Wednesday, December 22, 2010

What Happened To…

Out of nowhere I caught a glimpse of a calendar showing a little more than a week left in 2010. It can’t be, the year is almost over? I didn’t put a book out in 2010, I was going to write that book about search engine optimization techniques. No time now, and to make matters worse the whole search industry is changing, since people more and more are spending time on Facebook, and finding their information at predetermined websites, instead of just Googling everything. No book in 2010. Well at least I still have that Tea shop that I opened for that girl I no longer date. No, that seems to be gone too. What really happened in 2010?

For starters I got pretty good at observing people. I met more than a few people in the past year that apparently were heavily involved in social networking, and marketing, and even SEO. Believe it or not, they’d come to my coworking space, or Tea shop, flip open their laptops, and get to work. These were the people I’d been waiting years to meet around this small southern town, so luck would have it when we did meet I never could muster up anything useful to say about my own business. It was as if 2010 was the year I retired from my own company, which is pretty tough to do when you’re the only employee. As hard as they try, my three dogs just can’t seem to type up those work emails with their paws.

Much of my businesses were closed down in painfully slow operational efforts that were like living a nightmare in real life. Even though I love you, and love working with you, you are fired because our company isn’t profitable like it used to be. Try saying that five times fast to your favorite employee.

Along with my businesses went some old friends, a girlfriend, and her dog, all of whom were apparently not on my side. With so much negativity in the air, it’s with unbelievable humility I write that so many wonderfully great things occurred in 2010.

As quick as I could email my landlord to let her know we weren’t renewing our lease on that 2,000 sq ft office space, my sanity returned. Within weeks my energy levels went way up, and all the sudden, no matter how bad things were for my many businesses, personally I felt great. It was like honesty’s sweet fulfillment coming to fruition right before my very eyes, sometimes when life is the hardest, the greatest feelings of joy can arise. A wise man once told me that God puts struggle in our lives so that we must depend on Him, and not a day goes by that I don’t thank the Lord for my own. The Wall Street Journal told me some years ago that according to psychological studies happiness is most derived from resilience. Science and God on the same page, I told you 2010 was some year.

In 2010 I cared more about people than I did profit. I wanted to talk more than I did sell. I was alive in 2010. I got to see my old girlfriend that hadn’t been around in years for a few weeks, I got to visit my old college campus for the first time in 7 years, I got to look in the mirror and not wonder if this was the day my company would get sued for a million dollars. I got to take in the air in 2010. I made a lot of friends in 2010, and had a lot of fun talking to those friends, spending time, even, as scary as it sounds, dancing with them.

What happened to my business was life, what happened to my soul was gratitude. What happens in 2011 nobody knows, but for sure I am ready to face the challenges with an extraordinary appreciation for people, for God, for the very ability I have to wake up, walk out my door, call my mom or dad, and tell them that I love them. It’s not all roses from here on out, it’s still going to be a long challenging road to recovery, to building the next Google or Groupon, or heck even the next It’s going to be hard. But it’s going to be worth it if I can take the lessons from 2010, and use them to make 2011 better.

May you take some of this positive energy and put it into your soul. May you have the confidence to not give a you-know-what about what other people think, and make this year the year you do that thing you’ve always wanted to do. We are so lucky to be here, and I just wish so much pain wasn’t my reminder of this fact, so here’s to 2011 being the year that changes everything for the better.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The Man with No Email Address

This past weekend cold weather blanketed much of the country with pearl white snow, as it tends to do this time of year, helping to usher in a tradition many engage in to keep warm if nothing else, the Christmas party. I gather for as long as Christmas has been celebrated, somebody somewhere tossed together some friends with tacky sweaters, booze, and music to create a memorable evening.

While I’m not exactly a celebration-phobe, it would be fair to say my pension for the holiday inactivity of sitting around doing nothing but eating all day is low at best. Simply put I love to stay busy, like many of my entrepreneurial counterparts, if we could sit still all day we’d probably be in that daft brown corporate cubicle next to you, right? So it is with great irony that as I get older, and more apt to move around randomly, I actually look forward to Christmas parties. Dare I say I love Christmas parties? I do, I love Christmas parties.

Last year at our now defunct office space we threw a grand Christmas party, so grand that I fell asleep face down on a blue microfiber beanbag in our graphic designer’s office somewhere south of 2 AM. The food, the drink, and the people were fantastic at our first and only company Christmas party. Especially the people, many of whom I honestly haven’t had a meaningful conversation with since. I still remember many of the things we spoke about that night, I still cite these long gone conversations in my I-know-the-answer-to-this-random-question quips at dinner with those I do see regularly. With no office to throw a party at, and a clever invitation hanging from my refrigerator door from a dear friend in Ohio, I boarded a plane to the great windy state, in preparation for a holiday party like no other. Besides me, and a few others, it was a cousin only affair, which remarkably resulted in more guests than most parties would have inviting family and friends alike.

In well appointed house on a street full of them crammed a group of young adults, a delectable spread of food that included frosting bearded Santa cookies, and of course the sounds of one of those all-carols-all-the-time radio stations blaring from a boom box you have to be in your thirties to own. Knowing virtually no one, except of course for the host, it was prime turf for new conversations, new discussions, new stories about life in America’s heartland. Being a southerner now for the better part of the past decade, I treasure the time to reflect on what had me a day away from living in Central Ohio for presumably the rest of my life. While this blog post could be about any dozen of the great discussions I had with this big Greek family, one in particular seemed head and shoulders above the rest, the man I met with no email address.

Standing a modest five six or so, dressed in khaki pants and a flannel shirt, with black-rimmed glasses, he looked as if he could be an internet junkie like the rest of us. He had two legs, two arms, eyes, and ears to boot. He smiled like a human, talked like one, and laughed like one too. Yet stunningly, he has no email address.

When winter arrives in Ohio one no longer needs to rely on refrigeration, that is what the porch is for, or so I learned from some of the guests at the party Friday night. Apparently nature can keep a 12 pack of beer just as cold as Whirlpool could. So it should come as no surprise that the front porch of this domicile became a place of constant activity. Think of it as a big outside icebox sans deli meats for holiday lights, and a wood swing. It was there I first got to know the man with no email address.

So what’s your passion? This is the question I asked, over and over again, until he finally told me, if for nothing else to get back to the warm inside with the rest of the people. He was into cooking foods, fine and modest alike, he spoke of olives like I would Google Apps, he talked about the communal benefits of cooking for friends, as I might pontificate on the benefits of instant messaging among coworkers. Fair to say this man’s a foodie.

Imagine my surprise when, in passing, after I propose sending him a link online, he nonchalantly explains that he does not have an email address. I don’t even have a computer, the man said as my jaw hit the floor. No computer? No email? Under 50, wait hold up, what’s the alcohol percentage in this Christmas ale I’m drinking?

Yes, I don’t do email, no need for it he explained with a smile. This is all it took to secure the unimaginable truth into my brain for good, I’ve met someone from my generation, the digital one, that wasn’t tethered to an internet connection like a writer to coffee.

The subtle explanation was given with ease, no anxiousness, it was as if not only did this man not have a computer or the internet, but he was totally cool with it.

In the world we live in today, in the world I live in today, the internet is a means to nearly all ends. I make money online, and take that money and pay bills online. I shop online, research my polling location online, and do nearly everything and anything else you can think of online. If you are reading this blog, you too are obviously online, chances are you’re also under 50, with a smart phone, and an income above average. So why, really, why is it that one person not having any type of association with the internet is that shocking to me, and probably you too?

I can’t imagine life without Gmail nonetheless the internet. I can’t imagine what I’d do with all my time if I had no computer, no Facebook to spy on old friends with, and no iTunes to spend way too much money on albums I may or may not like. I simply can’t imagine what I’d do with all that time. Which is why I probably should find out.

The truth is, as is obviously the case with this person, being different today isn’t getting the latest and greatest gadget, but instead disconnecting from them all together. The habits of a nation shouldn’t influence our day-to-day life in such dramatic fashion, we should be able to disconnect and still smile, like my friend with no email did all night long.


Not too long ago I used to joke with a friend about the apocalyptic views of our parents. My mother is constantly presenting what if scenarios that deal with no energy, anarchy, and of course no internet. My friend's mother drew from the variety of disasters in the genre of food shortages, contamination, and world disease. Either way, our elders seem to have a greater adoration for the simple life. They not only think about it, they prepare for it. This is one of the many lessons we can take from our parents, and know that just in case, it probably wouldn’t hurt to see what life is like without a computer, the internet, and yes, even an email address.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The House with a Boat in The Driveway

In the late afternoon I can often be found rumbling down a side street near my home, cut off t-shirt and gym shorts on, Lil Wayne screaming profanity in my ears as I push for another step, another mile, a little more me time. I admit it, my iPod Nano contains a masterfully blended mix of electronic music, folk, and yes, insanely misogynistic hip-hop. Hey, if it’s good enough for President Obama, is it not for me? Music filled with stories of struggle motivate me to run, often times my run concludes past a sprawling ranch home on a well manicured corner lot.

Maybe it’s just the time that my endorphins finally kick in, or when my blood really gets pumping, but I’m always subtly awed by this workingman’s paradise. The sixties ranch home has an expansive front yard cut short enough for one to practice a few putts on. The back lot is big enough for the Golden Retriever, whom I’ve nicknamed Sparky, to roam freely, the very pup that often greets my passing with a few barks loud enough to interrupt Jay-Z’s verse in my plugged ears. The home, nice on it’s own account, often holds a sport boat in the driveway next to a late model pickup truck. While I’m far from a boat market expert, it seems to be of the $30,000 and up variety. Nice digs for my little blue-collar town of Cayce. So who lives there? It’s a question that often runs through my mind as I pass by the place in exhaustion.

What do those folks do for a living, are they young or old, happily married or miserable? Look at that boat, they must be happily married with that thing in their driveway, get in a fight? Take a soothing ride on the waters of Lake Murray, bring Sparky the retriever, and enjoy life. All is forgiven, or is it?

I believe many in America, and beyond, aspire for something like this house might possess within its 50 year old brick walls. 3 beds, 2 baths, big yard, a few kids, family pup, and of course, a sporty boat. Awww, how that boat glimmers in the sparkle of the street light that covers it with fluorescent illumination each night. With a boat like that, the American dream has been reached, mission accomplished, live there for a lifetime, and enjoy all that this great southern city has to offer, right? Wrong.

Can you imagine my dismay when, one day not too long ago, the boat was gone from the driveway. While Sparky still came to the fence to acknowledge my passing by, he didn’t bark this time, in fact, the dog looked a little sad. Maybe this nuclear family was on a vacation, and old Sparky had to stay home, maybe the boat will be back tomorrow I told myself as I continued down the long road, past more feeble abodes.

A few days later, after getting back from a business trip, I ran my normal route, bobbing up and down with the rhythm of the music in my ears, so excited for my upcoming visual affirmation of the American dream, when low and behold, as quick as I could approach the home I couldn’t help but notice a for sale sign that donned the now less than perfectly cut front yard. First the boat is gone, now the house is for sale? What happened? If only Sparky could tell me. He sat quietly in the yard, eyes fixed not on me, but on that for sale sign. Surely they’d come back for him, but where they’d go, and how come this American dream never turned out like I thought it would, only the Lord knows.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

The Problem with Ego

In a steamy Tennessee courtroom some years ago I watched as a judge handed down a guilty verdict like a brick might hit the pavement after being dropped from an 11th story window of a skyscraper. Words were not minced, eye contact was made, and his honor’s voice was as rich with confidence as it was with southern drawl. Judgment day had arrived for one of my more scrupulous family members, and all I could do was watch in awe.

The only thing that can make inner-family lawsuits more combustible than the act itself is the presence of arrogant counsel. Something about a cocky lawyer prodding at whatever bones are in the family’s closet, on either side of the case, can literally make people turn to rage induced fits of violence. Luck would have it my not so trustworthy family member on trial had himself a real grade A false-bravado-filled attorney from New York City.

After a moment of silence following the verdict, as the swarms of lawyers packed their things, the judge, with a slight smirk, invited the defense to view the portraits of notable judges that had ruled in the courtroom from the past on the wall as they left the building. These portraits of stately southern judges in their black gowns with stern sophistication painted on their faces were showcased in baroque era gold frames all along the entryway to the courtroom. One would be hard pressed to miss these relics, so why did the judge ask the defense to view them on the way out? It was as if to suggest, that not only did the judge want the losers to know this was his turf, but that their was a long precedence of intolerance for Yankee arrogance in his courtroom dating back many, many years.

While the case, and that day in court in particular taught me many things, most notably to have legal counsel review all documents related to a trust or a will before signing anything, it was the juxtaposition of confidence and ego that shone the brightest that day. If there was ever an incident in my life that helped underscore the power of confidence and the idiocy of ego, it was this day.

Ego tells you to do things you shouldn’t do, say things you shouldn’t say, and act ways that are unbecoming to your own reputation. Ego tells you that you’re better than you are, and hides when you inevitably fail. Ego is cowardly in defeat, it leaves you starved, embarrassed, and bewildered. Ego is incredibly dangerous. Ego saps away the very humility that your soul counts on to grow and mature for the better.

Confidence is intently listening for days on end at a heated trial, playing no favorites, and when the time for judgment comes, making the decision with all the facts in mind. Confidence comes from history, experience, and education. Confidence grows with time, and contracts with failure, but never fully leaves the soul. Confidence allows for error, and helps set resilient success stories on a trajectory of achievement from the start. Confidence is okay with losing sometimes, and gets along with humility just fine. Confidence is the anti-ego, because it is based entirely on experience, not inner-perception.

As I get older, I’ll be 31 in a few weeks, I feel less inclined to do anything that isn’t in my realm of confidence. In graduate school a professor once noted with a hefty laugh that the older she got the less she really knew about anything in life At the time I thought it was a ridiculous remark, but the older I get, surely the more I realize that I really don’t know much about anything either. One thing I do know is that humility, with the right amount of confidence, can take people to places they once only dreamed they could reach.

When a coach talks about another team before a big game, they often emphasize all that is good about the opposing team, to help motivate their own to get up for the game. Lou Holtz was a genius at this, to the point that it was often fodder for the media when he spoke of inferior opponents before games. Lou Holtz won a national championship in arguably the most competitive college sport at the highest level of college athletics.

Creating an environment for positive thinking, high goal setting, and confident execution is only possible if we accept the dangers of ego, and purposefully avoid them. Any ignorance on our part could throw off the chemistry that exists in all of us to do great things. Making a purposeful choice to recognize the power of humility, handwork, and confidence, while avoiding the pitfalls of ego, will greatly enhance our collective abilities to live fruitful lives of importance.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Life Stock

Isn’t this great? You’re happy now, I’m happy now, we’re happy now!

How often do we really engage in conversations like the one above with friends? How often do we really stop to take an emotional euphoria inventory? Not enough. Simply put, we are so caught up in doing something that’s supposed to make us happy; we neglect to take stock of our emotions when we’re actually happy. This, I believe, is called being giddy.

Oh how things change when the sun sets on our good moods. How the hysteric vertigo ceases when bad things happen, when times are tough, we all tend to become life stock takers of the highest account. What is this life all about? Am I really happy in my job, at home, with this new red coat? Nothing is left out when things go wrong, we’re a determined bunch, ready to take account of each and every little thing in our lives. So, how come when our lives are going great, we’re too overjoyed to find our mental notepad, nonetheless take an accounting of our lives?

I tend to put things I don’t understand into the category of human nature. The reason we cry at the very movies we know are contrived to make us do just that? Human nature. How us men tend to lift our chests a little higher when we walk hand in hand with our significant other late at night down a dimly lit street, human nature of course. It’s all human nature if it’s something I don’t personally understand. But this notion of life stock, of looking at where we are at when things are going well, it’s been camped out in my mind for sometime. Why is it so hard to be grateful when things are going well, yet so easy to take introspective looks when the chips aren’t falling our way? Of course when things go wrong, we want to change, so we take these closer looks at what is making us happy, and not, in our lives. But could we be happier, or at least sustain the happiness if we did actually look at life closely when it was going well? Surely most would agree, that if we could just take the time to look at all that is going well, we’d be even happier. But why then, is it so darn tough to stop and smell the flowers while they rest in our palms? Could it be something that takes effort and deliberate action, like say the art of listening? I might be on to something.

Most people I know are awful listeners. For whatever reason, they’d much rather speak their two cents, than collect the verbal change of others. They want to share their side of things, before they even fully understand yours. In fifth grade a teacher of mine once told me the secret to making friends in life was being a good listener. Even at that age, I knew she had mentioned something profound. Few dispute the power of being a great listener, yet even fewer make a concerted effort to be one. We get carried away in our own voices, giddy if you will.

Taking life stock when things go well, listening when you have a lot to say, they’re both tough, they both take thoughtful approaches full of sacrifice. When one listens, one can’t speak. When one takes life stock, one has to be removed from the very moment that is so wonderful to take in. It’s against our, you guessed it, human nature.

On rainy days like the one we have on our hands in Columbia this morning, I can’t help but think about these things. About being better at some of the most basic things, that can surely have a measurable positive effect on the lives of any who practice them. For the past few weeks I’ve tried to start each day with a reflective prayer, and look at what good is going on in my life. To be honest, I never get all the way done with listing all the great things going on, yet for many looking in, it’d be considered a difficult time for me. I can tell you that, because people ask how I’m doing a little more often these days, sometimes with moist eyes. Through introspection, and simply taking stock of the good in life, no matter the season of emotion in your heart, so many positives can arise. I don’t need to tell you about those, because I know after you’ve counted your blessings today they’ll become abundantly obvious.


I have not lost my mind, or my company. I know this blog has been for the most part about business for the past four years, but I’ve had the itch as of late to write about more personal stuff. I appreciate you reading it, and hopefully I’ll write something about business soon, as I’m still conducting it, and have new things on the horizon to share with you.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Moving On Can Be The Damnedest Thing To Do



Work with me on this one. Let’s say you love summer, and spend your time counting the days until the pool opens, the khaki shorts can be brought out from storage, and the good old A/C unit can get cranked up again. The trips to the beach with friends and family, the late setting sun, it all just gets your heart pumping with passion. The memories of great times seem to follow you around like your shadow at dusk. Is there anything wrong with your passion for summer? Of course not, she’s a beautiful season worthy of your undying love. But, if you are all too often caught up in missing summer, are you really able to truly appreciate winter? If you spend your time in the now frustrated about what you don’t have, how possible is it to honestly, and sincerely be appreciative for what you do have? Few dispute gratitude has its way of making us all feel better. So then why is it so hard to let go sometimes?

I try to live in the moment. Ask close family of mine, and I’m sure they’d tell you I live in the moment a little too much for comfort. Retirement account? That’ll be the day. Annual doctor visits when I’m not sick? Forget it. I pretty much take each day as if it could be my last, and try my hardest to accomplish something. God forbid my last day on earth I’m found passed out in a Snuggie on my couch watching Oprah. That’s not cool. I hope to die as I lived, to leave it on the field as they say.

Living in the moment is great, but, from time to time, I find myself drifting back to the past. Oh the past, don’t we all have a way of romanticizing the deliciously good times, and forgetting the sour times all together? I know I do it, if you ask me about someone I couldn’t stand ten years ago, I’d probably call them a great human being. Ask me about a mediocre business venture in 2005, and I’d tell you it was the best choice I’d ever made to be involved in it. Maybe, just maybe, that’s why I get so caught up in the past from time to time. I’m always thinking ahead, yet sometimes I just can’t let go of things in the past.

Moving on with life is most difficult when dependency is involved. Emotional, physical, monetary, it all seems to ply us together to moments that are anything but here forever. In the past seven months I’ve made a lot of changes in my life, and I’m betting you have too. Looking back on this time, many things were very easy to let go of, while a few have been much harder. Through prayer, and a few friendly consultations over imported pints of stout, I’ve learned the best really is yet to come, if I can just open my eyes and see it in front of me.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Choosing The Right Path

Our lives are defined by the choices we make. This message was made clear to me sometime ago, as part of a Sunday morning message from the pastor of my church. The idea behind the sermon, and the crux of this blog post is this; never let your choices put you in places of danger, because life itself offers enough danger without us having to put ourselves in precarious situations.

There is so much in life we can’t control, such as encounters with hateful people, traffic tickets, or even something as simple as getting rained on. We can’t control when our neighbor has finally had enough, and decides to unload 18 rounds into the bodies of people in her workplace. We can’t control when the person we sit next to on the airplane sneezes too close to us, offering us a virus when all we wanted was to get to Minnesota safely. We can’t control these things, but what we can control, and should, is our decision making.

There are two types of decisions you make each day, those with substantial consequences, and those without. Where to go to lunch? This is a choice where the consequences, are probably at worst, a stomachache and money wasted. Where to go to college? This would fall under the substantial consequence realm. Where to work, what church to attend, whom to marry, these choices all come with real consequences, good or bad, making choices like these will have a significant change in the way you live your life. This post is about these high level choices we make.

I see so many people that are deftly understanding of others, yet when it comes to making choices for themselves they take a left when so obviously the better choice is to go right. Complicating this phenomenon is the fact that more times than not, the better choice is the harder one to make. Human nature kicks in. We default to choosing easy, when true rewards await us only if we went with hard.

Regardless of your religious beliefs, to sincerely believe a greater power is monitoring your decision-making, and to start making choices under such an assumption is unquestionably beneficial to making better choices for your wellbeing, and ultimately living a happy life.


In the pursuit of happiness is a very powerful statement, not just because of its age, and transcendence of time, but because of what it ultimately sums up by the greatest philosophers of our time. It is a single sentence that defines the lives of nearly all that inhabit this earth. By being deliberate, and utilizing fore thinking about the big choices we are about to make, our chances for obtaining true peace, and happiness on this earth are greatly enhanced.

On a personal note, my impulses often lead me down crazy paths, exciting at first, but often terrifying as the paths turn into long winding trails of consequences. This post aims to illustrate that when we think about the potentially hazardous results BEFORE a choice is made, we are apt to make better decisions when the time comes to firmly make a serious life choice. You might laugh, and think this is obvious, but easier said than done, just look at so many people’s poor choices over the last year alone. Hopefully this post serves as a healthy reminder for us all, that being patient, and having foresight will take us to fruitful places, full of the things we truly seek, rather than the drifting dreams we so often chase.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Over the past eight years I’ve launched a few dozen internet businesses, opened 3 retail stores, wrote four books, and spent way too much time online. Am I burnt out? I don’t know if I can accurately answer that question, sometimes the hardest place to see a game unfold is when you’re a player on the field it’s being played on. I know it’s been a fun, hard-nosed eight years, where I’ve worked more than I’ve done anything else.

The one common thing people ask when they visit my house, to fix something broken, deliver a package, or just say hi, is, in one form or another, a question as to if I just moved in. There are boxes everywhere, nothing is really unpacked, and while I live in my house, it’s far from a home. My answer to them is always the same, I’m so busy with work…

I used to wear such things as fourteen-hour workdays, and unpacked living as a badge of honor; I was totally immersed in work. Then June happened.

For whatever reason, like Forest Gump stopping his marathon run in the middle of a desert road, I no longer was interested in the 24/7 grind I had created for myself. Maybe the successes were becoming less frequent, and the failures more, and all of it was just too much to handle.

After spending the next four months trying to “figure things out” I eventually realized the only cure for my disease was to try something different. A new routine, a new lifestyle. With that notion firmly embedded in my heart, I took to getting going on this new journey. I’ve closed down many of our internet assets, and all but one retail operation. I’ve canceled any commitments I had lined up for the rest of the year, and am committing myself to finding love in my work again, and making my house a home.

What’s next? I’m not sure. I know for work it will be something less tethered to the online existence I’ve had the past eight years. I’ve got a few ideas, anyone that knows me well, knows I’ve always got a few ideas ready to be tested. For my home I’m going to put the level of effort I have into my retail projects into making my house a home.

I hope my story inspires you, to not only do what you want to do for a living, but know that changing course is alright too, and often it’s fighting those big undercurrents of stability that undermine our efforts to change status quo the most. Yet we always hear that reinvention is what makes life so fruitful for those that choose the road less traveled of being their own boss. Maybe my story will get you thinking about changes you want to make, and give you the feeling that you are not alone in changing for the better. If you are going through something similar, feel free to reach out, I could use the company on this new journey.


So far my best kept tools for transitioning to a new lifestyle have been prayer, humility, studying up on quotes dealing with courage, long jogs down empty roads, music made with passion, and of course, being around wise fun-loving people.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Waving Goodbye to Fear

Fear can be paralyzing if you let it. Fear binds you to a set of rules that are not your own, fear makes its presence felt, and converts you into something less than you are meant to be. Fear numbs ambition.

Some people call fear the devil, others refer to it as life itself, however, fear is nothing more than a fleeting emotion. Fear is no greater than any other emotion that you might feel on a given day.

Pushing past your fears is no easy task, but with identification, and deliberate action one can, and will, surpass their fears. Unlike so many situations in life, I believe that those that push past their fears the furthest are directly rewarded for their courage. In other words, while most instances in life are not directly correlated as an equal proportion give and take relationship, the surpassing of fear is. The more you let go of your fears, and move forward in spite of them, the greater your life will be.

Fear manifests into many forms each day including, but surely not limited to, self-pity, circumstantial disasters, physical illness, pessimism, doctrines, societal norms, peer influence, and familial pressures to name a few. Fear preys on the insecure, and confident alike, hanging on with a firm grip to those things that, for whatever reason, create anxious feelings of unease within us. I’ve seen fear destroy a life, and put people I’ve cared dearly for in precarious situations that they simply cannot seem to come out of. If only they could identify that fear is perception, and not reality.

By default fear wins, and only by deliberate, well thought out action does fear fail to impend us from moving forward in life. May we all proceed through the emotional obstacles that fear dispenses within us with vigor and passion, knowing that on the other side of this dark blockade of inner turmoil is a truly amazing place of confidence and success.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Catching The Ball

With a thundering applause I knew my eyes were not deceiving me, Alshon Jeffery really did just make that one handed grab in a critical juncture of what might have been the most important football game I’ve ever attended in my life. The University of South Carolina standout wide receiver had just helped propel his team to a monumental upset. The crowd went wild.

Flashback five days prior when a baby faced Jeffery boldly predicted a victory against the number 1 team in the nation to an ESPN reporter, before smiling ear to ear with an optimism reserved for only our bravest youth. As the video clearly shows, Mr. Jeffery did in fact do his part to beat the top ranked Alabama team.

The ball was thrown to this budding receiver because, no matter the blanket-like coverage by the man defending him, his quarterback knew he was prepared to catch the ball. In business, often we are faced with great obstacles that are directly in the way of catching that shimmering sphere of success that so few businesses ever obtain, and if we aren’t fully prepared, fully capable, and in a place where we can excel, no matter how hard we try, we won’t be able to succeed in building a business to a successful state.

Jeffery had spent countless hours preparing himself mentally, physically, and emotionally for that moment. No doubt, his natural gifts are far superior to most in that realm, but no matter, he prepared like he was trying to catch a ball with no hands. In business, we must prepare that way. Shortcuts don’t work, outsourcing everything doesn’t work, making excuses, blaming technology, or undermining business partners surely won’t help. We must, at the end of the day, keep our goals crystal clear, and work wholeheartedly at achieving them.

Twelve years ago, as a high school senior, I was excited for a game against our at-the-time archrival, Vallaha. I remember vividly coming out of the end zone for player introductions at the start of the game screaming with excitement as I nearly sprinted to the rest of my teammates standing on the 20-yard line. As fast as I could run out of that end zone, my coach was there to greet me with some loud and clear advice, calm down. At the time I didn’t know why, I was ready to go, isn’t that how we’re supposed to come out to play the game? Years later I realized, no, we aren’t to waste our energy on worthless introductions, but rather keep ourselves quietly primed, to, when the call is made, late in the game no doubt, catch the ball no matter what’s in our way.

Here is video courtesy of of Jeffery’s blog-post-inspiring catch.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Polaroid Dreams

If I could only remember my dreams, like I do reality. So many amazing stories are told in my dreams, so much more compelling than I could ever purposely create. Stories chock full of rich details about people and places that are often totally foreign to me in reality. Do you dream of people you know? I dream of strangers, often violent tormented tales of people going through extraordinary situations that involve life and death. As long as I can remember I’ve had, what until recently I thought of as a nighttime curse. Just the past few months I’ve concluded it may not be a bad thing to have such lucid dreams of terror and intrigue. Maybe, just maybe, if I can take a picture or two back to reality of what is happening in my dreams, something real can come of them.

As bloody as things can be in my dreams, they are often offset with calming portraits of places far away, on some rare occasions I dream of otherworldly design. Last night I dreamt that I was in a Japanese greasy spoon somewhere in Tokyo. It was no ordinary burger joint; rather it was all white lacquer from floor to ceiling. Furniture sat embedded in boxes shaped like enormous milk crates. Even the kitchen was splendidly different, with brushed tin boxes dispensing hamburgers, as a postal worker would mail into PO boxes. I briefly woke up, and then did my best to try to get back to that place, just so I could try to bring back a snapshot or two of what the design of that far off place looked like.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Naked Ambition

So many so often put so much extra, utterly unnecessary, stuff on their goal list each day. Item after item, agenda after agenda, we keep stacking up books of goals until the leaning tower tips, and falls into nothing. In other words, often we are so apt to achieve so many things that nothing gets done at all. In the process an inevitable great pain ensues, primarily from knowing that, through the simple state of goal-forced chaos, not a single goal was achieved. In the wake of some humbling news this week, may I put forth a humble idea?

Kill 99.9% of what you want to achieve, and go after that .01% directly. Forget multitasking, it waters your effort down to mediocre-at-best status. Focus on a singular thing until you get it exactly where you want it to be, and then select only one more thing from the newly revised goal list. Keeping a list of only a few goals to achieve, and keeping an even smaller list of goals under active pursuit will ensure success, and in the end produce a much higher quality result than the scattered-brained gibberish that so often emerges from the overworked under slept world we inhabit.


Listening can be a goal, in such cases, one would actually put down the cell phone, flip closed the laptop screen, and actually take time to digest what the person talking to them is saying.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Passing Ideas

Great ideas dance through my mind, like a dog might a field of peanut butter. If I don’t take action on these great ideas immediately, within minutes they disappear. If I try to do them all as they dance about my mind, I end up with too much of a good thing, similar to how a dog might feel after she attempted to eat a field full of peanut butter. The gifts that are ideas never stay long enough to really let us know they are any good, yet at the same time ideas need to be cultivated diligently to stand any chance of success. In other words, at some point in the process of a great idea, you just have to say screw it, and take an educated guess as to whether a given idea will evolve into a profitable business or not.

The challenge for entrepreneurs in 2010 and beyond is not to gather information, as might have been the case in times past, circa the telegram era, rather it is to sort the glut of information that is transmitted to us each day. Business intelligence is as much about knowing what information to toss out, as it is what to keep. Without hard numbers, a business cannot exist, yet with too much of it, failure is assured. The same principle that makes nurturing a great idea possible happens to play a big part in decrypting the sandstorm of data that a typical business inherits each day, aggressive intuition.

Whether it’s a great idea, or a pile of revenue predicting pie charts, aggressive intuition will serve your needs well. Instead of being diplomatic with every idea you get, every piece of data you’re asked to assess, take what matters most and run with it. Whatever else is left over will die anyways without careful analysis, so give it an early death and move on. Too many ideas are wasted each day for lack of aggressive intuition, and far too many emails, spreadsheets, memos, and PowerPoint presentations are developed unnecessarily in the process. Be particular, be clear, and be prompt with what you do, and how you do it, and the results you seek will rarely pass you be.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

I’m No SEO Expert

You read that subject line correctly, I’m no SEO expert. I’ve been thinking a lot about this lately, for one reason or another, I really can’t call myself an SEO expert. SEO experts sit around doing expert things, you know, like going to conferences and speaking on expert-filled panels, penning white papers on the newest Google algorithm, and guest posting to industry sites like SEOmoz. Intentionally, I engage in none of the above.

If I’m not an SEO expert, and I’ve been advising clients for the better half of a decade on the subject, what in the hell am I? A loner? Outcast? Random dude with a laptop? All are at least somewhat true. But when it comes down to SEO, and what I do for people, what am I? Could I be a practitioner? That has a ring to it. Maybe I am a practitioner. Yes, that definitely sums it up, I am a practitioner of SEO. The whole reason I can’t find time for the expert panels, or the guest posts on Mashable is because I’m too busy actually working on SEO campaigns for our growing client list.

As a practitioner I don’t have to base my advice for clients on theory, I base it on experience-derived facts. Why should this be of importance to you? Well, if you care about your SEO rank, then you might care about how to improve it. If you care about improving it, I am your guy, since I’ve worked with a lot of companies to successfully do the same. As a practitioner of SEO I’ve found a few things to be true, hopefully these ideas will help spark some initiatives to jumpstart your own online marketing and search rank efforts.

SEO is Cheaper Than Google AdWords

In the last 24 months Google AdWords has cost my company roughly $80,000. That’s a lot of money, and spending around 40k a year, from all the conversations I’ve had with others, isn’t that much compared to most industries. Today we spend nothing to acquire customers, and while overall email volume is down a bit, our sales aren’t that much affected by the self-imposed AdWords blackout. How do most customers find us? Google organic search.

For the vast majority of web businesses today ranking for the terms people actually search isn’t as hard as they might think. It takes focus, it takes discipline, and ironically it often takes a Google AdWords campaign to kick things off in order to learn the keywords people actually click when searching their business online.

Whatever the case, if you give me half of what you spend on AdWords I’m sure there is a way to get you ranking for a long time to come for your most sought after keywords. Remember, Google AdWords penalizes your business daily by charging you money for every click someone makes, SEO efforts are meant to secure your keyword placement for many years to come no matter the amount of clicks your business achieves, often without a single new campaign once the initial plan has been executed. This is a dirty little secret in the SEO industry, you don’t always need to have an ongoing campaign to stay ranked for your given keyword terms, once you are ranked, chances are it’ll take someone else just as long as it took you to overturn those results, if not longer.

Quality Content Reigns Supreme

I can’t exactly put my finger on why I’ve been so fortunate with my own SEO efforts, other than to say it has as much to do with producing quality content as anything else. Creating content people will want to read, talk about, and eventually share can make a big difference. I’ve never used an article spinner for a single page of content for any of my own SEO campaigns, and while a few keyword terms remain elusive for us, most of what we want to rank for we already rank for. Quality content means a lot when it comes to SEO.

Search Rewards The Persistent

As with quality content, you also want to produce a large quantity of it. Believe it or not, ranking in Google is 99% a numbers game. The more quality content you produce that attributes links back to your site from others, the more likely you will rank for the keyword terms featured in that content. In other words, the more articles you have written and submitted, the more links your site gets, the more your site eventually has a likelihood for ranking for whatever keyword term is important to your business.

I could go on and on, obviously, but I won’t. My point is simply that after working on thousands of SEO campaigns, it all boils down to a few single principles listed above. By simplifying your SEO efforts, you can narrow down on where you want to go easier, implement an effective campaign with less confusion, and one day be able to share the same lessons with other businesses as yours sits atop the heap for all the keywords that matter to your business.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Why I Say No To Clients

My brother Clif is a fitness buff with a metabolism to match. He’s always telling me, everything is ok in moderation, while it seems that no matter how much he eats his waistline stays the same. Every doughnut I eat goes right to you know where. We’ve apparently got the same genes Lord, don’t we? While the human body is a total mystery to me, his moderation speak is applicable to more than just junk food.

I often have to tell clients no, I won’t do your project, take your money, or work with you in the future. This is something that isn’t always easy for me to do, and I’m sure many other entrepreneurs struggle with turning down business as well. It is tough to pass money up in this harsh economic climate when your next job may or may not arrive soon enough, but sometimes it just makes sense to say no.

Saying no isn’t just for those that are too busy to handle a job. Saying no can open doors to create larger opportunities for your business, by simply allowing you more time to look at things from a distance. When I started my business many moons ago, I worked hard at saying no to cold calls, and sales pitches, now it’s about saying no to clients that don’t seem like a good fit for our team, and those that seem like they could cause more harm than good. Trust me, not every deal out there is worth doing.

As with a lot of good decesions, saying no isn’t always the easiest thing to do, but sometimes it is absolutely the best course of action to help your business prosper long into the future.


Our business model as an interactive firm is predicated on the Walmart model of high volume, low prices. For us saying no might mean saying yes to 95 out of 100 people that want to work with us. For smaller boutique firms it might mean taking 3 out of 5 clients. Saying no is absolutely relative to the industry that one works in, the volume of business they do, and the nature of what each deal entails.

We like to say no to adult businesses, off shore pharmacies, and gambling outfits. When we’ve said yes to these businesses, for the most part, they’ve been a total pain in the rump to work with, and often caused more harm than good. There is a reason why Google blocks certain types of businesses from it’s advertising arm, AdWords, and as internet marketers it is important to pay attention to the big G, and all the rules they make.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

It Just Takes One


At college football practice one day, a teammate of mine was late, so we all ran around the perimeter of the field for close to an hour. This particular practice happened to occur the day after a long night on the town, a rarity for my in season playing days. Let’s just say those White Castle burgers that tasted so good the night before, didn’t taste so great after 30 or so laps around the old practice field.

Fast forward a decade to the spring of 2009. It seemed time to loosen the reins on my control freak grip of my fledgling business, and allow others to help. As busy as we were, outsourcing some of our core jobs just made sense. Unfortunately my experience hasn’t always been stellar, and to be frank, things tended to get worse the more I allowed others to partake in critical tasks that kept my business afloat each day.

A few years ago I tasked an employee with sending payments to the 65 contractors that were to be paid that week, boy was that a huge mistake. After thousands of dollars in clerical errors, and being told I was a “bad human being” through a popular rant website, the ordeal left me with a new perspective on outsourcing, and one less employee. I could literally tell similar stories all day long, the common thread though is much larger than financial losses, or the reputation of one person. It is about the team.

The lesson from that day on the field, besides not to eat White Castle hours before running, was that it just takes one person to negatively impact an entire organization. It just takes one.

With over 700 contractors working for my company today, I’m far from an opponent of outsourcing jobs, rather I caution those that do outsource to uphold a zero tolerance standard on subpar behavior, and if it comes to it, make ‘em run around the preverbal field all day to punctuate the point.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Remembering the Digital Divide


Ask any professor of mine at Ohio Wesleyan, my papers were at times, how does one say this, rushed? Ask any of my professors in graduate school, and they might agree my attention sometimes drifted when it came to say documenting statistics in an effort to push an argument. But one paper, rather one independent study over a semester nearly a decade ago, really grabbed this bull by the horns, and refused to let it go.  To this day I can’t stop thinking about the digital divide.

Various definitions are offered the internet for this phenomena open to your own interpretation, for the sake of simplicity let’s just call it the divide between those that have computers and internet access at home, and those that do not.

Social Media Experts Continue to Make Dumb Claims

A notable "social media expert" pontificated the other day that social networks had effectively replaced email as the form of communication on the web. In other words he explained, email is dead. Email is dead? When was the funeral? Who gave the eulogy? If we’re all communicating entirely on Facebook and Twitter, what happens to those that use the internet that are not on those networks? Will they simply no longer communicate with the outside world? Let’s hope they find a way.

Another one of my favorite notions coming from these so-called savants is that the tablet computer will replace the PC. I own a rather fancy iPad, and it can’t even save a file, has no hard drive, and as far as I can tell, isn’t able to print a damn thing, all qualities of my first laptop purchased over 15 years ago. The iPad and tablet computers though, are now the replacement for my PC that can do all those things and a hundred million more? To this I say not yet, and honestly, more than likely, not ever.

Saving Files

Forget the iPad, most poor people don't have any internet connection at home. According to a 2003 U.S. Census report approximately 62 percent of American households have a computer, with a notable 54 percent with internet access. While many celebrated this information as progress from the mere 8% access rate of 20 years prior, there is still nearly half the population of America that can’t access the internet at home to consider.

To reiterate, nearly 40% of America has no computer in their home. So we have a device problem. With no computers comes no real internet access. With fees starting at $50 monthly, those with less simply can’t afford high speed access at home, even if they had the device, which leads to a connection problem. Efforts like affordable netbooks, and complimentary WiMAX connections help, but are not yet solving the problem entirely. Sure, anyone with a smart phone can access the web, but are they really able to write papers, code websites, and do all the things one can with a desktop from a phone? It’s doubtful idea at best, even for the fastest fingers on the planet.

Click Here To Unsubscribe

So what does this all mean? It means that in an effort to keep up with the tech-savvy Joneses next door we’ve built up huge inventories of unused, but perfectly good, computers, routers, monitors, and peripherals. It means that we are so quick to jump on to the next fad; we rarely harvest the full crop of innovations from the last one. It means that people that make dumb claims online annoy me enough that I end up writing a blog post / diatribe on the unfair nature of tech reporting when it comes to issues dealing with the poor.

In the past several months I’ve unsubscribed to several noteworthy tech blogs for their alienation of nearly 40% of our population, many of whom, if given the chance, could change the face of tech for the better. Here’s hoping they will one day.

Postscript- Do This Now

If you have an old computer, consider giving it to someone that can make use of it, after all if it can access the web, the world's latest and greatest technology awaits.

Personal gifting not your thing? Why not take your old computer hardware to a preschool or nursery, it might be the only one they’d have to teach America’s youngest the tool of life as we know it.

If you like to pick fights, next time you read one of those idiotic predictions about the end of email, let the author know you’d rather hear about initiatives to make the country more connected for those that need it most. Simply not forgetting them, is doing something, at least that’s my sincere hope.


Sunday, July 25, 2010

People Seek Implementation More Than Advice

A whopping miscue of the average Jane attempting to brand her business online happens when she attempts to get into the advising business. With the scores of websites dedicated entirely to providing advice on whatever it is Jane happens to hawk these days, it is less than ideal to have her become a competitor of them. Why after all, would her potential clients listen to her, than say a team of seasoned journalists at CNET or CNN? Instead, I propose Jane focus more on helping others implement their ideas online.

Experts on the internet are a dime a dozen, implementers however, are a far smaller group. Those that help people implement an idea online for free, are nearly nonexistent online. A less crowded space equals more exposure for Jane. A true pioneer can be born, and fawned over for years to come, all from a simple change in marketing strategy.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Without Further Ado

Becoming more creative, reflecting on life and its mysterious ways, and doing things for the right reasons are my marching orders for the rest of 2010. I’ve spelled it out in a somewhat cryptic way throughout the past 3 posts, but the point I’ve been trying to get at is that when you have a vision, a stance on something, everything else seems to fall in place to make that happen. Here’s what you can count on from me in the coming months.


Opening in late July, TEA will be located in the old Acme Comics space on State St. It’s going to fulfill a need for affordable ethnic cuisine, and hopefully be a great place to spend time. More details will come on this as we get closer to opening. Suffice to say, if you haven’t tried a Vietnamese Sub (Banh-Mi) then, this is a place you’ll want to check out if you live in the area, or are passing through.

Creative Video

I fired my video production partners that were taking for granted what a business relationship is all about, and have started my own company to produce viral “YouTube” style videos for small businesses. The first shoot went very well earlier this week in Charleston, and I hope to do a lot more with this throughout the summer and fall. Once we’ve got 3 or 4 shoots under our belt I’ll build a website business around this concept, till then if you are interested email me.

Another Book

Many moons ago I promised a new SEO book with strategies that have worked well for our clients in the past year. I am still committed to doing this, and might actually make this a Vook. Stay tuned for more details.

On another note, my catalogue of books should migrate over to the iBookstore later this year. I’ve been in touch with a company that specializes in this sort of thing, and we should start getting titles in the iBookstore before too long.

More Services with a Personal Touch

To know your clients is to interact with them. I’ve taken steps to get closer to my clients in the past few months, and will continue to do so for the life of my business. Learning from them is priceless, and while I don’t always LOVE what they tell me, I ALWAYS appreciate the feedback in the long run. In this vein the company will launch more client focused services this year, not only built on client demands, but with the idea of interacting with the clients on a regular basis.

Making Things Better

My dad always tells me you can always make things better, at least when we talk about doing presentations for clients at Newsplex. I’ve taken heed to this advice, and will continue to work on making our services that are currently available better, and those that are causing issues will get shut down.

If you have an idea, insight, or just want to share some feedback, please leave a comment below.

Not The Money

I could care less about money, in thirty, forty, or if I’m lucky 50 years I’ll be dead. Money will buy me what at that point? And until then, is it supposed to be the end all be all? Sure I need money to pay my mortgage, bills, dog food, and internet access, but that’s about it. Having some money is essential, but really other than that I could care less.

What I do care about is winning. I care about creating winning concepts, bringing visions to life that actually does SOMETHING for SOMEBODY. In other words, I’m in love with the idea of rearranging things in life for the betterment of the citizens of life. Seriously, that’s what boils my crawfish, plain and simple.

Here is why a seemingly random few paragraphs above is so important for you to know, when you forget the money, everything falls in place in business.

When you get into a business for the money you are doomed to fail for nothing more than taking your eye off the ball, a business has and should always be about delivering a solution to a customer problem. Don’t open a batting cage in a football town, or sell firewood in a forest. Instead look at the real needs, even if they are ironically based on the depressing facts of life.


Unemployment is at an all time high, the information economy has replaced factory jobs. Now is the perfect time to train those that need it most. By giving people a path to fulfill their dreams, you can fulfill your own. The money in education, subsidized and private, is substantial. The framework however isn’t about the money, it’s about the absolute need for helping people become assets in the internet age, the wealth from doing that will follow.

Commercial real estate vacancy rates are at record highs. Finding a way to help property owners and managers fill their spaces might be more simple than one might think, people are constantly concocting crazy business ideas, and with a open-minded property owner these folks might just get their low-risk shot at trying these nutty ideas out. You, the connector of the two, have a replicatable business model that would pretty much sell itself to the thousands of strip mall owners nearing bankruptcy.

I could go on and on, the point is when you focus on helping people you inadvertently create phenomenal business ideas. Some don’t work, idealists fail all the time, but that is the norm in life, some things work, some things don’t, at least following this path will ensure that when something does work, it REALLY works.

When I Was 23

Life was like a cresting wave of happiness, swelling nearly every day to greater heights than ever before. Teaching had me around incredibly optimistic individuals, otherwise known as college kids. To be able to teach at that age was a gift, being young enough to relate to the students in ways most are not was priceless. For all of us back then life was at our beck and call, ready to be tamed with our remarkable ideas and unmatched skills. The positivity of youth is intoxicating, the beauty of the campus, the tranquility of life without a bevy of clients to please, it all brought new meaning to the word relaxed.

When I was 23 it wasn’t about what you did each day as much as it was about how you did it. Were you feeling well? Was your girlfriend by your side, or were you still trying to find one? Tough questions that seemed at the time to be the weighty issues of life, framed around how you did things, and how they fit in with your peers. Friends at that age were still a lifetime equation, being so tight then, how could life ever separate us? Beautiful naivety.

When I was 23 coffee was so strong, a small cup had me up all night.

I’m 30 now, and most days I wonder where I parked my truck, or how my neighbor got his lawn to look like a PGA grade golf course. I care so much less about what others think, but just as much about being heard. I want ten kids now, back then I was terrified of the word parent, nonetheless the idea of being one.

I drink coffee now like a five-day parched traveler in the desert consumes water. A cup is never enough, and even when my hands are shaking from the insane amount of caffeine in my system I consider having more. 14 hour workdays are the mandate for the head of a small internet startup. In a way I’m the person I didn’t want to be at 23, yet feel like I’m living a dream at 30. How dreams change…

30 is cool I guess, I appreciate people more, and realize that life moves fairly quick, and that of course like most people my age, I’ve concluded I know next nothing about anything. The word expert is meaningless to me at this point in my life.

Where were you seven years ago? Reflection helps us put in context all the things we have to be thankful for. I’d be curious to know what you were thinking then, and how it all seems to fit now. Leave a comment if you wish, with your seven year reflections.

Who Are You

Who are you? Who the hell are you? W-h-o a-r-e y-o-u? The question rings in my head from morning to night, it has ever since I read a tidbit Apple Founder Steve Jobs wrote in an email last month.

It all started when a blogger named Ryan Tate shot off an email to Steve Jobs questioning, among other things, the lack of porn made available on the iPad. You can read the play by play here. Rather than the context of the discussion, I focused more on a bit of brilliance from a man full of it at the end of an email sent in defense of his ideas. Steve Jobs gave a glimmer of insight if you will, a look at what seems to be the way society is heading, into a full-blown hypercritical group of conformist followers. As you might have heard the gesture before, if you’re busy always following, how much are YOU really leading? If you own the latest iPhone or laptop, does that make you innovative, or for that matter anything more than someone that paid for a gadget? It’s what you DO with the tools of production, not how fast you got it, or how many pictures you take of it.

Who are you?

The internet makes you anonymous, you can say what you want, because who can find you behind that computer screen. What you say on the computer is exactly what you’d say in real life, right? Wrong. Of course not, you would change your tone, adjusting from animal to human at the first sight of eye balls and flesh. Your digital you is so much different than the physical you. If we could get back to the human standards of real life interactions, and away from the entitlement-centered my every opinion matters crap, we’d all be better off.

Are you a critic?

Do you judge the work of others? If you don’t like a website, are you first reviewing how many you’ve built before speaking? Or a business model, or a restaurant, or flying an airplane, are you putting in the necessary credibility check before opening up your mouth, or are you certified to speak on the topic simply because you think your opinion alone is worthy of sharing, despite the fact it might disrupt the creative process of others.

Critics stifle innovation

Those that truly want to change things are best suited to crawl in a box, turn off all media, and create. Ever hear someone that just did something incredible say they didn’t read about their achievements or struggles in the papers or see it on TV, because they shut themselves off from it all? Me too, many a great innovator has been a diagnosed recluse. Not such a wonder why they’d do such a thing if you stop to think about it.

In the day and age of reality television judgment panels and uneducated bloggers claiming journalist credentials at White House military briefings, it is so easy to feel entitled. To feel as if we are anointed to critique others, as if just our mere opinion matters, having to substantiate that opinion is totally passé. It’s just about judging right off the bat, no matter how little you create, or how afraid you are to create, since you know the exact level of unfair criticisms that can come your way.

Are you really?

So are you really going to be so quick to make your mind up about innovations that cross your path each day, and the people behind them? Are you ready to shove it down their throats for no reason other than you can? You are better than that, and you have to make an effort to be so. I’m not here writing this like I never judge others, twice today I had to cut myself off when talking with a friend about so and so, and we all have a so and so on the tips of our tongues, so let’s all get off our high horses.

If we can be better to each other in the sense that we align ourselves with principles that makes us proud, rather than weak, and motivated, rather than melancholy, would we not be better off for such a thing? Then again, this is just my opinion, and some could say I’m judging the idea of judgment, but at least my intentions are in the right place.

“By the way, what have you done that's so great? Do you create anything, or just criticize others work and belittle their motivations?”

Steve Jobs in response to Ryan Tate blogger for

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Yes to Everybody: A No To Self

Yes, I’ll do it. Yes, I’ll be there. Yes, I’ll pay for it. Yes, I do want that extended warranty, and yes, I was hoping you’d bring some frozen meat to my door for purchasing. Yes, yes, yes. The more you yes, the more you end up putting a big fat no in your own plans.

A half decade or so ago when I quit teaching college speech, and forged ahead full time as an internet business creator I read that the most important word in business was in fact the word no. Learn to say no to people and you’ll get far in business and life many a book (including my own) have advised. Too many yeas and too few nays later I concur, no is better than yes.

While my plans are often off the wall, and rarely fit with what conventional minds would dare to plot to begin with, they are my plans. For this reason alone they should remain in tact. The more I’ve said yes over the years, the less I’ve been able to pursue these wacky plans, leaving me thirsty for more. Less is more, say no to most requests from others and get a yes from karma to execute your plans as you see fit.


This blog post is inspired by the many distractionary hiccups that I have to endure each day of my otherwise fantastic life coupled with an article Jovan Washington sent me yesterday dealing with the dangers of distraction. I’m sure you can relate, and thus I write this with great respect for those that already do say no, if you are a no person, I admire you. If you are like me, always saying yes, let’s not forget the great George Foreman’s appearance on the ill-fated ABC show American Inventor, in which he approved of nearly every invention presented to him. At last blush Mr. Foreman’s grills have made a few bucks over the years.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Every Action Has A…

Spring has pretty much come and gone, summer is ventilating heat here as it is across much of the country, the dog days are officially upon us. With the South Carolina heat comes reflection, it is after all easier to reflect when things slow down than it is when they speed up. Here is a reflection, dare I say lesson, on doing business in 2010.

Being self-employed definitely has its perks. Want to take an impromptu trip to Augusta to check out productivity software at the Apple store? No problemo, you’re the boss, go on your geek quest and indulge in the euphoria of utilizing the 3G feature on your iPad for the first time while you ride shotgun in your cushy Chevy Suburban truck. What’s that you hear? You have payroll due for two businesses, rent due for three locations, and a handful of rioting clients over a delayed turnaround time in services ordered? Turn the truck around, this geek adventure must wait.

While the example above is mostly hypothetical, the truth, pains, and stresses it illustrates are entirely real to me. For the better part of a year I’ve attempted to diversify my business interests in a hedge against any one business becoming victim to the economy.

Watching the Today Show this past Saturday morning sprawled out on my sofa that’s too small to fully lay down on, legs bent and all, I was privy to the advice uttered every year by a perky summertime fun expert turned TV personality. The advice to having a safe and fun summer at the beach goes something like this, when going swimming in the ocean be on the lookout for riptides, if you are swimming in the ocean and get taken by one, swim parallel to the shore, instead of towards it to stay alive. The logic being that if you swim with the current instead of fighting it, the end result will be life preserved. Much of my business ventures as of late have been riptide inspired.

Instead of boldly claiming our business is going to become recession-proof, which is a dumb phrase on so many different levels to begin with, we instead aim to navigate the recession-riddled waters of commerce with cautious aggression. Try to do as much as we can to hedge ourselves against going out of business, while still working to innovate by bringing new products and services to those that want them, this is the game plan we have followed to date. Sounds like a good plan right? Maybe not.

By cautiously but aggressively expanding we have in essence made our business vulnerable to the economy in new and different ways. Instead of dealing with one business that has to figure out how to keep customers coming back day after day, we are now forced to deal with three, or more depending on your definition of a unique business. It’s as if we swam with the current when caught in a riptide only to get bit by a jellyfish. Maybe the best bet all along was to stay out of the ocean all together.

Hindsight is 20/20, and critics are far too eager to analyze a business post problem. What is clear is that caution in business makes a lot of sense right now, staying in a core competency and executing a long-term plan also is a pretty good idea these days. Trying new things just because the economy sucks, unfortunately, is not.