s Home in Belize. On Team Poolside and High Fives Are Free, we just don’t make a living, living….we make a living, GIVING!

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From 20SomethingFinance:

We, as Americans, work too many hours. If you don’t believe so, check out the following data points that compare us to our peers around the world.

American Work-Life Balance
■According to the Center for American Progress on the topic of work and family life balance, “in 1960, only 20 percent of mothers worked. Today, 70 percent of American children live in households where all adults are employed.” I don’t care who stays home and who works in terms of gender (work opportunity equality for all – it’s a family choice). Either way, when all adults are working (single or with a partner), that’s a huge hit to the American family and free-time in the American household.
■The U.S. is the ONLY country in the Americas without a national paid parental leave benefit. The average is over 12 weeks of paid leave anywhere other than Europe and over 20 weeks in Europe.
■Zero industrialized nations are without a mandatory option for new parents to take parental leave. That is, except for the United States.

American Average Work Hours:
■At least 134 countries have laws setting the maximum length of the work week; the U.S. does not.


In the U.S., 85.8 percent of males and 66.5 percent of females work more than 40 hours per week.

■According to the ILO, “Americans work 137 more hours per year than Japanese workers, 260 more hours per year than British workers, and 499 more hours per year than French workers.”
■Using data by the U.S. BLS, the average productivity per American worker has increased 400% since 1950. One way to look at that is that it should only take one-quarter the work hours, or 11 hours per week, to afford the same standard of living as a worker in 1950 (or our standard of living should be 4 times higher). Is that the case? Obviously not. Someone is profiting, it’s just not the average American worker.

American Paid Vacation Time & Sick Time:
■There is not a federal law requiring paid sick days in the United States.
■The U.S. remains the only industrialized country in the world that has no legally mandated annual leave.
■In every country included except Canada and Japan (and the U.S., which averages 13 days/per year), workers get at least 20 paid vacation days. In France and Finland, they get 30 – an entire month off, paid, every year.
■Then there’s this depressing graph on average paid vacation time in industrialized countries:

The Impact of Too Much Work

I’m not telling you to work less hours. If you genuinely love what you do and are doing it for the right reasons, you are more than entitled to spend all of your waking hours plugging away.

But for many of us, more work leads to more stress and a lower quality of life. Without time to unwind, take care of your home, spend time with loved ones, enjoy our hobbies, connect with friends, and generally live a more balance life. Stress is the #1 cause of health problems – mentally and physically. And there are few things that stress us out on a consistent basis like work does, especially when it takes away from all of the other things that life has to offer.

Americans are the Outliers

And if all of this data tells anything, it’s that we are the outliers, not the norm. Why are we the outliers?
■Our companies fairly ruthlessly let people go. We want to keep our jobs and not be a ‘low performer’ compared to others.
■The decline of the union has led to less paid time off and other leave benefits.
■Cultural value of money over everything else. We love money, we want more of it, and we think money can buy happiness. And the more we work, the more we get paid.
■It’s been drilled in our heads that we are lazy compared to emerging market counterpart workers in India, Mexico, China, and other parts of Asia. Who isn’t? And what is our mental image of the work environments in those locales? To validate those fears, our jobs are being outsourced to the cheap labor in those countries. In reality, the U.S. is still the world leader in productivity per person.
■Our legislative branch of the government (on both sides of the aisle) has been bought and as a result has shied away from passing laws that protect workers that every other industrialized nation has passed.
■We generally don’t fight for our working rights. We take what is given to us.

What we All Need to Remember

What we all need to remind ourselves is that it doesn’t have to be this way.
■It’s OK to ask to move to fewer hours at work.
■It’s OK to take a week-long vacation if we need to. (Book your vacation at High Five Travel!!!
■It’s OK to ask to work from home.
■It’s OK to take a month of unpaid leave while you raise a child.
■It’s OK… you get the idea.

Don’t let life pass you by in the name of fear, circumstance, greed, or misguided hopes. Sometimes you just need to draw a line in the sand and say “enough is enough”.