Change Happens Regardless If Celebrated Or Denounced

“Money forgets but god remembers.” The advantage of making a lot of money at a young age is, you figure out your saturation level. How much money you actually need to support your lifestyle, underwrite your addictions and be happy. I remember the year I had the highest earnings of my career. Felt pretty damn good. Even bought a few nice things to celebrate. But the surprising thing was, I didn’t feel that much different. Maybe a little less stressed when the bills came in. And certainly more legitimate as a business owner. But once that six figure box was checked, I was kind of over it. That famous study about happiness not increasing after a certain dollar amount was spot on. It’s a sliding scale of diminishing returns. Interesting. Inspired by Jaron’s new book.

“Change happens regardless if it’s celebrated or denounced.” So many changes, so little time. Startups are the new garage bands. It’s more exciting to be the founder of a company than an artist. Television is the new cinema. It’s more enjoyable to watch the entire season in one weekend than schlep all the way to the theater. Selling out is the new breaking through. In a world that expects the milk to be free, artists do what they have to do to make money on their cow. Ten years is the new fifteen minutes. Internet lightning in a bottle, properly milked, can launch a lifelong career. Sharing is the new shopping. Why bear the burden of ownership when you can borrow and keep the ball in play? Podcasts are the new books. You’re still inhaling inspiring, gaining perspective and stimulating your brain, but without chopping down trees. Yay change!

“Money isn’t the target, money is the reward you get for hitting the target.” Seven years ago, my company was barely turning a profit. So my two best friends bet me twenty bucks a piece that I would double my income the following year. I said they were crazy, so I took the bet. And as it turned out, they were crazy. I tripled it. I couldn’t believe my eyes. So instead of paying up, I took their twenty dollar bills, framed them, wrote a thank you note on each, and handed them back. Happy new year, indeed. Point being, we all need people who believe in us more than we believe in ourselves. People who can see what we’re too close to ourselves to see. People who can stretch us beyond what we’ve done before. Capability is funny like that. We don’t realize we have it until somebody we love holds up a mirror.

“The place to be human in the presence of other human beings.” Writers have a long history of loneliness. And it’s claimed the lives of more of them than alcohol and drugs combined. It’s also the one part of the job description professors never seem to mention during the English class. Probably because they know how daunting it can be to the psyche. What I suggest to aspiring writers is, before you get to work, get your belongings in order. And I’m not talking about your lamps and shoes. I’m talking about your relationships. Your community. Your support system. Your network of human healing. Without that, the ink in your pen will turn to blood very quickly. Inspired by my third reading of Eric Maisel’s phenomenalbook.

There Was An Osmosis From Their Desire

“My solitude could not pass unnoticed.” I’m an extrovert, but with mild antisocial tendencies. One one hand, people are my power source. Being around others gives me energy like a carbo load. On the other hand, introspection is one of my superpowers. And the seductiveness of selfishly secluding myself is very hard to resist. It’s an ongoing internal battle. Lately, I’ve been learning to introduce a drop of mindfulness into the process. Usually in the form of a question. Reminds me of a diet book that suggests asking yourself, “Am I really hungry?” whenever cravings occur. In that same vein, I’ve been asking myself, “What could I do that involves others?” whenever the pull of solitude takes hold. And more often than not, there’s a way to make meaning in a social context. And the satisfaction and fulfillment attached to it is far greater than sitting in a corner trying to perfect myself. Inspired by a woman withno sex life.

“Learn to love the people you’re near.” In a big city, people bond over proximity, not commonality. Which means we do a very different kind of social math. Both of us may love hot yoga, but if we live on opposite ends of town, we’re probably not going to see each other. It’s too much of a hassle. Yes, it’s terribly frustrating and unfair, but it’s also human nature. I remember when my friend from Brooklyn was dating a guy from Harlem. She said it was a long distance relationship.Doesn’t that just blow your mind? They live in the same goddamn city! The point is, when we can’t be near the ones we love, we learn to love the ones we’re near. Instead of beating ourselves up for being terrible friends, we surrender to geography’s will. We practice being a friend to, and a fixture in, our own neighborhood community. Can’t get uptown? Try walking down the street.

“You get very shallow and you start to discard people because you don’t like the arch of their eyebrow.” Fascinating article about online dating. It’s definitely made our society more superficial. Back when I was playing the singles game, I remember thinking to myself, wow, online dating like shopping for people. And the scary part was when the algorithm started shopping for you. Match would populate a daily list of potential matches––an inventory, if you will––for you to browse. And sometimes the choices were wildly mismatched. Which made you start to wonder about yourself, your taste and your profile. Total mindfuck.
“There was an osmosis from their desire.” I spent my first three years as an entrepreneur working out my parents’ basement. Best thing that ever happened to my business. Not just because I saved a ton of money on rent, but because I was a witness to true discipline and hard work. My parents got up and went to work, every single day. Sometimes before the sun was up. That’s just how they were wired. And to experience that as an adult, as a young professional, was a beautiful thing.Watching them in action stoked my work fire. And I began to follow suit. In fact, I would wake up an hour earlier than they did, just to prove that I was living my life as a thank you in perpetuity for their generosity and support. Plus I wanted first dibs on bagels. The point is, that discipline laid the foundation for my work ethic. Proving that values aren’t taught, they’re caught. Proving that company we keep will keep the company afloat. Inspired by an interview with comedian Claire Titleman.

Trajectory Is A Tricky Thing

“Sobriety was my drug.” We become addicted to things for the same reason we initially try them: Because we like the way they make us feel. And that’s the irony of abstinence. It can actually have an addictive quality. Growing up, every time I said no to drinking, drugs, smoking, whatever, in that moment, something biological happened in my brain. I felt proud because I practiced restraint. I felt safe because I stayed in control. I felt special because I was the only one not wasted. I felt noticed because people gave me attention. I felt virtuous because I stayed true to my value system. And I felt liberated because I didn’t have to be so goddamn goal oriented all night. In short, I liked the way saying no made me feel. And for me, that experience was far more valuable than whatever benefit awaited on the other side of yes. So I kept it up. And by the time I got to college, I had crossed the threshold. I had fully transitioned into my addiction, intoxicated by sobriety. Anyway, I just think that’s interesting as hell.

“The space between romance and reality.” I was born on Valentine’s Day. And I can’t help but think that date shaped my personality. Both positively and negatively. On one hand, my obsession for romance made me a better entrepreneur, a better storyteller, a better artist and a better first date.Sweet. On the other hand, romance also got me into a lot of trouble when I prioritized it over reality. Like how I used to think opposites attracted, until reality raised its hand and reminded me that just because opposites attract, doesn’t mean they stay together. Or that time I convinced myself I was in a real relationship, but it was really just a project. Woops. Crazy how the heart fucks with the head, huh? Maybe it’s nature’s reminder not to cling to my gift too tightly. Inspired bySeraphim Photography.

“Trajectory is a tricky thing.” I remember when my career advisor told me I might not graduate on time. He said I was two credits short, and if I didn’t bust my ass senior year, summer school was in my future. So I gave it some serious thought. And honestly, the prospect of staying on campus a few extra months with a light course load and hot girlfriend didn’t sound so bad. On the other hand, I was halfway done with my first book, I was chomping at the bit to go out into the world, and I knew if I stayed an extra semester, the manuscript never would have gotten finished. So I hunkered down, powered through, got my diploma and left college with a finished book in my hand. A book that would kickstart the next twelve years of my life. Isn’t it amazing how a single decision, possibly an innocuous one, can change the entire vector of a career? And yet, we only realize that looking through the rear view mirror. We don’t have eyes to see it when it’s happening. 

“Some artists lose touch with the general audience and retreat to an airless echo chamber.” I’ve
always treated music as an escape. As a way to hide from the world. But
now that I’m performing in public on a regular basis, it’s the complete
opposite. Total vulnerability. Absolute nakedness. What a fascinating experiment. The thing is, music already requires me to do five things at once. So
when I factor in the human element, it’s a different experience. In
addition to strumming and stomping and singing, now I have an audience
to interact with. Which means I have to notice people, connect with
them, watch their behavior, listen for their feedback and thank them for
their attention. And that’s much harder than I expected. Like learning
how to a play a new instrument, it requires practice, patience and
proactivtity. But the payoff is worth it. Anytime we cancreate more of those breathing-the-same-air experiences for people, everybody wins. Inspired by an article on the loathsome art world.

Most People Kill Plants From Overwatering

“His film not only captured my imagination, it kickstarted my ambition.” When I first started playing music, I used to spend hours going through my dad’s record collection. One night, I came across an album that sounded strangely familiar. When I asked my dad who the singer was, a huge smile lit up his face. Turns out, the voice was his. Senior year of high school, my dad’s band put out their own album.Their own album. To me, that was the coolest thing I’d ever heard. Forget about draining the game winning basket at the buzzer. This was art. This was something you could make and smell and touch and share with your friends. And this was something that could live in the world forever.From that moment on, I knew I wanted to do the same with my own work. My artistic and entrepreneurial motor starting revving up that night. And it hasn’t stopped chugging since.Inspired by a similar story fromTough Shit.

“You’ll hand over your money like there’s more where that came from.” Back when I thought online training was the future of corporate development, I invested considerable amounts of time, money and energy building my own proprietary video platform. And if you ask me, it’s amazing. Of all the things I’ve created in my career, NametagTV is at the top of my list. Unfortunately, my original prediction was wrong. Online training wasn’t the future. Organizations just weren’t buying it. Literally or figuratively. With the exception of a few success stories, none of us truly cracked the online training code. So, I made zero profit. With only one paying client, I earned just enough revenue to break even. It was the equivalent to a push in blackjack. Not a loss, but not quite a win. Kind of a bummer. Although, during the process of building NametagTV, I learned video production skills, unearthed talents I didn’t know I had, extended my brand into new places and kicked open the door to future business opportunities that actually did make money. Plus, I built something I was proud of. To me, that’s a win. Just because you have a loss leader doesn’t mean there’s no gain.

“People are creating hacked products.” I just discovered a guy from Kuwait who sells sheep on Instagram. Pure genius. His business model is fast, free, simple, smart, social, scalable, international, remarkable, entrepreneurial, creative and contemporary. That’s one hell of a winning formula. No wonder he’s accumulated a level of likes, followers and shares that most companies would pay millions for. What’s crazy is, ten years ago, a guy like Ali never could have dreamed of that level of economic possibility. He probably comes from a long line of sheep herders, most of whom wouldn’t believe his story if he told them. But when a remarkable digital platform comes along and changes everything, dreams have a funny way of coming true. Instagram’s tagline, by the way, is to capture and share the world’s moments. Nice to see someone other than advertisers turning those moments into money.

“Most people kill plants from overwatering.” How did nature solve this same problem? That’s one of my favorite questions to ask. Especially when it comes to tackling the issues of human interaction. For example, take the challenge of checking up on people we love. We want to be there for them, but at the same time, we don’t want to drown them with concern. So where’s the balance? Well, if this were a problem in nature, we would say, before you start flooding the pot, check the soil. That way, instead of killing the plant with kindness, you can caress the plant with curiosity. If it needs more water, it will tell you. Plants are very honest creatures. The point is, we should apply the same thinking to humanity. Not everybody we love needs more water. Sometimes all they need is someone to check the soil. 

There Was A Layer Of Disapproval Over Everything I Did

“Satisfaction is a function of physicality.” I recently finished the final edits on my next two books. Which meant it was time for the best part of the creative process, making shit physical. And maybe it’s because I’m a touchy feely guy. Maybe it’s because the proliferation of digital has forced me to yearn for texture. But for my money, there’s nothing more fulfilling than walking into the copy shop, watching the printer spit out three hundred pages of hard work, holding those hot little babies in your hands and inhaling the sweet smell of satisfaction. In that instant, I don’t care if the books are good. I don’t care if sell I single copy. I don’t even care if people like the work. It’s my moment, and nobody can take it away from me. That’s enough.

There was a layer of disapproval over everything I did.” When you come from a family of artists and entrepreneurs, agency is in your blood. You don’t wait for the world to stamp your creative passport. You take initiative, hire yourself and go after the things you want. Even if you have to break a few rules that don’t exist. That’s something I want to pass along to my children.The power of a permissionless posture. Not entitlement. Not narcism. And not an absence of empathy. But the ability to choose instigation over acquiescence. I can’t imagine the kind of psychological damage kids experience when they’re blinded by the dangling sword of family disapproval. Inspired by aninterviewwith Judy Gold.

“If we’re all in this together, it’s more about turning to
each other instead of turning to some invisible force.” 
A central part of my job is drawing thinkmaps, collaborative whiteboard illustrations of our research, discovery and insights. What’s interesting is, a thinkmapis only as valuable as the humanity connected to it. By itself, out of context, it’s just another beautifully designed whiteboard. Whoopee. Every agency in the world has one of those. The difference maker is, when clients come in, the whiteboard turns into a campfire. A platform for sharing ideas and observations and questions. A canvas on which to paint our collective rigor. With every comment, the thinkmap grows. Kind of like the Omnidroid fromThe Incredibles, the learning robot who gets smarter the longer you fight it. Except at our office, it’s totally analog. Which means you can always erase.

“Take your passion back.” The root of the word passion is “to suffer.” Old news. But here’s a new way to look at it. Passion isn’t just what we would suffer to do; it’s also what would cause us suffering if we did not do it. That’s how we can tell if it’s a real passion or just an expensive hobby. Literal pain. Physical, emotional, existential agony from of a lack of something in our lives. The tricky part is when life’s larger priorities––earning a living, supporting the family, insert adult responsibility here––hold more importance than, say, making art on the weekends. But it’s not about balance, it’s about communicating the reality of the situation and trying to make it work. Inspired by Henry’s photography.

The Shady Underworld of Anonymous Commenters

“His identity is his company, he is only as mature as it is.” Anything we build is an extension of ourselves. Including our businesses. Especially our businesses. As we mature into upgraded versions of ourselves, so goes the enterprise. As we diversify our identities and change our relationships, so goes the enterprise. When I started practicing yoga, not only did I increase my physical flexibility, but my entrepreneurial flexibility as well. I opened myself to working on completely different projects with new kinds of clients, gigs that I never would have had the guts to try three years earlier. Point being, all work is a mirror. Honestly reflecting back to us exactly who we are at the time. Inspired by a fascinating interviewwith Dennis Crowley.

“The shady underworld of anonymous commenters.” Earlier this week, I was featured on MSN Living’s list of the worst tattoos of all time. My parents were thrilled. But what’s amazing is, that picture was taken eight years ago. Since then, my nametag has given me everything. Everything. Beyond my wildest expectations. Attention, memorability, credibility, platform, relationships, even real money. And although it’s not the centerpiece it used to be, it still serves me in many ways. Because it’s not a nametag, it’s a passport. That’s the real joke. And it gets funnier with every passing day. And nobody is laughing harder than me.

“If the idea keeps stalking me in the moment, I have to leave whatever I’m doing and go home or go sit in the car and work on it.” I was up early one morning when I came across a viral video that brought me to tears. I seriously balled my eyes out. But within the next hour, I had written a song of my own. And it’s one of the best I’ve ever composed. The point is, when a new idea shows up and refuses to go away, there’s a certain amount of artistic obedience that’s in order. We can’t just show appreciation, we have to take action. We have to write something down, draw something up or build something out. Whatever it takes to help the word become flesh. Sparked by an interview withCharlie Ray.

“Committed people deserve committed people and aren’t compatible with anybody else.” What excites me most about being married is, being married. That’s all I ever wanted. Hitting on girls, going on dates, sowing my royal oats and bragging about sexual conquests never did anything for me. Just seemed wildly uninteresting. On the other hand, committing with both feet, agreeing on the intention of your partnership, building something meaningful together and working your collective asses off to keep it alive? Now there’s something worth doing. There’s something I can get behind. No pun intended. Inspired by apostby Don Miller.

I Don’t Want To Stylize Myself Into A Corner

“One of society’s unacknowledged goals is to minimize existential thought.” This passage in Eric’s book helped me realize something important about myself. I have a issue with any enemy of the ability to think. For example, it’s harder to think than it is to pray. It’s harder to put the onus on yourself than to say you were born this way. It’s harder to take responsibility than to assume someone else is doing the deciding for you. It’s harder to think for yourself than to welcome indoctrination into somebody else’s belief system. It’s harder to identify what your values are than to to let the majority do your your voting for you.And so on. The point is, building up a ritual of thinking, every single day, is among the most important practices humans can engage in. It’s not only the trait that separates us from other animals, it’s the skill that will allow our species to survive.

“I didn’t want to stylize myself into a corner.” I recently met a travel photographer who had an interesting philosophy about lighting. He said natural was the way to go, not only because of the image quality, but because he didn’t want to schlep around all that heavy equipment through foreign countries for weeks at a time. But because of that, he never committed to one particular photographic aesthetic. And that freed him to evolve his visual style as he saw fit. Isn’t it interesting when practical need stimulates artistic growth? It’s all about leveraging our limitations. Viewing constraints as catapults. I said it once and I’ll say it again. No labels, no limits

“Talent is finally king because distribution is free.” This is the best thing to happen to music in a long time. Marketing may have ran the show for many years, and arguably, still wields more power than most, but talent’s time has finally come. Let’s give it up for the moderately attractive but massively talented. Let’s worship those who seek achievement through artistic skill, not attention through promotional savvy. Let’s watch art finally mirror the purity of athletics, whose superstars rise through the ranks because of ability and hard work, not because of connections and cup size. If I had a glass, I’d raise it. And if I cared about alcohol, I’d drink. Salut. Good looking out, Bob.

“Once you’ve seen what it’s like on the other side,
good luck trying to follow someone else’s rules ever again.”
 Not sure I agree with this anymore, Chris. I spent twelve years working for myself, playing by my own rules, answering to nobody. But eventually, the loneliness, boredom and exhaustion became too much for me. Freedom got too expensive. So I did the one thing I swore I would never do: Get a regular job. Sure, it sounded impossible for a lifelong individualist like me. And I was more surprised than anybody.But we all see what we want to see until we’re forced to see otherwise. Funny how quickly unhappiness deletes words like always and never from your vocabulary. The point is, when we’re so stubbornly close to ourselves, so in love with our own ambitions, so addicted to the freedom of selfishness, we easily overlook the possibility of better options. Options that, upon closer inspection, aren’t as scary as we thought.

I Can’t Dance To Your Fidgety Tune

“You can commune with the sensibility of culture that’s in the air.” The cool thing about living in a vibrant, bustling city is, you can instantly plug yourself into the creative undercurrent. It’s an endless supply. And it’s completely free of charge, on one condition––you have to pay it back with your originality. That’s the most important currency you have. As a citizen, you’re obligated to contribute to the intellectual and artistic commons of the community. The work doesn’t have to be good. It doesn’t have to change the world. It just has to be yours. Cities should include these specifications on people’s home leases. Inspired by an interview with Judy Gold.

“I can’t dance to your fidgety tune.” Within our first two months of dating, my fiance and I started taking ballroom dancing lessons. Most of our friends made fun of us. They said dance lessons were for married couples. But they were wrong. Dance lessons were for old married couples. Anyway, we made the best of it. In fact, dancing became a beautiful way to expedite the intimacy of our new relationship. We understood each other’s body chemistry. We learned the leader/follower relationship. We practiced extended, concentrated eye contact. We communicated through our movements. Why wait until marriage for all that? Anatomy is destiny. No wonder dancing is the vertical expression of horizontal desire. Every couple should be required to take lessons within the first three months of dating. It’s almost scary how accurate of a mirror dancing is to human relationships. Turns out, I’m a better follower than I thought.

“To get scientific about it is a little like trying to catch moonbeams in a jar.” For a long time, I put my faith in prophetic agencies like fate, serendipity, synchronicity, luck, the law of attraction and god’s will. Until I started noticing nature’s agenda. The geometric order and rhythm of life. You know, something I could actually proveAnd the more I ran my experiences through that logical filter, the more patterns started to emerge. Turns out, you can actually design systems and structures to align yourself with nature’s timing. Listen loud enough, and you can put yourself in the right place at the right time––by virtue of being in a lot of places. Funny how that whole science thing works. Inspired by an article about sentences.

“It’s the gasket to purge everything that happens to me.” That’s how my friendMitchdescribes his writing process. Totally dig it. Anyone with a strict regiment of vomiting is alright with me. Why? Because people who regularly metabolize their experiences tend to have the deepest perspective, the most interesting ideas and the most penetrating questions. They excel because they expel. And it’s not an accident. What scares me is, we aren’t as reflective as we used to be. Since boredom has become a quaint relic of the past, since there’s no need to wonder anymore and since people are turning more to technology and less to each other, I can’t help but wonder if humans have forgotten how to vomit. I can’t help but wonder if we’re raising a generation of people who don’t value the cleansing and liberating joy of sitting down next to someone you love and crying until our shirt sleeves are soaked. Let that shit out, man.

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