I am scared to start. I have a million ideas that I would love to execute. I can visualize the details and imagine the success but most of the time I don’t even start.
Even if I do start I get a little ways into the process and realize that my original idea has changed, or the market has changed, or I get a new idea. It’s the change that freaks me out. I put on the breaks and I throw in the towel.
And…nothing happens. I still have a million ideas that never see the light of day.
When I first started blogging and had every intention to create something that others would value. But, I worried about what the end project would look like. That insecurity led me to reach out and ask for some advice. I didn’t take it, but I got it.
Truth is I wasn’t ready for it. There are a lot of insectaries that I was working though (still working through) that prevented me from really committing.
The first person I reached out to was Tanner Guzy. He runs the men’s style blog Masculine-Style. He quit his full time job this February to run his sight full time.
He told me that the most important thing was to be consistent. Be consistent and people will show up.
I wasn’t consistent.
Then I reached out to my friend Richie T. Steadman. At the time his podcast The Cultural Hall was getting some early traction. I asked him if the podcast had changed since he recorded the first episode?
He said that it absolutely did. That it was very different from what he thought it was going to be and that he just had to get to a point where he had to let evolve into it’s own thing.
Then yesterday as I was eating lunch I came across this video of Casey Neistat with his company Beme. If you don’t know Casey Neistat then you need to spend some time on his channel.
Beme started out as a social media app, which then got bought by CNN. They have since turned it into a media company that is trying to find it’s footing. I edited this video just to shoe the process Casey talks about.
My point is this:
This are going to change, opinions change, opportunities change, it’s what makes like exciting. If you would have told me in college that I would eventually be the Director of Admissions at a small private art college in Oregon I wouldn’t have believed you. I was dead set on doing theatre for the rest of my life. But, I wouldn’t change where I’m at.
Just because a project I start changes doesn’t mean that it doesn’t have value. It just means that things changed and it provides a different kind of value.
When I took Drawing 2 in college I took my final project to my professor to ask for a critique. She was honest and told me it was awful. I erased the whole thing and started over again.
After I was done with the second iteration I went back to my professor with it. I could tell something wasn’t right but I needed some validation. She told me again to start over.
I did and third one worked out. It was a crappy process that I don’t remember when I need to.
It’s okay for things to change. It’s okay for me change.
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The key thing for me in managing my time is understanding how long things take. In order to do this I have to remember to pull out my phone and time what it is I’m doing. That never happens.
If I don’t know how long something is going to take I hesitate to get started. Especially little things. Because things always take longer than I think they’re going to take.
In his book Getting Things Done, David Allen explains a rules he has to getting these little things done.
This is all well and good except for the fact that I have a hard time judging how long two-minutes really is. When I’m watching an episode of Master of None two minutes flies by. But when I’m watching a crappy YouTube ad two minutes feels like forever.
I discovered a new way to judge two minutes, that way I can get more done and manage my time better.
I have a Sonicare toothbrush. That toothbrush has an internal timer for 2 minutes broken up into four 30 second chunks. The other night I had forgotten my headphones downstairs, rather than wait until after I was done brushing my teeth to get them I went while brushing my teeth.
I assumed that it would have taken me a minute maybe even a minute and half to get my head phones. It actually took me less than 30 seconds.
It’s not important that it took me less than 30 seconds. What is important that I now have a standard to judge against. The more I understand how long two minutes is the more I can judge the time I have to get things done.
What unconventional methods do you have to managing your time?
I've always loved this because it means that I could do what I want. I don’t have to fall in line with someone else’s plan. I could create the life that I wanted and be rewarded.
The only way this phrase actually works is if what I loved provided enough value that people were willing to pay for it. Money is the social way of showing value.
I don’t love that, but that is reality.
When I lost my job teaching drama I went through a bit of an identity crisis. It occurred to me that what I was doing didn’t provide value. If it did I would still have a job teaching drama or be able to get another one.
Before all my artist friends, former students and parents of former students protest, let’s dive into perception. I can look back on how I was raised and the thing that had the biggest influence on me was theatre, that’s why I wanted to do it.
But when it comes to providing value perception is reality. One of the hardest personal finance lessons for me to learn and accept was where I spend my money shows what I value.
In this country right now public education holds little value. That’s why we pay teachers so little. The arts fit into that same category. Theatre is at the bottom.
Theatre is expensive. Continually expensive. The return on that investment is rare, even under the best circumstances. The value isn’t there.
It’s one thing to walk into a bad movie having paid $7, or even $15, to see it. It’s disappointing. But I have seen enough good movies that I would likely go back to see another one. Especially if I know the actors, the director, or the story. Sometimes the experience alone is worth the money.
If I go to a play and spend $50-$100 a ticket and it’s mediocre. The value drops. It’s not worth the risk. It’s hard for me to justify attending again.
I get the idea of art for arts sake to a point. My kids will be enriched by the arts, they will become better people because to them. I know that and for that reason I will put my kids through arts programs.
If they show an interest in engineering, I will foster the crap out of that because the return on investment has a higher potential.
I had dinner with a friend of mine who has two 3D printers. He has money to spare. What he does for a living is so sought after and valuable that people are willing to pay a ton of money for it. His skills are valuable.
All of these things got me thinking about value and the value that I provide. No matter what I do.
A couple of weeks ago I wrote about money and some of my beliefs about money. Here’s the revelation for this post. Money shows value.
The more money I make the more valuable I am providing.
If I want to change my financial situation then how is it that I can provide more value? It’s at this point that I had another epiphany. This is where personal branding comes into play.
The internet told me that personal branding has to do with my social media profiles and my resume. But those are just the natural result of value that I already provide.
Personal branding is a new name but it’s old concept. Personal brand used to be passed by word of mouth because that was the only way to pass it on. The digital age changed the way the value we provide gets spreads.
If I’m a workhorse then I’m going to have a stellar resume.
If I live an interesting life and document it through Instagram then my following is going to show that.
That’s the hard part about value. I want the results, but the only way to get the results is to put in the work. And that’s hard.
Here’s the benefit of understanding this reality. If I am providing enough value then people will pay me. If I’m not, then they won’t.
It becomes a scale of the service that I am providing. If I know that the work that I am doing is valuable but the perceptions isn’t there then there is a breakdown in communication. That’s when I need to market it better.
There is a lot of business talk in all of this, that’s because everything is business. When I got into education and specifically theatre I didn’t think that I would need business skills. But what I found was that my administration didn’t care what I was doing. If they didn’t know what I was doing then I wasn’t providing value. If there’s no value then why is it being funded? That’s how I lost my job.
I learned this too late. It wasn’t until the semester before the program was cut that I started letting my administration know what I was doing. How many students were involved in my after school program, the parents that were involved, the awards the students were bringing back from competition, the recognition the school was getting. It was too late.
The experience of losing my “secure job” taught me that I am a business. No matter what business I’m in. I need provide a valuable service, and market myself with the value that I can provide. No one else it going to do it for me.
I am wired to find a sense of purpose. I like to have a reason behind the things that I do. I like having the delusion that I’m here for a reason and am making things better.
I want the same for my kids. Not because they’re entitled to it or because I think they’re here to fulfill some grand plan. What I really want for them is to have a why.
If you’re unfamiliar with Simon Sinek TED talk you should take 20 minutes and watch it.
If you’re too lazy (no judgment), then here’s a breakdown.
Most people know what they do. Less people know how they do it. Even less have a reason why they do what they do.
That sense of purpose, drive, ambition and excellence…I want to instill that in my children.
Over the last few years I studied masculinity and the role it plays in society. In that course of study I came across rites of passages that clearly define when a boy becomes a man.
Here’s a great writeup about masculine rites of passage.
On the surface these appear to be tests and social proof of machismo. To a certain degree they are. I can’t put them in a “those ancient cultures didn’t know what they were talking about” category. They’ve existed for too long and I think that’s giving modern society too much credit.
Instead, I think they were ways to give permission and approval.
I have spent most of life looking for approval to do things. The reality is that I don’t need permission to do anything, I’m an adult. But when did that transition happen?
It could be anything or any time. As I reflect back on all the things that I did, none of them stand out as a clear transition of control into my hands.
The problem is that society is made of asking for permission for everything. The reason for this is to provide safety for children. Which I get. But when there isn’t a transition out of that “asking for permission” phase then we get finger pointing, and entitlement.
The safety net becomes a crutch.
Perhaps I’m projecting my own experience. I am still trying to get over my finger pointing and sense of entitlement.
This last weekend my son turned 8. For Mormons this is the age of accountability. I think it’s a good beginning of this transition into manhood, or adulthood (I plan on doing the same thing with my daughter).
I wanted to give him a sense of transition, that things are going to be different, that he has more responsibilities. For the time being it is my job to take care of him, but I won’t always be around. Eventually he’s going to have to take care of himself, and then a family of his own.
I also wanted to attach this concept to something physical. One of the benefits of these ancient rituals is that they have a physical component they aren’t just something that is intellectualized.
For his 8th birthday I made him this:
It’s a monkey fist made out of paracord.
This knot was used by mariners to help dock a ship or bring two ships together in open waters. One end of the rope was attached to the ship and the knotted end could be thrown ashore. The ship could then be pulled in.
I explained to my son that being 8 is a big deal. That he needs to start doing things on his own. He needs to start making his own choices.
Sometimes making those choices is hard because he doesn’t know what the outcome is going to be. This knot represents a safety net. That I would always be there to help bring him ashore. This was our lifeline and connection. He’ll be on his own, until he needs help.
Now it’s up to me to start giving the freedom to make his own choices and deal with the consequences (within reason of course).
To add a little drama to the whole event I woke him up at 5:30 in the morning told him to get dressed as quickly and as quietly as he could and meet me downstairs. I didn’t answer any of his questions.
We drove up the canyon to watch the sun rise and I gave them the knot. Then we went for breakfast.
If you’re interested in the making one this is the best diagram I found:
The event had the impact that I wanted. But events don’t mean anything unless the context has changed and there is appropriate follow up.
That’s where the real work begins. Either way I am excited about the steps we’ve taken.
How do you pass on to your kids a sense of responsibility and accountability?
Money is like religion. Not that it just gets worshiped, but that there are irrational beliefs that surround it. Like religion everyone has their own, based on their own experience, and how they were raised.
I have always said that money is a necessary evil (a tell of my beliefs about money). I never had the intention of going out and making a lot of money. What was more important to me was finding meaning the work that I was doing.
When I went to college, that was my goal. Finding work that would give me meaning. That’s how I ended up in theatre, and education.
I got married young (22) and getting married forced me to grow up quickly. I was forced into some realities that aren’t overly pleasant.
And of course, MONEY.
I carry a lot of baggage about money surrounding my beliefs about what money is, how it works, and it’s role in my life. The hard thing about these beliefs is that I didn’t know they existed, they were my normal. They were my everyday.
The only reason they started to surface was because I got married and my wife has a whole different set of beliefs about money. It means something different to her than it means to me.
I realized that my perception about money isn’t reality.
There’s a lot of things about money that I don’t particularly like. I give money a lot of power. Money controls a lot of my actions. That’s not something I’m particularly proud of.
For a while now I’ve tried to identify my relationship with money so that I get to the point I want to financially. I don’t want to spend my whole life stressing about money.
This is the point in the blog post where I tell you how I did that so you can repeat the process. That would be a. I haven’t figured it out. I work at it everyday.
That’s a lie. Most days I don’t work at it at all.
Since the beginning of the year money has become a major focus. I think about it a lot (but not everyday). There is one thing that I have learned, that has somewhat changed my behavior.
Money management is health management.
Just like I can’t get a six pack from the one workout and the half day of clean eating. I’ll never have decent finances without some consistent work. I know, I know, I’ve known that.
I’ve always known that. So what changed?
I realized that money is a tool. I exchange money for what I want, for what I value. When I fill out the values sections of Franklin-Covey planner I put down the standard answers of what I value. The things I think I value. The things I want value.
The primary answers. But the uncomfortable truth is that I spend my money on what I value.
I just had a great conversation with a former high school teacher of mine about the impact of travel. He’s a guy that values travel. He spends his time, energy and money making it happen.
Before you think it takes a lot of money to travel remember that he was my high school teacher. And he didn’t come from money.
When I look at where I spend my money I am really looking at what I value. It turns out to be food.
(This is a 6 month snap shot of where we spend money. Our house is the biggest expense we have and we bought a car within the last 6 months)
If you would have asked me in college what I would end up spending a good portion of money on I wouldn’t have said food. I also weighed 150 pounds and would often forget to eat meals.
I have since found the value in good food (obviously). Also notice that food isn’t on my primary list.
I could argue that it fits under family because we spend time together cooking, or eating out or whatever. Or health. Whatever’s going to help me sleep at night right? I categorize it as both by the way. And I sleep just fine. Better than ever actually.
I bring this up because of the hard question that it asks….
Is this really what I value?
It’s not a question of how I can optimize my spending at the grocery store, it’s a question of personal value. What I find important.
I can clip coupons all day to save money at the grocery store. Turns out that they don’t coupon real food. Only the things that come in a box. That’s a whole other blog post.
The benefit of this chart is that I get an idea about where I’m spending my day-to-day money (the trees). But life is made up of a whole bunch of trees (a forest). I don’t want to get caught off guard and lose of sight of my entire life (my whole value system) because of the things that are immediate and right in front of my face.
Making big changes is impossible because it’s too much change too quickly and habits are hard to replace. In order to gain some control over the forest I need to start looking at the forest.
Once a week I sit down with my wife and look at the finances. That’s it. For now. Sometimes it doesn’t happen every week.
The real crappy part is that when we first started doing it there’s not a lot we could do except look at it. When I want to make changes, to anything, I want to make them now.
Trying to make adjustments right after Christmas and in the middle of the month would have caused more damage. It was over the next few months of looking at it every week that we started to understand our habits and were able to make adjustments.
We adjusted budgets. We made short term and long-term goals. We made room for some splurging without guilt.
It’s all the same stuff you’ll read in any finance post or habit book. The things that really got me to take action was recognizing the power that money had over me.
I don’t want to be a slave to anything.
What’s your relationship like with money? Any great tools or tricks you’ve found that help keep you on track?
I attended my sister-in-laws wedding at the beginning of May. Leaving the kids behind, my wife and I got away for the weekend.
Weddings can be great events; they fit into same category as family reunions. There are more pleasantries and less honesty due to the nature of the event surrounding a single person. That respect is nice.
Like most stereotypical weddings there was a dance following the ceremony and the dinner. I have a history with dance. Despite my childhood dream of becoming the tap dance guy from Sesame Street I’ve only had a week (3 days) of formal lessons.
Like Ellen, I just like to dance.
I went to two different high schools. At the first one it was customary to spend upwards of $100 on tickets to the dance only to show up for a couple of slow songs and then leave. At the second, my date and I were always the first ones through the doors.
It took my high school girlfriend a little while to get used to this. The reason I liked to show up early was because we’d have a sold half an hour with the dance floor to ourselves.
I love the dance floor because of the lack of judgment. It’s a safe place to let loose, even for a moment. I don’t judge anyone, including myself. That is incredibly freeing.
Although I don’t think I realized it in high school there is a part of my authentic self that will only show through on the dance floor. When I can move to whatever music is playing, preferably surrounded by friends (but not always).
This freedom creates vulnerability and connection. Adding in touch it is a great way to connect with anyone.
I got sick at dance in high school and the girl I went with was great about it. It didn’t workout romantically but we have history that can’t be replaced. While she doesn’t know my darkest secrets, she has seen me vomit. That’s worth something.
It’s vulnerability that gives power to dance and makes it scary as hell.
I have jumped on the cooking bandwagon. I find the process rewarding on multiple levels.
When I first dove into the world of cooking I connected with the chefs on an unexpected level. I recently came across some notes in an old notebook that made parallels between the creation process of a stage director and a chef.
I think it was this process that has kept me hooked.
The process of a chef is like any other creative endeavor and one that runs right in line with the Robert Greene’s Mastery. Start as a dish washer, learn and work every station until skills are built and there is an understanding of how it all works together, continue to deepen those skills.
Like most things it appears simple but it is intricate and complex. There are a lot of working parts that need to work together.
Ideally once the common cook learns all this they start to have ideas of their own. They want to branch out to create and build. Have a leap of faith from their teacher/mentor and do their own thing.
I can imagine it’s scary as hell. Evolutionarily, comfort is a wonderful thing. But there is very little growth in comfort. Very little growth comes from staying in the same place doing the same thing.
Through this whole process the chef develops a style. Creates a way of doing things that makes his dishes uniquely his. It’s this style that will carry him.
That’s the ultimate goal. To create dishes where the chef is recognized by the presentation, flavor combinations…the style.
This runs deeper than food. It runs deeper than work. Style is in everything.
It’s in the way that I write emails. The way that I high five my kids. How I introduce myself and talk to people. Everything I do communicates me and my style.
That is both liberating and….scary.
It’s not that I want the fame of a celebrity chef. It’s that I want to behave in a way that is consistent and communicates clearly.
I have a certain idea of how life should be lived. It’s up to me to live that way. To be deliberate in my actions. So that my life is the way I want it to be and not the way it was given to me.
Liberating in that I have a choice and can make things better for me, my family and those that I work with. Scary because it’s up to me to make it happen.
When Socrates said,
The unexamined life isn’t worth living.
I used to think that he meant that everything needs to be analyzed. I’ve done that for a long time. There’s nothing wrong with analyzing as long as it leads to changed behavior.
Analyzing emphasizes the past. That’s where I’d get stuck. I worry too much about what I did and what I was going to do instead of being concerned about what I am doing. It’s an ingrained habit I’m am constantly trying to replace.
Examining life for me now means creating style. Going through the process of living to many times that I learn what works best for me. I don’t like the results, I try something else.
It’s same process for becoming a traditional artisan; only it’s not just the craft. It’s the way I live my life. It’s reason I wake up, the purpose behind my decisions, how I connect and reach out.
It’s my style.
I think this is what the internet means when they say personal brand. Branding is a look and a feel, but more than that it’s process of how things are done.
The most frustrating part about this process is what Ira Glass calls the gap.