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.






Today is the Day to Level Up!!!!

5 06 2010

So the day started innocuously enough… that is to say innocuous for a weekend that started with a deepening recognition of my own value that resulted in a global raise of my consulting fee. My friend, and one of my success inspirations, Clint Arthur and I awoke in the hotel room in San Francisco we’ve been sharing while we attended a Expert’s seminar. We laughed and joked, and got dressed, and headed downstairs for breakfast. Once there we crashed the table of a couple of other guests at the seminar, and enjoyed coffee and a simple breakfast.

From there, we entered the seminar and spent the next few hours enjoying a presentation by success guru Brian Tracey. It was inspirational. He taught us that all it takes to be a millionaire is to simply DECIDE to be a millionaire. Now, being a millionaire has never been an ultimate life-driving goal of mine. If it happens along the way to my life goal I’ll be happy to accept it, but it’s not what drives me. For the last year, what has driven me is the desire to be known commodity in the Macintosh community. I have envisioned myself writing a column for a popular magazine, having my own radio show or tv show, being an invited guest on talk shows to discuss technology, and many other things. And in that room right then and there I DECIDED that I would make that all happen. Easy to make a decision like that, but as Brian Tracey said, once you make that decision you irrevocably step over a line….

And so I stepped over that line.

When the presentation came to an end, we got an hour for lunch, and Clint and I headed for the restaurant to crash someone else’s table and enjoy a great meal. At least I thought Clint was with me, but when I turned around he was nowhere to be found. I chatted it up with a man I had met the prior evening, and prepared to crash his table and join him for lunch, when Clint reappeared, grabbed my arm and said “You have to come with me RIGHT NOW!!!”

So I did, and along the way, he explained that Brian Tracey was letting people take pictures with him, and Clint wanted to get a picture of Brian holding Clint’s Wealth Doubling book, and I needed to take the picture, which I did. Then I figured as long as I was there I would take a picture with him as well, and have him hold my ipad with my website showing on the screen. Clint shot that pic, and Brian and I laughed as he played with my iPad and I told him what I do for a living.

As we walked away, Clint and I saw Barbara De Angelis, a best-selling author and inspirational speaker who had given a presentation the prior day. We decided to get a picture with her as well. Clint told her about his book series, and I told her that I was the MacWhisperer, and explained my philosophy that ANYONE can learn to use technology. She laughed, put her hand on me and told me that I needed to write a book, and that she would endorse that book right here and now. It was like she reached into my soul and turned a know, and something just clicked. I knew she was right.

I walked away stunned, and over the next couple of hours came up with a title for the book and a marketing plan to sell it. I came back up to Barbara at the next break and told her my book would be called “You Can Be the Smartest Person in the Room; How to stop fighting your technology and start LOVING it!!!” She smiled and threw her arms around me…”I love it!!!” she exclaimed, “I have no doubt that that is a New York Time’s Bestseller!!!”

Which only served to piss off (but not really) Clint, who has spent the last several years declaring that HE would be a best-selling author, while it has never even occurred to me.

Now, that evening there was a special VIP dinner scheduled for many of the participants of the seminar… including Clint, but not including me.

As we sat through the next presentation, an awesome One Man Play by ex NFL star Bo Eason, I realized that I was SUPPOSED to be at that VIP dinner, and I decided that whatever it took, I was not going to let Clint go to that dinner without me.

Over the past couple of days, I have networked and hobnobbed, and connected with many of the influential people who were outing on the seminar. I walked up to one, and asked her to help me, and get me into that dinner. She told me there was no way to do it, the room was completely filled. My heart sank, but based on everything I had learned today, I was not about to let one NO stand in my way… “I’m supposed to be at that dinner.” I stated. But she swore that there was no way she could do it. The dinner was completely full.

I walked up to the next person, and the next person, getting a NO each time. There just was no room, but I was unshakable in my belief that I was SUPPOSED to be at that dinner. Even Barbara couldn’t help me get in. Unsure of what to do next, I walked towards the front desk, and waiting for inspiration…

At that point, a man walked up, and put his hand on my shoulder. He was huge. Easily 6’7. “You’re the mac guy….” he said, and I smiled and said that I was. He looked me in the eye and said, “I heard what you said in front of the room yesterday, and I have some people you NEED to meet… I’m closely connected with Brendon Brouchard(the man putting on the seminar), and I’ve worked with Tony Robbins, and I want to introduce you around.”

He went on to tell me that he had just bought a Mac a couple of months ago and was completely lost. I smiled, and put my hand on his chest…. “I can help.” I said, and I felt his entire body relax beneath my hand.

“Thank God, then I can stop worrying.”

“But I need your help too,” I continued… “I’m supposed to be at this VIP dinner…”

“Don’t move.” He said, and walked off to talk with one of the event organizer. I didn’t know what to think. I didn’t dare move a muscle. A moment later he came back, and said “I’m sorry. They have a full room, and a full table, and there’s just no way to get in… but don’t worry, everyone will be coming straight back after dinner, and I will call you when we get here, and I will introduce you to the people you need to meet. See you after dinner.” and he took my card, shook my hand and walked away… and I knew then as I do know, that that was what was SUPPOSED to happen. That would give me a chance to collect my thoughts, take a shower, call my beautiful woman at home, connect with my business partner, have a nice quiet peaceful dinner in my room (which sounded much, much more appealing to me anyway), and write THIS blog.

So, I expect that call any minute, and I will go downstairs, cross that line, and trust in whatever is SUPPOSED to happen….

And whatever it is, I will be grateful. In the past 96 hours, I have leveled up in my life, my business, my career, my dreams, and a million other areas… and the night is still young.






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 I – The Job

6 02 2010

It was 2003, and at the time I was working as an assistant to a manager in the film industry. In his day, he had been one of the big wigs that they wrote novels and fictional stories about. He was the man who made Arnold Schwarzenegger the superstar he would later become, he had managed Gena Rowlands and Christopher Plummer through the bulk of their careers. He had been a top agent at ICM for years… but that was then, and this was a whole different era for the film industry. It was an era where agents were becoming managers, and manager were becoming producers, and here I was as an assistant.

This was the third in a series of frustrating jobs helping someone else build THEIR company. Somewhere along the way of this job, my life had gone through the ringer…. I had broken up with my fiance while she was on a semester abroad in Amsterdam, the World Trade Towers had been attacked, and I was trying my best to maintain my sanity while raising my 8-year-old daughter single-handedly. It was around this time that I got a karmic break. My father’s landlord (who I’ve spoken about in other posts, and will no doubt speak of in many, many more since he was the initial inspiration for this blog) called my father, asking for a recommendation of a computer trainer. Now, I was doing computer tutoring and fixing a few Macs on the side, and I certainly knew what I was doing, but I hardly considered myself a professional computer trainer. That being said, opportunity is where luck meets preparation, and I wasn’t about to pass this chance up, so I took the job.

I quoted my price at $75/hour, and was shocked to get no resistance to that price. And so began the job that would change everything. I would work at my day job during the week, and then work with Kurt every weekend. I was not there to teach Kurt computers, nearly as much as I was there to give him new things to think about. We explored all sorts of technology, ways of communication, and electronic solutions to everyday needs. Along the way, I learned as much as he did. Then I would go back to my day job….

My boss was in the process of finalizing a deal to produce a major motion picture, his first. He had secured Harrison Ford as the lead (a big win in anyone’s book), and had an offer out to Josh Hartnett for the other main role. Everyone in the office was excited, myself included… then I read the script, or as much of it as there was. Having been raised by a screenwriter, having been to USC film school to become a screenwriter, having read hundreds of scripts, and worked professionally to analyze scripts for major film studios, I knew what a good script was supposed to look like, and I knew how the process of writing a script was supposed to go… this script was a mess.

Harrison Ford had been sold on the concept of the script by the manager and the film’s fairly well known director. He hadn’t even read a page. This was because there were only 20 pages of the script so far. As the writer would finish pages he would email them to us fresh off his computer, they weren’t proofread, they weren’t edited, and they weren’t very good. We were in a rush to start the filming so that it would work with Harrison’s schedule. He had another film he was supposed to start on shortly, so it was a mad dash to get him in front of the camera. My spider-sense began to tingle… this was a slow-motion train wreck, no doubt about it. I tried to tell my boss the script was off pace, and the structure of the script didn’t work. I offered suggestions, criticisms, warnings, but it all went unheeded. Before we even had a final script, the shoot dates were set, and we were going into production.

I had long enjoyed watching bad movies, just to laugh at them… Ishtar springs to mind (a movie I’ve seen more times than I should ever admit in print) or Howard the Duck, or Waterworld, or Gigli, you get the point… And as I would watch these tragedies of modern filmmaking and egos run amok, I would always ask the same question: “Did they know they were making a movie this BAD?” Now I had a definitive answer… YES!!!! But once a bad movie is in motion it takes on a life all it’s own, and all you can do is hang on for the ride and hope your instincts are all wrong and that the box office will redeem all the time and effort.

This was the moment I realized I was done with this job, and began to think daily about escape. Unfortunately, I couldn’t seem to formulate a good game plan. I needed the money to raise my daughter and pay rent, my computer work wasn’t going to cover my needs, plus I couldn’t desert my boss in the middle of this disaster… after all, during filming I would be running his office’s day to day needs almost single handedly. I was screwed…. Or was I?

BRRIIIIIINNNNNGGGG!!!! BRRRIIINNNGGGGG!!! My phone started to ring. I picked it up, and my Dad was on the other line. My savior. He was going to Costa Rica for a vacation with his girlfriend, and they wanted me to come along. They would even pay my way to get me there. They were hoping I could come for the entire 6 weeks they would be there, but there was just no way I could do that. But an idea began to coalesce. I went into my bosses’ office, and told him I was going to take some vacation time. I would wait until the movie was released (only a few weeks away), and after the initial opening weekend I would take my vacation time of 2 weeks. This way I could be there for the initial weekend, but be gone before the inevitably huge second weekend box-office drop. It was perfect. He didn’t want me to go, but he didn’t really have a choice, after all I had almost never missed a single day of work, and he knew that he owed it to me.

And so the plan was set.. I wasn’t sure how this was going to get me out of this job, and get me back into a place where I was happy in my life, but getting out of the country was a good start. And I needed any help I could get….

NEXT: A Leap of Faith: Part II – The Wave