Written on August 16th, 2016. 

I spent 30 minutes this morning simply existing. I watched the water flow from this pond in front of the hotel. The way the water was clear like glass before it made its way over the rocks. Only a few feet from the turbulence, peace once again resumed.

Treat life like water.

Enjoy the glassy moments of peaceful bliss, yet know expect the unexpected. Flow through the turbulence, and regain your calm.

 

4 Simple Ways Get More Out Of Toastmasters

4 tips for new toastmasters

When I joined Toastmasters I honestly expected to walk into a room where people drank champagne, wore monocles, and said phrases like “chip chip cheerio” “good show ol’ chap” and “That was marvelous”. All of these in a 1920’s British accent. The logic behind this is truly mind boggling, but it makes complete sense in my own head.

I quickly learned that there would no champagne, nor monocles. Occasionally I would hear a Brittish accent, but that was only when a visitor from the across the pond made it to a meeting.

Four years later, I’m now the President of a newly chartered Toastmasters club. This is an exciting opportunity as nearly everyone in the group is new to Toastmasters. Of course, this does bring a number of unique challenges.

For those that are new to Toastmasters, here are a few lessons that I learned over the past few years. Following this few pieces of advice will greatly enhance what you provide to your group, and what you glean from the other members.

Don’t be afraid to ask for clarification.

In a new club, it’s critical that members and officers ask for assistance. It’s expected. In fact, if people aren’t asking questions that is an indicator of a bigger problem at hand. Each club has officers and club mentors that are there to help. If one of these individuals cannot answer the question, they will track down someone that can provide the correct answer.

The way I view it; it is up to the new member to ask questions until there is no doubt about what is expected. It is up to the club officer, club mentor, or assigned mentor to verify that the questions are answered. Clarity makes the path much easier to follow.

Own the role.

Some functionary roles require little pre-meeting prep work. Roles such as the “ah counter” and timer simply need five minutes before the meeting to recap on the responsibilities. Other roles, such as the Toastmaster, General Evaluator, Table Topics Master, and speech evaluators require more coordination.

The Toastmaster is responsible for making sure that the meeting is a success. This includes communicating with members to entice them to show up, making sure that the functionaries will be there, writing a speech that relates to the meeting’s theme, and much more. Honestly, the role of a Toastmaster is a short term project leadership role.

The General Evaluator needs to be keeping track of everything during the meeting AND what has to lead up to it. They are required to say what was good, and what could have been better.

The Table Topic Masters should have an open line of communication with Toastmaster and grammarian. They rely on these resources so that they can try to work in the meeting theme, and word of the day with the table topics questions.

The Evaluators need to be in communication with the speaker they are assigned to. They should ask for a background of the speech and ask the speaker what they want the evaluation focused on. When I first started I had an evaluator ask me to record my speech before the meeting. That would give them enough time to review it and provide a few pointers to make the speech even better.

Of course, the speakers need to write their speech, practice, and fine tune before the meeting. I’ve heard more than once that a seven-minute speech should have 20 hours of work put into it.

The point is; regardless of the role that you have, it is up to you to own it. Be accountable, put in the research, put in the effort and apply yourself. Toastmasters isn’t meant to be easy. Leaders aren’t made when everything is easy.

Don’t be afraid to make mistakes.

Everyone else in the club has or will go through the same process as you. We’ve made mistakes. Sometimes we royally mess it up, and other times the mistake is completely obscure to everyone. Really though, don’t stress it.

Personally, I’ve messed up and dropped an F bomb in front of an entire group of people while trying to remember what I wrote into the speech. That’s right, instead of having everything go blank I choose to throw out a four letter word. Honestly, the majority of people in the room cracked up laughing. Once the tension cleared, everything came back to me with crystal clarity.

Just say yes.

This completely contradicts everything you’ve been taught about peer pressure.

People have busy schedules. Sometimes a functionary or speaker has to cancel at the last minute or leave mid meeting. In that situation, the club needs someone that is ready to step up and take on a new role. It’s possible that you have no clue what you are stepping into, but often that’s a good thing. It gives you less time to worry, and more time to execute on what’s in front of you.

It’s not a bad idea to have a “pocket speech” either. This is a rough speech that you can give in the event that you step into a speaking role. The best advice for this is to have something related to what you do for a living, a hobby, or something else that you are passionate about.

Like everything in life, what you receive is relevant to the effort that you put in. Toastmasters is no different. I spend the first few months of my membership avoiding meetings, skipping table topics, and refusing to speak. I saw little value in Toastmasters until I stepped up, put myself out there, and went all in.

If you are a new or prospective member, I hope that you are ready to do the same.

#toastmaster #publicspeaking #leadership #communication

6 reasons you want to quit

It was the morning of June 24th, 2016. To others, it was just another summer day in Phoenix. To me; it was the last day at my previous job. The job that provided me with stability and a secure source of income for the previous six years.

That morning, I quickly crafted a writing and posted it on Linkedin. The writing was short, impromptu, and simply explained why I was leaving without anything else lined up.

To my surprise, this writing quickly received more views that any other writing that I’ve posted on Linkedin. In fact, it has 4x more views than my next highest performing article.

To me, this tells a story.

The story being told is about the general relationship that people have with work. I think that most people are unhappy with some element of their job. Often we don’t have a true understanding of the element, but we know that something isn’t right. We look for inspiration in others and want to know how they will survive without a job. Because deep down, so many of us want to walk that same path.

I’ll tell you taking a sabbatical is incredible, however, it doesn’t address the root cause for wanting to quit. If you want to quit, something is missing. Period.

In my own search for understanding satisfaction in work, I developed my own framework. This framework focuses on asking yourself questions within six specific categories. These categories are Responsibility, Education, Action, Salary, Opinion, and Network. This framework, which I have dubbed “REASON”.

This framework will help you understand what is missing. It does this through self-reflection, within the six categories. Here they are:

Responsibility

It’s imperative to understand what you are responsible for in your position. Without an understanding of this, it’s far too easy to get lost in the minutia.

Ask yourself questions about your responsibilities. Questions such as “Do I fully understand the scope of my responsibilities?” and “Do my responsibilities align with my personal goals?”

Education

You should never be in a position that makes you stop learning. Continuing education is one of the biggest motivators in life. If you aren’t learning, you aren’t growing.

Ask yourself: “Am I learning anything in my current position?” and “How do these skills prepare me for what comes next?”

Action

How does every modern action movie begin? It always begins with a huge impact. An impact is important as it allows you to see how your actions relate to the big picture.

Ask yourself: “Do I understand how my actions impact the company?” and “If I quit today, what actions would need to be taken to replace me?” Hint – You don’t want to be easily replaced.

Salary

Everyone loves making more money. It should be as simple as telling your boss the reasons that you deserve more, and they, being a great human should oblige. Right?Yeah… the real world doesn’t work that way. You need to have an idea of the bigger picture and understand where you fit in.

Ask yourself: “Am I paid fairly and in accordance with the local market for my position?”, “How does my salary compare to the total revenue of the company”, and “Do I understand how to increase my salary, or move to a higher paying position?”

Opinion

Want to frustrate someone? Ask them for their opinion, tell them they are right, then take the opposite action. Do that enough times, and eventually, the other person will stop providing their input and opinion. Nobody wants to feel like his or her opinion is fully invalid.

Ask yourself: “Does my boss/colleagues listen when I offer my opinion?” and “Would it make a difference If I stopped providing my input?”

Network

Having the right people in your work life can make a major difference in your job satisfaction. Everyone needs their own “tribe”, but more importantly, they need understand how to deliver value to those around them.

Ask yourself: “What value do I bring to my work network?”, “Is there anyone at work that I want to mold my career after” and, “Do I have access to this person?”

The above questions are nothing more than examples. You can ask yourself any question within the REASON elements, as long as they directly relate to the specific element. Any questions where the answer is “no” or “unsure” need to be further speculated upon.

This is, of course, just the first step in the process. They hardest part is having the conversations and taking action to make a change.

It’s about the journey

Do you remember the last road trip that you took before entering the working world as an adult? What do you remember about that trip? Do you remember the way that it felt when you placed your hand out the window as the cool night air passed through your fingers? Do you remember the music that was playing as you and your fellow travelers sung along, albeit out of key? What about the scenery? What do you recall about the landscape as you drove through a country road?

Most importantly, do remember the camaraderie that you and your travelers shared on that trip?

It’s about the journey.

It doesn’t matter where you start or where you end when it comes to a road trip. What’s important is the journey. It’s an experience. It’s the process in between the start point and the end point that makes a road trip memorable. Without that, a road trip would be nothing.

Yet, in the working world, the emphasis is on getting “it” done. Whatever “it” may be. We are so focused on simply getting to the end of a process. We want to know when will “this” be done? How much money are we going to make? How much longer is this meeting? Insert any phrase that you will.

Shifting your viewpoint.

We cannot change the fact that this world operates in a model where the focus is on the end. What you can do is change your viewpoint about the process as a whole. Rather than being so focused on getting to the end of a project live in the moment and embrace it as it is.

Embrace the learning opportunities.

During the process is where mistakes are to be made. That’s a good thing. Without making mistakes and understanding failure, how can success be judged? Without learning from the past, we cannot appreciate the end results.

Appreciating Chaos

When you see a project as a whole, rather than looking to the finish line, you can see the errors, the bugs, and the chaos as it approaches from your peripheral vision. This makes it significantly easier to mitigate. Think of it as approaching a busy intersection. If you are focused on nothing more than making it across the street you are blind to what’s on the side. You won’t see the truck that is pummeling through the red light and approaching your vehicle at full speed.

On the other hand, when you see the event as a whole you know what’s coming in the moment. This gives you options; you can slam your brakes or speed up to allow the chaos to pass. You can also turn the wheel and take a completely different route to the destination. Often, the new route is the longer and full of new obstacles, but ultimately the proper course of action. You can appreciate the chaos for leading you to this route out of necessity.

Look around, not forward.

If you are overly stressed from a project and all you can see is the finish line, it’s time to stop. You need to look back and analyze the journey thus far. Think of the obstacles and the solutions you found to avoid them. Look around and see what is in the now. There is the only moment where you truly have control. This is where you can blaze a new trail, or analyze the obstacles that you currently face. Most importantly, this is where you remind yourself to enjoy the ride.

Are You WILLING To keep Your New Year’s Resolutions?

How to keep your resolutions

The year 2017 started a little over twenty-four hours ago. Within the next six days, 25% of all New Year’s resolutions will be completely pushed the side because of some obscure reason. It’s sad that 25% of the changes that we say will make never happen. Why is that?

I’m sure we could theorize about a million different reasons why people don’t stick with their resolutions. Everything from not having the time, not having the money, not having the freedom, not having the resources and much more. I see the real reason as being something far simpler. I see it as the way that we tell ourselves about the change that we plan to make. All statements about change can be made powerful or weak depending on the structure of the sentence.

Words have immense power. Just look at the impact that speechwriters and orators have had throughout history. When statements are crafted in a certain way we are poised to take action upon it. It’s similar to writing in an active voice versus a passive one.  Want to make an impact? Keep reading

I want.

The weakest of these statements is the “I want” phrase. This statement has no action involved. We want many things in life, however, wants are not typically acquired unless minimal effort is needed.

Example: I want to make $80k this year.

I’ll try:

This is a step better than the “want” statement. It implies doing something, however at less than your maximum effort. Trying is reserved for taking a bite of food. It’s nothing more than a sample.

Example: I’ll try to earn $80k this year.

Deadpool doesn’t try. He goes maximum effort.

I am willing / I am not willing.

I see these phrases as the most power. The imply that you are fed up with the old way and ready to take action and acquire your goal.

Example: I am willing to give up TV and invest my time into learning a revenue generating skill.

OR

Example: I am not willing to earn less than $80k this year.

In the first example, it states that something must be given up and something new acquired. The second example, to me, feels the most powerful. While it does not describe how this $80k per year will be earned, it states that the existing method is not working.

Next Step

Time Magazine has published the Top 10 completely broken New Year’s resolutions. It’s a safe bet that some of your resolutions are found here. What I want you to do is to take this list and rewrite it with “I want”, I’ll try”, “I am willing” and “I am not willing” statements.  Not surprisingly, the first one is “lose weight and get fit”. Let’s rewrite this one together.

I want to lose weight and be in better shape.

I’ll try to lose weight and be in better shape.

I willing to reduce my calorie count to 1800 per day to lost weight and be in better shape.

I am not willing to be overweight and out of shape.

Actually, let’s take a different approach on that last one. If we change this to “I am not willing to fit into a size 40 waist any longer.” It has a bit more of an impact. We can even combine the willing / not willing statements to create something even more powerful. Like this:

I AM NOT WILLING TO FIT INTO A SIZE 40 WAIST ANY LONGER. I AM WILLING TO REDUCE MY CALORIE COUNT TO 1800 PER DAY TO BE IN BETTER SHAPE.

Once you have modified the wording structure on the commonly failed resolutions, rewrite your own. Post them, share them, and ask someone to help keep your accountable.

 

Not getting anywhere in life? Learn why discipline equals freedom

In my previous post I brought up the idea that discipline equals freedom.  If you didn’t read the previous post, you can do so by clicking here.  Throughout today I realized the different areas in life where this is true. Let’s look a little further into it.

Dietary Discipline Equals Freedom

I have a friend that posts photos of entire plates of junk food that he consumes. I’m talking about plates full of marshmallow peeps, meringue cookies, burgers, fries and much more. What’s interesting though, is that he is also very lean. If you think along the lines of a normal diet, it makes no sense for him to look like this.

Discipline equals freedom - If it fits your macros
Peeps anyone?

You have to look at a diet from a different lens. 

What he does is follow the “If It Fits Your Macros” or “IIFYM” method. Basically you track your daily macronutrient intake and run it through a calculator. Of course this takes additional inputs such as heigh weight, activity level and current lean mass as well. Food wise, you can eat whatever you want, as long as you do not exceed any of your macro nutrient thresholds each day.

Trust me, it’s a challenge to track all of your macro nutrients. Most people struggle just trying to keep track of their daily caloric intake or glasses of water consumed. It takes discipline to stick with this plan. Yet at the end of the day it offers flexibility (freedom) allowing you to consume what you’ve been craving all day. Well, as long as it fits your macros.

Creating passive income – Discipline equals financial freedom

When I made my first course on Udemy I invested about 40 hours over the course of the month. I had to squeeze the course creation between working 9 hours a day, being a husband, being a father and working on network maintenances at night. I was absolutely exhausted and wanted nothing to do with creating a course.

But I stuck with it.

Now my course literally sells in my sleep. Most of the students that are buying are located in Europe or Australia. While the income from this course isn’t enough to live off of, it does provide some extra income each month. An income that keeps appearing wether or not I invest any time into it. Anyone that creates a stream of passive income with tell you that it requires discipline to set it in motion. You will work for hours with no guaranteed return, but it’s the moments when “you win” that make it all worth it. 

Discipline equals career freedom

screen-shot-2016-10-17-at-8-59-27-pmComing from the world of IT, there are many certifications that people hold. Some certifications require hundreds if not thousands of hours worth of studying to obtain. One in particular is called the CCIE. Some people will refer to this as “The Doctorate of Networking”.


Everyone I’ve know that has obtained the CCIE had to hide in a cave for 6-12 months to study. At the end of the process they come out with beards (even the ladies!), glasses and if they did it right; a certification that relatively few people have.

Assuming the individual has practical experience as well, they now have the freedom to pick and choose where they want to work. Cisco value added resellers (VARs) are always searching for CCIEs. Large enterprises and network carriers place a lot of value on CCIE holders as well. For most people in IT, it’s worth surrendering a year or your life to obtain this.

 Discipline can lead to a ripped physique, passive income, and the ability to “write your own paycheck”.

How has discipline helped you to achieve freedom?

Write your responses in the comments below.

3 Lessons from Extreme Ownership

How Extreme Ownership can help your business

When a Navy SEAL talks, you should pay attention. Or in the case of “Extreme Ownership” by Jocko Willink and Leif Babin you need to keep your eyes open and keep reading. Extreme Ownership is the concept that a leader is ultimately responsible for their actions, along with the actions of their subordinates. This book is packed full of knowledge, and I highly recommend this to anyone in a leadership role.  This includes parents, sr. executives, managers and even teachers.

Extreme Ownership
Leif (Left), Jocko (right)

Here are three quick lessons from this book.

Lesson 1 : There are no bad teams, just bad leaders.

A team can be completely changed by changing only one member; the leader. In this book the authors talk about a scenario from SEAL training. They place the trainees into different groups that compete against each other in “boat race” style event. There is one boat that is consistently in last place. The leader of this boat believes that he was given the worst SEAL trainees to command.

As an experiment, they trainers swapped the leaders of the last and first place boats. The leader from what was originally the last place boat now believes he has an upper hand with a more skilled team.

To his surprise, his previous team mates are now keeping up with him in the new boat. Nothing else changed, other than the person calling the shots.

Lesson 2 : Keep it simple.

Complex orders are difficult to follow. They increase errors and cause information to be relayed in less than reliable manner. When on the battlefield, the SEALS communicate in the most concise and easy to follow method. This allows information to be relayed quickly and reliably.

In business, we often botch this. When speaking to others you must communicate with them at a level that they understand and keep the orders simple. If you can get the point across in two words versus ten, do it.

Lesson 3 : Discipline equals freedom

To many, this is a contradictory statement. How can rigid discipline equate to freedom? In the book the authors discuss how having a detailed list of standard operating procedures gave them more freedom to improvise when it was required

In everyday life, discipline is important. If you constantly find yourself saying you do not have time for something during the work day, did you spend your time wisely? Did you get sucked into projects rather than saying “No!”? Did you spend your time wisely and avoid social media, texting and other sources of distraction? If not, it’s time that you reevaluate where your time is going. 

The authors also emphasis the importance of waking up when you alarm first goes off. When you hit “snooze” it sets the tone for how the remaining part of the day will go.

All around, this was a fantastic read. It allows you to get an idea of how a team of Navy SEALS operates in the field. The authors get the point across through storytelling that rivals any fiction writer. As it should; these guys are the real deal. 

4 Stages to go from “I can’t” to “I did”

For each beautiful butterfly, there was once a strange wingless creature that walked the earth. Yet, the caterpillar knows that there is a cycle that it must abide by. A cycle that presents many threats, but gaining wings is worth the risk.

While we are unable to grow physical wings, we are all given the opportunity to fly. The opportunity is there for those that can see the stages in the cycle. A cycle that exposes fear, the lack of action and becoming complacent. In my experience, this cycle has four stages.

Stage 1  : “I can’t do that”

Someone just told you about an amazing experience they had. It could be a trip to another part of the world, a career change, obtaining a degree, or maybe starting a new career. You congratulate them, but follow it up with “I can’t do that” or “I couldn’t do that”.

Remember when you where younger and nothing seemed impossible? You took on any challenge without a second thought. Well, until something happened. Maybe it was the first time that you felt the not so sweet embrace of concrete. Or was it the time when your first childhood crush told you that they didn’t like you? Of course it could have been the most damaging situation; where you’re parents tell you that it’s impossible. 

All of these experiences build who we become as adults. They form the basis of our beliefs and fears. Two elements that can control upward movement in life.

To move past this stage, you challenge your own thought process. When you say “I can’t” you must question why and determine how to change that believe.

Stage 2: “I’m planning on doing that”

You’ve processed the idea of doing something big and moved beyond the fear of change. In this second stage you commonly inform people that you plan on doing that. Whatever your “that” is.

At this stage, you’re friends will respond to your “plans” and state that they are excited for you. Your family will probably try to talk you out of it. Nothing matters though, because you plan to do it.

Oh, but then another shiny new idea pops into your head. Your old plan has gone the way the buffalo, and slowly moved on. I hate to say it but this process will repeat like a broken record.

I know this stage intimately. I was stuck in it for years. I always had ideas and would proudly tell everyone what I wanted to do. Of course, what I wanted to do and planned on doing would continuously change. I remember at one point my wife yelling “You always talk about doing something, but never actually do it”. In a way, that was my wakeup call.

There is only one way to transition from this stage to the next. You have to set a due date on your idea and do the scary part; you have to execute on an idea.

Stage 3 : “I’m doing it!”

My old CTO used to ask me every morning how I was doing. In response I would simple say “I’m OK”. The week after I put in my notice he asked me this same question. With a massive smile on my face I said “I am doing GREAT!”

You see, I didn’t want to do something new. I NEEDED it, but I was afraid to take action. It wasn’t until 3:28PM on a Friday when I walked into my managers office and quit did everything begin to take shape. This was the catalyst for a new beginning.

When you are in the “Doing it” phase, time moves at the rate of a humming birds heart. When obstacles occur, you find a way around them or smash them into pieces. You live, rather than talk about what you want to do.

As you do what you love, new people will enter your world. People that understand where you are as they’ve been there too.

Yet when you speak to the long standing members of your social circle about your experiences you hear that phrase again. I can’t do that. You know it’s coming before their lips part and exhale that first syllable.  In that moment you think back to when you said it. You know what’s going on in their head and can help them; if they ask for it.


Stage 4 : “I did it”

At some point, the rush will wear off. Your experience that changed you, becomes a fleeting memory. All that’s left are photographs, and maybe a few scars. That’s ok, scars are bad ass.

All of this is a cycle. At least it should be, as you have done this before. The problem that we face is getting stuck in one specific stage.

When we are stuck in the “I can’t” stage our self esteem is fragile and we can’t seem to find a way out. Depression becomes rampant and can easily destroy the strongest willed individual.

If stuck in “I’m planning on doing that” we think that we doing something big. Yet, all that’s happening is little bit of lip movement.

Sometimes people end up stuck in the “I’m doing it” stage. This is a good place to be for a while, but all around it’s dangerous. Everyone sticks here for a bit and may not know it. This is where complacency begins to kick in.

We also have those that remain with nothing but stories to tell. Remember the TV show ‘Married with Children”? Al Bundy was stuck in the “I did it” stage. His last exciting moment happened in 1966 at the City Championship game against Andrew Johnson High. Al scored the game winning touchdown with just seconds left on the clock.

At the end of the day, we are all in multiple stages of this cycle. What’s important is the realize where you are, and take action from there. We all have to face our fears, take action, live it, then move onto the next adventure. 

5 Lessons from being unemployed

5 lessons from being unemployed

Every moment in life is a learning opportunity. I believe that the best moments of growth and education occur when you force yourself outside of your comfort zone, face your fears and live.

It’s been three months since I left my job of six years. I walked away from job security, a steady income, benefits and more. I did all of this to take a risk, smash my comfort zone and “reprogram” my life.

It was worth it.

Taking this risk was one of the best decisions I’ve made in a while. Of course, there are lessons that I learned over this period of time. Lessons that can benefit you.

Here are 5 lessons that I learned during three months of being unemployed.

Professional relationships are powerful.

Everyone has “technical skills”. Many people, especially those in highly technical fields stop focusing on building professional relationships. They bury their face in a book, or laboratory environment for the majority of the day and stop communicating with others.This is a dire mistake.

Face it. Networking is a pain. Most people want to ask you a few questions to see if you are qualified to purchase their product. If so, they pester you until you buy or tell them to take a hike.

Between the wasted moments of small talk, you WILL meet good people. People that realize that value can be created in a professional relationship. These individuals will help you along your way. It’s worth the challenge and frustration to find these people. Having a professional network was a major factor in finding my next opportunity.

Working from home is…meh.

While working at Vonage my commute was twenty seven miles each way. Depending on traffic and road conditions I could spend two to three hours in my car five days per week. Occasionally I would work from home and be far more productive.

As I write this I am hiding in my bedroom closet sitting on a large floor cushion. It’s not that I enjoy working from this cramped space. No not at all. I’m stuck in here because there are far too many distractions. My mother-in-law is watching CNN with the volume cranked up in the downstairs living room. My daughter is watching a ridiculous Youtube video of people opening surprise eggs in the loft. My office space is between these two sources of noise and I cannot concentrate in there.

I’ve realized that it wasn’t working from home that helped increase productivity. It was a change of work location. Now I find productivity increasing tremendously when I work from a local co-working space such as Gangplank. Every major city should have a co-working space. Find it, use it, and love it.

Traveling is the best education.

Did you know that English is considered a West-Germanic language? Neither did I until I traveled throughout Europe this summer. Scots, English, Frisian, Dutch, Low German, and German are all part of the West-Germanic language family. Our current version of English has many borrow words from latin languages, but at it’s core; it is Germanic.

Traveling can teach you a lot of pointless trivia, but it can also open your eyes to the world. When you travel you are given the chance to meet people from all walks of life and see the world from their perspective. These are lessons that you cannot learn from a book or the internet.

Plus, international travel is surprisingly more cost effective than you may imagine.

Changing careers is not difficult.

When other telecommunication providers found out that I left Vonage my phone didn’t stop ringing. I was in high demand based upon my knowledge of a specific platform. Of course, this is why I have a very restrictive Employment Covenant Agreement (Non Compete) in place.

I turned down thirteen interviews because the proposed role would violate my ECA.

It became clear that my best option at this point was a career change. I interviewed for various roles in sales, marketing, and technology leadership. I eventually choose to accept the opportunity with an amazing company in the midwest.

It’s easy to waste money when working full time.

Going out for drinks and meals with friends quickly adds up. While working full time many people fail to see exactly how much of their income is spent through leisurely activities. I have a few sources of residual / passive income which helped out during my break, however it was not enough to sustain my previous spending habits. I also had no desire to completely drain my savings account either.

When you do not have a steady paycheck to rely on, you are forced to budget and be creative with your spending. My grocery cost went down and I wasted far less food. I also changed my source of entertainment to walking the dog, and taking my kids to the park. It was a win-win situation for everyone.

What about you?

Have you recently been unemployed or on a sabbatical? Tell us in the comments below what you learned.

Lifestyle Photoshoot: A glimpse into my luxurious life.

Have you heard of a lifestyle photoshoot? I had not heard this term until about a month ago. Now the Badder-Meinhof Phenomenon is kicking into overdrive.  I can’t go a single day without seeing a “sneak peak” from someone’s lifestyle photoshoot.

For those that have not heard the term. A lifestyle photoshoot is where a photographer follows you around and takes pictures of your daily life. I call bullshit on 99% of these photoshoots from “daily life”. Where are the pictures of kids throwing a tantrum? Where are the photos of you cleaning up the “gifts” that the dog left for you in the back yard? What about pictures of you while you snore through the night. Yes, I know it’s creepy. I’m sure you can find a professional photographer to take pictures of you sleeping. If not, Craigslist to the rescue!

Now that I’m back in the USA I thought that some of you would like to see the luxurious life that I live. To accomplish this I followed myself around with a camera for 20 minutes. This is about as real as life gets.

Without further ado, I present 20 minutes of my life.

Here I am sitting on the couch. I’m eating awful tortilla chips. They are only $1.00 at Fry’s so I can’t complain. Other than the ones that cut into the roof of your mouth. Don’t you hate that feeling? There is a good chance that my mouth is bleeding profusely from chip shrapnel.

Lifestyle Photoshoot

 

Oh Oh! Something exciting happened on the show. I’m watching Lifetime because it just makes perfect sense. You watch Lifetime while doing a lifestyle photoshoot, duh.  Please observe that I am still eating these horrible chips while holding the remote. Like a REAL man, I cannot allow the remote to be removed from the grip of my phalanges.

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My camera is full of 658 photos of me sitting on the couch. I’ll spare you the agony. 

Here I am plucking an eyebrow. I can’t allow this unibrow to get out of control.  I need to be “on fleek” or whatever the these kids say nowadays. Kids! Ha! Now I’m starting to sound like a cynical old man.

If you look closely you can see that my skin is being pulled up as the root exits the dermis.

Lifestyle Photoshoot

 

Now I’m setting up the tripod. I captured this incredible moment before plucking my eyebrows. If you look closely you can see a pool floatation apparatus on my bathroom counter. My four year old refuses to take a bath with out it. Don’t judge!

Lifestyle Photoshoot

 

While taking these photos my wife came home from the store.  The old taste buds started to go crazy as I saw her unloading an armful of cookies. Upon further exploration my heart shattered. The cookies are not gluten free :(.

Lifestyle Photoshoot

Alright, alright I know you want to see more of this crazy life I live in the USA.

Next up you can see me working!

HAHAHA Just Kidding! I don’t work!

Please enjoy this picture of me looking like an idiot instead.

Lifestyle Photoshoot