Here’s To The Crazy Ones. An Unmistakable Manifesto.

This article by Joel Serino originally seen on our Medium channel at

Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules, and they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them; disagree with them; glorify or vilify them. About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them. Because they change things. They push the human race forward. And while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones who do.
~ Steve Jobs, inspired by Jack Kerouac

mis·fit (n): a person whose behavior or attitude sets them apart from others in an uncomfortably conspicuous way.
synonyms: nonconformist, maverick, individualist, square peg in a round hole.

un·mis·tak·a·ble (adj): not able to be mistaken for anything else; very distinctive.
synonyms: distinctive, distinct, telltale,indisputable, indubitable, undoubted,unambiguous, unequivocal.

oc·cu·py (verb): to make the economic and political relations less vertically hierarchical and more flatly distributed.

An Unmistakable Movement

There is a movement happening. On earth, that is. A networked renaissance of sorts. It started many years ago, and has seen many stages. In 1765 we saw it rise in the media(1). In 1940 George Orwell reverberated it to The Daily Telegraph(2). In 1947, an author helped UNESCO go on record to the world to point it out(3). In his 1973 book, Common Sense II: The Case Against Corporate Tyranny, economist Jeremy Rifkin writes about it while talking about personal property(4). In more recent times, it became popularized because of a movement of global proportion; Occupy. And, people the world over are revolting each week in favor of it. It is a movement towards freedom. And, towards independence.

(1) Is it equitable that 99, or rather 999 should suffer for the Extravagance or Grandeur of one? Especially when it is consider’d, that Men frequently owe their Wealth to the Impoverishment of their Neighbours. ~ New York Gazette

(2) Apparently nothing will ever teach these people that the other 99 percent of the population exist. ~ George Orwell

(3) …think of what ninety nine percent of the human race want — food, shelter, a secure family life and to be left alone by bosses and busybodies. Unfortunately the one percent who are interested in power and ideals and ideologies are the ones who call the tune. ~ Aldous Huxley

(4)A democratic economy means more private property for 99 percent of the people of the country and less property for the 1 percent, who, up to now, have lived like royalty on the wealth the rest of us produce. ~ Jeremy Rifkin

We Are The 99% (unless you are a billionaire)

If we could do something, what would it be?

How do we create value as human beings? Don’t we essentially contribute through our family’s lives, our friend’s, and our communities? Only as a consumer and an employee of a large corporation or government do we contribute to those institutions. Can’t other people I know, or don’t know, benefit from something that I can offer them?

Don’t we, the Crazy Ones, the Misfits, the Rebels, the Troublemakers, the Round Pegs in the Square Holes — also deserve and require a thriving local, national and global ecosystem and network to thrive in; one that helps us make a life and not a living, one based on more intentional relationships and community principles, and one that will make a lasting positive difference, in our own life, in those around us, and the world over? Many of us desire to turn the world of globalization by the few into the globalization of the many. Many of us want to equalize the class war. Many of us want to start companies and organizations and crowd funding projects and campaigns to help make this happen, through a million different ideas. Many of us do not want to start anything, but would want to work at jobs where they did. Many of us want to shape something more advanced than democracy or capitalism, something more meaningful and sustainable in our own lives. It is estimated that more than 100 million people agree.

Wait…it’s now time to go back to work and earn our living.

But, what if I were an entrepreneur? There are a million ideas and different ways to be an entrepreneur. But entrepreneurship is business, and business includes finance, and human relations, and public relations, and operations, and leadership, and technology, and product creation, and service, and legal adherence, and much, much more. And, business embodies the very thing that I am aimed at escaping.

There is a group of people that spend all year training other people to become better business people, through accelerators and incubators and workshops and seminars and conferences and online courses and books and blogs. There are a million experts. The government even provides free access to business expertise and advice. Universities and even some middle schools are great new sources of business training. There are books and models and apps everywhere. Everyone is helping everyone learn from their own mistakes. In business, and in life.

There are institutional investment programs popping up in more developed and developing countries each month, recruiting people and ideas to be later bought by the rich, their corporations and their governments.

This so-called startup ecosystem, or startup community, needs to be occupied by a more diverse set of people. Startup communities world wide are in the process of evolving. More and more entrepreneurs are being inspired and enabled to become cultural and ethical creators in the economy, or in their community, and are looking for other ways to quickly and efficiently transform new ideas into something tangible that generates income, is well designed, changes something for the better, and built to be sustainable. We need an environment that is committed to transparency and intention and accountability. We need to know what roles we can each play. And, we do not need to contribute to something we don’t believe in.

What Does This Mean For Me?

Being Unmistakable is less about making mistakes than it is about being Unmistakable in who we are, in what our intentions are, and in our actions — and leaving an Unmistakable dent in our community and the whole damn universe. We want to survive and thrive in this emerging world. We don’t want to conform to be recognized. We don’t want to compromise our values. We are not driven by money or greed. And, we require a decent income to survive in society.

We live in such a hyper-connected society today flooded with so much talent and so much noise. Talent alone won’t cut it. Whether you’re an entrepreneur, artist, musician, writer, engineer, designer, inventor or a creator of any sort — you must be Unmistakable to put your dent in the universe. It’s the only option. To create Unmistakable work, you must take risks. To change your circumstances, your community, and the world, you must cross lines, personal and professional. You must go to the point of no return.*


* Excerpt from the The Art of Being Unmistakable by Srinivas Rao

Who We Are

We are a group of connected individuals and businesses creating an economy of innovation and creativity. We envision a new economic engine comprised of intentional collaboration and community, in contrast to silos and secrecy. We are here to work together in an eco-system of trust with like mindedness and adequate resources. We are here to create different environments that overlap and connect and interact with each other in order to transform the culture around us.

We have built things like SproutCamp to accelerate great ideas, Occupied Wall Street and cities worldwide to stand for equality, and have spent thousands of hours with people to better understand how to build an entrepreneurial model that elevates real people from poverty, economic inequality, social injustice, and capitalistic subordination. We are looking for more of us, so we can help each other out.

We help solve problems that matter.

We look for the greatest geeks that ever lived. The ideators, the inventors, and the dreamers who never stop trying to make the world a better place, even if their ideas have been rejected time and time again by society. Then we focus our time, energy, and capital on helping them increase and sustain the world’s well being. We do this through books, content, courses, work spaces, fun spaces, programs, phone calls, emails, tweets, travelogues, board rooms and boxers. Basically information, tools, and a rich network of people and entities.

We are committed.

Misfits have always gotten the short end of the stick, even if their idea was revolutionary. We’re familiar with getting so caught up in our ideas that collecting a paycheck comes second to turning our ideas into reality. We are the type that would rather work towards getting an energy-independent washing machine in every home in West Africa than how to make a profit from it.

Bold experimentation.

We believe in experimenting boldly and doing so with the foresight and understanding that we’ll often times fail. We might fail a lot at first, but we’ll fail forward, being careful not to repeat our mistakes or the mistakes of others. With this in mind from the outset, we hope to motivate people to take risks even in the face of failure. Fail fast, fail often, and always be learning.

Find and follow our passion. Fulfill our purpose. Build a life.

There’s a wooden sign we keep in our bathroom that says “Never get so busy making a living that you forget to make a life”. Life gives you the choice…fulfill a purpose while pursuing your dreams, or settle for less and make a living. We don’t like to settle for things and are used to hard work.

Value progress over profits.

Its not easy to turn an idea into a sustainable business — especially when the idea focuses on helping others rather than profits or exit strategies. But the fact is that many of these ideas would never make it in front of a typical venture capital or investment firm. That just shows how broken our system is, and how there is a dire need for misfits, innovators, and dreamers, as well as the need for a place where we can learn together in an environment we enjoy and grow within.

Unmistakable transparency.

Hide nothing. People notoriously pretend they have all the answers. We value vulnerability over perceived confidence and are in constant search of new answers. It’s you, and me, and all of us doing this all of the time, so let’s be honest.

Empathy builds a community.

Empathy (n): “The ability to understand and share the feelings of another.”
We believe that empathy allows us to understand those who we are connecting with and it gives us the insight to learn from, mentor, equip, and resource effectively.

Generation Unmistakable. (UnGen)

We are not guided by short term thinking or driven simply by profit. We are guided by meaning, influence, and a desire to create long term value and true change in our own lives. We think in terms of our life, our families, our friends, and our generation…not in weeks or or months or years. We work for the future of ourselves and those younger than us.

Be true to ourselves.

Being in tune with who we are, what our intentions are, what values we hold most dear, and the people we set out to impact — is critical. This helps us align with the right team, design, message, partner, employee, customer and more.

No Assholes.

Only do business with people we love: individuals we admire both personally and professionally.*
* Thanks to Bob Sutton for his amazing work on building a civilized workplace and the No Asshole Rule. Are you an asshole, find out for yourself here:

Get it done and move on.

We believe in Relentless Focus, Boring Consistency, No Bullshit, No Meetings, Follow Ups, and Not Being an Asshole. Visit

We are not our f@!#ing khakis.

We know that working hard is important, but balancing ourselves with our life that is not related to work is more important. Our motto is something Thomas Merton said many years ago, “Happiness is not a matter of intensity but of balance, order, rhythm and harmony.”

Born To Stand Out

Dr. Seuss

I am Unmistakable

I want to have the adventure of a lifetime. Follow an idea to the edges. And keep going. Forgo tradition. Trust MY instincts. Be who I am. Let my natural creativity and curiosity be my guide. Commit to meaningful bodies of work. Leave a dent in the universe [in this lifetime].

I am here to make a life not a living. To think for myself. And to let my journey unfold so that others may benefit. To create legendary stories. Have more fun. Redefine freedom, anytime and anyplace. Leave a bigger legacy.

I value authenticity. Engaged action. And whole process learning. Altruism & self-actualization. Idealism. Activism. Globalism. Ecology. And spirituality.

I am a creator, leader, mentor, giver, doer and all around Unmistakable Misfit.

Sign the Manifesto @

To Be Unmistakable, Then…

…really stands for the liberation of the human mind from the dominion of religion; the liberation of the human body from domination of property; and liberation from the shackles and restraint of corporations and government. Being Unmistakable stands for social order based on the free grouping of individuals for the purpose of producing real social wealth; an order that will guarantee to every human being free access to the earth and full enjoyment of the necessities of life, according to individual desires, tastes, and inclinations. This is not a wild fancy or an aberration of the mind. It is the conclusion arrived at by hosts of intellectual men and women the world over; a conclusion resulting from the close and studios observation of the tendencies of modern societyindividual liberty and economic equality, the twin forces for the birth of what is fine and true in any person.

The only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn, like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars and in the middle you see the blue centerlight pop and everybody goes “Awww!”
~ Jack Kerouac

Apple’s Think Different Campaign, circa 1997

A thank you for people, places and movements like Occupy, Impact Hub, Noam Chomsky, Good Life Project, The Misfit Economy, GangplankHQ, Unreasonable Institute, Dr. Seuss, and you.


Reform is Dead. Revolution Now: An Open Letter to the 3.5%

The Acronym Journal

This is an open letter to you.

Yes, you: You! Are! The 3.5%!

We are in a historic moment where a new cultural, political, ecological reality must emerge and replace the dominant paradigm. The planet itself, to say nothing of the overwhelming majority of human beings, can no longer live with the killer that is global corporate capitalism in our midst.

Research of hundreds of resistance movements shows that no resistance movement in the last 100 years has failed when 3.5 percent of the population participate. How close are we to that tipping point? We may be closer than you think.

So, you are cordially invited, challenged even- to become part of the 3.5 percent; to commit to an action or actions starting April 4, 2014 against the corporate controlled State and it’s paradigm that preys on the resources and spirits of people. Your actions, and the actions of others, will become a…

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The Amazing Power of Books, Routines, and Small Wins

[tdalert radius=”2″ align=”left” type=”tdbiz-alert-info”]This article by BeTweet originally seen on our Medium channel at[/tdalert]

A small decision can cause a big change.

Great ideas come from great books.

Even though I stretch myself thin sometimes reading three books at once, there’s always one that prevails: the winner.

Right now that winner is The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg.

I won’t bore you with a book review, but I will describe the book’s effect on me and how it lead to a positive change, productivity wise.

The premise of the book is that habits lie at the root of everything.

What we do without thinking is normally the source of every daily win and every daily loss we experience. So much so, our habits govern our lives.

I won’t go into detail here, but I will say how the book changed me.

A week ago — around the time I bought the book — I started my daily walks. It sounded like something that would help ease the stress and strain from the Internet. Every day, around 2, I would head out, get coffee, walk to a bench nearby, sit down, read the book, then head back.

On the second day of this new routine, something amazing happened.

I was sitting on the bench, reading, when an idea struck. I had to write it. But like J.K. Rowling on her infamous delayed train ride, I didn’t have what I needed, and it was too cold to stay and write there anyway. So I collected my stuff and headed back. On the way, the idea formed in my mind.

When I got back to my room, I was ready to write it in one go, which is exactly how I like it. I have something like 20 drafts on Medium — ideas that never fully formed, so I just leave them to hibernate.

This time was different.

The idea was fully formed because I had already rehearsed it.

This new routine initiated a change in my writing process.

Now let me backtrack…

Duhigg starts by introducing the “habit loop”, which is the three-part process of every habit. First is the cue — a trigger which signals that it’s time to initiate the process — next the routine itself, which is the automatic response to the cue, and finally, the reward — a pleasant feeling.

This is what it looks like. At 12 o’clock, you have a lunch break, which you spend at the cafeteria. Your reward is socializing with your colleagues.

Knowing how this works, I can analyze my routine and identify those elements.

The cues are curiously clear in my mind:

  • The feeling of restlessness is a sign that I need to go out.
  • The feeling of tiredness and desire to look at my smartphone in the cafe is a signal that I have to go outside and walk.
  • The guy on the corner who plays violin and says “ciao, bella” (hello, pretty, typical Italian greeting) reminds me to say “ciao!” back and smile.
  • The building next to the bench signals that it’s time to sit down and read.
  • The chilly feeling of the wind makes me head back home.
  • Opening a Medium draft signals it’s time to write.

The routine is everything I do in between those cues.

Finally, the reward is an article I am happy with, like this one. It gives me a sense of accomplishment, like I have just done something amazing.

It’s become second nature now.

I do the same thing every day: I take the same streets and turns, buy the same coffee, encounter similarly hurried people on the way, and sit on the same bench. You don’t really have to make everything so automatic, but if you want to establish a habit, the cues must always be the same.

According to Duhigg (and a ton of scientific research), once you understand the process, you can manipulate it. So if you want to change a habit, you can do so by leaving the cues and reward intact, and work on the middle part. This is how bad habits can be replaced with good ones.

The reason this new routine works for me is because I’m a little ADD — as I’ve heard are most entrepreneurs — so it’s hard for me to focus, much less produce an article in a linear fashion. It helps to rehearse and form it on the way, so I don’t have to think about it when the time comes to write.

As soon as I realized the power of this small decision to take a daily walk and its effect on my productivity, I knew that Duhigg was right: habits hold an immense power — the power of change — which I wanted to share with you guys because I know you’re always looking for “productivity hacks”.

So far, this hack has been the most effective of all.

Then I thought, why stop there?

I just reached the part where the author goes into organizational habits, which is a whole other ball game than individual habits.

To make a big difference, one must start with a “small win”.

Small wins are triggers of big change. Think of throwing a rock in a pond: it doesn’t just flop in the water and then nothing. It creates ripples that change everything along their way. Each ripple is a signal of something: a warning that something’s approaching: an enemy, a storm, etc.

This is life-saving for small fish who have to steer clear from bigger fish. So the small fish may change its course, and cause its whole family to follow. And when one’s life course changes, everything else does, too.

This is how transformation starts: with a small ripple.

Now I want to test this out by starting small towards a bigger goal. My problem is procrastination. I believe that a large percent of the world’s population suffers the same. Wouldn’t it be amazing if we could fix it?

I want to try.

Here’s my idea. The reason why I procrastinate is because it’s hard to start something I’m not keen on doing. For example, there’s a mountain of emails or I have to format a blog or I haven’t cleaned my room yet.

Why can’t I just say, do it, and follow this cue?

Because my lack of desire trumps the eventual reward I’ll get from doing what I’ve been putting off. But what if I go backwards: start with the reward. The reward is a sense of accomplishment, and — relief.

So if I can make myself start with the reward, I could maybe put myself in the right mindset to be productive. What I need is a small win.

A small win in my case would be doing something I keep forgetting to do. For example, sometimes I don’t close the toothpaste tube and it dries off. Sometimes I “forget” to make my bed or wash my hands after I go.

These things should be automatic but I haven’t created the habits. Eventually, it all piles up in my brain as baggage. No wonder I can’t do my work, thinking about all the things I forgot to do!

(I know, by now you must think I’m gross.)

If I consciously do one of these things, I can explore how they make me feel. I’m going to do that right now. Toothpaste. I’ll be right back.

Aha! I was right, it made me smile. I felt energized. Try it!

What if I do a small thing like that before I have to sit down and work?

I like to procrastinate with twitter or my favorite TV show or even a video game on the Xbox, but if I can consciously stop what I am wasting time with and actually do a “small win”, it could signal it’s time to do more wins — bigger wins — and maybe even do all the things I’ve lined up.

It’s a worth a shot. I’ll tell you how it goes.

Key Takeaways:

Read more books. You never know what ideas they will bring.

Be mindful of your habits. Make sure they’re good for you, and if they’re not, change them by replacing the middle part of the loop.

For example, if you like snacking between meals but it makes you bloated, keep a bottle of water next to you and drink instead of snacking.

If you’re struggling with something, introduce a healthy habit like walking, jogging, or whatever gets you going, to take away the stress. From this new habit, change will unfold and you’ll be more productive.

Identify a big problem and think of a solution involving a small win. Whatever’s in your way, you can overcome it by starting small.

The tiniest effort may help you win big time.

Start small. Do it, now.

Growth starts from the individual and then translates to the company. Start from yourself and your own mindset. The rest will follow.

A quote from the OMGrowth course BeTweet is building. Check it.

Design. Story. Symphony. Empathy. Play. Meaning. — Your Six Essential Aptitudes

In the first installment of this conceptual thinking exploration (Test. Endlessly. Forever.), we review the basics of engaging in conceptual design and get straight to the point of application in daily life. I realize that not everyone is involved in in this practice, or accustomed to it, so I wanted to move right into exploring the conceptual thinker.

The Conceptual Thinker

An interesting review paper by Adele Diamond suggests that research onmirror neurons and research on the developmental time course of abstract thinking may be “missing the forest for the trees.” Conceptual thinking(abstraction as the thought process wherein ideas are distanced from objects) is neurological? Very interesting indeed.

By Nicky Poole, 889 Yoga Teacher and Yoga Community Leader

So what exactly is conceptual thinking? It’s easiest described as the ability to perceive and imagine, predict and hypothesize, and to conclude and reflect. Sounds a bit…right-brained. Conceptual thinking can certainly be considered a form of philosophy, as it indeed takes the understanding of other concepts to be able to create your own.

The last few decades have belonged to a certain kind of person with a certain kind of mind — computer programmers who could crank code, lawyers who could craft contracts, MBAs who could crunch numbers. But the keys to the kingdom are changing hands. The future belongs to a very different kind of person with a very different kind of mind — creators and empathizers, pattern recognizers and meaning makers. These people — artists, inventors, designers, storytellers, caregivers, consolers, big picture thinkers — will now reap society’s richest rewards and share its greatest joys.

As Daniel Pink points out in A Whole New Mind, about this very different kind of person, conceptual thinkers are those who could potentially be described as ambitious, independent, perfectionists, entrepreneurs, philosophers, intellectuals, & leaders. These qualities, or traits, or roles, usually come along with someone who thinks laterally, which is about reasoning that is not immediately obvious and about ideas that may not be obtainable by using only traditional step-by-step logic.

We are moving from an economy and a society built on the logical, linear, computer-like capabilities of the Information Age to an economy and a society built on the inventive, empathic, big picture capabilities of what’s rising in its place, the Conceptual Age. A Whole New Mind is for anyone who wants to survive and thrive in this emerging world — people uneasy in their careers and dissatisfied with their lives, entrepreneurs and business leaders eager to stay ahead of the next wave, parents who want to equip their children for the future, and the legions of emotionally astute and creatively adroit people whose distinctive abilities the Information Age has often overlooked and undervalued.

Often overlooked and undervalued. If you can relate to this feeling, maybe you’re just a conceptual thinker trapped in an old-world, average ecosystem. The average person does not have nearly the amount of questions and deep thoughts that appear in a conceptual thinker’s mind. The average person is bored with concepts, ideas, and philosophies while a conceptual thinker becomes fascinated and instinctively has the need to pursue them.

For nearly a century, western society in general, and American society in particular, has been dominated by a form of thinking and an approach to life that is narrowly reductive and deeply analytical. Ours has been the age of the “knowledge worker,” the well-educated manipulator of information and deployer of expertise. But that is changing. Thanks to an array of forces—material abundance that is deepening our nonmaterial yearnings, globalization that is shipping white-collar work overseas, and powerful technologies that are eliminating certain kinds of work altogether—we are entering a new age. It is an age animated by a different form of thinking and a new approach to life—one that prizes aptitudes that I call “high concept” and “high touch.” High concept involves the capacity to detect patterns and opportunities, to create artistic and emotional beauty, to craft a satisfying narrative, and to combine seemingly unrelated ideas into something new. High touch involves the ability to empathize with others, to understand the subtleties of human interaction, to find joy in one’s self and to elicit it in others, and to stretch beyond the quotidian in pursuit of purpose and meaning.

High concept…this reminds me a lot of the basis of Spiral Dynamics, which is a mashup of the new science of memetics with Gravesian value systems to form “value memes” or ”vMemes” to craft a model of transformational change, written by Don Beck & Christopher Cowan, a truly transformational study.Spiral Wizards are described as those who can instinctively roam over vast landscapes and see patterns and connections others do not notice because their old paradigm, “first tier” filters do not allow them to.

Such a person appreciates chaos and thinks more like a creative designer than a reengineer. The process links functions, people and ideas into new, more natural flows that add precision, flexibility, rapid response, humanity and fun to getting the work done. That is the power of new paradigm “second tier” thinking, to constantly survey the whole while tinkering expertly with the parts.

Map of a Whole New Mind by Austin Kleon

In the context of this article, I interpret the first tier filter as a “low touch” aptitude…or the simple aspirations of a “knowledge worker”; and second tier thinking can be described as that of the high concept thinker.

But what does that mean? Well, I’m not ashamed and often admit that when it comes to anything complicated, I’m too ignorant to have a useful opinion, or as Scott Adams has described as Ignorantselfishertarianism (for all youDilbert fans). So, I’ll let Daniel Pink finish this off with an indirect, but acceptable answer…

As it happens, there’s a convenient metaphor that encapsulates the change I’m describing—and it’s right inside your head. Your brain is divided into two hemispheres. The left hemisphere is sequential, textual, and analytical. The right hemisphere is simultaneous, contextual, and synthetic. Of course, we enlist both halves of our brains for even the simplest tasks. And the respective traits of the two hemispheres have often been caricatured well beyond what the science actually reveals. But the legitimate scientific differences between the two hemispheres of the brain do yield a powerful metaphor for interpreting our present and guiding our future. Today, the defining skills of the previous era—the metaphorically “left brain” capabilities that powered the Information Age—are necessary but no longer sufficient. And the capabilities we once disdained or thought frivolous—the metaphorically “right brain” qualities of inventiveness, empathy, joyfulness, and meaning—increasingly will determine who flourishes and who flounders. For individuals, families, and organizations, professional success and personal fulfillment now require a whole new mind.

It is important to clearly identify yourselfas a conceptual thinker or not, as there is a distinct difference between the average person and one who is a conceptual thinker.

If you are a conceptual thinker…you should have known by now that you are at least ambitious, intellectual, and independent.

But if you’re still not sure, maybe the first tier filters haven’t been removed. Or maybe your mind hasn’t made the necessary transformation from low touch to high touch. Or maybe…

We think there’s someplace other than here to get to—that’s what drives the whole pursuit. Only when the pursuit ceases, is it possible to recognize what comprises you: pure being, pure consciousness. This is actually the very substance of your own self and being.
~ Adyashanti

The six essential aptitudes, or the “the six senses” on which professional success and personal satisfaction increasingly will depend, are not new and are not foreign, and can be seen just about everywhere (just check out the fine thinkers sprinkled about TED’s themes):

Design. Story. Symphony. Empathy. Play. Meaning.

These are fundamentally human aptitudes that everyone can master.

Test. Endlessly. Forever – What Does Conceptual Thinking & Growth Hacking Have to Do With Me

I get into a lot of questions about the importance of or the need for conceptual thinking; and my answer is always that it is the key to successful products, especially in relation to growth marketing in today’s world, whether on the web or not. It is certainly more than just graphics and code, image and tone, content and prose, it is process and journey development. It is understanding the goals of the product and what the target audience wants and needs to see and experience. It’s about the right information in the right way, at the right time. The interwebs have changed… and web sites are no longer just ‘sites’ with paragraphs of useless information and cheesy graphics. They’re information portals, virtual sales tools, social playgrounds, customer journeys, growth platforms, and by far the most readily available, coherent mass media tool available today. The right design with the right message with the right ideas with the right journey wins.

Once you have a plan of what you want to do and have inventoried and accumulated the resources to do it, you then need to figure out exactly how to realize your goals. This is the conceptual design phase, where you try to find accord between needs and resources and produce a detailed plan that can be directly translated into putting content in web pages that look good and elicit emotional connection into a positive journey. Conceptual design is the processing of finalizing the concepts that will drive the design and developing concrete ways of representing those concepts in the form of the final product model.

Not a very clear explanation, but conceptual design is very much a process, and sometimes a process can be hard to describe except in terms of its constituent parts. Conceptual design is what those people at automobile companies get paid large quantities of money to do when they develop all sorts of “cars of the future”, most of which never see production. It is also what those who do when one of the car of the future ideas pans out and looks like it should be translated into a real, marketable product. One comes up with automotive concepts. The other takes those concepts and tries to develop working designs that embody those concepts.

So how do we engage in conceptual design in the growth marketing setting?


A useful tool for conceptual design is brainstorming. Brainstorming is a getting a group of people together to play with ideas, no matter how outrageous. In the growth marketing setting, brain-storming is usually key players (uh, aka the funders), technical gurus (makers & do’ers), and some user representatives (the most important people) getting together and playing with ideas. If you worked for a toy manufacturer, brainstorming would more likely be engineers in a fully equipped work-shop making new toys and playing with them, passing the good ideas on to management for analysis and review.

Brainstorming is playing with ideas, and letting ideas come out, no matter how crazy. Well, okay, if they are a little too crazy then people may look at you funny, but sometimes it is the crazy ideas that win the day. The point of brainstorming is to get as many ideas out on the table as possible, and hopefully to get people thinking out of the box. Thinking out of the box just means taking a step back and trying to look at something from a different perspective. People who can’t think outside of the box try to hire others to do it for them.

imagePaul Foreman

Brainstorming normally starts with everyone throwing ideas out, which are recorded and then sifted through. Transient media are best for this sort of thing, such as chalk boards and white boards. Things that can be erased and scribbled over. If you are really high tech, then you can get a white board that can take a picture of itself when you find an idea you want to change.

Game playing and role playing are also useful tools. See… all those management conferences do serve a purpose.

Once the ideas are out, you then have to sift through them to look not only for the best ideas, but for relationships between ideas. You are looking for patterns you can work with to organize the information of your proposed design into something useful and powerful.

The ultimate goal of brainstorming is to reach consensus on where to go with the product and growth plan. People need to be brought together to agree upon and to be willing to collaborate on the mission, vision, and goals of the product. This is the time to identify issues and resolve differences, before internal conflicts become enshrined in the final design. It is also where you start developing the structure of the product and growth platform, mapping out potential architectures to fit the needs of the audience and the content.

Metaphor Exploration

Metaphor exploration, a part of the brainstorming process, is the exploration of overarching metaphors for the design, including both those that might drive design behind the scenes and those that might become part of the physical product.

Metaphors exist to associate the unfamiliar with the familiar, making the new easier to understand by giving us relationships to work with that connect it with what we already know. As well as explaining by association, they can also be used to generate enthusiasm or to persuade. Holiday sales are good examples of these latter two. It’s President’s day, so you can celebrate and do your patriotic duty at the same time by going shopping.

imageCharles Schulz

Metaphors come in a variety of flavors. For our purposes, we can break them into three groupings.

  1. Organizational metaphors are metaphors that associate something with a given organizational system to make it easier to use. For instance, an intranet may directly reflect the company org chart because that is what employees are used to. Or an online archive may use the metaphor of a library to organize the information.
  2. Functional metaphors relate new tasks to known tasks. Thus online forms that used to be in paper format may be reproduced online with the same structure as the original paper ones. This might not be the most efficient way to organize the forms online, but it is what people are familiar with.
  3. Visual metaphors make use of familiar graphics to create associations between old and new. Much of the metaphor that shows up in the physical product is visual in nature, since to accomplish relevant graphic design you must work almost exclusively with visual metaphors to create a certain look and feel to the site. The conceptual design phase is where you begin to feel these options out.

When working with metaphors, you should always be careful not to overdo it. It is possible to drown a site in metaphors, especially in today’s metaphorically over-saturated world of online interaction. People also tend to fall in love with their own metaphors, which may make perfect sense to them and be totally incomprehensible to those actually trying to use the product. We call this drinking your own Kool-Aid, which is so very damn common in today’s ego-ridden society. But, that’s another topic all together.

That’s why the rest of this is the still hardest part of all for some of those new to growth marketing and product development…

Test. Endlessly. Forever.

Keep it Small. Keep it Simple. Let it Happen.

I woke up this morning thinking about change, creative consciousness, & something I’m not exactly sure I think of often enough, emergence. This morning’s thought pattern was not only in terms of my life, but in terms of the many projects I am currently involved with and even about one particular that has everything to do with building sustainable communities. I want to use my life as an example of how emergence can sometimes be blocked, change controlled, and creativity used more of as a buzzword than a set of actions or way of being. In building creative communities in sometimes difficult environments, emergence is the magical key that unlocks sustainability, and the right model is imperative to its formation and growth. Before I move on, here’s Andy Hunt with a few thoughts on the subject of emergence in models and systems…

Emergence is one of the founding principles of agility, and is the closest one to pure magic. Emergent properties aren’t designed or built in, they simply happen as a dynamic result of the rest of the system. “Emergence” comes from middle 17th century Latin in the sense of an “unforeseen occurrence.” You can’t plan for it or schedule it, but you can cultivate an environment where you can let it happen and benefit from it.

A classic example of emergence lies in the flocking behavior of birds. A computer simulation can use as few as three simple rules (along the lines of “don’t run into each other”) and suddenly you get very complex behavior as the flock wends and wafts its way gracefully through the sky, reforming around obstacles, and so on. None of this advanced behavior (such as reforming the same shape around an obstacle) is specified by the rules; it emerges from the dynamics of the system.

Simple rules, as with the birds simulation, lead to complex behavior. Complex rules, as with the tax law in most countries, lead to stupid behavior.

Many common software development practices have the unfortunate side effect of eliminating any chance for emergent behavior. Most attempts at optimization — tying something down very explicitly — reduces the breadth and scope of interactions and relationships, which is the very source of emergence. In the flocking birds example, as with a well-designed system, it’s the interactions and relationships that create the interesting behavior.

The harder we tighten things down, the less room there is for a creative, emergent solution. Whether it’s locking down requirements before they are well understood or prematurely optimizing code, or inventing complex navigation and workflow scenarios before letting end users play with the system, the result is the same: an overly complicated, stupid system instead of a clean, elegant system that harnesses emergence.

Keep it small. Keep it simple. Let it happen. —Andy Hunt, The Pragmatic Programmers

Photo by Mark Lehigh

Do we wait for unforeseen occurrence? Or, do we tie things down very explicitly in order to control outcome, circumstance, and behavior? How would a flock of birds do if we tried to control their flying pattern with over-complicated rules, without allowing emergence in their own individual patterns that result in an emergence of the flock? Poor birds, I say.

If we look with a mindful eye, we can catch ourselves (and others) blocking emergence, simply by projecting controlling behavior in the name of a predefined result. Even though we may have thought or knew the best way to an outcome, blocking emergence in these situations is simply what we are doing. If we are not allowing, letting go, and trusting that the desired outcome can come to its own conclusion, emergence, that special magic, cannot bubble up. This does not mean that we disown or remove ourselves completely, but it calls for taking much smaller steps, much quicker, in the most simple way possible — instead of trying to own the whole thing all at once.

All good things take time to form, to emerge, and to happen. No situation is the same. Everyone and everything is its own unique experience. By simply letting it happen we can use much less energy, emotion, & effort in working toward the desired outcome. We can use our skills & experience in smaller, more specific ways. We can learn how to apply simplicity to complex problems & situations by letting go, paying attention, and not being attached to the result. We can offer our advice, our help, our experience, our time, our skills, our resources, but we really cannot control outcome or result and expect it to look the way that we want it to.

Photo by BK

The art of letting go has as much meaning in our personal lives as it does in our professional lives. In community building, technology development, record albums, movie production, and startup projects around the world, I have seen that not letting go of the end result in the beginning can change the entire outcome all together, and very rarely with a more positive spin or value proposition. As people, we love to control, and everyone has a different life experience and thus their view of the end result is different. Managers are best at control, experts are great at agility, and creators (innovators and artists) are best at emergence. Managers try to control behavior, pattern, and result for a desired outcome. Experts, through their experience, have come to understand the value of agility and how to apply it by taking smaller steps and pacing themselves. Creators have found that emergence happens only in the absence of something. These three personas can be found in any community, any project, any relationship, and any walk of life.

When we have two or more people who see the same thing through shared experience or through compassion and humility or out of a desire to let it happen, great things surely will happen. Great communities are formed. Great products are built. Great companies are born. And, most importantly, great relationships are forged and flourish. Today’s lesson for me is to continue to detach myself from the result. To continue to keep things small (one step at a time). To continue to be agile and flexible as life moves and changes. And, to let things happen. This is, after all, how great things emerge.

We are surrounded by situations that we cannot control. Many of which we know could be done differently or even better. At home, at work, on projects or products or in companies…we are surrounded by the lack of control. However, how we influence them is dependent very much on our ability to let go. We know when to walk away from something, and sometime that is what it takes…to listen to ourselves. But when that something is not something we can or want to walk away from…a change in approach is necessary.

Use your energy wisely, the world needs it more than you think. Allow things to emerge. Allow users to experience. Let things happen.


Meaning #1: the gradual beginning or coming forth

Meaning #2: the becoming visible; the act of coming (or going) out; becoming apparent

Meaning #3: the act of emerging

Non Self-Conscious Individualism And “The Seeker” In All Of Us

OK, first of all, what is non self-conscious individualism? Well, as Dr. C put it, it is a “strongly directed purpose that is not self-seeking.”

Fun stuff:

Strong teams, relationships, families, and communities everywhere are full of non self-conscious individuals. We should add governments to that list sometime during this generation.

Follow Your Passion: Five Simple Ways to Find Deeper Meaning in Everyday Life

Crazy. Busy. Turbulent. Fast-paced. Chaotic. The world we live and work in is increasingly hectic.

Social Media. Offices. Meetings. Family. Friends. From these oft-crazy environments, it’s more important than ever for us to pause to connect to that deeper meaning in our everyday life.

To help counterbalance the daily stress and uncertainty, it’s safe to say that we have a need for self-empowerment and true emotional connection, everyday. Who We Are, is the single most important thing we have with us at all times, whether we are at home or at work or anywhere in between. To ensure happiness and a genuine sense of worth for ourselves and those around us, let’s make a commitment to be who we are at all times.

If you find the days seem to slip away and life’s hurried pace to be draining, it’s time to find some simple ways to add some meaning back to your daily life. Here are five ideas for nurturing a deeper connection with yourself and others:

1. Reconnect with your passion
Did you enjoy painting when you were younger? Have you always wanted to take a photography class? Do you love to travel? It’s important to recognize and nurture those activities you love most so that you’re able to go out and do what you’re great at in the world. This isn’t to be taken as “now go start a business” around your passion…but rather meant to help reconnect you to what you love to do with your time. New York-based yoga instructor, Tara Stiles has infused her passion and energy into her work as a yoga, meditation and wellness instructor. “Passion is really about going after what you want to achieve in your life,” says Stiles. Whether it’s cooking, writing, coding, painting, hiking or gardening, make time for what you enjoy doing, rather than just doing what you have to. Try to dedicate four hours a week to your passion, and see how it makes you feel more centered and grounded.

2. Express your authentic self. 
Individual beliefs and values make us each unique, and you can express those ideals through your choices in friends, activities, fashion and overall attitude. Don’t forget that people are drawn to you, for the genuine essence that is you – so let them know it in every way possible. Take some time each day to be the most raw you with someone else, whether at home, at work, or out in public. NOTE: don’t take this as consent to be rude, obnoxious, or just plain thoughtless. Be genuine and authentic.

3. Give back
Volunteering in your community is a great way to connect with others and find deeper meaning in the everyday. Leila Janah, a social entrepreneur based in San Francisco, traveled to West Africa at the age of 17, and volunteered in a school for blind children. The experience led her to found Samasource, a nonprofit organization that helps individuals living in poverty. Janah recalls that “[Volunteering in West Africa] was a time of incredible personal growth and it set me on the path to do what I do.” Whether you choose to help stock a local food shelf, supervise at your children’s school or travel abroad to help build houses for the poor, volunteering is sure to make you feel more connected with the world around you.

4. Find “me time”
Our lives can be very busy with every hour in every day dedicated to some activity. This can take its toll on your body and your mind, so it’s important to remember to take care of yourself, even if you’re taking care of others. Find your own way to relax and rejuvenate. This may be spending a few minutes each day balancing the mind and body through stretching and meditation. It might be taking a quiet walk, reading a book or having a cup of tea while journaling. Whatever you prefer, make sure to take “me time” throughout the day. Every day.

5. Be an ambassador for what you believe
What truly ignites your creativity? It may be your passion for green living, healthy eating, or the challenges you are trying to solve in your business. Whatever your beliefs, it’s important to show the world who you are and what you believe in. Penelope Jagessar Chaffer, an award-winning filmmaker, shares her beliefs and connects with others through her work. “I’m always trying to find that common thread between myself and someone else when I’m interviewing them,” Chaffer says. “I find that love, and talking about love, is this thing we can use to help connect us.” Talk about your beliefs and values with others; you might be surprised by what you find.

Rather than getting swept away in a hectic schedule, try focusing on what truly matters to you. These simple ways to add meaning to your life will help you reconnect with yourself and with those around you to live a more Passion-Driven Lifestyle – (BPT).

Follow Your Passion: How to Find Freedom of Location

You’ll be much more successful if you follow your dreams and follow your passions.
~ Jay Weatherill

Freedom of Location

  1. Are you a wantrepreneur looking to find that “freedom of the office” you heard existed, only to find yourself in another office or out of a job decent paying job?
  2. Ever wanted to escape from the confines of your location, and be able to do your work from anywhere in the world?
  3. Are you looking to find your passion in life and then remove everything that distracts you from it?

Well good, because this is just for you. If you answered no, then this still might be for you. Here’s the foundation of understanding balance, minimizing and the freedom of location:

  • Noah Kagan of AppSumo does a great job of de-mystifying what it means to be an entrepreneur and providing a toolkit to get off the ground.
  • In the Four Hour Work Week, Tim Ferriss covers a lot of ground in the way of examples for getting out of the office and liberating your life from major time wasters.
  • Programs like SproutCamp help guide you to build something sustainable with happy customers that focuses on your passions.
  • Books from Cyan and Collis Ta’eed will help teach you how to be a rock-star freelancer anywhere in the world.
  • Brad Feld & Amy Batchelor offer real life insights on what it takes to make it in a relationship with an entrepreneur, which requires your presence more than your company does.
  • And, Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson gave us the first blueprint for working from anywhere in Remote. Amazing book.

Of course, many more great resources both old (the best to date – Henry David Thoreau’s Walden) and new (Jonathon Mead) exist and are created all the time to inspire and guide us, but this list is something that millions, including myself, have read and adapted in our lives.

This year I completed my biggest dreamline yet; to pursue Minimalism with my family and be able to move anywhere I want and still do the work I’m passionate about.

Why would someone want to make becoming “Location-Independent” or “Becoming a Minimalist” one of their top goals? Well, the reasons vary for every person, but here are just a few really good reasons:

  1. You can travel anytime, anywhere. Who doesn’t love to travel? Even though some people might not (but that’s not you), being able to see the country you live in or the world is a desire of many people (myself included). By freeing yourself from location, you can work part of the year and take mini-retirements, or several mini-vacations, working vacations, or work completely on the go.
  2. You can live anywhere. Why do you live where you live? If you said because that’s where you work, keep reading. It is possible to live in an RV, in hostels, in the Caribbean, in South America, in Europe, in Japan, in Southeast Asia, or on a boat? YES! If you are dedicated to achieving independence.
  3. No boss with bad breath. I don’t know about you, but bosses who are breathing down your neck non-stop, are wasting your precious time. You can live without them. Or, you can even be one… from the road.
  4. Set your own hours. Yes, this is my favorite. Some companies have a not-so-hidden rule of 8-5, or something crazy like that. Not me, I like to work early and be done early, and others like to burn the midnight oil. I like 4 days a week, and strive for less than 25 hours a week. Still others prefer to work in batches, or not work at all for awhile and then pull a long haul. Why should one schedule be preferred over another? Let me tell you a secret that no client, no boss, no customer, no employee, no partner, and no 21st century normal human is going to argue with… **_As long as the work gets done, that’s all that matters_**. This doesn’t mean be late, it means be early, efficient and conscious of expectations, but don’t constrict your schedule into some time box.
  5. Freedom! Freedom really means Freedom in every way, not just these mentioned here. Freedom to choose the kind of computer you use, the outfit you wear, freedom to choose what you work on, the clients you work with, the users you attract, the things you write, the things you create, the mode of transportation while you travel, and of course – where to be and where to go next.

There are several drawbacks that can occur during the process of redefining your freedom and balancing it with being an entrepreneur, of course! Some big issues are greater expenses, less security, problems of administering a business and a whole lot more. Each one can be but for some of us, the opportunities and freedom of being free from an office have too great an appeal to let those drawbacks stand in our way.

Career Options for Freedom

One of the great things about being free of the office is that it doesn’t just come to one type of occupation. There are about as many options as there are people who have this goal. Even though this lifestyle choice does rule out many traditional careers and jobs, such as mechanic, lawyer, doctor or utility worker, many varieties of 21st century careers in the information, technology, or creative fields are within your reach. Some great examples are:

  • Freelancer. This is my fall back. I know that I can always freelance as a writer, editor, photographer, reporter, designer, or developer if I abandon all other endeavors. Freelancing can be done in many different professions, even the movie business.
  • Blogger. I am finally doing a lot more of this. But remember, the revenue for bloggers are usually not that big, especially for the first year, and most blogs don’t earn very much or anything at all. It’s more likely to be a source of side income than your main source of income. Dan Martell of Clarity has a great step-by-step guide on How To Promote Your Blog And Get 250k Visits a Month.
  • Small business owner. Have a small business already? It’s possible to run it remotely. Sure, you might see some loss of revenue, but it’s a matter of priorities: do you want growth, or freedom? If you want freedom, you open up some interesting options, especially if you automate it.
  • Consultant. I do a lot of this, and it works very well for a lot of people in a lot of different fields. Similar to freelancing, but more lucrative with less overhead. However, this requires a great network, serious expertise and hard-earned experience.
  • Contractor. Overlaps quite a bit with the title of “consultant” or “freelancer” but there are different options here, too.
  • Salesperson. If you sell ice to Eskimos, you don’t need to go door-to-door anymore. There are other methods you can explore using the vast ocean of visualization, worldwide.
  • Online business. If you create a totally virtual business, your physical location doesn’t matter. Nicely done!
  • Telecommuter. This can work for many employees in traditional jobs. Many companies today now only allow remote work, but help you be the best at it and provide all the necessary tools. The key: you have to be so valuable to your boss that he will allow you the freedom to work from home (or from wherever). Of course, you have to be dependable and able to self-manage not only your work, but your team’s work.
  • Create a product. Creating a product that you can sell online is by far the most rewarding choice. This model scalable, can run virtually on its own, and has the potential to bring in considerable revenue; if done right. It takes a big initial investment of time and energy, but once you’ve got the ball rolling and the sales are flowing, it’s mostly maintenance work from then on.
  • Expert speaker. Travel from city to city to speak or conduct seminars about whatever you’re an expert at.
  • Author. Self publishing will definitely be the the one that gives you the most freedom from location, but even with traditional authors and book tours, etc, freedom is the center of this profession.

One often meets his destiny on the road he takes to avoid it.

Useful Tips

So exactly how do you achieve this dreamline? Just as there are many options for becoming free from the office, there are many roads to getting there. In one on one session, we help lay out a blueprint for you, but right here I can share some things I’ve learned and still learning along the way, and some things I’ve learned from others that doing the same thing. These are not tips that will work for everyone — they are ideas, things that work for some people, and things to consider for others.

1. Define your dream. The thing that holds most people back is that they don’t allow themselves to dream, of worse, pursue the dreams they do have. Sure, it might seem like a passing fantasy, but they don’t give their dreams a serious thought. But what’s to stop you? Money? Fear? Time? Naysayers? That’s where dreamlining comes in to play, by helping you to overcome obstacles and allow yourself to dream, then follow it. Reward yourself, and humanity, by doing.

2. Discover your passion. Many times, it’s not enough to just do a job from wherever you please — it’s best if it’s a job you love to do. Many of us get stuck in a job just because it’s what we’ve been doing … without thinking about whether it’s something we love to do. This year, I’m pursuing my passion of writing and traveling, and I’m working to turn this passion into the way I make my living.

3. Do your research. Read about how others have achieved this dream, what steps they took to get there, and what their lives are like now. I left some of the greatest road maps at the very beginning of this, so don’t say I didn’t tell you so. Every resource is written by someone who has or is actually living the dream.

4. Explore your options. What are the various roads available to you to get to your dream? Keep your mind open (the most important) to opportunities, to new ways of doing things you’re good at doing, or that you love doing. Think about ways to add income streams into your life, instead of relying on a single income stream. Look at ideas that others are implementing successfully, and see if those are good options for you. In the early stages, it can be useful to look into many more options than you’re actually going to choose in the end … and even give a few of them a try to see if they might work for you.

5. Lay out your plan. Once you’ve begun to explore your options, you can start laying out a roadmap to get to your dream. Now, understand that this roadmap will change as you go along — think of it as a living document rather than anything set in stone. You’re exploring new territory … it only makes sense that you’ll discover new things, learn as you go, change your mind about some things, and find new options you didn’t even know existed. But the key is to write your plan down … so you have a guide to keep you on track. Try the fully customizable dreamline template from Tyler Goelz as a working road map, then add narrative to the facts. Tyler modified this from the original by Tim Ferriss. Also, I highly recommend reading Tyler’s tips and stories from his first complete dreamline, A Beard Across America.

6. Consider a gradual transition. Don’t just quit your day job and start something new all at once. You need to work smarter, not harder, and this will leave you scrambling. Wean yourself from the job one day at a time, over the course of 3 months or a year. The 4HWW has some great tips on how to do this. Gives yourself the chance to adjust to all the changes of quitting your job and going remote.

7. Action: motion ≠ progress. It’s all well and good to make a plan, and to allow yourself to dream, and to consider options and to tell your friends or loved ones — these are necessary steps — but the best-laid plans sitting on a shelf don’t do us much good. We’ve all heard that life happens while you’re planning. You have to take action….today, in this moment, and each moment thereafter. Passion + Persistence. Don’t put it off until next week, next month or next year … do something today to get yourself closer to reality. Make micro-movements, each day. Then tomorrow, another micro-movement. But without a first step, you’ll get nowhere.

8. Reduce your needs. This isn’t as necessary for some as others, but it’s a life changing option to consider. Let’s consider minimalism … > Minimalism is the intentional promotion of the things we most value and the removal of everything that distracts us from it. It requires a conscience decision. It is a counter-cultural lifestyle that stands against the culture of overconsumption we live in. > ~ Joshua Becker

The world we live in is not friendly to the pursuit of minimalism. Its tendencies and relentless advertising campaigns call us to acquire more, better, faster, and newer. The journey of finding simplicity requires consistent inspiration. I talk about this as a pure and simple practice in Freedom of the Hills: Leaving It All Behind, and a wholly worthwhile practice. You can also try these great articles of inspiration out.

If you don’t have many expenses, or distractions, you don’t need as much of an income … and that means that your dream is much easier to implement. My favorite book on this, Vagabonding: An Uncommon Guide to the Art of Long-Term World Travel, is one of the most amazing travel and life-changing books you can read if you want to travel for a living, and Rolf Potts has some great tips and how-tos on traveling on a minimal income. And, if you have a family, it is just as attainable as if you didn’t. Plenty of families, including mine, are examples that it is possible and very rewarding for our children. My friend Bartosz and his family, are truly a Very Interesting Family in this sense, and are constantly on the move while maintaining a solid family foundation and a multitude of new experiences. Ponder this: Are you willing to work extra hours for the things you buy and spend your money on, or would you rather use those hours doing other things, like traveling?

9. Simplify your work. This, of course, is one of the over-arching themes that Leo Babauta tirelessly writes about at Zen Habits (to start with: one, two, three, four, five, six) … and of course, every other reference and author I have mentioned here. If you want to work on your own, and liberate yourself from the office, you’d be wise to simplify what you do. Eliminate the non-essential tasks, streamline your workflow, focus on the tasks and project and clients with the absolute biggest potential and long-term benefits.

10. Outsource and automate. One of my biggest sources of inspiration, Tim Ferriss’ excellent book The 4-Hour work Week, gives you some great tips on how to eliminate the non-essential and focus on what matters most. But some of the most interesting parts of the book are the sections on outsourcing your life and automating your business. Those parts alone could have been a separate book. They’re not something that everyone will want to implement, but they’re most definitely interesting options that can help many people achieve their dreams.

This, of course, is just the beginning for you. Many of the sources I have cited and provided links for will help you with more inspiration, ideas, details, resources, how-tos, roadmaps, tips, tricks, and so much more …

but I would love to hear from you on this subject.

Feedback and Get Featured in Our Upcoming Book

  • Is anyone already working on a dreamline, or already living one?
  • Are you pursuing your passion already, or about to start?
  • What are your tips? What is your Story?
  • Are you a family who has ditched the conventional and is happily living life on your own terms, from anywhere, and loving it (we also want to hear your greatest challenges!)?
  • Tell us about it here in this form
  • Share with us in the comments

Thank you all so much. Enjoy & Prosper!

Photo Credit: By Pavel Trebukov

The Great Within

Promise yourself to be so strong that nothing can disturb your peace of mind. Look at the sunny side of everything and make your optimism come true. Think only of the best, work only for the best, and expect only the best. Forget the mistakes of the past and press on to greater achievements of the future. Give so much time to improvement of yourself that you have no time to criticize others. Live in the faith that the whole world is on your side so long as you are true to the best that is in you!

~ Christian Larson

A Beard Across America: Hootin’ n’ Hollerin’, Lone Star Beer and Mermaids

This Excerpt from #TFoTG – Essays from A Beard Across America

I needed to find an alternative to CouchSurfing for lodging in Austin. My search for a host had left me without a place to stay. I was searching for hostels until Abhi, my CouchSurfing host in Houston, mentioned a website called AirBnB. I had never heard of the website before, but was up for the new experience. AirBnB is basically the same concept of CouchSurfing, but with cost associated with your stay. I found a place to stay that was only a few blocks from East 6th Street with a guy named Nick and his roommates.

When I arrived, I was greeted with a local “shitty beer” called Lone Star. To give you an idea of the caliber of the beer, there were two 24 packs in the refrigerator from a party they had thrown a few nights before. Shitty or not, I’m usually not one to turn down a free beer or three. He showed me to my room, introduced me to his girlfriend & one of their roommates, Kate, and we all chatted for about an hour. I retired to my room to do a few hours of work and when I was finished rejoined them in the living room for another beer or two.

Nick explained to me that he was a trivia host and spent most of his weekdays at local bars. He told me he usually doesn’t go out on the weekends and since it was a Friday, set my expectations for a night in drinking beers and listening to music. I was totally fine with that. That was until Kate emerged from her room and said she was going to a bar off of East 6th Street called The Eastern to do some “two stepping”. Where I came from, two stepping is a dance that hardcore kids would do at concerts. Not too pleasing and kind of silly, but they explained that The Eastern was a country bar and the two stepping they were referring to was the country style two stepping. Still a little skeptical, I decided it was worth a shot seeing how I was in Texas.

A couple that were friends of Kate’s arrived at the house and the three of them started pre-gaming with shots of Jack Daniel’s chased by Lone Star. I passed on the shot offers as to not get too drunk in an unfamiliar town. When it came time to leave, Kate and her two friends mentioned they would be riding their bikes that evening and I decided to join them and meet up with Nick and his girlfriend at the bar.

When we got to The Eastern, the atmosphere was completely different than I anticipated. It was a trendy-dive bar with a “jamboree” country flair. It reminded me of A Goofy Movie’s Possum Park, but if all the kids had grown up, grown a handle bar mustache and drank Lone Star Beer (Texas’ PBR). We grabbed our drinks, Lone Star Beer of course, and headed towards the stage where a band called Whiskey Music was already playing loud and fast. Sounds of the south rang loud as the lead singer peered at the crowd through a hole in the bill of his cowboy hat, a 50’s style, welled dressed cowboy played the harmonica, a banjo player and bassist strummed hard and the guy who was described by the band as “The guy who bangs shit with other shit” well, banged shit with other shit. The music was loud, fast and awesome.

About an hour later, I remembered Nick was suppose to be meeting us. I asked Kate if she had heard anything from him. He had decided to go to another bar as to not have to pay the cover for this bar. I left the communication of location up to Kate and Nick, which would prove to be a bad idea since Kate and her friends had continued their pre-gaming tactics while fully submerged in the game.

Once the band finished, Kate and I decided to meet Nick and his girlfriend at the bar they had decided to go to. On the way, we ran into two more of Kate’s friends who described themselves as “mermaids”. They ran a business handmaking high end mermaid tails. They were both wearing vibrant blue clothing, with bleach blonde hair and their nails painted (even the guy). They decided to join us on our quest for Nick and his girlfriend. When we arrive at the next bar, The Brixton, Nick was no where to be found. The four of us decided to just continue the night without him and move onto another bar called Cheer Up Charlie’s. When we got to the bar, I stepped away to use the restroom, and that was the last time I saw Kate. When I returned to the mermaids outside of the bar, who were hanging out with another group of people, they said they hadn’t seen Kate since they got there.

I talked with my new group of bar friends for a little before a few of the people I had just met decided they were going to leave and go to an after hours dance party. I was feeling a little spunky at this point, so I decided I would join them. Along the way, I realized I was en route to attend an AFTER HOURS party. It set in just how late it was and how late it would be once I left this after hours party. I decided to call it a night and started to head back towards The Eastern where I had parked my bike.

On the way back to The Eastern, I stopped at Lucky J’s Waffle Taco’s at The East Side Fillin’ Station. Both the waffle taco’s and the “fillin’ station” were things I had never seen or heard of before. The fillin’ station is a lot of food trucks, all serving different cuisines, but working together as one community. A waffle taco is exactly what it sounds like, a waffle used as a taco shell usually wrapped around chicken strips and toppings. I ordered the Brady Waffle Taco which consisted of fried chicken tenders, swiss cheese, sriracha and honey all wrapped in a bacon waffle. My god was that thing good. Not only that, but since they didn’t serve alcohol, the woman making the waffle taco was nice enough to share a nightcap of a whiskey with me.

I received the Brady Waffle Taco and sat at one of the benches in the courtyard of the fillin station. As I sat and ate my delicious, late night slice of heaven, I called my brother and chatted with him about how excited I was to see him in just a few weeks at my final destination spot of Tacoma, Washington.

The next morning, on my way out, I spoke with Nick. Come to find out, there was a miscommunication between him and Kate as to which bar he was at. I also received a text from Kate, who got my number from Nick, apologizing for her disappearance. She had been “over served”, as my grandfather called it, and decided to go home and sleep off the night. Nights like these are when it is a good thing my momma raised me in a way that I can go with the flow!

Tyler Goelz will be writing about his experiences in each city and posting them periodically. For a full listing of the cities he visited, check out this link:

Just Lift Off”, says Bartosz Solowiej, Silicon Valley Entrepreneur & Software Designer, right before he took off across America with his family of 7 who are following their dreams of traveling and starting a family business. Where are they now?  That’s the best part, stay tuned for more and be sure to check out the Very Interesting Family by visiting their family business and their adventure video blog for more videos and information.

A Family of Seven Follows Their Dreams

A Beard Across America: Hidden Underground Tunnels and The Beginning of a Kolache Obsession

This Excerpt from #TFoTG – Essays from A Beard Across America

As I departed New Orleans, I had absolutely no idea of what to expect from Texas. It would be the furthest I had ever traveled west and in all honesty, I wasn’t even sure of the geographical order of the cities I would be visiting in Texas. For example, I had told my father as I was leaving Nola that I’d be in Austin that night. That was not the case. After looking at my itinerary, I was going to CouchSurf with a guy named Abhijit.

I arrived in Houston at the same time Abhi was getting home from work. I had to get some work done on a project and it couldn’t have come at a better time since my host had to go to a friends house for about an hour. I gave him the beignet from Cafe Du Monde that I had brought for him from New Orleans and he gave me his front door key, a key to get into his gated community, set me up on his internet and explained that the only rule was that I would need to take my shoes off when I entered his house.

Abhi returned and I was about half way done with the work I needed to get done. He told me that was fine since he was going to be hosting a meeting for the chapter of a nonprofit he works with that evening for a couple hours. The nonprofit helped underprivileged kids in Abhi’s homeland of India. They were planning a karaoke event that was scheduled to happen a few weeks from then in an attempt to raise money and sponsor children. Once I finished working, I was glad that they were still meeting as I was able to learn more about the nonprofit and provide some feedback for the event they were planning.

Towards the end of the meeting, Abhi went to the refrigerator and pulled out a birthday cake. I was confused at first since nobody was surprised by it. Come to find out, it was their friends birthday who had just happen to go to the restroom at the right time for Abhi to bring out the cake. When she returned, we surprised her by singing happy birthday. Then, started taking pictures of each of them feeding her the cake, one at a time. They explained that it’s an old tradition in India to bring/feed the birthday girl/boy sweets. So, when the fork got around to me, I picked up a piece of cake and smiled at the camera as I fed her… when in Rom… Houston!

After the meeting, Abhi let me know of a meetup that some of the CouchSurfers in Houston had set up at a local bar and grille so we headed there. We had a drink and mingled with some of the locals in the area, but quickly decided to go grab some food since neither of us had eaten. We headed towards a part of town called Montrose, which is apparently a younger part of town, and quickly found a bar called Anvil – Bar & Refuge. Before we grabbed a drink, we went to a food truck that was parked outside a bar across the street and had dinner. As we ate, Abhi told me that Anvil was known for their cocktails, many of which are made from whiskey, bourbon or rum. I was fascinated by one drink in particular, although I didn’t dare order it, called the Ramos Gin Fizz. It was priced at $20, and rightfully so taking ~8 minutes to prepare with the ingredients including gin, lemon, lime, cream, egg white, soda, and orange flower water. The bartender told us of a busy Friday night when a guy came in with a group of friends and ordered 10 of them. He warned the guy it would take about an hour and 20 minutes and cost $200, but the guy insisted. So, the bartender proceed to make them all, shaking each drink for roughly 8 minutes. We finished our drinks and headed further into Montrose to a dive bar for a nightcap, then returned to Abhi’s apartment.

We were deciding where we’d like to eat breakfast the next morning and Abhi suggested I try a Central and South West Texas staple called Kolache. The pastry dish originates from a Czech descent, but are now very popular in states like Texas, Oklahoma, Nebraska and Minnesota. I agreed and we went to a chain called Kolache Factory. There, my obsession with the food was born.

The next few hours would prove to be very educational for me, not only about Houston and Texas history, but also about a perspective on Gandhi I had never heard before. We left from breakfast and headed towards the Texas Medical CenterWikipedia claims, “The Texas Medical Center is the largest medical center in the world with one of the highest densities of clinical facilities for patient care, basic science, and translational research.” TMC was literally like it’s own city. We drove around for about 20 minutes and never left the area. At one point, Abhi pulled into one of the drop off areas so I could run inside one of the waiting rooms and it was nicer than most of the hotels I’ve ever stayed in.

Our next stop was to head towards Downtown Houston. Along the way, a little history on Sam Houston. As we passed a statue of him, Abhi explained to me that Sam Houston was ingrained and very well favored in Texas history and was elected President of the Republic of Texas twice in the 1830’s.

We arrived in Downtown Houston and began looking for an entrance to what Abhi explained to me as a, somewhat secret, system of underground tunnels that connected the skyscrapers and businesses to one another. Sounded farfetched, but sure enough, we entered a bank with a staircase heading down into a tunnel that looked similar to a New York City subway stop, but with no trains. We explored the tunnels, while people watching professionals in their day-to-day business.

Houston was great city and I had a great time. I think a lot of my experience there is due to Abhi’s hospitality and knowledge of the Houston. It’s a very large town, but I feel I got to see the best parts of it. Thank you, Abhi!

Tyler Goelz will be writing about his experiences in each city and posting them periodically. For a full listing of the cities he visited, check out this link:

A Beard Across America: India House Hostel and Frenchmen Street

This Excerpt from #TFoTG – Essays from A Beard Across America

I was excited to reach New Orleans for multiple reasons; It’s New Orleans, it was my first time in a hostel and I had a list of recommended places to visit from my father and people that I’ve encountered that are from Nola.

As I pulled into town, my first stop was to check into theIndia House Hostel which is located on Canal and South Lopez Street. It was a series of houses that were purchased shortly after Katrina and converted into a hostel. The atmosphere was fantastically eclectic and welcoming. After check-in, I joined other travelers in the common area located outside. Other guests were already playing drinking games and pre-gaming for a night on the town. As we got to know one another, we started planning our adventure for the evening. “We should go down to Frenchmen Street again” said one of the travelers. When I asked what Frenchmen Street was all about, I was told that it is more of a local music scene and more relaxed than Bourbon Street. They were speaking my language.

To give some perspective on New Orleans, Canal Street is a main vein that is perpendicular with Bourbon Street. To get to Frenchmen Street from the hostel, you can take the cable car down to Bourbon Street and walk down past the residential part until you hit Kerlerec Street. Make a right, then a left on Royal Street and you’ll run into Frenchmen Street.

The first night out, we had a cocktail of nationalities. There was an Aussie, two Israelis, an Irishman, a Hollander and three Americans (including myself). I was pleasantly surprised in the amount of camaraderie we all shared almost immediately. From the second we stepped onto the cable car, through each bar we visited and to the point we returned home, everyone was looking out for one another making sure we knew if people wanted to go to another bar or their thoughts on the current one. It was an amazing experience.

The next morning, the two Israelis, Ran and Eric, and I planned to go on a swamp tour that had a shuttle that picked people up from the hostel. I had a few hours before the next shuttle came, so I decided to grab an early lunch at a restaurant my dad recommended called Mother’s. I ordered the Turkey Ferdi with “debris”, which is the New Orleans word for all the roast beef that falls into the gravy while baking in the oven. It was a great start to my day and set an awesome base for the tour to come.

When the shuttle arrived at the hostel, about nine of us actually got in and were eager to see some gators. The shuttle took us to a larger bus in the French Quarter where the swamp tour’s city headquarters was located. On the shuttle to and from the hostel, I sat next to an Irishman named Vinny who I got to know over the combined hour and a half drive. He was on a trip similar to mine, but was traveling by train instead of car. The swamp tour itself was bittersweet and I still can’t tell if I agree with the whole operation or not. On one hand, I enjoyed the scenery, history and comedy provided by the tour guide and on the other I disliked the way they fed the gators in order to bring them near the boat. The gators were becoming domesticated and that’s when you end up with gators in peoples yards looking for a yummy dog to gobble up. Either way, it was nice to learn a little about the history of the swamp and it’s people.

That night, I was wanting to find some delicious New Orleans style food so Ran, Eric and I used another suggestion from the list of places to go and went to a place called Cafe Maspero. We decided to order family style and split a bowl of gumbo, a bowl of french onion soup and three types of Po Boys (crawfish, shrimp and roast beef). The best dish was hands down gumbo.

We returned to the hostel to meet back up with Vinny and a few others for another night on the town. This time it was Vinny, Ran, Eric, the Aussie and a Frenchman we had met the night before. I talked to the Frenchman, Frederick, on the ride down the Bourbon Street while on the street car. He had never been to New Orleans and decided to celebrate his 40th birthday there, meeting people from the hostel along the way. As I walked down Bourbon Street, a conversation started between myself and the Aussie, James, as he began telling me about Australia and how they recently had, in his opinion, an awful political shift. He blamed it on the fact that it’s required to vote in Australia and if a citizen neglects to, they must pay a fine. That was an interesting tidbit of information I was unaware of, but pleased to learn as it made me think of how America promotes voting, but gives us a choice to. We made our way to the usual spots on Frenchmen Street, calledThe Spotted Cat and d.b.a, to listen to some good ol’ dirty Nola jazz. I decided to call it an “early” night and headed back to the hostel at about midnight to prepare for my trip the next day.

The next morning, before leaving town, I stopped by the famous Cafe Du Monde for their delicious beignets and coffee before making my way to Houston, Texas, of course saving one of the beignets for my CouchSurfinghost.


Turkey Ferdi w/ Debris from Mother’s Restaurant

Swamp Tour by Cajun Encounters

Shrimp, Crawfish and Roast Beef Po Boys at Cafe Maspero

Tyler Goelz will be writing about his experiences in each city and posting them periodically. For a full listing of the cities he visited, check out this link:

Remember, Remember the 5th of Movember

Remember, Remember the 5th of Movember

Good evening. Allow me first to apologize for this interruption. I do, like many of you, appreciate the comforts of everyday routine—the security of the familiar, the tranquility of repetition. I enjoy them as much as any bloke. But in the spirit of commemoration, thereby those important events of the past usually associated with someone’s death or the end of some awful bloody struggle are celebrated with a nice holiday, I thought we could mark this Movember the 5th, a day that is sadly no longer remembered, by taking some time out of our daily lives to sit down and have a little chat. There are, of course, those who do not want us to speak. I suspect even now, orders are being shouted into telephones, and men with guns will soon be on their way. Why? Because while the truncheon may be used in lieu of conversation, words will always retain their power. Words offer the means to meaning, and for those who will listen, the enunciation of truth. And the truth is, there is something terribly wrong with this country, isn’t there? Cruelty and injustice, intolerance and oppression. And where once you had the freedom to object, to think and speak as you saw fit, you now have censors and systems of surveillance coercing your conformity and soliciting your submission. How did this happen? Who’s to blame? Well, certainly, there are those who are more responsible than others, and they will be held accountable. But again, truth be told, if you’re looking for the guilty, you need only look into a mirror. I know why you did it. I know you were afraid. Who wouldn’t be? War, terror, disease. There were a myriad of problems which conspired to corrupt your reason and rob you of your common sense. Fear got the best of you, and in your panic you turned to your scissors. More than four hundred years ago, a great citizen wished to embed the 5th of Movember forever in our memory. His hope was to remind the world that fairness, justice, and freedom are more than words—they are perspectives. So if you’ve seen nothing, if the crimes of this government remain unknown to you, then I would suggest that you allow the 5th of Movember to pass unmarked. But if you see what I see, if you feel as I feel, and if you would seek as I seek, then I ask you to stand beside me tonight, next to these beards, and together we shall give them a 5th of Movember that shall never, ever be forgot.

A Beard Across America: Big Ass Pizza and Freedom Salute American Beer

This Excerpt from #TFoTG – Essays from A Beard Across America

I was excited to reach Tallahassee since this would be the first time I had ever CouchSurf’d. I was staying with Chris & Meagan and wasn’t quite sure what to expect. Most likely a cool couple offering a coach for me to rest my head on and an hour or two of good conversation. My only concern was that they’d be unhappy with the fact that my arrival time was a few hours later than I expected, but with open communication between Chris and I along the way, things worked out just fine.

When I arrived at Chris and Meagan’s house, they greeted me at the door with wide smiles and an eager intention to grab dinner and a few drinks. Also, they showed me to the room that I’d be staying in that they designate for friends who stay over and CouchSurfers. Sweet!

After I put my things in the room, we were off to dinner. We went to a place that was about 3 minutes from their house called Momo’s Pizza and had, what I consider, the largest slice of pizza ever (each slice is served on it’ own 12” pizza pan). It was as good as it was filling. When we left Momo’s, we returned to Chris and Meagan’s house and Chris and I rode our bikes to Proof Brewing Co. which was right down the street from his house. We shared a beer and a few stories about traveling and our life experiences.

We returned to the house and Chris handed me a beer called Freedom Salute American wrapped in a koozie with the pledge of allegiance on it. I felt at home. Chris and his roommate were on a mission to watch different episodes of 90’s sitcoms that were focused around drugs, that night the show was Blossom. They switched back and forth between that and college football. We poked fun at the sitcom, quoted TV shows we all enjoy and hung out as if we had all known one another for years.


Freedom Salute American Beer

Tyler Goelz will be writing about his experiences in each city and posting them periodically. For a full listing of the cities he visited, check out this link:

A Beard Across America: A First Successful Dreamline

This Excerpt from #TFoTG – Essays from A Beard Across America

Along the way, I heard a few different reactions to the cross country road trip I took from St. Petersburg, Florida to Tacoma, Washington ranging from “It must be nice to be rich” to “you must have saved up for a long time”, neither of which were true. I’m going to share with you how I was able to travel 4900 miles over a four-week span, visiting 18 cities in 10 different states.

About 8 months ago, I read a book called The 4-Hour Work Week (4HWW) by Tim Ferris. The book focuses on lifestyle design and uses a formula to be able to live the life that you want. The formula can be summed up in the following acronym: DEAL. Definition, Elimination, Automation and Liberation. Here’s how I used Definition, Elimination and Liberation to make this road trip happen and how I discovered an idea for a muse (Automation) along the way.

Part of defining what you want in life is to stop thinking of “work” as what you do. Think about when someone asks you, “What do you do?”, our first reaction is to respond with what our occupation is. This is built into American society as a social norm that when you graduate college (or high school in my case), you get a full-time job and that’s “what you do”. Throwing that mindset out the window is one of the most challenging, yet rewarding things one person can do in their life. Once you’re able to change your mindset of what you want to do in life, besides work, it’s time to start creating a dreamline*. The 4HWW suggests creating a six-month timeline and a 12-month timeline, I only created a six-month. A dreamline should include 3 different categories, things you dream of having, being and doing. Creating a dreamline is the first big step to making your short term dreams come true. It makes them more tangible and realistic, even if they seem impossible to obtain. It allows you to take the first step.

I decided I wanted to travel from my hometown of St. Petersburg, Florida to visit my brother who was stationed at Fort Lewis in Tacoma, Washington. Instead of simply flying to Tacoma, I wanted to take four-weeks to see the country and experience America, some of it on my own and some of it with my girlfriend. The time came for me to eliminate all the excess and distractions in my professional life to make this dream become reality.

*To learn more about dreamlines, visit this link

On a day-to-day basis, we generally deal with a lot of noise, whether it be emails, social networks or co-workers. This leads to long “work” days of responding to emails, answering questions that don’t require an answer and plenty of distractions to avoid the work that needs to be done. Luckily, I work at home, by myself, so it’s rather simple for me to eliminate a lot of the noise and focus on project work. There are plenty of tips in the 4HWW that can help people with office jobs on eliminating the excess and focusing on what you’re there to do. It would be like taking this trip and stopping at a gas station to get a cup of ice, then 20 minutes later, stopping again to get food. Getting the cup of ice doesn’t take longer than 45-60 seconds, but pulling off the exit, stopping the car, going into the gas station, getting the ice, paying for it, getting back in your car, pulling onto the highway and getting back up to speed takes quite some time. Logically, when people travel, they consolidate everything they need to do into one stop: gas, bathroom, drinks, food, etc. Why wouldn’t somebody do this at their day job? Or in life?

The way I consolidated the “noise” in my day was to first disable all the push notifications of social networks and emails. Then I created an auto responder for my incoming emails that alerted people I would be answering emails twice a day at 12:00 PM and 4:00 PM EST. If the matter couldn’t wait until 12 or 4 (in most cases it can), then I provided a phone number for them to contact me at. I also used that time to check Facebook and Twitter if I wanted to. This increased my productivity by allowing me to focus on my work and removed distractions by giving people the ability to make decisions on their own about what they were contacting me about.

Now that I was more effective with work and communication, I could use my spare time to plan my trip and the other things on my dreamline. The value that I provided the client stayed the same, but I got things done in half the time.

I know it might seem easy for me to liberate myself since I work at home, but that’s not always the case. Plenty of people that work from home end up working more hours than they would in an office because they have even more distractions than they would in an office. Once you’ve eliminated distraction, whether in the office or at home, you’ll find that you’ll provide enough value** for the day that you can be done working by as early as 1:00 PM, then check some emails, and use the rest of the day to plan for the things on your dreamline.

In my case, after I determined I wanted to visit my brother and take a cross-country road trip, I had to start planning what destinations I wanted to visit. This step was crucial as it made the trip more definite instead of just something I was talking about doing. The first month into my dreamline, while defining the cities I wanted to visit, I learned of a site called CouchSurfing*** which I could use to meet locals in the cities I would visit and also have a free place to stay. Through CouchSurfing, I was recommended to a few hostels (which I would not have considered at first, but highly recommend now) and soon after found out about AirBnB****, which was similar to CouchSurfing, but rooms were rented. My next step was to contact whom I would be staying with in each city, booking my hotel for Las Vegas and figuring out the part of the trip my girlfriend would be joining me on. From there, I was ready to embark on my trip. I didn’t have every single detail planned out, but I had enough set in stone that I could figure out the rest along the way.

**As an independent contractor, I’ve set my income up to be based on value provided instead of an hourly rate. It’s similar to a fixed bid project, but is a set weekly amount that is paid for an agreed upon “value” provided. It allows for truly iterative design and development work and focuses on progress rather than time sheets.

To recap, I planned a trip from the East Coast to the West Coast in 6 months. I Defined what I wanted to do, Eliminated the excess noise of my work day to focus on what was important, found a way to Automate passive income along the way and Liberated myself by putting plans into action and continuously pushing forward until the day I hit Tacoma.

I will be writing about my experiences in each city and posting them periodically. For a full listing of the cities I visited, check out this link:

Freedom of the Hills: Leaving It All Behind

At the end of this summer my family and I relocated to the Smoky Mountains to pursue new ventures and adventures. To get to this Adventure Cabin & Hostel we run called We Blew Inn, you make a journey through twisting bumpy rising falling mountain roads, and then you’ve arrived to more of the same. We also brought a small vintage fibreglass RV made in 1979, and every week we venture farther into the mountains for what we call Freedom of the Hills, and we leave it all behind. It seems that everywhere we go is the same journey: twisting bumping rising falling, leaving it all behind, and then we’ve arrived.

What a place to arrive at, where each journey takes its own course, and no amount of expert navigation can predict the surprises and wonders along the way. I find that each place is a place of peace, with a silently gushing river, creek or branch, animals and insects moving about, trees swaying and leaves rustling in the wind, people meandering through the woods all the time, everyone walking slowly and deliberately; no distractions, with constant gratitude and mindfulness just to be here. This is a beautiful place of peace.

As I contemplate the peace of leaving it all behind, I am constantly wondering why we need a place in the mountains for this kind of peace.

Thousands of tired, nerve-shaken, over-civilized people are beginning to find out going to the mountains is going home; that wilderness is a necessity…

― John Muir

I’m no stranger to work overload, long days and weeks and months of hustle, racing to finish lines while constantly changing the starting lines, and wondering if there were any reprieve around the bend. I’m also no stranger to building a community or participating in one, being available for questions or lend a helping word or hand, or being available for friends or colleagues that require insight or inspiration. But at the end of these long days, you find that giving is hard work, it is draining, and it wears on your soul like the rivers seem to wear on their rocks. We need to sharpen ourselves.

And so I’ve been practicing minimizing to bare essentials and leaving it all behind, no matter what I’m doing, every day. What is this like?

Imagine you’re going to meet with someone, but you’re still thinking about the project you’ve been working on. You’ve brought the project with you. It distracts you so that you don’t fully hear the person you’re with, and they can sense your lack of attention, your lack of presence. This hurts the relationship. It stresses you out, because you’re working on the project and talking with someone at the same time. You are less competent with one task because you’re still thinking about another.

Stress, less competency, and hurt relationships. This is what we have when we bring everything with us to every activity. This happens social circles, teams, companies and communities, every day. It happens in our government’s quarters, and our family’s den.

But if you can leave the project or burden behind, the talk will be much better, the time fulfilling and rewarding. You’ll be fully present, fully engaged and less stressed out.

A place of peace. This is what we are really after, and what I have found, nestled between these mountains. 

Great things are done when men {or women} and mountains meet

― William Blake.

How to Find Your Freedom of the Hills and Leave It All Behind

So how do we leave everything behind, so that we can find peace? 

It’s not easy. It’s not a one time decision or action, it is pure and simple practice; then more practice. But it’s a wholly worthwhile practice.

Not everyone will take such extensive measures as I have and sell everything, become a minimalist in thought, possession and action; but everyone can find peace within their path.

Here’s are some simple steps to practice I have found:

  • When you arrive in a new place, or talk to someone, or start something new … just pause.
  • Then take a brief moment to journey through the mountain road, leaving behind the rest of your life. Just let go, by loosening your grip, by relaxing instead of grasping; then see it fall behind.
  • Then arrive in the new place. Look around, smile, and enjoy. Inhabit the new place and give thanks for being there.
  • Then put your attention on this new place. This new person. This new activity.
  • When you notice your attention wander, just return to that mountain road and find yourself in this place.
  • Let go of the need to check, to constantly be busy with something else, to know what’s going on or to do everything. This is our vice. Then remember…

I am just here.
And here is great.

I have walked that long road to freedom. I have tried not to falter; I have made missteps along the way. But I have discovered the secret that after climbing a great hill, one only finds that there are many more hills to climb. I have taken a moment here to rest, to steal a view of the glorious vista that surrounds me, to look back on the distance I have come. But I can only rest for a moment, for with freedom come responsibilities, and I dare not linger, for my long walk is not ended.

― Nelson Mandela


Why You Should Write Your Own Job Description

This is an excerpt I wrote for a new founding team for a company dedicated to Lifestyle Design and creating a muse, not a business to run.

“Every startup should have a culture of learning”. Eric Reis has written a lot, but few things are as simple or as relevant as that statement. How may many of us have ever had a job where one of the only two requirements for getting it and keeping it, was learning? Neither have I. Our rule is simple: everyone in this company is 100% responsible for how they spend their time. Of course we use job descriptions and face time for recruiting and defining key roles & responsibilities, but that doesn’t mean we should take them literally or think of it as a job. I realized that, although I believe in the policy of trusting everyone to know what they are supposed to do, I don’t always take the necessary actions to build that trust into the culture of the company.

Simply put, every person in this company has this job description: In any situation it is your responsibility, using your best judgement, to do what you think is in the best interests of the company, its culture, and the customer. That’s it. Everything else is only marketing. Think Office Space meets the set of SouthPark Studios (where they produce one episode every six days, faster than any other show) meets a traveling caravan of mystic gypsies.

This is why our team prefers potential earnings (e.g. stock, performance bonuses, no-ceiling monthly earnings) over guaranteed earnings (e.g. salary, benefits). We’ve all had a job before that seemed safe and secure, but we’re not here to create a job that feels safe…we are here to create a lifestyle for our own personal journeys. We are here to liberate.

“There is nothing the busy man is less busied with than living; there is nothing harder to learn.” -Seneca

Every new person inducted into this company is Employee # 1. We surround you with access to the best ideas, talent, people, opportunity and an incredible network. We are not just hiring any old designer or expert business mind, we’re hiring employee # 1…every time. Each person helps set the culture of the company using their craftsmanship. This person has to mesh with our personality and values 100%, because there is a high chance that we are going to be putting in long hours together or not speaking at all for months on end — and if we don’t get your jokes, it’s not going to work out. That’s why your job description was the best joke we’ve played on you so far.

*The best advice I could give you is to be authentic, be funny, reflect your personality, reflect the uniqueness of you and incorporate that into the company. See the jobs page or our culture page for a bunch of examples — everything from detailing our culture (“Being transparent about our strengths and weaknesses wins us sales”) to attitude on writing our guides (“You think publishing an eGuide is fun, like a worldwide adventure) to treating customers (“Whether or not you sleep at night is directly proportional to whether you’ve made someone thrilled or pissed off that day”).

‘For the past 20 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: “If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?” And whenever the answer has been “No” for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something … almost everything— all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure—these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose.’ – Steve Jobs

If you’re confused about life, you’re not alone. There are almost seven billion of us. This isn’t a problem, of course, once you realize that life is neither a problem to be solved nor a game to be won. If you are too intent on making the pieces of a nonexistent puzzle fit, you miss out on all the real fun, and this company probably won’t be real fun to you. The heaviness of success-chasing can be replaced with a serendipitous lightness when you recognize that the only rules and limits are those we set for ourselves.

So be bold and don’t worry about what people think. They don’t do it that often anyway.

You can find our culture hidden in books (see below), history, practical philosophy, poetry and the liberated spirit in each of us.

The Few That Matter..the recommendations here are restricted to the best of the best for aspiring Lifestyle Designers:

~ The Four Hour Work Week BY TIM FERRIS
~ The Magic of Thinking Big BY DAVID SCHWARTZ
~ The E-Myth Revisited: Why Most Small Businesses Don’t Work and What to Do About It BY MICHAEL E. GERBER
~ Vagabonding: An Uncommon Guide to the Art of Long-Term World Travel BY ROLF POTTS
~ How to Make Millions with Your Ideas: An Entrepreneur’s Guide BY DAN S. KENNEDY
~ Fierce Invalids Home from Hot Climates BY TOM ROBBINS

* excerpt from 4HWW