The Zen of Search
the Image Freedom blog
The Zen of Search
the Image Freedom blog
In 2004 I worked as a clerk part time at EB Games in San Jose, California. My buddy Chris was the manager and we spent more time geeking out to the products than actually selling them. It was a fun job, a good team to be on. In November of 2004 World of Warcraft was released and our products shipped early and as we worked there we took home our copies a week early. We logged in a week early, we started the addiction a week early.
Everyone has their demons. I’m a geek. I’m a gamer. Sure, I’m this SEO guy you know now, but I used to be something else. I used to be a Warcraft Addict.
I have Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. Not in that fun way you were diagnosed as a kid because you needed a good ass whoopin’ but in the real deal easily distracted, struggle to focus kind of way. Working alone as a freelancer, it was fine, I always did things at the last minute but for the most part I got the work done. Alone.
Making the leap from One Man Show to the Image Freedom you may now know, well, that required a team. How does the easily distracted guy lead a team? It has been an adventure, to say the least. I’ve never worked eight hour shifts, not since I was hired by Nintendo following my employment at EB Games. Even for Nintendo I’d work longer hours more broken up, extended lunches, extended breaks, working my own schedule but one that gave me the room to refocus and get the job done.
We certainly work an eight hour day in the office, and one of the topics circulating my mind lately has been medication for ADHD. There are certainly medications out there that people have had a lot of success with, but at what risk? When I started playing World of Warcraft, there were more days than I’d care to admit where I’d play from the moment I’d wake up to the moment I went to sleep, be that at 7 in the morning at times, logging off only after my little virtual friends all over the world finally went to sleep. I was an addict.
I’m deathly afraid of doing anything I could become addicted to, and just like Mr. Mackey said on South Park: “Drugs are bad, mkay.” Adderall, may be the most common ADHD medication, but is also an amphetamine drug. A quick browse of the Wiki article states that Adderall is a “Schedule II drug under the Controlled Substance Act due to having significant abuse and addiction potential.” That isn’t vert encouraging!
When I was a child I had a mentor named Adam. He was a programmer, a web guy, not unlike the man I’ve grown into. He struggled with ADHD and took medication to combat it. He was the example my family wanted me to follow, the excuse to heavily medicate me, because it was so clearly working for Adam. One day I got a phone call from Adam’s fiance, he’d killed himself. Asphyxiated by a plastic bag, found with a note in his home.
Yea that put the fear of God in me, let me tell you. Was this my future? Everyone loved preaching the similarities. No. I was going to make my own way, follow my instincts, even if that was against the advice of others. I was going to learn from Adam, but not repeat his mistakes.
Everyone has their demons. I don’t want to let addiction become mine, as I know it has been in the past, as I know it was for Adam. Experiencing some growing pains as the business expands, as I expand. I’m proud, and I’m excited by everything we’ve experienced, the good and the bad. Hell, especially the bad. It seems like the mistakes, the failures, are what improves the business the most. I am almost excited by failure, knowing that each misstep will be a catalyst for change. Still, I struggle every day with focus, with the frustration I see on my peers faces when I jump topics, when I get distracted.
The very thing that used to be the secret to my creative success as an individual, has become my bane as a team member, as a business leader, as a boss. Is medication the answer? I really hope it isn’t. I want to find another way.
Everyone has their demons. I’m afraid addiction is one of mine.
The mirror has been my best friend lately. That sounds pretty vain right? Well, the mirror is my best friend because the mirror holds the one opinion lately that I actually listen to: my own. If I like who I am when I look at myself in the mirror, I’m doing pretty good right?
Ever since we moved into our downtown office a lot of people have been super complimentary, it’s like suddenly we have 500 new friends. There are certainly folks we talked to before but when we “made it” and started hiring and started expanding it brought with it a lot of attention. I wanted to write this to really look back and talk about where we’ve been.
In April of 2009 I moved to San Antonio and knew one person in the whole city. We started with his realtor, we moved on to his realtors interior decorator, from there we worked with home cleaners and landscapers, we grew. We spoke to anyone we could. I was living in a little one bedroom apartment and doing my best to keep the lights on. It was the Wild West and I loved it, every day was an adventure.
Eventually I decided that I should peel back, hold onto as much cash as humanly possible so I could invest more in the business, more trade shows, more seminars, more training, etc. I rented a room for $200 in a house with three other guys. Geeky guys not unlike myself, gamers, we had a good time. I liken that time to living in a frat house.
People tell me I’m in demand, they tell me I’ve changed, I’ve been asked what the secret was, that one move was probably the most important. It’s all about footprint. How big is your cost of living footprint? When I reduced my cost of living to pennies of what it was, it freed up so many options for me that I hadn’t considered.
For the first time, I’d had the funds to go to those conferences, take that training, enroll in that online class, or sign up for that Pro Membership. I had the funds to better myself, because let’s face it so much of the best educational resources out there aren’t free. You can’t exactly go to school for SEO as by the time you graduated the information would be out of date.
Reduce your footprint, go without TV, go without those fancy things and just like Dave Ramsey says “Live like no one else, so you can live like no one else”. I’ll tell you, I went without for so long that I second guess every purchase even now. It’s fantastic, I save a fortune.
I am sitting on my Mac Mini right now typing this in my living room, the Mac Mini is plugged into my TV and I’m typing from a Bluetooth Keyboard on my lap, on the couch. Feet up and all. I didn’t need to buy a big computer for the house, I didn’t need to get another laptop, I just needed access to the internet in some form. I did what I needed, not what I wanted, and it freed me up to do other things with those dollars.
Yesterday I paid off 90% of my worldly debt. Old credit cards, some student expenses, you name it. I wouldn’t have been able to do that if I hadn’t peeled way back. So when you ask me why things are working out for Image Freedom, when you’re curious why Matthew has that big stupid grin on his face, it’s because I decided that only my opinion mattered when it came to my life.
Don’t worry about appearance, don’t worry about the shoes you wear or the car you drive, worry about taking action, about being the example of excellence you want to set. Make a product, offer your service, plant your flag and declare yourself for who you are. The second you stop, the second you look back, or God forbid let someone SHOULD on you, that is time you’ll never get back.
Pick a direction and act. You’ll fail only until you succeed.
What are you waiting for?