Liar, Liar, Pants on Fire…

4 08 2010

I have long since struggled with and had an uneven relationship with the truth. I could tell you it’s because I was raised as a story teller, and in Hollywood the truth doesn’t sell. I could tell you they’re just white lies and everyone lies. I could tell you that truth has many faces. I could tell you that I’m not a liar, just a spin doctor…. but I know the truth.

So why lie? Why not just own up to the truth, and face the consequences? Why not be a man who is known as a man of his word? Why not tell the truth in every situation no matter what?

The truth is that I’m afraid of the truth, ashamed of it, and totally unfamilar with it. Whether it’s an off hand excuse about why I’m running late to a client’s house, or a story that I tell someone to get them to do something for me, whether it’s to keep someone from being mad at me, or to buy some time… the bottom line is that I lie… and more often than I should. But it’s about time to grow up and change that.

This past weekend, I came face to face with myself. I realized who I am, and better yet, who I wanted to be. This weekend, I realized my greatest promise lies in my greatest promise. That is to say I can only reach my full potential if I find a reason not to lie. And that reason is my relationship to the beautiful woman I am in love with, and to my family as a whole.

On Wednesday night, as I was about to head out of town, and after a very nice farewell meal with my woman, she asked me if I was telling the truth about not watching pornography any more. I looked her straight in the eyes, eyes that were soft and kind, and filled with love and tears, and I told her I was done with that stuff… but it was a lie and I knew it.

The next day, while I was in the middle of a business seminar she texted me to find out whether I was really being honest about the pornography or not. I was caught and I knew it. I was struck by the pain of falling into this same hole in my life again and again. Not the hole of pornography (although that has continued to be one of the biggest energy holes in my life), but rather the hole of lying again. In the split second before lying to her in the first place, I knew what the consequences of lying and being found out were, and yet I did it anyway. And now here I was face to face with those consequences,. It could mean the end of my relationship, and if that were to happen, I would deserve every piece of that sad fate.

I had two choices… stick to the lie at all costs, and continue to live as a man who was dishonest…. or own up to the lie and face the consequences. I chose the latter, and admitted that I had not told the truth the night before. What followed was several days of up and down roller coasters in the relationship, with me realizing my flaw and the weakness inside me that caused me to lie in the first place and starting to own it, and watching many other issues get brought to the surface along the way.

It’s not like I can just snap my fingers and all the dishonesties of the past could even possibly be erased. It’s a slow process of recognizing the damage I have done by hiding my truth and allowing the fear of how I show up to the outside world to dictate my actions. But, in spite of it all, my woman and I kept talking. And I am gracious and humbled by that opportunity, and with the level of being that she showed in the face of such a serious slight against her and all that we have built.

When I got home, and was face to face with her I shocked her. I told her I wanted to buy promise rings for the two of us. She thought I was crazy. She accused me of trying to buy her. She got in my face and told me that it was most definitely not the right time for us to buy or be wearing promise rings, in fact it was quite the opposite. After all that she had been through, how could she trust any promise that I would make, and what difference would a piece of metal on our fingers possibly make? But I stayed firm. You see, I had a deep context and purpose for wanting to buy the rings. You see, in life, we talk a lot about crossing paths… but when paths cross, the two parties then continue in opposite directions. What we should be doing instead is merging paths. Coming together and staying together. And that’s what I want to do. I want to cement these merged paths with something physical.

My flaw is this… when left alone to my own devices, the voices in my head call me worthless, useless, unloved and unwanted. They tell me nothing that I do matters to any other person in the world. Now when they tell me that, I will look down at the ring on my finger and know that they are wrong. I will know that they are lying. That ring connects me forever to another person, and is every bit as valuable to me as a wedding ring. It tells me I am worth something. I am useful to someone. I am loved. I am wanted. You hear that voices? I AM WANTED!!!! So go bug some other poor sap. I know that I MATTER. And every time I feel the weight of the ring on my finger, I remember my commitment…. my promise.

And I remind myself that I will find my greatest promise as a man within my greatest promise as a man. My promise to myself, to my woman, and to my family. My promise to be a man of my word. A man who can be trusted and counted on. My promise to plug that hole in my boat once and for all.

I PROMISE….


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Welcome Home

3 06 2010

One of my best friends, Clint Arthur (The Last Year of Your Life) called me a week ago, and invited me to a seminar in San Francisco. He’s done this before. At the time he called, I thought he was nuts (which he very well may be). I had been having a rough relationship week, long hours and days at work, was short on funds for rent, was having my son tested for autism (and had no idea where the money for the testing was going to come from) and generally felt STUCK in my life. The concept of leaving town in the middle of that for four days seemed ridiculous. Ludicrous even. Not to mention the fact that it was going to cost $1,000 right when rent was due.

But there’s a saying…. “When the student is ready, the teacher appears…”

And most of all, I trust Clint more than almost any other man in my life. He KNOWS me. Not my image or the face I present to the world, but he knows the real me. With all it’s warts and blemishes. So, I made a commitment.

“Yes, Clint, YES… I will be there.”

And just like that, I took the next step in my life… without even fully realizing it at the time.


It’s been almost 7 years since I took the first step in recognizing my true value. I’ve even retold that story in this blog (see Leap of Faith: Parts 1-4). That was when I quit my day job, and started 2 Smart Techies. And I love my job…. but it was never what my original intention was when I quit my job. What I wanted to do was to create a revolutionary technology training system called “Get the Knack of your Mac”. But when people call you 24/7, and offer you ridiculous money to fix their simple tech problems, it’s hard to turn the money down. And when you start a service industry job, it’s hard to find the time to do anything else… especially if you’re successful, and I was.

So the DVD/online training system sat on a shelf in the back of my mind… and gathered cobwebs and dust.

I never forgot it, or my desire to become a known commodity and brand in the Macintosh community… I just didn’t know how to get there from here. Then Clint called.


The San Francisco seminar (where I am writing this blog from) was being put on by a man named Brendon Burchard, and it was called “The Experts Academy.” It’s a seminar teaching experts how to be successful in creating their own seminars, products, books, and becoming highly paid speakers of their specialized knowledge. Wow.

Getting here was easy. Quick plane ride from LAX, and Clint offered to put me up in his room. Yesterday I got dressed into my button up shirt and slacks, and walked right into my destiny. It was a mazing. The people were all experts in their field, and there were hundreds of them. Organizers, life coaches, health and wellness gurus, sports trainers, motivational speakers, etc…

And I could look any one of them in the eye, shake their hand and introduce myself. “Hi,” I would say, “I’m the MacWhisperer.” We’d exchange cards and stories, and make a connection. In many cases connections that I have no doubt will come back to me a thousand times over in the next few years.

Within the first few minutes in the room I had a revelation…. I am not charging nearly enough for my services… I am worth much more… What’s that? No voice in my head to argue? No voice telling me I’m a huckster, a sham, a screw-up? No voice telling me I’m already overpriced? NOPE. Just a small quiet voice, almost inaudible amongst all the hobnobbing… a small voice that simply said:

“damn right. you are worth more. much much more.”

So I decided then and there that my prices had to go up immediately. That evening, I went up to my room, and with Clint’s help composed a humble, simple email to go out to my clients. It merely said:

Dear ____________,

I have good news and bad news. The good news is I’m busier than I’ve ever been. The bad news is I’m busier than I’ve ever been. So, in an effort to reduce my client load and allow me to focus on providing truly exceptional service and support to my best and favorite clients like you, my new rate is $xxx/hour.

Please call me at any time, because I truly look forward to hearing from you and working with you.

All the best,

The MacWhisperer
———————————–

And just like that my business was worth more.

And that was just the first day of the seminar. Much, much more is yet to come…..


This morning, on my way to the complimentary coffee bar I ran into a sports coach trainer from Spain getting ready for his morning run. We talked for a moment and he told me that in spite of being thousands of miles from his home in Spain, when he walked into this room he felt like he was home. Like he belonged here. Like he had found his people.

I knew exactly how he felt.

I smiled at him, and looked him right in the eye.

WELCOME HOME.





The Amazon and the Iceberg

12 04 2010

I’ll start this story off by copping to the fact that at this time in my life I had not finished college. Don’t get me wrong, I had been on track to graduate college, I just hadn’t crossed the finish line. I had been 17 when I started college at USC Film School. In my second year of college, I met a woman, got into a relationship with her, and unexpectedly started a family. This pulled my focus away from the pretend world of college and firmly into the very real world of parenting. Shortly after my daughter was born, her mother passed away, and I became a full-time single Dad. The dream of finishing school seemed to get farther and farther away as I took on a day job to pay rent, and found myself coming home at the end of a long work day drained, exhausted, and still needing to be a father. Time passed, and along the way I started other relationships, met women, went out on dates, went to clubs, and followed around one of my friend’s bands.

It was at one of my friend’s shows that I met her… one of the women who would have an indelible, lasting impact on my life, and not at all in the way you think. I don’t want to use her name here, but I’ll allude to it. She had taken on the name of a famous vine swinging jungle man, and it was oddly appropriate since she was a 6 ½ foot tall amazon herself. She was tall and well-built, with long streaming blonde hair. She was hot and knew it… flaunted it… used it…

I had been on a few “dates” with her in a friendly capacity, but this night was different. This was an actual date. Just the two of us, no noisy rock band, no other friends, just this tall drink of water and myself. I picked her up at her pad on Melrose, and took her out to a nice meal. We laughed, and flirted, and boy did she flirt back, never failing to blow a kiss, or smile, or bat her eyes. After the dinner we laughed, and walked arm in arm to the nearby movie theatre.

This was 1997, and at the time the biggest movie of all time was in theatres. You know the flick…. DiCaprio, Winslet, and a fucking enormous hunk of ice. Now don’t get me wrong, in retrospect, the movie is definitely not all that… but at the time, it wasn’t about the story, or the dialogue or the slightly schmaltzy love story… it was about the experience. James Cameron had delivered something that reminded people what was great about movie making… he united an entire country in the collective experience of being on that ship’s final fateful journey. When you stepped into that theatre you physically left dry land and spent the duration of the trip on an experience… a true popcorn epiphany, surrounded by a full theatre audience that was on the same journey with you. When the boat creaked, and the boat began to break apart, you have expected your feet to get wet. Every sound, every effect was designed to make you feel a visceral part of that experience. It succeeded beyond al measures at fully capturing the audience’s imagination and attention. A true classic movie experience… even if the movie was a little hokey.

But that’s not the way the Amazon saw it. To her it was just a lousy movie with lousy writing and flat acting. To her it was an overblown and unbelievable love story wrapped around a historical contrivance. To her it was the worst that Hollywood, or even America has to offer. It was an embarrassment, a waste of celluloid, and an all around complete waste of her valuable time… and after the movie we had a drag out knock down fight about it.

She was not just content to insult the movie, she had to drag the entire audience into it. She called them slow, stupid and dim-witted for falling prey to the marketing machine, and believing that this was a movie worth seeing. They were fools, and America was full of morons if this was what passed for entertainment…

I argued with her, trying to explain that it was about the experience of the film, not the movie itself. It was about being a part of something. It was about a collective socially bonding moment where the entire audience became as one… but she would have none of it. It was just schlock. Nothing more. And then she said it… I couldn’t believe what I heard then, and almost 15 years later, I still can’t believe she said it.

“Well,” she said smugly, “I graduated from Yale, so I should know!”

I was dumbfounded. I had long since given up any hope of taking this woman to bed, and was just trying to salvage the last vestiges of my own sanity through this discussion, but that stopped me dead. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to say something, or couldn’t have said something, it was just that I didn’t know what to say, but I knew what I WANTED to say.

“Well I graduated from USC Film School, so I should know BETTER!!!!”

But I hadn’t graduated… and I knew it. I couldn’t say anything. I felt like the scarecrow, and somehow her diploma did make her smarter…

I don’t remember the rest of the evening, or what if anything was said after that between us, but I do remember that feeling of having this woman taunt me with her supposedly elite educational accomplishments. I remember the feeling of not having completed something that had been important to me. I remember feeling less than….

And within a few days I was in action. I pulled together info about USC. Found out how many credits I was shy, how much classes cost, what I needed to do to secure student loans, and I made a vow to myself that I would never get stuck in a discussion like that again. I felt like an unarmed man at a gunfight. This time I was going to finish what I started.

Before long I was back in classes with a new passion. The first time I had been in college it had been for my parents, for my pride, for the bragging rights…. This time it was for me. I delved into classes hard. I took challenging courses and kept rigorous notes. I took pride in my education, and I paid for every class with my own money. Along the way, I sold a TV pilot, helped my father get through a divorce, dated and got engaged to a sorority girl, and found myself, but those are all stories for other posts….

I remember before I went back, I had been keeping a long, long to-do list. It was a chronicle of every thing I wanted to do but hadn’t gotten around to yet. Write a book, travel to Europe, start a business, buy a computer, get my daughter to the dentist, buy toothpaste…. Just an epic running chronicle of a million tasks, and in bold letters FINISH SCHOOL. A friend had given me some great advice when he saw my list. He suggested I break it into two lists…. He explained that some tasks are reoccurring, and never really go away (like wash the car, or pick up the dry-cleaning), while others get finished and then are done, never to find their way back onto your to-do list (like get a dog, buy a new car, have kids… etc). Those one time tasks are the ones to focus on, because once they’re done, they’re done… So I followed his advice, and reorganized my list. There has never been a greater sense of satisfaction or pride than the day I got to look at that list and just draw a big dark line across that one lonely task:

FINISH SCHOOL

What’s the moral here? Well, my beautiful woman shared a concept with me recently. She explained that for any situation, there is always a reason to do it, and a reason not to do it… and then there is the third force… a separate entity that pushes us all to make one decision or the other. For me, the Amazon was the third force, and for that I am forever grateful. The moral is that you never know when, how, or through whom that third force is going to show up and change everything for you… be conscious of the people you meet, be clear in your intentions, and always be ready to plant that tree, otherwise you might find yourself stranded on a sinking ship with a 6 foot tall Amazon and an impending date with a gigantic fucking iceberg….






A Leap of Faith: Part IV – The Career

31 03 2010

There is a common misconception I would like to debunk right off the top. It is the assumption that a career and a job are the same thing… that they are synonyms. I propose that they are very different things, and that confusing them is not only a huge mistake, but that it can often have disastrous repercussions.

A job is temporary. A job is fleeting. You are not in control of it, it is in control of you. Most jobs do not require specific skills, or if they do, often you can learn what you need to know on the job. You show up for a job everyday, but the job goes on without you if you leave. For the most part, you do not control the direction your job takes, the choices you make my subtly affect the way the job goes, but you are not steering the boat. With a job you are usually working for someone else. Being paid by someone else. Dependent upon someone else.

A career is 1000% different. A career is permanent (or at least semi-permanent). A career is long-term. If you have a career, you are in charge. Your every decision and choice affects the course of your career. Generally speaking, in a career your working for a bigger purpose, or towards a bigger goal. A career takes a certain skill set. You can learn many new skills on the job in a career, but the career will falter early if you do not have certain skills.

Once I walked out of that office on the corner of Beverly Dr., and Wilshire Blvd. in Beverly Hills everything changed. I had walked into that office fresh off my realizations in Costa Rica, and the seed money to start my career. I had walked into that office a man with a job… I walked out with a career.

The first week of my new career was a whirlwind. I partnered up with a close friend of mine who was very skilled on the PC. I knew my company would need both Mac and PC technicians, and it seemed to make sense to start with someone I knew. He had strong business skills, and helped me get the bureaucratic blah-blah in line. We needed a name first, then a DBA and a bank account, then a Federal Tax ID#, then we needed a business phone line, and advertising, and a website, and a million other things… but first came the name.

We struggled with the name. I was the creative person, so it fell onto me to throw out idea after idea after idea, only to have each and every one unceremoniously shot down. How about this? Or that? Or this one? Or we could call it… and on and on and on… finally I turned to him, frustrated, “What the hell do you want to call it? 2 Smart Techies?” He laughed immediately, and smiled… and just like that 2 Smart Techies was born.

We quickly got the DBA, and purchased our domain, and designed our logo (again with lots of help from me as the creative guy), and put out some ads… and then we waited. We weren’t sure how long it was going to take. A day, a week, a month, or even longer… but it didn’t take long at all. We soon got a call from a major television production company in Hollywood. They had a dozen and a half PCs, and a huge virus infestation. I will always remember that moment as my Ghostbusters moment. You know the scene… the ghostbusters have put it all on the line getting their headquarters set up. They have their ads running, and most of New York thinks they’re a complete joke, but then someone calls and hires them to catch the slimy green ghost, and Annie Potts, the mousey secretary throws down her hand on a big red button, and screams “WE GOT ONE!!!!!” and alarms and sirens go off all over the Ghostbusters headquarters and they all slide down the pole in their full costumes for the first time…. It was just like that…. Only much much more mundane.

We got on site, and sure enough it was a complete disaster. Some new PC virus had been released and had just wreaked havoc on this office. I saw things that day that I had never imagined as even remote possibilities outside of the Sci-Fi Fantasy films I had grown up on. I was at a distinct disadvantage coming from the Mac side of things… I had only heard of viruses as concepts. I’d never really seen them in the wild, nor did I know what they could do or how to fix them. It was like nothing I had ever seen or experienced before. There were viruses that could shut off your computer, or wipe all the data off your machine, or redirect your browser to unauthorized pages… it was crazy. I let my PC partner guide me, and together we worked our asses off for over 16 hours straight… and then, all of a sudden, we were done. We invoiced the company, and collected a check for over $4000. My partner and I split it down the center, and just like that we were a legitimate company.

I was warned by friends of mine and other technicians, that this business was a sink or swim business. Some weeks you would eat filet mignon, and some days you would be lucky to have enough money and work to buy dog food… but it was never like that for me. It was always filet mignon. On job led to another. One client referred me to another one. Before I knew it, I had more work than I could handle, and more money than I had ever expected to earn.

That’s not to say it was easy sailing from this point on, not by a long shot, but we were over the first hurdle. The second hurdle that would really define me as a leader, and define my business as a whole, came a couple of months down the line. You see, I was already 30 at this point, and had had enough job experiences to know that I never again wanted to work for someone else. This gave me an intense work ethic. This was not just my day job. This was a company that i would build out and cultivate into a career. Something that would feed me and my family not just for the here and now, but well into my future. My partner on the other hand was in his 20’s, still finishing his school career, had no kids, and almost no overhead. Originally we had assumed that we would split all costs up front, and all checks we received, but that soon proved to be a bad plan. I worked every day. I had clients lined up and waiting for my services, and my partner just sat around waiting for someone to call him. I was being proactive, while he was just being reactive. As a result I provided 90% of the clients, and 90% of the income, and yet also carried the full load of the overhead, and paid half of my earnings over. This clearly wasn’t going to work.

My first remedy for this situation was to put my partner on a guaranteed hourly amount. I would pay him a flat rate every week, and keep the rest of what I was making. This didn’t work either because then he did less and less since he wasn’t being paid based on how much he did, just a flat rate. He was clearly in a job mind-set, while I was quickly learning what it meant to be in a career mind-set. I decided I had only one choice, so I bought him fully out of the company, and became a sole proprietor, a business owner, a full-time computer consultant, and most of all the proud new owner of an actual career. Go figure.

Down the line, I would branch out, find a new top-notch PC technician, build my brand and my clientele, and 7 years later I would still be here, fixing people’s Macs and helping them get their PCs working, writing tech blogs and recording a podcast, and thanking my lucky stars everyday that I get to be in charge. I get to be the boss. I make the decisions and choices and I steer my future, for better or worse. I have no one to answer to, and I make my own schedule, and money has never been the same issue it was back in those early days. Now it’s on to bigger and better things, and finding ways to continue to market my Business, and build my roster, and add new technicians, etc… Every day is a new adventure, and every day I learn something new that helps me lift this company a notch higher and a notch higher still. With a job, who cares…. With a career, I better care, because no one else will care for me.