Passion is BACK in Fashion

15 07 2010

Google the word passion, and what you’ll find is a lot of adult sites, dating sites, links to “The Passion of the Christ” and not much else. The word passion, and the concept itself are vastly underrated, and relegated to romance novels. To me, it is much more than that.

Passion is what gets me out of bed in the morning. It’s what motivates me, inspires me, pushes me to do more in my day, in my life, in my relationships, and in my world. If I am not passionate about something I will rarely waste my time. When I am passionate about something, there is no denying it. Everyone who meets me can feel that passion, That exuberance. It is not merely one of my qualities… it is the main quality that defines me.

Look at these blogs I’ve been writing, and it will come across. Whether it’s a blog about technology, surfing, or life lessons, my passion is obvious and inspiring.

What are you passionate about? What do you care about? What would you fight for?

Passion is a rare quality, and is often hard to find or describe. When you are passionate about something, it can change you, but usually that change is subtle, internal, and only noticed by those in your closest circle of friends. I propose that it shouldn’t be that way. I suggest you broadcast your passion, scream it from the rooftops, write it in blogs, tell your friends and family. When you meet someone who shares and shows their passion it is intoxicating, inspirational, and above all totally contagious.

When you come out of a movie theatre with someone who was charged up and fueled by what they just saw, and they share it openly with you, don’t you feel their excitement? Doesn’t it catalyze and change something within you? How many times has one person’s experience or point of view created a spontaneous debate or discussion that results in the two of you actively stating your beliefs, your opinions, your perspectives… even if they are diametrically opposed…. That’s the power of passion.

When I get up in the morning, and get my day started, if I don’t connect with some part of my passion I am dead in the water. Until I connect with something that I really care about, and feel in my bones my day doesn’t start. Yes, I may have breakfast, and go to work, and have phone calls and conversations, and get things done, but I’m just going through the motions… faking it… on autopilot. Be honest, how often has that happened to you? How frequently do you look at the clock and realize it quarter to one and wonder where your day went? Were you present for the first half of the day, or just in a fog, in a rut, in your head?

Passion is capable of bringing us 100% into the present, and keeping us there. Your heart rate increases, your pulse quickens, you are aware of everything on a completely different level.

I have a man in my life who taught me the intense value of focusing on our breath. It’s not merely meditation, although it is a form of that. It’s a way to be present, focused and awake. This man has found his passion. He teaches everyone around him how to connect to that quiet place inside your head, where the sound and feeling of the universe “breathing” you is present. Where you are present. When he talks about the power of focusing on your breath, you know how much he cares about it and it changes you. Suddenly you care about it too, and we are all bettered because of this man sharing himself, his knowledge and his passion.

I had to defend writing this blog to a friend of mine this past week. He is an awesome man, and I greatly value his perspective, but in this case he was just flat out wrong. He is so focused on his business, that in this case he missed the point. He is passionate about helping people, and helping them get their businesses on another level, and I can feel it… but I don’t always agree with it, and that’s OK, but I acknowledge his passion and am grateful for it.

He suggested that rather than waste my time writing this blog, I should focus on my technology blog that is part of my MacWhisperer brand… He told me I was diluting my value, and that my time was better spent furthering that brand, and making money from it. I should be doing more podcasts, video reviews of technology, training videos on how to use your iphone, ipod, ipad, and Mac products. He’s not wrong. I should be doing all of that and a lot more than I currently do, and there are only a limited amount of hours in the day, but he was just missing the bigger point of this blog.

You see, this blog is something I am truly passionate about. It charges me up to write it. To be creative. To share my thoughts and perspectives, and to acknowledge the path I am on in this life. For me, business is only one part of the multi-faceted life I am building here. This blog connects me to my higher purpose, gets me in touch with a power greater than myself, and motivates me to do more with my day every day. I could write a thousand technology blogs (and I am passionate about technology as well), but they would lack power, purpose, focus and vision without taking the few minutes to work on this blog first. Writing lifts me up, and then everything I do from that point on is better, stronger, and more full of LIFE and ENERGY.

And if my passion here can inspire someone else’s passion out there, all the better. We are, after all, all in this world to create a better experience and existence for ourselves and those around us.

So get PASSIONATE!!! Find out what you really CARE about, and let the world know, in any and every way you can. And I will keep on writing….


Advertisements




Thoreau, Thoreau, Thoreau Your Boat…

11 07 2010

So, we’ve all heard it… A rolling stone gathers no moss. But is it true? Maybe we should ask Mick Jagger… he’s still rolling and rolling and rolling, as the lead singer of one of the longest running, constantly performing, still touring, and still rocking bands on the planet. The fact that his band is called The Rolling Stones is just a coincidence… it’s his inner momentum that keeps him going forward at full steam, and keeps him looking fairly young (all things considered).

In the last post, I talked a lot about changing your life and changing your story. I talked about shifting your perspective away from what you have been doing, to what you WANT to be doing. Now, the big question… How do you keep moving in that new direction?

One Word: MOMENTUM

For me, momentum has been one of the tenets of my life… a belief that I have had and utiilized since high school. The theory is simple, in the morning, start yourself in motion… and never stop moving until your day is done.

I remember many long, late night cramming sessions, trying to fill my brain with everything I would need for a test the following day. I remember being up until 1 or 2AM, and then waking up at 5:30AM, jumping out of bed (to start the momentum), then a quick shower, get dressed, hop on my bike, and ride towards school. I would stop at a nearby Denny’s, and grab breakfast, and keep studying, cramming, absorbing as much knowledge as my poor sleep-deprived brain could handle, and then heading into class. As long as I didn’t STOP… as long as I stayed focused and present, and refused to lie down and rest, I would be fine, I would power my way through the day… ACE the test, finish the rest of my classes and head home…

But it wouldn’t stop there. I’d get home, and you would have to maintain the momentum. Read a book, do my homework, write a little, dinner and then keep it going until I was fully spent. Most of my life, I have survived and in fact thrived on a bare minimum hours of sleep based on this concept. I have a lot to do in my day, every day. A lot to do in my life. Goals, hopes, dreams, plans. It never stops.

Someone told me the other day that he only had so many hours in the day, and I laughed to myself… If that’s true, you either need to use those hours smarter, or sleep less… or in my case, a little of both. If you put your mind to it, there is always enough time in a day to do what is TRULY important to you. Most of us waste at least half of our days with television, facebook, movies, twitter, and other mind numbing activities that make us feel busy and productive, but actually accomplish nothing more than making us FEEL busy and productive. In most cases they do not further our hopes, dreams, businesses, and higher purposes. That’s not to say you have to completely stop doing those things, especially if you enjoy them… just recognize them for what they are. Everyone needs some downtime, and some time to (pardon the phrase) fuck around… but it should be the dessert of your day, not the main course.

I say it to you, because I need to hear it for myself.

In fact, everything I talk about in this blog is as much for me to hear as for anyone. That’s how my brain works. We teach what we must learn the most. My personal struggles and challenges have always been the biggest inspiration for what I write about, so don’t think I have mastered any of these things. I am still a student, and I am merely speaking out loud the lessons that I need to take in. If they help you or anyone else along the way, that’s just the icing on the cake.

So, back to momentum….

About a month ago, I had a life altering experience. I raised the bar in my own life. I challenged myself to show up differently. To hold myself taller, stronger, to stand up straighter. I realized a greater value for who I am, and I found my higher purpose. But that was just the beginning. Each morning since that realization, I have found myself back where I used to be. Back in my comfort zone. Back where I think I’m not worth anything. Where I question my drive and my direction. Where I doubt myself and my value. And every morning I must remind myself of where I am going.

That’s what MOMENTUM looks like to me today. It’s a way of connecting each day to the prior day, and to the day before that. Remembering where I’ve been, and what I’ve learned. Acknowledging that the voices in my head, the fears, the doubts, the confusion is all a pattern I don’t want to be a part of anymore. It’s all an old tape loop. By being present, aware, focused and in complete recognition of the path I am on, I maintain my direction, and move it forward another day.

One tool that has helped me is to ask myself (and those around me) a revealing question every day… here are a few of the one’s I have used:
* How will you help another person today?
* What will inspire you to stay focused today?
* What lie that you tell yourself regularly will you dispel today?
* What fear will you face up to and overcome today?
* How will you know that today was a successful day?
* Where do you want to go today?

Each day… each question… each answer… reveals something about how I am evolving. Each moment is a chance to live my higher purpose. Each day in an opportunity to move one day closer in the direction of my dreams.

One of Kurt Simon’s favorite quotes (other than this blog’s namesake), was Thoreau: “Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined. “

And so I do, and I will continue to….






What does it take to get THE MOST out of your Life?

5 07 2010

Tonight, I got put face to face with a past version of myself. This man, stuck in his story, was busy manifesting in the wrong direction. He has been successful in his life, but at this point in time, he is at a loss on how to move forward. I know this place. I know this man. He is me.

When I have found myself in a hole, I am always the first man to beat myself up. To blame myself for where I am. To berate and deride each and every accomplishment I have made… each and every positive decision…. each and every step towards a solution. I will bash myself over the head for every mistake, and swear I’ll never get on the right track.

They say if you’re in a hole, and you want to get out, the first step is… STOP DIGGING!!!!

It seems like simple advice. Good, easy to follow words of wisdom…. but most people (myself included) find it hard to know when they are digging themselves in deeper. Or better yet, how to stop.

Our stories become us. They define our experiences and our realities. Our struggles make our lives more real. Or do they? We’ve all been there. In a rut… telling ourselves over and over again how bad it is.. that it can’t possibly get worse… but then it does. We create our stories as we go along, and we become trapped by them and we recreate them over and over again. But it doesn’t have to be that way.

Step 1: Acknowledge your Story Take a moment, and identify that story. If it helps, write it down, or say it out loud…. It might sound like this:

I am Dylan Stewart. I am 37 years old. When I was 9 my parents separated. I was forced to become an adult, and at that point my life and my future was decided. I would be the grown-up. The parent to my own parents… the parent to my younger brother… the parent to myself. Throughout high-school I was a geek, a loser, a loner. I struggled to make friends. I struggled to meet women. I was a part of the clique known as “The Smart Kids”. I graduated, and went on to college…

BLA-BLA-BLA-BLA-BLA-BLA-BLA-BLA-BLA-BLA-BLA-BLA-BLA-BLA-BLA-BLA-BLA

I’m Sick of it already… aren’t you? I’ve heard it a million times. I used to enjoy telling it to myself. I used to love hearing it, and seeing the reactions that it got from those around me. What a WASTE of BREATH!!!! And breath is precious. It is finite. One day, you WILL breathe your last breath… how many more do you want to waste on YOUR STORY?

Step 2: Let it Go It sounds like a hard thing to do, but it’s not… if you wrote your story on a piece of paper BURN IT, CRUMBLE IT, THROW IT AWAY!!!! If you wrote it on a computer, DELETE the file. If you spoke it out loud, VOW that it will be THE LAST TIME you do that.

It’s time to define the story you want…. not the one you were born into. Not the one you’ve been trapped by. Not the one that has KEPT YOU ASLEEP FOR YEARS.

State Your Limitations… AND THEY’RE YOURS!!!!

Step 3: Imagine and Create Your New Story Now comes the fun part. And this can be done in an unlimited number of ways. I’ll give you some ideas and suggestions, but be creative. Make it yours. If you have a way that works for you, share it in the comments… the life you inspire might be your own…..

Tomorrow morning set your alarm extra early. You must be the first one awake. If you live alone, this is easy. If you have a family, beat them all to the coffee pot. Keep a notepad or a laptop or a voice recorder (or whatever) by your bedside… and the moment your feet hit the floor, pick it up, and state 3 things you are grateful for.

1) I am grateful for music 2) I am grateful for my family 3) I am grateful for this life

If you feel inspired, keep writing. 5, 10, 20 things. Whatever you want to do.

Then, find yourself a quiet place you can be focused and uninterrupted for the next 30 minutes… bring your pad, or something you can use to take notes. I like listening to music when I do this. Other people like to be in nature. Some people like to take a jog or a run or do exercise first. Some people meditate first… whatever works for you. When you are in the right frame of mind, start to imagine your life in 5 years. Where do you live? What do you drive? Who are you surrounded by? What do you do for a living?

What INSPIRES YOU?

You can write it down, you can draw it out, you can clip pictures from magazines and paste them on a vision board, you can use Photoshop… but you cannot just do it in your head. You must somehow make it physical. Make it concrete. MAKE IT REAL!!!

It takes as long as it takes. If you run out of time, come back to it later. Give it love. Give it focus. Give it ATTENTION!!!

And when it’s done, put it somewhere you will see it every morning.

This works. I have seen it change lives. I have seen it save families. I have seen it make money appear out of nowhere. I have seen it bring more love into people’s lives. I have seen it change everything. But first, you must BELIEVE that it can all change. You must believe that you are worthy of the life you dream of. You must believe in YOU!!!!!

Step 4: Start Living Your Dreams

Each day is a new opportunity to move forward. If you slip, that’s ok, we all do. I know I have slipped and continue to struggle some days. Like anything worthwhile it takes time and practice. It is a process. But it is possible.

If you have a hard time on a particular day, here is what works for me…

Turn on random shuffle on your ipod or itunes, and play it LOUD!!!!! Go for a run, or a walk, or do pushups or whatever it takes to get you breathing heavy. Sit quiet and focus on your breath. Change your pattern. Take a different route to work. Eat something different for breakfast. Start a conversation with someone random. Spend some time with your pet. Kiss or hug someone.

And my personal favorite: DRESS THE PART!!!!

There’s a great scene in the Steve Martin movie MY BLUE HEAVEN… (and no, I’m not a Steve Martin fanatic or anything, but like the last post, it’s the most appropriate example).

In the movie, Steve Martin is trying to get Rick Moranis character out of a depression, and he takes him shopping for an expensive suit. Custom tailored and gorgeous. It’s not cheap, but when he wears it, Rick’s character stands different. He holds himself different. You can tell he feels different…. and Steve tells him “You see, the wardrobe is a symbol of how you are… you follow me? … Listen to me, it’s very hard for a human being to change. I know this. I am an expert on this. So, sometimes in order for a human being to change you have to change from the outside – IN.”

It’s true. Put on a nice shirt and slacks, even a tie if you need to, or a nice dress, or whatever makes you feel sharp. Look in the mirror… how do you feel?

Are you ready to start your new life now? THEN GET GOING!!!!!

It’s like the old SNL character Fernando used to say, “You look maahvelous… and it is more important to look good than to feel good!”

Just take the first step, and fake it until you make it.






There’s no such thing as being in the wrong place at the right time

29 06 2010

For the purpose of this post, I will interchange the terms synchronicity and synergy. I wish there was a word that properly comprised both concepts, but synchronergy sounds awful. So just understand that there are some parts of each word that apply, and it is fully intentional.

So the best way to get started is to connect you to where we left off last time…. I was in San Francisco at a seminar for experts in their fields, and along the way, I had found a new respect and value for myself. I know, it’s something that sounds a little egotistical to say, but it’s completely true.

That evening, I learned something about timing, trust, destiny… In short I learned about the synchronicity of the universe. I learned that we are all EXACTLY where we are supposed to be. I learned that every step on our path, however bumpy, uncomfortable or painful is a necessity to get us to the next place on our never-ending journey.

This blog will chronicle several different stories, which taken separately could be merely coincidences, but when put together show a path that we are incapable of resisting.

First I have to give props to my good friend Clint Arthur, who started bugging me about coming to this seminar weeks in advance. I didn’t have the money to go, I didn’t have the inclination to go, and my relationship had hit another significant bump in the road that made me feel even less like leaving home. But I trust Clint. And that in itself says something. I trust Clint to see things in me that I myself am frequently blind to. At the end of this last year Clint had encouraged me to do the Inner Child Workshop. Hell, he hadn’t encouraged me, he practically dragged me there, but that’s the kind of man Clint is. When he gets his teeth sunk into something, he’s like a pit bull… he just does not let go. And thank god for that.

The inner child workshop was a blessing. At the time I did it, my woman and I had never been more at odds with each other. We had had some serious problems throughout the Summer, and I had moved out for a time, but at that point I was back at home, albeit with one foot out the door. The inner child workshop gave me clarity. It gave me focus. It gave the relationship the chance that it needed to go further. And I owed it all to Clint.

So when Clint says I have to do something, I just do it. And so it was with the seminar. So the first part is just gratitude to the good fortune of having Clint in my life, and the good sense to follow his lead. That good sense got me to the seminar that lifted me to a whole new place in my personal awareness and presence.

Then there was Scott.

It’s one thing to say you are on a new level in your life, or to begin to act on that new belief…. But to manifest a new level of people around you in response to your inner value for yourself… Well, that’s practically unheard of… But so it was with Scott.

For those of you who read the last post, you’ve already met Scott. That evening, I was trying desperately to get myself into a VIP dinner with the other experts from the seminar. Try as I might, I could not find a way to get in. I found myself wandering around by the front desk, when I was approached by a tall, heartfelt man. He asked if I was the Mac guy, and I said that I was. He expressed his deep desire to get over his fears and struggles with his new mac computer. I put my hand on him, and told him I could help. And in that moment we bonded. He tried to get me into that VIP dinner, but failing at that, later that night he brought the VIPs from the dinner to me. That night we hung out at the bar, and he introduced me to one person after another. We laughed and joked into the evening.

A weekend or two after I got home, Scott came into LA, and we got to work together. He became the first of many high level new training clients that walked into my life since that seminar. He was proof that it was a new day for me. At our second training session, I collected my pay for the day, and was rewarded with a several hundred dollar tip on top of my training fees. But it wasn’t the money that was the most valuable part, it was the recognition. I was functioning at the top of my game in computer training, and I was beginning to reap the benefits…

Then came Jennifer….

The night I was waiting to see if Scott would get me into the dinner, I was hanging out in the waiting area near the bar, sipping on a Pinot Noir, and working on my iPad. Up walked Jennifer. She asked about the iPad (the obligatory “Do you love it?”), and I invited her to sit down to talk. She had heard some of the things that I had said during the seminar, and asked me about some basic Mac stuff.

We talked about the amazing live performance we had seen at the end of the seminar that night, by Bo Eason, an ex-football player turned actor and writer. She offhandedly remarked that he lived in Westlake Village, a mere 5 minute drive from where I lived. I thought nothing of it at the time, but the following morning that info would lead to another piece of the puzzle…. but more on Bo Eason in a moment.

While Jennifer and I were talking, my iPad beeped at me with a Facebook message from Sherilyn, my love… I laughed a little too loud at it. Sherilyn and I had been talking earlier in the room, and she expressed some concern over my newfound confidence, but here she was expressing her love for me. Jennifer oversaw the message, and as chance would have it, we began to talk about relationships. She revealed that hers had gone South on her recently. And I revealed some of the troubles i had recently been through. She recommended a book called “The 5 Languages of Love” to me, and told me that if she had read that book earlier it would have saved her relationship.

Not being a man to ignore a good recommendation, I immediately purchased it on the kindle app of my iPad. We spoke a little more as the night went on, but never anything more about the book.

When I got home from the seminar, I told Sherilyn about the book, and purchased it on her Kindle. It sounded great to her, and we were quickly diving into it. It’s a month later now, and I can truly say it was the beginning of a changing point in my relationship. Sherilyn and I have never been closer, and as we explore the concepts of the book together we begin to learn more about ourselves… about each other… about love, and how to express it… and about how to communicate with intention, love and kindness.

I don’t know where we would be had Jennifer not approached me that night, and i don’t want to know. I am just grateful to the universe for putting the gifts I need in my hands time and time again. If we are open to the ways of the world, all the doors will unlock as we approach them, and all the answers will come… in time.

The Bo Eason story still makes me laugh. It was the actual impetus for this entire blog, but the other pieces were integral to it, so they had to be pieced together as well. So let me set the stage….

At the end of the second to last day of the seminar, the crowd was treated to a real treat… unknown to us, we were about to see a piece of true artwork created in front of our eyes. Bo Eason was once an NFL football player, but having retired from ball he had written a one man play called “Runt of the Litter”. It was autobiographical, and chronicled his rise from a small, untalented athlete competing for his father’s love with his stronger, more talented older brother to a professional NFL player, competing at the SuperBowl against a team led by none other than his big brother.

It was awesome. Inspiring. Powerful. And simply indescribable. Every emotion was on display… inches away from our faces. Love, anger, fear, regret, elation, pride… and most of all, true character. It affected everyone in the room, some more than others. For me, it connected me to my relationship to my father.

In the piece, Bo’s character strives to win his father’s affection by becoming a football player and an athlete like his brother. My relationship with my father was different. Very different. I was no athlete. I was a computer geek, a nerd, a chess player, a 98 pound weakling… and my father was a lifelong sports fanatic, and a regular athlete. He plays tennis almost every day, and has always prided himself on his vigor, and physical fitness, even at the age of 70.

For me, sports was what separated me from my father. It was a dividing force for us. His love of football, basketball, tennis, boxing… almost any example of physical prowess…. constantly competed with me for his attention. I got my fair share of his love and attention, and always felt his focus… provided it wasn’t the Superbowl, or the Olympics, or the NBA finals. Don’t get me wrong. I have a great relationship with my father even to this day, and I wouldn’t change a piece of it, I was just oddly affected by how different my experience of sports and fatherhood was from Bo’s.

So I had set it in my head to have a moment with Bo, one on one, and express my appreciation for his heartfelt piece of art, and the powerful gift it had given me of clarity around my relationship with my father. And that following morning, I had my moment.

As I stood at the elevator, alone, coffee in hand, Bo stepped right up beside me. I blinked in disbelief for a moment (I wasn’t in awe at the man, just at the synergy and synchronicity of the universe.) I was reminded again of how much is possible when you trust yourself to manifest your own reality.

In the elevator I told Bo about my relationship with my father, and thanked him. I told him that I had heard he lived near me, and offered him a free hour of technical training as a token of appreciation. He revealed that he was building a new house not one block away from where I live. Not one block away. What are the chances? Any how, we parted ways and headed into the seminar.

He was brought up on stage and did a question and answer session, during which he revealed that he had been trained as an actor by none other than Roy London. Now Roy was a great teacher,but that wasn’t what caught my attention. I had been told dozens of stories about Roy because he was Sherilyn’s acting teacher as well. He had died a few years back, but he had changed her life. And not only did Bo live a block away from me, but he had trained with Roy, whose picture hangs like Jesus Christ in my kitchen in a place of great honor… what are the chances? But wait…

During his Q&A, he talked about how life altering it was to have a great teacher in your life. He told the story of a particular situation when Roy inspired one of his female students. He revealed to her that it was time for her to have a child, and that through that life-altering experience of becoming a mother she would be able to step back out of herself, and reveal her full potential. She would see life from another perspective, that of a parent, and through that she would emerge as a deeper, truer actress, and as a fully multi-dimensional woman… I could not believe my ears… I had heard that story before. Many, many times before. It was one of the life altering moments for Sherilyn. It was the inspiration for Sherilyn to get pregnant… and the product of that inspiration, that lesson, that piece of wisdom is my 16 year old step-son, Myles…. Bo was referencing my woman in his story… Now what were the chances of that?

In this life, in this world, you can never be surprised, or unaware of the so-called coincidences all around us. They are lessons thinly hidden be a veil. They are moments. They are proof of divinity and proof of a plan that is beyond us.

I am where I am supposed to be.

I am doing what I am supposed to be doing.

WE ALL ARE!!!!

Be present.

Be focused.

Be aware.

The signs are all around us….

There is a scene in the old Steve Martin movie “The Man with 2 Brains” that always makes me laugh. He is a widower, with a shrine in his house to his deceased wife… and he has met a demon in the disguise of Kathleen Turner, and fallen in love with her (or so he thinks), and he returns to the shrine to ask his wife for a blessing. “Becca”, he says, “If there’s anything wrong with my feelings for Dolores, just give me a sign.” And the portrait of his ex-wife spins in circles, and an ominous ghostly “NOOOOOOOOOOO” can be heard all around. The candles flare up and shake, and the wall begins to crack apart. Wind blows all around the room, and the NOOOOOOOOOO gets louder and louder, then finally calms down, and completely unphazed and unaware, Steve Martin looks right at the portrait and says “Just any kind of sign…. I’ll keep on the lookout for it.”

That’s not me anymore…

As I look at the world around me, I will ask for guidance, for wisdom, for clarity, for purpose…

Any sign will do… and I will be on the lookout for it.





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.





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.






A Leap of Faith: Part II – The Wave

16 02 2010

Costa Rica was beckoning to me….

Since setting the plan to leave town in motion, it seemed everything in my life was pulling against me simultaneously. By now, work on the film “Hollywood Homicide” was in post-production. In layman’s terms, that meant the filming had been completed, and now we were editing the footage, and trying to get the movie ready for the cineplexes. Everyone on the crew had figured out we were making a bomb, and money was being thrown around every which way to try and staunch the bleeding. Several previews had been cut and sent out to theaters with all the common cliches we’ve come to expect from buddy pictures: “In a world where music and crime collide…”, or “In Hollywood, no one is who they really want to be..” or “On the toughest case of his career Joe Gavelin has been assigned a new partner…” You get the gist. Cheese coming out of every opening. Trailers that were completely misleading about the movie, and could only hope to draw a few unsuspecting cinema goers into it’s web. In short, it was a slowly unravelling disaster.

I was working crazy hours, rushing home, picking up my daughter, feeding her, getting her homework done, getting her to sleep, and collapsing into a heap on the couch with some useless pop-culture show streaming from the TV. And then I would wake up and start it all over again. Each night I would dream fitfully, hoping everything would just change, and I would be magically transported to some paradise in the middle of South America with endless white sand beaches, beautiful women and unparalleled sunsets. And each morning I would awaken in my own house, my own bed, my own life… and I would go through the motions all over again.

As we got closer to my departure date I could feel it in my bones. I needed to get out of here. Nothing could hold me back, not the craziness of booking airline tickets in the post 9/11 world, not making an emergency run to get a valid passport before the trip, not even finding a way to get my daughter cared for while I was gone. Slowly, day after day, I got closer to the end of the tunnel.

Then, suddenly and without warning, I found myself at the airport, tickets and passport in hand. A stuffed backpack and a single carry-on by my side. And what on earth was that? A smile? A real, genuine, no bullshit smile peeking out from behind my lips? It felt like it had been years since I had smiled… and just like that, the journey began. My shoulders relaxed. My bags seemed light compared to the weight I had been carrying. This trip… this moment…. this opportunity was just what I needed… Everything was possible… and everything was about to CHANGE!

I arrived late that evening, and was picked up and whisked away by a friend of my father, who brought me to the gorgeous villa my father was staying in with his girlfriend. I slept hard, and dreamed of escaping… no really… it was one of those being chased dreams. I ran through a strange town, breaking into people’s homes, and attempting to hide out and evade my pursuer… who was none other than Harrison Ford. I had barely escaped him time and again, when he finally caught up and grabbed me by the scruff of my shirt and lifted me off the ground… at which point I gratefully awakened to find myself in a strange new land… completely free.

That morning we left that part of Costa Rica and embarked on a long and winding path through the rain forest in an old beat-up bus. This was the main road that ran through this country, and it seemed there had been a teacher strike, and a necessary bridge had been blocked by the protesters, so we had to take a side road around the blockade. We stopped at a roadside shanty, and grabbed a coke before heading further in. The whole journey was surreal, as if each moment you were going deeper and deeper inside yourself, peeling away layer after layer of societal underpinnings, until we finally arrived at our destination…. and I was figuratively naked… a newborn.

This undiscovered, remote part of Costa Rica was like a film set… unpaved roads… trees everywhere… people selling shells and trinkets from bamboo stands along the street… I wasn’t sure what to make of it. In a land of so many opportunities and experiences, I wasn’t sure where to begin… so I made a list of all the things I wanted to do while I was here and free from the constraints of my normal everyday life. At the top of my list… LEARN TO SURF….

So the first chance I had, I walked into town by myself, and talked to some locals, who put me in touch with Alvaro, a one-time professional surfer who had never made it to the big time, and now took odd jobs teaching locals and tourists the way of the wave.

He was rough around the edges. Tall. Dark skinned. Dreadlocks. His eyes were perpetually squinched tight, as if he had spent an eternity staring at the sun. His name meant Nobel Guardian. And he spoke with a thick Jamaican accent that was sometimes absolutely impossible to decipher. I was a little intimidated by him to tell the truth, but I had trust that this was where I was meant to be.

We grabbed a surfboard, and walked together out of town, and into a small inlet alongside an old dock. The waves were small here, and the place was practically deserted. He showed me the basics…. how to hold the board… how to stand on it (while on the sand just to get the feel of it)… how to paddle… then he took me out into the water.

This first day was miserable… try as I might, I could not even get close to catching a wave. I could stand for only a second before loosing my balance. Paddling was pure torture, and the board was rubbing my chest and my thighs raw as I swam. I was never going to figure this out… Sensing my discouragement, Alvaro pulled me out of the water. “Dat’s enuff for t’day.” He said, “Tomorrow we figure ‘dis ting out.” And he took me out for a rotisserie chicken at some local joint.

The next day I awoke with my passion and commitment renewed. I met Alvaro and we went out to the same spot. For the first two hours it was just like the day before.. that’s when Alvaro pulled me aside:

“What’s your problem man?” He asked, “This is simple stuff. You a smart guy. Just watch da wave, follow da wave, catch da wave. Dat’s all. Simple. I told him I was doing my best, but he just shrugged… “Theres somet’ing on your mind… somet’ing dat’s distracting you…”

He was right, there was something distracting me… a lot of somethings in fact. I had come to know them collectively as “my reality”. There was the shitty job I would have to return to at some point, the unfaithful fiancee taunting me from Amsterdam, the daughter I was doing my best to raise, the bills I had to pay… you name it, and it was one of my distractions. I told him this, and he laughed… “You still don’t get it man… Surfing is like life… it’s simple… watch da wave…. follow da wave…. catch da wave… everyt’ing else is just distractions…”

Something in his words rang true… so I paddled out, and I cleared my mind. I waited until I was focused, my only thought catching the next wave. Everything else was quiet. No, not this wave… not that one… here it comes… I saw it on the horizon as it closed in on me, and I just watched it. It was beautiful, perfect, majestic. My eyes took it all in, and I followed it as it approached. Then I paddled… and I paddled hard, pulling my arms through the water, forcing the board into motion with each stretch of my arms, and then suddenly the wave was upon me, and as the surfboard got carried by it, I stood up… and I caught the wave… riding it all the way into the shore, never losing my balance or my focus. And when I stepped off the board I understood what Alvaro had truly meant…

It’s simple. Life is a wave. And there’s only two things in life, the wave you want to ride… and everything that keeps you from riding it. I knew what my wave was now. I knew where I wanted to go. And more importantly I knew what the distractions were that were going to try, time and time again, to toss me off that wave.

NEXT: A Leap of Faith: Part III – The Knock