Inside The Yellow Studio

The Peer Advantage: A New Domain & A New Podcast Series (and more Bula! news) #TPA001

The Peer Advantage: A New Domain & A New Podcast Series - BULA NETWORK #TPA001

Big news. Well, it’s not breaking news if you’ve been paying attention, but I’m hopeful that some of you are brand new around here. Welcome! BULA!*

You’ve likely already noticed that this episode has a special designation, TPA001. This is episode 1 of The Peer Advantage series. I’ll explain.

What Brought Me Here Will Get Me There

You may have read the Marshall Goldsmith book, What Got You Here Won’t Get You There. Yeah, me, too.

Well, that’s not what this is. This is about what brought me to the truth of peer advantage will get me where I want to go. More importantly, it will help get my customers – my clients – where they want to go. And it’ll give me the best vehicle to help them.

All you need to know about me for now is that I’ve operated in business all my life since I was 16 and first walked into a job selling hi-fi gear. Within the first decade of my career I was running a subsidiary of a larger company, a small chain of luxury retail stores focused on consumer electronics (big screen TV’s, stereo equipment, etc.). For over 25 years I was at the helm of companies, leading the charge to always be viciously competitive, nimble, quick and highly maneuverable. Growth and improvement were my passion. I was always in search of what’s possible…dissatisfied with the current state of things, including every measurable performance indicator. Extraordinary and remarkable were words I’d use to focus organizations.

Nine years ago I stepped away to help other small business owners in what I’ve called “roll-up-your-sleeves-get-your-hands-dirty” consulting work. I had already been doing some of that on the side as a passion project. Mostly because other business owners – mostly those in my sector of consumer electronics or retailing – would often call and seek my perspective. That’s how Bula Network, LLC was born.

I had been podcasting for a few years already and instantly people thought “network” was because of the podcast. Not so, even though that made sense. I was thinking “network” because the work was all over the place. It wasn’t focused on marketing or management or any other area of operating a business. It was anything and everything. I might be working with one owner on inventory management, another on HR issues, and another on succession planning. I thought “network” because of the areas of focus and the network of different things I’d help with.

Do you believe in serendipity? I do. Here we are years later and I think Bula Network was never intended to be what I launched. I’m a big believer in plan B. Plan A is what we start…and what we think will bring us the greatest success. Plan B is often what occurs after we figure a few things out and realize there’s a different/better path. This episode is all about plan B and I’m excited to finally arrive here.

Bula Network is now a full-fledged peer advantage company with a sole focus – for the first time ever! To serve small business owners through peer advantage.

Good marketing advice always includes urging people to narrow their focus. I’ve given that advice. Unfortunately, I’ve not taken my own medicine until now. That alone makes this feel very different from anything I’ve ever done. Learn that lesson…preferably sooner than I did. Get focused on who you’re going to serve, who you’re going to be and what you’re going to do. For almost a decade I’ve neglected that.

About 4 years ago I learned, for the first time, about professional peer advisory groups for business owners and leaders. Call me naive. Call me ignorant. Call me busy! I just hadn’t been exposed to them. Nobody had ever talked with me about such a group. Nobody had ever invited me to join such a group. Yes, I had been involved in countless industry or associations where we had group meetings, sometimes small groups. But these were people exactly like me with the same point of view, the same gripes and more often than not these morphed into whining sessions where people complained about the things that were wrong with the industry. And I wasn’t interested. It just wasn’t profitable and it’s not how I rolled. The market is the market. Vendors do what vendors do. Politicians do what politicians do. Customers do what customers do. You either deal with the present reality and act accordingly, or you do what these people did – complain. I much preferred to deal with it.

When I was a freshman in college, or maybe when I was still in high school (who can remember?) I read Napoleon Hill’s Think And Grow Rich. That book introduced the world to the “mastermind” group. The titans of industry during the industrial revolution in America fought like dogs against each other. They’d sometimes realize that they could benefit from joining forces. And some lesser successful, but still VERY successful people found it highly profitable to connect and collaborate with others so they could all help each other grow their businesses and their lives.

So it’s not like I had no notion of such groups. It’s just that I hadn’t been part of any. Not really. And that includes the over half a dozen online mastermind groups I’d been invited to join. None of them were valuable. All of them were a waste of time for a few basic reasons. One, the person forming the group didn’t know what they were doing. They didn’t know how to operate a group effectively. There is a skillset required to lead a group of business owners. Not everybody has it. Two, the person forming the group assembled people who occupied some place in their life at the time. There wasn’t a strategic purpose behind our organization. It was mostly random. Three, the group didn’t have a stated purpose. The focus wasn’t there. Four, the group members weren’t committed. We had no skin in the game. We were merely being polite to the person who invited us. So we attended once or twice. Five, there was no accountability. When you’re missing the other things, accountability is the last thing you worry about. It was all a recipe for a total waste of time.

Then I discovered there were actual groups with a focus that interested me – business growth. I started paying attention. That was about 4 years ago. I wasn’t in any position to take advantage, but I remember thinking how I wish I’d been part of a group while operating a multi-million dollar retailing company. But here I was a solopreneur grinding out the work, connecting with prospective clients and very focused on helping people one-on-one. My station in life was now different and it was by my own design. I had operated companies with employees, equipment and inventory. Now I wanted none of those things. Instead, I wanted to serve business owners and executives because I knew I had a lifetime of experiences and it was about two things for me: significance and legacy.

I dove into learning more about this whole peer advisory thing. I came to see it as a movement. A very positive movement. It wasn’t new, but I sensed it was an opportunity because I knew the need was enormous if people could clearly see it for what it is – a vehicle to help them grow as people and to help them grow their business. I was already all in on the mental fitness and emotional health of business people. I knew the stress of their lives and how addicting it can be. But I also knew the dark side of too much alcohol, too many busted marriages and too many suicides. All the things nobody wants to talk about. The grind chews people up. The think we love can often hurt us. Chaos, stress, the hustle – they thrill us and fuel us. They can also turn on us and kill us if we’re not careful. I knew this well.

I kept learning. I kept checking things out. I kept reading and talking with people. I even made a run at being part of an organization that focused on serving CEOs. It didn’t work out because I wasn’t a good fit for their culture, but I saw the value of their work (and still think highly of them). I read a book that was published a year ago, The Power Of Peers. I got more fascinated with peer groups, especially for small business owners.

About this same time I began to return to my roots – small business. I had gone from consulting to coaching back to consulting. I had helped CEOs, executives, leaders and small business owners. I realized the small business owner was the closest to my heart. It’s where my passion was hottest. I knew it like the back of my hand. I related to these people. These were my people.

One of the co-authors of the book, The Power Of Peers, was Leo Bottary. I had heard Leo on a couple of podcasts and wondered why he didn’t have his own podcast. So I reached out to Leo and offered to help him just so I could learn more about the space of peer advisory. I wanted to play in this space. I wanted to be a player in it and it’s what I wanted to do with the rest of my career. That was around October 2016 but it was a decision “in process.” That means, it wasn’t a decision made in a singular moment. It happened over time. Reaching out to Leo wasn’t merely a decision to serve a person already operating in the space of community, connection and collaboration – he was symbolic of my desire to learn more and enter the space myself to make my own contribution.

I was discovering a new professional passion – the first element of a good story. It had been over 7 years since I had read Donald Miller’s book, A Million Miles in a Thousand Years: What I Learned While Editing My Life. That book was about creating the story of your life. I had long ago learned the 5 elements of a great story: passion, hero, antagonist, awareness and transformation. Well, I had been struggling to find my professional passion since leaving the C-suite. I was uncovering it and it had been right under my nose the entire time. It wasn’t new. In fact, it was something I had done all my life. Two words leaped to the forefront of my mind: connection and collaboration. Now it was time to make my bet. Well, it wasn’t time, but it felt like it was. I had to endure a few more months of work and a bit more pondering.

We’re ready when we’re ready. Yes, people can help us get there more quickly, but in the end – we decide for ourselves. I felt I was ready to make the pivot, but something kept me from going all in. It’s the same thing that slows us all down. Just a tad of doubt. Isn’t it amazing how pounds of passion can be dampened by just a teaspoon full of doubt?

By the time May 2017 rolled around I was placing my bet by going all in – pot committed – to a complete pivot. Bula Network, LLC would no longer be what it was at the start. It would become what I now most wanted it to be – what I most wanted to be – a peer advantage company serving small business owners. All in. No looking back.

Leo and I met at a Chili’s Restaurant in The Woodlands (Houston). We talked about the podcast, YEAR OF THE PEER and our work together. And I told him of my idea to launch an online peer advisory group of small business owners. From that conversation and his feedback I decided to launch two groups of 7, one AM group and one PM group. It spawned from a renewed optimism that I decided to embrace. Optimism that together we can do great things. Optimism that together small business owners can achieve more than they ever could apart…and do it much, much faster!

This is the first in a series of new episodes I’m calling THE PEER ADVANTAGE. It may become THE podcast here, but right now that’s not the plan. You can see how my plan B is overtaking what was once plan A though…so you never know. I don’t know how many episodes it will be I do know it’s going to bring you value. Here’s why — I’m going to document this entire journey. Warts and all. Good times. Bad times. Victories. Defeats. It’s going to all be chronicled right here until I have successfully launched two groups of 7 each or until I’ve failed and quit (that’s not going to happen, but every story needs tension…so there’s mine).

How is this going to work? By surrounding myself with people who I know will help me. People who will ask me the tough questions. People who will avoid judging me, but who will happily (and quickly) hold me accountable to the decisions I commit to. I’ll have more to say about these people later. I’ll introduce you to each of them. Leo Bottary is going to be one of them. I’ll have two others so I can keep my little peer advantage group tight. It’s my version of working live without a net because I know there’s courage and power in vulnerability. I’m willing to share my own vulnerability with YOU. I think it will serve you by showing you how valuable it is, and I also think it may inspire you to embrace your own.

There’s another benefit to this. It’s going to be easier to show you peer advantage rather than to tell you about it. You already know the value of it, but maybe not in the context of being a business owner. I want to show you how powerful it will be for you in that context.

And yes, there’s an enormous benefit to me in doing this. I’m going to be the recipient of surrounding myself with these 3 people. Yes, I know they’ll each get benefits, too. I hope they’ll each feel like it’s a valuable experience for them even though our purpose of coming together is to help me with my current pivot. It’s what happens when peer advantage occurs. Other people help you with your issues. My issue is this desired pivot.

I’m not pursuing a good feeling as much as I’m pursuing growth and improvement. I want to accomplish this goal of building two new groups of 7 small business owners from around the nation. My purpose is to bring together these 3 people who I trust. Just being together is excuse enough, but I know we live in a more practical world that requires us to have a point to being together. I’m rather certain that merely being together serves us well. Just because.

I’m happy you and I were together today. Now it’s your turn to speak. I’d enjoy hearing from you. Take a moment and share your thoughts at the Bula Network Facebook page.

Thank you.

*Bula is a Fiji term analogous to aloha in Hawaiian. It means both “hello” and “goodbye.” It also means life and carries with it the connotation that “life is good.” I’m not from Fiji and have never even been there, but over 35 years ago I came across the term and fell in love with it. That’s why I named my company after that word, Bula Network, LLC.

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234 Cervical Fusion Isn't Some New Form Of Music

234 Cervical Fusion Isn’t Some New Form Of Music

234 Cervical Fusion Isn't Some New Form Of MusicNOTE: Today’s episode doesn’t sound as great as I’d like, or up to my normal audio standards. I’ll use surgery as my excuse. This horse collar doesn’t help much either.

It sounds musical, but I promise you there’s nothing musical about it. I think the technical term for it is ACDF: Anterior Cervical Discectomy and Fusion.

The incision is in your neck. Yep, they go in from the front to work on your cervical spine. Scary? A little bit. Especially when in pre-op they send in the person who’ll be monitoring your spinal cord during the surgery. She was armed with a bunch of little wires and probes so during the surgery she can keep tabs on your spinal cord. That’s when you know this ain’t no rock ‘n roll show. It’s very serious business.

I was first diagnosed about 10 years ago by the man who gave me scarsDr. James Vincent Bonnet , MD. Dr. Bonnet had performed surgery on both elbows so when a bit of numbness hit my left little finger, he seems like the guy to go see. I trusted him.

He suspected a bulging disc in my neck and sent me to a neurologist for a nerve conduction study. Off I went and sure enough, the doctor figured out I had what he deemed a “slight” bulging disc, just likely due to wear and tear, and age. The symptoms weren’t severe so I went through some physical therapy and in time the numbness went away.

Fast forward about 7 years or more and Dr. Bonnet passed away. He was a good doctor and I liked him very much. In a way, whatever way a patient can love a doctor, I loved him.

Back in February an old shoulder injury that occurred when I was 24 reared up its ugly head and hit me hard, bit me viciously and flung me around the room one night. Out of the blue. Over 33 years without any incident. No pain. No aches. No nothing. Then all of a sudden, I found myself in the ER (emergency room). Turns out the shoulder had very severe arthritis brought about by the injury years earlier.

As a self-employed person I have health insurance, but I’ve got an insanely high deductible. For those of you who aren’t in America, I can tell you that it doesn’t take long to go through money when you need health care here. Obamacare, in my opinion, is a colossal failure and will do nothing but wreck an already broken system. But that’s another story.

My story involves forking over $10,000 out of my own pocket before insurance kicks in. That prompts me to approach my new shoulder orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Bing Tsay (pronounced Cy). Sing to me, Bing! And he did. He told me he really couldn’t explain the severity of my shoulder pain. Since I had hit my deductible I went in to see him one day and asked, “Is there any reason I shouldn’t just get this taken care of now?” That got me what’s called Open Mumford surgery.

This surgery went well. Dr. Tsay found a shoulder a lot worse than the MRI might indicate. Lots of bone spurs and arthritis. He even fished out a lose bone fragment. Within days I was pretty much experiencing full range of motion and things he told me might take weeks. I’ve almost always done extremely well with surgery (during and after). I don’t even do too badly before either.

At my final visit with the Bing, I bring up this 10 year old neck issue and ask about seeing a colleague, Dr. Timon (pronounced short i, long o – Te-mon’). Dr. Timon did back surgery on my daughter some years ago due to a car wreck she suffered through. She really liked him and he was a colleague of Dr. Tsay. In fact, it was my daughter’s recommendation that even led me to All Star Orthopedic in the first place. That’s Dr. Timon and Dr. Tsay, second and third from the left when you land on their home page. They’re different, but I like them both. Of course, you have to keep in mind that I seem to have a man crush on orthopedic surgeons. I’ve now had four of them in my life and they are all the men who have given me scars. Scars intended to heal me and make me better. Mostly, they’ve succeeded.

So now I’m sitting in front of Dr. Timon. Most doctors try a conservative approach first. In my gut I knew that approach wasn’t likely going to work because I’ve suffered this neck stuff for 10 years plus. No matter, I went with Dr. Timon’s advice. We tried all the conservative things, but nothing touched it. Nothing.

Finally, I had the same talk with him that I had had with Dr. Tsay, “Any reason to not fix this now?” He replied, “No, not really. It’s not going to get better on its own.” That’s when I sat down with the person in their office who schedules surgery. Lest you think that orthopedic surgeons are godlike with no need to get help from the little people, you’d be wrong. There’s a gal in the All Star Ortho office, the scheduler, who does a very good job. You know I’m fanatical about customer (in this case, patient) experience. Her name is LaDonna. She’s crazy good. Office staffs can sometimes become surly and who can blame them. Dealing all day with people who likely don’t feel very well must take a heavy toll on people. I wouldn’t want to do it. I’m a pretty good patient, likely the result of years of experience in dealing with the public and lots of people. The last thing I want to do is cause somebody unnecessary grief. BUT…once in awhile you run into a remarkable person like LaDonna. Somebody who extends themselves to be helpful. Somebody who just performs at a higher rate than most. That’s been LaDonna.

LaDonna helps me through the maze of insurance issues and scheduling conveniences. We finally hit on Monday, August 4th at 8:45AM. Done. Book it.

We arrive at the private hospital in Dallas at 6:30AM. By 7:30AM I’m in pre-op watching a person untangle lots of little wires that will monitor my spinal cord. If memory serves well (and it may not given I was in surgery), by 10AM it was over. Dr. Timon told Rhonda it was worse than the MRI showed. “So he wasn’t being a wimp?” asked Rhonda. “Nope,” replied Dr. Timon.

He removed the damage between C5 and C6 and also between C6 and C7. In place of that damage he inserted some cage with bone taken from my left hip. You can Google it and find some pretty disgusting pictures, video and diagrams. I’d rather not look at those right now! Or post them here.

A plate with 6 holes (for 6 screws; 2 each in C5, C6 and C7) is placed across all three vertebrae. That makes sure it’s stable from here on out. Hopefully.

The pain wasn’t really pain. It was mostly discomfort. And it was mostly all across my shoulders. “Typical and to be expected,” said the nurses. But worse than that, a raging soar throat. Again, to be expected said all the nurses.

No pain meds were necessary. I was up walking the hall within an hour. And I walked. And walked. And walked. And walked some more. All whist eating ice. Lots of ice eating. I eat a lot of ice anyway, but I wasn’t even pacing myself after surgery. I was an ice eating machine. It kept my throat feeling better. Nothing helped my shoulder pain. I chalked up the shoulder pain to muscles straining because of the surgery, incision and all the adjustments a body must make during trauma. Not until Dr. Timon’s PA, Michelle entered did I find out the real reason for all the shoulder pain – being cinched down to the  table during surgery so I wouldn’t move. Duh. That made perfect sense and I felt stupid for not thinking that when surgery involves your spinal cord – or proximity to it – you can’t move at all. Michelle, like all the folks I’ve encountered at All Star Ortho, is another remarkable service provider. She came to release me from the hospital. She was also the one who went through the extensive pre-surgery education with me in Dr. Timon’s office some days prior to the surgery.

Today it’s Wednesday. It’s about 8:30Am. My calves are ridiculously sore. Nobody told me, but I can tell it’s from being pinned down to the table. I’m walking like an old man on my heels. Well, I am an old man back on his heels. But Lord willing, I’ll be back on my toes in no time.

I can’t shower for 4 days. I can’t drive for 2 weeks. No aspirin or blood thinning pain killers for 6 months. My next in office visit is August 18th with Dr. Timon. I don’t anticipate any hurdles. I just have to keep fighting the fight. Gotta keep moving and work out the kinks and soreness. Isn’t that what we’ve got to do in life? Keep moving and grinding it out?

Changes I’m Thinking Of Making Around Here


I’m still working through this. Honestly, I’m not sure what I want to do…except I want the podcast to mirror the work I do. The work I do is pretty diverse. That’s my current dilemma. I do many different things to help executives and businesses excel. It doesn’t all fall under coaching. Nor does it all fall under consulting. It’s almost always a mixture of the two, but sometimes it’s clearly just one or the other. That’s making it hard for me to figure out. Higher Human Performance still is the best depiction of it, but I don’t know if that’s strong enough for marketing purposes.

A weekly podcast. That’s still what I want to produce here. And I’m still pretty stuck on making it a 30 minute (give or take) format. I’d like to release the shows on Tuesdays or Thursdays, but I can’t tell you why really. Well, other than the fact that I find myself downloading mostly on those days. I have no empirical evidence to support Tuesday or Thursday release dates. I should likely do some research. I’m sure Libsyn and others have some data about which days are typically best. I’m open to test it, too.

While I’d love to investigate a partner to banter with, I don’t think I’m going to dive into that murky water. It’s too dangerous. Chemistry is either there or not. And I’ve lived long enough to know rare it is in the real-world to have great chemistry with somebody who gets it, gets you and somebody you get. Insert recording into the process and that can change things, too. I don’t want to risk it. Besides, for over 7 or 8 years I’ve done this stuff all alone so it’d likely be tough to change it now.

As for cover art and logo stuff…well, when you have no show title yet, those things will have to wait. First, I need a great show summary. Something that properly describes the content. Then I need a great title. After that I can worry about cover art.

What I Am Going To Do

I’m going to move Saturday’s Smile and Freeform Friday over to, my other site and podcast. Those two features just seem more congruent over there. I’m sure people look at those things with bewilderment. And posts just like this one will now appear at LeaningTowardWisdom, not here. For instance, that post about the man who gave me scars would have likely been better at LTW (Leaning Toward Wisdom) than here.

I’m planning to keep things here more professional. The personal stuff will all be over at LTW. I’m not going to remove all the history from BulaNetwork and migrate it to LTW. I’m just drawing a line in the sand today by starting a new habit over at LTW. So starting this Saturday, you’ll have to visit LTW to find Saturday’s Smile. Of course, you can always follow my Pinterest account and see them.

Free Form Friday is a special episode I record on the last Friday of each month. That’s been a feature here at Bula Network, but I’m going to move that to LTW, too.

All those changes are pretty easy to make. Bula Network, LLC is the business name so it makes sense to keep the business stuff here and move the other stuff over to LTW.

So far, that’s it. That’s all I’ve decided. I’d love to hear your thoughts about it. Use that contact page and let me know.


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231 The Big Bang Podcast Rebranding: Higher Human Performance (Part 1)

higher human performance can start early

Rebranding is hard work. I wanted to rebrand almost since I started this podcast. I should have made a greater effort to brand the podcast at the very beginning, but I didn’t. Instead, I just went with the name of the website and my company, Bula Network.

Over the past year it has bugged me more and more. I decided to dig in and do the work.

Here was the process in brief:

1. Brainstorm what I wanted to do with the podcast. What did I want to accomplish with the podcast?

2. Keep thinking about my work and consider how congruent I wanted the podcast to be with my actual work.

managerial-moxie3. What name properly conveys the subject? What name could I select that would resonate best while giving me enough latitude to keep the topic going over the long haul?

4. What format did I want to take the podcast? Did I want to try something different?

5. What kind of time limit did I want to establish?

6. What publishing schedule did I want? I felt like I needed to publish on the same day of the week, at the same time each episode. But how often did I want to publish?

7. What did I want the cover art to look like? Were there any color schemes I preferred?

8. What else should I consider? Did I overlook anything?

I started a draft blog post with the original title, “The Big Bang Re-Boot: Strategic Marketing, Pre-Thinking Actions And Aiming For Specific Objectives.” Yes, it was an awful title, but I knew I wasn’t going to stick with it. It was really intended to describe what I knew I had to do. It accurately described what this rebranding required.

I needed to be strategic in marketing this podcast. Something I instinctively do in my work, but something I neglected to do here right from the start.

Pre-thinking actions was also something I knew I had missed during the initial launch years ago. The only action I had thought about was that I wanted to lay down some audio tracks for the sake of legacy. I wanted to pass onto my grown kids some real world wisdom I had accumulated over the past few decades.

The sum total of the entire effort was aiming for specific objectives. That meant, I had to have some other objectives – besides legacy.

Today’s show is part 1 where I share my ideas, thoughts and concerns. Now it’s your turn to speak. I want to hear what you think of my ideas so far. There’s no point in me moving forward without you because you’re part of this. A BIG part of it.

Here’s a 12-second video of my 3-year-old granddaughter who has taken to skating like her father, my son. She’s evidence that higher human performance has no age limit, or experience requirement. It’s mostly diving in, doing the work and sticking with it.

Mentioned in today’s show:


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205 – This Is How I Podcast (Inside The Yellow Studio Circa 2014)

Another piece of gear Inside The Yellow Studio

Welcome to Episode 205, an inside look to the audio engine here in the Land of Bula. That Zoom H6 (pictured above) is the latest addition to the studio. It’s an incredible piece of equipment, capable of more than a single digital recorder ought to be capable of. Thanks to Patrick (my rep) at Sweetwater Sound, I got it about a month ago.

The unit comes with this hard shell case (notice the nice hinge system – it ain’t flimsy), a windscreen, a USB cable, two microphone interfaces and a small capacity SD card. I wish it had come with an AC power adaptor (an additional $24 or so by itself, or an additional $55 or so if you get it along with a bunch of other unnecessary accessories).

This unit will serve as a multi-channel digital recorder, but it also serves as a USB interface. It has 4 XLR/TRS hybrid inputs, each with its own individual pots. I’ve yet to record with it (other than a short test recording). The full color display is angled (as you can probably see by the photo) making it easy to see. It’s a solidly built unit with a rubberized outer surface.

The reason I was looking for a new unit was because my Roland R-09HR is growing increasingly unreliable due to lots of use. It’s been a great unit, but I was also looking for a unit with XLR/TRS inputs…and a unit capable of providing phantom power for my Rode NTG-2 (which can also be powered by AA batteries).

But let’s go back a bit, shall we?

Episode 76 was the first go round of giving folks a peek inside The Yellow Studio. Numerically, that was 130 episodes, but there are many unnumbered episodes. And there are other podcasts that have come out of The Yellow Studio.

I confess that not much has changed over the years, but I also know how geeky we podcasters can be. I love to see studios. And find out what gear people are using, and how they’re using it.

I know you’d like some logical approach to knowing more about The Yellow Studio. For starters, let’s talk about the name. Just look at the photo gallery and you’ll see the color of the walls. People often ask, “Why yellow?” Why not?

Truth is, I love yellow, orange, red and hunter green. Those are among my favorite colors. I don’t have just one.

A 15-year-old version of me and the pickup

When I was 15 – yes, people, when I was young, living in Louisiana…you could get your driver’s license at 15 – I had a 1954 GMC pickup truck. It was an old truck some farmer had abandoned in a field.

My maternal grandfather bought it for $150 and got it running, then paid somebody a little bit to recover the seat in new vinyl. It was a “3-on-the-tree” transmission and I drove it back from Oklahoma, where my grandparents lived, all the way back to Louisiana.

No air conditioning. No radio. Bare bones classic truck in faded hunter green.

I loved it. So much that when I got it home a buddy and I painted it hunter green with orange fender flares. With a brush! And it looked good. Of course, it looked better if you were standing a few feet away. 😉

During high school I had great fun with that truck. My first “real” car was a Pontiac Lemans. It was “Sundance Orange” – that’s what GM called it. So orange was always a big player for me. So, why not The Orange Studio?

I never considered walls being orange. Frankly, it just seemed too dark and I wanted something lighter. I had a moment of clarity when the TV show HOUSE aired. His boss, Cuddy, had yellow walls in her office. Mustard yellow. The exact shade I knew I wanted when I first “built” the Yellow Studio. Of course, it wasn’t so named at the time.

Cuddy's Office
Cuddy’s office walls inspired The Yellow Studio

The moment I saw Cuddy’s office I told my wife, “That’s the color I want to paint the walls.” She and Dena, a close friend, painted it after finding the right shade of yellow. So that’s how the name came to be.

What else about the physical space?

– It’s a room about 13′ x 14.5′.

– There’s an adjoining bathroom.

– It has a small closet, filled with too many cables and other audio paraphernalia.

– It has 2 large windows with wooden slat shutters on the inside.

– It has an overhead florescent light, which rarely gets turned on.

– There are 4 full height bookcases behind my desk (out of seen most of the time) filled with books.

– There are 3 other 5′ high bookcases in the studio, also filled with books.

– There is one 4′ high bookcase filled with books, and a Polk Audio HD clock radio, plus a 3 monkeys lamp (hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil).

– There is a CD carousel in the corner that houses 2000 CD’s with more stashed here and there.

– There’s one 2-drawer lowboy filing cabinet (lateral files or regular – it can configured either way).

– There’s 3 chairs that can sit around the “broadcast table” which is actually a conference table.

– The floor is carpeted with a light green low plush carpet.

– The ceiling has popcorn texture circa 1980’s (yeah, I hate it but it’s a royal pain and major mess to change it).

– The room has one HVAC vent without a vent fixture to prevent any rattling. Air just drops into the room.

Okay, enough about the actual space. Now for the stuff you really care about.

Here’s a list of the cool stuff (these are not affiliate links; I do have an affiliate list for most of my resources here):

• Herman Miller Mirra chair (I ditched it for the time being ’cause it’s never worked properly; need to take it in for service)
• Apple iMac 27″ with i7 processor (16GB RAM / 1TB Hard Drive)
• Apple iPad Air (128GB with ATT capability)
• Ambrosia Wiretap Studio ($69  – well worth it)
Audio Hijack Pro by Rogue Amoeba
Twisted Wave (my DAW of choice)
Dialog by Wave Arts (my audio plugin of choice)
• Ambrosia Soundboard (sound cart software; this is $49)
• Sound Byte by Black Cat Systems (my main sound cart software)
• ID3 Editor (to create ID tags)
• Transmit by Panic is my ftp program of choice
• Call Recorder by ECamm (the software I use to record Skype calls – when I don’t use Wiretap Studio)
*Watch an episode of with Andrew Warner to see how this software records video Skype calls
• Edirol R-09HR digital recorder
• Broadcast Tools ProMix12 broadcast console/mixer
Zoom H6 multi-track digital recorder
• Yamaha MG124C mixer
• Heil Sound PR40 microphones (they’re my oldest pieces of gear)
• Heil Sound SM1 Shock Mounts
• Heil Sound PL2T Booms
• Heil Sound RS1 boom 12″ extension mount (for one mic; the other mic uses the C clamp)
VAC pop filters for each PR40
• Heil Sound foam pop filter (I have one of these in case I want to take a PR40 out in the field to use; never happens, by the way)
Giant Squid Cardioid Stereo mics (I know they’re great ’cause I’ve used them before; unfortunately, mine have never worked)
• Electro-Voice RE50B microphones (I have two of these for field use, but they work equally well in the studio)
Rode NTG-2 shotgun microphone (it’s a condenser requiring phantom power, but has battery power capability built right in)
• Aphex 230 Voice Channel Processors (one for each PR40 mic)
• TC Electronic Finalizer Express (a final processor that handles everything going through the board)
• Telos One Phone Hybrid
• PreSonus FP10 Firewire Interface (awful customer service; I would not buy these again)
PreSonus FireStudioProject Firewire Interface (I’m ditching these because I HATE PreSonus)
• Panamax power management
• Aphex Headpod 454 Headphone Amp (now called a HeadPod 4)
• Kensington Keyboards
• Sennheiser HD25-MKII headphones
• Kodak Zi8 HD video camera
Audio Technica ATR3550 corded lapel microphone
• Logitech 1080p Webcam Pro C910
Webcam Settings (an app that is terrific for managing webcam settings)
• ScreenFlow by Telestream (screen capture and video recording software)
Camtasia For Mac (I got it in a Mac Bundle deal for $14 so I had to buy it; it’s a great alternative to ScreenFlow)
• iMovie by Apple (also for some video recording)
• Apple QuickTime Pro (can record audio, video or screen capture)
• Camera Stabilizer (this is great; buy one if you don’t have one)
Vonage VOIP phone service (this feeds the phone hybrid)
• Apple AirPort Extreme (the old flat square version)
• Various hard drives back it all up
• Toshiba 42″ HDTV on the wall (maybe my most used piece of gear)
• Lots of my gear came from the fine folks at (shout out to Kelley Sullivan; she’s been terrific to deal with through the years)

Today’s episodes may go deeper (and darker) than you want, but that’s what the STOP button is for, right? I hope you enjoyed the tour.

Thanks for listening for all these years. I know the podcast here has morphed and changed over time, but that’s what we do as people. We grow. We change. Hopefully, we improve. I’m still working on it.

Do you have a podcast? Let me know about it.


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Top 10 Ways To Prepare For The Funeral Of Your Best Friend

Jonathan Winters in "It's A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World"
Jonathan Winters in “It’s A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World”

The funeral for my friend, Stanley, is tomorrow morning at 10am. It remains to be seen if this strategy works. I’ll let you know.

10. Watch “It’s A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World.” Twice.

9. Look at cartoons of Ballard Street and Herman…almost constantly.

8. Watch the Bathroom Sessions with Ed and Steven (yes, it can make you sad that they parted, but still…)

7. Listen to recordings of Hudson & Landry, especially “The Prospectors.”

6. Watch episodes of The Andy Griffith Show, especially episodes with the Darlings.

5. Go to the gym more often and stay longer.

4. Watch Stanley Cup hockey, even though your best friend’s name was Stanley. He’d appreciate the irony.

3. Re-read Bill Bryson’s “The Life And Times Of The Thunderbolt Kid.”

2. Watch Mark Knopfler play the guitar.

1. Pray often. Followed by another one that’s important to me, reading the Scriptures.

I’ll be back, Lord willing, in a few weeks. In the meantime, enjoy the Saturday’s Smiles. We all need them. Smiles, that is.


P.S. Thought I’d leave you with a Wednesday smile since every midway point of a week could likely use a smile.

ballard street

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Leaning Toward Wisdom: Why I’m ReLaunching A Podcast You Likely Have Never Heard Before

Trees grow toward the sun. I’m trying to grow toward wisdom.

On May 28, 2010 I released the first episode of a podcast called Leaning Toward Wisdom. As you’d imagine, it was at I registered that domain on February 1, 2005.

Years earlier, in 1999, I had started my first blog – we called them “journals” back then – at Podcasting was yet to come. According to the history of podcasting at Wikipedia, “audioblogging” started in the 1980’s, but I wasn’t savvy enough to know about it.

In 2005 I was blogging  fairly regularly at Leaning Toward Wisdom. I went through a few variations of the website design. I even got a local tech whiz to give me a killer design, built on Expression Engine. WordPress wasn’t yet on anybody’s radar.

I continued to blog there – mostly focused on subjects I felt were part of my own efforts to grow wiser. Topics ranged from books read, to music heard, to lessons life had taught to business challenges I had learned to overcome. It was much more than a personal journal, but I included tidbits of personal information every now and again.

By 2010 I had discovered podcasting so I launched a podcast, releasing one episode to every 2-4 blog posts. The topics didn’t change, except now I was able to add my literal voice to the content.

Within a few months I had morphed toward a topic my son and I were passionate about – education. I was weary with talking mostly business. Besides, in 2008 I had begun podcasting right here at Bula Network. Most of the topcis here were related to business. It just didn’t make any sense to have that focus somewhere else, too.

I began to blog and podcast about teaching children and education from the perspective of a entrepreneurship and business building. The very meaning of ENTREPRENEUR means “accepting responsibility for the outcome.” That seemed fitting to any human endeavor, especially the field of education where so many people point fingers at others.

Children suffer because too many adults are busy looking for others to blame while another generation enters society less prepared than they could be. Everybody wants to blame the government. Others want to blame the teachers, or the teachers’ unions. There’s plenty of blame to go around, but when I took Leaning Toward Wisdom into the field of education, I was irked that nobody seemed to be accepting responsibility for the outcome.

My idea – which is still sound – was to approach education as an outsider, a business guy. The focus was on that meaning of entrepreneurship, namely, accepting responsibility for the outcome. The effort was focused on all of us. I posed the question, “What would happen if we ALL accepted responsibility for the outcome of raising wise children?”

About a dozen episodes in I knew it wasn’t going to resonante. What a lifetime of business experience had taught me wasn’t resonating with people in education. At least not yet. And my resolve to continue started to weaken. And die.

I still felt strongly about the idea. Today, I still think the field of education has much to learn, but too much time in academia has jaded the great majority of educators. I grew increasingly jaded myself, but in a different direction from what I was encountering in educators. I was jaded against their stubbornness to consider anything outside their known norm. I found quite a few teachers who were as politically motivated as the politicians. I had too many conversations that never focused on the kids – the students. It reminded me of my days coaching young kids with overbearing parents and thinking, “We’d all have a grand time if we could get these idiot parents to stay home!”

Adults can ruin just about anything.

Let’s sit and talk.

It’s time to invite you into my backyard where we can sit on the steps, look up at the trees and talk about wisdom. It’s time to remove the focus from anything specific, other than wisdom.

Here’s what Wikipedia has to say about wisdom:

Wisdom is the judicious study and application of knowledge. It is a deep understanding and realization of people, things, events or situations, resulting in the ability to apply perceptions, judgments and actions in keeping with this understanding. It often requires control of one’s emotional reactions (the “passions”) so that universal principles, reason and knowledge prevail to determine one’s actions. Wisdom is also the comprehension of what is true coupled with optimum judgment as to action. Synonyms include: sagacity, discernment, or insight.

Here’s what Psychology Today says:

It can be difficult to define Wisdom, but people generally recognize it when they encounter it. Psychologists pretty much agree it involves an integration of knowledge, experience, and deep understanding that incorporates tolerance for the uncertainties of life as well as its ups and downs. There’s an awareness of how things play out over time, and it confers a sense of balance.

Wise people generally share an optimism that life’s problems can be solved and experience a certain amount of calm in facing difficult decisions. Intelligence—if only anyone could figure out exactly what it is—may be necessary for wisdom, but it definitely isn’t sufficient; an ability to see the big picture, a sense of proportion, and considerable introspection also contribute to its development.

Pick either one of those and I can accept it. That’s what’s going to start happening at Leaning Toward Wisdom. This is the pre-launch episode to just let you know what’s on my mind and how I’m planning to relaunch it soon. I’d appreciate any feedback you care to give me.


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