I Am A Failure. So What.

Fear is a powerful drug.


Not only is it an effective marketing tool for a haunted house, it also keeps people from losing weight, writing the next great novel, and achieving their dreams. Anyone who tells people to utilize fear in order to gain success should receive a sound kick in the posterior. The fear is not of success, but in many cases, of failure; constantly applying a “worst-case scenario” to our visions of the future until any outcome visualized is a negative one. And fear and failure are effective drugs; prohibiting people from walking on the path of success, and dooming them to a roundabout trail of sameness. It completely overwhelms people.



And I’ve been fearing overcoming fear for over a year now. Quite the tongue-twister, but true. I’ve been fearing making a full commitment to my business because I fear failure. I’ve heard great pep talks, read inspiring articles; heck, I’ve watched inspiring stories on Oprah’s YouTube channel to get myself psyched for success! But fear and failure keep knocking on my door, overwhelming me with negativity: “you’ll never make it. You will fail, won’t be able to pay your bills, and will have to admit defeat and go back to your 9-5 job.” But as trash-talking as they are, I recently came across a revelatory remark; one that makes me more excited than ever about “starting over again” with my business. Here’s that powerful statement:


So what. What’s the worst that can happen.


Now, granted, this doesn’t work quite as well when you pour millions of dollars into a business that fails a year later, but it does work when you are afraid of taking that first step into building your own life for yourself. Taking that first step into learning something new, taking in a new experience, or setting up your own business. Every trip, every small slip up should be accompanied by an admission that it didn’t work, a shrug of the shoulders, and a “so what. I’ll move on, and learn from this.” I’ve had to learn this from three failed blogs and as many failed podcasts!



Why did they fail? Procrastination, fear, and lack of focus. Fear can be taken care of by accepting what happened not as a failure, but as a building block forward, and procrastination can be taken care of by attacking your time with a schedule (see the previous post here for more deets), but what about focus?


When you fear failure, you dive into sameness.


My lack of focus is a result of fear. When you fear failure, you dive into sameness. And when you are continually doing the same things, day in and day out, you develop habits. My “same bad habits” involve mindlessly scrolling around online; social media and random articles fuel my time-wasting “stress browsing”; and I lose focus (and time) in the process.


So how do I regain focus? The moments I shake off the mindless internet use, my mind begins to hum and my mental browser opens at least 10 tabs (raise your hands if this is true… I thought so.). Its funny how shaking off one lack of focus can lead to another, but there is a way to beat it. I’ve decided to stick to a 10-minute a day meditation practice, centered around breathing and calm. Usually, I try to pick a quiet space in my apartment, slip on my noise-cancelling headphones and start some calming background music. However, my headphones were recently stolen (that’s what I get for picking up that salted caramel mocha from the counter at Starbucks), so I’ve had to resort to earbuds turned up to loud. Not as effective, but good enough.


Trying to regain focus by quieting your mind and clearing the circuits helps me to win at overcoming fear, failure, and lack of focus. How will it help you?


This blog post is in response to Natalie’s 10 Day Freedom Plan Blog Challenge Day 7


Hear Them Roar.

If you were stuck on a deserted island with two people, who would they be?


This is a classic question, usually asked to see how a person would prepare for the worst-case scenario (answer: Superman and an outboard motor). But in the world of business building and entrepreneurship, who are your “deserted island” companions?


I never like clicking on Facebook ads. Many of them were (and are) spam ads that capture emails for programs I’ll never use or want… But this one was different. Here was somebody touting the catchphrase “freedom in business and adventure in life”, and it grabbed me. Lately I had been seriously doubting my life-path as a retail drone, and knew innately that fate (or kismet, the cosmos, or the Flying Spaghetti Monster) had something else in mind for me. But what? Those who have worked in retail understand that “freedom” really isn’t an operational phrase, but rather a word used to describe the choice between several different kinds of ketchup in Aisle 10. Could there really be “freedom in business”? I was hooked. For once, I broke one of my cardinal social media rules, clicked on the ad, and entered my email.


Best decision ever.


I was introduced to Natalie Sisson and the Suitcase Entrepreneur through a Facebook ad, and started me on the course I am now on today. She definitely lives the kind of life I would love, and I would be proud to have her in my tribe.


The second person on my list would be the amazing Elizabeth Gilbert. Her book “Big Magic” was (and continues to be) an inspirational look into creativity and letting go of hindrances in life that prevent you from reaching your full potential. Before reading the book, I was set in an old mindset where creativity that enables a fulfilling life is not really found anywhere; one merely accepts what is in front of them, and fear keeps them from veering off into new and undiscovered areas. Challenging fear by embracing creativity and the unknown keeps me on an upward trend, and, while it may not be the easiest journey, it certainly is the most rewarding.

My tribe is effective, my tribe is powerful.

Hear them roar.


This blog post is in response to Natalie’s 10 Day Freedom Plan Blog Challenge Day 6

It’s a Schedule, Dummy.

That’s what I told myself when I looked at the screen.


I had been blinking at the strange grouping of words and numbers in chronologically-arranged squares for 5 minutes, wondering what the heck I was going to do with them. My current job in retail schedules out for two weeks, and allows me only a minimal amount of time a day for doing things related to my personal business. So what’s a guy to do? He does the thing he fears the most: he creates a schedule and sticks with it.


For someone who likes productivity hacks and constantly believes in effective time use, I was a horrible example. Now it was time to face the music, and win at planning my day. So here goes: making a (slightly) educated guess that I can spare 4 hours a day towards building my business, here is an example of what I want my schedule to look like on a given day:


Hour 1:

  • 10 minutes: Inbox Zero. Read, categorize and respond to all emails.
  • 25 minutes: Find and schedule social media content and calendar.
  • 25 minutes: One Pomodoro for writing custom social media content.

Hour 2:

  • 25 minutes: One Pomodoro for a blog post.
  • 25 minutes: One Pomodoro for a separate blog post
  • 10 minute break. COFFEE.

Hour 3:

  • Whole hour: prep (and execute, on recording days) podcast content. If need be, schedule broadcast.

Hour 4:

  • 25 minutes: One Pomodoro for building online class(es)
  • 10 minutes: MORE COFFEE.
  • 25 minutes: The Home Stretch Hustle. Cold email clients, offer guest posts, etc.




And that’s it! It looks a lot more doable when you actually plan it on paper. I’m a HUGE fan of the Pomodoro Technique, and (as you can see) I utilize it to keep me focused.


This blog post is in response to Natalie’s 10 Day Freedom Plan Blog Challenge Day 5.


You’ve seen it before. The obligatory “find yourself” scene in every superhero origin movie (Green Lantern DOES NOT COUNT), where the soon-to-be superhero shoots into space, runs away faster than a speeding bullet, or locks themselves in their room and refuses to accept the fact that the world is crumbing around them and that they are the only ones to save the world (I’m lookin’ at you, Marvel universe). They look deep into themselves to try and find meaning throughout it all, usually using a convincing mid-shot, dramatic music, and a cringed look on the actor’s face that makes me think they had too many tacos before shooting. Inevitably, they find their inner hero and save the day. And the girl.


While I’m not figuring out whether or not I can leap tall buildings in a single bound (I leave that to the professionals), I am figuring out what, exactly, my “superpower” is. To do that, let’s first define what our business and life-based “superpower” means.


Simply put, your “superpower” is the intersection of your “what”, “why” and “how”.


Wonderfully well-explained in Natalie Sisson’s Suitcase Entrepreneur, our “superpower/sweet spot” is the cross-section of three things:

  • What: Things we’re good at.
  • Why: Things we are passionate about.
  • How: Things we can do that people will pay us for.


Bring those together, and, in the middle, our “superpower” resides. So what are my “superpowers”?


Writing. Editing. Photography. Social media work. And making great Moroccan tagine, Asian kimchi, and a mean cheesecake…


I tried finding my superpower in three colleges; earning two degrees in the process. But they weren’t degrees in my superpower. It was the college degree program I dropped out of that gave me the most joy and fulfillment: journalism and writing. On the university newspaper staff, I had caffeine-fueled late night editing sessions, stories that needed to be written on the fly in time for press, and poking beyond my comfort zone to talk to people about touchy subjects. I look back and realized that writing changed my life, and no matter how tired I get, frustrated I become, or cynical I already may be, I will never escape the freedom and joy I derive out of pressing that “publish” button. Its that ability to put something down on paper or a keyboard and communicate it to the world that gets me excited every time I start writing. And, believe it or not, there happens to be a market for writers, editors, social media content creators, and people who make a mean cheesecake.


Only in this case, I’m taking the writing, and leaving the cheesecake.

Take that, Superman.


This blog post is in response to Natalie’s 10 Day Blog Challenge Day 4

A Dream to Build a Life On

What if. Those are two words that embody a dream, a vision, or a wish. They are a scary combination when not used properly, but have changed lives and improved mankind when used in a positive manner. “What if” has crafted human evolution for thousands of years, raised by our constant desire to peek around the corner and see if we can glimpse the edge of infinity.


And now I ask myself, “what if?”


What does a perfect day look like? Close your eyes and try to focus. Mull that question over and over: if you had unlimited resources, money in the bank, and frequent flier miles that would make any Fortune 500 CEO jealous, what would your perfect day look like from start to finish?


As a public service (and, because I want to brag a little), here’s my perfect day:

Its amazing how I don’t need an alarm anymore; I love to get up in the morning. Stretching and warming up, I set the coffee pot to a timer and jog out the door. I need to make it to the beach in 10 minutes for my morning routine, but I needn’t worry; my house is 5 minutes from the beach here in Hawaii.


I get there in plenty of time to say hi to the other attendees; we’ve been going as a group to the same beach for a while now. Then it begins; a 10-minute meditation session, followed by a exercise regimen that leaves me invigorated and ready for anything. Once we finish, its off to the breakfast wagon parked by the beach, and a healthy meal for all.


Now I’m back at my place, just in time for hot coffee. Taking a quick shower and changing clothes, I check my calendar to see which “office” I should use today: the spare room I’ve converted into an office/studio, or the back deck. As it turns out, its “studio” day. Firing up the Mac and blazing through my emails and notifications, I prep my show notes for the podcast recording I need to do today. However, “need” may be too strong a word; interviewing Sir Richard Branson for my podcast is hardly a “need”, and more of a “holy s*** I can’t believe I’m talking to Sir Richard Branson” moment…


The recording is done; the interview was amazing, Sir Richard was an awesome guest, and the podcast is sure to delight the listeners. I finish my other little jobs for the day (an article here, a blog post there, some guest posts) in a few hours, then its off to the trails. Today it’s a new trail through the mountains, and I’m pushing myself harder than I ever have. However, its not too hard; my constant stream (addiction?) of audiobooks keep me company until I reach the top.


As the day winds to a close and I prepare to meet friends for dinner in town, my phone chirps to remind me of something. I look at it and smile: its a reminder that my flight leaving for my home state and my monthly visit with family and friends leaves Honolulu tomorrow evening.


After all, even perfect days have red-eye flights.


This post is in response to Natalie’s 10 Day Freedom Plan Blog Challenge Day 3

The Cemetery Monologues

I was meditating in a cemetery.


Before you start getting on my case about finding other quiet places to ply my practice, hear me out. I was meditating in the Valley of the Temples, a cemetery and group of different houses of worship. The valley is known for the Byodo-In Temple; the largest Buddhist temple in the state of Hawaii and a popular attraction for pilgrims and tourists alike. And that’s where I found myself with my roommate: walking around the serene surroundings and taking in the sights.


Behind the temple is a small alcove with an awning and offering area, where worshippers come to offer prayer flags and flowers. Its a quiet spot, and I found myself drawn to the area. No one was around and the stillness so peaceful, I decided to silence my phone, put the DLSR away, and start a small meditation session. And it couldn’t have been at a better time. The chatter in my head was so deafening, I was unable to really focus on the beauty of the moment and the peacefulness of the surroundings. My mind was asking “why did I move here” and “why did I give up so much”, and I didn’t have the answer. What was my “why”?


I had just moved to the islands a mere two days before in a mood of what I like to call “daring stupidity” (daring,yes; stupid… time will tell). I had left my comfortable job and life in Wisconsin to start something different and build my life as a writer and freelancer (shameless self-promotion here: I’m open for clients!); selling or giving away most of my possessions, leaving a good-paying supervisory position to be demoted within the same company so I can at least keep a paycheck coming in, and giving up a nice apartment (no high-rise Taj Mahal, but it was peaceful) to live on an air mattress in Hawaii’s notoriously high-priced apartments. Why was I doing all this? Why was I there? And why were my legs falling asleep on the bench?


Note to self: sit more comfortably during a session. As for the answers to all the other questions, a little introspection was in order.


I crave freedom. Its not the “cool thing” to be a freelancer and digital nomad in the world I grew up in; in fact, far from it. My upbringing was centered around the classic 1950s vision of suburban Americana: graduate from high school (or, if you want to be all high-falutin’, college), marry the sweetheart, buy the suburban home, get the 9-5, and come home to the evening paper and your dinner jacket.


The 9-5 wasn’t just a way of life, it was the only life.


And I wasn’t having any of it. I wanted the freedom to choose my work: from when I worked, to how I worked, to who I worked for, and how much I got paid. I wanted the freedom to be me, whatever that may be. As humans, we are always evolving; constantly vying for the higher plane of ourselves.And while some people find their evolution inside a retail store, factory line, or office cubicle, I find my evolution in front of my laptop.


Maybe the meditation at the temple helped the post-move jitters, maybe it provided some important introspection into my “why” and my purpose, and maybe, just maybe, it gave me a path. I got up from the pavilion, and started walking back to our rental car. And the constant chatter of “why?” in my head was replaced with one word.





This blog post is in response to Natalie’s 10 Day Freedom Plan Blog Challenge Day 1 (and 2)

Freedom in the Time of Retail

I almost didn’t want to do this blog post, for two reasons. First, I was tired from a day in my retail job; I don’t work 40+ hours every week, but working a job that you know isn’t what you want to do with your life saps energy out of anyone. Second, and more selfishly…


…I didn’t want to face facts.


Sure: I can just keep on plugging away at my business and continue to let my habits derail me time after time. Then, when I look back at all the wasted time, I’ll just shrug my shoulders and say “Oh well, better luck next week”. But this becomes what comedian Fred Allen termed “a Treadmill to Oblivion”; the endless cycle that uses your energy but doesn’t take you anywhere.


So what are my biggest challenges to finding freedom? The first challenge would be finding the energy.


Nothing is more morale-draining than retail (can I get an amen, retail homies!!!). Sure, there is the satisfaction of a job well done and the uplift you can get out of a nice compliment from a customer, but the tedium and sameness can reduce those of us with ideas bigger than a big-box store to tired plastic bags, floating in the wind.

The second challenge? Focus. Last night was a “eureka!” moment for me; I was rifling through a suitcase (currently, I am living out of two) looking for a notebook, when I found a paper with ideas scratched on it. Then, with the notes at my side, I logged into my email account for a little housecleaning and to really take a hard look at what I’ve been spending my time and energy on. The results shocked me. I had at least 7 active business ideas on the note paper, with more ideas (and several job application emails) in my inbox. I had taken the focus I should have had on my main freedom business idea, and instead freaked out and started peppering the internet with applications and other research.


Which leads me to the third challenge. Fear. This is the one thing I did NOT want to admit. The fear to step out into the unknown and do something different always makes my knees knock, but I knew I had the ability to overcome it. After all, I’m writing this post from a rented apartment in Hawaii, after spending the previous 26 years in my home state of Wisconsin, and making the decision to become uncomfortable and do something different.


Perhaps that will be the first challenge to crumble.


BLOG NOTE: This post is in response to Natalie’s 10 Day Freedom Plan Blog Challenge

Coming Up on Nomad In the Middle: The 10-Day Blig Challenge!

I don’t blog enough. Probably a strange combination of being at times lazy and other times too focused on a plethora of projects. Anyways, it’s a problem.
One I hope to cure by going through the 10-Day Blog Challenge, brought to the internets by the amazing Natalie Sisson (SuitcaseEntrepreneur.com): the person whose book served as inspiration for where I find myself now. Keep an eye on this spot for the next 10 days; I’ll be a bloggin’ fool!