Podcast

Episode 141 – Michael Jordan Was A Great NBA Player, But He Failed In Minor League Baseball

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Look over at that cartoon by the great Jerry Van Amerongen. That’s me starting at that road kill squirrel.

Well, that was me, back around the beginning of 2009 (probably much sooner, actually). I had been in the same industry, doing the same kind of work for going on 37 years. Professionally, I was as dissatisfied as I had ever been, but I was still energetic and ambition. In a few months I would turn 52.

It was time for an encore career.

It was time for what Marc Freeman, the founder of Encore.org calls “the big shift.”

I’d been pondering such things for a long time. I can’t be sure for how long.

By the time Spring rolled around in 2009 it was time.

For the BIG SHIFT.

With one successful career behind me it was daunting to chase success in a new one. It was especially difficult because the new one was undefined. Oh, I had some ideas. And I tried some things. But nothing worked.

Age, maturity and experience have benefits, but they also have a downside.

On one hand I was grounded and stable. I wasn’t one paycheck away from homeless. I was debt free, but I was far from financial independence. That is, I couldn’t just sit back and enjoy my money – because statically, I knew my wife and I would outlive our money. Besides, I wasn’t ready to sit back and enjoy leisure. I don’t think I’ll ever be ready for that. It’s not how I’m wired.

On the other hand, age makes adjusting difficult. And I’m prone to change. Given to embrace it. But there is something to the realization that you have more past than future. That restricts your choices. Practically speaking, older folks tend to approach life in a more reasonable, perhaps less ambitious fashion. Not me.

For me the downside of age, experience and maturity was how I defined myself professionally. When you’ve spent the better part of 4 decades doing something (the same thing) and being something – you tend to feel defined by it. Deep down you realize that your “job” isn’t who you are, but it sure feels that way.

The identity decompression took much longer than I planned. It lasted from the Spring of 2009 through the end of 2011. That’s right. Two and a half years passed with me trying to figure things out. Along the way I was podcasting, but I was working…doing work I really didn’t want to do. Feeling as though I had jumped out of the frying pan into the fire.

2011 ended and more shifting happened.

And now, I have more clarity. I’m sure things will continue to morph, but as the Encore.org tagline says, “Encore careers combine purpose, passion and a paycheck.”

I have starred at the road kill and pondered the very thing Bob is wondering. I’ve been driven by the practical realities of the paycheck. Yes, I’ve sold out my fair share and done things that didn’t fulfill me because the money attached was high enough.

Today, more than ever before in my life, I understand how Michael Jordan felt riding on a minor league bus failing at a new game. Just because you made it in one career doesn’t mean you’ll make it another. It can be very tough work to figure out what you’ll do for an encore.

Life is a story. It’s being written daily by our choices and actions. But first, it starts in our head – wondering whether we shouldn’t do more with our remaining days. Some of us have fewer remaining days than others. We have to get busy.

Thank you for listening. I’ll do better by you in the future!

 

P.S. Maybe it’s fitting that today’s show lacks production elements due to one of the PreSonus FireStudio Project firewire interfaces failing. Lord willing, I’ll send it off, have it repaired and all will be back to normal Inside The Yellow Studio. Well, as normal as things ever are around here.

Episode 140 – How Breaking Bad Changed My Life: When Who You Are Is No Longer What You Want To Do

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We use a variety of terms to talk about it.

Pivot.

Morph.

Adapt.

Iterate.

Adjust.

If we’re wise, given enough time and introspection…we figure a few things out. Just a few things, mind you. The most brilliant among us can figure out many things, but I’ve never stood among those folks. I’m out here hanging with you, and the rest of the people trying to figure things out.

Some of us figure things out enough to make some changes that will alter our performance. Slight or major, we adjust things and the outcome is different from what we’d been experiencing. We’re onto something. And we know it. Hopefully, it’s quickly noticeable.

A rare few stumble toward a level of success they may have never imagined. They soar. Above most all the rest. They go sky high.

Leaving some of us jealous. Envious.

While leaving others of us with evidence that it can be done…and if they can do it, then why can’t we? That’s the fool’s gold in the quest for the key to success. We falsely believe that outliers are the norm and wonder where we’ve gone wrong. All the while, unaware that we may not be going wrong at all. We just need to keep pushing, not forgetting to adjust.

So many variables are in play making the key to success so evasive. So much noise. So many distractions. We’re all kittens in a world filled with balls of yarn!

Natural aptitude. Desire. Skill. Connections. Timing. Experience. These all contribute to our performance.

And then there’s the magic of serendipity.

Or known by a more common term, luck.

Our egos often prevent us from giving luck more credit. It must be us. Yes, that’s it. It’s all us. We’re special. We beat all the others. We did what they could not. There’s no way luck was involved. All skill, baby! Right. Dream on, dude/dudedette.

Up’s and down’s. Toiling. Battling all the adversity. Trying hard to figure it all out and feeling like we’re running into a wall, over and over and over.

I wish I could tell you it gets easier over time, but who am I? A middle-aged guy who has made it a time or two. Assuming that it is money. And assuming that it is money sufficient enough to not have to worry much financially.

That doesn’t mean I can tell you how to do it. Fact is, it doesn’t even mean I can do it again.

The real issue – for the past couple of years – has been HOW do I want to do it? Enter a new word not listed up there at the beginning, reinvent. That’s hard. Really hard.

It begins with another difficult word – redefine. The HOW has been my approach, but when you really boil it down it’s really WHO, WHAT, WHEN, WHERE and maybe most importantly, WHY.

Beginning journalism classes learn to ask and answer those word questions in order to fill in the blanks of a story. But those word questions serve each of us. The answers to those define our lives. Professional and personal.

For the better part of four decades I made my living in business, particularly in running the businesses of other people. Retail companies. Managing inventories, purchasing, merchandising, advertising, marketing, sales and payroll. Lots of moving parts. Complex businesses.

Along the way I’ve helped a few other people – namely, business owners – figure out ways to do things better. Years of business problem solving fueled my propensity for strategic thinking.

Sometimes the key to success isn’t to repeat what once worked, but to realize that what you once did and found rewarding…is no longer rewarding enough.

It’s time to break. Walter White decided to break bad by becoming Heisenberg. No, I’m going to start cooking meth, but I am breaking from my previous direction. Today’s show pulls back the curtain to share with you this change.

Mentioned in today’s show:

Free Agent Nation by Daniel Pink
BarCodeRadio.net
LogHomeRadio.com
LeaningTowardWisdom.com

 

Episode 139 – The Power Of Less Wrap Up Show

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Rocky and Rosie, the Westies who guard The Yellow Studio

Let’s wrap up the 6 principles Leo Babauta used in his book, The Power of Less.

They are:

1. Set limitations.
2. Choose the essential.
3. Simplify.
4. Focus.
5. Create habits.
6. Start small.

It’s not a deep, dark dive into each one, but I want to provoke you to ponder. Pondering is good. We don’t do enough of it.

I’ve been doing a significant amount of it lately. In fact, I began earnestly pondering in the late spring of 2009. At first it ebbed and flowed. More ebbing I suspect.

In late 2011 my pondering picked up momentum. It probably had something to do with the advent of a new year. I’m not really sure.

Behind the scenes, right here in The Yellow Studio, I engaged in conversations, dialog, self-examination, notetaking, research, sketching and anything else I could do to find some clarity.

About a month ago I began scouring the bookshelves looking for a book worth re-reading. I do that often.

It was during that scouring that I saw Leo’s book, fetched it from a place where its likely sat for a few years and opened it up.

Serendipitous?

Maybe.

I don’t know.

You judge.

Also mentioned in today’s show is a book by Darren Hardy from Success Magazine, The Compound Effect.

Thank you for listening! Listen closely and you’ll understand why Rocky and Rosie are pictured in today’s show notes.

 

Episode 138 – Tragedy, Violence And Death: A Triple Toward Solemnity

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James Holmes, the 24-year-old accused

This isn’t a news website, but some news impacts daily conversations worldwide. Today, news of a Colorado shooting transcends all other news.

James Holmes, a 24-year-old student, is at the center of it all.

Twelve people are dead. Fifty nine are injured.

Dozens of families are directly affected.

A community. A city. A state. A nation. A world-wide audience of onlookers grow solemn.

Today’s show is a departure. Hopefully, you find it a sobering, but rewarding departure.

I wish you all the best. Honestly, I do.

Episode 137 – Less Is More (How Embracing That Idea Can Help You Reinvent Your Business)

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How Believing That Less Is More Will Help Me Reinvent My (Business) Life

Minimalism.

I was only familiar with the term as it related to art and design.

In 2007 I began to hear it used to describe a lifestyle. I suspected it involved some vow of poverty.

Somehow I found myself reading a blog, Zen Habits by Leo Babauta. This led to some other people who wrote about their own endeavors toward minimalism. People like Joshua Becker who writes at Becoming Minimalist. Also Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus who write at The Minimalists.

I would visit their blogs only occasionally. I was fascinated by their quest. Mostly because of their age. Even Leo was young compared to me. It seemed remarkable that young people could be so intent on altering their experiences, changing their lives and figuring out a better way of life to suit their goals. I was far less enlightened at their age. In fact, I was likely far less enlightened at my current, much older age!

My oldest child, a son, was born in the summer of 1980. This summer he turns 32. He’s always been most interested in the experience. I had already seen how his generation seemed to be wired much differently than my own. Each generation seems to have some common qualities, likely the result of the society in which they spring forth. Just a guess.

My generation was sandwiched between the War World II generation that believed in responsibility and doing the work AND the generation fueled by greed and the accumulation of material wealth. My adult life has been characterized by those two pressing drivers: working hard and getting ahead.

Maybe that helps you better understand my fascination with minimalism.

In 2009 Leo Babauta’s book was published, The Power of Less. I was quick to buy it and read it. Unfortunately, I didn’t read it with business in mind, even though the word “business” appears in the subtitle. I had blinders on and read it thinking primarily of an all-encompassing lifestyle.

And it wasn’t hard to connect with the message because by now my generation, the 50-somethings, were doing something similar. We just didn’t call it the same thing. We called it simplifying or down-sizing. Mostly it was manifested in people who had worked hard to buy the big house in the suburbs so their growing families would have more space. Now, after years of hard work and having the big house, many aging Americans found themselves much like they started. As a couple.

The kids grown. Mom and dad were now in a house too big for just the two of them. Tired of looking at the boxes of stuff they never used, many people embraced the new selling killing fields of eBay and Craigslist. The refrain, “We need to sell some of this stuff” was heard throughout middle-aged America. I still hear it today. Not only from my own mouth, but from the mouths of my friends.

Truth is, we’ve just got way too much stuff.

Some time ago I picked up Leo’s book again. But this time I had a different idea about how I’d read it. This time, I was going to read it with my business in view. How could I use the power of less to spawn, grow and sustain a business idea? Wasn’t it time to declutter my working world? I knew it was long past time.

So I began to read it and take my time. No speed reading. No scanning. Read a page, think for awhile. Make some notes. Engage in some conversation. See where it all takes me.

I know it’s not clean. I also know it’s honest. There is only one strategy here. To figure out some things. Maybe to just figure out one thing, myself. Ask any middle-aged person if they’ve got it figured out and they’ll tell you (if they’re honest) that they’ve only figured out there’s still so much they don’t know. The difference now is, they realize it. They once thought they were quite certain about many things. Life has a way of showing you how ignorant you really are.

So today, with this episode I begin a renewed quest. It’s sort of a rebirth for things around here.

I’d love to tell you that everything I do is strategic and well-thought out, but it’s not. I don’t trust people who tell me they’re that strategic. I’ve had many people throughout my life tell him how they think one of my natural aptitudes is “strategic thinking.” But I’m not being strategic about any of this.

For starters, I don’t think I’ve got that much control or power in the universe. Fact is, bad things happen to good people. And good things happen to bad people. Don’t expect me to believe that everything you do in life is strategic and with thoughtful purpose. I know better. I’ve lived too long to know better.

Today’s episode is a bit like a cooking show without a recipe. A show where we know we’d like to end up with something tasty and great…but we’re not yet sure what it will be. It’s an experiment in life. The ingredients are ones we’re going to find along the way. Like those survival shows, we’ll improvise. We’ll adapt. The important thing will be to remedy the immediate distress and think only about our next step.

When we’re done, we’ll realize we’ve only started. And hopefully, if all goes well and the Lord’s willing, we’ll have found a business life that is more suitable for where we’re at in life.

 

Episode 136 – Businesses Must Take Better Aim If They Want An Improved Shot (You’ve Got To Answer Some Tough Questions About Yourself)

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Businesses have to take better aim if they want an improved shot.

Business building for the solopreneur or entrepreneur begins with answering some personal questions! If you’re going to have a business that hits the mark, then you must answer some tough questions about yourself. It’s all about you!

If it is to be, it’s up to me.

If the shooter looking through this scope is going to hit his target…he’s got to take responsibility for the shot. He’s holding the rifle. He’s taking the aim. He’s pulling the trigger. If he misses, he’s got only himself to blame.

You have to take responsibility for your business. No excuses!

Jack Welch was noted for this saying during his days with General Electric…

Control your own destiny or somebody else will.

Today’s show focuses on three steps you must go through so you can improve your aim in business. In your business.

I probably begin where you wouldn’t expect. It’s not a traditional approach to figuring out the most important things, but in my experience – it’s among the most profitable ways to start this process.

Step One – The Negative

What are the things you absolutely don’t want to do?
Who are the people you don’t want to associate with?
What are the things you’re unwilling to devote yourself to?
What are the identities you don’t want to assume? These are the things you don’t want to be.

Step Two – The Positive

What are the things you’ve been interested in for a long time?
Who do you most want to spend time with?
What are the things you are willing to devote yourself to?
Be specific. Very specific.

Step Three – The One Thing

Pick one (1) thing. Just one.
Right now, what do you most want to do?
Who do you most want to be?
What do you most want to be known for?
Soar with your strengths. Follow your natural aptitude.

You don’t have to be world-class, but you need to be competent.

It’s important that you avoid aiming at some things so you can improve your aim at one thing. Do you want to hit a business target or not? If so, you have to aim at only one thing. Else, you won’t hit anything!

Next time we’ll start making some application of these things to your business.

Leave me a review over at iTunes, please!

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