Can’t be down and out if we’re up and at it

I have an admission to make: I’m currently unemployed. Well, that’s something of a half-confession in that I do own a business and my last “job” was as a 1099 contractor. In essence, I’ve been technically unemployed for over a year. That said, I’m not working as a contractor, my business isn’t bringing in much cash, and I don’t have employment.

So, basically, I’m unemployed.

And this is something that I’m a bit at odds with. I’m still working (i.e., writing, planning, developing new products and services), yet I’m not bringing in income. That’s not good.

Part of me feels like I’m down and out, that I’m going to lose everything and end up a derelict. I’m sure I’m not the only one who has felt this way.

But here’s the thing: while I may not have income at the moment, as I continue to move, continue to work and look for either employment or freelance gigs, I’ll be OK. That’s the “up and at it” part of the equation.

Now, all that sounds fantastic, right? Get up and get going! Success is within your reach, you only have to keep reaching! Don’t give up! Are those inspirational and motivational comments or simply platitudes?

Both, I guess.

This isn’t the first time I’ve been in dire straits. Yet, this time around, I’m realizing something: being at the end of one’s tether is both good and bad. It’s good because, when life is running on greased rails, we can become comfortable with good and not go for great (à la “Good to Great” by Jim Collins); we run the risk of dulling ourselves. Additionally, we may even get to thinking we’ve got everything figured out. The latter may lead to self-glorification and vanity. In a struggle, we tend to humble ourselves and attempt to look at our situation (and how we ended up there) through an objective lens.

The bad is self-evident. There is stress and self-doubt in times of want, not to mention the precarious nature of trying to operate one’s life with a bank account close to zero; one misstep and the whole thing comes down like a house of cards. And it can take years to heal. They say successful people count their pennies. In a way, unsuccessful people do too.

Yet, it’s good to put things into perspective. I may be down but I’m not down for the count. And I’m not as down as so many others have been or who are currently struggling. I still have a roof over my head, food in the fridge, and gas in the car. Compared to so many, I’m rich.

It’s times like this when I recall the book “Man’s Search for Meaning” by Viktor E. Frankl. Many of us have read this book and have been inspired. Yet, I’ll admit that, internally, I overemphasize my own struggle and underestimate the struggle of men and women like Frankl. Think of it: he was able to not only endure the harsh environment of a WWII concentration work camp, and, at the same time, come up with one of the most inspirational books in history! And I’m worried about bills and achieving self-actualization? It’s ludicrous to compare.

Having said that, we can use our struggles to help us understand ourselves and others. Heck, we can even create our own inspiring works under such circumstances. In doing so, we can never be truly down and out.

I had a life coach who told me (when I was going through tough times in the past) that the experience I was having was part of my story. I love that. And I’m looking forward to a happy ending.

Having said all that, I’m going to get back to looking for work.

REVIEW: “At The Shore” by Jim Campbell

After reading it through, I found myself revisiting this book to admire the art. There’s a spot-on energy about the art that fits the story. I love it!

The story is a bit on the odd and obtuse side. It’s a zombie story with nostalgia and a twist. For me, the nostalgia is the best part about it. The setting seems to be based in the not-too-distant past, a time where cell phones were rare (if they even existed) and friends hung out for the sake of hanging out (and not to take selfies). This adds to the mystery and intrigue of the whole adventure, which I like. Also, it has just enough humor to make it fun without getting goofy.

The book was written and illustrated by Jim Campbell. I purchased this particular work when I met him at Denver Comic Con 2017. I enjoyed the energy he had about him and his booth. He had a record player playing a vinyl of his band if I remember correctly. He also had some additional items to accompany “At The Shore”: a soundtrack on tape as well as buttons. When I saw those, I was sold.

I won’t get too in depth with an analysis on plotline, dialogue, or writing in general. A few pages in, and it’s clear that Campbell is having fun with this work. And that’s how I read it. From what I understand, this book is a collection of shorter comic books. I’m not sure if it continues after this book but I hope so. I enjoyed it immensely!

Don’t Push, Pull

As we embark upon this journey to becoming a millionaire, there’s something that we must remember:

We must be virtuous.

In a strange way, making money is not about money. That’s a bit meta when you think about it, kind of like people who give seminars about how to make money by giving seminars about how to make money. No sense in trying to bite one’s own teeth.

I can’t remember where I heard it, but the idea of “Don’t Push, Pull” has been on my mind. (I’m thinking it was in Tim Ferriss’ Tools of Titans.) The idea is that we try to push our goods and services on people — selling them on why they need us — instead of simply creating what the market wants and allowing them to come to us (i.e., pulling them to us).

This is not to say that marketing and promotion are useless. We need to get the word out. But getting the word out and pushing someone to buy are two different things.

This is something that I have had trouble with in the past and, to an extent, I still have trouble with. I wanted to create whatever I desired then convince people why it was awesome. That’s an immature way to go about it. I’m learning that I need to refine my skills and products to “catnip” caliber, get people interested and wanting what I have. Pull, don’t push.

The slippery slope does not elude me. Pandering to people for the sake of money is not what I’m talking about. I’m talking about creating something or providing some service you want to provide which the market, at the same time, wants to consume. That proverbial sweet spot, the overlapping part of a Venn diagram.

This takes attention, focus, and thought. These three things don’t come easy or by default. I’m working on figuring out what I do and create that the market wants to consume. Not there yet, but I’m closer than I was yesterday. And as long as I’m closer tomorrow than I am today, I’m fine with that.


Related books:

   

Long Winding Road or Fast Lane?

Are you a millionaire? I’m not. Not even close. And why? How much time do you have?

But I’m not writing this post to lament the fact that I’m not a millionaire, but to invite you to join me on my journey to becoming a millionaire. By that, I don’t mean to simply just read about my journey but to JOIN me.

I’m inspired by MJ Demarco and his books “The Millionaire Fast Lane” and “Unscripted.” If you’re unfamiliar, get familiarized ASAP. Now…

Let’s become millionaires!

Is it all about the money?

First off, it’s not about the money. Well, OK, I guess in a big way it is about the money, but the money is the WHAT, not the WHY. And the WHY is what I’m after.

Allow me to explain. I’m sure some of you may have a thing to say about my choice in becoming a millionaire. I’m going to present an opposition and my retort, simply to curb any questions after.

“The love of money is the root of all evil.”

Agreed. But becoming a millionaire doesn’t mean that I love money. It means that I am acquiring a resource. Think of it this way: there are people who live in cabins in the mountains. These cabins rely on chimneys and/or wood burning stoves for heat. Such people spend time and energy amassing stacks and stacks of chopped wood as fuel for their heat source. Does that mean that they love the wood? No. It means that they are being wise in thinking ahead. The resource of wood equates to warmth in times of bitter cold. Wood becomes warmth. Money becomes warmth too. Not if you burn it, but if you use it to not be out in the cold.

“Money can’t buy happiness.”

Neither does poverty, at least not outside of a structured system (e.g., a monastery, an Amish village, aforementioned off-the-grid mountain cabin, etc.). If you are someone who believes you can find ultimate happiness by having absolutely no possessions or money, great! I’ve seen YouTube videos of people who figure out ways to live without money; whether they rely on friends or dumpster dive.

But that’s not the life for me.

I hope to have a family and digging through the trash for expired food to feed that family doesn’t appeal to me, especially when I can’t control who throws away what and when and if the authorities allow me to even dumpster dive in the first place. Besides, what man would be proud to say he feeds his family from a dumpster? Not me.

“It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven.”

The term “rich” is subjective. Nearly every U.S. Citizen is rich compared to most of the other people on earth. Does that mean that we’re all doomed? I don’t think so. Sure, a person who has massive amounts of cash may think that he’s untouchable, but not your average millionaire. Personally, I think the phrase is more about a frame of mind — a disposition — than an ultimate destination. Some rich folks are simply unhappy because there’s no purpose in their lives. I want to live a life of purpose, not luxury.

“True wealth can’t be counted in dollars.”

We’re in agreement again. That said, many people like to state, for example, that “health is wealth.” I agree again. I too believe that there are many aspects of wealth (e.g., love, fulfillment, spiritual, etc.), but, even in the above example of health, it’s a lot easier to see a good doctor if there is money in my bank account. That leads to health which, as noted, is wealth. Also, if we’re working in less-than-desirable environments or stressed out over trying to pay the bills, our health can falter. Yes, true wealth can’t be counted in dollars but dollars help grease the rails.

“Greed is evil.”

Everyone (with the exception of Gordon Gecko) agrees that greed is evil. Wanting to be financially well-off isn’t greedy, it’s simply wanting to not have to work for other people who, ironically, can be greedy. Now, there are many great companies to work for and thousands of wonderful bosses. But, at the same time, there are greedy company owners and greedy bosses. Being my own boss (and angling for the not greedy route) is a way to not be lorded over by such greedy people.

Also, there’s an assumption that anyone who has money hordes it away in a vault like Scrooge McDuck. Not so. Many millionaires (and billionaires) are philanthropists. On that note, if you are someone who wants to join me on this journey to millionaire, and you’re not giving now, start. Yes, start giving even if you don’t have lots of money. If you can give when you’re broke, you can give when you’re rich but if you can’t spare a buck now, you’ll most likely be one of the greedy rich later.

“There are more important things in life than money.”

We’re on the same wavelength. I truly believe that the best things in life are free. Yet there are a lot of things that aren’t necessarily the best thing in life and it doesn’t come free. Gasoline isn’t the best thing in life and it’s not free. Got to call the plumber? Guess what… that plumber isn’t free. Lots of things in life take cash. So having cash on hand is not such a bad thing.

Follow the money

What do I plan to do with the money? Invest it and live off of the interest a la Mr. Money Mustache. I’d also like to do whatever I want with it. I’d like to open a coffee shop/pub. I’d like to own laundromats. I’d like to own apartment complexes. I’d like to travel all over the earth. What would you like to do?

Life in the fast lane

As of this moment, I’m listening to “Unscripted” by MJ Demarco. I’m pumped! I’m an entrepreneur, no longer an employee. I want to build systems to get to a million dollars faster than fifty years of saving. Honestly, I don’t know if I have another fifty years left on this earth.

I’m looking to share my experiences with you. I know I can do it. That’s not the question. The question is how will I do it and how long will it take me.

Let’s find out.

Book release party was a hauntingly good time

Just a quick note: the release party for “The Sugar Skull Ghost Thief” was a blast! I had a lot help with this event. Special thanks to Amaro Winery for hosting the event. Also, thanks to Felipe Alvarez and Boar’s Head for sponsoring with AMAZING food. Also, thanks to my good friend Teddy Aspen for his improv skills as he played the actual ghost!

I’ve been busy setting up appearances. I’ll keep you posted.

How I made a low-budget commercial for my “In The Way” book

I made it my goal today to complete a commercial for my “In The Way” book. I started out with:

  • no video footage
  • no music
  • no images
  • no script
  • no idea what I was going to do

But I didn’t let that stop me!

Check out the commercial, then I’ll tell you my process (in case you want to make one for your book or product):

I went onto the Adobe Stock Images site to find some cool stock video footage. I got excited when I saw all this really cool, sleek-looking footage of ladies laughing. My idea was that I was going to “talk” to the lady and she was going to respond with laughter, thumbs up, you get the idea.

But I soon realized that my subscription doesn’t allow for those videos. An eight-second clip may cost me around $80.00!

I tossed out my script and went a different route. Here’s what I did:

  1. I found a panorama pic of outer space and nabbed it. I then slapped that into iMovie.
  2. In iMovie, you can choose jingles. I chose “Borealis,” a 30-second jingle that felt outer-spacey.
  3. Then I opened up GarageBand and messed around a bit. I didn’t write a script down, just had an idea in my head so I ran with it.
  4. In GarageBand, I used three different voice filters: “Delay Vocal” for the start, “Telephone Vocal” for the intercom, and “Narration Vocal” for the regular narration.
  5. I exported the vocal tracks as an MP3 then brought that into iMovie.
  6. I was going to get fancy and create a sleek-looking book but I just took a pic with my phone, emailed it to myself, then cut it out in Photoshop, saved it as a PNG (so it would “float” on the space pic).
  7. I applied a “Ken Burns” effect to both the space pic and the book pic.
  8. I then created that last frame in Photoshop
  9. I added some transitions, tweaked the music, and viola! I had a commercial
  10. From there, I uploaded it to YouTube and to Facebook.

Here are some pics of the process:

This is all the vocals. Simple, eh?

Ken Burns effect of the space panorama pic.

Ken Burns effect of the book.

This is the whole finished product in iMovie.

I’m learning After Effects and using that program may have yielded a more polished commercial, but to teach myself what I needed to know and get the commercial done may have been a bit much.

This commercial is a starting point. I can always do more in After Effects once I get the hang of it.

One last thing: If you’re unfamiliar with my comic “In The Way,” you can check it out by clicking here. If you like it, get the book by clicking here.


Before you go, if you haven’t already, please sign up to my email list.

By signing up, you’ll be part of a select group of Perky Pals, those who get a “Behind the Scenes” look at the projects I’m working on. Shh… it’s the stuff I don’t put online for the world to see, only for my email Pals. 🙂

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A Fresh Start

In my Bullet Journal, one page is dedicated to being grateful. I call it a “Gratitude Log” (I stole that name from a guy who made a YouTube video about Bullet Journalling).

Usually, I’ll write something in every day. One such entry, a few days ago, read: “New beginnings with boldness.”

Then my websites got hacked.

I had to start over and build from scratch. Talk about new beginnings with boldness. Whew!

Yet, there have been some amazing blessings that have come about from this seemingly unfortunate event.

  1. I had been unsure as to what I should do with my “Perk at Work” site — meaning, should I keep it only for that brand or should I use it to also reflect my own personal ideas? After the site went down, I decided to revisit my Tumblr site. I found that I really liked how it felt to have my comics on that site AND I could tag them, not just for local searches, but other Tumblr users could also find them using a hashtag search.
  2. I could also utilize Tumblr for my “In The Way” comic as well.
  3. This all meant I could make my own website as a hub if you will, with me in the center and my works on the outbound.
  4. I was able to purchase some security through my server hosting provider (please let it work!)
  5. There’s a peace that comes with losing something big and surviving it.

Sure, I lost all the content on my other sites (i.e., blog posts, comments, pages, etc.), but I built it before, I can build it again. And build it better.

 

A Chat with Charlie

Sometimes I like to do an “at home” comic. Not all the comics have to be at work, right?

Sheryl’s cat Charlie has made a few appearances. I’d love to show you… just still rebuilding the website and uploading the comics. If you’re signed up for my email list, I’ll see about showing you those other Charlie comics.

See more “Perk at Work” comics on Tumblr by clicking here.


Perked-Up Emails 

By signing up, you’ll be part of a select group of Perky Pals, those who get a “Behind the Scenes” look at the projects I’m working on. Shh… it’s the stuff I don’t put online for the world to see, only for my email Pals. 🙂