Ep. 18- How Do You Handle The Truth?

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Here is the transcript to Ep. 18- How Do You Handle The Truth?


I just want to start by thanking so many of you for the amount of reviews that have come in for the Total Life Freedom podcast. It’s really humbling. It shows the generosity of the character of those of you that are listening that to take the time and go do that and how much it helps support the show. So I just really appreciate that. And I got a review from a friend, whom I hadn’t spoken to in awhile and he had texted me and told me how much he’s enjoying the show. We texted back and forth and he wound up leaving a review on iTunes and I read it and I chuckled. His name is Dan Speicher and he’s a photographer here in Pittsburgh and I won’t leave the whole review, but a little part of it was this, and this is what the podcast is going to be about today. 


“One of our early conversations seven years ago was a gut punch portfolio review that was dead on accurate and helped me to really focus on what I was saying.” Now Dan’s a highly accomplished and successful photographer. But at that point he was really kind of starting out. He had been shooting for a while and he came to me for a review of his portfolio and I think he wanted something different than what I gave him. And I still remember that day. It was me, him and our friend David Burke, and we were at Panera Bread here in the South Hills of Pittsburgh. And I went through his portfolio and I, and I gave him a really harsh critique. And I don’t think I was mean, but I was tough and I truly believe I was being accurate. I was showing him things that I had learned through my career. 


You know, at that point I had been shooting for 15 years or more than that, and I was trying to bring to him what had been brought to me and what he didn’t need was another fluffy critique. It wasn’t another, you know, your mom patting you on the back saying, Oh, you’re great sweetie. This is just keep doing what you’re doing. I saw so many holes in what he was doing. I saw so many things with his vision and the way he was shooting that really could be improved upon and by them being improved upon his opportunities and his chances and his skills would increase. But a lot of times people don’t want to hear it. And I can tell that day that it really hit him hard. I can tell in his confidence, I can see it in his face, but I knew that if he took this to heart and he actually made the improvements that we’re talking about, he was going to come out stronger and healthier and better because of it. 


And that podcast review really encouraged me because it wasn’t about the review, it was about the fact that he listened to what I said. He was tough and he challenged himself and he got better. And you’ll be amazed by how many times that type of a critique, even though somebody asked for it, they don’t really want it. They really just want you to tell them what they want to hear. And when you give them what the truth is, they crumble. And Dan didn’t crumble. And the only reason why I was able to do that was because that had been done to me and not only done to me once, but more than once. And that’s what I want to talk about today. When I was a student at Ohio University and I was building my portfolio, I went to a photography conference with our classmates and all the big wigs of the industry, we’re going to be there. 


So I brought my portfolio and way back then in photography it was slides. So you literally had a plastic sheet of 20 slides and when you’re looking for a newspaper job or magazine job, those 20 slides had to be filled in with news, sports, portraits, features, and a picture story and that they would have to be filled into those 20 spots. So five pictures of picture story, you know, a couple of sports pictures, a couple of spot news, all the things that you’d see in the newspaper. So I had mine, I meticulously put this portfolio together for this conference. I mean literally getting the copy slides printed, having it all edited, having it ready. So when I presented that I was ready, this wasn’t a mishmash, throwing some pictures together. I had put a lot of time into this portfolio and there were a handful of photographers giving critiques, but there was only one that I really wanted. 


His name is Joe Elbert, and he was the director of photography at the Washington Post. At that point was the gold standard for photojournalism. It was the top place to go. This was probably around there in 1999 or 2000 and it was the place to be. All of the Pulitzer winners were there. Carol Guzy, all these people you go, you probably wouldn’t recognize their names, but they were household names in the journalism world and this was the guy that assigned them and edited their work, and he was about to look at my work. There was no holding back. It was ready to go. And I stood in line and I remember clearly the guy in front of me gave Joe Elbert his portfolio and Joe just tore him apart. It was all sports pictures shot with a long lens. 


He didn’t get close to his subjects. There was no intimacy, there was no heart in the photographs. It was all just somebody from afar shooting with no interaction and no emotion and he tore them apart to where the guy just, I remember him taking his portfolio head down. I don’t know whatever happened to that guy, but I wouldn’t be surprised if that was the last time he ever even opened up that portfolio or picked up a camera. And I was next. So now I get in the line and I’m like, I felt confident in my portfolio, but I felt a little bit less confident at there seeing that I knew I wasn’t going to get what he got because I knew the work that I put into it, but I still wasn’t sure. And he went through it and he took the loop and he looked at each slide meticulously, carefully. 


He went through it and I’m just like, my heart’s racing as he’s going through this. And then he takes my slide portfolio and he pulls out two slides and he puts them in a little two slide pile and then he pushed the slides over to me. I said, okay, good. 18 out of 20 pictures, two of them didn’t work. He pulled two pictures out of my portfolio that I need to replace. 18 of them are good enough. Instead of sliding the plastic slide with 18 pictures over to me, he slid the two pictures over to me and he just looked over at me and he said, that’s your portfolio right there. Those two pictures. And I remember my heart going up in my throat, just like a big lump in my throat, like oh my goodness, to get rid of the rest of the pictures and start over. 


And he could have shushed me away. But he said one more thing. He said, those two pictures have everything that a great photograph needs in it. You just need 18 more of those. And I was just crest fallen. I was like, oh my goodness. And I took it and I walked away and I remember I had a chance at that point to figure out what I was going to do and what I was going to think. Was I going to get mad at him? Was he, you know, was he a big jerk for doing that? Good. He crushed me. I remember going to sit on one of the chairs in the hotel away from everybody and I thought about it and instead of getting upset that he rejected the majority of my portfolio, the best photo editor in the country just confirmed that I made two pictures, two pictures that stood up to their standards. 


So it proved to me that I had what it takes to make it. I just didn’t make it enough. So I have that. So I went back to my hotel room. I pulled all those slides out of the portfolio and I put those other two back in there and I said to myself, now you need to do this type of work with the rest of the work that you do. In that portfolio review from Joe Elbert was one of the moments that jumped me up to a higher level. I didn’t get angry at him. I was actually really grateful to him for doing that because he could have said, yeah, everything’s great. Just like I would’ve done to Dan. Everything’s great. Just do what you’re doing. He set a higher standard for me and he eliminated all the hard work. All the hard work that I put into those 18 photographs all the nights, the weekends, the money that I’d spent, the time, all that stuff that I put into that, that emotionally I felt needed to be in the portfolio. 


He got past that emotionally and said, it’s not good enough. That’s not good enough. If you ever want to work somewhere like here is what he’s basically saying to me. But if you do follow your example, these two photographs use all the layers and the light and the emotion and the moments. Put that into your photographs for the other ones and you will have it. That alone helped me set a standard that I hadn’t set for myself, so that’s what I wanted to do for Dan. When we did our critique seven years ago, I wanted him to walk away from there and realize most of this stuff is not going to work if I ever want to get to where I want to get to, but these ones over here, these work and keep doing what you’re doing here to get there and to get that podcast review from Dan the see what he’s done with it and to see how he’s progressed just made me think. The toughest critiques when they come from the heart and they come from well-meaning, as difficult as they are or the most important ones that we’re ever going to get.

Ep. 17- Read Between The Lines

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Here is the transcript for Ep. 17- Read Between The Lines


If you haven’t been able to tell, I get a tremendous amount of inspiration from music, especially the lyrics of music. To me it’s not just a song, I am really listening to the lyrics. A lot of these musicians, they’ve put in a tremendous amount of thought and effort into the words that they use and there’s a lot of meaning to a lot of them. Some of them mean absolutely nothing, right, and they’ve said that, but some songs, I mean even if it just is not meant that way you can take it as something personal to you. I’m not sure if you’ve ever heard lyrics and you go, that really relates to me- and when I’m on road trips it gives me more information for content even for this podcast or for writing. When I wrote the book, or for future projects that I’m working on, I get a ton of inspiration and content from it. 


I know people tell me like, oh you go on an eight hour drive. That sounds so awful. Like when I went to Connecticut to speak to a group of photographers about business and, no you don’t get it. It is quiet time for me and I will just think and then I’ll voice record an idea that I have. And when I came back from Connecticut, I think I got 15 ideas for podcasts alone just in the drive back just because I was in the right mental space. And occasionally I’ll listen to certain things where I’ll have silence for a couple of hours and then I’ll put on the music. And a lot of times it comes from older songs I’ve listened to my whole life, but it has more meaning now than it ever did then. Because you’re a different person. And one of them I just heard on the way back for the last trip, I think it was Cleveland were coming back from and it was Foreigner and it was the song
“I Want To Know What Love Is”.

And I remember that song, you know, since I was a kid, I remember the video, I must’ve been 12 or 13 years old. That video came out and I heard the lyrics over and over and over again. But there’s a line in the song that when I heard it this time, I heard it completely different than I ever have before and I kind of get the same thing from reading a book. That’s why I read great books over and over again because I always pull out information that I didn’t pull out before because you’re in a different frame of mind or a different stage of life than you were when you read the first time. If you’re financially struggling, when you read a book about abundance, it’s really difficult. But if you get to a point of abundance then you get it and you can implement it. 


But I couldn’t do it when I was struggling and we’ve learned that in all different phases of our life. But this Foreigner song hit me and I just stared into the road for about two minutes after I heard it and like how have I never heard that before? And the line is very simple. It said, “I better read between the lines in case I need it when I’m older”. You know I must’ve heard that line a thousand times on the radio, on MTV, whatever, but this was the first time it really hit me as a warning as opposed to just a song. And this is something where I think as we grow as individuals, as business owners, as parents, reading between the lines is essential to success. Because I can tell you I have people in our lives or have been in our lives that don’t know how to read between the lines. 


They never see the nuances. It’s black and white. It’s right or wrong. It’s yes or no and there’s no gray and reading between the lines is the gray area. It is being able to read people. It’s being able to understand what people are thinking without them having to say it. For me it’s being able to be on a call and have 10 faces in front of me and know when somebody’s uncomfortable with something that that just happened without them saying it. Knowing that somebody excited to say something because I can see them leaning a certain way knowing that somebody wants to say something but they’re hesitant because their mouth kind of opens up a bit. They back up a little bit. That is reading between the lines and reading between the lines and everything you do. It really helps you when you’re older and that’s the whole line. 


I better read between the lines in case I need it when I’m older. That is life to me, like that line means so much in terms of growth, in terms of how you’re figuring things out. Because I can tell you, and you might have these people in your lives, your life, like I’m 47 I’ve got friends that I grew up with that are 47 and they’ve never been able to or tried or developed a skill to read between the lines and they still do the same things and expect the same results and don’t get those results. And they get angry. And it’s one thing to be angry about it when you’re 22, it’s a different thing to be angry about when you’re 47 because that turns into bitterness and that turns into regret. And that turns into, well, I’m never going to be there again. 


I see this a lot and I see it in conversations that I have with people that we used to be at school with. And I see the look, like we just met with a friend from college and she was talking about somebody that we had went to school with and kind of the head shake she gave like they never get it. This person’s never gotten it and that eventually those people will end up blaming society or their spouse or their parents or whatever. So it’s never them. They never read between the lines and develop the ability to read between the lines to be able to see the nuances, to be able to see what other people are thinking and doing and wondering and being curious about that and being sharp enough to look at the little nuances that go on are the people’s lives will be such a great advantage for you as you go forward in this. 


Reading between the lines has been something that has been, it has turned into an asset for me in a lot of ways now. In some ways I’m clueless. There’s no doubt about it. But in areas that we’ve developed and gotten better at reading between the lines in case I need it when I’m older. I think the only thing I would change differently in that is I better read between the lines because I’m going to need it when I’m older because we all do. We all need to be able to do that. So if there’s something there, I’m not sure if this resonates with you today that it resonates with me as I’m, as I’m saying this because I could see it more and more, but developing that ability to read between the lines, that’s going to be a giant asset for you for next year and going forward. Now some of you might have that song stuck in your head for the rest of the day. It’s a great song. If you don’t know it, go download it. You’ll find it on youtube. It’s called, “I Want To Know What Love Is” by Foreigner. Great Song, great band, and I will be back with you tomorrow.

Ep. 16- Fool Me Twice (The Goldust Sequel)

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Here is the transcript for Ep. 16- Fool Me Twice (The Goldust Sequel)


So if you read my book Freelance to Freedom, which if you haven’t, go to our website and get the audio version for free. I recorded it and made it free to anybody that wants it. So go to totallifefreedom.com/f2fbook. Just go to the website, top right hand corner, download it. You can get the book for free. I mean who doesn’t like free stuff, but you’ve got to listen to my voice for five hours. So that’s the downside of it. But in there, in the book, I told the story of Golddust, who’s a professional wrestler who when I worked for the World Wrestling Federation for a couple of years back in the, uh, late nineties, early two thousands who gave me a run for my money, scared the crap out of me for a couple of years. And that whole story is in there so you can listen to it in the audio book or buy the physical book if you wanted to. 


But the story was so much fun and so many people loved it so much that I decided to put that in the book. Thanks to my friend John Giamundo pushing me on it. Who is the WWE lead photographer. He’s been that way for 18 years now I think. And so he pushed me to, to put that in the book, which I did, which the response was great. So when the book was released last January, we went on what we called a “Thank You Tour” and I’ll do another podcast about this. But what we did was instead of doing a book tour, we as a family decided to do a three month road trip and go around the country. And essentially instead of doing book signings or book sellings, we went around and our goal was to give the book away to the people that helped us, the people that endorsed the book, the people that were either in the book, people that helped us, you know, get the word out of the book. 


So we just said, let’s do a Thank You Tour. And we wound up going to I think 23 different states. We were on the road for three months as a family, but one of the stops, we were in Oceanside, California for a month and the WWE was doing live shows in Anaheim. Whenever they’re in town where I am, whether they come to Pittsburgh or if I’m out in different city and they’re there, I’ll message John, I’ll say, hey, you want me to come by and hang out and they always have a backstage pass waiting for me and I’ll come around. I’ll hang out with everybody. And Rich Freeda and Craig and Heather and the whole crew. We get to tell stories for a couple hours. I feel bad for them because it might be the same stories over and over again that that we bring up. 


But this time I wanted to go and I wanted to actually give Golddust a signed copy of the book. His name is Dustin Runnels. He’s been around forever. He, uh, his dad was Dusty Rhodes became one of the most famous wrestlers of all time. And so Golddust, Dustin has been in the, been in the big show for a really long time. So I came by to give him a book. So I gave everybody in the photo crew copy of the book as well. And then John went to go get Dustin. So I’m sitting there and we’re just talking, you know, in this dimly lit area. They’ve got the studio set up right next to us- they set up a studio backstage to do the portraits of the different wrestlers, either for promotion or for magazines or for cards or whatever it’s for. So all of a sudden, you know, I said, I’ve seen Dustin, you know, probably every time he’s in Pittsburgh, we’ll hang out. 


We took pictures together, this and that. We’ll tell stories together. So all of a sudden I’m hanging out with everybody and John and Dustin walked through the curtain and he’s got this really, he’s got this look on his face. He’s just like, he’s pissed off. And he comes right up to my face and he’s a big guy, you know, he’s like 6-5, 241 and if you listen to the story of my book, he basically threatened me at a show. He basically said, if he sees me around anymore, he’s going to kill me. And this went on for awhile. I thought this guy wanted to really hurt me. He didn’t like the way I did things. And it turned out that it was a big hoax. It was a big joke that was on me that I didn’t learn. That was a joke for a couple of years. 


They forgot to let me know there was a joke. So it went on. Unbeknownst to everybody that I was still scared out of my mind for two years. So he comes out to meet me, and he looks annoyed and he goes, “I didn’t tell you can write my story in the book.” And I’m just kind of like, surprisingly, I, you know, I don’t have to get permission for people to write in in a book. It wasn’t libel- libel or slander, it was just a story. And he’s looking at me, he’s like, I never gave you permission. “Who gave you permission to tell my story in your book?” And he’s like, waving the book in my face at this point. Now literally there’s, there’s 20 people around us and I am standing there and I could feel the sweat just like dripping down my back. And I’m thinking, oh my goodness. 


Last time it was a joke. But this time he’s really, he’s serious. And I mean is, he’s right in my face and his 20 years later and I’m feeling the same fear that I felt way back there and Rockford, Illinois or did to me the first time. So it’s a stare down now and I don’t know what to say. And he’s any repeats himself again, like who told you you can write about me in your book? So now it’s in this book, this is like published and he’s yelling at me and I just stare at him and I, I’m, I’m, I’m rarely at a loss for words in my life, but I’m literally at a loss for words for this. And then as his eyes get smaller, I see a big grin come on his face and he goes, “I got you again.”


And he put his arms around me and gave me a big hug. He put me in a headlock and I was like, you’ve gotta be kidding me. I cannot believe he got me again. And everybody-the whole crew knew. And then I look at John, who, I’m so angry at, because he set me up again. So John wasn’t there the first time. It was, it was Rich Freeda the last time that he set me up. But John totally set me up. He went back there and it had it all planned. They knew I was coming. And here’s the deal, fool me once. Shame on you, fool me twice. Shame on me. Well this is fool me twice. Shame on me. So I fell for it. But I mean, honestly, what if he really was mad? I’m going to joke around, I’m gonna be like, you’re just kidding. But what if he really was mad that I wrote about him in the book? So I was scared out of my mind and all I know is I am done being frightened by professional wrestlers cause my heart just can’t handle it. I hope you had an awesome weekend and I’ll talk to you tomorrow.

Ep. 15- Is Being Shy Being Selfish?

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Here is the transcript for Episode 15- Is Being Shy Being Selfish?

There’s a story from my childhood that my mother told over and over again to embarrassment. And now I get to tell it. So I guess it wasn’t that embarrassing. But when I was a little kid, and I guess I must’ve been, I’m not sure how old I was, three, maybe three or four. We’re going to a birthday party. It was me and my older brother and my mom, my dad, and we’re going to a birthday party where my parents knew the people at the party, but we didn’t. So it was our first time meeting the people there and my brother was about a year and a half older than me. We pull up to the party and I’m all nervous and I’m shy and I’m keeping to myself. And my brother was more outgoing and we walk into the party and we walk around to the backyard and my brother goes running ahead and he goes running towards the party.


And My mother said to him, where are you going? And he said, “I’m going to go play with my friends.” And then she said, “But what friends, you don’t know anybody yet”. And he said, “The friends that I’m going to go meet.” He ran off into the party and next thing you know he’s with these different kids and they’re playing different games. So Steve ran off into the crowd. What did I do? I went off on my own because I was shy and I was worried about what shy people worry about, which was I was embarrassed or how I was going to be perceived or, or people looking at me the wrong way or whatever it is. When you’re insecure and you’re shy, so as my brother’s playing, they couldn’t find me. They couldn’t find me at this party. So my mom’s looking all around and other people are looking all around.


Finally, at some point somebody found me and I was way in the back of the yard and there are all these trees. I was sitting underneath one of the trees with one of those wind up Happy Birthday musical toys and I was twisting it and it was playing the music and it was over and over again and I was singing Happy Birthday to myself over and over again. My parents love that story because my mom was like, me being the shy one, oh he’s probably going to be the one that moves away to California. And it turned out that I was the one that moved away because my brother stayed home and I moved away and I haven’t lived back in New York for almost 20 years now. But it’s a funny story and it’s a cute story about our personalities back then, which I have eventually changed from and Steve is still as outgoing as he used to be.


What I had to learn was when you’re shy, you get a lot of attention for being shy and people are so worried about, oh, but they’re shy and we have to accommodate the shy people because they’re scared or they’re nervous. When it turned out though was that I was being selfish at that age. You can’t figure it out, but as an adult you can and when you’re shy you’re being selfish because you’re making everything about you. You’re making everything about how you feel, you’re making everything about your insecurities. You’re not making it about anybody else. Actually. You’re making it harder on everybody else. When you say you’re shy, you’re not welcoming, you’re making everybody else work harder. You’re making other people try to have a conversation with you. You’re making other people have to think of ways to communicate with you or to accommodate you or to make you feel better.


It’s very selfish to be shy. That was something when I figured that out, it really changed the way I viewed my own shyness and my own insecurities where I was. I was making other people uncomfortable. My shyness was making them uncomfortable. It was making them have to do things they wouldn’t normally have done, but because I was so wrapped up in myself I made life harder for them. Because thinking about it this way, when you are shy, who are you thinking about? Are you really worried about how the other person is feeling? Are you really worried about how you are making other people feel? You’re shy because mainly your focus is on yourself. So when you’re in that spot, your focus is completely on yourself. So what can you do? What did I have to do to get away from the shyness to get away from my own selfishness, to get away from my own self involvement, I had to train myself to be more interested in what other people are doing.


Now that sounds really basic and simple, but think about conversations that you have even as adults. When people talk about themselves endlessly and they’re not curious and they’re not interested, that’s the opposite of shy, but it’s the same thing. Whether you’re shy or you’re talking all the time, it’s all about you. It’s all about how you feel and when you can change that to, I’m thinking about what other people think. I’m thinking about what other people are going through. I’m curious about what’s going on here. I’m interested in what that person’s doing. I’d like to ask them some questions. I want to know how I could fit in better to what they’re doing. What are they interested in? All the things that people like to hear, which is interest in them you’ll be doing, and when you make it about them and not about you, there’s really no judgment going on there.


They’re actually just thrilled that somebody is interested in them because so few people actually are. If you are a freelancer and entrepreneur and you’d say that you’re shy and you have a hard time connecting with people or networking or going out and having these conversations or doing genuine connections with others, think about this for a minute, that you might be being selfish. And the reason why it’s not working is because you’re so worried about what you’re going through and you’re so worried about how you’re going to be perceived that you’re not at all thinking about how you can connect with others and being curious about what’s going on in their lives. If you start doing that and you start putting the focus on them and less on you, you’re going to see your network build quicker. You’re going to see your business build quicker, and you’re going to see your insecurities go away because it’s really not about you. Because honestly, people aren’t really thinking about you because they had their own insecurities. You think you’re the only one there feeling the same way and you’re gonna make their life better too. And you’re gonna have more friendships, you’re gonna have more connections, you’re going to have more business, you’ll have a better life. Again, thank you so much for listening. I so appreciate taking the time out of your day to listen to be involved, and I’m just grateful to you. Thanks so much.

Ep. 14- Who Are You Proving Wrong?

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Here is the transcription to Episode 14- Who Are You Proving Wrong?


So who are you proving wrong? Now, I know in this day and age there’s not supposed to be any negativity. There’s only supposed to be positivity, and that’s the energy that’s supposed to flow out of you. But in reality, in truth, there is some negativity when somebody doesn’t believe in you. At least there is for me. Now, I might be alone in this, but it is for me. Now, I try to be as positive and as generous as I possibly can be, but there are times in our life that somebody comes along that doesn’t believe in you, and there’s a lot of people that don’t believe in you, but there’s people that come in your life that don’t believe in you and tell you they don’t believe in you. So I’m asking you, what do you do about those people in your life, in your head? 


What do you do about those people? Now, when I first started on my freelance journey way, way back years and years ago, the first thing I wanted to do, the first career I wanted to do was photography and not just photography. I wanted to be a professional sports photographer. That’s what I wanted to do. I was a huge sports fan and like I had said earlier, I had failed everything else I had done. So I’m going to go and do what it is that I really want to do, even though I have no clue how to get there. I know somebody does it. I know when I watch television there is somebody on the field taking pictures and getting paid for it and I’m wondering if they can do it, why can I give that a shot? So my mother’s friend Leslie introduced me to a photographer and he was a partner with her husband in this photography business. 


It was a portrait studio. They did your family portraits. They did still lifes. They did all this stuff inside of the studio inside of their office. So I went to him and I went to his studio and I went to ask him about being a sports photographer. That’s what I wanted to do when he was the only photographer that I knew. So at this point I was so new that I had just bought my camera. I didn’t even know how to use my camera, so there’s no reason for him to believe in me. So I went to him wild eyed and excited about what I wanted to do. I explained it out to him. I told him what my dream was. I told them, you know what I was willing to do to get there. I had nothing to lose. I was gonna put everything I could into this. 


And he dumped a cold bucket of ice water on me. Not literally but figuratively on my head. And he told me, forget it. He said, just forget it. He said, Vince, everybody wants to be a sports photographer. Everybody wants to be on the field and wants to travel and do that job. That’s what all these photographers want to do. And he said, getting paid to be on the field with the athletes. I remember him saying this to me, it’s as hard as it is to be an athlete. That’s what he told me. He said, you have no shot at this. Here’s my recommendation for you. I think you should do portraits. I think you should do still lifes. I think you should do what we’re doing here. They’re steady work here. They’re steady business. It’s a pipe dream and you should do something more realistic is what he said to me. 


And I nodded along with him because what was I going to say? I knew nothing. He was the pro, but I walked out of there. I was so angry and I remember walking out of that door and it was a sunny afternoon and I remember walking past the window with studio and seeing his back to me as I walked out of the front room and into his office and faded away. And I remember giving him a finger gesture that my kids wouldn’t be proud of right now because I was so discouraged by what he said to me and maybe he had my best interests at heart. Maybe he really was looking out for me. But what he did was he crushed my dream. He said in one conversation that I couldn’t do what I wanted to do and I walked to my car and I was filled with anger. 


I was filled with frustration and I felt like that I just wasted my time. Is he right or should I just tell him, forget him and do what I’m going to do and prove him wrong and I wasn’t even inside of my car before I decided that I was going to prove him wrong as I drove away from that parking lot. I remembered that somebody was getting paid to do this. Somebody was on the field doing this. How did they do it? How they get there? Who did they have to meet? What did their portfolio look like? How much work did they have to put in if it’s really that hard, how hard was it now? He gave me his opinion, but he didn’t give me any of those answers because he had no idea. Maybe he wanted to do it, but he didn’t get there and this was his way of protecting me, or maybe this was his way of feeling better by assuring that if I don’t do it, then it doesn’t make him feel bad that he didn’t do it. 


So I decided immediately not to forget him, not to forget his advice, but to use his advice to propel me, use his advice as fuel to get what I wanted to get to. So every night that I went to a ballgame, every night that I paid $5 for a ticket at Shea Stadium and got into a game and I snuck down to the front row to take pictures. Every time I did that where there was no reward, where nobody paid me, where I was just building a portfolio where I was just going to meet the photographer as well as just looking to get just a little bit better every night. If I got discouraged, I saw his face. I remember sitting in his studio, I remember sitting on that stool and I remember him lecturing me that this was not possible and I used that as fuel. I use that as motivation to not stop. 


When I got rejected for a hundred free internships, I still saw his face. I saw his face telling me that I couldn’t do it. So I kept going and I kept going and I kept going and as a little bit of success continued, I felt myself starting to prove him wrong. He was my motivation and that parlayed into a gig shooting National Hockey League games as an intern, not making any money. I was doing all the stuff that he said I couldn’t do. I just wasn’t getting paid yet. And that was the next step. And that continued for years. And I can tell you for years, I never forgot his face. I wasn’t mad at him any longer. I was just using him to propel me to where I needed to get to. And that fuel and anger stayed inside of me for eight years, eight years. 


I remembered him for eight years. It fueled me and it went away as I walked through the corridors of the Louisiana Superdome. Camera’s on my back. Camera’s on my shoulder as I walked onto the field, the bright lights of Superbowl XXXVI, and that was the last night that I used him as fuel. That was the night that instead of being angry at him and using him as motivation, that I walked onto the field, I stepped by the end zone where Tom Brady was throwing warmup passes, which turned out to be his very first Super Bowl victory. And instead of being angry, I was thankful and I thought about him and I thanked him. I thanked him to myself for giving me the motivation for giving me the fuel, for giving me the drive to prove him wrong so that I can go and live the dream that I wanted to live. So if there is somebody that doesn’t believe in you, if there’s somebody that doesn’t believe that you can do it, you really want to do, you can be angry. You could be frustrated, but use it to your advantage. Use it to your advantage until you get where you need to get to and then thanked them for not believing in you, so they helped you get where you needed to get to. Thank you so much and I’ll talk to you tomorrow.

Ep.13- Go Waste Some Time

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Here is transcription to Episode 13- Go Waste Some Time


I have a quote for you today that I absolutely love and this is what the podcast is about. “The secret to doing good research is to always be a little unemployed. You wast years by not being able to waste hours.” That’s by Amos Tversky. I really love that because it goes against our culture of just hyper productivity. We are just inundated with planners and journals and everything like that. Everything where you can measure everything, schedule everything, becoming even more productive every moment of the day. I know I go against the grain on this with a lot of people, but that movement really rubs me the wrong way. I’m going to go against the grain and say, you don’t need to be as productive as possible. You need time to be able to create. This is not about creating an assembly line where you are the most productive person you could possibly be, like getting everything done that you could possibly do. 

Go here to listen to Episode 13- Go Waste Some Time


To me as somebody who really appreciates the art of the work that we do, that stresses me out, that doesn’t make work fun for me. That makes it seem really strategic and really calculated but not creative. So for the ultra productive and so ultra scheduled, there’s no time to waste. There’s no time for wasted time. And that’s where this quote comes back to. And I can tell you right now that I am not the most productive person in the world. I am really good at wasting hours. And it brings me back to a story that I heard about Richard Branson from a while back where he said 95% of the day, he’s just like everybody else. I mean, he’s lazy. He’s kind of unproductive. A lot of times the work that he does, his normal, it’s average. It’s nothing special. He can waste a lot of time. 


He’s very unproductive, but it’s that 5% -it’s that 5% where he’s absolutely brilliant. He’s in his zone of genius and his what he does better than anybody else in the world. That’s what’s made him Richard Branson, the business genius. It’s that 5% it is not about being as productive as possible through every moment that you have. And I’ve heard this quote of, well, if it doesn’t get scheduled, it doesn’t get done, and I think that’s a bunch of crap. I can’t imagine living that way in terms of running a creative business where everything has to be so scheduled that there’s so little time for creative thought. Richard Branson, Warren Buffet, Darren Hardy, they all say they can be really, really lazy, but what most people don’t see in this day and age with it is that laziness gives them the freedom to think, and most people in this world don’t have the freedom to think, and I’ve learned so much from them because these are the people business wise that I wanted to emulate. 


It wasn’t so much just being as productive as possible. It was the one that had time freedom, that did the work that they wanted to do, that help people and money came freely to them. Those were the people that I’ve studied. There were never the most productive scheduled people in the world.. So I took a page out of their playbook and I very often will just go to the library with a pad and a pen and I’ll spend the entire day and I’ll just sit there. I’ll sit there, I’ll sit back in the comfy chair, I’ll put my feet up on the Ottoman in the library and let everybody do their thing around. And I just sit there with my eyes closed and I’ve got my pad and I’ve got my paper. And I’m telling you that my best ideas, the ones that are the most innovative in terms of creating more time freedom, the ones that are helping other people, the thoughts that I go through to solve other problems, they come during that time cause my mind just goes quiet. 


It goes really calm and I write down ideas I never would have thought of if I was productive. And you’ll be amazed by what comes out of your mind if you just sit there and quiet it down for a couple of hours. And I will tell you this, I have times where I’m going, going, going, I’m traveling, I’m giving a speech, I’m running a mastermind in a different city, I’ve got a lot of calls scheduled, I got podcast interviews, I got a lot of stuff going on here at the house with the kids. And I will notice by the end of that week, I will look at my paper and my phone where I write down my ideas and there’s nothing on there. And I realize then how dangerous that is and how destructive that is. Because I got stuff done. But I didn’t think, and I wasn’t creative, I was just getting stuff done. 


And even though it was productive, it wasn’t benefiting me. So all of my progress comes from growth. It comes from new ideas, it comes from new engagement, new creativity, new curiosity. And I have those weeks that I’ve tracked them when I’m really busy and there’s nothing in there, there’s nothing added to it. And that slows down the growth of where I need to get to. So in essence there’s very little time for thinking and ideas that that time for thinking and ideas and I have created all the content that is really gotten the highest amount of engagement, the highest amount of change and the highest amount of feedback from anything I’ve ever put out there that has come from the time where I’ve had quiet time to just think and come up deeper, more thoughtful ideas. Whenever I put something out there, somebody says, oh, that makes me think it’s always come from the questions or the ideas that have come from quiet time. 


It’s rarely when I’m busy and I’m not sure if this resonates with you at all or at least it helps you to maybe loosen up the strings on the schedule just a little bit, but just give it a shot. Blocking some quiet time, time that you’re away from your family, that you’re on your own where you’re not listening to music or a podcast where you’re just sitting there and you were just quote unquote wasting time and thinking. Think of that this way in terms of being wasted time. If you could sit there for an entire day and do nothing but think, but come up with one idea, one incredible idea that changes your life or changes the life of somebody else or send your business on a different track or figures out a way that you can be so much more time efficient or create a different business idea that you hadn’t thought of. 


Would you consider that wasted time or would you consider that maybe the most productive time you’ve ever spent? So slow down a little bit, waste some time, and also it’s going to help you calm down a little bit because it’s going to help you do brain dumps and get things that have been bouncing around your mind, but you haven’t been able to get out of it. It’ll get it out onto paper or onto your computer so you can calm down, sleep better, and actually progress towards your goal. I personally get my best sleep when I’m doing this. When I take time away just to waste, I sleep better at night because I’ve gotten all the junk out of my head. It’s all written down now. I just need to execute on that stuff. So I’m personally giving you permission to go waste some time, get the ideas out, get the creativity flowing, calm down, and get going with what you need to do. Thanks so much again for listening and I’ll be back with you tomorrow.

Episode 12- An Old Wallet And Ratty Shoes

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Here is the transcript for An Old Wallet And Ratty Shoes


It is hard to find somebody who does not like a rags to riches story, a story where a person or a group of people take something where nobody expected them or had any faith that they could actually make a success out of something and against all odds, against all struggles goes and turns that into something successful. Turn that into a winner, turns into something that achieved all expectations and beyond something that inspires other people. At the same time, it’s hard not to be disappointed with those same people. They often forget what it was like in the beginning. They forget the humility and the struggle and the pain that came with the beginning with the challenge, with the odds that they had to overcome with the fact that they didn’t know what they were doing, that they needed help, that they needed to really work and grind and fight for it to get it. 


So we see it a lot. We see people that have actually done something, they, they, they overcome the odds. They do it, they succeed. They forget to be humble and remember what it was like when they were first starting out and how attractive it is when you have humility, when you are humble, when you’re not entitled and when you don’t expect it and you don’t think you deserve everything that came with it. John Wooden, one of the greatest coaches of all time had a great quote about this. He said, talent is god given. Be humble. Fame is man given. Be grateful. Conceit is self given. Be careful. So to be honest, this is something that has always concerned me about success. I think it’s held me back from striving for more, for striving for higher cause. I’ve been around a lot of successful people. When you see the right way to do things a lot of times and you see the wrong way to do things, a lot of times you see the people who no matter how good it gets, remain more and more humble. 

Spe
I heard Bono from U2 talk about this one time when they asked them about all the success, like how hard it is to control that. How hard, like with his ego getting so big, does it get bigger and bigger? And he said, no, it’s actually the opposite. He said for him, the more success he gets, the more humble he gets, the more grateful he is for everything that comes with it. And when you see that in successful people, it really is inspiring to go. They can get all these material things that people strive for, but it doesn’t affect who they are in their character. Unfortunately, a lot of cases you see the exact opposite. It brings out more of who they are. The success goes to their head, the power that comes with it. It’s something that they’ve been striving for and they use it to their advantage. 


They use it selfishly. So personally, the idea of being inauthentic, the idea of being entitled, the idea of losing humility has always frightened me. It’s the biggest fear that I have, that as success grows, that I lose who I am for what I’ve gotten. So that’s why, to me, material stuff has never been that important. The houses and the cars and it’s never been something that I’ve strived for personally. It’s not the reason for doing any of this stuff and when I think about it, I always think back to certain days when things were really, really hard. I think back to the days when we could not pay our bills. I think back to the days when we were deep in debt. I think back to December 31st, 2003 it was the day that I went to Home Depot. We were having a party at our house, and I went and debt one last time I used the credit card one last time to go deeper into debt for this New Year’s Eve party we were having, and it was a day that I said to myself, never again, I’m not going into debt any longer. 


That’s the end of it right there. December 31st, 2003 I was with my brother and I said, this is the last time I’m doing this. And I cut up the credit card that day and the next day Elizabeth and I set on the path of getting towards debt freedom, which took three and a half years. We had two kids in between there. We started a new business, which was the catalyst for earning the income for getting there, but that day, and I never told the story before and after that day, and I didn’t even tell the story in the book about this is that day when I pulled the credit card out of my wallet and I cut and I cut it up. That evening, that slot in the wallet with a credit card went back into it was never replaced with anything. And on top of that, that wallet had a lot of significance for me. 


That previous Christmas, my mother-in-law had given me that wallet as a gift. Now, there was never very much cash in that while we were broke, but we use our credit cards. We went deeper in debt with that wallet and we hit rock bottom while I had that wallet. So when I took that credit card out and I cut it up and I put that wallet back into my pocket with no credit card and we started from the following day through those months to those years of paying down debt, of building up our income of playing defense and then playing offense. That while it stayed with me for three and a half years later, we went into the bank and we paid off our mortgage in full and Elizabeth and I went out to lunch to a Hibachi restaurant. At lunch. I pulled cash out of that wallet to pay for that lunch. Now we were no longer broke at that point. 


We were debt free, completely debt free and at that point we had started building towards the amassing wealth. Now we’re in the wealth creation mode. We were completely out of debt as years and years went on. That wallet started kinda getting torn, started getting ripped apart a little bit, started getting older, started getting more fragile, but I couldn’t part with the wallet. I couldn’t throw it away and I never really thought about it, but I just knew I had to hold onto it. And it wasn’t until over the last couple of years I started pulling that wallet out, and if I meet friends for coffee and I pull up my wallet to pay for pay for coffee or pay for lunch somewhere, I always got a strange look when I pulled the wallet out and never knew why. But it was always a hint of a leftward glance looking at it. 


They’re looking at me a little bit and then nothing more to it. Then finally, last year in Indianapolis, we did a one day mastermind and we went to get lunch and I went to pull up my wallet to pay for lunch. And Brad Ritter, who’s in the mastermind and his wife Leslie were there and he looked at me and he hadn’t, and he was the first person to say to me, he goes, what’s up with your wallet? And I didn’t know how to answer. I said, what do you mean? And he goes, ” What’s the story with that?” Because literally the leather is ripping off of it and it’s torn like from the inside out. And it’s the wallet I still use, and I hadn’t told that story before and I said, I keep this wallet for humility. I keep this wallet because every time I pull it out I think about when we had no money, I think about how broke we were. 


I think about the hard work that went into building what we’ve built since then. And I don’t ever want to lose that. And every time I pull out that wallet, I remember what it was like. I remember the struggle that we went through. I remember the fact that nobody was on our side. I remember that we didn’t have fans or followers or true support in terms of what we were trying to do. It truly felt like us against the world. And I think back in that, and I realize that like John Wooden said, talent is God given to be humble. That fame is man given to be grateful and conceit is self given so be careful. We can believe our own press clippings. Sometimes when things start going well, we can really think we figured it all out and we’re the reason why. But that wallet tells me that that’s not true, that while it tells me that it requires consistent effort, consistent hard work, it requires humility. 


It requires all the people that were there to help all the connections that were built, all the friendships that were built, that propped us up, that got us to where we’re at today. And if I lose sight of that, it will be a giant mistake. And not long after I saw an interview with Mr.T and some of you might remember Mr. T from Rocky III, he was clubber Lang and from various 80’s movies and all over the place back in the 80s and sometimes in the 90s and I saw an interview with him and the, and the reporter was saying, look at you, you’ve got all this gold or this jewelry. You’ve got millions of dollars worth of stuff all over your body. And then I’m looking at your shoes and there’s these ratty embarrassing shoes that you’re wearing. And he said, these shoes keep me humble. 


These shoes were handed down through his family. He said his family members wore them, his brothers wore them. He’s got brothers back in Chicago that are struggling and he’s in Hollywood now and he’s seeing all this money and all this fame and all the success. So at that point, when he’s doing all the special stuff, he’s with these celebrities and these politicians, all these other things that are going on and it can get really wild. And he looks down at his shoes and he says to himself, Hey, don’t get carried away here. And he says to himself, keep your feet on the ground and you’re headed towards heaven. So for you, as you build your success, as you go from where you started to where you’re going to, what are you going to do to not get too ahead of yourself, to keep your feet on the ground and to stay humble. And as Ryan Holiday said, one of my favorite authors. “You’re not as good as you think. You don’t have it all figured out. Stay focused and do better.”

Episode 11- Play The Game A Little Longer

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Here is the transcription for Episode 11- Play The Game A Little Longer-


So yesterday was a little bit of a busy day. I had two mastermind calls to run. I had a podcast interview to do and I had a bunch of networking to do, a bunch of connections to make earlier in the day. So when I was done and I came downstairs- and it’s hard, you know when you run your business from home and we have three kids, and we homeschool. So literally you open the door and you’ve got to switch from business mode to dad and parent mode. And that’s hard for me sometimes because I’m wound up, I’m excited, I’m involved in the conversation, I’m exhausted. Like a lot of those calls I’m exhausted because we dive in to people’s issues and you’re emotionally invested into it. And then you open the door and you’ve got an eight year old waiting there for you. Literally like waiting outside the door. 


And the first thing he says to me as I opened the door and start to head downstairs for dinner is, “Hey Dad, can we go outside and play baseball in the backyard?” And I was tired. I mean I was, I was tired. I was just mentally spent, felt physically spent and I’m hungry. And we are going to eat dinner, but you have this adorable little face looking at you wanting to play baseball. I delayed and I said, “Yeah, why don’t we play after dinner and then we’ll go outside in the backyard and play.” And I was tired. I was like, I really quite honestly did not want to go play baseball, but Dylan is a lot like his dad. He’s very persistent. He knows what he wants, he pushes forward, even if it’s pushing a little too hard sometimes. But as soon as dinner was over, he was like, “Dad, can we go play baseball?” 


And I was like, sure, let’s go. And I kind of took a deep breath. My eyes were tired, I was ready. You know, the sun was starting to come down. It was later in the evening and generally we’re winding the kids down at that point, you know, you guys go get showered and let’s get ready for bed. Read a book to settle it down so we can get to sleep at a good time. So, okay, let’s go play baseball, let’s go in the backyard. We went in the backyard and immediately I was, I was happy I made the decision. And this isn’t about playing with the kids in the backyard. Like that’s something that we all want to do, but there’s a, there’s a lesson to this deeper than that. So we’re in the backyard and the sun is setting and it’s one of those nights, I don’t know if you remember as a kid, but to me those memories of those summer nights when the sun is setting and it’s, it’s almost back lit. 


It’s dusk and it’s just, that’s how I remember summer time as my childhood. And those were those, those were the most memorable moments for me. I loved that time, late in the evening, the fireflies are starting to come out, the sun is down, but you still have that dusk feeling to it. I love, I have so many memories of that from my childhood. So that’s where we are. We’re in that moment and I’m looking at his face as I’m pitching the ball and I’m like, there is no place I’d rather be than right here. So I’m so glad I made that decision. But what happened was it was a lesson that came out of it beyond that, and we’re pitching the wiffle ball and he’s hitting it and then he’s missing a couple. And then he wanted to play with the real bat. So we grabbed the baseball bat and I grabbed the baseball. 


Now he’s hitting some nice shots, but he’s missing a bunch too. He’s eight and he’s going after. He’s getting, he’s getting better. And then he wanted to go back to wiffle ball. So we went back to wiffle ball. And what happened was he hit one out of every three balls, and then Nolan came out to play with us. So he’s, he’s fielding the fly balls. And at this point I’m really tired. And this is, I’m like, okay, we’ve, we’ve done a bunch and I’m, I’m kinda ready to wind this down at this point. So I said to him, I said, instead of saying, oh, we’ve got five more balls to hit. I said, “Okay, if you miss one, we’re done.” So he said, “So if I miss another one, we go inside?” I said, “Exactly. If you miss another one, the next one that you miss is when we go inside.” And then an amazing thing happened. 


He hit eleven balls in a row. Some of them were hard shots, some of them were popups. A couple of them were foul tips that barely hit the bat, but as he tipped it, he looked at me with a wide grin and a face. He says, “I hit that one! I hit it.” I said, you did. Let’s keep going. And what happened was he went eleven balls in a row and I don’t think he had ever hit eleven balls in a row, So we collected the balls and got ready to head on side, closed the garage and get inside, it struck me what just happened, because he did not want that game to end. And by not wanting the game to end, he focused intently on what he had to do. It was not so much about like lazy failure, let me hit this one or let me take a bad swing. 


He made sure every swing was spot on. It was the best that he possibly could do. And even as foul tips were stretching him, trying and getting a little bit farther, the intensity and the focus elevated tremendously just by saying the next one you miss, we’re going inside. So he prolonged the game, probably another five minutes with his focus. And it was a great time. We came inside and he told Mom, he said, “I hit eleven balls in a row and I hit one onto the deck” and he was all excited about it. He came upstairs, got a shower, got ready for bed and everything was wonderful. And I, and as we’re winding the night down, I thought, you know, I kind of almost bring every, every lesson into an entrepreneurial lesson because I think they’re really tied in. But I thought about that like he got to play the game longer because of his focus. 


And I think that is something that gets missed so often in this world of freelancing and entrepreneurship, the people that are afraid it’s going to fail them. I have to go get a job. The fear that comes with that, like I want to, this is what I want to do. But they fail to see that by staying focused on what it is that you need to do. The main task allows you to play the game longer. And that is the key. My focus quite often, especially as we were building this, as time goes on, it becomes less and less of a worry. But my focus was I don’t want to go back and get another job. I don’t want to go back to that world. So I need to stay focused on what needs to get done and nothing else and what’s most important to get done. 


So I can play this game just a little bit longer. And what that allows you to do is not get caught off guard by the distractions. Because if Dylan noticed that squirrel running along the top of the fence or if he was distracted by Nolan making a silly face out in the outfield or if he just really didn’t pay attention, that game would’ve ended. The game would be over and we’d have to be inside and he’d be done and he knew he wanted the game to go on longer. This is the lesson for the freelancers and the entrepreneurs is to keep your eye on the ball so that you get to play the game longer and when you get to play the game longer, you get better. And what Dylan did last night was in a short period of time, he got better and the turnaround from that is as you get better, you now get to play the game longer and the more you can do that, less you say, is this going to work? 


Is this business gonna last? Am I going to have to go back and and get another job? Is My spouse going to think I’m a failure? All that stuff starts to dissipate because as you get better, the game goes longer. You keep getting better, the game goes even longer and before you know it, there is no way you’re not going to play this game anymore. So as freelancers and entrepreneurs, we need to make sure that the most important thing is the most important thing so we can keep going. And Dylan knew the most important thing was to not miss a ball, otherwise he had to go inside and he wound up doing something that he had never done before. Now I want to translate that to you. What do you need to do to focus on so that you can keep the game going so that you could do stuff so that you can do stuff that you’ve never done before? Thank you so much for listening. If you are new to the show, just know that if you want a free audio copy of my book, freelance to freedom, you can go to our website totallifefreedom.com/f2fbook. You can download the audio book for free and I’d love for you to just get that, consume it and hopefully that will help you out. And I will be back with you tomorrow.

Episode 10- Do You Need An Audit?

http://totallifefreedom.libsyn.com/do-you-need-an-audit-0

Here is the transcription to Episode 10- Do You Need An Audit?


Well, we are not anywhere near April and I’m not going to worry you with IRS audits on this one, but we’re going to talk about audits and why you need more audits- and not the audits that you think. This is about you auditing more situations in your life so you can learn about things that you haven’t figured out yet. And I want to ask you if you think you’re auditing enough, and I’m going to give you an example of an audit in my life that really changed my life around, but it was something that I needed to take charge even though there was no academic or short term benefit to it. But it was some that felt right. It was one that I knew I needed to take the chance on. And when I was a student back at Ohio University, I went to school for visual communication in journalism and I was an Undergrad even though I was a 26 year old undergrad!


So I was in a lot of the basic photography classes even though I had been a pro photographer for about three years at that point. So I was a little bit frustrated because I want to be in the tougher classes. I wanted them to be with the Grad students. I wanted to be with the ones that were doing the harder work that were getting pushed more so I noticed that the Grad students had a class called magazine photography and in this class, for one semester they were going to lay out a story. They were going to photograph a story for a magazine and they were, then they were going to lay out the story in magazine forms of, by the time it was done, they were going to have a 24 page magazine New York Times style. The way it used to be was 24 pages. 


It was going to be a full start to finish photo story that you wrote and shot. It was just a beautiful portfolio piece that was for each of these Grad students. It was going to lead to a job offer in one of the newspapers and magazines that we want to work for. That’s how good this thing was. So I went to Terry Eiler who is the professor of the class, and I asked if I could audit the class. I wasn’t looking for credit, I wasn’t looking for anything academically from it. I just wanted to sit in and listen and he said I couldn’t do it. It wasn’t something they were allowed to do, so I was really bummed out. I was like, oh, I have to wait at least another semester or another year maybe to be able to do this. But when I left the classroom, I went to my left and then I went to the right. 


I noticed that the class started, but the door was still open, so I had my notepad, I had my backpack, I had a pad and I had a pen. So I just sat down outside the classroom and I just listened to about 20 minutes of the class as they started going into it, I just started taking notes. I started noticing the people who were talking, I wrote down their names. I wrote down what their projects where I started writing down what the suggestions were and the lessons. So I was so intrigued by this that I came back the next class and I had that time frame open every day that they had class I was open. So instead of going and grabbing a Burrito or a coffee, I went to the Viscom building and I sat down and I audited the class. Listening week after week class after class, I set out there and I started writing down the different ideas. 


I started writing down the suggestions they were making. I was writing down the criticisms, I was writing down the advice and I started thinking about what my magazine project would be because I had no idea. And then all of a sudden I came up with the idea, I’m going to be home in New York from Thanksgiving through New Year’s. I had the whole time to do whatever I want do. So I came up with the idea of, while I was listening to this, I wanted to do a story about New York City. I wanted to do something that was different about New York. While I was back and I thought about transportation. I thought about the subway because the New York City subway is iconic, so I said, okay, I’m going to do a picture story about the F train in New York City because I took the F train all the time when I worked in New York, when I worked for the Associated Press and I lived in Queens, I would take the F train into the Rockefeller Center where I worked for the Associated Press, so I was like, that’s one of the most diverse subway lines you can imagine. 


It goes to the really poor ends of Queens, and then goes through Manhattan and all the hustle and bustle of Manhattan and then through, you know, Rockefeller Center area and then into Wall Street where there’s all this money and the bulls and the bears and then into Brooklyn, which had a ton of seediness. It’s not the Brooklyn that it is now and then into Coney Island, which was just really diverse. A lot of different ethnicities, a lot of different nationalities, a lot of different- it was just a total melting pot of a subway. I said, that’s going to be the story that I’m going to work on. So through the entire semester, the entire fall semester of sitting there, not only that, I came up with the idea, I got all the lessons, I got all the feedback that they were given as they were going through their magazine class. 


And then I went back without anybody knowing it. And then Thanksgiving break came. I went back to New York. I spent 30 days on the F train. I spent the entire day, eight hours a day on the subway, and it got really tiring being on this train all day long. But I really got to get a feel the essence of what the F train was all about 30 days, eight hours a day. I can’t even tell you how many rolls of film I shot, but I knew it was something special. I got a guy getting busted for, for selling drugs at the police. Chased him down that I got to hang out with the police. I got guys playing violin on the subway. People, um, you know, arguments, fights, lovers, this guy carrying a thing of cotton candy to Madison Square Garden that took up four seats and you can’t even see the guy’s head, um, the homeless, like shaving on the platform, everything you can imagine was going on there. 


So I photograph this the entire time. So I came back to school in the winter session and I went to Terry’s office and I had told them what I had done because he knew nothing about it. And at that point I think maybe I proved myself with my dedication. He didn’t even know I was sitting outside of his classroom. And then I showed him the film that was all developed and edited and he said, okay, “I’m taking you on here.” He goes, “I am going to personally help you edit your magazine and have it done.” So I got without ever paying for a class or ever joining the class, I got a one on one mentorship for the magazine class. So the entire semester he worked with me and laid out this magazine, which he was the expert of. We put it into this incredible magazine. 


And what happened from there was pretty remarkable. We submitted that to the William Randolph Hearst Foundation for the national championship of student photographers, and it was one of the top awards to where I was selected as one of the top six photographers in the country. The reward, you get the fly to San Francisco for a two day shoot off where you competed against the five other photographers around the nation that were the top of the game, and the winner of that would be the William Randolph Hearst national grand champion. And not only that, but you win money from it too. So we go to San Francisco, we do the shoot off. It’s a couple of days of shooting. It’s very intimidating. You’re working against some of the best photojournalists in the country and then, they take you on a yacht for cruise around San Francisco Bay over by Alcatraz, and they announced the winners. 


We’re on this cruise all dressed up, which I normally wasn’t in this fancy setting. And I hear my name called for best picture story. So I go up and I win the award. That’s the story about the F train- wins the best picture story and it’s first place and it’s $1,000 I’m like that’s pretty sweet. And all the recognition. And then they go on and they announce who the photographer of the year was and they go through it and there’s six photographers. So the third place winners selected, which was Michael Weimer, who we became good friends and I was like, okay, either I didn’t win at all or I win second or I win first. And the second place winner was announced who was Chris Hamilton, who is extremely talented, extremely talented photographer from Western Kentucky. So he went second place. So at that point you’re thinking it’s either all or nothing. I’m not going to win any of it, which is still huge.

I still get to be there, I’m not going to win any of it or I’m going to be first prize. And then they announced the first place winner, which is not only the winner of the championship, but also when $5,000 and when they say the name and they said from Ohio University, and they say my first name, because Rob Ostermeier was a classmate of mine, he was there as well. So it could have been me or Rob. So they said, Ohio University. And they said Vincent. And all of a sudden I went blank. I’m like, I cannot believe this. I just won first prize for all of this. And that came with not only the accolades of the award, but $5,000 so I go back to, oh you, I mean it’s just absolutely incredible moment. 


I go back to Ohio, everything’s fantastic. Elizabeth and I get jobs in Evansville from there, you know, when the money, which turned out to be the money that went on the down payment or our first house. And what I learned from that was, you know, the awards are great and the accolades is wonderful. But what I learned from that is none of that would’ve happened without the audit. None of that would have happened if I just did things normal. If I just did what was expected, I needed to sit outside that class. There were so many lessons that I learned from sitting outside that class that I can tell you right now that picture story would not have been as good. I might not have ever even done the picture story if it wasn’t for sitting outside of that class and then auditing that class and just paying attention to what all these people were doing that I wasn’t doing yet catapulted me and it allowed me to get such a headstart. 


So when I went into that story, when I went into shooting in New York City for a month, I was totally prepared. They had me ready and I want to tell the story because I want to know what you should be auditing right now. I want to know what are the things that you need to learn that you really need to put yourself into and stop pretending that you already know what you need to know or stop being afraid of taking the chance. Because I can tell you a lot of people thought I was crazy for taking up that time to do that, but the ripple effect from the moment I sat outside that class to what we’re doing today and all the success and all the experiences and all the stories and all the freedom that has come from that, I can say, I can point back to that moment as one of the pivotal moments that got us here and the lesson from it, even more important. So I want to know something that you’re going to audit, something you’re going to start paying attention to that’s going to get you to the next level. Thank you. As always, for taking the time to listen and I will be back with you tomorrow.

Episode 9- The Only Two Days That Matter

http://totallifefreedom.libsyn.com/the-only-two-days-that-matter

Below is the transcription of Episode 9-The Only Two Days That Matter


I want to start today with a giant thank you. Thank you to all of you who helped us in this last week. I announced on Friday through a Facebook post about theTotal Life Freedom Podcast, how we just started it and sharing the word on it and what has happened since then has been ridiculous and it’s thanks to all of you who are listening who help this because we’ve already had more than a thousand unique downloads. It’s been downloaded in 40 states in the U.S, been downloaded in 17 different countries and on six continents. Now Antartica is still, we’re still waiting on you Antarctica for somebody, somebody there if it’s possible to download the podcast, but this has been amazing. This has been an amazing start and I’m just so grateful to so many of you who commented, who shared the post, who told other people about it, who left reviews. 


I think there’s, there’s got to be close to 50 reviews already on iTunes for the Total Life Freedom Podcast. That’s all thanks to you guys and girls being so generous and helping me out so much. And I am just extremely grateful for this start because I seriously thought nobody would listen and that was going to be totally fine. And that’s the idea of this podcast is what that’s about because today’s episode is a milestone in another way, which is today’s is the ninth episode and it matters because of this- most podcasts end somewhere between the seventh and eighth episode, that’s when most podcasters quit. Now it’s a little bit easier for me doing a solo show that’s a shorter show. That’s not the same as doing interviews where you have to line people up for guests, you have to line guests up for interviews. That’s a lot more detailed than what I’m doing. 


But still most people stop after seven or eight episodes. So being on Episode Nine, it’s like, okay, we’ve already gotten past the dip part as Seth Godin would talk about. We’re moving on from there and it’s not going to happen because there’s already 30 episodes recorded in terms of different ideas that will work for podcast episodes. And you know, hundreds more in terms of ideas that I have already, but it still is a big deal to get past that and what I want to talk about are the only two days that really should matter to you only two days that matter to me. And if you agree with this and you go along with this, they might be the only two days that matter to you. Now, I’ve heard the saying over and over again that the only day that matters is today. Today’s the only day- you can’t relive yesterday. 


You can’t live tomorrow. You can’t live in the future. You can’t go way back in the past. The only thing you have is today. And I believed that for a really long time. But for me, I came to a different conclusion and the conclusion was there are two days that really matter, not just one. There are two days that really matter that is today and three years from today. Now, conventional wisdom will tell you that today is the only day that matters. If you live for today, every day your life is going to be happy. It’s going to be less stressful and you will live a full life. And that makes sense because most of us are so wrapped up in terms of what happened to us in the past or what’s the future going to be like? What’s going to happen? Worry about what the future going to hold. 


And it paralyzes us from doing stuff today. So that really does matter. And because of that, they never really get to take full advantage of today. But there is a downside to only focusing on today. I can see a lot of people arguing with me about this and that’s totally fine. We’ll have our disagreements. But if you just live for today, it doesn’t have any future planning to it. It allows you to go about your day happy and content, but you’re not going to think about what’s going to happen in the future. You’re not going to think about what you want in the future and you’re going to just basically be happy with today, which is most important. That is the most important day. But you’re not going to be thinking about where you want to go to or the steps that you need to take to get to where you want to go.


For instance, not handling your money well in the past and not handling your money well today is going to lead to desperation in the future. How many people do you know that are working in jobs today that they don’t want to be in, but they’re in it simply because they live for today. They borrowed from their future to pay for the house that they really want. They borrowed from their future to pay for vacations, to pay for cars, to pay for clothes, to pay for food. They borrowed all this from their future, the future that they were robbing because they are only thinking about today. And they might’ve been thinking about today while lamenting the past. That’s a whole different story. But there could be a lot of truth to that. So for me, the two days that matter are today and three years from today, and here’s why. 


Thinking about today and three years from today is a mind trick that I played on myself. I play it on myself every day and it gives me clarity. It gives me confidence and it gives us success going forward. Now, why are those the only two days that matter to me now? If you think about today, you forget your past. You forget all of your mistakes, no matter what it was, relationships, money, health, work, any of those things. If you could erase all that stuff from your mind and you just look outside today, can you be grateful for what you have today? Can you just be appreciative that you’re alive? Can you be appreciative of the people that are in your life? Can you be appreciative of even the failures that you had made that you would learn from, that you would not have ever learned if it wasn’t for the mistakes that you had made in the past that got you to where you are today? 


Now, can you do that without anger and regret and missed expectations about what could have been? Are you able to do that? If you can, you can live today content and in the present. That’s the first part of it. The second part of it is three years from today. Now this is a little more complex. Now, if you are happy and you are content and you are appreciative of where you are today, you’ve completely freed yourself from the past. You’ve gotten past that. Whether you’ve eliminated things or you’ve moved past it, you now have eliminated any of the past problems that you had. You’re living solely for today. The past is only left for lessons and for memories, but if you want to grow today is not going to be enough. You’ll be content, but you will not be satisfied with the growth going on in your life. 


Now, there is an adage that says you are either growing or you’re dying and I believe that. I believe that with all of my heart, and this is where the three years comes in for me now in a complete transparency, three years is something that I just made up for myself. For you. It could be a year, it could be six months, it could be two years, 10 years, whatever. But for me, it’s three years, because I can see it. It’s close enough that I can remember three years ago. I can remember the progress. It’s not too far, but it’s far enough away that I know that planning this will have dramatic impact on our life when we get there. So that’s where the three years comes into this. If you’re happy and content today, but working today to make three years from today the ideal life for yourself, your family, and everybody around you, you are now on your way because living for today and living for three years from today, we’ll give you the awareness to live in the present, but the foresight to make three years from now so much better. 


It also allows you to not make short term, dream killing decisions that we make if we’re not planning for our future. It also allows you to stay away from the work and the things today that are not going to get you where you want to go. It puts boundaries on decisions you’re going to make because it doesn’t line up with what’s best for today and what’s best for three years from now. What’s best for today when you’re not feeling well might be a huge bowl of ice cream. But this gives you the awareness of this is not the best decision for three years from now because so many people are doing work that gets them by today or this week, but it has nothing to do with what they want their life to be like three years from now. And if you’d do it that way, you really don’t need much today because you’re really happy with what you got. 


You’ve gotten rid of the past you’re living for today, so you don’t need that quick fix. You don’t feel like you’re behind. You need to spend some money to catch up. You’re happy with today, so you’re going to be better with your money today. But working for three years from now is going to ensure that you’re only working on things that are going to progress you in the direction that you want to get to with no desperation of living today or from the past. So in essence, it’s always three years away. And if you do this day after day, year after year, it’s always three years away. When the calendar moves forward a year, you’re in better shape this year than you were last year, and your goal is still that you’re working for is three years away. So even a year from now, you’re going to have better relationships. 


You’re going to have, you’re going to be in the better money situation, you’re going to be in better health. And then a year from now, when you look at three years ahead, you’re even in better shape as you plan your future out because your future gets better and better, brighter and brighter, not worse and worse. And even today is better than a year ago because of the choices you’ve made over the past year with your health, money, relationships. So I’m practicing what I preach here too. I just started this podcast. There are no expectations. There is nothing I need from this right now. I’m doing this to get better and enjoying this today, but thinking about what it’s going to be like three years from today, so three years from today, if I do a daily podcast, I’ll have over a thousand episodes published now. When I look at what life could be like, then what the opportunities will be there, then that gives me all the incentive to not quit after eight episodes because it’s not about now. 


It’s about three years from today. Am I enjoying this now and loving it? Am I going to be in better shape three years from now by being consistent and not quitting? Absolutely. Who even knows what opportunities are going to be there at that point? I would love to do an episode three years from today, July 15th, 2022 actually, I want to mark it on the calendar now. So I do that to go back and talk about this and what has happened since then and that gives me the incentive to not quit and I want that for you. I want you to enjoy your life today. I want you to appreciate everything you have around you, but make all of your decisions for three years from now. So next year when you get there, everything’s better and three years and then has the possibility of being unbelievable for your life. All right, let’s go have an awesome week. Thanks so much for listening. I’ll talk to you tomorrow.