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….






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.






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.