Episode 108- The Perils Of Short Term Decisions

The Peril Of Short Term Decisions

As you are listening to this, you might be getting ready to make a short-term decision. Something that’s gonna help you today but it’s gonna hurt you in the future. It might be as simple and noble as going to a job that pays you enough money to get by, but the sacrifice of putting those 8 to 10 hours into the business that you’ve been putting off. But the one you’ve been dying to work on. And people that find themselves consistently struggling are the ones that are constantly making short-term decisions. Eating the burger on the run because you’re too rushed because you didn’t have the time is a constant short-term decision. Buying the house or the car before you’re financially ready is another. The long road to failure is paved with small bricks from the short-term decisions that we are constantly making. 

The problem with the short-term decision is it doesn’t usually feel bad when we do it. And quite the opposite, it usually feels good in the moment when we do it. Very few people when they are having that extra scoop of ice cream are thinking this is gonna make me so sluggish in three months. In four months, I’m gonna gain a couple more pounds. In six months, I still won’t be going to the gym because these decisions that I am making daily that are sapping my energy, that are gaining weight on my body and that are tightening up my joints that are making everything feel uncomfortable. But when feel uncomfortable in the moment. It’s something that I start getting used to and I forget how good it used to feel. 

We never think about that in the short term. When we’re going to the job and we’re saying that I’ve got to pay the bills, are we thinking this is benefiting me today but this is not benefiting me three years now. And if I don’t make a radical change, if I don’t do something, if I don’t take action on something, I am gonna be doing the same thing or worse three years from now. If you think that you’re gonna continue to go through that and feel better three years from now, you better think again because I can tell you it does not get better unless you make the change. 

I can only talk about this because I’m the king of making short-term decisions that hurt me in the long run. I think back to when I was going away to college and if you read my book when I have my photo equipment stolen, I was a couple months away from going back to college with little to no money. And because of the decisions that I’ve made in the past, because of not being good with my money, because of not working and saving the way that I should have, I put myself in the spot. So, knowing that I needed money, I started going through the valuable things that I had and to see what I can sell off so that I can at least have some money when I was at school. And I came upon my baseball card collection which I hadn’t seen in years. For the most part it wasn’t the most valuable collection of cards but I did have one gem and it was a Wayne Gretzky rookie hockey card. It was the 1979, 1980 rookie card of Gretzky, it was the O-Pee-Chee version, which is a very rare one and we got it in hockey cards that we purchase as kids with my brother and my dad. We collected them all and we kept them in a binder and we never really did anything about it. 

So whenever we would joke about money or I would need money, my dad will always say “We always got the Wayne Gretzky card to go back on.” And Dad if you are listening to this story, you are going to cringe a little bit because I brought my case of hockey cards and football cards and baseball cards to a souvenir shop in New York about a week before I left for school. As you can imagine I was desperate. Any money was good money at that point and I didn’t want to go my parents asking for money. So I took the big case in there and I showed it to the guy and he lift through everything and he saw the Gretzky card. I knew he was interested, but either had a great poker face or I overvalued the worth of this card. I was hoping to get about thousand dollars for this card and he looked at me and he said “I’ll give you $600 for everything.” As much as I was not happy with the offer, I didn’t have very many other options because I was leaving and I need the money so I accepted it. I hand over the cards including the Wayne Gretzky rookie card which I’d valued and treasured and walked away with $600 in cash. 

I knew even then with the money in my hand and I didn’t feel great about what had just happened. But about a week later I went to school, I imagine not long after that all the money was gone and life went on. I hadn’t thought about it. It didn’t affect me going forward anymore. It didn’t affect my day-to-day activity. It was just the decision I made but it was a short-term decision that I made. I never collected hockey cards or baseball cards or football cards after that even before that I haven’t collected them for years. But every time I would see my dad, when they come to visit or I visit them, for some reason, so often, My dad would mention “We’ve got that Wayne Gretzky rookie card” and I would have to smile or have to nod, and just pretend like I still did because I didn’t tell him the truth. 

I never had the courage to even look up how much that card was worth at this point. Ironically, as I was at school spending that money, Wayne Gretzky retired from the New York Rangers and there was a huge ceremony for his retirement, the greatest hockey player that ever lived. And there was a pit in my stomach knowing I know I gave something away that was very valuable for a very small price. So I avoided thinking about it, I avoided thinking what I threw away but as I prepared to record this podcast, I finally did it and I finally looked up the value of that card. And I came upon an article by a guy named Robert McLean from 2016 and here’s the headline “Wayne Gretzky Rookie card sells for record $465,000” and that is not a typo. Now when I go to eBay and I looked at the cards, they’re for sale for $25,000 or $15,000 or $20,000, sometimes a little bit lower and sometimes a little bit higher. So I’m not sure what’s so special about that particular one that sold for almost a half million dollars. I would imagine by the way that I handled my cards that it wasn’t in mint condition and it wouldn’t be half a million dollars. So I don’t want to dramatize that. 

But regardless I sold away possibly a $25,000 trading card for less than $600 because I was desperate and I made a short-term decision and I think so many of us are doing that daily. I think by you getting up and going to a job you don’t want to go to, a job that gives you no energy, no passion, no excitement, just for the money today when you have dreams and passions to do something else with this life. You’re crushing your future with your short-term decisions. And I’m not saying to run out and go quit your job today but I think that could be great because it will actually force you to do something. It will force you to take action. You can no longer align the status quo and the normal to get by. And I possibly sold half a million-dollar card for $600 but I think you’re selling half million-dollar idea every day, tomorrow for the money that you are gonna make in that same day. Because if you had the freedom to do what you wanted to do and you can brainstorm in your dreams and you could put those dreams into action, the sky is the limit. 

So, do me a favor and stop making short-term decisions. When you go to do something, tell yourself “What would myself in 10 years say about this decision?” cause I can tell you if my 36-year-old self would have walked into that door, he would have grab that case of cards and ran outdoors quickly as possible and said “go deliver pizzas, go scrub car windows that are going by, but do something else besides selling off some that can be so beneficial to your future and to your family’s future for a short term gain. 

So I hope this inspires you to think a little bit differently for tomorrow, for yourself, for your life and for your family and I will be back with you tomorrow

Episode 107- Bay To Breakers

Bay to Breaker

All right. This is another edition of empty calories which is a fun story but I’m not sure there’s any lesson attached to it. I’m pretty sure I told the story about winning the William Randolph Hearst National Championship for Photojournalists back as a senior in college. And to win that award, I had to beat out five of the top college photojournalists in the country in a two day shoot off in San Francisco, where we had to take on different assignments, photograph them, tell a story with the pictures and then have it be judged by three top photo editors in the industry. 

And after the first full day of shooting after the second day, all six of us had to photograph an event called the Bay to Breakers race and it’s a running race in San Francisco with a race from the San Francisco Bay to the Breakers.

But it’s different than any other race because it’s not just runners or joggers. This event is a party. So, a half of the people are serious runners but the other half are crazy partiers that are dressed up in costumes and they make this just a major event. So, we need to make a picture story from this event. And I think each of us knew that covering a race like a regular race was not going to do anything. It was not going to be impactful at all. 

So, I was up until about three o’clock in the morning the night before because the last assignment of the previous day was to photograph a spot news assignment. And about 1:30 or two o’clock in the morning, I got a photograph of a guy that got beat up at a bar and I was at San Francisco General Hospital the night before and I got my image. 

And then I went back to the hotel for about two hours of sleep and I got to the race as the sun was coming up so I could find the subject or the subjects that I was going to spend the morning with. And I walked up and down the street looking for somebody that would be a good person to really document and tell a story about. And that’s been over by the pier, I saw about 10 people loading up the square contraption with all types of bottles of liquor and they were laughing and having a great time and I said “That’s got to be them.” 

So, I walked over and I asked them what they were doing and they told me that they built a bar on wheels. It was a square bar almost like a mini version of the Cheers bar from the TV show and they’re going to roll this bar along the entire length of the race and serve drinks to everybody running and everybody participating.

So, I asked one question I was hoping that they say yes. And I said “Would you mind if I follow you around and document you doing this?” And they just laughed and they said “hell yeah come with us.” And we started up as the craziness ensued and it was absolutely hysterical because to see the dichotomy of these serious runners taking this so seriously. And then you had this gaggle of people just dressed in the most outrageous costumes. You know people dressed like salmon that were going against the stream. The salmon literally started at the end of the race so they can go against the stream as everybody went in the right direction.

And the race started pretty quickly and they’re having a great time and they’re serving their drinks but not only were they serving their drinks but they were drinking their drinks as well. And somewhere along the way, maybe it’s when one of those serious runners stopped by at the bar to have a drink with us and then went on to run the race that I realized I think I might be onto something with this picture story. And I wonder how long can they possibly go because not only did they had the task of pushing this heavy bar along a very long stretch of the San Francisco roads but they’re getting drunker and drunker as the race goes on.

And around 11 o’clock in the morning, we pulled into Golden Gate Park which is on its way to the finish line of the race. And the guy that led the whole thing and I wish I could remember his name but he was the most fun he was the most helpful but who’s also the most drunk. As we got to the Golden Gate Park I could see his eyes fall into the back of his head and he wobbled a bit and then he dropped backwards into the grass and he passed out on the lawn the Golden Gate Park. And I laughed out loud and I moved into position, I turned around and as he would have wanted, I’ve got a great picture of him sprawled out on the grass with the bar in the background and the race going on behind it.

And after all the challenges to get selected for the preliminaries and then to finally get selected to be flown to San Francisco for this event. And then a full day of shooting on Saturday and having hardly any sleep. And then being up early in the morning for this race and then finding this group of people and then photographing the story. When he fell to the ground and passed out and I shot that picture I knew I was done. I thought to myself very quickly I won. I just had a feeling they won the whole thing. 

So the next day, the six of us gathered at the hotel and we edited our pictures and we made our selections and we submitted them to the judges and we didn’t know what happened. And then that evening, they sent us on a cable car to a yacht in the San Francisco Bay we’re taking out for an award ceremony where they would announce the winners. And it was there that not only did they announce that I won best picture story for what was submitted for the event but also first prize for the entire event.

And as a broke college student, to be told that you just won six thousand dollars in award money, while you’re on a yacht overlooking San Francisco was a pretty bizarre experience. And the coolest part was that six thousand dollars was eventually used for a down payment the first house that we ever bought as a family. 

So maybe there is a lesson in there somewhere. I don’t know. It was just kind of a fun story of what happens when you’re in those type of situations and the pressure that comes with it and what we need to pull out of ourselves and sometimes the luck that comes with it. So, we could succeed. 

So that’s my bay to breakers story. I’m going to talk to you and I’ll be back with you tomorrow!

Episode 106- How Do I Get My Spouse On Board?

How Do I Get My Spouse On Board?

So we are going to do a marriage and entrepreneurship theme today. I got a lot of questions about this, but I got one question in particular so often so I figured let’s do a podcast about it. And here is the question that I generally hear. This from an entrepreneur or somebody who want to be an entrepreneur and they’re really driven to make this work but they can’t get their spouse on board. And you might be surprised by how common this is. And this is not a gender thing like the man wants it and the woman doesn’t. I see it both ways. I see it often where it’s the wife that wants this and that husband can’t wrap his head around it or scared. So, I get the question all the time on how did I get my wife on board for this life. And the simple answer is, it wasn’t easy. 

See Elizabeth, like so many people were raised to think safely. They were raised to go to school, get good grades, follow directions, get a good job, don’t rock the boat. And so much about the  entrepreneurial life is rocking the boat. You have to, otherwise you’re not gonna stand out and you’re not gonna succeed. But how do you get somebody who went to 12 or 16 years of schooling where they were never really allowed to challenge anybody and it was ingrained in them, it was drilled into their head to get a job with benefits because that safety and that security.  And your irresponsible if you don’t do that. How do you get somebody once they are married, maybe they’ll have kids now to then be rogue and say we’re going to go start a business and we’re going to be on our own. That is a tough, tough challenge to overtake and I wish it wasn’t because I think if they saw how much more potential there is on this side and how much less scary because you control your fate. Your income is unlimited. Your time, freedom is unlimited. The only person that could stop you from doing the work you want to do generally is you. 

I just wish there was a way to get like a free trial period. You know like those 14 day, hey try for 14 days, if you don’t like it return it. I can tell you that so many of these people that are going through this and are scared and if they have a 14-day trial into this world, by the end of the 14 days, they would seriously be questioning going back to a safe and steady secure job, but there’s no way really of doing that. 

So I want to talk to you about how I essentially got Elizabeth on board to understand where I was coming from so we can live this. And also, the mistakes I made in trying so maybe I can help you avoid some of the mistakes. So, I’m gonna start with the mistakes first cause the mistakes are the most fun to talk about. The success is like okay whatever, we did this, it worked, let’s move on but mistakes are where the fun stories are.

Okay. So, what did I do wrong in the process? And here’s what I think was the main thing that I did wrong is I made about what I wanted. And that sounds like “Duh?! that is what I want.” And yeah at that point I thought the same thing. But you got to understand that generally somebody in the relationship values security and quite often the other one values freedom. And I’m gonna generalize with saying that the person that wants the freedom is generally the one that wants to start a business and go on their own and try this. And the one that wants security is frightened of it. 

So, what did I do wrong? One of the many things? What I did wrong was I just sold my side of it. I sold the freedom, I sold the travel, I sold the time freedom. The potential for more money, to do the work that we loved. To me that sounded like a slam-dunk, grand slam, put them all together to win her and in my brain, how could you say no to that? But when you say all that to somebody that values security, you’re excited and they’re frightened. Plus, the free spirits like us, we have a way of bulldozing to get what we want. So, if you want to get pushback, if you want to get to challenge, if you want to get somebody to not go along with your ideas, come along with some pie-in-the-sky crazy what seemed like an impossible dream that’s never been taught to them by either their parents or their school. Throw it on them with relentless enthusiasm and be a steamroller while you’re at it. That’s what I did. And all it did was repel Elizabeth and scare her.

So having said that, how do we flip it around to not only wasn’t she scared but she’s actually start getting excited and then start to see the possibilities and then at some point was just as excited as I was. And here’s how it happened and it happens with a lot of people this way and it’s kind of counterintuitive, but I started asking her what she wanted. What a novel idea. And warning at first it was just what we had right then because she was scared. It was very little dream involved. I was the dreamer, she was the practical one. But I started bringing what she wanted as opposed to what I wanted and she didn’t feel attacked and she can feel pressured. She slowly starts opening up about the dreams that she had had. Dreams that were suppressed, dreams that she didn’t feel very comfortable sharing. But once I gave her the room and interest in knowing what she wanted in this world, we start having conversations. 

And what happen was, over time, our dream started blending. Now maybe they weren’t as far and as extreme as I was thinking originally but man, what she was coming to was way closer to the life that I wanted and what we had. And the magical part was once it became more of what she wanted and it was more of her idea, I kind of backed away a little bit quite often and then let her come to me with what she wanted. Where are the places you want to travel to? What were the different things you want to do? I’ll be honest with you, the idea of where we went wasn’t as important as the idea that well if we can do this and she’s into it we can do anything. So maybe it is just a small trip, maybe just a small weekend trip somewhere close. But once you do that during the week and you realize “Oh Wow.” Everything that I thought you know, going on vacation Fourth of July whether it is the week or weekends or just in the summertime. Once you travel during the week in September or May when nobody else is there, you start to see Wow, there’s a whole world out there that nobody is using and we get better prices. We get more availability. Everything is better. Then once the scariness of it was gone, she was way more into all the ideas. And just getting a little bit of the taste of that was interesting because then as we did go back to our jobs and our normal life, she started saying “Yeah that would be nice if we had that time off. it would be nice if we controlled our schedule more. After having done this trip, man, we can go and travel here for longer periods of time.” 

And then we got to brainstorm together and be there as a couple in terms of dreaming and planning, were both excited equally. And once you realize we couldn’t do this without a business thriving and the time freedom and the money freedom, that’s when it was no longer scary to go build the business because she saw the fruits of what would come out on the other side. But we needed to be able to dream together on it. It couldn’t just be my idea, so getting on the same page sharing your dreams and visions, being honest about the downfalls of it, being honest about yeah, we are going to lose this. Like yeah, we’ll lose health insurance through them but do you realize we could pay for ourselves and often it’s way cheaper on our own than it is through the company. Do you realize that by having control of our own money within our own business, the tax advantage of that are so beneficial to us? Meaning we spend more money in taxes working for somebody else than we do working for ourselves because we can write off our business expense. We can plan our travel around our business, which is a complete write off and completely legit. 

Once positive after positive came out, I just need to keep my mouth shut and let her get excited about it and then start planning together. So we barely scratch the surface on this one. There are so many more directions we can go in this but hopefully this gave you just a little bit of insight, a little bit of guidance on how you as a couple can work together to build that life, that life of freedom, that life of time, money, location, freedom through self-employment. It just made me realize, we should have Elizabeth on a podcast so she can give her side on this instead of me giving her side of us and maybe even do a Q&A with her at some point, 

So, I hope that helps with marriage and entrepreneurship in getting your spouse on board and I will be back with you tomorrow.

Episode 102- It’s All About The Network

It’s All About The Network

I want to talk more today about the idea of building a powerful network because building a powerful network for me has been the number one thing that has elevated our business and our businesses over the last four to five years. Inside the Total Freedom mastermind and the community, we’ve been doing a two-month dive into the idea of building a powerful network. So, I am recording two lessons a week, for eight weeks on the start to finish of how we build our network, how they can do it and how powerful this really will be for your business. In the research that I did, I came across so many incredible stories, wildly successful entrepreneurs that have built their business through their network. And it always intrigues me and excites me when I hear stories about people that built it without the advertising machine, without spending money on all things that we were told, that we need to spend money on to build our business. That when you can build a powerful network around you and it doesn’t happen overnight. That is the first clue. But when you can do that, magical things will happen in the years to come. 

One of the stories I came upon while doing the research I have not even brought to the group yet. So, for those of you in TLF listening, this is a bonus. The stories about Tim Ferris, the incredibly successful author, entrepreneur and podcaster and his journey to success was so exciting to study. Now Ferris was in the midst of writing the Four Hour Work Week and he was successful in business but he is relatively unknown as an entrepreneur. So, as he was writing this book, instead of spending tons and tons of money on advertising and traditional media, he went a completely different route. Ferris decided to go on a conference tour. So, what he did was he went conference hopping from one conference to the next to try to meet as many influential people as he possibly could before his book release. There was absolutely no assurance that this book was gonna be successful as it already been rejected by 26 publishers at that point.

So, he decided to do this conference tour as many conferences as he can get to. He went there just to meet people, develop relationships and connect. This was Ferris’s strategy for marketing his book and one of the people that he met at the conference was a young guy named Ryan Holiday. 

Many of you might know Ryan from his book Eagle Is The Enemy or The Obstacles Is The Way or his latest that just came out which is Stillness Is The Key. But in his book The Perennial Seller, he talked a little bit about Ferris strategy and some of his tips on how to do. The first one is to never dismiss anyone. The first one is the perfect example because Holiday was only 19-year-old at the time and he was an assistant but his boss was influential and Ferris took some time with him and they got to know each other during that conference. So when he says to never dismiss anyone, his ideas is that you never know who might be able to help you in the future. So his mindset was to treat everyone like they could put him on the front page of the New York Times. So even with Holiday, who was a 19-year-old, a nobody and Ferris gave this guy time and attention and he’s writing about them in books. And this 19-year-old guy who he met is now a best-selling author talking about him over and over again. Never dismiss anyone.

The second point Holiday talks about the book in terms of affair and strategy is to play the long game. Now if you listen to this podcast enough, you know that that is what I truly believe in and I believe that most people that aren’t finding success are not finding it because they are not playing the long game. And even though they may not think they are, they’re playing desperate. When you play desperate, you play for today. You play for what you need now and anybody smart can see through that. I think we all know that it just doesn’t feel right. So, his point to do is it’s not about finding somebody who can help you right now, it’s about building relationships, real relationships, where you can help each other down the road.

The third one which I thought was really great was to focus on the pre-VIPs. These are the people that should be well known and will be well known, but they’re not yet well known. So many people are chasing after the rock stars at these conferences but you got to understand that everybody is chasing after the “ rock stars” in these conferences. And even if you meet them, which is great, it’s an ego boost, you get a picture with them, the chances are they are being hounded by hundreds of other people and they’re probably not gonna remember you. And I am not saying not to introduce yourself or try to form a relationship with them but realize that the bigger their platform is the more people that are vying for their attention. 

So Ferris and Holiday’s strategy was brilliant. To focus on the up and comers, to focus on the people that are going to be great is the key. Now that takes time and effort and work because you know the rock stars are that easy to find but is not as easy to find the people that are going to be great. But that requires paying attention, having conversations, listening and understanding where people are going and seeing what they’re doing and then going deeper from there. It is a great example to two of them because they both were in that spot when they met. Because in the grand scheme of things, this wasn’t that long ago but now they’re both New York Times best-selling authors. They are both incredibly successful, at the top of their field, but at that point there were young and unknown, both of them saw some greatness in the other one and they gave each other the time and they develop the relationship and neither one of them were expecting anything in the moment. 

And a few months after that conference, Ferris’s book, The Four Hour work Week debuted on the New York Times bestsellers list. But it wasn’t just the New York Times, he had developed so many relationships and so many connections and helped so many other people out that the media attention that came from the book was astounding. And Holiday said that almost all of the success of that book launch could be traced back to the conference tour and the network that he built while doing it. And now that book has sold millions of copies. It’s been translated into over 40 languages and is successful as it is, it still has kind of a cult following that goes along with it. That book was released in 2007, which is simply astounding to see the success of that book, the incredible rise of Tim Ferris podcast and his other books like Tools of the Titans and the Four Hour Series. I recited the line in my book the old saying the best time to plant trees is 20 years ago. The second-best time is today. And Holiday said the same thing about building a network that the best time to start building your network was yesterday but the second-best time is today and if you’re interested learning more about this and what we’re doing inside the Total Life Freedom community, go to totallifefreedom.com and click on TLF membership. 

I’ll be back with you tomorrow.

Episode 101- Why Chasing Time Freedom Is So Valuable

Why Chasing Time Freedom Is So Valuable

So, freedom is a word that we live by. It’s so important to us, it’s not the same for everybody. Some people really value security. They don’t value the autonomy or the freedom the way we do. That is what’s beautiful about this world. That’s what makes the world go round and round is that we all don’t want the same thing. 

Some people are very money focused. You know everybody’s got their own meaning. Lot of times if you grew up with very little money, it is so important to be financially set Financially set can mean way beyond what any of us might think is necessary. That’s not my place to figure out or try to even change it to be on that but I do know that freedom is valuable for us. 

You know, we say, even on the title of this podcast time, money, and location freedom. I truly believe that time freedom to us is the most valuable part. As time goes on I peeled the curtain back even more and more in terms of how that affects our life because I don’t want to give any type of impression that this is all just rainbows and unicorns and everything is just awesome all the time or always just doing great. That is certainly not accurate or true. But these different types of freedom afford us opportunities that we wouldn’t have had without it. 

I tend to overlook this sometimes because we’ve been in this world for almost 12 years now. Ever since I quit my job and we went on our own, we’ve been entirely self-employed and dependent on ourselves for income the entire time. This is what I do. This is what I teach other people to do for a living now. We don’t even photograph anymore which was our career for so many years. This is what we teach. And it’s hard to quantify in numbers what this does and how important this is because in the file world that so much about how much money you have saved to a certain point so you can live off of the rest without working. And I don’t subscribe to that theory at all. Our focus is to build different businesses with different income streams, income streams that are recurring, income sources that go up in value. I don’t understand personally the theory of “let me save as much money as I can so I don’t have to work anymore.” I just want to do work that I love doing because I’ve been in the position where I haven’t had to work. And for those of you that are scrimping and saving to get to that point, I can tell you this. It gets kinda boring. If you are driven enough that you’re gonna do that. You’re gonna be bored out of your mind thinking about not doing anything besides leisure or hobbies the rest of the time. 

So, if I don’t subscribe to that theory, why would I go along with my financial planning in that way. So, we take our money and we live the life of freedom that we want while investing back into ourselves and investing back into our businesses to make them grow. Because growing multiple businesses and income streams is a far easier way to long-term wealth and saving until a certain number than living off of the interest. But I want to give you a story from our life recently about how valuable the time freedom was for us. 

If you are new to the show, we got three boys that we homeschool and we travel a lot. We were in Arizona for three months this winter and whenever we go on the road, we called to this could be heaven or this could be hell tour because it could be either one of those, or both at the same time when you travel with three boys between the ages of 13 and 7. And that’s about what we got. So even before we left for the trip, we’re having some pretty big issues with our then 13-year-old. There are a lot of irregular things going on. There is a lot of anger and some tremendous mood swings that he was going through. It was difficult to deal with for everybody, obviously including himself. But we left the day after Christmas to go out to Arizona and we are going to be out there till April and he was excited about it. There is going to be a lot of sunshine, there would be a lot of bugs to explore but we were there for less than a week and I was upstairs on a call and I heard a scream. It was our son, our youngest son had open up the back door into his toe, and it’d bent his toenail back from his big toe and he was in excruciating pain. I mean immediately he couldn’t even walk. You could tell that the nail was gone and it probably wasn’t gonna reattach. So it was bruised, it was battered and he was limping everywhere and the pain must’ve been horrendous. 

Even before that, we’re going to a family therapist so we can help him out. He gets help that we can work as a family. We told our therapist what happened and he said that that happened to him when he was a kid and it took months, I think six months to fully heal and he wasn’t able to walk well for a few months. So, one week into this multiple month trip and his toenail get bent back and he is probably not to be able to walk during most of the trip. We went the previous year and we were hiking almost every day going to the mountains. 

So a week later, he actually have to had the toenail removed and then the healing begins but it just felt like the healing was not happening. So we are on this trip and day after day it just seems to be getting worse. And with the pain came him laying around a whole lot more because he can’t do very much. And with that came it looked like just sadness on his face, so we’d still be able to go for walks or go out and we are trying to take him with us but he didn’t really want to go so we started separating, he started being home, reading, playing games and we be with him but he couldn’t really do anything. So he started getting more down and he didn’t really want to be around us. We got to the point where there was just anger and fits and major blowups not only every day but essentially all day long. In this trip that was supposed to be just such an epic trip for our family turned into a nightmare. And it got so bad that even though we had this place rented, we were seriously minutes away from starting to pack up the car a month early because we just couldn’t do it anymore. 

For about a month we kind of felt like hostages in this house that were renting because it was volatile all the time. Elizabeth and I both had to be there just in case something went wrong. It was at this point that we started bringing him to a naturopathic doctor and realizing, after getting some bloodwork, that so many things were off inside of his body. I am not going to the details, there were some major changes that had to happen with his diet, with his sleep, with supplements and more. And there is so much more to this that I can get into but those are probably the two most difficult months we’ve ever had as a family and this is supposed to be during such an incredible trip.

But one night, when there’s some silence and there was some quiet, which was very rare at that moment, Elizabeth and I had a real moment of appreciation because we started talking about what would happen if we were both in the position that we used to be in. That position where we both work full-time jobs, we’re gone from the house and we’re on call for other people all the time. We start realizing that we thought this was kind of very hellish and if you are in the house for a few months you understand why. It was hard to see to that moment but we realize right then what freedom had done for us and we realize that doing the work when we didn’t need it led to this freedom later. When I say freedom, I mean time freedom because I was literally only committed to working about 10 hours a week. Now I can work a whole lot more than that. There’re so many more things that can be done to grow the business but when I was committed to what other people expected for me during the week amounted to no more than 10 hours. What we realize during those two months was even that was a challenge. It was stressful but got done but the thing was those 10 hours are done during live video calls. So as much as I didn’t have to work, even those 10 hours were stressful because any moment, all hell could’ve broke loose whether it was downstairs or upstairs or anywhere. And that’s only where we have to tell ourselves that freedom was so much more than money. 

Freedom is building a life that when unexpected major hurdle jumped in front of you, that it doesn’t destroy your family. Because this was something that was really tearing at the fabric of our family in real time. And one of the major reasons why we came out of it relatively unscathed was we weren’t focused on working for money, we were really able to put almost everything on pause except for our current clients and we were able to be together while it was all going on. And sometimes we overcommit ourselves to so many different things because nothing else tugging at us but when you have a situation like that, you really need to unplug just about everything just so you can keep your family together. While for Elizabeth and I to both be there at the house and have a situation where if we did have a flip out moment that one of us could take care of it, the other one could view the other two kids and we can as seamlessly as we could get back to normalcy. I don’t want to be so dramatic to say that it saved our family, but it sure did give us the opportunity to breathe together and stay together.

So my point to this episode is this. You never know what hurdles are coming up on you and so many of our heartaches come from not being prepared for when they do. This event, which would’ve cracked us and broken us in a different situation, the freedom allowed us to weather the storm as well as we possibly could. And I’m happy to report that after months and months of healing and therapy and diet changes and lack of screen time and supplements, he is doing so much better. But I want to put this out there as kind of a warning shot that if things are going well and you’re kind of just slogging through it and you’re not in any type of attack mode to get to a life of freedom, maybe you could use this as a little bit of motivation to get there. So that if something like that happens to you and I hope it never does, that you are able to weather it, you are able to get through it and you’re able to actually grow from it. And I can truly say by going through this together by going through as a family, we’re better off as a family because of it. Because it has brought us closer together and it has made me more empathetic and more understanding and hopefully a better dad. So, I’m here to show that freedom brings opportunities that you don’t even realize until you’re in the depths of it. 

Thank you so much. I’ll talk to you tomorrow.

Episode 100- The Big 100!

The Big 100!

So, this is a very special episode for me. Now, every episode I consider to be special but this is particularly special because this is the 100th episode of the Total Freedom podcast. When I hear a podcaster are doing their 100th episode, often they are about to enter their 2-year mark because they are publishing weekly. But I’m still kind of a newbie. This is the end of my third month of doing the podcast and doing it every day has opened my eyes to so many things I never thought would be possible. It’s just really kind of strange to have people reach out to you and message you about things that you talked about even just months ago. Things that I said that they took to heart and have impact and they went and did something about it. That part is still strange to me, but I want to talk to you little bit today about my approach and my mindset to doing this.

In the first month, it was really anxiety ridden. There was so much prep, so much to lead work in getting everything ready, getting a handful episodes done in advance and learning how to put all this together was really quite overwhelming. To be honest, once was really quite overwhelming and once the podcast is released, it seems like the pressure was off. The whole thing was “Am I really gonna do this?”, “Am I gonna start and then stop?”,  “Is it going to be awful?”,  “Is nobody gonna care?”, “Is nobody going to listen?” “Am I going to be able to keep coming up with a content that is to the level of what I want to be?” 

But a funny thing happened when I started because I started expecting really nobody to listen and one of my first episodes talks about that. I think it was how you gonna play in an empty room because that’s exactly what I’m expecting. But going back to the podcast about building your network, what happened was pretty amazing. I release the podcast and I did one single post on Facebook announcing it and there were ridiculous amount of comments and subscriptions and likes and downloads and all of a sudden, I noticed the numbers spiked. 

So those of you that do podcast, you know this is a sneaky little thing that can slip in if you start looking at the numbers and I admit I started looking at the numbers because immediately it looked good. And I was able to track when the most downloaded days were. I could see it dipping little on the weekends and then coming back up on Monday.  After a week or two, it became almost a little drug and about halfway through the month. I noticed that we were about 5,000 unique downloads. That was way more than I expected at an any idea, maybe even over a couple months. I had no idea what to expect but I didn’t expect 5,000 downloads the first two weeks. So I am pretty driven, I am pretty competitive when I need to be. And I was like “Man, wouldn’t it be cool if we hit 10,000 downloads for the first month?” 

So I continue to track it almost daily. Actually, more than daily, multiple times a day and we got to 8,000, 9,000 downloads and we’re a couple days away and almost to the minute of when we publish the podcast. 

I was in a flight to Orlando for podcast movement and we hit 10,000 downloads and I continued to check almost obsessively over the next couple weeks because it’s pretty enthralling to come back and see 12,000 and 13,000 and people in different countries downloading, and people in different states, all the states been downloading. Then you start tracking which cities have the most downloads in it and now you’re at 16,000 downloads and then 18,000 downloads. And then again being competitive, I am like if we can hit 10,000 downloads two months in a row, that’s pretty huge. Then again almost like clockwork, right before our second month, we jumped over 20,000 unique downloads. 

I logged out Libsyn as we host our podcast and I said to myself “this isn’t good what you’re doing right now” because I knew that I was getting wrapped up in the numbers and the point of doing this podcast was not about the numbers. The point and the purpose behind this were way different than how many downloads can I get and how much I am going to follow it obsessively as I grow it. And that day. It scared me a little because I noticed how often I went back to check. I would check it and you’d watched the downloads go up like in the moment and it’s silly and it’s ridiculous and it is vain and I understand why I did it in the beginning but I’m two months in now and I said to myself, STOP. Stop checking, at least for now, just stop because what I didn’t want to happen was for the download numbers to affect anything I do with the content of the podcast. Because if you really start diving down that road, it would be very easy to say “While this type of thing is where I got the most downloads so I am going to do more of that.” 

I know that some people in business right now that is going to say that that exactly what you should do but I don’t think I should. To me, this is my art. This is my creative control and I don’t want this to be based on anything around the numbers. I want this to be why I started and why it started taking off to begin with which was essentially record and publish what’s to your heart and what you want to talk about. And there’s something that we will publish that some people going to be like “I don’t relate to that at all” and there’s some that really hit home. But it’s not going to be a formula and it’s not going to be for the numbers.

So that day on September 12th, on my two month anniversary, I stopped looking at the numbers. But the problem is when you log into Libsyn, it shows you a graph of the downloads as soon as you login. You don’t even need to go status to check it. It is just right in front of you and I’m sure that some tech person could tell me how to get that down and to eliminate that from the screen. But the next best thing which was just a little bit less technologically savvy and what I did with every time I log into Libsyn, I hold my hand over the right-hand side of the screen so I can’t see the chart. So, every single day I login, every time I log in to upload content or new podcast or do the work in there, I make sure that my hand is up on the right-hand side blocking the chart because I don’t want to know. And the reason for this particular podcast, It’s not to toot my own horn. It’s not to talk about the amount of downloads, it is not even to celebrate hitting the milestone of 100 podcasts, the point is this is just a check point in the journey. 

When I decided to do the podcast, I wanted to a Seth Godin approach and his approach is this, Seth has written a blog for years and he writes everyday and he publishes every day. He says he never had a blog post go viral and he said what led to his success and the impact has been the fact that he has published every day for 10,000 straight days. And I’m sure if you asked him, he’s doing the best work that he could possibly do for his readers. So that was my goal. It wasn’t 10,000 because I couldn’t really grasp that. But when I started, I could grasp a thousand because a thousand straight episodes would mean that I did this consistently, day after day published at 4 o’clock in the morning every day for almost 3 years and that to me would be a huge success because I really put my effort into this, which I really am. I’m doing my best to bring the best possible work to you and I do that for three years, I have a chance of making a dent. 

So this episode again isn’t a celebration, it’s a checkpoint I personally completed 1/10 of the first goal that I set out for this podcast. And like I said in the very beginning, it doesn’t matter if it is only a couple people listening because the point is to deliver content and lessons and advice to whoever those people are whether it is 3 unique downloads or over 30,000 which we could be at right now. The point is to make an impact in the work that we do. And I’m recording this, I’m saying it’s only because if you’re listening, obviously, you’ve tuned in and I just want to say thank you because I can’t tell you how impactful it is to get a message out of nowhere from somebody who just listened to one of my podcasts or multiple episodes and they tell me that it mattered to them. 

I sit back in awe, sometimes I’ll be online and a message will pop-up whether it is through email or Facebook messenger and somebody out of the blue and says “I just listened to episode called It’s All Bonus or I listen about the night Dylan was born or the one about when you audited the classroom. I just want to thank you for doing that because it really meant something to me and to read that or to hear that is powerful. I just want to say whether it’s this or for somebody else you listen to, I can’t tell you how important it is, how special it feels when you get something like that and I try to do the same to the people that I listen to someone because I want to let them know that the work that they’re doing matters. And all I really want is for this to matter. So again, I want to say thank you for those of you who listen to one episode or 100. I am just so grateful and I wanted to say I feel like we’re just getting started. 

So thank you. I appreciate you. I’ll talk to you tomorrow.

Episode 99- Hell In The Cell

Hell In The Cell

Today’s episode and episodes like this, I’m going to call these empty calories. Cause I love to bring a story to every podcast, but I want to bring the story with the lesson something that you can come away with and you can take something from so you can use it to get better. 

But I have to tell you, there are a lot of stories that I want to tell but I don’t think they have a lesson attached to them. So, I’ve avoided recording them because I don’t know the hook would be to help you. And these stories come up sometimes in conversations and people are like “you got to tell that story to your podcast.” And I think I should but what’s going to be the hook that helps out with the lesson? So, I said to myself, these can be empty calories. This is like the doughnut or the bowl of ice cream, the stuff that tastes good but got no redeeming value. I don’t think. So, when you hear empty calories, think that there’s not a probably be a lesson tied into this, it is just going to be a fun or crazy story that’s happened in the past.

So as I’ve mentioned before, I used to be a photographer for what was the WWF which is now WWE which was the World Wrestling Federation,  now World Wrestling Entertainment. And one of most famous matches in their history was the hell the cell match between the Undertaker and a guy named Mick Foley. And that match happened in Pittsburgh in 1998, it has become so famous they actually celebrated the 20 year anniversary last year and they brought Mick into talk about that famous night, 20 years ago.

So I was hired by Tom Buchanan, who was the lead photographer the month before to start shooting with the WWF. And he gave me my schedule and on my schedule was a pay-per-view event in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. And the next night, we be heading over to the Gund Arena in Cleveland, Ohio for the Monday Night Raw live event. 

That was a bizarre night all around. I remember from the very beginning, everything kind of going wrong. David McLane, one of the photographers got into a car accident in Pittsburgh early in the day. I remember other issues of production as we got ready. Then the event started and the madness settled down and we go about our business. 

And the big anticipation of the night was the Hell In The Cell match between Mick and the Undertaker. The crazy thing is it wasn’t even the main event. The main event was the next match where Stone Cold Steve Austin would defend his title against a guy named Kane. But the Hell In The Cell match was what people are there for.

My shooting position was one level up from ringside. So, I wasn’t ringside but Tom was. And before you know it, the giant steel cage is being lowered to the ground from the ceiling and the entire crowd is booked into a frenzy. Now, before the match I was told that the Undertaker was going to throw Mick off the top of the cage onto the table below, and that was the shot that I needed to get.  

Now Mick’s character was named Mankind, and that’s the name that he was wrestling under that point so you could feel the tension and the anticipation as the ring got lowered and Mick walked into the ring holding a steel chair in his hands. Then the Undertaker’s music came on and then he came towards the ring. We know that this is all scripted but I’m telling you, it was as dramatic as you might imagine. 

So the match started with Mankind climbing up one side of the cage and the Undertaker climbing up the other side and they met at the top of the cage and the battle started right there. 

So the battle started but I’m not enjoying the match like the fans are. They are screaming and yelling and going crazy but I need to make sure that I get this shot of Undertaker throwing Mick off the cage but I don’t know where or when it’s going to happen. And adding to the drama for me is this a one-shot deal. But we are photographing with strobes which were wired in at the top of the arena and these strobes give off a big burst of light but you only get one frame to shoot before needs to recycle. So, you get one frame and it takes four seconds before you could shoot the next one. So, it truly is one-shot. 

So, they’re beating each other on the top of the ring and Mick looks like he’s winning and the undertaker turns it around and I fire a frame. And as soon as I do the Undertaker grabs Mick by his hair and by his pants and he proceeds to toss him off the top of the cage into a table at ringside. And as he was to toss him, I fire frame, but I knew the strobe didn’t go off and I knew I didn’t get the shot. So, I’m feeling sick to my stomach. I know that when this is all done I better go back and explain that I didn’t get the picture that I need to get. 

The match continues, but we also knew that Mick was going to recover and at some point in the match, they’re going to be back on top of the cage and the Undertaker’s going to slam Mick into the top of the cage and it’s going to fall through and Mick will going to land on the ring inside. So I knew I needed to get that picture as well. So, Mick recovers to get back to the top of the cage. They’re battling again and this was after Mick got let off on a stretcher and then came back to meet Undertaker on top. With a couple seconds of fighting, the Undertaker lifted up Mick in his choke slam and threw him down into the top of the cage. And the cage gave way and Mick fell 16 feet, crashing into the floor of the ring. Now I did get that picture and that was supposed to happen, but what wasn’t supposed to happen was that the folding chair that Mick had with him was not supposed to come down with him. And when Mick landed hard onto the canvas, the folding chair landed hard into his teeth and that was not supposed to happen. 

So, this fight went on for another 15 minutes and I remember while shooting, I was looking around and I’d been to so many events in my lifetime and photograph them, but I’d never remembered a crowd as entranced, as engaged and at multiple times stunned by what they are watching. And after more craziness including Mick bringing out a bag of tax, well they were real tax because I felt them, and then again being choke slammed into a pile of tax that were sticking out of his body. I’m sorry from grossing out with this, it is just what happened. He mercifully was pinned and mercifully lost the match to the Undertaker about 20 minutes in. As Mick was carried and helped out the ring, I caught my breath but I looked down and I saw my boss, Tom, looking up at me and pointing for me to go back to the locker room. And he had a serious look on his face like “you better go now.” 

So I ran down, I hopped over the wall, I headed towards backstage and I was flashing my press pass and I got backstage in record time. I found the locker room so I can get pictures of Mick after what was obviously an iconic battle to be remembered. So I headed back in the locker room and there is Mick laying there on a small little bed and a bunch of doctors looking at him and a few people all around. And they tried pushing me away but I told them I need to be there so they let me in and I was literally a foot away from Mick. As I started working on him. 

That’s going to get a little bit gross here. So if you can’t handle it. Stop listening now. 

But when that chair came crashing down on Mick, it’d knocked out a few of his teeth. But even worse and it can get a little more gross so I warned you. But two of the teeth that push through his upper lip and one went into his nose. I’m photographing all this and all of a sudden, I hear commotion. And to my right. The Undertaker, comes walking into the room to check up on Mick. I could see the Undertaker was concerned. He is asking about Mick’s feeling and Mick smiled at made kind of joke to the Undertaker and then he looked at him and said “Did you give me the tombstone?”, which is Undertaker’s signature move and I look to Undertaker, he is sweating on me because he’s right on top me and Undertaker says “Are you serious?” And Mick said “Yeah.” He goes “I did it to you twice.” And Mick laid back down as they work on him. It was obvious that he had a concussion.

And the night just continues to the most bizarre fashion because what was supposed to be the highlight of a pay-per-view event which is the heavyweight championship. Steve Austin lost his title that night to Kane but nobody remembered it and nobody even seemed to care. As everybody left the arena, all they could talk about was the performance in the Hell In the Cell match. 

And I knew it was a classic but I never knew that 21 years later, people would still be asking me about that match and so many questions about it. But what I found so impressive was this. After a rough night sleep in Pittsburgh, we drove to Cleveland the next night for the Monday Night Raw Event and we were there way early because everybody was just jacked up from the night before. And were talking and of all people, Stone Cold Steve Austin, heavyweight champion comes up to us as were chatting and we’re talking about Mick and Undertaker and the whole performance that happened. They said the most incredible moment happened as that match ended and Steve and the other guys were saying, everybody was watching the match on the monitors backstage and when the match ended, all the wrestlers collectively gathered at the entrance where the wrestlers exit and enter backstage. And as Mick was carried back to the locker room, for the only time that any of them can remember, they all collectively surrounded Mick and gave him a standing ovation and they said that nobody ever remembered that happening at any other time besides that night.

So those are my empty calories. There’s no lesson there. It’s just a fun crazy story that I want to share with you. I hope you’re not too grossed out after that, but it is what happened. 

Thanks for listening through that and I’ll talk to you tomorrow!