I’m changing my life. How are you changing yours?

 

 

Complacency. 

You think that you are immune to it, until the day it sneaks up on. 

That’s what happened to me. 

I wake up early in the morning. I jump into my car and head toward work. I’m tired due to a lack of sleep from the night before so I need grab a little pick me up. Nothing like caffeine and empty calories to the rescue. 

I join the other sleep driving people and head off to work. 

I arrive at my cubicle and put my headphones on to block out the sounds of the outside world.

Sometimes headphones are the only sanctuary from the sound of people acting busy. 

I eat more garbage food. I work more hours. Then I head home to do it all again the next day, like a good little soldier ant. 

Then one day I started to see the world as a program. 

I started to question what would happen if variables are changed. I started doing things outside of the norm. I tried my hand at public speaking, I started networking with others, and I started to learn more about self improvement, psychology and social dynamics. Thing started to get better, but I realized there was still something missing. 

I needed to break out of the loop. I needed to do something drastic. I needed to trigger an exception. I saved up some money, then one day decide it was time to do something ballsy. 

That’s when I quit my job.  

 I created a course on Udemy and began looking into different methods of semi-passive income. 

This wasn’t enough. I needed something else to REALLY take me outside of my comfort zone and reprogram my life. For some reason, Europe was calling my name. I answered the call and booked tickets to Germany. 

Unlike most travel bloggers I’m not going solo. I’m taking my wife and kids with me. We are changing the variables, causing exceptions and breaking out of our comfort zones. We are re-writing the programs of our lives.

Join me on this adventure.

Keith

P.S

If you are interested in making your first $100 on Udemy, check out this free course. I show you how I worked on marketing my first course.

how-to-make-money-on-udemy

If you are in the IT world and have an interest in learning VOIP and SIP, check out my course “Become a SIP Expert”. You can save 20% on this course by clicking here.

Why your man avoids talking about feelings

My previous article about relationships had a lot of surprising feedback. I was especially surprised because I have no clue how it was shared from my blog to Facebook in the first place. Maybe I hit something while working on the draft at 3am? Who knows. All I know is the level of feedback was amazing.

What’s not surprising is the majority demographic that shared, liked or commented on the writing. Look at the below pictures and let me know if you see a pattern.

men-and-emotion

 whats-wrong-with-men men-and-relationships become-a-better-man

How many men do you see within those comments? Sure I had a few men like the article. Eight to be exact. That’s nothing compared to the 80+ women that shared it. What does this tell me? It further reinforces the fact that only a small percentage of men want to become a better partner.

This is a problem.

Us men we want to be stronger, faster and make more money All of these aspects are good. Yet we often fail look at our relationships in whole. Of course we all want to be better at sex. Cosmo for men… I mean Maxim routinely lists something about sex on the cover. New techniques, new positions, yada yada yada. Don’t get me wrong. Wanting to make more money, have amazing sex and be physically stronger are all good things, but it’s not enough

The bigger problem is the large percentage of men that suffer from “Peter Pan Syndrome”. There’s a good chance that you know someone like this. They invest minimal  (no zero) effort into themselves. They’ve stopped learning. They usually pass the time by playing video games, or living in a complete fantasy world. The gym is non existent. Basically they never matured past the age of 15.

So what’s the deal?

Why is it so difficult for men to work on themselves? Women seem to flock towards self improvement. I can’t walk into a coffee shop without overhearing someone talk about their Chakras being out of alignment. Look, I don’t fully understand what a “Chakra” is, but good for them. I know it originates from various Indian religions and is common in Yoga and various self improvement methods.

Guys on the other hand, what do we talk about when they get together? Sports stuff. Car stuff. Gun Stuff. Boobs. Money Stuff. Truck Stuff. Hey.. did you see that chick’s butt? Work stuff. Boobs. Rinse and repeat. We avoid conversations about relationships, emotions, and trauma like it’s the plague. We’ve been social conditioned to believe that conversations about these subjects will make us weak.

That’s where we run into this giant disconnect.

While women are conversing with their friends about deep topics, us guys are drinking beer and yelling at the TV because a ball was intercepted. Naturally when the male gets home from work, or his “male bonding time” his partner wants to “talk”. Our minds are so disconnected from the concept of talking about anything other than the aforementioned “Stuff”, we don’t know what to say. Instead we often go silent not having a clue what the f#ck to say. Next thing you know, our partners are frustrated over the level of silence that they become angry. Then people are raising their voices, door get slammed and occasionally things break as collateral damage to the fight.

A fight that wouldn’t have happened had us men talked about REAL ISSUES with each other.

We are afraid to “open up” to each other. We are afraid to tell our brethren our fears about life, our relationship issues, and ask them if they have dealt with a similar situation. Now ladies, if we can’t talk to our best friends about these issues, how do you expect us to communicate them with you? You’re probably thinking “Well I am MORE than his best friend, I am his partner”. Yes, that’s 100% true. Which is why it makes it exponentially harder to show you signs of “weakness”.

Women get practice talking about issues with each other. Hell, they often come up with strategies of how to address a problem when they are speaking to their friends. When you come at us wanting to “talk” it often makes us feel under attack. We feel like we have done something wrong, go into a defensive mind frame, and then move to the offense once your guard is down. The voices get raised in an attempt to shift the power in the conversation back toward us. It’s what we do.

So how do you get your man to start working on himself?

The bad news is, you can’t. There is no direct way to get him to start the discovery process. You will have better luck asking a lion to stop slaughtering gazelles.  For a man to start working on himself, it is something that he must desire. You can leave hints that make him wonder why you see the world as you do. The curiosity may entice him to start the process, but it cannot be forced.

The other indirect route is to change his circle of influence. This can be difficult. Especially if your male partner is full on Peter Pan Syndrome. You may have people that you want him to learn from, but if they don’t know all the cheat codes to Call of Duty, your man doesn’t want to budge from his pillow throne where he is Sofa King Amazing! Again, it’s difficult, but not impossible.

So what happened to Me?

When I started to “wake up” and work on myself it was because I started to recognize the complacency that was starting to form. I was lucky enough to work with someone that I saw as “a step ahead of me”. He started to work on a plan to get to the next level in his life. I wanted to do the same. He tried his hand at real estate. We attempted multi-level marketing together.  He  eventually moved to Denver to further advance his career. I came to the conclusion that every man needs a mentor to light a fire under their backside. Somehow this caused me to end up at a Toastmasters group.

Joining Toastmasters was a completely different experience than I would have imaged. I honestly thought we would sit around at a table, raising glasses and give a 30 second “toast” at each meeting.

I remember the first time I walked into this Toastmasters group. I knew absolutely no one in the room. Then some smiling, overly tan man with bright white teeth walked over and started talking to me. My first thought was “Ohh great.. I am in the wrong place, where are the younger people?”. 

I sat down and watched the meeting. Everything was done according to an agenda that they did not deviate from. I was rather impressed by the whole process. I watched every member of the club walk to the front of the room and improvise a 30-60 second speech. I then watched two people speak to the entire room for about seven minutes. Then the third speaker of the day walked toward the stage. 

Within 30 seconds she had me drawn into her speech. She showed emotion to the entire group, and within that emotion was strength. I was mesmerized. I wanted to learn to do that. I made the decision at that moment to join this club. If you are curious, this person’s name is Deborah Edwards.

Now remember the overly tan older gentleman with bright white teeth? At the end of the meeting he walked toward the front of the group. I looked around the room as he approach. I noticed that everyone in the room stopped to pay attention. The first syllable  that emitted from this man’s vocal chords captured the entire room. I was blown away by this man’s ability to capture the room. I went home and googled his name. Turns out that Mr. Joel Weldon is a well known professional speaker, sales trainer and executive speaking coach.

Over the next few months I met more incredible individuals within this group. Everyone at a different stage in their careers, life and their process of self discovery. This became my weekly “group therapy” session. If it wasn’t for a few months of this, I wouldn’t have been able to handle the next major event in my life.

My wife and I had a blow up fight.

There are fights, then there are fights that make you want to walk away from a long term relationship. This was one of those. I was ready to walk away from eight years of marriage, take my daughters and tell my wife to have a nice life. I won’t get into the details of this fight, but it boiled down to me not seeing her point of view.

I let myself calm down over the following few days. Instead of walking out the door, I started learning. I tried to see her point of view. It took over a year of working on it, but finally I could understand the lens that she sees the world through.

Over the past three years I’ve become a completely different person. I used to spend hours watching pointless televisions shows. Now I read, I write, and I learn.  I  don’t have issue talking about ANYTHING to other men. Sometimes people want me to shut up because I embarrass them. Good! Get over yourself!

I’m also better at communicating my thoughts and feelings to my wife. There are times where I revert to silence. I never said that I am perfect, but I’m better than I used to be.

That’s what you need your partner to be.

Don’t aim for them to be perfect. That isn’t about to happen. Help them to be better than they were yesterday. Eventually these small changes will add up. If your partner is willing, and able to embrace the unknown, you will soon see a completely different person.

Can you create passive income through drop shipping? Let’s find out.

I’ve heard about people using drop shipping to create a semi-passive income stream for years. I wanted to find out if it’s all hype, or if there is actual money to be made.  As usual I like to dive in and discover things first hand.

First of all I need to find a “Guru” or method to follow.

Method 1 : The Anton Method (https://www.dropshiplifestyle.com/)

dropshipping-passive-incom

Blogger, Entepreneur and world Traveler JonnyFD raves about this course. This method seems to focus on finding a specific niche and selling products targeted to them. Sounds like a reasonable method to follow. There are many niche markets out there. In fact I know someone that owns a company that sells crawfish traps! She knew nothing about the business until someone in her family gave it to her as a gift.

The course from Anton requires significant investment. From what I can find it runs somewhere between $795-$1500 depending on discounts and other spiffs.

At the current time I don’t want to put forth that level of investment. I am working on other streams of income and need to find something more cost effect.

Method #2 – David Dang Vu’s Udemy Course

Screen Shot 2016-07-04 at 11.00.05 AM

Udemy recently changed their price structure and doesn’t allow courses to cost over $50. I picked this up for only $18. Prior to the change in pricing structure this course was sold for $299. Looking at the 14,353 students and a 4.7 rating this course seemed like a steal for $18.

This course is packed with good material. David explains retail arbitrage and how thousands of people use this method to create an income.

He then shows you step by step how to setup your eBay and Paypal accounts. Once you have these steps taken, it’s time to start listing items. David explains how to optimize item descriptions for better SEO rankings on e-bay.  He also provides a number of helpful links to optimize your title, and search for UPCs which are now required on e-Bay item listings.

The other sections of the course teach you how to process orders, manage inventory and deal with customer issues. There is also an entire module on tips and tricks to maximize profits and production.

Sounds easy enough.

E-Bay Store Creation

I followed David’s course and created my eBay store. I went to a number of suppliers or “source” sites and started to list various items. Sadly my account is new and e-Bay only permits five items and / or a total of $500 to be sold. I will need to call them in a few days to request a bump to my seller limits.

Here’s the list of items that I am trying to sell. I listed these earlier today, so it makes it interesting to see a few views on them already.

e-bay drop shipping - passive income

Now we wait.

I will review these items and monitor the number of views. If any of these are very lower performers, they will get the axe to make room for other items to experiment with.  Once my limits are increased I will max them out, then ask for another increase. I know that sellers like David have 2,000 + items in their eBay stores. It may sound like a lot to manage, but I’m told that once you build to that level it’s not that difficult to keep on top of. Especially if you hire a virtual assistant to help run the day to day tasks and customer service follow ups.

Until next time –

Keith

5 steps to successfully meeting new people

 

Remember learning the buddy system in grade school? You took your first field trip and the teachers reinforce that you never go off alone. Even when children choose to not listen to figures of authority, they tend to follow this rule.

It’s in our DNA to surround ourselves with others. Since the beginning or our time, we have traveled in groups, or small tribes. It helps with safety, survival and general comfort to not be alone. Of course this behavior translates into networking events, shopping excursions,  bars, clubs and other social venues. The “tribal” mentality is still in full effect.People often wish to approach a group, but may experience fear due to a negative past experience. Maybe you were excluded from a conversation, completely ignored of your existence or had a drink thrown in your face. Regardless of the reason, there is a good chance that you approached at the wrong time, or didn’t follow protocols practiced by this specific tribe. Here’s how you change that.

Step 1 : Observation

If you see a group of people, always make a quick observation before approaching. Review the posture and facial expressions of those in the group. Anyone can tell the signs of a serious conversation by facial expressions. If that is the case, do not approach as you will quickly be rejected. Only make an approach when you see that people are smiling, and in a relaxed state.

Often someone in the group may initiate eye contact and a quick smile to you. This can be considered a “welcome tell”. In other words, proceed to the group.

Step 2 : Self Preparation / Frame of Mind

If you do not make the approach with the correct frame of mind, the “tribe” may reject you. To determine the frame of mind required, review your mental notes about the group demeanor. You will want to match them in facial expressions, energy level and vocal volume. These little details are important.

Think about it. Have you ever been having fun with friends when a stranger approaches that doesn’t match your frame of mind? It throws everyone off for a moment and then… awkward silence.

Again, review your mental notes, modify your frame of mind and get ready.

Step 3 : Approach

This is where anxiety begins to kick in. Your hands might begin to sweat, you start to feel hot under your collar as you begin your walk. With each step the fear of rejection from the tribe increases.

You are almost there. Now what? Who do you approach first? What do you say? This will vary based on the tribe. If you lucked out and observed another person make an approach did you learn anything from it? For example, what was the posture and footing of the stranger as they spoke to the group? Was there a visible change in their demeanor, did they appear to be rejected? Did they focus only on a single person (BAD!)?

Assume that you have picked out who the “alpha” is in this tribe. It’s often risky, but worth while to approach them first. When approaching an “alpha” you can take the approach of being equal to them (posture, speech methods etc) or take a subservient role (show some nerves, and offer assistance on something).

In a business setting, you may have an upper hand by knowing who these people are (Linkedin, company “About” page, etc). Humans are often motivated by greed, vanity, honesty, dishonesty, and compassion. Use these factors when reviewing the background of a person of interest. Yeah, it sounds shady..but.. these methods are effective.

For example, you have found out that the HR Director runs a YouTube channel dedicated to fly fishing. As you approach you could say “Excuse me, but are you “John Doe”? I am an avid fly fisher and I swear I saw you in a fly fishing video”. As you have just engaged a passion of the individual you have a higher probability of being brought further into the group. The HR Director might not be the end goal, but you’ve bypassed a lot of guards with this approach.

In a standard social setting, you can appeal to an individual by complimenting or commenting on something. For example : someone is wearing a sports jersey, and you know a lot about the team. You could approach and say “I see the jersey, I’m a huge fan of too! What’s your opinion on < current team drama>?” After they make a statement, formally introduce yourself.

Step 4 : Make an Impact

Basically, you have to learn to be charming and charismatic. This is not a birth trait, but something that can be learned with time and practice. If you lack these skills, you can compensate in other ways. Just be careful.  I have a friend that becomes very aggressive sounding when he is trying to be funny in an uncomfortable situation. This has lead to a few people wanting to put a boot up his backside. Don’t make this mistake.

It’s imperative that you do not focus on only one individual in the group. You must engage in conversation with everyone to some degree. If you do not, you are pulling some attention from away from others.

It’s possible that one member of this tribe is extremely jealous that attention was taken from them. If this individual is not entertained, they will do everything in their power to expel you from the group.

As an example, imagine that two men are having a conversation at a sports bar when they see an attractive female approaching them. The female starts talking to one of the males, and this continues for about five minutes. If the other male feels neglected, he may start to get loud, rowdy, or rude in an attempt to push the female away.

Not everyone need an equal amount of attention, but remember to engage everyone to some degree.

Step 5 : Don’t overstay your welcome.

This is where you need to use your judgement, and review the non verbal communication of those around you. A few key indicators are, reduction in eye contact, feet that have shifted (or pointing in a direction that they want to go) and any sort of blocking methods (arms crossed or brief touching of eyebrows to block eye contact). Of course if the conversation has stopped, and everyone is starting to look AWAY from you, thank everyone for their time, smile, and walk away with confidence.

These are just a few tips for engaging a group at a networking event, or other social settings.

Passive income is exhausting but worth it.

why-you-need-passive-income

The concept of passive income draws in a lot of people. Having the ability to make money in your sleep, travel the world, and live life as you desire.  You must admit it sounds appealing. There are thousands of “Gurus” on the internet that make it appear so simple. A lot of these individuals picked up “The 4 Hour Work Week” (4HWW) then started what Tim Ferris describes as a “Muse Business”.

Quote from the 4 Hour Work Week

“Our goal is simple: to create an automated vehicle for generating cash without consuming time.  That’s it.  I will call this vehicle a “muse”…Muses will provide the time and financial freedom to realize your dreamlines in record time, after which one can (and often does) start additional companies to change the world or sell.”

I purchased The 4HWW in 2013 not knowing what to expect. I remember walking into Barnes and Noble and glancing over the top sellers in the business section. Most of the books in the section have extremely simple covers. They list the title of the book in bold letters with the author’s name at the bottom.

In contrast The 4HWW is begging to jump into your hand. The bold red and yellow colors that paint a scene of a lone character sitting in a hammock. The sun is setting directly between two palm trees that almost create a happy face. Then you have the sub title that reads“Escape 9-5, Live Anywhere and Join The New Rich”.

Prior to picking up this book I had no clue who Tim Ferriss was, who the “new rich” are, or how someone can only work four hours per week. I’ll admit, Tim’s testing of titles pulled me in and converted me into a “Ferriss bot”.

I purchased the “Expanded and Updated” edition. This version had success stories from individuals that followed The 4HWW principles and started traveling the world. Some of the “Muse Businesses” (passive income sources)  mentioned blew my mind.

You have people making $20k / month on over sized Yoga mats. People selling audio clips and stock photography images. Here I am working my tail off for 40+ hours per week and someone is making more money than me on giant yoga mats. I think this really pushed my buttons because I dislike Yoga. I’d rather spend 4 hours lifting weights than 20 minutes of Yoga. Yoga looks so easy, until you do it. You quickly realize you are not as strong or flexible as you originally thought. 

I was impressed with all of these stories and the “comfort challenges” that Tim issues throughout the book. These comfort challenges lead me to join a Toastmasters group which was the real beginning of the new me. As for creating a “Muse Business”, this was far more difficult that I had planned. I wanted passive income and I wanted it NOW!

Here are the ideas I came up with in June of 2013.  I first started with what I am an expert in, then tried to associate these with products.

I am an ‘expert’ in:

  • VOIP
  • SIP
  • MPLS
  • Cisco
  • Python – ( related to Networking / automating basic tasks)
  • Gluten Free
  • Living with Stomach Issues
  • Creating Budgets (Website called Envelopes?)

Ideas:

  • E Book: How To (not) Fail in Business
  • E Book: How to start an Arizona Business
  • E Book : Raising HyperChildren
  • Product : Create an envelop binder (budgets)
  • Video : Cisco MPLS Training
  • Video:  SIP Training
  • Product: kids lunch instructions (laminated pages showing how to make a packed lunch)
  • Product: Adult Acne Treatments
  • Product : Paleo protein powder
  • E Book: $100k blueprint – A guide for taking new engineers to the six figure level
  • Training Course : Learn Broadworks?
  • Speech evaluation company
  • Online relationship coaching

I had big plans. I wanted to do all of them! This would be my path to passive income!

The idea was to start with a Website that focused on network and telecom training material. I purchased the domain “www.networkengineertraining.com” and quickly started working on content. The goal was to have a full course on SIP available on January 2nd 2014. A course about MPLS would launch a month later.

By December 2013 I was able to make one module for my SIP course. I was running a Linux computer at the time, and I did not like any of the video editors I found. I used this as my excuse to not get any real work done. I would start recording then make an error on my verbal script. This was the perfect opportunity to blame the computer and video editor.

If you want to see the 11 minutes of video that took me seven months to create, here it is.

I found myself on January 2nd, 2014 banging my head against the wall. I advertised on my technical blog that a course would be available. Nah. Just kidding everyone, no course here!

My dreams of creating passive income went down the drain until April. I had been going to Toastmasters for almost a year and I fancied my self a decent speaker. I thought I could make a website where people will learn to become more confident and break out of their comfort zones.

Geek2great.com was born that day.

I created a course that would give subscribers a new challenge every day for a month. These tasks where not fun at all. Most of them involved talking to strangers on the street, making a fool of yourself in public, and getting rejected in various scenarios. The content and challenges seemed like a great idea.

I made Youtube videos of me speaking in an attempt to draw traffic to the site. The ultimate goal was to get someone to buy the course for $79.

A year went by and I had one individual sign up for the course. This was after I gave him free access to it.

Again I was slightly discouraged. I made my mistakes and tried to learn from them. I kept this site up until April of 2016 hoping that traffic would magically appear.

In August of 2015 I met an interesting couple.  Oddly enough the first time I met them we attended a Yoga class. Both of them used to have jobs in corporate America. The male was in the IT industry and owned a successful business a few years earlier. Nowadays they write ebooks, run a blog, create podcasts and travel for three to four months of the year.  They abandoned the concepts taught though social conditioning and follow only the path they pave.

Hearing their stories ignited the passive income fire in me once again. Maybe “ignited” isn’t the best word, however it made me start to think again. Thinking caused the wanderlust in me to flourish. All I could think about was finding a way to visit Europe.

I made a plan.

I was taking my family to Germany in October of 2015. It was finally going to happen. I remember sitting at my desk getting ready to order the tickets for our flights. That’s when I told told that a major platform upgrade at work was going to be delayed and rescheduled. Of course the reschedule date was when I planned to be in Germany.

Being an ultra reliable employee I cancelled my travel plans. My advice to you; don’t do that!

My passive income plans once again went out the window. I was too busy with work. I was too busy with life. “Busy with life” really meant watching Netflix, sleeping in on Saturdays and hanging out with friends until 4am. It all summed up to more excuses.

A few months later I started thinking about Yoga again. Those that practice and put forth the effort make it appear so simple. They perform every technique slow and gracefully. They have far more strength than what you see from the outside.

Around this time I read “The 48 Laws of Power” by Robert Greene. Law #30 is to “Make your Accomplishments Seem Effortless”. All of these online passive income “Gurus”, they play this law to their advantage. Just like the experienced Yogi’s. They make it appear effortless because they have put in the time. They have put in the sweat equity and made their mistakes. Only after trial, error and failure are they able to see the forest for the trees.

I knew it was time to start working on a passive income source again. It was time to finish what I had started. I was going to finish my course on SIP. I made this my single goal. I dropped every other goal I had for the year.

Over the next 30 days I spent roughly 40 hours in my spare time creating content. Once recorded and edited everything was trimmed to just under four hours. I was a bit disappointed about this, but it’s better to have four hours of learning, than 40 of pointless filler material.

“Things will be different this time.” I told myself.

In my previous attempts I knew absolutely nothing about copywriting or the role of content marketing. In fact I didn’t tell anyone about my passive income projects. I had the “If you build it, they will come” mentality. I can say with 100% honesty, that mindset is garbage. Do not fall into it.

I ordered a new domain and redirected all of my blog traffic to the new site. I started working on content marketing material that others can benefit from. I started emailing people in the industry offering them discounts or free access to the course.

I found myself putting 40+ hours into marketing tasks before the course even launched. “For this being “passive income” I am putting a lot of hard work into this” I repeatedly told myself. I knew that it would be worth it in the end.

I released the course on udemy.com and started making sales within 24 hours. It was the greatest feeling in the world to wake up and see that I made $40 sometime in the middle of the night.  Passive income, here I come!

What I want you to take away from this writing is a simple concept. Ready for it?

Creating passive income requires A LOT of work upfront.

You will most likely come up with a handful of ideas that you lackadaisically follow through with.  Yeah, don’t do that. If you want to create passive income, be prepared to put forth more hours than you ever imagined possible. Once you are generating revenue you will need to start developing systems to keep it all on auto pilot. Once again, this will require even more work! Hooray!

I never imaged I’d see the day that I am creating multiple revenue streams. I create online courses, I blog and create content marketing, I drop ship through eBay.  By no means are these streams causing a flood of money to come in (yet). It does however provide an extra cushion while I am on sabbatical.

Until next time,

Keith

P.S.

I made a free course about how I made my first $100 on Udemy. Click on the below image to check it out.

how-to-make-money-on-udemy

Why I quit my $100k/year job. The reason why will surprise you.

June 3rd 3:28pm

It was two minutes before I normally pack my bag and start my hour commute home. Today something big was going to happen.

I clicked on the print icon and quickly ran to the printer in the middle of the building. I didn’t want anyone to intercept this document. I nearly ran over a project manager as I rushed around the corner.

I picked up my printed resignation letter and held it close to my chest. I hustled like an Olympic Power Walker back to my seat.

The clock now reads 3:30. It’s time.

I admired the cubical that I spent that last few years of my life sitting in. All the hours of creating routes for voice traffic to enter and exit our network. Troubleshooting issues, writing scripts, helping others create solutions. All of this in a five foot section of sound dampening walls and metal drawers.

I took a deep breath and thought to myself “Am I really going to do this?”. I glanced at the resignation letter, then quickly panned to my manager’s office. Inhale. Exhale. Inhale. Exhale. Just breathe.

I reset my mental state and said “I’ve got this”.

I turned around and walked toward my manager’s office. “Hey do you have a minute” I asked as I walked in and shut the door behind me. Over the next two minutes I gave the news to my slightly shocked manager.

Fast forward three weeks.

When I leave the building today I will no longer be employed by Vonage. I say goodbye to that steady paycheck that is directly deposited every two weeks. I lose the health insurance plan, 401k matching, and other benefits that I’ve become accustomed to. I lose a sense of security knowing that I am providing for my family.

So why do it?

It boils down to one simple fact : I’m too comfortable in my current position.

This is a huge problem for me. I’m not pushing myself beyond the limits that I’ve set. I don’t wake up excited and ready to work. I simply started to exist. I come in, I do my work, I go home. It all became so routine.

The comfort zone can be deceiving. You may be in a position making minimum wage, and barely making ends meet every month. Sure, you may complain, but do you really do anything about it? Do you pick up a book, enroll in a class, join a networking group etc? If not, that’s your comfort zone keeping you complacent.

It could be the opposite too. You may have a high salary, a massive mansion, six cars, all the newest gadgets and a huge entourage. If you aren’t really pushing yourself though, that comfort zone will sneak up and take you by surprise.

I’m done making excuses that keep me in me confined.

That’s why I am taking a trip to Germany. My wife and children are joining me on this adventure. I cannot think of a better way to break out of my comfort zone than going to a foreign land where I speak ten words of the local language.

When I return to the US in a month (or two), I have no clue where I will end up. Yet I’m not worried about finding a job. This became extremely clear with the surprise going away party that Vonage planned for me. I was shocked to see how many people came to wish me luck in person, over the phone or over a video feed.

I stepped into Sr. Voice Engineer role a little over four years ago when my predecessor made his exit. The torch was passed to me. Now it’s my turn to pass it on.

Auf Wiedersehen,

Keith Croxford

P.S.

If you are in a technical role for a telecom carrier or ISP you need my course on SIP. Here’s a 50% off discount code : https://www.udemy.com/learn-sip/?couponCode=LinkedInLearnSIP

7 tips to make your relationship rock.

Relationships are not easy. Anyone that has been in a longterm relationship can vouch for that. Over time you will experience many joys and sorrows. It’s part of human nature and the way that we relate to one and another.

Many people like to state that “they married their best friend”. If I said that it would be absolute lie. When I met my wife she wasn’t my best friend. When I proposed… nope, still not my best friend. This year marks 10 years of marriage and 11 years of being together. I’m proud to say that I am still not married to my best friend.

I’m married to an amazing yet somewhat crazy partner that I have decided to share my life with. This is far beyond friendship in my book.

Over the course of these 11 years we have laughed, we have cried, and we have wanted to kick each other where the sun doesn’t shine. We have created life, and we have seen life end. From the many experiences we have learned a lot.

Learning is one of the most important elements of a relationship. When we stop learning we fail to grow. Learning pushes our boundaries and allows us to discover new paths that we may take in life. While I am not $100k in debt due to a graduate program in the psychology of relationships, I do fancy myself an expert in many ways. I’d like to share seven lessons that I’ve learned over the years as I know that they will be beneficial to you.

 

Figure out your Love Languages

In 1995 Gary Chapman wrote a book titled “The Five Love Languages: How to Express Heartfelt Commitment to Your Mate”. Since then there have been a gazillion articles, online quizzes and other authors that have piggybacked off of this books success. To summarize,  people have a primary and secondary love language. These primary and secondary languages reside in the realms of “quality time”, “gifts”, “words of affirmation”, “acts of service” and “physical touch”.

Chapman states that people generally give love in the way they expect to receive it. He also states that the love languages of people do not change over time. They do however,  develop and need to be nurtured in different ways.

About two years ago my wife and I discovered what our love languages are. Since then we have developed many of our daily interactions around these concepts. It wasn’t difficult at all to incorporate these into our daily lives. Everything just happened naturally.

I suggest that you and your partner  take 15 minutes to take this test( http://www.5lovelanguages.com/profile/). I also advise that you do this away from each other. You don’t need the other party influencing your answers.

Guys  – I know what you are thinking.  I was hesitant to take this “girly” test as well. Just trust me on this one.  When you understand how to show your partner love you it makes a world of difference.

Don’t Stop Dating

This is of utmost importance. Especially when you have careers and children (or needy pets)  that consume the majority of your time. We often become so enthralled in everything other than our partner.

There was a time where I felt like my marriage was nothing more than a business arrangement. My duty was to to work, provided shelter and food. Her job was to manage things at home. It was cut and dry just like that.

During this time, life sucked.

Then one day we started to date and rediscover each other. The rediscovery process is so important. Why is that? Oh just because You will realize that the person you are with is no longer the person you married.  Think about it. Are you the same person that you were ten years ago? I highly doubt it. Everyone changes over time. Get over it. 

Over this time you may have discovered a new taste in music or maybe started to eat crazy ethnic food. When I met my wife I wouldn’t allow wet food and dry food to even touch. Don’t even get me started about soup. I was mortified by it. Maybe you dislike your career and want to go in a completely different direction. No matter how small the changes, they add up to form a new and hopefully better version of you. When you realize the changes you have made, you will have exciting things to discuss with your partner over date nights.

Sex should be fun

Uh oh, taboo subject time. How dare I discuss something that is a major aspect of every relationship.  

To be honest, our sex life was never boring. It’s always been good. On the other hand we have had a number of friends over the years that complain about their sex life. Sometimes one partner isn’t getting enough. Other times a partner is afraid to mention sexual fantasies. As someone who used to be guilty of this I understand some reasons why. Often we fear what our partners will think and worry that the idea will be rejected. We think that we will be shamed for such a thought. In an unhealthy relationship that will happen, I can guarantee it. In a healthy, or mostly healthy relationship talking about sex can greatly improve what you already have.

Here’s some advice for you men out there. Ready? Get over yourself. When I finally started to talk about sex with my wife, our sex life went from good to amazing. It went from once per week to nearly every night. We also discovered concepts like Tantric Sex, the intimacy of massage and many other things that are none of your damned business.

Just remember talk to your partner about sex. You might be amazed at what sexy thoughts they have in their own mind.

Challenge Each Other

While the world consists of over 7.6 billion people you are a unique creature. You aren’t designed to simply exist and survive. We are meant to thrive. To thrive we must challenge each other due to our competitive nature.

The challenges that you put each other through can be simple or overly complex. You could challenge each other on who can clean a bathroom the quickest, and the loser makes dinner (after they wash their hands of course!). Or you can challenge each other to excel in something new. You can challenge your partner to finish college, or complete a certification that will give them an advance in their career path. Or even challenging them to workout twice per week.

You don’t need to pull any “Keeping up with the Jones” business to challenge your partner. It’s not all about material things. It’s not about who makes the most money. Hell, it’s not about the result but the journey there.

Allow each other to be Human.

I didn’t want to lump this into the “sex” section because it relates to so much more beyond that. By “allowing each other to be human” I mean don’t sweat it when you catch your partner checking someone out. Don’t give me that crap that “I only have eyes for him/her”. I call bullshit. Humans are an advanced life form, yet we have primal instincts. One of these is to look at objects that catch our eye. 

Imagine your partner watching the sunset from a beach. If they stated “This is beautiful” you probably wouldn’t have any bout of jealousy. Yet the moment most people “catch” their partner checking out another human, it’s the end of the fucking world.

My wife has caught me eye balling someone before. Guess what she said? Come on, take a guess! She said “Wow, she’s hot!”. I agreed then we went on with our day. That was it. I didn’t instantly fall head over heals for  this other person. I didn’t lust for them. Nope, I found them aesthetically pleasing to look at. 

Yes I have caught her checking out other guys before. Did I call her out on it? Absolutely!  I’ve said phrases along the lines of “Woah that dude is ripped. What do you think his diet consists of?”.  Again we went on with our lives. If you catch your partner eyeballing someone, don’t get pissed. Make fun of them because you caught them doing it, then forget about it. 

Bad times will soon pass.

During the bad times, it’s important to stick next to each other and put your heads together. It’s critical to support each other during the lowest of lows. It could be a time of financial turmoil, death of a loved one or another life changing event. I’ve been through all of them and i know they will occur again.  It’s not a matter of if, but when.

No matter how wealthy you may be, or which deity you pray to bad things will happen. Just remember to support each other.

You need alone time

There’s a reason why this one is last on the list. Of anything I could say it all pales in comparison to this. To have a successful relationship you need time to think. You need time to breath. You need to time to simply exist as you.

We all have busy schedules but do they really matter? You give so much of your time to your work, your commute and your family. What happens when you fail to show up? What happens when you cannot be at your peak performance?

 Everything suffers.

You need alone time. It doesn’t matter if your alone time is hitting the gym at 4:30am while the world is sleeping, or a midnight drive through a twisty canyon. I can’t tell you what you need, only you know where your happy place is.

I strive to provide alone time for my wife as well. There are times where I kick her out and “force her” to go to the salon. She is hesitant to go and worries about the cost, yet thanks me when she returns.

You know your partner better than I ever will. Watch for signs of stress, such as leaking eyes, drinking wine in a dark closet or rapidly shedding hair. When you see these signs, be sure to give them the opportunity to escape the house and be alone. Even fifteen minutes can make a world of difference when someone is overwhelmed.

…and there you are

A basic outline of how to not suck at having a relationship.