Ryan Guina’s Current Professional Interests

Welcome to my online home! I am a full time writer and internet marketer. My primary business involves running several websites, but I also do freelance writing and internet marketing consulting – both on a limited basis.

The following links are some of websites he has founded or for which I write. You can also find me on LinkedIn, Twitter, and other online locations.

Websites founded by Ryan:

Ryan has also regularly contributed to the following publications:

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Posted in Me

Remembering Tony Gwynn

The baseball world lost one of the game’s greats today. Tony Gwynn passed away from cancer at age 54. I saw him play several times and was lucky enough to meet him once.

Tony Gwynn Hall of Fame Plaque

My buddy Jerry Shoemake and I used to go to Houston Astros games to get autographs when we were in high school (back in the Astrodome days!). We were hanging out at the visitors dugout and Tony Gwynn walked over from shagging flies in the outfield. He took my card from me and started signing it. He wrote the letter “T,” then looked up at me and noticed I was wearing an Astros hat.

He looked me in the eye and asked me, “Are you an Astros fan?”

I looked right back at him and said, “Tony, I’m a baseball fan.”

Tony laughed and said, “All right, I can appreciate that.” He wrote the letter “o” then stopped, looked at me and said, “But you didn’t answer my question. Are you an Astros fan?”

By this time, there was a large crowd gathering around. This had to be 1997 or 1998, and Tony Gwynn was already a first-ballot Hall of Famer by that time. People were pushing, elbowing, calling Tony’s name, and thrusting cards, balls, and bats in his direction. He never acknowledged them. He simply watched me and waited for my answer.

It was time to play ball. I smiled back and said, “I’m a Tony Gwynn fan!”

He laughed at that and wrote the letter, “n.” And then repeated his previous statement, “but you still didn’t tell me if you’re an Astros fan.”

This time I just said “yes, they’re the home team, so I root for them. But I love the game and following certain players.” He laughed and wrote the letter, “y.”

This went on for each letter of his name. We talked a bit, he signed a letter of his name, we talked some more. I honestly don’t remember much else of the conversation. I guess I was a bit star struck. I do remember that it took a good 3-5 minutes for him to sign my card. And I don’t believe he signed any others after our discourse (much to the chagrin of my buddy Jerry, who was patiently standing right beside me the entire time, and to the disappointment of the 30 other not-so-patient people clamoring for his attention).

Tony Gwynn has a beautiful signature. I’ve always liked it. But my signed Tony Gwynn card is the ugliest one I’ve ever seen. It’s squiggly, disjointed, and quite honestly, looks like a poor attempt at a forgery. But I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

(The card is shown below. If you look closely, you can see where the letters start and stop).

Tony Gwynn Autograph - 1993 Upper Deck

I always admired Tony Gwynn for how he played the game. He was fun to watch. He always hustled and he always had a smile. And his reputation was impeccable both on and off the diamond. He was a legend of the game, and by all accounts, just as well-respected by his family and peers. He was a class act and will be missed. RIP, Tony Gwynn.

More on Tony Gwynn’s Career:

Photo credits:

  • Hall of Fame Plaque – Baseball HoF
  • Tony Gwynn Autographed Baseball Card – Personal Collection

Let it Breathe

One of the most difficult things for me to learn about running a business was when to back off and let things go. As any blogger or webmaster can tell you, watching traffic stats or other metrics can be addicting. You want to know how much traffic is coming to your website, where it is coming from, where it is going, etc.

The same thing can apply to your finances, business, career, or anything else which you are passionate about – especially when you are excited – such as when you are just beginning your journey or you reach a new milestone.

This is especially true about parenting. As the father of a newborn girl, I want to be there for every moment. I want to see her when she rolls over, sits up, crawls, speaks, walks, etc.

But then you realize your child is going to grow up regardless of what you do, and will even thrive if you just give her the space she needs to discover things on her own. So while that may mean less peaking in on her during nap time to make sure she is still breathing, it also means the new milestones come as a surprise, and thus, are more special.

A business, or your career, or your finances, or anything else dear to you is the same way. You need to pay attention and nurture it, but you don’t need to miss the forest for the trees. Instead of getting caught up in the minute to minute or hour to hour trends, take a step back and take a 30 thousand foot view.

What is the daily trend? Weekly? Monthly? Yearly?

Failure happens. It is natural to be disappointed when it takes longer to pay of your credit cards than you thought it would, or if you miss a promotion at work, or you fall short on any other goal. But failure is an opportunity to grow and learn, and sometimes that is more valuable in the long run.

Success and growth take time, and the goal is to see a positive trend as time goes by. That means making plans and following them, and making adjustments when major events dictate changes need to be made. And 99% of the time, slow and steady will win out.

So the next time you get impatient by a perceived lack of progress, take a step back and look at the bigger picture. Sometimes you are making more progress than you think you are. Sometimes you just need to let it breathe.

Originally published Dec 23, 2009 on my personal finance website, CashMoneyLife.com.

How Much is Your Time Worth? – The Story of the Riding Lawnmower

Yesterday I wrote an article about outsourcing tasks for my small business and one of the commenters mentioned that the same principles can apply to your personal life. I agree 100%. I recently wrote an article about whether or not changing your own oil was worth the savings. My time is more valuable to me than the few dollars I would save by doing it myself.

Other commenters mentioned outsourcing yard work, car maintenance, home repair, taxes, or other tasks. Many of these tasks can be accomplished by the average person, so long as he is willing to invest a little time and energy into learning how to do the task. But sometimes the time it would take to learn a new task is more valuable than spending the money to hire someone who already has the skills. Or in the case of the story below, time can be more valuable than the cost to purchase a tool to make life easier.

The story of the riding lawnmower

My friend and I were talking at work the other day about his elderly neighbor who is moving into a town home where his yard work is part of the association fees. His neighbor offered to sell him his gently used riding lawnmower for a reasonable price. But my friend wasn’t sure if he really needed a riding lawnmower.

Our conversation went something like this:

Coworker: “I’m just not sure if I need a riding lawnmower. I’ve used a push mower for years, my mower is still in good condition, and the exercise is good for me.”

Me: “How long does it take you to mow your yard?”

Coworker: “About an hour and a half.”

Me: “And you mow your yard, what, every 3 or 4 days?”

Coworker: “Yeah. Sometimes more often in the spring.”

Me: “So from April to October you spend 3-plus hours per week pushing a mower… 12-plus hours per month, and 84-plus hours per season.”

Coworker: “Yeah, I guess so.”

Me: “You do realize that a riding lawnmower can give you back 2 full days of your life every year. Not two weekend afternoons, but two around-the-clock 24 hour days.”

Coworker: Silence.

The next day my coworker told me it took him half an hour to mow his lawn with his gently used riding lawnmower. And he had an extra hour to play outside with his children.

How Much is Your Time Worth?

Originally published Jun 11, 2009 on my personal finance website, CashMoneyLife.com.

The Greatest Generation is Missing a Member

I received a phone call yesterday while I was driving home from work. The news was not unexpected, but nevertheless, it was not easy to hear. My Grandfather, a member of the group of Americans Tom Brokaw dubbed The Greatest Generation, passed away.

Brokaw defines “the greatest generation” as American citizens who came of age during the Great Depression and the Second World War and went on to build modern America. My Grandfather exemplified everything that generation stood for. He served in the greatest war our world has ever witnessed, he was a business owner, he was a farmer, he was a husband and father. In short, he was like millions of other Americans from his generation.

My Grandfather grew up in Evanston, IL during the Great Depression. By all accounts he was poor, but probably no poorer than most people in those times. During the onset of WWII he enlisted in the Navy. He proudly served as a crew chief maintaining fighter aircraft on the USS Nehenta Bay, an aircraft carrier that served in the Pacific. Though he was never one to talk much about his time in the service, I managed to coax a few stories out of him (though not until after I myself had joined the military). He shared a few stories of the strafing runs their aircraft went on and how one of his pilots never returned to the aircraft carrier. He also told of surviving a kamikaze attack during the final months of the Pacific Campaign. The resulting attack damaged the USS Nehenta Bay and scuttled two of the USS Nehenta Bay’s sister ships. But mostly, he talked about the things all military veterans talk about – the card games, pranks, practical jokes, camaraderie, and the pride that comes from serving your country. He never questioned serving and never asked “why?” or “what if?” It was a job that he and millions of others of his generation were called to.

After the war my Grandfather settled in California. He was a mechanic by trade and eventually owned and operated a service station – back when the people at gas stations pumped your gas, topped off your fluids, washed your windows, filled your tires with air and served you an 8 oz. Coke in a glass bottle – all for about a buck. His service station was also a repair shop and he worked on cars, motorbikes, and small engines. My father worked there for a short time while he was attending college.

Several years later my grandfather sold the service station and bought a working farm where he and my Grandmother raised chickens, rabbits, and Appaloosas, a breed of horse known for their spotted coloring. I vividly remember gathering fresh eggs for breakfast when I was a kid. Their farm also featured an orchard with a multitude of fruit bearing trees – apple, cherry, plum, walnut, pomegranate and fig. Last fall my wife and I took a Mediterranean cruise for our honeymoon. On one of our excursions we stopped for lunch in a Medieval town in the Luberon villages of the Aix-en-Provence region of France. The town was perched on a small hill overlooking grape vineyards. After our lunch my wife and I took a stroll through the cobbled streets and at one point I had a fleeting moment of deja vu. I couldn’t place the memory and a few moments later it struck again. A sweet scent took me away and I looked up and saw a fig tree. The smell of fresh figs combined with the weather and the scenery brought back wonderful childhood memories – stories that I was able to share with my wife.

I was almost 7 when my family relocated from California to Alabama for my Dad’s job. I saw less of my Grandparents from that point, but they always remained in our lives. Shortly after we moved to Alabama my Grandparents sold the farm and moved to a smaller home that was situated by a small private lake in the middle of gold country – far away from the big cities and the bright lights. My grandfather had a small, 2 person sailboat and a couple canoes. He gardened and fished and tinkered in his shop all day. I have fond memories of visiting my Grandparents and spending the summer with my brothers rowing across the lake and fishing and raising the kind of trouble that boys are known to do when left alone. Some nights we camped out under the stars. You’ll never again seen so many stars as you will see camping under the naked sky in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada. The Milky Way sweeps across the sky and shooting stars add an exclamation point to the end of your day. Those summers lasted forever – but were never long enough.

As time went by, so did my Grandfather’s strength. The house by the lake became too much for him to take care of, so he and my Grandmother relocated once again to a smaller home that required less upkeep. He gardened, volunteered with the local Sheriff’s office, and remained active in the community. For my Grandfather’s 80th birthday, my Grandmother surprised him with a birthday party and a special gift. I flew out to California and escorted him to Washington, DC, where we met up with my brother, a US Marine, and my cousin, a Soldier in the US Army – the three grandchildren veterans of the War on Terror. Together, the four of us represented all four branches of the US Military. During our trip to DC we visited the newly opened WWII Memorial. We also took in parts of the Smithsonian, the Mall, and saw the White House. At age 80 my Grandfather was still a trooper and kept pace with his 3 grandchildren, even though his body was slowed by the onset of Parkinson’s disease. Though the trip only lasted a few days, I know it had a profound affect on him and was a memory he looked upon fondly. It is also one I will remember the rest of my life.

My Grandfather was not a perfect man, but he was a good man. He loved and was loved in return. He was a Son, and a Husband. He was a Father and a Grandfather. He was a Sailor and a Mechanic, a Farmer and a Business owner. He was an American and a member of the Greatest Generation. My grandfather passed away yesterday at age 84. And I will miss him.

Originally published Oct 22, 2008 on my personal finance website, CashMoneyLife.com.

The Playground Economy

I collected everything when I was a kid. Along with my huge baseball card collection, I also collected stamps, coins, rocks, arrowheads, Garbage Pail Kids, and just about anything else I could get my hands on. For me, collecting things was a part of growing up.

I look back on it now, and I wonder if I collected things as a kid because I equated items with wealth. To a kid, however, wealth is relative. In fact, there is an entire underground economy run by strictly by kids. Instead of trading equities on Wall Street, kids run their own black markets in playgrounds and backyards across America – and probably throughout much of the world as well.

The playground economy

The Playground Economy

The Playground Economy

Here is an example: Little Johnny is playing in the woods and finds a rock with a strip of quartz through it. The next day Johnny brings his “crystal” to school, and as soon as he starts showing it off, other kids decide they want one too. Not only does Johnny score a few popularity points, that crystal gains value.

Maybe Johnny can trade his crystal to another kid for a baseball card. Then Johnny decides he values something else more than his new baseball card. If he is good, Johnny can trade that baseball card for a sack of marbles, or maybe a book of stickers. Several trades later, Johnny has turned the little crystal he found in the woods into two shiny quarters, which he will then use to buy a can of soda. But somehow, nobody would have ever traded a can of soda for the rock crystal. Go figure.

I remember making similar trades while growing up. The trick is to find what other people value and give them what they want. The other thing to remember is that the rarer an item is (or to young boys the more disgusting it is), the more valuable it is. To a kid growing up in deer hunting country, a deer antler is fairly common. But to a boy who grew up in the suburbs or in the city, a deer antler is as rare as gold. But, no matter where a boy grows up, a genuine snake skin or rattlesnake tail is the holy grail of the playground economy. You just don’t trade those unless you are receiving serious value in return!

The playground economy is important. It teaches young people (relative) value and it teaches them to have an entrepreneurial spirit. These experiences will later serve those same kids when they take their first high school jobs, then go off to college, and finally go out into the real world and start working a full-time job. Those who really embrace the concept may start their own businesses, or join a firm where they trade equities. Eventually, they may be the head of a private equity firm or CEO of a giant corporation.

Today, I know the value of a dollar. I also know that something is only worth what someone will pay for it. I owe some of that knowledge to my early success as a day trader in the playground economy. That’s right, I admit it. I was a part of the playground economy. And I bet a lot of the people reading this were too. 🙂

photo credit: Nick Manning, via stock.xchng.

Originally published Oct 8, 2007 on my personal finance website, CashMoneyLife.com.