Episode 216- It Doesn’t Always Work Out

So by listening to this podcast, you’re obviously into some form of personal or self-development. If that’s the case and I’m labeled into that category, I understand how that group gets a bad rap sometimes. And I felt that way in the past before I was in there. It’s like it’s the whole rah rah, rah, everything’s always great. You can always do it. Everything turns out great if you keep going and it can feel kind of demoralizing when you’re struggling, when things aren’t going well, it’s very easy to think, well that’s good for you, that works out for you. But for me or for people like me, it doesn’t work out that way. It seems like with these people, there’s like a magic touch and it always comes out good in the end. So I think a lot of people become impatient with their success or their lack of success because they listen to so many people that say, if you just do it, it’s going to work.

And so often they fail to talk about all of the disappointments and the failures and the opportunities that did not work out before it actually did. And so often when you’re in the beginning it takes so much more time to get there that it does later on cause you haven’t figured it out yet. And so many people quit in those beginning tough stages because they’re seeing all these other people that are having success. It seems so much easier for them than it does for you and you wind up telling yourself, well, I’m really not built for this. I’m not wired for this. I might as well just get out of it before it becomes any more painful and go back to what I know which might be a job or doing something saver and convince yourself that it’s not for you. And I will say this if you don’t have the stomach for it, if you don’t have the stomach for the pain and the grind and the disappointments that are going to happen most, especially in the beginning stages, maybe it’s not for you.

But I can tell you, and I’m here to tell you today that with each thing you try, there isn’t always a silver lining or success at the end of it. Now there might be a great story but maybe not what you would consider a success. So what I love about doing this podcast is I get to rack my brain and continually remember events and things. In the past that happened as I was leading up to where we’re at today. And even though I am not in the world of photography anymore, many of my stories relate back to the photography career. And the reason why I tell him, cause it’s not about photography, what I’ve found is it’s such a relatable field. So many of the people that listen to this, so the stories often are transferable. So I thought about the story that I’m going to tell you today.

After a while I was able to laugh at myself in this situation. But it took a while to feel that way. So I want to take you back to the summer of 1998 if you’re a baseball fan at all, you might remember that Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa run a home run tear that year. And it was obvious by June that one or both of them might break the all time home run record for a season in major league baseball. At the same time. Later on that summer I would be leaving New York and my freelance jobs with the world wrestling Federation and the associated press to go back to to Ohio university, get my degree in communications. I, along with millions of others, got wrapped up in this home run chase in late August, 1998 I was still in New York packing up quite literally to go back to school a little more than a week later when McGuire st Louis Cardinals came into New York to play my team, the New York Mets and McGuire came in with 49 home runs one away from being the first player ever to have 50 home runs in three straight seasons and only 13 away from the all time home run record.

So me and my brother and a bunch of friends took the subway into Queens to watch the game. Hopefully they see some type of history and we weren’t disappointed early in the game. Mark McGuire crushed his 50th home run and in a rare scene got a standing ovation from the Mets crowd as a visiting player. And that night he went on to hit his 51st home run as well. And I went home and I pack some more and I started getting really excited because I was driving to Athens, Ohio to start school. And I saw that in early September, the Cardinals were traveling to Cincinnati, Ohio to play the reds. And if all went well, Mark McGuire could possibly break the home run record in Cincinnati. And being a photographer that’s always looking for access in history. So a chance that I possibly could photograph, record breaking home run.

And I got to Ohio and it was labor day and I watched on television why I went to a bar locally as McGuire hit his 60th and his 61st home run, tying Roger Maris for the most home runs hit in a season and he was one away and there was only one more home game for him in st Louis before they traveled to Cincinnati. So on my first day of classes at OU, I rushed out of my evening class to get back to my room to watch that game and just hope that McGuire did not hit a home run because if they could just shut him down that night, I would be driving to Cincinnati the next day, cutting classes on only my second day of college there to hopefully photograph that game or rushed out of class. And I went to a restaurant that was right near the building and the game had started and I checked the score and McGuire didn’t Homer in the first day and I’m like, Oh, I’m only a couple at-bats away.

And I went back to my room and I grabbed my dinner. I sat in front of the televisions, McGuire stepped up to the plate and the crowd cheering like crazy and everybody wanted him to break the record except for me. Well actually I want him to break it just not then. And I believe on the first swing you’d land a hard drive into left field and it was hit hard but it didn’t look like it was going to go over the fence and it kept trailing and trailing. I kept thinking just to hit the wall, get a double and let’s move on. And I watched the ball dip and it just dipped right behind the fence and just like that Maguire broke the record and my heart dropped as fast that balded behind the fence and I knew I wasn’t photographing history but I still had a ticket for the next two games in Cincinnati and this has become such big news nationally that was like I should go to Cincinnati still in photograph has first back cause it’s going to be the first at bat on the road after he broke the record and that might be almost as great of a moment anyway because he’s going get a standing ovation from the crowd is going to lift his helmet up and when the history is remembered, I’m going to have a photograph from that time.

So I got out of my classes early in the day. I cut my evening classes and I drove to Cincinnati nearly four hours away. Everything went smooth until I got caught behind an accident halfway between Athens and Cincinnati. Watch the clock and I realized it was starting to get really close. I was cutting it tight because we hadn’t moved for over an hour and finally it cleared up and I got it. The Cincinnati blues creeping up on game time and I still needed to park and get my gear and get into the stadium and sneak down to a decent spot, right? Get a good image. And I pulled up and I paid for parking and I knew what the Red’s batting first and McGuire batting third, just a few minutes after the game was going to start, was going to be that standing ovation. I parked farther from the stay and that I wanted to, but there was nothing close and I ran like you can’t imagine with my camera bag over my shoulder, across the parking lot, trying to get to the stadium to capture this piece of history.

And all I was listening for was the roar of the crowd because as long as I didn’t hear it, I was going to be fine. And I handed the usher my ticket and I was sweating profusely trying to catch my breath. And as soon as I heard the turnstile click, I heard the announcement announcing the new home-run champion Mark McGuire. And while I was underneath the stands, just walking in the stadium started to shake, was that loud of an ovation. And I ran through the dark Concourse trying to get a glimpse of a tunnel to get me in so I could see this and photograph it. And the ovation continued. It didn’t seem to stop. It went on and on and they clapped. As hard as I was running to get there and before I could reach a tunnel, I heard it die down and I hadn’t even gotten to the crowd for the ovation was over and McGuire got out and the inning ended and I was absolutely demoralized and exhausted from the entire day or the couple of days of trying to figure this out and get there.

And now I slowed down and walked into the stadium. I realized, well I missed that now, but I might as well get a picture of McGuire playing in this game. And I walked into the stadium and that’s when I looked at first base and I saw a different player than Mark Maguire walking to first base. And it turned out that Tony LA Russa, the Kardos manager, put McGuire in for that one at bat to get the ovation and then pulled him from the game and put his backup in. And I grabbed my seat and I slunk down. I said, you got to be kidding me. And I shot a couple of innings and I left to drive back to Athens and I never even saw Mark Maguire. But being young and stupid. The next morning I woke up and I said, I need to drive back the next day because I have a ticket and I’ve got to get a photograph of McGuire either playing or hitting a home run.

So I did it again. The next day I drove back to Cincinnati again, got caught in traffic, but I left earlier this time so I was fine. Not sure what was going on with the Southern central part of Ohio and traffic at that point of the year, but I went back. I’ve got to get that picture. I cannot come out of this empty handed again. Got my parking spot again, walked into the stadium vis time. I was early only to grab the program to see that Mark McGuire was scratched from the game and not playing to give him a night off. I sat there staring at the field and absolute disbelief and shortly after I drove back to Athens one more time and I came away from the entire experience completely empty handed, so you don’t want to be around me. When one of those highlights popped up from that magical year, because all I feel is frustration and exhaustion, and I tell this story to let you know that it does not always work out.

You are going to put your heart and soul into certain areas and projects. Absolutely nothing will come from it. And I don’t mean this to be a downer. I mean this to be a reality check that we don’t live in a microwave world here. It doesn’t happen as fast as you think it might. And if I would have quit then if I would’ve said, I’m not cut out for this. It’s too difficult. Even though there were times I felt like quitting. You need to be able to take the lumps when there’s no reward and keep going if it’s really what you want. So this isn’t meant to be inspiring. This is for those that are struggling right now. They’ve been hit with some losses and they’re feeling like they want to quit because it’s not working out. It’s not always gonna work out. But if it’s what you really want, don’t quit. I’ll talk to you tomorrow.

Episode 215- That’s A Shell Of An Idea

So we just spent the last month in St. Augustine, Florida, and we are now taking the month of February and the Gulf shores of Alabama in orange beach, Alabama to explore as a family this whole region for the next month as homeschool parents. What we love to do when we go on the road is have the kids build a business while we’re in these places and Elizabeth is just wonderful. The way she does all this. She puts all this together. She came up with this idea in st Augustine, let me backtrack. We were in Arizona last year. The kids wanted to make some money. So we said, well, look around, how can you be helpful to people around here? What can you do that can earn money and be something that people want to pay you for? And they quickly noticed that there were weeds growing in all the yards in Tempe and they probably needed to be pulled.

And then we found out that you actually have to get your weeds cleaned up by city ordinance or you get fined. So landscaping services, that’s what they did. They came out and either sprayed or they pulled weeds. So like I know they’re paying these landscaping companies a decent amount of money and some people don’t want to spray, so why don’t you knock on doors and see if you could be the one that pulls the weeds. Dylan was seven at the time, so he’s got kind of an unfair advantage. He goes up and people just want, you know, they see a seven year old show up at the door wanting to do work. People want to pay him without even doing the work. They just like the idea of them doing that. So I said, this isn’t going to last forever but, but enjoy this while you can.

But the first person who knocked on the door, he loved the idea. So how about I give you $5? And he loved it, went out, I helped him a little bit and he pulled the weeds. They started a business where we did this almost every day that we were there for the last month and a half. And they had one day where they got a big job and some others, and collectively they made over $160 in that day. I’m like, guys, this is real money right here. Like I don’t want to go too far ahead of ourselves, but if we lived here, you can literally start a landscaping business and build this just like this and make as much money as a lot of adults do. So they did that the entire time we were there. We came to Florida, they weren’t sure exactly what to do. And one day Elizabeth was out with the boys collecting shells while I was working and they stopped at the dollar store, which is one of the kids’ favorite stores, which I love.

And she had this idea like, why don’t we collect these shells? And then you buy these frames and then with your glue gun you guys can glue the shells onto the frames and sell them to the people at the beach. And then they said, well we could do candle holders as well. And they saw these little pots like, well we could put shells around the parts. We can customize it to the local area so the kids wanted money and we’re not giving them money. So they’re like, let’s do this. So we create this makeshift little art studio in the place where we’re staying, which is called the dining room table. And they went to work, and I’m not going to tell you it was all rainbows and unicorns. There was a lot of bickering. There was some complaining. Well, there was more than some complaining at times.

There was nervousness about selling. Who do we bring it to? You know it’s not good enough. I don’t think we did this just right. It was fun, intense at the same time. And they had a bunch done and it was now time to go sell. And then the nerves came about because even adults have a hard time selling. They feel insecure. They’re not sure what to say. And luckily when they went around, they had a pretty captive audience and they made a couple of quick sales, but they also got a ton of nos, which I was so glad to see because that’s real life and it’s pretty cool when your kids come back and you go out with them. They go, I just made $22 and not only that, people complimented them on the quality of the work. It’s so interesting when you go around to go sell, when you see who’s interested, who’s not interested in reading body language, and we figured out pretty quickly when you’re walking on the beach, if you’re going to approach one person, they say no more than anybody, especially when it’s a male.

There was nobody that blew them off quicker than some guy on the beach by himself. Often. They barely looked up saying no thanks or just no. So it’s just a great lesson for the kids to realize that. So they learned that the older, the couple, the more receptive somebody will be because they really saw the kids putting the effort in and we’re trying to tell them, you’ve got grandparents here that there’s some money and they’ve got time, they’ve got grandkids. This is a pretty good audience to sell to. So the process has been really good. They’ve made some money. They went out the other night, I think it was Saturday night. We went out in the old town of st Augustine, just great audience to sell to and they made over $100 that night and sales and I came back and I thought about the whole thing a bunch and I have a tendency to go too hard cause I’ll be like, okay guys, let’s go get more shells tomorrow.

We’ll get more frames. And I’m looking at the potential of what they can do and Elizabeth like slowed down a little bit. Well you’re like let’s not take the fun out of this for them. And I’m like I got you, I got you. Cause I just get excited but I’m not getting excited for the money. And this is what I want to talk about today. This little business has so many components that kids and adults have to learn, and we got to have a really deep conversation about it one day because Dylan, our youngest, really loves the selling part. He’s got almost no fear when it comes to grabbing his stuff. Going up to somebody, say, hi, I’m Dylan. We made these things ourself. We collected the shells. Would you like to buy any? So the other two were getting frustrated because Dylan was making a lot of sales.

I’m like, he’s being bold and he’s going after it. And our other two are a little bit shyer when it comes to this. So there’s some work that has to get done with the selling, but we have to sit down and have a conversation that selling is important. Everybody’s got to learn how to sell in business and in life, whether you’re trying to convince somebody to do something that you wanted to do or buy a product, everybody is selling all the time, but selling is not the only part of this business. Part of the business is collecting these shells and buying the frames and buying the pots. Part of the business is taking that and putting the product together and then part of it is sales. Start talking to them about all these different parts of the business. Which ones are you most comfortable with?

What do you think your strength is? What are the things that you don’t like doing and not that you’re going to be able to say no to wait yet because you need to learn all aspects at this point. But the oldest is the best at putting it all together and the youngest is the best at selling and the middle can do a little bit of everything really well. You quite literally have a business here because while one or two of you are out selling the other one or possibly two could be back creating. So if you’ve got enough shells and you’ve got enough frames and we’ve got the time, you can produce the products while the other one’s them. Really talking about efficiency. So you’re learning about products, you’re learning about sales. Now. Part of it also is when you make this money to keep a ledger of where the money’s coming from, how much did each things sell for, how much did you bring in?

Everybody gets their share and how are you separating this summer is going into spending, some is going to the saving, some is going into giving. So we had the finance aspect of it, but then there’s also the communication part, which is difficult with kids because not everybody is comfortable going up to adults and explaining what the product is explaining that don’t just say that you’re selling this frame. Say we collected these shells from the beaches and we bought the frames and we put it on ourselves. So this is an actual souvenir from this place that we created. When they didn’t say that. A lot of people like, Oh that’s nice and they’d walk away when they said they did the work to create that people were excited to buy and one woman who bought the frame in st Augustine Saturday night came up to us and said, this is the type of souvenir that I want to buy if I want to buy a souvenir.

I love that it was made from somebody here with the shells from this place. I said, guys, you got to start writing this stuff down because we can keep doing this for the next couple of months at different places that we’re going. But it also brought up some great challenges of communication. You’ve got to learn how to talk to people. You’ve got to learn how to negotiate with your brothers in terms of who’s doing what. You’ve got to understand as well that if you Slack off and your side of it, you are hurting the other side of it. So so many people say to, I was like, what does homeschooling look like? You know, do you use a curriculum? How does this even work? And to us, this is homeschooling because our job isn’t for them to just memorize stuff that they can look up. Our job is to guide them to become great adults.

They are generous, helpful contributors to society. So of course there’s ups and downs with all of this. The next day they were all exhausted and grumpy and they didn’t want any part of it that day. But even though they were tired, they learned that they can do this, they can actually create something, they can create an idea and they can build it and they can sell it and they can make money from it. So they don’t know that we kind of set them up because now if they want money, well you know it’s not coming from us. And if you want to buy something, well, each step along the way, you’re learning of ways to make money. So there’s no excuses. We’ve got the shells there, I’ll drive you over to buy the frames, but also teaches them that you’ve got to buy the products to build this stuff with.

So money comes out of the profit to buy the supplies. So you gotta factor that in. It’s not just all your money. And this is just why I love kids and entrepreneurship. I love teaching this stuff early. So it becomes ingrained and then that you have control over your future cause I don’t want to get too ahead of it. But if you do this and this is what you do with your time and you eventually hire the people out or you find ways to more efficiently strip mute this, there is no limit on your income. And I was never told this as a kid, we never talked about entrepreneurship in school. I talked about it more with my parents at times and they encouraged it. But in this day and age, I mean if they produce this and they got really into it, it’d be easy to set up a shop online and they can say, we travel and we collect these shelves and they can talk about it as a homegrown business.

And the potential is unlimited. So I’m saying this to encourage you. If you have kids, they’re capable of more than just getting good grades. Like they have the ability to do these things. And I can’t personally think of a better way to prepare them for adulthood and this world that they’re going into this freelance gig economy world that they’re going into. Then by working with them to build a business and as an upside for you too. Cause when they’re making their own money, you don’t have to give them any money. You’re teaching them to be financially responsible, just might save them and you a whole lot of heartache in the future. So just an idea I wanted to bring to you and with that I’m going to shut down and we are going to go search for some more shells. I’ll talk to you tomorrow.

Episode 214- The Downside of Entrepreneurship

Let’s talk about the downside of entrepreneurship. I’ve been a freelancer slash entrepreneur for the last 15 years and add on a couple of years from way back before my last job, so I’m very familiar with this world and I’m also familiar with how glamorized it’s become by myself as well. Over the last say, five years, this was something that’s entrepreneurial world was not built up this way even 15 years ago when we started back then when you told people you were starting a business or you’re quitting your job to go on your own, only the bravest are the ones who have been through it. We’re excited for you about it. There was a handful of people that got, they understood what the benefits were. They understood the time freedom, unlimited income potential, the tax advantages that they never told you about in school. Nobody talked about that. Very few people talked about them and they certainly weren’t teaching this in school, so the whole thing was scary.

But I really think around 2008 2009 when the economy really started to falter, when the recession happened, a lot of people started seeing, wait, this job thing that I was always told was secure isn’t nearly as secure as I thought it was. And more and more as the internet started to build, people start saying, well, I can build businesses this way on the internet, all these different options and it’s kinda not nearly as dangerous as it used to be. And if you can factor in becoming financially savvy, becoming financially independent now, if you have your money together at the same time and you’ve got the stomach to handle it, especially the beginning part, it starts to almost be a no brainer why you wouldn’t go in that direction as opposed to relying on somebody else. I’ve seen it more and more lately, especially this month. I’ve had a few friends that had been in full time jobs for a long time and they were steady, secure, will never happen to them and then flip of a switch.

They’re out of a job. I say it all the time, build it before you need it because when you need it, it’s too late. But it’s hard to convince somebody of that when they’re not desperate and it’s almost like you have to build that desperation in before you need it. Let me build this at a certain speed so if something does happen, I’m prepared or maybe I can get it to the point where it’s successful enough that I could leave if I wanted to. At least I have options. But now fast forward to 2020 in many circles, entrepreneurship is very sexy. I’m talking to high school kids, college kids, and this is what they want to do. They have no interest in having a job. They want to build a business, they want to control their time, they don’t want limits on income or where they can work from or have an answer to somebody else.

And I can totally relate to that. I wish in some ways I was born in this era because people would have probably got my personality more than they did back when I was growing up. I was a natural born freelancer entrepreneur. I just didn’t know it cause nobody talked about it. So when I got to get into that world, it was like a dream situation for me and I am so ridiculously unemployable that I can’t even explain. If I had to get a job and please don’t ever hire me. If I was even looking, cause I’m going to be a terrible employee. But if I had to get a job, I would be fired by nine Oh three on Monday morning because I want to have input and suggestions on the way things are going or what I think should happen. Maybe like I didn’t hire you for that.

I don’t care about your opinion, do your job. And I would either quit or be fired by, you know, nine Oh three not Oh four so I’ve taken the pill, I’ve drank the Koolaid, I can’t go back. But there are a lot of people that think this is like a dream scenario and there are downfalls to this world. There are pitfalls to it, there are things that are not great and I want to talk about one of them today and I don’t think it’s talked about enough and what that is is loneliness. It is interesting now how many people go guns blazing into this world and they have a lot of success and they have all the things that you’d think you needed when you quit your job to do this. It’s all checked off. I got the money, I got the time, I got the freedom, I turned down the clients that I don’t want.

I only work with the people that I do want. I’ve now built multiple streams of income, different products, different things I can sell. So I have money coming in from different areas. I can shut down the ones I don’t want or optimize them and really go towards the things I do want. And now I want to start this thing or I want to write a book. It all sounds so great and glamorous, but what people don’t see is the loneliness. Often times we’re making the decisions by ourself. For a lot of entrepreneurs, they do not have people that think like they do or get what they’re doing to bounce ideas off of and not just bounce ideas off of, but there are rough times. There are ups and downs and sometimes it’s good to know just that other people are going through it with you and when you don’t have that, it can really start to mess with your brain because you start thinking that I am screwed up.

I’m the only one going through this. I’m the only one dealing with cash flow issues at the moment or the different ideas that are coming up. What decision do I make for this? And when they were employed, as much as they hated their job, they loved the community, they loved having people to talk to their social beings and before they know it, they lost that social aspect of their business or their life. And what’s interesting is I find this a lot in very successful entrepreneurs because when they’re not successful yet, they’re so driven on getting to certain numbers, getting to certain success that they don’t care if they’re locked in a room by themselves. They’re going to get this stuff done. But when you get to the point where you’re like, I’m doing well, I’m making the money, I’ve got all these things, but I feel alone, I’ve got nobody to talk to.

That’s when it really hits. So I’m amazed by the amount of successful entrepreneurs that reach out and talk to me about community and whether to attending an event with like minded entrepreneurs who get what you’re going through or joining some type of a group or a mastermind or community or going to conferences where these people hang out. I can tell you when I felt it, when I felt that quiet and that loneliness going to a conference of people that are thinking like I’m thinking or challenge in the same ways, and being able to have dinner with them and hearing what they’re dealing with, what they’re struggling with, and I’m telling you, you don’t want to see them in any type of misery, but you come away and you go, I’m not alone. I think really hard for the people that were employees that went to the entrepreneurial world because they hated their job when they quit.

But sometimes they start looking back and fondness, like, I miss talking to these people. So if you’re new to this world or you’ve been in it, it’s essential to find community. It’s essential to find people that get what you’re going through. They can talk you through it and you get to help them go through it when you have experience with it. But this is a world that’s kind of untapped right now because entrepreneurs have not had these spaces in the past and it’s starting to happen online in person. We’re all starting to realize that we’re built for community. We’re built to be together. But being in your office by yourself in your pajamas at 10 30 in the morning on a Tuesday when it’s snowing outside is beautiful. When you don’t want to deal with traffic or deal with the crazy boss, but doing that weekend and week out, not getting that outlet of humans that you can talk to and be around, it can wear on you and bring you down. So I’m bringing this to those who are feeling stuck and alone and to those that are about to go into this world. Find community for yourself, whether it’s through a specific niche of what you do. Say you’re an Amazon and you want to be in an Amazon group that gets you, or real estate or entrepreneurs or freelancers, whatever it is, find your tribe, find your community and don’t allow the entrepreneurial world, which is awesome to make you lonely. I’ll talk to you tomorrow.

Episode 213- Success Is Persistence

So back on December 16th, 2019 a Monday Night Football, New Orleans Saints, quarterback Drew Brees past Peyton Manning for the person who threw the most touchdown passes in NFL history. A Breeza story is pretty cool. He’s a graduate of Purdue university, but as an undersized quarterback, early in his career, he had the struggle to find his way, but he did it because his work ethic is one of the strongest you’ll see, and it’s held up in the league as a model. And all these years later, he’s now 13 times pro bowler, the winner of the NFL man of the year in 2006 the comeback player in 2004 two NFL passing leader seven times and a bevy of other awards, but possibly the greatest highlight of his career was the super bowl 44 in 2010 now that took place in Miami, Florida. But the night before myself, Elizabeth are two young kids and my brother, we’re in Cape Canaveral, Florida and we were there because one of the last space shuttles was about to launch and we always had a dream of seeing a space shuttle launch in person.

They had them scheduled out the year before, but we couldn’t find the time to go. So we saw that on February 7th was going to be the final night launch of a shuttle and we were still in Indiana at that point. We said, we’re going to do a road trip. And my brother decided to fly out from New York because he wanted to be a part of it too. And with two little kids, we drove from Indiana to Florida stopping in Chattanooga, Tennessee to actually sleep on the Chattanooga choo choo train because our kids were so into trains at that point and we learned they made it into a hotel. So we had to experience that and then driving all the way down for the plan lodge, which was to take place at 4:39 AM now, how are we going to go there and keep two little kids up until four 30 in the morning for a launch?

We didn’t really think about, but we got to Florida. We picked up my brother at the airport. We drove to the Kennedy space center on nine o’clock at night and we said, okay, what do we do now? So we looked around the museum and we found ourselves in the odd spot of our kids playing on the playground at the Kennedy space center around one o’clock in the morning, which was bizarre in itself. But then it was even more bizarre that there were a bunch of other kids and parents all around doing the same thing. We’re all acting like it was four 30 in the afternoon because everybody eventually got exhausted and we found a comfortable place to lay down like a bunch of other people did as well. We all took little naps and it was slightly miserable, but we were ready and we’re awaiting and at some point we said, okay, let’s go.

And we got up and we got our chairs, we walked out there and we prepared for launch and the kids are now wide awake and everybody’s excited and they start the countdown. I can’t remember if it was 30 seconds or a minute, but at some point we’re counting down and then the clock stopped and we’re thinking, well maybe this is just procedure. They’re getting everything ready and we’re all waiting and it’s getting a little bit restless. And then about 4:37 AM we hear a muffled voice come over the loudspeaker and they said a couple of words, but the only word that I could make out was sorry. And before we know what was going on, we saw people picking up their chairs and starting to walk towards the exit. And I’m like, I don’t know what the heck just happened, but I think they’re not launching tonight.

And we’re in a jam parking lot. Like, Oh my goodness. We weren’t planning on getting out with everybody at the same time. So we grabbed our chairs and we rushed to the car to beat the traffic. I think Andrew was four, no one was two and Nolan was like, what’s going on? And after we got some information, Andrew was like, Nolan, there’s too many clouds in the sky, they can’t launch. So it turned out is that it was either too cloudy in Florida or one of the designated spots. We’d have to have an emergency landing. And those locations are not cleared for weather. They can’t launch. So the thing was canceled. So we’re like, Oh my goodness. So we head back to the car, but we didn’t plan for us. We didn’t have a hotel that night because we thought we’d just head over to a Disney, which was our next stop.

But the traffic was so horrendous getting out that we couldn’t go anywhere. So we only got a couple blocks away and we pulled into a parking lot of a local insurance company and the five of us just slept cramped inside of our minivan. And we woke up the next morning exhausted with sore necks and we headed over to the Cracker barrel to get some breakfast smelling like who knows what and planning out what to do next. And what we learned was they’re going to try to relaunch the shuttle Sunday night, but luckily this time it would be two 30 not four 30 so at this point, everybody’s exhausted. Nolan’s now becomes sick and we had to decide what to do and we said, there’s no way we’re coming all the way out here and we’re not going to see the shuttle launch. So we said, okay, we’re going to get our room at Disney.

We could get a good meal, we’re going to chill out in the hotel and we’re going to watch the super bowl between the saints and the Colts. And then when the game’s over, we’re going to head back to Cape Canaveral and we’re going to watch that shuttle launch. So my job was to make sure that everybody’s awake at midnight to leave. So now everybody is wiped out and the Superbowl starts. And Elizabeth, Andrew and Nolan are asleep by the end of the first quarter. But me and Steve stayed up in the hotel and watch it. And we were both exhausted, but we knew we needed to make this happen. So we watched late into the night as the saints and drew Brees win the Superbowl and we then make the rounds waking up, Elizabeth waking up, Angela Nolan and saying, let’s get ready and go. So everybody slowly got up, packed into the car.

It’s now around midnight, maybe a little bit after that. And we stopped at the local CVS to get known some cold medicine and we headed off to Cape Canaveral and that’s when we got our first break because the first launch was supposed to happen on a Saturday, which drew heavy crowds, but a lot of people couldn’t come back. So when we went back out there the following night, the crowds and traffic was so much less that we didn’t even try to go to the space center. We got a closer view in Titusville and lucked into a $20 parking spot with a beautiful view of the shuttle just sitting there. It was fun. This time as there was not much wait time and everybody was just excited and we all sat on top of our minivan and waited and counted down and just hope for good weather in those spots set for the emergency landing.

And then the countdown continued and then it stopped again. And the rumors were somewhere in Europe were supposed to land, had bad weather and rain and we just sat there like, we can’t do this one more time, please just launch the shuttle. And the kids were waiting nervously and patiently and the clock started counting down again. And there was some point we looked around and we realized this is going to happen. And if you’ve ever been to a shuttle launch, you know this feeling cause all of a sudden you feel the ground start to shake and you hear the noise as a point of you go, there’s a point of no return. This is going to happen. And we sat there feeling the rumblings and we’re looking at each other and we’re just huge smiles and nervous at the same time. And we’re staring at the shuttle and there’s lights on it, but everything else is pitch black.

And then all of a sudden you see the smoke start billowing out from underneath the shuttle. It seems like it’s taking forever. And then the fire starts flying out from the bottom of the shuttle. And before, you know, at night turns into today, it becomes so bright from the flames of the shuttle that the entire sky lit up. And with that was liftoff. And I still remember the gasps from everybody around us. We all made like a silly childlike noise because we were in complete ours. We watched the shuttle rise into the sky. It was probably a good 30 seconds of daylight. And then it started to fade because we watched the shuttle go higher and higher towards space. And that look of amazement on our kids’ faces. I don’t think I’ll ever forget. And it couldn’t have been more than a minute and a half later before it was gone. And we all got in the car in silence and we couldn’t believe what we just saw and that it really happened.

I dominated the conversation in the back seat until the kids knocked out asleep and we say, we’re sleeping in the next morning. And then we get started on a Disney trip. And then we realized on the drive back that there will be a parade for the MVP of the Superbowl. You know, the whole, we’re going to Disney world. I’m like, Oh my God, that’s happening here tomorrow. But we looked it up and we saw the parade was going to start early and nobody was convinced to get up early to go for the parade. So we gave in and we said, we’re sleeping in and we’re not gonna worry about the parade, even though I wanted to go. So we got up in the morning, the kids were still excited from the shuttle and we got ready and they were excited for Disney. So we got dressed and we headed over to magic kingdom.

And as we started walking in, we noticed all the saints balloons and we said, we know we missed it, but I bet the parade happened right here at the entrance. And we check our tickets and we check into Disney for the first time and we noticed there’s still noises and commotion going on. So I got aggressive. I was like, I think there might still be something of the parade going on. So I was like, let’s go, let’s go, let’s get over there. And I led and I ran ahead to the Gates and the kids and Elizabeth and Steve were behind me. And as we ran up, we noticed a bunch of people lined up waiting for something. And I’m like, there’s no way this could be the parade. So we quickly scooted to the right and we squeezed into a spot, which as we looked around was the very end of the parade to our right.

Literally was the door that closes with the parade ends. And as we stood there, I said to Elizabeth, I said, we could not be this lucky. And I didn’t even finish saying it before. Everybody started screaming. And to my left was a convertible. Slowly turning the corner and in the car were drew Brees and his wife smiling and waving the crowd and I have just enough time to pull up my camera, snap a couple of images and one of them was just perfectly timed. Were drew Brees blue kiss right at us to our right. The door opened the convertible with breeze and his wife went behind the door. The door closed and the parade was over. And I tell that story because it’s a story of if you want something, you have to not only push to get it and overcome the obstacles when it doesn’t work out.

For Drew Brees, it was the Chargers not believing in him, allowing him to go to New Orleans where we became those prolific passer in NFL history, but also would have been very easy to say, we’re not going back out to the shuttle the next night. We already stayed here until four 30 in the morning. This was a disaster. But what is it that you want that you’re willing to endure the pain for? The night that drew Brees broke that record, there was a video posted on social media a couple of days later and it was him by himself in the same practice facility. It was 45 minutes after the rest of his team had left, but breeze didn’t know he was being videotaped and there he was late into the evening, long after everybody was gone by himself, dropping back to pass, doing the visuals, doing all the things in more to get them prepped to face the cult again, just like the Superbowl on that Monday night game and that preparation and that dedication. Let them have a magical night where we went 29 for 30 only missing one pass and in turn setting the record for most touchdown passes thrown by an NFL quarterback in his career success, it turns out often comes down to how persistent you’re going to be after you did the things that you thought would make you successful. I’ll talk to you tomorrow.

Episode 212- We Remember Those Who Make Us Better

So in episode 50 of the total life freedom podcast, I did a show called Vinny the jerk and it was about the night that I met my wife Elizabeth and how he hit it off. But I must’ve had a way about me or when she went to leave that night she called me Vinnie the jerk. I’ll take that with a little bit of a grain of salt cause she had been drinking just a tad that night. So we get a little bit of a pass on that a little bit, but I certainly can be a jerk. But let me explain on that a little bit because I can be a jerk within my business. I could be a jerk with my clients, but I’m a jerk because I want them to be better. So quite often it’s my job to be the jerk because what I have a lot of times are people that are struggling or people that are stuck or people that are frustrated and they need somebody to come up behind them and give them a nice kick in the pants.

But most people won’t do that. And there was one situation a year ago and there are about a billion I can bring up to you because this is not uncommon, but a great guy named Nick and our total life freedom community was asking about writing a book. And if you know me, I love books. I love the idea of writing a book. I think it’s a great way to build a platform. It’s a great way to get the word out, but this book was way off course from anything that he was working on. He was already stressed out with work and to me it just didn’t make any sense. So he posted it in the group form and he got a whole bunch of, yeah, I think you should do it or that’s a great idea. Go for it. Don’t let anybody stop you. Just do it. And as I can do and I can do so well sometimes I was the jerk as my group, but I was the only dissenting voice.

I said, I don’t get it. Why would you write this book now when you’ve got all these other things going, you’re already struggling with time. You know, this other thing is your main priority. You’ve got to get it off the ground. And as much as I love the idea of writing a book, it is hard work. And what you’re doing right now in my opinion, needs your attention, needs most of your attention. So my suggestion is stick with what you’re doing. Put this on your future list within that list. Write down little ideas about this book so you can keep it going in your mind. So when you’re ready to write it, you’ve got ideas down. But do not go off course with what you’re doing right now cause it’s going to be a distraction. And he messaged me back and he thanked me because he knew that everybody was being supportive and they wanted them to do it and they wanted to say, yeah, crush your fears and go do it both in the context of it, it wasn’t the best thing for him.

So I partially jokingly said, I’m sorry for being a jerk, but we’ve been through this together and I couldn’t in my heart advise you to take that time away and that energy away from what you really need to do to do something that just feels good in the moment. And really that doesn’t line up with what you said you wanted to do. And he thanked me for it. He said, I knew I needed to hear that from you and I needed that opinion. And he said to me, vent, I don’t pay you for tact. Everybody in my life is tactful. Everybody says what they I want to hear and what I need from you is to tell me the truth. And he said in the fact that you do it, knowing that you can lose a client or you could possibly lose a friend in the process, but that you know that you’re doing it because it’s the best thing for me.

That makes me appreciate it even more. And I so appreciated him saying it that way. And I don’t curse on the show because I know I have parents that listen with their kids, but when people ask me what my role is, what my role and my business is with the masterminds and the membership, I tell them that I’m the chief bud kicker. I don’t usually use language that soft when I say that, but I let people know that that’s my role and if people don’t want it or can’t handle it, then they’re probably not in the right place. And it’s not that I’m mean because I might be sounding that way this time. It’s not that it’s that I care and I know that not enough people are telling them the truth. So I have to risk at times coming across like the main one.

But I want to tell you for any of those that have experienced it or any of those that are in that position that I’m in or struggle with it that it’s very valuable for these people to have somebody like that in their life. I appreciate when my friends come to me, the ones that Karen, tell me the truth, not what I want to hear now. What’s gonna make me feel better? But the truth, if you don’t surround yourself with people that will tell you the truth, you’re going to fool yourself into thinking you’re doing better than you are. At the same time, deep down wondering, why aren’t I doing better? And that’s really what it comes down to. Being around and hanging around people that are going to make you better, and the people that are really gonna make you better are going to be the ones that are not going to accept your excuses.

They’re going to be the ones that see your potential. And even if you’re doing better than others, they’re going to push you because you’ve got a higher potential than some other people do. They’re going to be the ones that show you things that you’re not normally seeing, and they’re going to challenge you to look in that direction. Yes, men. And yes, women rarely make you better. They just make you feel better in the moment. But without any real redeeming qualities, knowledge or experience. And as I was thinking about this, and I was thinking about recording this episode, I saw on the news that Jimmy Johnson, the former coach of the Dallas Cowboys, was inducted into the pro football hall of fame. And Troy Aikman, who was his quarterback when they won two Superbowls together, said this, he said Jimmy was the one that put this team together who was the architect and he should have been the first one on this team to be inducted into the hall of fame.

And then he said this, we remember those people that make us better. Now I imagine Jimmy Johnson wasn’t always the nicest. And he didn’t always say what everybody wanted to hear. And at times he was probably quote unquote a jerk. But his job was to make them better. And that’s what he did. And by doing that, not only did his players make the hall of fame, but he did as well. So by being the jerk, that’s what I want for the people around me. And hopefully that’s what you want for the people around you is to be someone that makes them better. Talk to you tomorrow.

Episode 211- The Greyhound

So if you are listening, today is the day before the super bowl. I’ve got a story for you today. That’s a painful one to tell cause I’ve been to multiple Superbowls a few times as media and a few times as a fan, I was there in 2000 when the Ravens beat the giants as media. I was photographing the game the next year when the Patriots beat the Rams, Tom Brady’s first Superbowl and also won as a fan when the Steelers, when my Steelers beat the Arizona Cardinals for their six super bowl back in 2009 I believe, and two years later they made it back to the Superbowl. And by the way, there is no great lesson with this. This is an empty calories all story, no lesson episode. So I hope you’re not expecting much out of this except maybe a laugh at my expense, but the soup bowls in Dallas this year and I was like, I really got to go.

I can’t miss it. They could win their seventh Superbowl. I mean the best wife in the world. Elizabeth was onboard. She was like, okay, get the ticket. Go ahead. I understand now that you’ve got to do this thing, but tickets were crazy expensive for that game and I didn’t really feel like dropping five grand for one ticket. I’d already seen them win a Superbowl so I wasn’t as desperate as I was a couple of years earlier. But on the Thursday before the game as the snow fell in Pittsburgh, I got a phone call from my friend Andy O’Neill and she said call me back and she had managed to find one ticket for me at face value. There was a pretty good seat for 800 bucks. So I said, get it to me. It’s mine. I’ll buy it right now. What do you need? And I bought the ticket without thinking, how am I going to get to Dallas?

It was no big deal. I’ll get a flight, I’ll get a couple of nights. Hotel. All is good. I didn’t take into consideration that living in Pittsburgh and Pittsburgh being the soup bowl, there would be no tickets for a flight to Dallas left. Everything was sold out. And this is now late Thursday night, going into Friday morning, two days before the soup bowl. So I was like, I gotta drive and Elizabeth put her foot down. She was like, you are not driving 20 hours to Dallas to go to a game and then drive back. You’re going to be gone all week. You’re going to be exhausted. Please don’t drive to the game. So we started looking into Amtrak and the schedules didn’t line up. And I said the sentence that I will never say again, which was this, I’m taking the Greyhound and it all sounded fine. I’d get to the bus stop and downtown Pittsburgh would get me there to Dallas and Fort worth, late Saturday night, I’ll have time to go out and have a little dinner and more than enough time to get to the game and enjoy it on Sunday.

And I’ll come back on Monday and maybe I was excited or overambitious or I’m not sure what it was, but I saw absolutely no issues with anything that can go wrong in this situation. So I’d say goodbye to Elizabeth and the boys. And I took the train to downtown Pittsburgh and I waited at the grungy Greyhound station for my bus to take me to the Superbowl. I should’ve known right away when my first bus was delayed that there’d be a problem, but I didn’t. So about an hour late, the bus pulls out of Pittsburgh and we make our first stop in Columbus and we’re supposed to trade off bus drivers, but our bus driver didn’t show up. So we’re waiting for a driver to come to take over the bus and take us Dallas. Again, not feeling too bad about this, but getting a twinge of nerves like, is this really gonna happen?

And then finally, finally a bus driver showed up again, probably will be about an hour wait. And we hit the road towards Dallas. So by now we’re somewhere between Columbus and Indianapolis and we’re past midnight at this point. And I’m feeling a little jittery because the boss is shaking a little bit while we’re driving. And I look outside to find that we are being hit with a heavy snowstorm and the driver on [inaudible] is weaving in and out of the lanes to try to avoid some of the snow. And I try to keep optimistic, but it really felt like the bus is going to tip at some point. It’s the first time I started thinking about Elizabeth and the boys and I was like, why am I doing this? I was less excited about the game and more nervous about what was going on. So I was finally able to catch a little bit of sleep.

But when I woke up early in the morning, I noticed that we weren’t making nearly as good time as we’re supposed to be making. It’s quite apparent that I’m not going to get there Saturday evening to Dallas. So late in the morning. Now we’re going at half the speed and the crowd’s getting a little bit restless. And I don’t know if you’ve ever been on a Greyhound with a bunch of people for half a day in the winter during a storm, but people can start getting a little bit grumpy. So we had this one woman in the back that just wouldn’t stop talking. I mean there’s one guy next to him that couldn’t stand listening to her. So we get to listen to them battle back and forth, screaming and cursing at each other while a couple in the front of the bus starts. Also arguing and fighting with each other. And I just sat back and I looked to the couple next to me and we just shook our head and laughed sir, joking about the book that we could write about this event called the Greyhound and how all this crazy stuff is starting to happen.

It was right about this point that the bus in the middle of I [inaudible] comes to a complete stop. The weather and the snow had gotten so bad that they needed to stop the bus and this is when all hell broke loose. I tried to keep calm, but people were fighting. Now on the bus there was a fist fight that broke out and behind me, those two people kept arguing with each other and kept getting louder and louder. So we’re now stuck on [inaudible] for over two hours in a Greyhound that’s not moving. Then finally it cleared up and the bus driver goes to start the bus, only to realize that it won’t start. I guess once a bus is stranded on a road, there needs to be some type of code delivered into the bus to restart it. And he didn’t have the code being the replacement bus driver.

So we wait longer and I’ve got my cell phone and I’m starting to freak out and I’m calling Elizabeth and I’m like I’m not going to make this game and I can’t even get my ticket, cause my tickets at the hotel in Fort worth at this point. If I could just sell the ticket, I’d find a way just to get back home and be done with the whole thing. So with two kids on our arms at home, she’s scrambling to see what she can do for me cause I’ve got no laptop to use or anything like that. And it’s then that they announce that because of the poor weather greyhounds are shutting down and there’ll be no more trips that day. Meaning that this bus, hopefully he’s going to make it to st Louis and then we end there. So just imagine this grubby crowd, what was like before, now imagine what it’s like now.

So Elizabeth scrambling and she tells me you got one option, there’s a Greyhound leaving st Louis at 8:00 PM and old get you to Fort worth, Texas around 2:30 PM three hours before kickoff. So I was like, okay, book it, I’ve got no other option. And they finally restart the bus and we go on our way. But the two people behind me have not settled their differences and it all came to a head when the woman got so frustrated with the guy that she decided to pass gas in front of this guy on purpose and he took her purse and empty the contents of her purse throughout the bus. Yeah. This was my magical Superbowl trip. So the bus driver determines that this woman is going to get thrown off the bus at the next stop. So we pull into a stop in Effingham, Illinois, almost the st Louis or he escorts her off the bus when they go to get gas, only to find out that the bus was stuck in the snow where we got gas.

So quite literally me and 10 other people from the bus went into the gas station in the subway. We got shovels and we had to shovel the Greyhound out so we can move on and had the st Louis. And you have to believe me that I am not exaggerating any of this. In fact, I’m sure that there’s details that I’ve missed or forgotten over the past 10 years, but mercifully we pull into st Louis and we get away from each other as quickly as possible. And I wait in the train station for my 8:00 AM track. That sounds like heaven at this point. And as awful as this is, I still might see my Steelers beat the Packers to win the super bowl. Now the Amtrak was uneventful. It was uncomfortable, but uneventful. Make it the Fort worth with hours to spare. But you gotta understand that I must’ve smelled like a garbage truck at that point and I had no time to get a hotel.

I only had time to go to one of the fanciest hotels in Fort worth where they had my ticket looking like I slept under a bridge and I’m standing in line next to none other than Steve young, the hall of fame quarterback who played for the 40 Niners as I got my ticket. So I went into the bathroom with my little backpack and luckily I had a bag of baby wipes and that my friends was my shower in the bathroom stall. No joke. As Chris Carter and Steve young and two other NFL hall of fame players were also in the bathroom. Well I tried to clean myself off, change my clothes and get ready to go to the Superbowl. So I took the clothes that I had and I threw them in the garbage there cause I was not going to carry them around with me to the game.

I took one last train to get over to at and T stadium and of all things getting into the super bowl was the least eventful thing that I dealt with that day. It’s usually a giant hassle and I got in about 45 minutes before the game started and I sat down in my seat and I just wanted to go to sleep for the entire thing for me at least was muted. They do the whole introduction, everything goes on and I’m trying my best to have some energy to watch the game and wouldn’t you know what out of all games, the Steelers decided to go down 21 to three early in the game and after the packer score to make it 21 to three I just looked up at the ceiling and I said, there is no way that I just went through all of that to watch the Steelers just get blown out in the Superbowl.

So I texted my brother with some enthusiasm. I said, greatest comeback in Superbowl history coming up. And they almost did steal, came all the way back. They were down to the couple and they were driving, heading towards where I was sitting and rush Aardman and hall fumbled the ball. The Packers got it back and it pretty much ended the game for the Steelers except for one last hail Mary drive. And when the game ended, I was so tired. I didn’t even wait around to even watch the Superbowl presentation. I didn’t even see the trophy. I was able to get a seat on a charter bus to take me back to Pittsburgh, but it left 90 minutes after the game ended. So I rushed out to find these people at this bar and I finally found them, got on the bus. It was a bunch of packer fans.

So they were all happy. And we drove through the night, Sunday, all day Monday, got back to Pittsburgh about 11 o’clock Monday night, got back into our house around 1:00 AM on Tuesday and slowly trudged up the stairs to the bedroom. I walked into the room, open the door, and Elizabeth was awake waiting for me. And the first thing she said was, would you do it again? And I said, absolutely not. And she said, I don’t believe you. And I said, no, I’m done. And believe it or not, I haven’t really had the desire to go back to the Superbowl after that. So as you’re enjoying your nachos and your wings and pinging out on your Superbowl buffet, while the chiefs and the 49 is battle tomorrow, just realize that a 10 years ago, at this exact moment, I was trapped in that gray hound. I being an experience that I’d like to forget, but I don’t think I’ll ever be able to. I’ll talk to you tomorrow.