Tue, 23 September 2014
A little bit of a palate cleanser after the past few weeks, because the funny is just as important.
The years have not been kind to our long lost Mr. Quinn. Here, he explains his absence.
Sun, 21 September 2014
Coming back after a week off, I tell you about the AHA moment I had this week while I was hip deep in the swamp looking for the drain plug.
Sat, 6 September 2014
Consider the case of Henry Avery. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Henry_Avery
"In 1693, he was...employed as a mariner, this time as first mate aboard the warship Charles II, which had been commissioned by England's ally, Charles II of Spain (the ship's namesake), to prey on French vessels in the West Indies. After leaving London in August 1693, the Charles II anchored in the northern Spanish harbor of Corunna, where other vessels were assembling for the expedition. The crew grew discontent as Madrid failed to deliver a letter of marque and the Charles II's owners failed to pay their wages. On the evening of 7 May 1694, the restless sailors mutinied. With the Charles II renamed the Fancy and Every elected as the new captain, the Fancy sailed south en route to the Indian Ocean, soon plundering five ships off the West African coast."
Henry was a sailor who just wanted a job, and made an enormous investment in his time and energy. Trust me, being on one of these boats back in 1693 was no picnic. If you took to a boat for pleasure, than you saw going to hell as a pastime. Avery was the First Mate, and he was still railroaded, just like the rest of the crew. There was no wages sent home to family, so there were destitute familes back home in England. Moreover, the sailors were not allowed to find other income, otherwise they'd leave. They were denied payment by Spain, who owned the Charles II, because they knew if they were actually paid, they'd leave.
They signed on to be sailors. They became prisoners. Until Henry Avery became the King of Pirates. They took the boat, renamed it the Fancy, and began an adventure that became the boyhood dreams of Edward Bellamy, Charles Vane, Edward Thatch, and countless others. Henry Avery, in the darkest of moments for he and his crew, became pirates that day.
Avery did what he did initially out of neccesity. Because of circumstances. Because of him, we can look out out circumstances, and we can do what Avry never had a chance to do.
We can choose.
Screw everything and become a pirate.
When it comes to podcasting, here’s something I want you to think about. Really weigh this, friends.
Media is NOT a zero sum game anymore. It used to be. Back in the day when we had three networks, a couple of UHF stations and PBS. You had to choose what you wanted to watch, and if there were two separate things you wanted to watch on at the same time, you had to make a decision. Something lost. We don’t live in that age anymore. There are hundreds of channels and almost as many ways to consume that content now or later. DVRs, Torrents, External Hard drives, The Cloud, Tablets, Smartphones, Set Top Boxes There’s literally no reason you have to miss anything you want to see or hear. For that reason, no one is missing anything they want to see or hear, if they choose to see or hear YOU. THAT is the beauty of this ‘post appointment watching/hearing’ world we live in.
But when it comes to audio podcasting, I want to suggest to you that it is the ultimate intimate experience you can think of in terms of media. You know who understood this? Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Every twenty weeks or so between 1933 and 1944, FDR gave a series of radio interviews that got more of an audience than any show you could think of during the Golden Age of Radio. These Fireside Chats, as they came to be called, were designed to be informal addresses by FDR to assure the country to have a little faith. Families literally surrounded the radio in the living room and listened to the President reassure the country, let them know what was going on, and what he was doing to try and fix it. Remember, this started during the greatest financial disaster the country has ever had, and transitioned over the years to reassure the country during World War II. It was an informal, but intimate thing.
However, you have even just a little better. You’re closer than the living room. You’re in their car for a commute. You’re in their phones. You’re in their EARHOLES. You don’t get more intimate than being right in their earholes. And they’re not missing out on something else they might be doing. They’re driving to work, walking the dog, working out, whatever.
Seriously, how cool is that?
You have a unique opportunity to connect with these people in a way American Idol just can’t. If you can make that personal connection, they’ll come on board, and they’ll be a crew member for life.
So, what is stopping you from being all up in their earholes?
For the first time in a long time, I'm really digging people. I know, that sounds kind of weird, so let me explain.
I'm a magnet for negativity, and if I allow that negativity in, it affects me profoundly. So, for a long time, I chose not to be around people at all. That was kind of an extreme. There was a two year period where the only folks I saw on a daily basis were Kim and the kids, and that was it. I spent most of my time in my studio, because it was comfortable, and I didn't want to deal with anyone. It really just about bordered on agoraphobia. I didn't want to go outside, I wanted no interaction with anyone. Here's a protip for you, don't do that.
Let's fast forward to today. I have never been more comfortable in my own skin than I am right now, and I have chosen to surround myself NOT with people who suck the life out of me, but there is one common thread that binds all the people I choose to be around: They're doing things. They're generally happy people, or at the very least, they do not see me as a sounding board for all their personal dramas. They all have a purpose, some ambition, some goal they have set for themselves, and they have been generally successful.
There's a line of thinking that says you are the average of the 5 people you hang around the most, and there's no real difference between this and the GIGO rule. Garbage in, Garbage Out. If you are doing nothing but taking in drama from all directions, you're going to internalize it, and if you're like me, you bottle it until you can't take it anymore, and you erupt. My eruptions-and subsequent-meltdowns are epic. Here's the deal, though. This response is the lizard brain-that part of your brain that thinks every crisis in your life is one that will result in you being eaten by wild animals. Since most of us don't live in an area where being eaten by wolves is likely, our brains have been retrained to adapt. So, now, instead of being hunted down by a velociraptor, it's pretty much anything our own early warning system determines is the end of the world. For a lot of us, that's a pretty low bar.
My advice is worth exactly what it cost you (and you might have noticed that this podcast is free), but you've got to rewire your system, and either start setting some boundaries that your 'friends' should respect, or realize that these friends do not actually view your relationship in the same way you do. I AM NOT SAYING BURN BRIDGES. I've done that more times than I care to count, and you do not want to do this. You can, in fact politely say to another biped, "Hey, I really care about what's going on, but I might not actually be the person you need to talk to about this." If they don't respect that boundary, THEN it may be time to distance yourself gently from that relationship.
STOP WATCHING THE NEWS. I can't even begin to tell you how much happier my life is that I dont get wrapped up in news. Yes, I pay attention to what's going on in the world. But I limit my exposure to what passes for news these days on TV. If you were an alien and your first exposure to humans on this planet was what passes for news these days, you might correctly assume that we're pretty much fucked. Other than a cube farm existence, there is no greater soul sucking experience than TV news, and talk radio. Please get out of that. I listen to one news podcast, the NPR 7am news brief. That's it. I don't need any more. If something big happens, I'm going to see it on social media.
Speaking of social media-and I am just as guilty of this as anyone, maybe more so-more LIFE, less Facebook. My drug of choice is Twitter, mainly because I don't get the sense of impending doom that Facebook can provide. Facebook is not reality, Facebook is a human's highlight reel, soapbox, and a troll's best friend. I have a friend who recently deactivated their FB, and truth be told, I've done it as well only to come back, but the nature of having a podcast is that I need to be on Facebook because the eyeballs are there. It doesn't mean I have to be on it constantly. God, that's depressing to even think about. Just get out of there and take that time you were spending on FB and do something real with that time. Get out of the house. Go be with friends. Get some sun and some air. Learn something. Invest in a hobby. HAVE REAL FUN.
One more thing: Make sure you have some alone time. My need for alone time is the stuff of legend, but in my wild swing to extremes, I went all the way to the other end. Don't do that. In fact, you should get out and spend time with people you enjoy, who feed you positive energy, and doing things for which the time just flies by. I enjoy the hell out of going to a little bar on Friday nights after work and having a beer with friends. I also enjoy the hell out of karaoke, something I never thought I would enjoy. Now that something other than a shower head and a car steering wheel have heard me sing, I find I actually like it. Additionally, and get this: turns out I'm not that damn bad at it, but that's not the real point: I get to spend some awesome time with people I like a great deal, and I've made some new friends as a result. What I have figured out is that I appreciate my alone time a great deal more when my time with people isn't leaving me completely drained.
The end result is that I'm a much happier person. The best part? We get to choose that. I know a lot of this might sound really Captain Obvious, but you'd be surprised how many people don't get that. Yes, you get to choose to be a joyful person, and it doesn't take a book or a course or a podcast. All you have to do is realize one thing: You can own this. In fact, you do own this. You totally own this, and as long as you remember that, nothing else-internal or external-will ever own you.
Every three months or so, the captains would beach their boats in a shallow protected bay, and lean it one side, so that they could scrape the barnacles and other parasites from the hull. You had to do this pretty regularly, other wise, the wood parasites would literally eat the boat. Imagine tracking down a Spanish Treasure Galleon, only to find yourself limping back to port with leaks everywhere. This was called careening the ship, and it was important if you wanted to keep sailing.
Now take a look at that mountain on your desk. When was the last time you tackled that?
Let's talk about how to get something that looks like the North face of El Capitan down to something manageable, and something you can keep manageable on a weekly basis.
First things first: Inbox Zero. Inbox Zero was a concept made popular by Merlin Mann, it's probably the first thing he was widely known for. In a nutshell, process what's in your inbox, and decision everything. Delete, Do, or Archive. Those are your options. You can, especially if you're a person who has thousands of untouched emails, move everything into a 'No Man's Land' folder for processing later, but really you're just putting a band aid on a gushing wound. The point is to clear it, not move it around. If you think it's just too big, you can always pull the 'email bankruptcy' card: that's just deleting everything back to zero and starting from there, but I would advise you to send out an email to everyone on your contact list advising everyone you're doing that. If someone sent something really important to you, they may need to resend it.
From that point forward, it's simple. Block out a time once or twice a day, and process your inbox. Decision everything. Archive, Do, or Delete. DO NOT sit there and keep your box open all day long an do it as they come in. That's how you lose attention to other things you're doing real quick. Im not a believer in multitasking, and frankly, if you want to get anything done well, you shouldn't be either.
Now, let's head over to what I like to call the drawer of regret.
AL: Where you stored all the nude pictures?
Well...NO. It's the black hole that you shove any piece of paper you can't classify into a file with no actual reason. Here's the really simple rule. With the exception of taxes, if it's over a year old and you haven't touched it, recycle it. Taxes you should keep for 7 years. Other documents you should keep are related to credit or identity. But you really dont need that menu from a restaurant you went to in 1998 and never went back to. Get RID of it.
The thing I think you should really consider is getting with a filing system that is where you are. I'm setting up Evernote to track all of this, and I'm using this post by Michael Hyatt to guide my setup. Also, linked in that post is a very detailed book called Evernote Essentials (at time of writing, 12.99, which was half off for a limited time) which goes into a LOT of detail. Get yourself a scanner or an all in one printer with scanning capability. Scan everything that comes to your inbox, store it in Evernote and tag it appropriately. Put a recycle bin nearby, and dont let the crap get anywhere near your inbox. Be ruthless with this. One less sheet left, one less shit given.
There's one other box you should process. Your social media Inbox. Weed it out. Again, be ruthless. Cut the pages you liked years ago but havent heard from since. Look at the folks in your feed that give you nothing but grief. Just leave them behind. You dont have to make a production about it, just do it. Do the same for Twitter.
Speaking of Twitter, start making lists of people on Twitter. In fact, I'd make one called "The crap Im actually reading", and just read that one. Make lists for your other interests, and once or twice a week, make sure you update those lists with your new followers.
And that's a really high level version of how to careen your ship, kids. Put it in your calendar every three months, and spend a weekend getting it back in shape.
No voicemail feedback this week, but I do want to share with you some feedback I received on a personal level. I don't think she'll mind.
Meri is a dear friend I met a little over a year ago, she has been on a previous incarnation of the poddlement here, and she's a co-host on the insanely funny Mouthy Broadcast. She's also to blame for the serious karaoke bug I've been afflicted with. She and her partner Stephen are just great people to hang out with.
Meri went out of her way to tell me that these past few shows have been awesome, and that she finds it inspiring. What I don't think gets fully fleshed out in this is that I'm simply giving back the positivity that people like Meri have been so generous with. All of you have inspired me to do this, and I want to share this with everyone, so we can all do and be better. For someone you like and respect to validate what you're doing is one of the nicest things that can ever happen to you, and I'm very grateful.