Ep 138-Watching The Wheels

Watching The Wheels

So, I try to get personal in this podcast, I want to open up and want to be real and honest. I won’t have a filter to what’s going on compared to what I present to you. That’s why I always want to bring what I’m learning, I’m discovering I’m struggling with, and what we’re dealing with so you can see what life is really like over here on. I’ll be honest, it’s kind of odd building a platform, it’s kind of odd having these people listening to the show that you produce and you just put it out then all of a sudden people are listening and they know what’s going on with your life. They know stories about you that you have forgotten because you recorded it and moved on but they just listened to it five minutes earlier. And I got that first when I wrote the book but the podcast has been a lot different. It’s been a lot more intimate and the response to be honest with you was overwhelming.

I did an episode a couple weeks ago, I think it was the 100th episode and I talked about I don’t check the status of the podcast because I don’t want to be influenced by it. But the problem is I need to cover up my screen to not see my stats when I login to Libsyn. And I mentioned that Nick Michaels, who listens to the show work for Libsyn told me there’s not a way for me to get rid of that because most people aren’t trying to hide their stats and they are trying to see more of their stats. So, I need to go about covering it up just so I’m not thinking about and I’m just concentrating on the content. 

But what happened Halloween night as I was scheduling the next episode, I didn’t cover it up enough and I saw a little bit of what the stats where. After I saw that, I thought I did something wrong and cheated and peak at something that I shouldn’t look at. But I saw the numbers and after initial disappointment because I saw it, it sunk in that in the month of October we had over 13,500 unique downloads just for the month for the Total Life Freedom podcast. It just blows my mind. So maybe I’ll make a habit of looking once a month, the end of the month and then I’ll move on. 

With all this, I am a driven person, I like to succeed. I like to accomplish things. I like to help people. I know it is cliché but I truly don’t feel like I’m working. I think I’ve done enough crappy jobs and pivoted my way out of different ones and start things I really want to do that truly that as everything grows, I only do the work that I want to do and I eliminate it as quickly as possible the things that I don’t want to do. So, there’s good and bad to that. The good is exactly that I get to do the work that I love to do but the bad is sometimes it’s hard to stop. Because when you get to help people for living. When you see their lives changing. When you see them building their businesses. When you see people like Andy Storch selling out his conference. People like John quitting his job and crushing his business. People like Jennifer Harshman getting huge editing clients. People like David Rhodes taking his skills, things that they weren’t sure of and turning it into something that is right up his alley, helping people create membership sites with the membership. When you see people doing this and you having some type of effect on that, it is somewhat addicting. But I have a wife and we have three kids and they are the most important people in my life. 

So, our vision when we started this was to not let the business take us away from our family. So, I think we do a really good job of that. But there is a certain amount of guilt and frustration that comes with that because there are days I feel very frustrated. To be fully honest, there are days I feel resentful. I feel resentful that I can’t put in the work that sometimes I feel like I should be putting in. It is not that I can’t, it’s that I choose not to because were at this place where if we put that time in, if we really want to make this platform explode, we have everything ready to do it. But getting bigger was never the goal. Becoming an influencer quote unquote was not something I sought at and it’s not something I’m even actively seeking. 

What you’re putting in the podcast, you’re putting out to the world. The reason why I’m doing that is I have so many different ideas and thoughts and things I’ve learned that I shared with them. I run communities with my own mastermind, but truly nowhere else. I felt this logjam that I got to put it out there somewhere and this was the outlet. it wasn’t to be a star. So that is the  push and pull the comes with this. Whenever I’m confused, whenever I feel myself being pulled more towards the work and more towards just being bigger than other people’s versions of success, I think of the song Watching the Wheels by John Lennon. And when I’m really struggling, I will pull that song up and I will play it. I will just sit here in my office and I just listen to it. I get people all the time telling me that you could take this and turn it into that and growth and just really going after it. it’s hard because I tell myself I have the life that we want now and it is getting better. It’s not about bigger. And I think of some lines from the song, 

When I tell them that I’m doing fine. 

Watching shadows on the wall. 

Don’t you miss the big-time boy. 

You no longer on the ball. 

I’m just sitting here watching the wheels go round and round. 

I really love to watch them roll 

And that’s how I felt even at the last couple years, but I want more than anything more than business success is the ability to raise our kids the way that we want to raise them. I see so many people getting caught in the trap, the work, the money and the stuff trap and they work so hard when their kids are teenagers. They just want to provide a better life and it so noble. But I make it a habit to talk to people that are a lot older than I am. I make it a habit to ask them questions. When you see them and they have the money, they have the house and the kids are gone, they will tell you I would trade all of this money right now to have been with my kids more back then. That’s why the episode I did about Parkinson’s law is so special and so important because those of us that are driven to have the business ideas and the goals, I think we can still do it. I think it’s still possible to do without sacrificing the time with our family because I don’t think it’s going to be success if we blow up this platform of Total Life Freedom is everywhere and I am like Gary V showing up in your Facebook feed every second and I’m traveling all over the world to talk to people and I’m out with my kids. That is success for him but it’s not for me.

But I just want you to know that I struggle with this big time. I can’t tell you how many times that I just need a cabin overlooking the lake for a week. Just give me a week to get so much of the stuff out and I’ll come back calm, come back collected but I know it’s not the truth. I know even if I did that I have even more ideas. The struggle will be the same if not greater. And I just had to tell myself that there’s going to be plenty of time to grow the business, to go speaking, to do all these things later but to not sacrifice this time with the kids now. But I know if I wasn’t doing the work that I love doing, I would feel dissatisfied tremendously. So, the balancing act, the wire that I walk on is making sure the work that I do is exactly the work I want to do for the right people and doing it as efficiently as I can with my time and not wasting time on work that doesn’t matter. And that’s the rub for so many people that I talked to is they’re spending so much time on work that to them that doesn’t matter. 

So, for me I’m fine not the biggest. I’m happy to be underground doing this. Our grassroots way and I am still doing the work I love to do. But if you strive for life doing the work that you love to do while not sacrificing the time with your family, that’s what we’re striving for here. And if it hits a nerve, I am happy to have brought this to you. I will keep building this slowly but surely but I am not gonna miss watching the wheels go round and round because I really do love to watch them roll. 

I will talk to you tomorrow.

Episode 137- What Is Your First Memory Of Money?

What Is Your First Memory Of Money?

A while back I heard a conversation. I can’t remember where I heard it from and I don’t like to talk about something where I can’t give credit to where the source came from but I can’t remember. They were talking about your first memories of money and also about how your first memories of money really shape your attitude towards money. And your mindset and even your relationship with money as you grow older. I didn’t think it was surprising but I thought it was very interesting. I thought what was my first memory of money and what is your first memory of money? Is it scarcity? Is it abundance? Is it money doesn’t grow on trees? Or, is it something different from that? And I can tell you my first memory of money and I didn’t think about until I heard this person talking about what your first memories of money are. And this was the first time I thought about this and maybe I need therapy for this or to get this out. So, I am going to tell you mine but I’d also love to know what yours are and to see if you have any correlation to the way that your life is now or the way you think about money or the way you handle money and maybe there’s a connection there.

When I was really young, my parents would take us to church. I was young I was probably four years old and we still lived in Queens. I still remember the church felt really narrow. The stained-glass windows with the light coming in from the right-hand side. We were in the pew on the right-hand side, the aisle. I remember that distinctly. They were passing around the collection tray to collect money for the church and obviously this happened every week and I’m sure I experienced it before, but this is the one that burned into my brain. so, they’re passing this thing around and it’s in front of me. I see it being passed around. I see people putting the money into the tray. It’s almost like this wicker basket with this green felt on top of the wicker. 

So, I am sitting there next to my brother and I’m kind of mesmerized watching this thing get passed around. With each movement, another person put more money into it. They pass along and I am just staring at it and it makes a turn to comes down to our aisle. So, I am staring at it but I am not staring at it for the money. I am not even old enough to equate what’s going on there with that. But I am staring at the green felt and the way the light was hitting it. It looks so interesting to me as the fabric. It goes to my mom and my mom put money into it and it passed along to me. And I reached my hand into the basket only to feel this green felt because that felt looks so interesting to me. It looked cozy and looked comfortable and I just want to rub it. But as I reached my hand in there, the feel of felt, both my mom and my dad grabbed my arm and they seem mad at me and they both just give me a look and I didn’t understand what they were mad about. Obviously, the basket went past me and went to the next people. By the time it got to the next aisle, one of them said to me you don’t take the money. I was really confused because I remember thinking I wasn’t taking the money. So, I remember getting really confused after that. I remember feeling like I did something wrong but I didn’t even know what I did wrong so I was really confused.

So, when I heard these people talk about what is your first memory of money. That’s the first story that comes up with the first feeling for me that comes up with the first memory of money is shame. This is kind of going through therapy as we were talking because I felt bad for something that I’ve didn’t even tried to do. I just want to feel the felt and they thought I was reaching in the take money out of the collection. And I didn’t even have interest in the money. What I do with it and how would I get away with that anyway? And it really is quite interesting as I think about my relationship with money as I grew up, and then later on, I wound up stealing from different jobs that I worked. I wound up getting arrested for stealing as a teenager. And the shift about how money became important after all that stuff happened an learning how bad that was what I did and now ironically teaching about it, and there really is the correlation there because I felt like a thief. I felt like a thief when I didn’t even try to steal money and I felt like it because it seemed like to have an expectation that I was going to steal the money. And sometimes when you’re expected to be a certain way, the boundaries are broken down and you become that because you believe that you. And this is not blaming my parents for that at all. That’s not what this is about. I am saying that I felt like a thief. At that age, I didn’t even know it was possible to steal money. I didn’t think anybody would do something like that. But then I went to do something like that, something that was innocent and that was the response. I think back in how I didn’t get along with my parents through my teenage years and as I speak this out as I think about this, I wonder did I steal later to get attention. Because I reached in there to feel the felt, but it seemed like I was stealing and I got attention when I did that. I got serious attention. 

Growing up and having these conversations with my parents as we gotten older and battling two different issues. My biggest issue growing up as I never felt like I got enough attention. And I think that’s why now as we raise our kids the time component is so important to me because I have good parents but I always wanted my dad to be there more. I always wish there were more conversations and more time together. I think I always miss that. It feels kind of like a revelation talking about this because is it possible that first memory of money, that subconsciously I felt that when I do stuff like that, I’m getting attention which at that time, I felt like I wasn’t getting that. I know as I got older and became a teenager when I stole and I got in trouble, I got attention. Now it wasn’t good attention but I think when you feel empty there, bad attention is better than little attention. 

So, it’s quite remarkable when you start thinking about these things and this formative years in our life and things we wonder like why we act this way? Why do I do these things? Or, why do these people do these things? And those years, even the most seemingly benign conversations, like what happened at church, my parents were just doing what any parent would do like hey you can’t grab that money. And what else would they be thinking if you stick your hand into a pile of money. So, I find these things really fascinating because it’s these conversations that really help you figure out who you are, why you become who you are and that gives you the fuel to figure it out to get better. So, I want you to figure it out. I want you to be curious and you remember what your first memories of money were. Was it generosity? Was it somebody who give you something that you didn’t have to make you feel the world’s a great place and I want to be like that? Was it scarcity where you know the saying, money doesn’t grow on trees? And now you’re in your 30s or 40s and you’re still acting the same way. I’d love you think about maybe you can have a revelation and hopefully you’ll be better off for it as well because I’ve been. But that’s that. A little therapy session from me to you and I will back with you tomorrow.

Episode 136- I Just Want To Hang Out With Cool People

I Just Want To Hang Out With Cool People

I want to thank, give credit to and give a shout out to my buddy Jamie Slingerland. Jamie and I have been friends for three or four years, maybe. Him and wife, Ruthie and their four awesome kids live in Franklin, Tennessee and every time I come through Nashville and Franklin, they are just the greatest host. They welcome me in. They welcome us with open arms. They taught me so much about how to be a great host. Jamie is an online entrepreneur, selling stuff on Amazon. Him and Ruthie are both coaches and Jamie is part of the Entrepreurial Family Man Podcast with a bunch of other friends of mine, Chris Niemeyer, Michael McGreevy and Chris McCluskey. 

A little over a year ago, I got hired by Nick Elkins to do the opening keynote speech at the Association for Talent Development in Tampa Florida. So, as we look to do with this freedom lifestyle, well okay how do we build this around our family? And the speech as it turned out, was the day after our son Nolan’s 11th birthday. But fortunately, we can work from anywhere. We homeschool. So, we said let’s make this a family adventure to Tampa.

So, it turned out that Jamie and his family were already going to be in Tampa, in Indian Shores on vacation the exact same time. So, we talked to him about it and it turned out that where they were renting a place for the week, there was a place right next to it that was also available. So, I like to move quick in these situations, I don’t want to over think anything. Let’s just get something going. Let’s get there. Let’s not let this fall through the cracks. So, boom boom boom. Next thing we know we’ve rented the place next to them for a week. We talk to Nolan, you know you can have your birthday at the beach. They’ve got a pool there. We could invite the Slingerland’s. We know some of the people there. That could be a pretty sweet birthday and he was all for it. Essentially, the next thing we know we are gathered around the pool, the place we were staying. It’s our family, the Slingerlands, the entire Niemeyer family. Andy Storch, his wife Cortney and their kids came over from Orlando and Nolan instantly get this awesome birthday party at the pool down by a pier fishing, playing shuffleboard like old people and it was an unexpected blast. 

But while these kids were running in and out throughout the day, actually the day before that as well, I still had the speech that I’m gonna give that I’ve never given before.  So, every chance I get, I am sneaking up to our place and I’m rehearsing, talking about it and thinking about what to say. I’m just getting everything down so I wasn’t nearly as relaxed as everyone else does. I had this thing on my mind for the next day. And finally, around 6 o’clock or 7 o’clock, the party winds down. We are all at the pool hanging out there but really just the adults at that point because the kids were fishing. Jamie was being as inquisitive self and he was asking how I felt about it. What I am going to talk about. He was just interested. He gave me a really good piece of advice in terms of my speech but I won’t dive here because it is irrelevant to the story. But he basically gave the idea on how to end on a really clean simple note and I was lacking that. 

We start talking about friendships and life and so many things beyond business or speech. If you know Jamie, he is one of the fun guys. You can hang out and there’s always jokes. We can get really serious on our conversation but it’s always laughter and fun wherever he goes. And he said a real simple saying to me that I don’t even think you realize how impactful it was to me and it really is simple but powerful. And from that moment on, I’ve been able to use that. I’ve been able to craft that in my own head for not just my personal life and friendships but how I do business and more importantly who I do business. So, Jamie if you are listening, this is probably the first time you’re hearing this because I don’t think I have I’ve ever told you this. 

I remember being in the pool. I remember Elizabeth and Ruthie sitting there and talking by the edge. Jamie and I were just sitting there chatting and he looked at me and he goes, I just want to hang out with cool people. Like I said it wasn’t a deep, profound statement but I think most people overcomplicate things and I don’t think they realize how hard it is to make something smart also simple. And he happened to make something very smart, very simple, which is I just want to hang out with cool people. That stuck in my head and rang around in my head for a while. I realized I was doing a good job with it in my personal life. I was doing a good job with it with my friendships. I was hanging out with cool people but I slowly realize that I wasn’t doing the same thing to the same level when it came to the people that I was working with in business. 

Now I know a lot of people will say that it is not the best mindset for ROI and for growth to your business and the whole thing about business not personal but to me the work that I do, business is personal. I kept thinking about what he said in the pool. I said something to myself that I just want to work with cool people. I can tell you it didn’t take that long to start implementing this because I took everything out of the equation. I look at things in terms like do I like this person? Do I want to be working with this person? And what I realized was the one I did not want to work with, the ones that I didn’t consider cool to hang around with, they were either the ones that was most dramatic, had the most problems that they brought consistently and they were the ones that brought the least amount of joy to the work that I did. 

So slowly but surely, I started allowing those people to go either one way or the other whether it’s with one-on-one coaching or with masterminds or with memberships. To me, the most important things, especially those last two is the quality of the community. When you get rid of the abrasive ones. When you get rid of the ones of the most drama. You get rid of the ones that don’t do the work and always make you stress, the ones that make you feel like you care more than they do. When you start getting rid of them, your work life gets better and not only does your work life get better but the people within your community appreciate you doing that. Because to me it makes the community more generous. It makes it more helpful. Most importantly it makes it more fun. And I realize that I’ve learned that it’s hard to have fun with people that you don’t think are cool. So that one line that he said, a throwaway line that had nothing to do with business while we are at the pool had an impact on us the way we do business. And in turns made our community that much stronger and that much closer. And the reason why I do this shoutout is simple, I should be doing the shutouts. I’ve been given a gift of this opportunity to do this podcast for you. And you took the time to listen, which I so greatly appreciate. Because I think that there is about 800,000 other podcast you could be listening to and I consider it my responsibility to showcase the people in my life that helped me and that can also help you. 

So, thank you to Jamie for the lesson you taught me. Thank you to you for listening. You don’t even know how much I appreciated and how wonderful and special it feels to wake up and get a message from somebody, to get an email from somebody telling you how much they loved an episode of my show and how they related to something and that means the world to me. So, if you’ve ever got something tell me, something I’m doing well, something most especially I could be doing better, email me and I will email you back. I love getting them and my email is vincent@freelancetofreedombook.com. So, there you go and I will talk to you tomorrow.

Episode 135- Make Something Out Of Nothing

Making Something Out Of Nothing

Back in 2015, which is only a couple years ago but to me it seems so much longer ago, that year I am still such a huge sports fan but that was the year that kind of broke me. I’ve been a fan forever, and I always watch games on TV almost every night. There was some type of game it was on that I was paying attention to and it fainted for a couple of  years and it was getting less and less. But 2015 was different because two of my favorite team, the New York Rangers and the New York Mets were both on the cusp of winning a world championship and later in the year the Mets lost the World Series to the City Royals and is really after that series that I said I give up. I’m not spending more time being a devoted fan to these teams who take so much time off and so much money and so much emotional energy of staying up and rooting for these teams I have no impact on the outcome. 

I think for years sports was an escape. For me, it gave me something to attach to as I look back on it but that’s the year that I really stopped caring and ironically enough, we have more business success. I have more mental clarity and breakthroughs and more quality family time intentionally than ever before. So, I guess that’s the conclusion that came from doing that. But early in the year, the New York Rangers were also chasing a championship. And the year before, they made all the way the Stanley Cup finals. They lost to Los Angeles Kings and I was already kind of burnt out from watching somebody postseason games and being so emotionally caught up with it. and they made it back to the conference finals. We wouldn’t watch the games live. We would record the games and we watch the next morning while we ate breakfast together and I’d fast-forward through commercials. So that is a little bit better use of our time. If I want to justify it that way. 

But it turns out that Nolan who was seven years old at time, for some reason took a liking to the Tampa Bay Lightning. I don’t know why but I think it was their logo. We also didn’t even watch hockey on TV as much as we would just watch the highlights but the lightning became his team. So, at the beginning of the playoffs he asked me, is there any chance the lightning can play the Rangers in the playoffs? We looked at him and say yeah if they win their next two series and the Rangers win their next series, they will play each other in the conference finals. And I said to Nolan if the Rangers play the lightning in the conference finals, we will go to a game. 

So, it was kind of fun, we wake up in the morning. We watch the highlights and the Rangers kept winning and the Lightning kept winning. all the sudden we woke up one morning and the Rangers and Lightning both won and there they were both going to the Eastern conference finals. So now I am scrambling trying to find a ticket to Madison Square Garden for the two of us and I tell you, it was not cheap. This wasn’t even in the Stanley Cup yet the tickets were no cheaper than $750 a ticket at Madison Square Garden. But I said to myself that I grew up in New York and I have been there a million times and Nolan’s been there a couple of time visiting my family, what do tickets in Tampa look like? I couldn’t believe how cheap the tickets in Tampa were compared to New York. Before I know it, we have two tickets for the Rangers-Lightning game six playoff game in Tampa, two airline tickets and hotel booked right across the arena. But the interesting part of the story today is this has nothing to do with sports what I am going to talk about. This is about constantly trying to make something out of nothing. Because as excited as I was going to be game with Nolan, Nolan was so excited to go to Tampa which he has never been before and go fishing. 

We got in two days early so we get a full day to do whatever we wanted with before the next day’s game. And even as we were flying and we’re looking down the water, he kept talking about if we can go fishing there. And I said I don’t know but it’s possible and we’ll find out. So, we got in and we’ll have such a good time walking around Tampa. The day before the game was Memorial Day and we had it free to do whatever we wanted. And the only thing he want to do was fish. So, we’re staying at the Marriott downtown and we set out to explore and find a good fishing spot for us to go and little did I know that downtown Tampa is not a hotspot for fishing. We’re in the bay and nobody really was fishing down there. They told us that if we will go fishing, we want to go to Clearwater beach or somewhere out there and Nolan wants to stay local. He wasn’t sure about it. So, let’s try to figure it out here. So, he was getting kind of frustrated because we couldn’t even rent fishing rods, there’s really not many places to rent them and being that it is Memorial Day, some of the shops were not even open. 

So, we asked the people in the front desk and they felt bad because there really was nowhere for them to even recommend us to go to. So, I am scrambling to figure how can we get this to and how can we get rods and just get out of here to fish a little bit. So, I talked back with the guy in the front desk and asked him one more question and he said we might have a hard time finding bait and nothing’s really open but hang on a second. He went to the restaurant and got some frozen shrimp for us. We put them in a container and he say, listen, this can help you out so if you get a rod, at least you have some bait that you could use. So that kind of energized us to go on an adventure. 

So, armed with nothing but frozen bait and energy to make this work, we started walking all around by the pier and the little shops around the hotel to figure out a way somehow to get some fishing done. We walked back and forth across the bridge and we found a little ice cream place, stop and got a little treat to talk it over. Then we walked down by the pier, still holding his container of almost frozen shrimp and it was there that Nolan found a little hook from a fishing rod. It was just a hook with a little bit of string attached but it was the next piece of the puzzle. Making that discovery got him excited. So now we got shrimp and we got a hook. I was like okay let’s go. 

So, we just kept walking and in late May at Tampa, it starts getting hot.  So, we we’re really warm walking all around ourselves but it was really this fun adventure we had no idea what was going to happen. We’re the only ones walking around, a hot day downtown on a holiday, we pretty much owned the place. There was a one shop that was open that sells T-shirts and flip-flops, all things like that so we thought maybe we could find a rod there. And as usual, they did not sell fishing rods. Nobody else seemed to. The guy looked at Nolan as he saw his face and saw his disappointment and Nolan told him that he got a bait and got a hook. He just needs some string and needs a rod. The guy said, well I can’t get you a rod but hang on one second. And we’re waiting and about three minutes later he comes back out with a half-smile and a roll of fishing line. He looked at Nolan and said how much do you need? Nolan smiled and shrugged his shoulders and the guy said I’ll get you enough. So, he unrolled the fishing line to a generous amount, he cut it off and gave it to Nolan. We walked out that shop and like this is starting to come together. We got the hook, got the line and we got some kind of bait. We just need the rod. We kept going back and forth same areas looking for something that could be a fishing rod. Maybe a stick, maybe a pole. He was so determined to get this done. We didn’t even stop for lunch. I was so hungry. He just wanted to keep going. 

Now it is getting to be late afternoon and we’re underneath the bridge where all the debris washes up and he scream of excitement. He said dad I think I got it. There was a long piece of wood that washed ashore. A strong piece of wood and we bend it and it seemed sturdy. We found some shade and we try to put all of it together. We have our rod, have a fishing line. We attached that and we attached the hook. We had our bait. We looked at each other and we’re ready to go. We kind of sneak around because there’s no place that was open just for public fishing. Who knew? But we went off the pier by this restaurant and we started to fish. There was this one fish, he just kept coming up to his line, coming so close but it would never bite. We went up naming him Mr. Pesky because he was bothering us the entire time but he would never bite. Then finally, eventually one little fish bit and Nolan got his fish and he was just ecstatic. We threw him back in quickly and we used up all the bait and we walked back to the hotel. We got cleaned up because we smell like fish and bay water and the rest of the trip was filled with chasing lizards and the Rangers demolishing the Lightning 7-2. Even though the Lightning did wind up winning the series but Nolan always remembers about that trip and mentions it is not the game or flight or the meals or even the fish that he caught, he remembers how much fun it was going around and figuring out how to put together that fishing rod. It is an example that he brought to more than once when he’s been frustrated with the progress on what he is working on. Because we need those experiences to teach us how to do it in the future. And what he learned was you can make something out of nothing and if you could do it then, why can’t you do it now. 

There’s a resilience that comes with making something from nothing. From taking a business or just an idea and turning it to something that makes profit and helps people. There’s something powerful that comes to that because once you do it once, you undoubtedly can do it again. It’s just we stop ourselves because we don’t believe. So, if you don’t think you can make something out of nothing, go do it even in the smallest way. Go make a fishing rod for yourself. Go create something to prove that you can do it so you can do it again on a bigger scale and keep doing that until you never doubted again. I will talk to you tomorrow.

Episode 134- I Hope You Get What I Got

I Hope You Get What I Got

So, our kids love one-on-one time at Barnes & Noble. Especially when it starts getting cold out. It is the great little getaway. Barnes & Noble is one of my favorite hangouts, especially when we lived in Evansville. You never know what type of Barnes & Noble you are gonna get where you live. Each one’s a little differently and we got so lucky in Evansville that they had a whole second level upstairs with this little looks and crannies and these comfortable chairs. 

Before we had kids. I would just hideaway and spent hours just reading books. It was my secret hiding spot. I am not sure if they’re all doing this but in our local Barnes & Noble here in Pittsburgh, they keep taking away all the comfortable chairs. Maybe it’s because of people like me who just camp out there and just get a coffee or pretzel and read a book. Maybe they caught on to that. They start replacing the comfortable chairs with more uncomfortable wooden chairs so I spend less time there than I used to. But the kids love going there and I love that they want to be around books even though they go back to the toy section more often than they go to the books right now. We often spent a couple hours there just roaming around and I love bookstores, I always have whether it is a small mom-and-pop store even the Barnes & Noble. I’m just a book fan. 

Last winter, when we were there, the three of us, I had an interesting encounter with a gentleman there. He is a pleasant enough guy but it taught me a lesson. Nolan and Dylan were playing by the Legos and they were checking how much money they had. They wanted to get something for themselves. Like any kid who had too much hot chocolate, Dylan had to go to the bathroom. There is a gentleman behind me walking and he must’ve been in the 70s and 80s, he saw Dylan come running and Nolan getting a little excited. I smiled and he said something to the effect of I understand what you’re going through, I got two boys myself. 

I always love those conversations and I look forward to it because I usually get a nugget of something that I can learn about being a better dad. There is a ton of wisdom from people who’ve already raised kids especially for us who have to raise boys. He said something interesting to me. He said I hope you get what I got and I was excited about this because I was really curious about where he is going to go with it. We were outside the bathroom and waiting for the kids come out. And I said tell me what you mean. I don’t think he heard me the first times and he repeatedly said I hope you get what I got. And he got really probably and he said he had a nuclear engineer and a doctor. I was kind of taken aback. I was not expecting that answer. I said good for you and congratulations. And he emphasizes how important it was for them to have those jobs. I look at him and waited and thought how I should reply to him. I said, I’m not worried about that. I just want them to do work that they love. 

He looked at me and I wasn’t sure if I should response. He smiled and said, you know one of my boys had a real passion for history and one of his teachers said to him do history as a hobby but be a doctor and he did the money sign with his fingers. I smiled and I didn’t say anything else. That is pretty much the end of it and Dylan came out of the bathroom and Nolan followed. 

We went and played around Barnes & Noble for the rest of the time. I kept thinking about that and I kept thinking about our culture and the mindset. There’s nothing wrong with what he is talking about. He is very commendable. A nuclear engineer and a doctor. In this society, that’s about as high as you can get right? By societal standards but it’s not something that I wish for my kids and I don’t care about that. If that’s something that they want to do and they get there, I’ll be so proud of them. I’ll be the biggest cheerleader. But I do get the feeling that there’s an expectation or a push towards that in a certain household, like essentially that is what success is. And the idea of yeah do history for a hobby but be a doctor for the money and it is interesting because that’s what we all strive in the society’s right? to be a doctor. But it’s interesting that the average doctor’s lifespan is 58 years old because of the stress that comes with the job and the hours and the way insurance is now and the regulations. Honestly, it’s not something that I am not smart enough to go towards. And it’s not something that any of our kids have shown any interest in either of those professions. 

So, I think for this gentleman, if our kids change course and became doctors and nuclear engineers, that’s success. And doing what they want as a hobby which will eventually fade out because if you don’t do it, it just dies out. That really wouldn’t matter because you got that job. I think after everything I’ve gone through, I was surprised to hear that but I really shouldn’t be because I think that what’s schools and our culture teaches and tells us. Go be a doctor. Go be a lawyer. Go be an engineer and for the, to say it that way, which was I hope you get this, which makes it seem that if they don’t get that, they’re not successful. You know I was proud of what I said. I chose not to go further in the conversation because I don’t think he would’ve gotten it. But I don’t care if my kids become a doctor or nuclear engineer. I don’t care about that. I care that they do work that they love to do that helps other people and that energizes them and that it fulfills their purpose. And that really doesn’t have anything to do with what the job is, it has to do with how they want to do it and what they want to do. And I thought it was just a really interesting conversation and I love the fact that even just standing in line going to the bathroom you could talk to somebody and have a brief conversation and different point of views but we can learn so much from it. 

Those are the conversation that really made you think I mean was I wrong? Is he right? Am I right? Is it a combination of both? Or we’re both right in our own ways because he’s right in his life and that’s perfect for him but I imagine, actually I know that we’re not going to push our kids into a certain profession because that’s where the money is. And time will tell if we are doing this right. I think we’re on the right track but I’m curious. I kind of wonder what would it have been like if we grabbed a cup of coffee and chat about what success is. Is it about money? Is it about time? Does the idea of time freedom have any value to him? Does the idea of controlling your own destiny, owning your business, owning your schedule, is that something that this guy would find valuable? Because to me that is tremendously more valuable than more money. So, I just personally want to have more of those conversations not to be right and not to get my point across, just because I love to learn. I love to learn what people are thinking and I do love to bring a different point of view that they might not have heard and I love to hear other points of view that I haven’t heard. 

So, I challenge you to have this conversation with people that don’t think just the way that you do. Cause if you put yourself in a bubble whether career wise or politically or faith-based, you’ll be around people that only think like you but you’re not going to challenge to not only explain what you’re doing but to understand why other people are doing what they do. So, it is just something to think about but for you I don’t hope you get what I got, I hope you get what you want. I’ll talk to you tomorrow.

Episode 133- Get Out Of The Crowd

Get Out Of The Crowd

It’s obvious that we are all individually shaped by our personal past. Things that happen to us that we remember, that nobody else went through and things that we watched at a certain moment in our life that affected us in a way that somebody else watching it might not have affected them at all. This is why advice can be so difficult to hear when you’ve gone through things that other people haven’t and you are affected by things in ways that other people aren’t. And this is good and bad. That’s why thing so often there is no cookie-cutter answer. There is not a step-by-step formula often because each of us are going to handle things differently because of what we’ve experienced in the past. So, with the show I try to bring a lot of things to that shape me from my past so you can see where I am personally coming from, the lessons I’ve learned and can hopefully help you. And I encourage you to write these down to record them even just for yourself, because you truly get an understanding of who you are when you do get these things out. So, this show is for you but also for me as well. It’s therapy for me because I continue to think on stories and ideas and things that shaped me when I go forward into lessons that I’ve learned that I now get to teach to you. 

So, I remember when I was around 12 or 13 years old, maybe I was 14, there’s a thing called the ABC afternoon special. If you’re old enough, you might remember that. It was after school, a 30-minute TV show and they were generally really cheesy. Bad acting, not great writing, it was pretty much the joke of television, the ABC afternoon special. But one day I came home from school and my parents were working. I was home alone, I was bored and I put on the ABC afternoon special. This episode was about music and I was very much into music so it hooked me. It was this kid, a teenager who is in trouble a bunch and it reminded me myself because he was really into music. He didn’t play any instrument but he always went to all these different concerts. Again, he is so much like me. I never played any instrument, I never even tried. I just love listening to the music and getting caught up in the lyrics and going to the concert and have a camaraderie of my friends, something that we can consider to be ours. So, this one caught my attention. 

So, I kept watching, I remember the dad, the father figure in the show is frustrated with the son. He was really not accomplishing anything. He was just really doing nothing and just listening to music. There was a conversation that the dad has with the son and it’s that conversations that sticks with you. I remember the dad talking to the son and he said it’s great that you love music, but if you love music, you’ve got to be involved. You can’t just be in the crowd. You could be on stage. You can be backstage with the rigging doing the lighting, the sound, whatever it is but do something for yourself with the music. Don’t just be a spectator. And man, that hit me. I didn’t have any idea how much that will affect me because not only was I into listening to music but I was into watching sports. But neither of those that I really participate. I tried out for football one year but after a couple of weeks. I didn’t like it. It was too hard and I quit. I have very few regrets but that’s one regret I have. And those are the things you want to forget, the one that you quit and you didn’t give it your best shot. 

So, between music and sports, besides Little League, that was the extent of what I did with either of those. I was no doubt the spectator the dad was talking about. I was rarely the participant. I heard the dad say “ be anywhere but in the crowd.” Be on stage, be backstage, be selling popcorn at the concession stand but don’t be in the crowd. That stuck with me for many years up until I got into photography. And that’s when I realized I’d still been a spectator. I was still in the crowd. I was still watching on TV. I was going to the games. But when I discovered photography that I can do that, that was the first time that I realized I could be on the field. I could be participating in some way. I could find a way to be a part of it and not just watching. What this taught me is that so many people are in the crowd. So many people are not doing what they want to be doing and even worse than watching other people do it. 

This day and age is the perfect example. There are so many people that are listening to podcasts. They’re reading books. They’re reciting content word for word from the favorite influencers. They’re following their gurus but they are not doing anything with it. They’re consumers but they’re not contributors. There’s a lot of people that aren’t doing what they want to do because of fear. There is a lot of people who hold onto their jobs and are frustrated because the reason why they can’t do they really want to do is because this job is too secure and they’re afraid to give that up for what they want to do and they stay stuck. And those are the most frustrated people that I talked to. They don’t admit it out right but when you talk to them one-on-one and you hear the levels of frustration, angst, at times the hopelessness. But for people that are in the game, the ones that are doing it, they’re not frustrated with themselves because they are actively trying to figure it out and grow forth. No matter what level that they are at, it could be the very beginning stage but they’re actually working toward something that they really want.

That is a question for you to ask yourself which is what do you really want to do? And this is what I want to go across and I’m serious about this. Stop listening and start creating. Stop reading the books and start writing the books. Stop watching other people live the life that you want to live and start doing something, anything to get you closer to that yourself. Stop being in the crowd, stopped watching the game and spending your weekend cheering for somebody else chasing their dream and start doing that for yourself. That’s not to say that you have to be the star and you have to be in the spotlight but you have to be in it somewhere. 

So that afternoon’s special when I was almost 13 or 14 years old,  I was a fan. I was a consumer but not a contributor. This is a lesson that hit me and stuck with me and it was a positive one for me. It really got me thinking differently. We get tons of examples that make us feel like crap, that makes us feel like we’re not good enough and those stick with us too but if we are not careful, those would hold us back. We still believe the teacher when we were 13 years old, that told us we couldn’t do it. Even though you might be 40 now and that teacher was wrong. So, my push for you is to try to figure out how to get out of the crowd. Do something, anything to advance you forward towards life you want because I’m telling you, somebody’s gonna do it. Somebody’s going to do that thing that you want to be doing and it might as well be you. I will talk to you tomorrow.

Episode 132- I Don’t Want To Do This Forever

I Don’t Want To Do This Forever

I want to talk about one of my pet peeves when talking to the people that are trying to build a freelance career or a business so they can create a life of time, money, and hopefully location freedom. We all have our hang-ups. We all have our insecurities. We all have our limiting beliefs on what we really think we can do. But when I see the self-sabotage come into it with their own words, I realize how many hurdles there are to overcome. It is not about intelligence, it is not about business smart. It is not about even the ideas. There are more than enough ideas to create a business that can get you to financial freedom, at least to the level that most people just desire. I am not talking about the billion dollars, or even the million-dollar thing. What I find is people just want more time and they want less money stress. 

Very few people come to me because their driving force is to become the next Elon Musk or Jeff Baeza. Quite often there is an idea and it’s a good idea. It might be an employee who could do the same thing consulting make as much if not more money but control their time, get some freedom back and make a nice pivot closer to that freedom. Or, it might be something not so glamorous, something not so exciting but something that’s going to pay really well and I don’t encourage that if you just got to go and blow it on another car or a vacation or a bigger house or remodeling your bathroom. 

But if you’re going to make that money, you gonna put to work in terms of getting yourself the freedom that you want. It could be a brilliant idea, even though it’s not sexy or glamorous. Or it could be something you have a great skill at but you’re not passionate about. I meet a lot of people who are great at designing websites but they go I don’t really want to do websites. And when they finally see that they can do this to make the money that they need which is the biggest problem at the moment, they say the line that drives me nuts. And it’s this. But I don’t want to do this forever. And maybe because I’ve done this so much or I’ve done it myself numerous times and I’ve talked so many people to this process when they said the same thing that I just really have so little patience for that answer. Because that answers a complete copout. It’s an excuse. It’s a delay tactic that prevents them from actually going for the life that they want. Because I would remind them that whoever brought up you doing this forever? Whoever said that that’s were talking about? I never mentioned starting some things you can do it forever. My challenge is to start something to get you closer to where you want to be, to allow you to pivot out of the logjam that you’re already in, to give yourself some breathing room, to give yourself some space, some time, some extra money, some mental space to start thinking again and to stop stressing so much.

So, you probably hear the frustration in my voice when I talk about this because you’d be amazed at how many times the answer to what we’re talking about is well I don’t want to do this forever. But I asked them would you rather do this than what you’re doing now? And the answer almost every single time is well of course. So, let’s logically go through this. So, if you’ll do this, you enjoy doing this better than what you doing right now. You have the potential to make more money doing this and you will also have more time freed up by doing this. Is that better than when you’re at right now? Of course, the answer is yes. 

So, let’s just say this takes a year or two years to build this up, to get this thing moving, to get the referrals coming in, to get your legs underneath for you to be able to deal with all the different challenges that come with this new thing. And oftentimes it’s not a new thing and it is something already related to what you’re doing. Let’s say that takes two years and you freed yourself up from the job or the business that you’re in that you don’t want to be doing anymore. And maybe with that extra money, you put that money toward some debt, towards some personal development and toward some growth. Ans two years from now, you have more time, you have more money, you have less debt and you have a mental freedom that I talk about so much to think about new ideas. do you think you’re gonna be a lot closer to freedom doing that if you just stay at the job? And they can see it is the truth. Because now with that extra time and that extra money you can put that into the thing that you really want to do. 

And I look at it this way, you’re stuck on some block of land that you don’t want to be and there is this bridge going to that beautiful island. But the island is where you want to be but you need the bridge to get you to the island. You are not going to get to that beautiful island directly from the mainland without the bridge. So, what we’re talking about is building that bridge, this next thing that get you closer that allows you to see the island clear. That is the bridge. The bridge is not the destination. The bridge is the thing to help you get to the destination. So, nobody drives across a bridge and says I want to stay here forever. They know what the bridge is for. The bridges will get them to the other side. So, the key is convincing these people to put the work in and put the time in to build that bridge to get them closer to the freedom that they really want. 

So just realize when you say that I don’t want to do this forever, that is you staying stuck on that body of land, out of fear of the bridge that’s going to get you to your dream. So, you can stay stuck and wait for something to magically get you to that island or you can start moving in the right direction and start building that bridge to help you get to that dream life. So that’s it, rant over for me. I am not sure if I should title this podcast, I don’t want to do this forever or title the bridge. But if you’re listening to this you know which one I chose, so we’ll keep going and I will talk to you tomorrow.

Episode 131- Luis Fernandez

Luiz Fernandez

I’ve heard the saying that a person doesn’t die until someone stops saying their name. I thought that was really powerful because a few years ago, I went to an adrenal fatigue. I went through a deep set of depression and anxiety. There were thought that crossed my mind that I’d never thought about before and so many thoughts about life and death and legacy. The feelings I felt were way heavier and deeper than any that I can’t explain right now after I’ve been out of that for a while. That staying stuck with me, a person never dies until people stop saying their name. 

When I thought about it, I thought about myself, I thought about my legacy, about my life. The more I thought about it, the more I thought about people that had died in my life but might not be remembered and the first person I thought of was my friend Luiz and I want to tell you about him today. 

When I was in my late teens and early 20s, I worked at a place called Dairy Barn. It was a drive-through convenience store and it was a pretty well-off area of Long Island and there was a time where we will get celebrities that would come in every once in a while. we have members of New York Mets that would come in, singer Billy Joel gone through as well. Probably, the most famous customer we had was Howard Stern, the shock jock. He actually talked about it on his radio show. It’s probably 1989 or 1990, because at that point, everybody that worked there, me included, had long hair and wore leather jackets. So, every once in a blue moon on the show, he would talk about heavy-metal Dairy Barn and he would joke about us in the radio. But there were two people that worked there that didn’t fit that description. One of them was a guy named Alex Gomez, he was a good friend of mine. He was our boss and he was the one who would always kept us in line or at least he tried his best to. The other person was this kid named Luiz Fernandez.

Luiz was the sweetest kid. He was from Canada. He was the biggest Montréal Canadian hockey fan and he was someone I normally didn’t hang around with. He was a great student. He was incredibly polite really, and the only time I didn’t see him wearing nice clothes was when he was wearing his Canadians jersey or T-shirt. Luiz was funny because he always wanted to be like us. He always wanted to grow his hair out but because of the school and his parents, he was never allowed to. Luiz is into the music we played and he kind of lived through the group of guys there. So, we bonded there, talking about music and hockey. In 1993, when the Canadians were about to win the Stanley Cup, I was working at Dairy Barn and I knew he was home watching with his family. I went to the back of the store and I dialed his number. I waited for the last number. As soon as the Canadians won, I press the last number. I want to be the first one to congratulate him for his team winning the championship. He was just a special guy that was always so thoughtful and nothing proved it more in Christmas night later that year.

My brother, my friend Mike and I were renting a house in Huntsville, New York. We are having all of our family over to celebrate Christmas but I was scheduled to work at Dairy Barn. I was scheduled for the eight-to-eight shift. I don’t know  how I got it, if I drew the short straw on it but that was my gig.  So, I am finally feeling like an adult, I’m hosting Christmas for our family and I can’t even be there and everybody is at our house. So, all throughout the evening the afternoon my families call me. Can you get off early? can you get home? And I’m like I got to keep the store open till eight and I can’t go anywhere. 

Around 4:30 or 5 o’clock, I saw a car pulled up in our little parking lot. The headlights were on and then it shut off. why would anybody show up tonight? That’s generally where the employees park. And into the store, walks Luis and I was like “what are you doing here?” And he said to me “I came to finish your shift. Go be with your family.” I said to him “No, you got to be with your family.” He smiled and shook his head. He just dismissed me and I never seem so assertive. He said “I got to spend all day with my family. Now it’s your turn. Go be with your family.” I couldn’t believe it. A few minutes later, I was driving to our house and I got to spend Christmas night with my parents and my grandparents and Mike’s family. It was incredibly special. I just kept thinking about how Luis gave up his Christmas night for me and I never asked him and I don’t even know how even knew but he showed up there and do that for me. 

So, at that point, I had two jobs. I worked at dairy barn and I worked at Prestige Photo, which was a photo lab and it was only a couple blocks away from Dairy Barn. So, a week or two later, me and my brother and a couple friends were psyched. It was a Friday night and the next day we were leaving from New York to go to Pittsburgh to go a Steelers playoff game where they have to face the Cleveland Browns. The only thing stopping me from getting to Pittsburgh was finishing up my shift at Prestige Photo, getting home, getting packed and we’ll be on the road the next morning and the game would be Sunday. 

As we got towards closing, it was dark out, it was the middle of the winter and the sun goes down early and we were to close at 6 PM. About an hour before closing, I heard all these firetrucks and all this police car, all the sirens flying by the store and I watched as emergency vehicle after emergency vehicle flew past each other. That wasn’t uncommon on Willis Avenue but this was more than usual. So, I went back to my business, went back to cleaning up the tanks and getting the machines all done. I am getting excited because this is the first time that I would see my Pittsburgh Steelers in the playoffs. Ironically, they beat the Browns in that game. they beat Bill Belichick who was the head coach and it was the last time the Steelers beat Bill Belichick in a meaningful game. 

Back at Friday night, it’s about five minutes before closing and a firefighter comes into the store. He is holding a bag of film and he asked me to process it. I said I’m sorry but we’re close, we can’t process any more film tonight. They said “please could you process as we need these.” I don’t know why but I remember saying to myself, don’t do it. I felt kind of selfish because it just seems that I just wanted to go home but I told him that the machines are shut down, it’s all cleaned out, we’ll leave it here and we will process it tomorrow and he accepted my answer and he left.

I woke up the next morning, I was so excited. I was in my room and I was packing for the trip. The phone rang, it was my friend Sam and all he said was “Luiz”. I said “what do you mean? I am not Luiz.” He said Luiz is dead. I just sat there stunned and asked “what do you mean he is dead? He’s 20. he can’t be dead.” He said he just got a phone call, he was driving with his family last night and some 17-year-old kid ran a red light and plowed right into his car. He said he was killed instantly. He goes on to tell me that somebody on his family died to and the rest of his family is in critical condition. I was just stunned and I couldn’t even believe it. You can’t even imagine. And then like nightmare flashes, it all started coming back into my head. The sirens the night before, they were all going to the accident. Then I almost felt my heart stop because I realized that the firefighter that came into the store that night, five minutes before closing, the film that he wanted me to process was the film of Luiz accident. And I’ve seen those filmstrips before. When you get the filmstrips from the firefighters, it is real and raw and there’s no way to unseen those images. 

So, I spent the entire morning, that afternoon, just trying to contemplate what happened. My brother and my friends called and they tried to figure out what’s going on as well. I could even comprehend getting in the car and going to Pittsburgh. We spent the entire afternoon crying and Sam finally called. He said Luiz would want you to go to the game. He knows how much that means to you. He would not want you stop living because of this. Everybody was waiting in the car for over an hour while I decide on a decision to make, I decided to go. 

We went to the game and everybody cheered. I cheered as well but I was crying so much of the time. They’re washed away by the rain that came down that day during the game. We came right back ad we went to the wake the next day and into the funeral. I kept thinking of the words he said to me that Christmas night which was to go be with your family. I felt also appropriate for him as well right there. Just the other day I thought about that quote the person never dies until people stop saying their name. I thought of Luiz for the first time in years. I did an Internet search for him and I found nothing. And I realized, he had not only died so young but he died before the Internet. Everything is searchable now but I couldn’t find Luiz. That’s why I decided to record this and tell the story because as long as we’re saying his name, in some way he is still alive. So, if me publishing this and telling the story to people that never would’ve known about him keeps him alive in some way then that’s my obligation. You’ll never be able to meet him like I did and know what a great person but I just want you know that Luiz Fernandez was a special person in my heart and as long as I’m alive, he will be also.

I’ll talk to you tomorrow.

Episode 130- Who Told You That You Could Do That?

Who Told You That You Could Do That?

There is a trait that I see in successful entrepreneurs that is not common among successful employees and I’m convinced more and more each day that this is a trait that separates them. It is the reason why a lot of entrepreneurs can bounce from one thing to the next and try something different and be successful at it or fail at it, learn from that and then go be successful at something different. It is the thing that paralyzes so many employees that want to be entrepreneurs. The reason why this is confusing is because this is not taught to us. This is not taught to us in formal education. This is not taught to us even through our own parents. For the most part, this was a relatively unknown unspoken thing that not only isn’t talked about, but it’s frowned upon in every step of the way as we mature and we grow. 

Now looking back on my life, I could see the patterns of why I was meant to be an entrepreneur or freelancer more than employee. It’s so obvious now that it’s actually kind of silly but it’s also funny that nobody pointed this out to me as I was growing up. There wasn’t one teacher that said to me that I was built and wired to start my own business and do my own thing. And I’m thrilled the way things went but I wonder how much different would’ve been, how much less confusion I would’ve had during those years of 18 to 24 if I would have somebody in my life that would have was said you not built for this life and that’s okay. It actually can be a really good thing for you that you’re not built for this life. But as I teach this stuff to others, as I start to connect the dots on my own life, it starts to make a whole lot of sense and that’s why I want to get this out to more kids to more 16-year-old and 17-year-old that feel lost. The one where their parents say they got a real spirit, they gonna drive and they’re stubborn and they want to do their own thing and they don’t follow the rules and follow the orders and I’m so worried about their future. 

When I talk to these parents, I tell them, these are the kids that are gonna lead the world someday and they’re can be good at it, simply because they don’t follow the rules. I really truly want to start creating something for these kids because that who I was. I might’ve said it before the show but I remember being 17 years old specifically, all my friends are going to colleges they have chosen and have everything for their future lined up. And I remember my friend said what am I gonna do and I remember clear as day and very confidently saying I have no idea but I would figure it out. And that truly at 17 years old didn’t scare me at all but it scares those people around me because we’ve been trained and taught that you better have your life figured out when you’re 17, you better know what you’re doing. 

I’ll say it over and over that I think it is a crime to put on these kids because it’s all about following somebody else’s rules. It’s about following a different person or different organizations plans. When you start looking at your past, you start connecting those dots, you start seeing these little things that used to be funny and just a side note to your life and you start realizing that really fits in with the pattern. That’s all I want to talk to you today. 

So, I was your typical 1980s kid, the rocker kid that grew his hair out. I was in to heavy metal music and after a couple of attempts when I was young to grow my hair a little longer, I finally got it to grew it the way I wanted to grow. I was about 17 or 18 years old, maybe I was 19 at the point. I was still living with my parents and I am still doing odd jobs here and there. I was still getting in trouble and for years I heard my older brother Steve asked my parents if you give him hearing. And I remember through those years when I was 14 or 15, the argument in on our house. The back and forth, Steve wanted an earring and my dad and my mom saying that no son of ours will have an earring and I just sat back quietly while I listen to this and all the struggle that went on with it. At that point I did not want an earring and I did not pay attention to the conversation and the disagreements that went on in the house.

So, years later, my hair has grown out and I’m into the whole scene. All my friends are in bands. I am the only one that doesn’t really play an instrument well and just acting like I do. At that point, I decided to get an earring but not long after I decide that probably almost immediately I realized that my parents will never let me get an earring because I remember all the arguments and the fights my brother had and I am still living under their roof but I’m also become well-versed in the saying that it’s better to ask forgiveness than permission and I knew with my hair growing out, they might not even see it. 

So, my brother went for two years, begging and trying to get an earring and he never got it and one afternoon I went to Roosevelt Field mall and got an earring. I never told my parents and the earring was in, life went on. I went to sleep. the world did not come to an end. I put my earring in the morning I took it out through the evening. My parents knew nothing about it. Then one morning, I woke up late after a night of being out with my friends. I had the earring for so long that I didn’t even think about it. I put my hair back into a ponytail and I poured myself a bowl of cereal and my dad walked downstairs and he flipped out. He said what is that in your ear? And I was like I guess I’m busted, it is earring. He said how long has it been in there. I said it is probably been in there about five or six months. he was furious and he said, who told you that you could do that? you never even asked us. I said yeah well, I know. I saw the way it went with you and Steve and how many arguments then you are just gonna say no so I just figured why ask when I know that you are going to say no. 

He immediately went downstairs to his office and called my mom and said do you know what your son has in his ear? Do you know he got an earring? I am listening to the whole conversation not knowing what’s going to happen. My mom who is generally that got worked up about the stuff said to him “how long has he had it?” He said it’s about five or six months. And my mom said something that really made me understand this approach, I don’t even think she meant to do this. She said “okay, it’s about 5 to 6 months and we haven’t even noticed it. is it really that big of a deal?” And my dad thought about it and he agreed. he said he didn’t like the idea that I went behind their back and he always told me that I should be a lawyer because I argue so well, but I point out the loophole that I didn’t really go behind their back because they never said no because I never asked. My parents allowed me to keep the earring and ironically, I took it out within two years that I was just kind of tired of it. But again, their decision allowed me to make my own choice on it but I remember my brother being furious because he asked and asked and asked and they always say no and he sat there while my parents said yes because I have already done it. 

One of the questions my dad asked me which I want to talk about and the point I want to bring up today. The question was “Who told you that you can do that?” And that is the difference between the entrepreneur that become successful and the employee who doesn’t become entrepreneur who is successful. Because the one to become successful don’t wait for someone to tell them that they can do it. They go and do it. They’re not waiting for someone else’s permission but we been so trained through 12 years of school and then college and working for a boss that we wait for someone to tell us that we can do something. The greatest advantage of my stubbornness was that as clueless as I was, I did not wait for other people to tell me I can do something. Good or bad, success or failure, I knew inherently that I had to do it. nobody told me that a person with a dream to become a sports photographer with no experience, no talent and no connections can eventually be paid to be on the field at the super bowl and the world series. I failed English class multiple times. I got made fun of by my teacher, Mr. Carter which was a future episode in my junior high school writing class. he would never have said that I should go and write a book but he was the teacher quote unquote. But I wanted to write a book. nobody told me that I can do it. most stories can go on and on but the message I want for you today is to stop waiting for somebody to tell you to do something before you go and do it. Waiting for someone to give the green light so you do what you want to do with your life is a killer of so many dreams and I don’t want that to happen to you because the only way you’ll ever get better at something is by doing it over and over again and you’ll never get started and you’ll never be able to do it over and over again to get better if you allow someone else’s vision of you to stop you. so, when somebody says to you, who told you can do that? if you truly want to do that thing there is only one answer to it. you told yourself that you can do it. you do not need permission from anybody else. 

I’ll be back with you tomorrow.

Episode 129- The Midnight Ride

The Midnight Ride

We talked so much in the Total Life Freedom community about being a connector. A connector is somebody who brings other people together for their benefit. It’s not just doing it gratuitously so you can check it off the list. It’s really paying attention to the people that are in your life and then the other people in your life that they don’t know and finding common connections between them. The people that you know but they don’t know. This is a skill that some people have innately but mostly I think it’s something that is built on practice. I think it’s something that can happen eventually if you start thinking about what the needs of the other people are, what the needs of your friends, what they’re looking for, what can help them, who the people are that can help them. 

When you start thinking that way, you start thinking in terms of How can I connect them to other people I know that they don’t know. And I have people in my life that are just so skilled at this through practice. People like Ken Hoopes. People like Renée Vidor and James Van Prean, these are people that go out of their way to think about who they can connect to others with nothing in their mind about what they’re going to get out of it. Just because it feels really good to do that for the people in their lives. Now admittedly, I was not very good at this for a long time because I was focused on me and what I need. And I talk so much about the power of building your own network and the people that build powerful big networks are ones that connect other people from outside of the different groups of their connected in. 

This was something that was never taught to me at school, it was never something that was part of my formal education and I had many instances of people doing this for me all throughout my life but I never really paid attention to what they were doing until I read the book The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell. In that book, he gives the story about Paul Revere. If you grew up in the United States and you know the history of how this country was founded, you know the story about Paul Revere. You know the story about the midnight ride and you know the phrase, the British are coming. If you don’t know the story, here’s what happened. 

In April 1775, a young boy heard a British army officer say there is going to be hell to pay tomorrow and he ran to Boston’s North end to the home of Paul Revere. Revere heard these rumors before, he heard a bunch going on, a lot of chatter about this was possible that there was going to be an attack by the British. As the day went on him, his friend Joseph Warren were convinced that the British were about to make an attack and that the purpose would be to arrest the colonial leaders John Hancock and Sam Adams. Once they got to town, the Concorde, they would seize all the guns and ammunition that were stored up by the local militia. So that night at around 10 o’clock, Revere hopped on his horse and every town he went through, he alerted the people that the British were coming. He covered 13 miles and he went to the different leaders, to the trusted citizens, he knocked on all the doors to tell them the news, and most importantly to spread the word to others. And as you’ve heard, the word spread like wildfire. They start ringing the church bells. The residents started banging on their drums to alert people. And town by town, the word started to spread and the people started to get ready and when the British began their march to Lexington that morning, they were stunned to find a severe resistance immediately. The colonial militia was ready, was prepared and that morning Concorde, they soundly defeated the British and from there was the start of the American Revolution. Now most of us know that story but we don’t know is why the word spread so well. What Gladwell point out is this is the ultimate form of word-of-mouth marketing and no matter what any salesperson will tell you, word-of-mouth marketing is the greatest way to spread your business. But why doesn’t it always work and so many people are still convinced that it doesn’t work. I had so many people challenge me on this because they haven’t had the same success possibly that we’ve seen. And every business we’ve built for the last 15 years has been built and is spread because of word-of-mouth marketing. But why does it work for some and not for others? Why did it work for Paul Revere but not for William Dawes? So, you might be saying who is William Dawes? And that’s the point of the story. 

William Dawes was another revolutionary who also had the same knowledge that Revere did. And he set off to spread the same method as well. He rode the countryside. He tried spreading the word. He also let people know the British were coming. But unlike Revere, Dawes had very little effect on the situation, so much so that the town of Waltham that he went through, which was one of the main towns where he we were trying to spread the word did not find out about it until it was too late. So why was Revere so successful in getting the word out but Dawes was ineffective? It’s pretty simple. Revere was a connector. He was extremely social and he was loved and respected by the community. He was involved in so only different things within his community and he knew he was friends with people of all different backgrounds and interests. He was known to be at the theater. He was a businessman. He was a fisherman and he was always at the places where other people read as well. And at the Boston tea party, he was the one that went Philadelphia to New York and all-over sharing messages, informing the others what was going on and bringing the right people together. So being that he was known by so many and he was connected to all these different groups and he was trusted, when that young boy heard that the British were planning something, the first person he thought to go to was Paul Revere. It wasn’t an accident or coincidence. And then once Revere set off on the midnight ride, Revere knew exactly who to go to. He knew who the influential people would be and he knew the leaders and where they would be. And because of that, they spread the word as well. The same couldn’t be said for William Dawes and because there is practically no history of Dawes’s ride through the area. Dawes had an ordinary network. He knew a few people but most of the people that he went to didn’t know him or didn’t trust him. So, because of that, even though we had all the knowledge of what was going on, the 17 miles that he rode had barely any impact. And as Gladwell says word-of-mouth epidemics are the work of connectors. 

So, if you question if word-of-mouth is really effective because you’ve tried that before and it doesn’t work, it might not be that word-of-mouth is an effective. it might be that you’re not enough of a connector because the connectors bring different worlds together and they bring them together through trust and through generosity and because they a genuine need for helping those around them and for making their community which ever it is stronger. And I’m so grateful for people like Malcolm Gladwell for writing books like The Tipping Point and Outliers and for constantly helping me grow and challenge my mind for what I think I already know. So, if you don’t have them, go out and pick up those books, you will be better off for it and I will talk to you tomorrow.