The Zen of Search
the Image Freedom blog
The Zen of Search
the Image Freedom blog
In February of this year, I wrote a blog, “My Fear of Stairs” about my Air Force injury and how certain factors in my life were giving me a reason to climb the stairs, to even run up stairs, because what was at the top of the stairs was worth more than the pain that typically made me fear staircases.
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This May I hired an assistant. Business had been improving and I knew that one of my biggest weaknesses was my Attention Deficit Disordered self. Being easily distractible is fantastic when you’re in the creative space, where I spend probably half my day, but when it comes time to returning e-mails, remembering appointments and getting things done, the mind of an ADD child suffers dramatically.
So I now have an assistant, and her name is Sarah, and she completes me in no understated way. Sarah is detail oriented, organized and difficult to distract. She is often my nemesis, and I’ll do my part to derail her plans to keep me on task. I once contemplated giving her Pink Eye so her absent self would be unable to remind me that I should be doing work. I mean, contemplated, really, I wouldn’t honestly infect one of my employees with a contagious disease. Honest!
So today Sarah and I were working on Excel and updating the budget for the company, and for myself. We discussed various aspects of the business, who we needed to contact, who to update, who to assign this or that to, etc. Sarah pointed at my Twitter client and said, “Why not just Direct Message her now?” We needed to write some checks, for both personal and business things, “Why not just write the checks now?”
So we did. Both. Right then.
We got to talking about a book I had been given called “The Power of Now” and it’s a book I always thought I should read but never did, so you’ll have to tell me if it correlates at all to what I’m talking about here, but essentially, those things “I should really do” are much more easily done if you just… you know, do them. RIGHT NOW.
I needed to e-mail a client. Do it now. I needed to update my spreadsheets. Just do it! I was behind on my blog. Now is as good a time as any right?
Now is truly a powerful thing, and when we sat down, and we identified tasks and as soon as we gave it a name, gave it a purpose, we just accomplished it. Didn’t create an action item, a calendar entry, or a separate spreadsheet, nope. We just opened whatever it was, completed the thing, and just like that it’s done!
What are you putting off? What are you planning to do that planning for, making a list for, or thinking about doing, is taking more time than it’d take to just freaking do it!? Join me in a culture of now! You’ll be glad you did!
There’s something about a sunset. A sunset slows you down.
My friend Michelle Poteet (Chief Executive Organizer at Reclaim Order) often repeats something Pattie Porter taught us about fear. Pattie asked us once, during one panic or another, exactly what the worst thing that could happen was.
Wait… you mean this isn’t the end of the world? Truly?
Michelle reminds me of this, I remind her of this, and I guess that’s what accountability partners are for right? Sometimes we forget that the sun will rise tomorrow, just like it did today.
Spending an evening on the Seal Beach Pier the other day, I watched the sun set. There’s something about that moment in time that reaches in and lifts you out of your life for a moment, reminds you that this is all temporary, that nothing is permanent
A sunset resets us. No matter how bad today was, tomorrow is a new day, and it’s up to us to make it better.
April of 2009 I was a fresh face in San Antonio, recently divorced, escaping the collapsing California economy, on my own for the first time in my life. There were plenty of bad days, plenty of lonely days, but the sun always rose the next day.
We all make the wrong choice sometimes. I think what will eventually define us is how many times we decided to do the right thing, I’ll tell you, speaking from very recent experience that it only takes the tiniest action to turn things around.
So you lost a client. So that proposal wasn’t picked up. So that pretty girl never called. Life goes on and I promise you the sun will rise tomorrow.
Will you sleep in, hit snooze, let today be as bad as yesterday, or will you rise and greet this brand new day?
Reminds me of a blog I read years ago at Zen Habits, I recommend you read it too. The most successful people are those who always take action, any action, even the wrong action, rather than choose to do nothing. That idea comes from the same place, we can choose to be stagnant or we can choose to be aggressive.
Even if we fail, the sun will always rise tomorrow and we can try again until we find our moment to succeed.
Have you found your moment?
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?