Ira Glass is the host of This American Life, a radio show on NPR about ordinary American lives, but the topics are often extraordinary. Ira’s show is the epitome of creativity.
Most of us who consider ourselves creative go through a process where we feel like everything we do sucks. We’ll never make any money. And we should probably quit while we are ahead.
The problem is, if we give up and quit, we will never get to where we eventually want to be. Remember, if you are going to become awesome at something, it requires little steps every day towards your goal and often requires giant leaps of faith.
Here’s Ira’s take on it. (If you’re getting this through email, click here, it’s less than 2 minutes.)
I feel like a one handed juggler trying to keep his chainsaws in the air right now. I’m trying to work a full-time job, lose weight, be creative and write. Plus I have a wife and kid. And now I’m taking on a part-time sales job with a law enforcement training company.
When things start getting overwhelming I often shut down for a while, let the chaos whirl around in my mind, and somehow a plan formulates.
I don’t have time to write about it right now, so I’ll let Joe Rogan talk about it.
If you’re getting this in your email, you can click here to watch it.
Today is Monday, which means The Biggest Loser is on tonight. I love when Biggest Loser (B.L.) starts a new season because in the past, it has always been a reminder for me to keep working out during the week. But this year I seem to feel different than I have in the past.
In years past, B.L. has kind of been like church for me when I was younger. I used to go to church once a week, cry a little sometimes, and then promise to be good the rest of the week. By Tuesday or Wednesday I’d be back to the same old antics.
So what’s changed? Well besides not going to church at all anymore, I don’t really feel like I need to watch the Biggest Loser for motivation. I finally feel like I’m living somewhat of a healthy lifestyle. (Except on my once a week “cheat-day” when I eat what I want, drink beer and smoke cigarettes. I tell myself, “it’s progress not perfection.”)
This weekend my wife and I went out with two other couples. It was Saturday and it was my, “cheat day.” I almost ordered “fish and chips” with a salad instead of fries. Realizing that the Earth may spin off course, I immediately changed my order when I realized it was my cheat day. I even threw a couple beers on top of it just to make sure all was well with the universe.
The topic of diets came up in our conversation. One of the couples has both been rail-thin since I’ve known them and I don’t think they diet, so they didn’t participate in this part of the conversation much. My wife doesn’t diet or exercise, so she didn’t say much either.
The guy from the second couple, who I’ll call Mr. White, is doing a, “doctor monitored diet.” I believe he gets to eat about 1200-1500 calories a day, mostly made up of protein. This helps his body get into ketosis, which melts the fat off the body fast. If Mr. White gets out of ketosis, his doctor will know he’s cheated. If this happens three times, he’s out of the program.
Mr. White ordered a pot full of muscles and no beer—which is saying something considering he’s totally a beer-drinking Irish guy.
I was very impressed. I don’t think I would be able to stick to a diet where I couldn’t eat or drink what I wanted some of the times.
Now for the record, Mr. White owns one of these weight loss centers. He won’t really be kicked out of the program if he fails. But he wants to look good since he’s the owner and I don’t think he believes in the word, “fail.” Having said all of that, Mr. White is probably only 20-30 lbs. over weight and looks perfectly healthy.
Mrs. White and I have known each other a long time. She has always been athletic. She plays hurling, which makes field hockey players look like pussies. She has also ran a half-marathon recently, so let’s just say she’s in shape.
Mrs. White told me she is currently working with a trainer. She wasn’t really happy with him because he is making her lift heavier weights, with fewer reps and she didn’t want to bulk up.
I told her this is how muscle grows, then he will probably get her to, “cut weight or lose fat,” and you’ll see the muscles at that time.
Where am I going with all this?
Was one of your New Year’s Resolutions to lose weight? If so, this is your, “Last chance workout!” as Dolvette—one of the trainer’s on Biggest Loser would yell. That means this will be the last time I talk about New Year’s resolutions this year. (Most people have already forgotten them, but this is your last wake-up call.)
My two friends and I decided at the beginning of the year that we were going to make weight loss a part of our lifestyle; actually we all started before that. And now that it’s at the end of January, we have all formed new healthy habits. I mean, I almost ordered a salad as a substitution for fries with fish and chips for God’s sake.
Recently, a lot of people have said to me, “Wow! You’ve looked like you’ve lost weight. What have you been doing?”
Then their eyes glaze over as soon as I start to tell them.
“Well I joined www.stickk.com. It’s where you pick a goal like losing weight, and then you pick a charity, an ‘anti-charity,’ a friend, or a foe. Studies show that if pick an anti-charity or a foe, you are 78% more likely to succeed. Plus you can assign a, “referee,” to keep you honest. Then you pick a time frame to accomplish your goal by and assign a monetary value to it. Five dollars a week is as low as you can go. If you accomplish your goal for the week, you don’t pay. If you don’t accomplish your goal for the week, they take it out of your credit card. My goal was I wanted to lose 40 lbs. in 40 weeks, so my weekly goal is to lose one pound a week. So in order to do that, I wake up at 5:10 am Monday through Friday and do 20-25 minutes of cardio. And I also lift weights at the gym at my work at least three times a week for a minimum of 30 minutes…”
By this point I know most people just hear, “Blah, blah, blah, five dollars, blah, blah, blah, 5:10 am,” which is fine. Weight loss is an extremely personal thing. That is why it’s weird to do it online with www.stickk.com and then invite your friends to follow your progress.
But the proof is in the pudding. The only people that excepted my request to follow me on this, “weight-loss journey,” was my wife (who’s my referee) and my grandma, who’s just bored and trying to be supportive.
The bottom line? No one wants to hear you complain about being fat. Also, no one wants to hear about how you’re trying to get skinny. If you decide you still want to lose weight, remember that short steps over a long period of time is how you get successful at anything. If you want to lose fat, you’re going to have to work at it one pound at a time.
And that my friends was, “Your last chance workout!”
After two weeks of research and too many phone calls to count, the business deal that I was working on fell through. The short story is, it’s extremely hard to start a background check business from scratch in two weeks.
Why did I think I could pull this off in two weeks?
Well, I have been in law enforcement for a dozen years. I’ve ran thousands of background checks over my career. But the best part was, I already had a potential client who promised me a meeting. Her company runs almost 1000 background checks a year.
This biggest hurdle I found was there is a difference between law enforcement background check companies and private background check companies. Private individuals don’t have to same access to the software that law enforcement has. And it’s expensive to get started with the established background check companies.
There are smaller background check companies out there who will bring you on as partners, but they want you to pay $200-$1500 to sign-up for their, “Affiliate Program,” then you have to pay $50.00-$100.00 a month to use their service. The kicker is, you have to give them your credit card and if for some reason your new clients don’t pay for the checks or drug tests, then the background company takes it out of your credit card.
Oh, and I forgot the best part, they have a 60/40 split—their way.
I called my business partner and told him what was going on, which was that I had done tons of research, talked to two consultants and people in law enforcement and didn’t really get any answers I was looking for. I let my partner know that was ready to sell our first client down the river with this, “60/40 split company,” in order to get this deal.
He sat and listened and then said, “You know, sometimes no deal is better than a bad deal. Why don’t we let this one go for now? We still have an inside person and it’s not like they’re going to sign a forever-contract. Why don’t we think long term and set this up right?”
By the second he was done speaking, it felt like a giant weight had been lifted off my shoulders. I agreed with him 100%. After all the research and hard work, sometimes it’s hard to let a deal go. But like my friend said, most of the times, “No deal is better than a bad deal.”
It’s the 11th of January and this is my first
post of the New Year. The reason it’s my first post is because I’m trying to
start a new business. I’ve been interested in starting a business for at least
ten years. That’s about how long it’s taken me to make a decision on what kind
of business to start; and actually this business was kind of thrown in my lap.
I’ve had a job with the courts and law enforcement for the
last 12 years. It’s comfortable, but not what I want to do forever. I had a two
year goal to be doing something else. I started looking into a background check
business. Not seriously looking, but more or less browsing.
Then a week or so ago, a friend who’s a HR manager for a
pretty big company (over 3000 employees) approached me and asked if she could
pick my brain on background checks. They were looking to use a new vendor.
So right now I’m scrambling like I never have before. I’m
setting up a L.L.C. and finding vendor on background checks and drug testing
companies and talking to consultants. Luckily, I have a friend who’s taking me
under his wing. He already owns five successful businesses and has pushed me
more in the last two days than I’ve done in a year on my own.
Things feel like they are moving lightning fast. I got the
green light for a sales meeting yesterday and I feel like I’m jumping in the
deep end right away. But it’s a good problem to have.
I’ll let you know more about the business when I do.
As I was getting ready to write my last post of the year, I thought I would revisit my blog posts from last year. As I scrolled back in time, I realized that things could have been better, but they also could have been worse.
This is my post from last New Year’s Day…
Happy New Year 2012
Posted by on Jan 1, 2012 in 2012
As I’ve gotten older, I have started to realize that maybe my elders are on to something. Some of the sayings that they say are starting to make sense now.
For instance, my Grandma has always said, “Don’t do anything on the first of the year that you don’t want to do all year long.”
Since writing is one of the things I’d like to do all year long, I thought I’d write a quick post.
2011 was one of the roughest years I’ve ever had, financially anyway. But I plan on changing that this year. My wife accepted a new job that I hope works out for her.
I plan on getting my book published this year. I’m two weeks away from my self-imposed deadline of finishing my final draft before I send it off to my new editor. I also plan on working with an Internet marketing coach this year to help get one of my three websites off the ground.
I know that my Grandma is right. Doing something that you want to do on the first of the year is a good start for the rest of the New Year. Now I have just 364 more days to go. (Actually, it’s 365 more days this year because it’s a leap year.) I guess that means I’ll have to do this writing thing again tomorrow.
Good luck to you on whatever your new endeavors are for 2012. Take it day by day and work on whatever you want consistently this year and I’m sure by this time next year, you’ll be well on your way.
So now that it’s a year later, what did I accomplish this year?
Well my book’s still not published, however it is completely edited. The editing process was supposed to take two weeks; it became a five month project. Regardless, it’s ready to send out and I’ve contacted a dozen agents. (I need to contact a dozen more if I don’t hear anything by the end of January.)
I did work with an internet marketing coach this year; in fact I worked with three different coaches this year. I’m still not where I want to be, but I am headed in the right direction.
My wife got a different job than the one she had last year at this time. She was out of work for nine months of the year this year. But in the last two months, she has already received a promotion and a raise, so things are going well there.
My little girl started day care and is taking off. Her vocabulary is improving and she loves doing, “projects,” which I love doing with her. I hate the fact that daycare costs more than the monthly payment on a Mercedes Benz—I’m not exaggerating. But we are going to start looking around for a different school soon and we won’t pull her out of her current school until we find one that’s just as good, only cheaper.
If I could name what I want by this time next year it would be: I would like to have my book published. I would like our family to be doing more than just surviving, anyone can do that. I want our family to thrive. I want Tejal and me both to be doing work we love and getting paid well for it. I also want our family and friends to be safe and to prosper. I also want to lose at least forty pounds so I can look good at my 20th year reunion this year in Las Vegas.
Things I don’t want this year are: I don’t want to live in fear of our children be hurt at school, or not knowing whether or not we’re going to make the bills, or wondering if our parents health is going to hold out.
I don’t want our country to keep getting into wars and shipping our young people off to fight for an agenda that is completely self-serving—not for us as Americans, but for politicians and corporations.
This all may be wishful thinking, but I’m allowed to do that around New Year’s time. The hardest thing to do is to think consciously all year long. That’s the reason resolutions rarely work. Hopefully by this time next year, I’m not reading this again going…“Man, I should have done more with my life this year.”
I hope that you are able to accomplish all that you set out to do this year as well. If you make a commitment, keep it at the forefront of your mind. I’m sure you can do anything you want, but you have to do it consciously. But if you want a little help, go to stickk.com for some motivation. Click here to find out more. Otherwise have a great New Year. And as my wife’s family would say, “I hope you have a healthy and wealthy prosperous life.”
Well it’s that time a year again. It’s time to dust off your old resolutions and have another try at them again this year.
Do you want a 78% chance of making your resolutions come true this year? If you’re serious about making your New Year’s Resolutions goals this year, why not put your money where your mouth is?
Stickk.com allows you to create a, “commitment contract,” that binds you into achieving a personal goal. Basically it works like this:
1. You pick a goal—lose weight, stop smoking, etc.
2. You then tell all your friends about your goal through email or social networking sites.
3. Then you pick a charity (or anti-charity) and assign a monetary value in case you don’t follow through.
Studies show that we will work harder not to lose $100.00 than we will to gain the same amount. We will work even harder not to lose money to something we hate.
Having said that, some of the choices you can pick for, “anti-charities,” are: Pro-choice or pro-life groups, The NRA or an Anti-gun group, and Republican or Democratic Super-PACs. The minimum you can lose is $5.00 a week, which should be enough to keep you motivated.
I chose weight loss as my goal and ponied up a possible $200.00. If I lose at least one pound a week, I don’t pay anything. But if I don’t lose one pound for that week, $5.00 will be going to one of the Super-PACs.
How do you not cheat? You can assign yourself a, “referee,” to hold you accountable. You can even pick a, “foe,” and if you don’t stick to your goal, the money goes to them.
If you’re serious about making your goals this year, check out www.stickk.com. (By the way, the extra “k” in stickk is shorthand for contract.) Now get over there and make a commitment to yourself. You’ll thank yourself for it this time next year.
I’ve loved graffiti ever since I can remember. When I was younger, I used to do calligraphy. Later, I created a font that was a mix of Old English lettering and graffiti letters.
The few graffiti-writing friends I had at the time thought it looked ridiculous. Mainly because you couldn’t write it fast; but I didn’t care. It was my own style that I had developed and I tagged it everywhere under the name Merlin. (I thought I was cool because I did my L’s backwards and drew a little triangle wizard hat on the end of it.)
Fast forward 25 years. These days graffiti art has spread worldwide and penetrated our everyday culture. You don’t just see graffiti on subway trains and under bridges. It can be seen on T-shirts, shoes, video games and even on canvas.
Do you want to learn how to write graffiti but don’t have ten years to learn how? Well now there is a web-based program that allows you to type your words into a box, hit the submit button, and then your name will be tagged in less than two seconds. You can then play with ten different fonts, spray the name in multiple colors and add designs that you never thought possible.
If you really want to learn how to write graffiti, this program can have you doing it in seconds. You could even print out the ABC’s and practice drawing them in different styles if you really wanted to learn the right way.
Personally, I’m too lazy for that, especially since it’s so much fun playing around with coloring it in.
Now get out there and tag something.
I was shooting pool the other night with some friends and one of them said, “You were a Romney supporter right?”
I looked at him and said, “No. No I wasn’t.”
He looked shocked. Then he paused for about three seconds, shook his head and said, “Well I’m going to tell you anyway.”
He then called me a, “Socialist,” and began describing a rant that he posted on Facebook.
We began to argue some of his points and I told him that, “I’m going to end this conversation now because we will never agree on any of this. And oh, by the way, I’ve known you a little over a year and you’ve been on unemployment the whole time. So call it what you want, but you’re part of this ‘Socialist Problem.’”
He then switched gears on me and said, “We can talk about that part later. Here’s the point of all this. At the end of my post about Obama, I said that, ‘I won’t be surprised if someone takes him out.’”
“You totally can’t say that,” I said.
“It gets better,” he said.
“Who came to visit you?” I said half-jokingly.
“The Secret Service,” he said.
“See I told you,” I immediately blurted out. I then corrected myself and said, “Sorry. I didn’t tell you, but I did tell someone else. You can’t say shit like that on Facebook. People are watching you.”
My buddy then went onto say how, “I didn’t say I was going to do it and I have First Amendment rights,” and blah, blah, blah…
So I said, “Listen, I’m here at the bar at 1:00 in the morning on a work night, but I’m not going to put it on Facebook and do you know why? Because I have 20 people who I’m friends with from work who will see that. So if I don’t want my work friends to know what I’m doing, then I sure as shit am not going to let the government know what I’m doing, especially when I know that they are 100% guaranteed watching me.”
“Well, I’m going to do it more now,” he said.
“You’re an idiot,” I said.
There’s not much more to say after that. Folks, if you’re going to live your life on-line, expect people to read it, including people you don’t want to. That includes employers, grandmas and potentially the government.
Now, in full disclosure, I said to my friend, “I can’t believe they flagged you after one post.”
He said, “Oh no. I’ve been saying this stuff since he got elected.”
“Oh, ok. So just a few weeks then,” I said.
“No, since he got elected the first time over four years ago.”
I’m not saying every move is being monitored, but if you scream something for long enough, eventually people are going to take you seriously, including the government.
So I then I posted on Facebook, “If you threaten to kill the President, the men in black will visit you.” I had three people comment almost immediately and I realized I better take this post down quick.
I erased the post and then another friend immediately emailed me and said, “Call me crazy, but I kind of want that visit. I may regret it, but in these times, I feel it would be an amazing revolutionary act.
I responded with the following email back to him:
“Personally I don’t see threatening or a visit from the government as a revolutionary act.
I think you’d better serve your cause by putting out well thought out information that may help change the mind of someone, who then goes on to help others make a change as well. Not so much a guru, but more as a thought leader.
Have you ever thought of setting up a blog? I use WordPress. It’s pretty easy to set up. I have a few blogs on different topics, but my main one is at www.douglasthomaswallace.com. About 2500 people read it a month. (Not that that’s huge numbers, but its a start.)
You can write articles, share other people’s articles, throw up links and videos from YouTube, then link it on your FB page. You can get way more like minded people involved in intelligent conversation than you can on FB. Mainly because on FB more than half of your friends don’t agree with what you say, most are not informed, but more importantly, they are on FB to stay connected and be entertained, not to be, “preached to,” regardless of the message, therefore making it an ineffective tool for your message because in the long run, they start ignoring you.
Another thing about being on the government’s list. Once you’re on it, you’re on it for three years, which means you’re monitored for that long. Every time you go to the airport you will be flagged. I’m sure you could handle it, but doing something (joining or forming a group, attending or organizing a protest, disseminating information, these things seem more revolutionary to me. In my opinion, being part of the solution is how things will change…and you might not ever know the person who’s mind you influenced who then goes on to make a huge difference.
Ghandi’s non-violence philosophy directly influenced Martin Luther King’s philosophy and in both their cases brought down several hundreds of years of oppression.
I’m not telling you what to do, its just all food for thought.”
The bottom line, your friends don’t want to read your rants on Facebook. Keep it up and you will either be blocked, un-friended, or worse, you may be visited by the men in black.
Lately I’ve been having a serious nostalgic 90’s rap flashback. So I thought I’d share a few videos with you. If you’re getting this in your email, click here.
Lil Troy’s—So you wanna be a baller? Shot Caller. 20 inch blades on the impala!
This is for the boys in Colorado and Washington. Luniz–I got 5 on it.
This is what will happen if you have too much of that stuff they just passed above.
Geto Boys–My Mind’s Play Tricks on Me