Welcome to Single Geared

This is the place for people with a single track mind of "forward." Everything you do in life should move you forward, not backwards. Inspiration found here: http://bemorewithless.com/endclutter/
Just F*cking Go

Just F*cking Go

I have been terrible about keeping this site up to date. We’ve settled into life in San Francisco, gotten a puppy, and our wedding is in two weeks.

All of that has happened and is happening because of my incessant focus on finding the life I want to live. To that end, I gave this talk titled “Just F*cking Go” at Ignite Oakland earlier this year. For those of you unfamiliar with it, Ignite is like TED but everytalk is comprised of 20 slides that auto-advance every 15 seconds, for a total of 5 minutes. It’s super fun. I was really nervous, but think it went off really well.

Here’s the video. Would love your comments:

John Doherty: JFG – Just F*cking Go from Ignite Oakland on Vimeo.

July 13, 2014 0 comments Read More
Living Life With Purpose

Living Life With Purpose

Do you live with the feeling that you are living your life with a purpose, an openness, that one day you might realize what it is all for? I’ve always lived my life this way. I’ve moved around a lot since 2003. In fact, here are the places I’ve lived if they were mapped out on a map –

living-locations

Each place we live, job we take, move we make means something new. And every single one has its blessings and its challenges. For example, blessings might mean a better salary and pace of life while minuses are leaving friends and family in a different location, sometimes on a different continent. These are very real and challenging things to deal with, yet they are a part of life. Life changes; we move forward and honor the past while not living in nor being controlled by it.

Finally Feeling Settled

Those of us who are labeled “wanderers”, “wanderlusters”, or “travelers” are often seen with a certain stigma, that we’ll never settle down, never get tired of the race and the moving. That’s not true in my experience. We all desire to be known, to be trusted, to have familiarity. Some of us, more than others, crave constant change or new things, but that’s the exception not the rule, once again in my experience.

I’m in California right now. I’m moving here in a month from Brooklyn, NYC. I have called Brooklyn home since June 2011, so almost two and a half years. Before that, my longest stint in one place was Switzerland when I spent a full year there. However, I had 2-3 week periods where I would go to Spain or Italy. Traveling was still a way of life (and don’t get me wrong, I do plenty of that in the US these days). Just this year I have been and will be all of these places:

travel-2013

 

But 2014 will be the year of slowing down.

New York City is an amazing city. It has been the best two and a half uninterrupted years of my life. I got established in my industry (marketing), made some absolutely amazing and lifelong friends (Tom, Erin, Mike), and met my amazing girlfriend (who is moving to San Francisco with me). I’ve made incredible connections with people in the city, been fortunate to get connected with some awesome startups (Grovo and FaithStreet), and had many unbelievably fun experiences.

But the pace of life has gotten me down. New York City is so fast and busy. Every day we are crowded into subway cars and fly underneath the NYC streets together to get to work. People don’t stop for each other or give each other the time of day. Everyone is hurrying to the next place. Go here to eat, have this experience, see this museum, do this thing. There is always more to do. We love it, but it’s exhausting.

Here in California, life is slower. When I move fast, people look at me like I am crazy. Today I found myself getting impatient that the man ringing up the groceries of the people in front of me was being slow. “Doesn’t he know I have somewhere to  be?” I thought.

In reality, I had nowhere to be. I wanted to get my food to get back to where I’m staying to write this, but it wasn’t life or death. I slowed down, I chatted with him too, I smiled, I said thanks to the girl bagging my groceries. Then I walked slowly back to my AirBNB and took some time to read and eat some food after putting away my groceries.

And guess what? It was nice. It was relaxed. It was slow.

So I’ve moved a ton. I’m tired of it. I’m excited to be here, to focus on quality in life, in relationships. I’ve had the quantity and it has been amazing. But now, it’s time to focus on the good life.

Viva California. I think I’m home.

November 11, 2013 1 comment Read More
Assume The Best

Assume The Best

Have you ever had a conversation with someone and instantly assumed the worst about what they’ve said? If you’re honest with yourself, you probably do it all the time. I do it frequently, if I’m honest.

One of the toughest parts of life is communication. Within Distilled, the company where I am blessed to work, we have a manta that says:

Communication solves all problems.

One of our founders, Will, even wrote it on our whiteboard in our office before he left after visiting us for a week last December from the UK.

In every relationship, whether a professional or romantic one, communication will be hard. Different people have different ways of referring to things and use a different vocabulary than we do. Some people aren’t specific, some have a certain vernacular they like to keep to, others don’t express themselves well at all.

At this point, you must be doubly sure to assume the best from the person, especially if they have never given you reason not to! If you go to the negative and automatically assume that they didn’t have your best in mind, you’ll almost inevitably end up attacking them instead of seeking to understand and using it as an opportunity to build relationship instead of breaking it down.

Instead of “Why would you say that?” turn it into “What do you mean by that?” Instead of “Oh I disagree with that”, say “Can you explain that a bit more? I want to make sure I understand what you’re saying”. Instead of saying “Why would you do that?” ask yourself why the other might have acted that way.

It Goes Both Ways

Every relationship takes two. While it’s hard to be on the end of not being understood, remember that it can also be frustrating to not understand what the other is talking about. I’m pretty convinced that this is why people often respond with something accusatory like “Why would you do that?” It’s fear, plain and simple. That person, in that moment, is being self-protective (and self-protection is not wrong, but when taken too far it can be) and their response take the shape of accusatory instead of seeking to understand and open up.

I’ll use an example here that my friends have written about. Rand and Geraldine, two of my friends in Seattle, have a great relationship. Rand is the CEO of SEOmoz and someone I greatly respect, and Geraldine is his hilariously awesome and spunky wife who blogs on The Everywhereist. Rand wrote about the experience on his site, which I will quote at length (emphasis mine):

…the Monday after the discovery of her tumor (the prior Wednesday or Thursday), I went into the Mozplex and told our exec team at lunch what was happening and that I might need to take a break for a little while or a long while from work stuff. That afternoon, I called an impromptu company-wide meeting. I stood in front of ~60 Mozzers, including plenty of close friends of Geraldine and mine, and told them about her tumor, and the potential possibilities (we didn’t yet know it was relatively treatable). I was so choked up, I couldn’t get through half the sentences. It wasn’t my finest moment in front of my team. I think I made half the staff cry with me, and probably instilled more fear and uncertainty than anything else. It was Crystal‘s first day at Moz, so I tried to look at her and tell her, since I didn’t know her at all and I couldn’t cry in front of someone new, right? That was probably horribly embarassing, difficult, and unfair for her.

But the worst part was… I hadn’t checked with Geraldine about telling the company.

She later joked about this on her blog and to our friends, but it was a huge, collosal, monstrous fuck-up. Possibly the worst one I’ve made in our 11.5 years together. And of course, she forgave me, and teased me about it, and we moved on (after making some clear rules about sharing).

I only share this example because I know Rand and Geraldine talked about it (and obviously shared it publicly) and it’s been a big building block for their relationship. You see, Geraldine could have flipped out at Rand and not sought to understand where he was coming from as a person who is scarily transparent. On the flip side, Rand could’ve been angry at Geraldine for wanting some privacy. And both of them probably were angry/frustrated, but at the end of the day they gave each other the benefit of the doubt and worked it out.

This is how it should work, but notice I didn’t say that it took place instantly (I bet it didn’t). Sometimes, giving the benefit of the doubt takes time.

Give Yourself Time

Most of us hate having something hanging over our head. I know I do. I detest having something unsettled. As I’ve gotten older and matured, and had more experience under my belt, I’ve learned a few lessons.

First, sometimes it takes time to get better. This is ok. As long as you’re processing and thinking and working through why you reacted how you did, you’re moving forward. At some point you need to come to a resolution, but give yourself time to think about it. When you screw up, try to figure out why and then try to do it differently the next time.

Second, communicate as you work through it with the other person, if the relationship merits it and they ask for it. A professional relationship might not be the right place for it, but if it’s a personal relationship, friendship or romantic, and the other person wants to process it with you then communicate it! This is relationship building, not destroying, if done right.


You’re going to screw up. It happens. When it happens, take a step back and ask yourself why you reacted that way. A self-aware individual is the most powerful type, though, because we fight our demons and move forward through life.

Join me.

May 2, 2013 1 comment Read More
A Time and A Place

A Time and A Place

My pastor mentioned this verse today in his sermon:

For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:
a time to be born, and a time to die;
a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;
a time to kill, and a time to heal;
a time to break down, and a time to build up;
a time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
a time to seek, and a time to lose;
a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
a time to tear, and a time to sew;
a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
a time to love, and a time to hate;
a time for war, and a time for peace.
(Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 ESV)

Source

I’ve been thinking about this topic recently (not the verse) as I come up on the two year anniversary of being in New York City. I moved here in June 2011 fresh from life in Philadelphia taking a turn. I was starting a new job at a new agency in an industry where I still felt very knew, yet very competent. I had been to New York City exactly twice before I moved here, and looking back the move, and all that transpired to get me here, happened at exactly the right time as life began to move forward quickly.

As I look back, every move in my life has happened at just the right time. It wasn’t my timing, to be sure, but it happened as I needed it to happen. I moved to Switzerland each of the three times just in time to learn some important lessons or meet the right people. I moved to Philadelphia just in time for a job to open up as an SEO copywriter at a marketing firm there.

This does not apply just to life events. Every day contains 24 hours of opportunity, 1440 minutes of opportunity, 86400 seconds of opportunity. In a day, we will probably travel between a multitude of emotions – joy, anger, elation, apathy, weariness, frustration. Each and every one of these has a time and place within a day or a lifetime. Sometimes these will last for a week or month or year. We all have good times that seem to be nothing but joy. At other periods in life, we have situations that feel very sad and the sadness stays for a while.

The goal of living in these times, in my opinion, is not to seek to get rid of those periods of time or emotion that feel “negative”. America these days has an obsession with “positivity”, which often means trying to get rid of sadness. I understand and appreciate the desire to realize that you’re not stuck in your current situation (which is true, by the way). However, I think we need to realize that good reasons exist for why we feel how we do, and it is imperative that we realize why we feel that way and how that affects our current lives.

We’re all moving forward and playing with life. It’s fun, enjoy it. All of it :-)

March 11, 2013 0 comments Read More
Thoughts on Minimalism

Thoughts on Minimalism

People should strive for minimalism in their lives. There, I said it.

I read a lot of websites about personal productivity and improvement, especially 99U and ZenHabits, but I never write about it myself. But recently I read Your Lifestyle Has Already Been Designed, which made me start thinking even more.

I’ve recently started apartment hunting again. I got a roommate when I moved into my current apartment so that I could move into the neighborhood where I wanted to live, but in the past few months I’ve realized that I want my own place again. I don’t have a ton of possessions, but until August 2010 everything I owned could be put into a 5,100 cubic inches backpack which promptly went on my back when I was leaving for Europe, again. I did it a couple times.

When I moved away from Northern Virginia, after a year long stint at a software company (which got me into consulting), I gave away all the physical furniture that I owned. I took my bedframe and mattress back and stored them in my parents’ garage, but I gave away my dresser, desk, and everything else. I didn’t want it. I didn’t need it. In fact, I was happy to be rid of it.

Now, I live in Brooklyn and have an apartment’s worth of stuff. I own two couches, a queen sized bed, two bookshelves, a square table and two chairs, a TV stand (for my flatscreen, which I own), a sitting chair, a coffee table, two longboards, a bicycle, and of course clothes and books and stuff.

Sometimes I feel like I have too much stuff. I can go two solid weeks without doing laundry. I have multiple jackets to choose from in winter. I have eight different colors to choose from when deciding which pants to wear in the morning. I can’t count the number of plaid shirts I own. I have skis, skateboards, climbing gear, two laptops, two iPads, an iPod, an iPhone 5, a GoPro camera, and more technology that I can’t even remember.

I have too much stuff. We as Americans have too much stuff. We are trapped in a culture geared towards stuff, towards more.

I don’t know how to end these thoughts. I can’t decide if it makes sense to give something away when you buy something new. Extreme minimalists live with under 100 items (a pair of shoes counts as 1 item), but I can’t do that. Or, am I scared to do it? What would it mean to live so simply?

I live in New York City, one of the most materialistic places in the world. It feels like a social norm to have a variety of clothes to choose from. Could I live minimally in New York in my job?

I don’t know, but I’m thinking about it. Any thoughts are welcome.

February 27, 2013 0 comments Read More
Sometimes You Just Have To Live

Sometimes You Just Have To Live

I used to feel bad all the time. If I was doing one thing, I would feel bad that I wasn’t doing another. If I was hanging out with one friend, I would feel bad that that meant that I wasn’t hanging out with a different friend who maybe wanted to hang out. If I was working, I felt bad that I wasn’t relaxing. If I was relaxing, I felt bad that I wasn’t working. You get the point – it wasn’t a fun existence and my mind just would not shut up.

drake-bay-beach-2 (1024x597)

Some of you reading this know that I lived in a Christian hippie community in Switzerland for about 2 years. Those two years were by far the most transformational periods in my life, starting in 2006 when I left university for a semester to go find myself, then in 2008 before I entered the real world, and from 2009-2010 when I made a go of an entrepreneurial endeavour and found marketing. Through it all I made a ton of lifelong friends too.

The best part of my time there was having a mentor that I met with once a week. Greg Laughery is the Director of Swiss L’Abri. He grew up in the Haigh-Ashbury district of San Francisco during the 60s and 70s, so he’s a pretty chill guy. I was lucky to get him as my tutor from the beginning, and every time I’ve gone back I’ve been able to sit with him for an hour or more to catch up on life. We still email semi-regularly and keep in touch, and I get to call him a friend now. I even did one of his book covers.

One day, during our weekly tutorials, we were talking about life. I had finally opened up to him, after a long period of not opening up to anyone about what was going on in my life. The conversation went like this:

Me: “Last night was weird.”
Greg (hands folded, sitting back on his couch): “Why?”
Me: “Well, I was at the bar, and I felt bad that I wasn’t back at Chalet Bellevue hanging out with people. But I’ve also had nights where I’ve been at Bellevue and felt bad about not being at the bar with others.”

Long silence, Greg thinking.

Greg (hands folded, pensive face):


“Man, sometimes you just have to live.”


Boom. That was all it took. I finally felt like someone had given me permission to be me and just live, and not feel bad about making choices and being happy with them. There’s always something else you could be doing, and always way more than you could ever do.

This is a lesson I’m still learning. I’m still learning to say no to things that I shouldn’t say yes to. I’m learning to pass off responsibilities and opportunities to others when I don’t have the bandwidth to take them on. And I’m learning to give myself permission to relax and be happy.


By the way, my friend Rand’s post The Long, Painful Journey to Better Self-Awareness inspired this post. I recommend you read it.

Let’s keep moving forward. Life is fun :-)

February 9, 2013 2 comments Read More
Do You Have What It Takes To Be Successful

Do You Have What It Takes To Be Successful

We all ask ourselves a few questions throughout our lives:

– Who am I?
– Am I good enough?
– What do I want out of life?
– Am I trustworthy?

We all come to a point in our lives and careers where we wonder these different thoughts. There’s no roadmap for life, and so when we wonder them will depend on who you are and what you are going through in life.

Today I want to explore the “Am I good enough?” question. It’s one that often comes up because we are afraid of failure, we often feel like a fraud, and at the same time we are also afraid to fly.

costa-rica-sunset-2 (1024x606)

Am I good enough?

Wondering “Am I good enough?” is something that I am faced with every day, and I think most of us are whether we realize it or not. It’s the monster inside our head that often holds us back because we are afraid to believe that we’re good enough because then we might actually succeed and be faced with problems that we then cannot solve on our own and may have to rely on others.

I found myself in a situation recently where I wondered, and honestly doubted, if I was good enough. It was late, I had a daunting task ahead of me, and I was not sure that I wanted or could do it. I was doubting myself for many different reasons, but the biggest one was because I didn’t think I had the talent.

My friend who was along with me gave me a pep talk. It essentially boiled down to:

Are you willing to do what it takes to succeed, even if you’re scared? The path you set now for success, either for it or against it, will stay with you because you are teaching yourself what you are made of. So, are you willing, or are you going to go home?

Digging Deep

Faced with this challenge (and anyone who knows me knows that I love a good challenge), I had to sit back and think hard about what I wanted. I thought back to living in Europe and running a book publishing company, and how I wish I had taken the time see where my shortcomings were and sought to find training to overcome those deficiencies. Instead, I learned to give up and move on.

I wish I had dug deep at other points in my life as well, when the going got tough, and made an unsuccessful situation into a successful one.

I realized that at times, I’ve set a precedent for myself of giving up and moving on. I think that’s why I’ve moved so many times since high school (it’s in the 20s). Every time the going has become truly tough, I’ve tried to run away and restart. But now, that’s not an option. Now, the best option is to stay and discover, to create space in life and time to truly think about where I am going and what I want to do. Only after you have done that are you able to say “Do I want to do this?”

Only after you have done that are you able to say “Do I want to do this?”

This is a difficult place to come to. And honestly, I’m beginning to think that you need to do it alone, or at least come to a place where you are willing to say “What others think has no bearing on what I want to do.” When you come to this place, you are more able to be honest with yourself and where you want to go in life.

For example, as far as I’ve been able to process and internalize what I want to do, I want to:

  • Be able to speak and blog more, and this means travel and space in life to be creative and focus on my writing.
  • Live out West at some point in the next few years, so this means saving money and also setting myself up for success when I make a change in location.
  • Retire by the age of 55, which means learning about retirement saving and setting a plan to get there.

All of these, especially the one about moving West, have set me on a trajectory. Now, I have a much better ability to say no to potential obligations that will not move me towards that goal. I can streamline my life better and become more effective at what I do because I have a vision for where I am going.

Share The Journey

Now comes the hard part – sharing that journey. I’m not talking about a partner or spouse necessarily, though that person if you have one could become this partner in your journey, but rather having someone, anyone, that you know and trust that can keep you accountable and also help you realize your dream for your life. This person should also have the ability and permission to point out where you are not staying true to your vision and where you need to correct your course.

It may happen that you have multiple people in your life who do this for you. One may be in your business life, another may be in your personal life, another may be in your financial life. I believe, though, that you want one person who can speak into all of these, at least to a small extent on each. A fractured life, or fractured advice, is not going to get you nearly as far as an integrated life and integrated feedback in all areas of your life.


What do you think? Have you found ways to get space in life to figure out where you want your life to go, or have you ever had to dig deep and decide if you were willing to do the work required to be successful? If so, I’d love to hear your stories.

Forward.

January 26, 2013 0 comments Read More
Intrepreneurship and Employee Retention

Intrepreneurship and Employee Retention

Often we hear a lot about entrepreneurship – the idea of starting a business, building it, and the goal of taking it public or selling it to someone and getting your “exit”. I’ve always had the entrepreneurial spirit myself, but find myself working for Distilled. I’ve been at Distilled for over a year and a half, which to some people is not a very long time but to me it is the longest I have ever stayed at a job. My past jobs have gone 8 months, one year, one year, 8 months, and now a year and a half. I’m 28 and have found what I want to do.

But I see a lot of people in my industry, search and online marketing, who are very transient in their jobs. In fact, I would say that there is a trend, especially in tech, of hopping between jobs every year or so. In my industry, the path is often inhouse (to get started), agency (to learn a lot and get experience across verticals), and then back inhouse into a lucrative Director of Marketing position or something to that effect. Sometimes people will move agencies, but in my experience more people go back inhouse after working at an agency.

Why is this? Why do people move around so much, and what can we do about it?

Intrapreneurship

Instead of talking about entrepreneurship, I want to focus on the idea of intrapreneurship. That is, being an entrepreneur within a company to discover new revenue streams, new ways of doing things, and the ability to shift and mold your job as needed to keep your work interesting. After all, most people with an entre/intrapreneurial spirit get bored quickly.

The FreeDictionary defines intrapreneurship as:

A person within a large corporation who takes direct responsibility for turning an idea into a profitable finished product through assertive risk-taking and innovation.

Basically, an intrapreneur is someone internally who sees an opportunity for growth and takes ownership. I think that businesses should be making a bigger effort to retain these people instead of saying “Oh well, we were never going to keep them anyway.” We need to realize that these people are indeed going to be more expensive than a more junior person, but their output and vision are worth it. These are the people who are going to make you money.

Top Down Approach

In order for the intrapreneurial approach to work, it has to come from the top down. If the executives in the company are not bought into the idea of employees having some free time to experiment with new ideas, they will never have that freedom within their normal jobs. The best of the best, the very driven, will still work to fulfill their intrapreneurial goals on their own time, sometimes to the detriment of other responsibilities both at work and in their personal lives.

A top-down approach to intrapreneurship allows employees this space in their day to think about other projects than their “day job.” Some examples of companies that have given free time to their employees to pursue new veins of innovation for the company include Google (known for their “ship it” mentality) and 3M (Velcro was created out of this). Other companies have implemented a twist on the 20% time by having quarterly, or more regular, “hack days” where everyone on the team works on new projects. Here’s one take on it.

Distilled ran a hack day in January 2012 when the whole company was in London for our first Distilled-a-thon. One outcome was that Will, Mike P, Geoff K, and myself launched the MVP of DistilledU, which is now making Distilled $15,000+ a month:

We also, however, had people who accomplished tasks like overhauling internal reporting mechanisms, shipping new tools or a database to keep track of our internal tools, and more. Every single one of these pushed the company forward, with blessing from the execs.

Set My People Free

Giving free time is not enough if the company is also not willing to let the employees be free to decide what they want to work on. Not every venture that your employees work on internally will be an external facing project, though employees should be encouraged to think this way.

Often, the greatest effects that intrapreneurship time can have are internally, as people get used to taking ownership of internal problems and solving them themselves as opposed to saying that the problem is someone else’s responsibility. For example, maybe someone notices that your company’s office is not listed on Google Maps, or is not correct. With this free time, they will take the 10 minutes to get the correct listing instead of sending the problem to the marketing team.

Setting people free involves an element of risk, but I also believe it is extremely rewarding. The largest challenge will be trusting them not to abuse your goodwill and being willing to deal with the messiness of people pursuing their dreams within your company.

Sometimes, Letting Them Go Is Necessary

I want to be very clear about what I am saying here (and not saying).

First, I’m not saying that there never comes a time when you need to discipline someone or help them change the way they are behaving. Sometimes even when we try our hardest to hire the best, we still hire people who will take advantage. Give them an inch, they’ll take a mile. Unfortunately this is part of business. At this point you must have a strategy for personal feedback and growth, which is a fuller business initiative.

Second, I am saying that we need to abolish the “Fire the bottom 10% and promote the top 10%”. Sometimes the top 10% are not the best for your culture or as managers, and so there should be other ways to let them move up than just into management. The same with the bottom 10%.

I recently read a book called The Seven Day Weekend, which talks about this exact thing. The book covers a company called SEMCO that has a crazy way of doing business (and has grown revenue exponentially over the past 20 years), but one of the coolest parts of their company is their ability to help people find a job that they love, even if they are underperforming in another area. I for one believe in giving people multiple chances. Firing is a last resort if they’re a good culture fit.

Finally, retention is not necessarily a goal. Sometimes turnover is good. Wisdom comes with knowing when it’s good and when it’s bad. If you’re losing your best people and it’s avoidable, then turnover is bad. But if people are no longer happy because the company is growing or they want a new challenge, then it can be good.


What do you think about intrapreneurship and its challenges or advantages?

January 21, 2013 0 comments Read More
Fear of Success

Fear of Success

Recently Dave McClure of 500Startups wrote a post called Fear of Flying. He starts with this line:

Failure is hardly the worst thing that can happen to you in Silicon Valley.

He takes his piece in the direction of being afraid that if you experience success, then you will at some point crash and be exposed for the fraud that you really are (he assumes, and I think correctly, that we are all afraid that we’re frauds). While I do echo this sentiment, I’ve always wanted to write a post called “Fear of Success” (the title of this post) for a different reason.

I think, like Dave does, that we are afraid of success. But another reason people are afraid of success is:

We’re used to failure. If we succeed, we doubt that we will have the strength, skills, time, or vision to continue executing on our success. And the truth is that we’re probably right – we don’t and won’t.

Failure as Comfort

We’re used to failure, or at least to the status-quo. The status quo is comfortable. It earns us a good living, gets us good performance reviews, lets us live in a nice enough house and drive a nice enough car. We have nice enough clothes and take nice enough vacations.

For many, this is all they’ve ever wanted out of life – a mid-sized house in a moderately nice neighborhood with fairly well-behaved children who play in a yard surrounded by a sturdy white fence that also keeps in the frequently washed dog.

If you’re one of these and you’re ok with that, then you can stop reading now. Because I am not ok with that life. The character Bruce Nolan (played by Jim Carrey) in the movie Bruce Almighty sums it up with these lines.:

Newsflash! I’m not okay. I’m not okay with a mediocre job. I’m not okay with a mediocre apartment. I’m not okay with a mediocre life!

But let’s not get sucked into thinking this is just a personal mindset. Mediocre, or the status quo, can be a business mindset as well. There’s nothing worse than working with a company that has a lot of potential, but the people at the top are concerned about keeping the shareholders happy and not rocking the boat at all, so they block (even if unconsciously) the efforts of others to push the company forward.

“We’re not a publisher. I don’t care if that’s where the trend is going. We make products.” Sigh

“But we’ve never done that before. It seems like a big risk and we can’t take risks in this economy.” !!!

I think the state of shareholders is hilarious these days. On the one hand you’re told “Don’t rock the boat. Just keep the revenue coming in.” That is, just maintain because there’s no reason to push. The people at the top are still getting rich. But on the other hand you’re told “Why didn’t the stock price increase by 25% last quarter? It did the quarter before that. If you don’t get back on track your job is in jeopardy.”

Most people are sent confusing signals. Main stockholders want to maintain their steady flow of cash. Small stockholders want to see their investment grow. Why else would Google always be under such pressure to increase revenues when they made only $89 billion (I hope that math is correct) in Q3 of 2012?

Dreams as Scary

Having dreams is scary. Shipping is scary. This guy knows the feeling. So does Seth Godin. Being a big dreamer, one of those whose head has always been “stuck in the clouds”, a daydreamer of large proportions, is one of the scariest types of people to be. And an optimistic daydreamer who wants to change the world? Now that person is dangerous (in a good way). And probably scared out of their mind.

“What if…” this actually works?

“What if…” people enjoy this product and I have to keep answering support emails and fixing bugs all while talking to potential investors?

“What if…” I actually have a happy family and can enjoy the vacations I’ve always wanted to take? Then I’d have to handle a lot of money and worry about losing it all and my family ending up on the streets. (Fear of failure still exists, mind you. I never said that it didn’t.)

The Power of Roles

I hope that last paragraph did not come across too strongly. Actually, I hope it did and that it has elicited a reaction from you and that makes you want to keep reading, because it gets better.

No one has all the skills we could ever need to make a company successful. This is why startups that get over that first adopter hump, get V2 out in the wild, and are starting to gain traction do one thing very quickly (usually) – they hire people. The smartest thing a founder or boss can do once their company/department/role grows is to hire someone to do the work that they are not able to do.

And this is a good and natural thing. Why else do we have CEOs, CMOs, CTOs, CIOs, Directors, Consultants, Analysts, and so forth? Because every person has different skills, and no one person can do all the job for very long and still do a good job.

Forward

This site is about moving forward. When you’re scared of success you don’t put your heart and mind fully into your work. You start to slack off, because you’re scared that you’re only going to disappoint. The irony there is that with this mindset, then you are sure to disappoint because you won’t give your best.

So take care of yourself, your body, your mind, and prepare to dig in and keep pushing forward. Keep your momentum going. Don’t seek to double your output from last year. Seek to keep producing, and in 3-6-12 months look back and see how far you’re come.

success-image

January 14, 2013 0 comments Read More
The Power of Why

The Power of Why

Simon Sinek gave this TED talk in 2010. I watched it for the first time in early 2012 and it changed my life. That’s high praise, to be sure, but Simon gets at the underlying question of everything that we do – why?

Why

If you’ve ever spent any time around kids, you’ve inevitably heard frequently “But why?” Often exasperated parents will sigh deeply and say “Because I said so.” This is a tragedy.

This response beats into us the idea that asking “Why?” is a bad thing. “Just do what you’re told”, we’re told (ironically). In school, kids are required to sit and listen to teachers talk about subjects that bore them. The talented and gifted must slow down because they’re bored, and they never get to ask why they need to go slower than they need because there are slow kids in the class. Questioning like this is muted.

We need to ask “But why?” more often. Why are we doing things the way that we are? Isn’t there a better way forward? Why am I writing this project? Why am I dissatisfied with the relationships in my life? Why does grass turn brown in winter, yet grows so well in summer? Why is my back hurting? Why am I not satisfied at my job?

Asking “why” is the best way to move forward out of mediocrity and into a fuller life. Without understanding why we do what we do, we cannot understand ourselves and better ways of doing.

Moving forward is tough. Constantly striving to make today better than the last is tiring. So why do we do it?

My answer is because I don’t want to live a life of mediocrity. I want to live a life of fullness.

Why?

January 13, 2013 0 comments Read More