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Writings

"Writing means sharing. It's part of the human condition to want to share things."

Hey all! If you’re here, then you probably read my Listserve email, or you’re one of the regular 7 readers I have on a daily basis. If you’re the former, then welcome! If you’re the latter, thank you for your continued support, but most of you are all related to me in one way or another and know my life story. So, this is really for the people coming in for the first time.

If you’ve ever won the Listserve, than you know what it’s like to get that celebratory gleam in your eye when you open your inbox to find the “undefined – you’ve won’ from Zena Koo (who, just seems really cool, btw!), then it’s followed by the panicky “holy shit, what should I write?” – “why didn’t I do this a long time ago?” – “I’m gonna come across like an idiot!!”

The 48 hour crunch

Well, I spent the last 48 hours thinking….literally almost every moment. Now, that’s not necessarily different from any other day. I genuinely like to think, but during working hours it’s for clients, and during off hours it’s for myself, not about myself. That usually happens in spurts when I meditate for four minutes, or when I’m driving and nostalgically thinking about my past or ex-girlfriends or something along those lines. But for (almost) 48 hours, I thought about how I could summarize my life in less than 600 words. Or how I could take a really cool moment from my life and turn it into a parable that got across a life lesson that I wanted everyone to magically realize. And I failed…horribly.

I ended up writing about something that I think is interesting – context awareness – I’m not going to regurgitate what I said, but you will see a lot more of context aware design in the websites that we visit, the apps that we love, and the web as a whole to give us (the users) a better experience. Look out for it. But what I’d like to do in this post is just give you a little more background on me, my life, and why it was hard to summarize in 600 words (as I’m sure needs no explanation because everyones’ lives are hard to summarize in 600 words!). But I also want to let everyone know that I meant what I said, reach out, let’s talk. It might take me a while to get back to people, but I like personalized experiences and I like people.

My Life in Under 600 Words…

People have told me that I’ve had an interesting life, an exciting one. But I’m not sure I feel that way. I was born and raised in New England, in a small somewhat coastal but a little more inland mill town with the population of about 30,000. Childhood was cool, high school was….well, high school. But when I graduated, I moved to Hollywood to become a rockstar.  I imagined that to be a little easier than it actually was. Going to auditions, finding musicians who lined up with our style (I went out there with my best friend/lead guitarist) was a grind! And then I got caught up in that whole ‘survival’ thing where you actually had to make money to pay for rent and eat, ha!

Throughout the first 8 years after high school, Hollywood was kind of like a homebase for me, but I ended up driving all over the place. I’ve driven across the country probably close to 20 times. Taken the 70, 80, 90, 40, 15 heading to Vegas, the 10 heading to LA, the 5 heading away from it. I’ve driven through blizzards in Colorado and hailstorms in Kansas. Seen the tumbleweeds of Texas and the colorful canyons of Utah. Stopped at the Grand Canyon one time; Manhattan is gorgeous at 3 in the morning. Pennsylvania took 6 hours, parts of Maryland 6 minutes. And all that time on the road in my early to mid 20’s, I felt as long as I was physically moving, I was progressing in life when I was really just running away from it.

Habitations and the towns we know…

I’ve lived in L.A., Montreal, Dorchester (Boston), smalltown Connecticut, have had extended stays in Colorado, Mexico, and San Francisco (that city has character!). I’m currently roaming in and around Providence, RI. I love this city, it’s small, but has a big feel to it, hip and historic, and inhabits some of the coolest people I’ve met on earth.

I’ve primarily worked in 3 main industries: sales, construction, and technology. But I did a 3 month stint as a garbage man (hated that gig!), drove limos in L.A. for about two months (traffic sucked!), and waited tables for a summer (where I saw the best and worst of people). I used to race motorcycles (not professionally), I had an interesting conversation with Matt Damon one time (which I’m sure he doesn’t remember), and I had an up close and personal encounter with the biggest elk I’ve ever seen (you thought I was going to say aliens, right?). I guess I haven’t lived an uninteresting life, but I’m not sure I would call it all that interesting, it’s just been my life.

The quiet period…

Nowadays, I sit behind a computer, I’m a strategist in the technology space. It’s kind of a catch-all title for people who like to talk and speak their minds. But my clients seem to like me and I do help them solve problems from time to time. I also do a lot of volunteer work with The United Way of Rhode Island’s Young Leaders Circle. Awesome group of professionals, join us if you’re in the area!

My days are much quieter now. But when I look back at my twenties, the only memories I seem to latch onto are the ones where I almost died and berms were involved:

  • Stranded in Colorado miles from the nearest town, almost got trampled by a stampede of angry cattle at 4 in the morning in the pitch dark crouched somewhere against a berm.
  • Somersaulted a motorcycle on a canyon road going about 70 mph because I was young, a risk-taker, and didn’t understand the physics of centrifugal force. Got stopped by a berm.
  • Flipped my truck on the 5 freeway heading up the grapevine in a rainstorm. I hydroplaned, which is an interesting thing to experience, hit a berm in a such a way that it actually catapulted the truck and flipped in mid air. Walked away without a scratch.
  • Got caught in a construction fire in a warehouse that made race-car bolts, everything seemed to be coated in oil and the sheetrocked offices lit up like a Christmas tree. No one got hurt and no berm involved.

They say you’ll remember the moments you have between the ages of 12 and 30 when you get older. Whoops, I’m 35 and these are the things I remember. I’d like to think that I have cooler experiences yet to come. And that’s on me, there’s something that I need to start doing again, which is living. It seems like lately I’ve traded that for a really good career and I’m not entirely sure that’s what I want. I want to meet cool people and grow and contribute and laugh and learn. But who has the time for that now?

My words of wisdom…

I’m not sure if I’m ever headed in the right direction. My life wasn’t the standard life of graduating high school, going to college, getting a degree, finding a good job, getting married, having kids, and saving for retirement. I just went for something, a dream, it didn’t happen but that’s ok. And as time has gone on, I feel like my dreams changed a little. I also feel like we live in a society that puts too much emphasis on doing the traditional, so here’s what I’ll say. Just go do something. I don’t care what it is as long as you’re not hurting yourself or someone else, just do something. I’ll leave you with a quote that I always use around the New Year by Neil Gaiman:

“I hope that in this year to come, you make mistakes. Because if you are making mistakes, then you are making new things, trying new things, learning, living, pushing yourself, changing yourself, changing your world. You’re doing things you’ve never done before, and more importantly, you’re doing something.”

Again, don’t be afraid to reach out, I feel like some of the best friends I have I only connect with electronically.

  • Twitter: ajmatic
  • Snapchat: ajmatic
  • Instagram: adamlamagna
  • Linkedin: Adam Lamagna
  • Facebook: is usually reserved for my closest 500 friends, but if we connect on other channels first, then that’s cool!

Anyways, thanks for taking the time! Have an awesome day and go have fun doing something!!

Positive Thinking and the Biology of Belief

July 24, 2016
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Have you ever had those days where everything just seems to go wrong? From the morning coffee wrong order, to hitting every red light on your way to work, to your boss starting in on you from the moment you walk off the elevator. It’s almost as if the world found out where you were hiding and decided to follow you around with that cold, black cloud. Well…hold up…just one second. That’s actually not a black cloud, that’s just your negative outlook and I know what you’re about to say… “ohhh, not another one of these posts!” If you can’t hang, I get it…but that’s just your negativity outshining your positive thinking…or lack there of. It’s been proven that negative thinking yields negative results. So that means that positive thinking yields positive results, right? Freaking a big “hells yeah!”

If you ever come across a book by Bruce Lipton, Ph.D., entitled The Biology of Belief, make sure to pick it up , it’s a fantastic read. It kinda changed my life when I read it. But he starts by giving a bit of a biology lesson. Humans are made of cells. Cells are the smallest functional and structural unit of a DNA structure
human being, well…all organisms. Most of the cell’s structures are called organelles, we can think of these as tiny organs. Organelles are equivalent to our own organs and tissue of the human body. Lipton then goes on to compare the “biochemical mechanisms employed by cellular organelle systems are essentially the same mechanisms employed by our human organ systems.” Which is interesting if you think about. The smallest functional unit that makes humans human, are essentially little humans — ha! Each cell is an intelligent being that can survive on its own…like a human. Cells have systems that are equivalent to our respiratory, digestive, and nervous systems. Pretty neat, eh?

Well, I think it’s neat! And it starts to tell the story of how we as humans (and cells) interpret things. Cells are basically humans that can survive on their own. When cells are removed from the body, they will actually seek out environments (and other cells) that support their survival — like humans. We analyze all these different factors in the outside world and determine whether or not it’s capable of supporting our survival. It’s our biological imperative. For those of you who don’t know what a biological imperative is:

Biological Imperative — an organisms need to perpetuate its own existence. Things like survivalism, territorialism, reproduction, seeking a better way of life, etc. are all biological imperatives, it’s mechanisms that we are born with.

But the point I’m trying to make is that even the tiniest structure (the cell) has these imperatives, they can survive on their own, and they seek out environments that they feel helps them survive. But how does all this play in to positive thinking? Well…that’s a great question!

Forget about Darwin and survival of the fittest

Darwin only had some of it right! Survival of the fittest is something we’ve heard and believe over and over again. That the handsomest man will get the girl, the smartest woman will get the high paying job, Darwin portraitthe strongest dude can never be beat. But this way of thinking is flawed and it traps people, it traps them to lead the lives they believe they were born to lead. That who they are and what they’ll do is ultimately decided for them because of the genes that they were born with. We are not powered by our genes, but by our environments, and the way we choose to interpret certain factors.

If you’re sick, you go to your family doctor. He takes a look at you, he might take some blood work, but he can’t figure out what’s wrong with you. He sends you to a specialist. That specialist digs a little deeper, gives you an X-Ray and MRI, but can’t figure it out. But if we take a step back and look at your environment and the things that you’ve been eating, touching, or around, you might see the problem. Holistic healing is starting to get a bit bigger in the states and takes a look at not just you, but your environment and the stimuli you receive because that’s the more practical path to get healthy.

How many people do you know that say stuff like “I’m a ticking time-bomb, my father had a heart attack, I’ll probably die before I’m 50” or “Well..my mother was depressed, so it’s just natural that I am too, it’s just in my genes.” – Too many, that’s for sure. And I’m not saying that their concerns aren’t valid, but they’re definitely not helping their situations by believing it and repeating it over and over. The reality is is that single-gene disorders (like cystic fibrosis) affect less than 2% of the population. So, people born with genes that they think “aren’t good” are trapping themselves. Most of us should be able to live very happy, healthy lives, but we don’t because of the environments we seek out, and the way we interpret stimuli.

Back to cellular biology

Scientists made a huge breakthrough during the 20th century about the cell’s structure. If you know anything about cells they are made up of a nucleus, Golgi apparatus, ribosomes, mitochondria, cytoplasm, a membrane, and a few other things. For the longest time, scientists thought that the nucleus of the cell was its brain, but when they removed the nucleus (called enucleation) the cell still survived for a few months. You would think that the since the “brain” of the cell is removed it would die right away, like us humans. But it didn’t. The only reason why it died after a few months is because it couldn’t reproduce itself, so one could argue that the nucleus of a cell is it’s reproductive organ.

a cell

Then what’s the brain of the cell? Well, Bruce Lipton P.h.D, would say it’s the membrane of a cell. The part that separates the cell’s internal parts with the outside environment and also interprets that environment. If you remember above I said that each of the cell’s organs are called organelles, and they mimc a human’s reproductive system, digestive system, nervous system, and the like. And there are different types of cells; eukaryotes, prokaryotes, etc. A eukaryote is an advanced cell with many organelles. A prokaryote — not so much, it doesn’t have nearly as many organelles. So what is its intelligence? The membrane. The membrane is the only organelle found in every single cell. Pretty cool, right?

The membrane of a human is our skin. And what does our skin do? It interprets the outside world. Now, I’m not saying that our skin is our brain, I know that isn’t true, but it does play a big factor into our daily lives. The way a cell operates is molded by its interaction with the environment, same as humans! We are molded by our interaction with our environment. When we mess up a speech at a public gathering, we get embarrassed and never want to publicly speak again. When a child goes to the circus and sees a clown, some get scared and end up having coulrophobia for life. But this doesn’t have to be the case.

Humans, just like cells, are able to store prior stimuli and experiences into memory, which can affect the way you interpret new stimuli as well. So, if you think about it, the interpretation of one’s environment comes down to two things: your experience and your belief. What you know, and what you think. You can always change what you think.

Nocebos: The opposite of placebos

I’m sure everyone here knows what the placebo effect is. In medical treatment studies there are usually two groups of people; the control group, and the experimental group. The experimental group receives the real drug, whereas the control group gets a placebo (often times a sugar pill). But there are some really incredible outcomes of a placebo, people believe that they are getting the real drug and ultimately their disease seems cured. Doctors and scientists equate this with positive thinking or euphoria that comes from belief. Well, the opposite of that is the nocebo effect. Nocebos are detrimental effects on your health.

In 1974, a doctor by the name of Clifton Meador, had a patient (Sam Londe) who thought he was suffering from throat cancer (cancer of the esophagus). Now, in 1974, throat cancer was 100% fatal, so when Meador’s patient died a few weeks later, it was no surprise to anyone who was around him. But lo and behold, when they did the autopsy on throat cancer patient Sam, they found no signs of throat cancer. He didn’t actually die from cancer, then what did he die from? Well…no one really knows, but I’d make a strong argument that he died from the belief he was going to die. That’s not possible, is it?

Emotions, Chemical Communication, and the Power of our Minds

We have two minds as humans; conscious and subconscious. Our conscious minds are what makes us aware at the present moment. Our subconscious minds gives us accessible information. It enables us to drive on the highway and still talk to our passengers without stopping the car to converse.

As humans we have this unique function that converts chemical signals into sensations that can be experienced by all of our cells. Our minds tell our bodies that these signals are emotions. But as we’ve evolved over time, the portion of our forebrain is the seat of the “self-conscious” mind, which can observe our behavior and our emotions, and can also access our long-term memory. So as we move through our environments, we can make decisions based on all these factors — they way we feel, the way we think, and what we know.

emotional smiley faces

We can observe the behavior we’re engaged in, evaluate it, and then decide to change it if we want to. But we can also learn and acquire the perceptions of other people, which I find fascinating. Now all these things we learn or acquire, can become hardwired in our brain. How many times were you told that eating candy was bad for you as a child? Probably many? But is it bad for you — not in moderation, in fact it can be quite pleasing in moderation. We can change our “hardwired” beliefs any time we desire, we just have to start doing it.

The Biology of Belief

How many people with HIV don’t exhibit signs of being sick, or ever get full-blown aids? How many terminal cancer patients recover their lives through spontaneous remissions? Why do some people burn their feet while walking on hot coals and others do not? Well…because it’s the biology of belief. Beliefs control biology.

Take an example of one experience, let’s say your significant other breaks up with you, they dump you. And let’s say that that relationship you were in was awful, your friends kept telling how bad the other person was for you, they made you feel bad about yourself and all that stuff.  But you view the breakup as the worst thing to ever happen to you, and you can’t imagine living your life without this person (we’ve all been there!). You become depressed, you don’t feel good, your body starts to ache. You have to realize that our perception impacts our behavior and our bodies, regardless of whether or not our perceptions are accurate.

The point I want to make is that YOU have the power to believe what you want. And then that belief can control the way you interpret other experiences and you can shape the life you want for yourself.

Let’s go back to the placebo effect, there are pharmaceutical companies that test out their drugs on two groups, control and experimental. The control group gets a placebo, but there are lots of studies that show that control groups have the same rate of recovery as their experimental counterparts who are receiving the real drug (uh-oh pharmaceutical companies!!).

A Baylor School of Medicine study, published in 2002 in the New England Journal of Medicine, evaluated patients who were having knee surgeries because of debilitating knee pain. Dr. Bruce Moseley, who was the lead author for this study, stated that “all good surgeons know there is no placebo effect in surgery.”  This study separated patients into 3 groups.

  • The first group got their damaged cartilage in the knee shaved off
  • The second group got their knee joint flushed out, removing material thought to be causing the inflammatory effect
  • The third group got “fake” surgeries. Dr. Moseley made 3 incisions and simulated getting the real surgery

The results were pretty interesting! The two groups who received the real surgery improved, as expected. But the placebo group improved just as much as the other two groups, pretty cool, huh? Reporters flocked to the patients in the placebo group and got footage of them walking around and playing basketball, doing things they “never could’ve done” before the surgery. The placebo patients didn’t find out for two years that they had gotten fake surgeries. Tim Perez, one of the placebo group patients had a revealing quote after he was told about his surgery — “In this world anything is possible when you put your mind to it. I know that your mind can work miracles.”

Yes, your mind can work miracles…but so do you!

Your mind can do some pretty amazing things. If it can get your cancer to go into remission, or make you walk after a fake knee surgery, then it can by all means make your life better!

Positive thinking and the will to strive for more has been a huge player in my success.

Positive thinking and the will to strive for more has been a huge factor in my success. Notice how I added “the will to strive for more.” Positive thinking is super important, but you also have to do things to actively make your situation better. Learn something new, talk to someone new, put yourself in a place you’ve never been before….and think positively about it.

So, the next time they mess up your order at your local coffee shop, remember a few things. One — thinking positively about it won’t miraculously change your order to what you wanted it to be. Two — but it will send out a signal to the person who messed it up and they’ll be more open to fixing it if your positive attitude shines through. Three — positive thinking will lead to something better and more fulfilling, maybe even a refund for the mess up!

Belief controls biology, so believe in something great and control your life!

 

Revised Listserve… and the Hamster Wheel

June 18, 2016
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It is not true that people stop pursuing dreams because they grow old, they grow old because they stop pursuing dreams.

I wrote a post a while ago on what I would write if I won the listserve. It’s a cool community of about 25,000 people, all over the world, who are on an email list. Every single day a new winner emerges and gets to write a single email to the ever-growing subscriber list. That email can say whatever you want it to say, you can write and inform and inspire and vent and reminisce as long as you don’t add any links of any kind. So, no links to your business or website or blog or whatever, but you can promote yourself or your music or your art or your creativity or whatever, any way you’d like.

Communities that captivate…

I’ve been an avid member of this community for over a year now, I’ve never won…..bummer. Yet there is still hope that I will one day have my time in the spotlight to speak to the other members of this community.

The Listserve in textI’ve been captivated by people’s willingness to share their lives, it’s as breathtaking as it is depressing. And I mean that in a way that connotes true deep sadness from my own life. Because…. I think I’ve forgotten the meaning of my own life. People talk about certain moments in their life that changed them, parents discuss their child being transgender, or how saving the life of a stranger morphed them, or how their job could either help or destroy a life, or a high-schooler contemplating his options for college and how it’s such a dramatic decision. People take these moments, they take their lives, and they need to attach a meaning to it, because meaning is what we are all here for.

We all have meaning…it’s the reason we do things we don’t necessarily want to do.

We all have meaning (or at least I hope we do), it’s the reason we get up in the morning, it’s the reason we do things we don’t necessarily want to do. But without that meaning, life is lost. I feel as we grow older, that meaning changes into something we didn’t necessarily mean it to change into. I get that dreams fade, or disappear, or you tell yourself you’re an adult now, so your dream of being an artist has just got to be a hobby. And that’s ok, except for when you resign yourself to the fact that “this is it” — that’s a horrible place to be.

People say get a job you love, and you’ll never work a day in your life. But as most of us know, that’s hard to do. If you had millions of dollars and never had to work another day in your life, what would you spend your time doing?

The heartbreak that I feel sometimes and this dysphoria inside makes me gaze back on my previous years, the ones that are long behind me, yet still dance around my mind like party-goers on a mischievous night. I’ve had moments too that change me. Moments that add meaning to my life. Moments that are so meaningful you segment your life into two sections: before this moment, and after it.

It makes me want to search again, to find anything that’s meaningful, to feel anything that isn’t the numbness of my everyday life. But I’m here, writing this post, instead of out there, trying to live.

inspiring sunset over an island ocean
Random Sunset Image
Hopefully that cheered you up from my depressing rant!

I glimpse inward and realize that my life has come to a cross-roads…as many lives do over the course of a natural life-span. I am not close to where I want to be. I am living on the edge of a precipice that is miles outside the inner warmth of my most prized possession—my happiness. And I believe I’m not alone.

Technology and its correlation to our lives…

I recently wrote a post on the affects of technology in our culture and I’ve briefly searched the internet to find a lot more on the subject: We are not obligated to build our lives around technology and Technology is changing how we live, but it needs to change how we work. And the list goes on and on… The point to make here is that many of us, and I do mean many, use technology as their crutch or their excuse. I know I do. To not live a life that you truly want. It’s gotten so easy to be distracted by technology, and work, and emails, and Facebook, that I have to wonder to myself if we’re all really living anymore. And I think there’s a direct correlation to people’s (I don’t want to called it unhappiness, but..) uneasiness of their current situations. Many people live to work, right? Find a good job, find a career, get married, have kids, stability, savings, retirement….oh retirement, now I can pursue the things I want?? I know people say “well…that’s just life..” but I ask — “does it have to be?

Sustainable living versus the hamster wheel of life

I recently started looking into articles about people living off the grid. I know, we’ve all heard that term, and do we really understand what it means? Well, off the grid means you live a sustainable life, which means if something happened to the city water supply or electricity went down for an entire county, you’d be comfortable! I found this article about the off-the-grid guy and how he went from paying thousands and thousands of dollars every year on things like sewage, water, and electricity to paying only $300 per year in bills, that’s pretty awesome! If you want to read his story, check it out – http://www.vice.com/read/a-guy-whos-been-living-off-the-grid-for-20-years-how-i-can-live-more-sustainably

And he’s not the only one who’s done this, there have been others. And now what we’re seeing is that “living off the grid” is being banned in certain areas. That’s right, parts of Canada and the U.S. are now banning living off the grid. Which seems really crappy to me. Because if you take the guy who “lives off the grid” and see what he was paying for bills every year, and what he now pays, that’s a significant decrease. Yet people trying to be sustainable and leave a smaller carbon footprint on the earth, are being banned to do so. Why is that?

I don’t want to call it conspiracy, but we live in a hamster wheel most days. Get a job, buy a house, workCartoon business guy running on a hamster wheel to pay off that house (it’ll only take you a lifetime!), spend money to live in that house on extras like water, electricity, cable, garbage disposal, lawn treatments, repairs, and the list goes on. And this is why humans work constantly, to pay for the American dream that really doesn’t feel like a dream anymore. It feels like a trap.

So….what IS important? I guess my guess is as a good as yours. What’s important to me? I mean, when I really sit down and think about it? My relationships. With my family, my friends, the people I’ve connected with over the years. The things I’m passionate about are important to me like music and writing. The dreams I still have that I won’t let die. I’m also really interested in technology, that’s why I blog about it and work in it. But I can’t use it as a crutch anymore, it needs to be used thoughtfully and not all the time. Otherwise, I feel like my life will just pass by and the days of feeling like I’m really living will be over. I don’t want that, I don’t think anyone does.

And just to be clear, I’m not telling anyone they need to live off the grid or not be on the computer as much. What I’m saying is this… when the road ends for you and you look back on your life, what regrets will you have? What will you wish you would have done? Do that thing….NOW!!!

The Mercy of the Tides

April 5, 2016
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We’re all just ships at the mercy of the tides.

Are we?

I look back on my life, how its stride has quickened and its step increases the older I grow. Yet, do I continue to grow or just exist – with my good job, my city apartment, and my insecurities. A question I seem to be asking myself a lot lately, am I living the life I want?

The short answer, is no. The longer answer isn’t that simple…obviously.

I recently moved back to my home town because of my ability to work wherever there is wifi. I moved all my stuff back down into my parent’s basement cluttering their life with my weighty and burdensome possessions. Stuff I like to call stuff. Stuff I know I don’t need, but hold onto anyway. Why, as a people, are we tethered to goods and objects? I believe it’s because we feel like we’re made of substance when we are surrounded by substance, but it’s mock substance, not real palpable, absolute substance that stems from your passion, your desire.

Last weekend, I saw an old high school friend who I hadn’t seen in close to 15 years. She knew me a long time ago when I was…well, when I wasn’t what I am now. Which is a success story (her words!). But after I thought about it, she’s right, I am a success. In my early twenties after the whole “rock star” dream didn’t come to fruition, I went into somewhat of a downward spiral, drinking a lot, and feeling sorry for myself.

I got my life back on track and worked in a number of different industries including sales, construction, and tech. I fell in love, then out of it. I went to college, didn’t graduate, but I went and learned. Wandered until I found a place I thought I belonged. I like being in Providence, the city is ripe with authenticity, she’s quirky and cool, and walking down Westminster will always cheer me up.

Today, I am on my way to Austin for a tech conference (WOOConference to be exact!) and I’m really looking forward to it! I love events. I like my job, a lot! I make good money, I can work anywhere, I’ve met amazing people over the last few years, and for those of you who know me from the old days – I am definitely a success story. But I’m not so sure I feel like one—and here’s why:

  1. Work – I work an obscene amount of hours. On average I work about 65-70 hours per week. Which, in this day in age, is getting to be the norm. And when I’m done with my day, my head aches and all I want to do is veg.
  2. Stress – the amount of stress you incur working for a fast-paced tech company is demanding. It’s in the air, it’s always there. I’ve learned to recognize it and deal with it, but it can still be hard.
  3. Always on – this means that being in sales at a global tech company you are always on. I go to events a lot (which is cool), but I’m always on. Always talking with someone, always getting an answer for someone, emailing, texting, skyping, slacking, and on and on.
  4. Time – it flies by, literally so fast and I can never get that time back. Which saddens me, I used to be good at time management when my time wasn’t so limited (lol!), but now that my time is spread thin, I need to rework where I allocate my time. This is the world’s (and your life’s) greatest commodity.
  5. Sleep – I’ll wake up in the middle of the night wondering if I sent that email or signed a proposal. My brain operates 24/7 and that’s just a part of the job.

But I don’t want to sound like I’m complaining, believe me, I am not. Because here are all the pro’s of being successful.

  1. Accomplishment – I feel really good about myself. I look at the things I’ve learned in a short amount of time and I’m amazed. The fact that my brain has the capacity to compute all this shit is pretty cool.
  2. Stability – ahhh..this is one I have never really had in my entire life. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I’ve lived on my own before and survived in two of the toughest cities in North America, but what I have now is real stability. I have a portfolio, 401k, I think about retirement, hahaha. If you knew me, this is laughable, sincerely, and in a good way!
  3. Freedom – Because I have money now, I have more freedom. And we all know that money doesn’t buy happiness, but it can alleviate some of the issues you’re facing and it’s nice to not have to live paycheck to paycheck anymore.
  4. Networking – I meet a lot of people. People on the entire spectrum from CEO’s to sales guys, to strategist to founders. I’ve made friends and I have mentors.
  5. Reputation – I’ve done pretty well in my career so far and have gained a reputation as a solid, truthful biz dev guy. This means a lot to me because I have principles and like to know that they’re noticed.

So, you take the good with the bad. When I worked construction, my body ached, I was dirty and smelled pretty bad when I got home, but I had time to play my guitar, I had time to hang out with my friends. Now, things are limited. However, lately I’ve been taking 10 minute breaks throughout the day to get in a small jam session, it feels incredible!

But where do we go from here? My sister wants to start a business and I’m down for that, but where am I going to find the time? I really have to budget more time to getting the things I want to do done. And that’s the hard part. Do  I get less sleep? Maybe, but I’ll be honest, I don’t get that much sleep anyway!

So, are we at the mercy of the tides?

I don’t know, I think I am right now, but every single day I get a little better at allocating my time, for me. Not allowing nonsense to fill up in my reserves and run on empty. Balance the workload with the lifeload. Because, honestly, I want more. I deserve more, like we all do. Whether that means to be my own boss, or just play solo acoustic shows on the Connecticut shoreline once a month, I’m not sure. But I do know that if I don’t get behind the wheel of the ship, I won’t be able to steer it in the direction I need to go. The direction I want and have to go in. It’s the way to my life, that thing I’ll look back on and call extraordinary.

 

Reflection of Two Thousand Fifteen

December 28, 2015
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At last, those pensive and pondering days between the joyous perpetuated giving of Christmas and the long-anticipated celebration of New Years is here. It’s those few days of the year that seem to slow and people start to search inward, outward, and every which way they can. Maybe it’s because of the cherished time spent with family or the apprehension of having to choose (and stick with) a resolution, but the week between these two festive holidays is a subjective span of soul-searching and self-analysis. It’s time for the masses to re-examine life, love, career, health, passion, and overall purpose – and I am no exception.

Last year, my Reflection of Two Thousand Fourteen post, getting over 100 views (which, for those in tech, is a tiny spec of traffic in the blogging world), seemed to be well-received. So, being a couple of years into the tech/web industry and still continuing to learn and grow, I wanted to share my thoughts. “We are standing on the precipice of a whole new precipice” (props to those who know what movie line that is!), but it’s time for my reflection of two thousand fifteen, and let me tell you – a lot can happen in a year!

I’ll start with business, industries, verticals and all that jazz….

Being in the business of tech opens you up to a realm of possibilities. The very essence of technology is possibility. If you think about the great things technology has enabled like connecting doctors with patients and teachers to students, digitizing records and activities for faster and more streamlined processes, being able to check the weather or traffic conditions before you actually go outside – technology has improved most peoples’ lives. And obviously, there are negative affects of technology, like the lack of social bonds and social skills, poor sleep habits, cyberspace bullying, etc. – but I believe that the pros far outweigh the cons. All in all, I’ve compiled a few business lessons I’ve learned over the last year.

BUSINESS LESSONS OF 2015…

  1. Know your audience
    • Whether you’re selling a product (analytics tools, firewall, etc.) or web services (redesigns, migrations, etc.), you absolutely need to know WHO you are selling to. Create user personas—fictionalized character representations of your target audience members so you know how to market your product or service. It will allow you to concentrate on the right types of consumers.
  2. A ‘yes’ doesn’t mean yes all the time, it can mean ‘maybe,’ ‘not now,’ or even ‘no’
    • Maybe a better way to say this is that contracts equal a ‘yes’! I have had people tell me that they can’t wait to do business with me, but then never sign the contract. So, I’ve learned not to celebrate a win until the contracts are signed. Bottom line—nothing is guaranteed until contracts are signed. And even then things could change…
  3. Be clear on scope
    • For those in tech, you know what scope is. For those who don’t know, the scope of a project is determining what features, functions, and deliverables will be included in that project . Usually written in an SOW (Statement of Work or Scope of Work), it states that the agency will perform the following activities and/or tasks and XYZ will get done. When it comes to things like systems integrations, website redesigns, or site builds, you have to be very clear on what you will actually do – be specific to the point of overkill. The clearer you are on scope, the happier the PM’s will be. The happier the PM’s are, the healthier the project will likely be. The healthier the project….well…you get the point.
  4. One person can do a lot, but a team can do more
    • I’ve always been a self-starter. And if I can be completely honest, I absolutely hated group projects in college. My theory was that I could probably do it better if I did it myself. In business, there’s a different train of thought and it’s around disciplines. You’re very good at one (or a few) things, another person on your team is great at something else..and so on. Pooling your resources and working with your team results in better quality deliverables. So, embrace your strengths and embrace the strengths of others, you’ll produce better stuff!
  5. Value, value, value 
    • And I’m not talking about a value proposition. In fact, I hate the term value proposition! It makes me want to vomit, seriously! I’m talking about actual value. If you get an inquiry from a prospect and they’re asking for a migration to Magento (and that’s not something you do), refer them to someone else. This is called value relevancy; make sure your services or product is relevant to your prospects’ needs. Value perception is the value that your prospect perceives they’re going to get from you—make sure this is accurate as well. You can do that through something called: value diagnosis. Work with your prospect to diagnose their problem and if your service or product can solve their problem, your diagnosis will have value, if done correctly (which is a whole other post that I’ll write in 2016!).
  6. Sales is like chess
    • Everyone thinks they can play, many know the basics, but few are really phenomenal at it. Top salesmen are considered masters. It takes a certain type of person to do sales, specifically tech sales. Why? Because tech sales is an enduring and strategic game. My average sales cycle is about two months. It takes a while to get people to sign on with you, especially in web services. There’s qualifying and vetting on both sides. Then there’s the lengthy, grueling challenge of trying to outbid, outsmart, and outplay your competitors. Sales people have to be decisive yet patient, crafty yet sophisticated, and the industry continues to evolve. I’m not saying I’m a top salesman (I’m not), but I’m better than a lot and I can work my way around a chess board without getting beat in three moves. It takes a lifetime to master this profession….as it does chess.
  7. Business relationships are built on trust
    • Successful business relationships are built on trust. They usually start with a connection—like “I know this guy who can help if you need your website redesigned, I’ll introduce you to him.” But then it buds and blossoms because we (myself and my company) build trust. Big companies and organizations usually hire their web vendors because they’ve met someone in that company that they have begun to trust. They stay with those companies because that trust grows and increases. And it’s not built on one phone call, it may start there, but it’s continually constructing a relationship predicated on confidence, reliance, and certainty. It’s pretty straight forward—do what you promise you’ll do (rinse and repeat), communicate clearly, and always have your clients best interest in mind.
  8. “Talk the talk” even if you can’t “walk the walk”
    • In the world of open source technology, there are many different roles ranging from coders to biz dev guys, designers to engineers, marketers, and so on. And obviously knowing your discipline is good, right? Right! But being able to talk in all disciplines in the “native” tongue, will get you farther than you think. I go to a lot of these open source tech conferences and I meet all types and I can talk to all types. I may not know how to write a recursive function, but I know what one is. I may not be able to move the needle on revenue through search visibility, but I can comment with some sympathetic banter to showcase my comprehension. Take the time to learn the language, but understand it good enough to use it in an analogy, because it can backfire and you’ll end up looking like a fool. I’m still not sure what a fizzbang algorithm is!!

Continuing with other lessons, some essential, some…not so much.

This year has probably been one of the most exhilarating years of my life (even though I know I said this last year), but things are going really well. I still have an awesome job/career. My family still loves me (and likes to have me around) and I feel like I’ve made a lot more friends. I’m involved in the community and a member of the Young Leaders Circle (YLC), which is a young professionals group of the United Way of Rhode Island. We volunteer and organize some really great events. I’m an advisory board member for Newport Interactive Marketers (NIM), a 1000+ group of small business owners, agency people, and solo-preneurs. And I’ve spoken at a number of events and conferences on sales and solutions consulting. It’s been a good year, so here’s a few of the things I’ve learned that relate more to life than to business, but they’re not mutually exclusive.

NON-BUSINESS LESSONS OF 2015…

  1. Sitting is the new smoking
    • If you sit behind a desk for your job (for 8+ hours a day), it doesn’t matter how much you exercise, you are living a sedentary lifestyle. That is not healthy!! I recently got myself a standup desk, which took about a week to get used to, but my back feels better and I’m not hunching over anymore. I’m thinking about getting a treadmill desk, I’ve heard good things!
  2. Meditation is cool
    • Over the summer, I went on this silent 3 day retreat with my sister. It was, to say the least, interesting and, to say the most, very very difficult to sit with myself and be consumed by my thoughts. We’re too dependent on technology and we need breaks. Treat yourself to yourself. I get into the office super early and I do walking meditation (because just sitting there sucks!) before I take on my day. It’s calming and makes you aware, which is important in life. I wrote a post about that experience here.
  3. Get involved with your community
    • Go be a part of something. I don’t really care what it is (as long as you’re not hurting anybody), it could be a community center, the Red Cross, YMCA, whatever. If you are fortunate enough to have a job where you can live alone and support yourself, then you’re already doing better than half the people out there. So, go get involved in your community. And I’m not saying to donate money, but you can definitely donate your time and your knowledge. In my opinion, those two things are more valuable than money and there are people out there who will appreciate both. Give it a try, it’ll make you feel good! Which kind of leads into my next lesson, which surrounds money…
  4. Money isn’t an indicator of success
    • I pretty much knew this before this year, but throughout this last year especially, I’ve met a lot of different people. Some who have a boat ton of money and others who don’t. And what I’ve noticed is that people who are doing the things that get them closer to their goals are projecting (to me, at least) that they’re more successful. I don’t think success is wealth of money, but wealth of accomplishment. And obviously, accomplishment can vary from person to person. This leads me into my next lesson…
  5. Write down your goals
    • This is something I used to do a long long time ago and have recently started doing it again this past year. Write down your goals, it can be anything. You want to learn a new language, jot it down. You want to become a black belt, put it on paper. Then, go through them and start numbering them to see which ones you can get done quickly, which ones might take a year, or five, and so on. You can get closer to your goals if they are visually in front of your face.
  6. They’ve done away with Generation Y
    • Seriously, this really bothered me!! Apparently, the generation experts call Generation Y Millennials. That’s horse crap! I’m a GenY-er, have been most of my life, but I guess they have done away with Generation Y and it goes from Generation X straight to Millennials. I wrote a post on this too – Xennials – because I do not identify with being a GenX-er or a Millennial. I know many of you feel the same!
  7. Feed your happy health

    • Yes, I coined this phrase (I think…). It’s not being happy with your health (although, that’s definitely important). Happy Health is the state of being free from worry, sadness, stress, and self-doubt. Find yours and feed it! I used to play music to make me happy. I lost that for awhile, but now I have a guitar in my office and I play when I need a good dose of happy health. Try not to lose or forget the things that make you happy. And visit those things once a day if only for a short while.
  8. It’s never hard to make the right decision
    • For those of you who know me, you know I haven’t always made the right decisions. But over this last year, I’ve realized you don’t have to be talked into making the right ones, you just kinda know which one is the right decision. I like to call them adult decisions. When I started making adult decisions, my life got easier, way way easier.

That about sums it up for this year…

I hope you’ve found something in here that you can relate to or learn from because the way I view it is we are all in this together. We might be on separate paths and we might never run into each other, but we’re here all the same.

Happy Holidays and Happy New Year—I’ll leave you with a quote:

“I hope that in this year to come, you make mistakes. Because if you are making mistakes, then you are making new things, trying new things, learning, living, pushing yourself, changing yourself, changing your world. You’re doing things you’ve never done before, and more importantly, you’re doing something.” — Neil Gaiman

GO DO SOMETHING!! And enjoy 2016!!

Peace!

What I Would Write if I Won

September 15, 2015
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Win what? TheListserve, of course! I wrote about this cool community in one of my other posts. It’s a really great community of people all over the world and the Listserve is kind of  like the lottery, only you don’t win money, you win an email – one email. And you get to email everyone on the Listserve. There’s only one rule, no links! You can tell people to google something, but you can’t add any links, which is pretty cool when you think about it. I think the total is up to 24k people, maybe more, it keeps growing. Some day I’ll win! But when you win you have a short amount of time to write this email, so I figured I’d get started on it now. What should I tell the world….or the people who read the Listserve…..which is representative of the world….so what should I tell the world?

Maybe I’ll write about the things I’ve done….

I’ve driven across the country over a dozen times. I’ve met some amazing people, I’ve loved and lost. I’ve been stranded in the Rocky mountains, I’ve raced motorcycles going over 165 mph, I used to play a mean guitar. I worked for the studios in Hollywood, I used to be able to do a kick-flip on a skateboard. I used to be tough! I would take trips to Tijuana to play the sports book in my early twenties. I used to build energy efficient houses. I used to..I was… blah!

Nah…that doesn’t do me justice!

Maybe I’ll write about the things I’m doing now….

I build strong business relationships. I can talk tech with anyone. I’m a member of the Young Leaders Circle, which is actually really cool! I can put together good-looking WordPress sites. I can code…a little. I help companies find right solutions to their web challenges. I’ve finally grown up.

But does this convey what I want the world to know? Probably not!

Maybe I should tell the world about the qualities I have…

I’m a funny guy, I can make people laugh. I am loyal, almost to a fault, but I would move the world for the people I care about. I empathize very easily, I have this innate ability to sense when people are hurting and that makes me hurt too. I’m reliable, very very reliable – I wasn’t always! I’m intuitive, I’m nice, I’m affable, I can carry on a conversation with almost anyone from the kid in the mailroom to the CEO to the homeless guy standing on the corner. I’m a people-person.  I’m pretty hip too!

But….does this encapsulate me?

Maybe I’ll write about who I am….

But honestly, who am I? I am a person, a human being, a son and brother, a loved one, probably a hated one, a lover and a fighter, honest but lies sometimes, happy but I’m sad sometimes, handsome yet I feel ugly sometimes, polite but sure can be rude, I am whatever I am whenever I want or need to be it. And this sure doesn’t paint the warmest picture of me.

But…….what do I want the world to know?

MY STORY….

But what is my story? Sometimes, I don’t even know.

I was born and raised in a blue collar New England town. I have loving parents and a great family. I was popular in school, used

GNR Logo to be athletic and play basketball, cross country running. I got into Guns N Roses when I was young and learned how to play the guitar (I eventually learned how to sing), but I knew in my bones that I was going to be a rockstar….and I failed at that. Then I moved around a lot in my early twenties – L.A., Montreal, Denver… I did a bunch of sales jobs, learned a whole lot! Then came back home, for good, 8 years later.

I got into construction, which I liked for awhile, but then needed something else, something more challenging mentally. I took a year off, moved to Boston (Dorchester, to be exact) and learn how to code under the tutelage of my sister (a kick-ass software engineer). I worked hard, lived off of close to nothing, got help from my family, and started to freelance. Then I got a job as a developer, then I came to Oomph (I love this company). I’ve found a home in the place I work and friends in my coworkers. I feel like I’m a part of something bigger and better, and we all have one common goal – to create some pretty cool shit!

But another part of me feels like I work too much. When I’m dying, will I remember the work I did? Or the people I affected? Putting all this time into work takes away from the relationships I should be making stronger. I need to find that balance, I’ve posted about this before. But it’s really important to connect with people, your friends and family, everyone in your life who’s worthy of your time.

Maybe I should give advice to the world….

I’d want people to know that it’s okay to be kind to a stranger. It’s okay to be vulnerable too. Sure, there is bad in the world and tragedy – no one escapes this, we’ve all been there. Don’t close yourself off because you’re afraid to hurt. Do whatever it is that makes you happy (as long as you’re not hurting anyone else) even if it’s weird. Weird is good. Be kind to our planet, I’m thinking it’s the only one we have for generations to come. Side note: I believe this universe is big enough to eventually find a planet that’s habitable, but we’re a long ways away from discovering that one. Hold on to the good things in your life and share whatever gift you’ve been given. If that means you’re a painter, let people see your work. If you love to play music, shout that shit from the rooftops. Creation is what humans were born to do! So go create something beautiful and be unapologetic about it.

A poem by Edgar Guest: Tomorrow

He was going to be all that a mortal should be
Tomorrow.
No one should be kinder or braver than he
Tomorrow.
A friend who was troubled and weary he knew,
Who’d be glad of a lift and who needed it, too;
On him he would call and see what he could do
Tomorrow.

Each morning he stacked up the letters he’d write
Tomorrow.
And thought of the folks he would fill with delight
Tomorrow.
It was too bad, indeed, he was busy today,
And hadn’t a minute to stop on his way;
More time he would have to give others, he’d say
Tomorrow.

The greatest of workers this man would have been
Tomorrow.
The world would have known him, had he ever seen
Tomorrow.
But the fact is he died and he faded from view,
And all that he left here when living was through
Was a mountain of things he intended to do
Tomorrow.

Don’t be this guy!!

Maybe I’ll end my email by asking people to take action….

Go do something, TODAY! Whatever you’ve been putting off, well, get up and go do it. Your life will end (and I know that sounds morbid) and most people look back on their lives with some type of regret. I think that’s inevitable for me, but I won’t let it ruin the rest of the time I have left.
Guitar SilhouetteI had these dashing high hopes of being a rockstar when I was 17 years old. I flew out to Hollywood to make that dream happen….and I failed. Or did I? If it’s still my dream, I can make it happen, I just need to keep creating.

My story isn’t a unique one, it’s in line with all the other souls who tried to do something they loved and then ended up doing something practical instead, but it’s my life and I’m happy with it, for now.

Let’s all have hope that we can accomplish the things we want in this lifetime. And experience everything you can, it only makes you better!!!

I’m not sure, but this is probably close to the things I would say if I won the Listserve. It’ll probably always be a work in progress, though!

 

I’m a Huge Rhymer!

September 12, 2015
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For those of you who are unfamiliar with my….erh…softer side, I used to be pretty big into poetry. I’ve been reading a lot of J. Raymond lately, pretty cool stuff. *Be sure to check out his poem below* But when I was younger I used to write poems all the time. I would write to girls I was in “love” with, other people I thought could benefit from a rhyming limerick, poetry that would later turn into song lyrics, epics that went on forever, and haikus when I needed to spark some creativity. It’s been awhile since I’ve had the time to think creatively enough to craft a poem, let alone write one down. Well, that all changed this evening.

Here’s my new poem, entitled Hush.

I like to see silence creep inside

once in a while in my wide eyed mind.

From diesel to damsel, defiance and doom,

there’s nothing for me that didn’t already bloom.

 

My vanguard sits behind pressure and time,

the spark should fly to ignite its climb

from the depths of discord, disorder, decline.

 

To balance the earnest, the honest and well, 

never make good on avowals to quell.

In drifts of delicate and tides of weak,

it’s the quiet chaotic forever I’ll seek,

 

for the resolute, able, and fine

live their days out by design

with the might to mild their wide eyed mind.

 

A quick explanation, because we all love dissecting poetry!

This poem is about calming the internal narrator in my mind. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, read my post on my meditation practice – Shambhala and the Art of Being Human – it talks about my internal commentator!

But the poem above is really about calming that voice. I think….a lot!! About everything, constantly analyzing, which can cause my creative side (vanguard) to be stifled. I need to stop thinking so much so I can be more creative and write poems like this one. But in order to get out of that constant uncontrollable mindset, you need to find a balance. And when times are tough to not run from it but seek out that quiet chaotic mind, take it head on! Because the mentally strong people out there can do this, they find a balance, they live their lives with meaning and purpose, and have the ability to calm that inner narrator. Alright, I’m done! Thanks for reading!

J. Raymond Poem:

J. Raymond Poem

Morning time, theListserve, Work, and Dan Rather

August 7, 2015
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As I sit here listening to alt-j (Nara is an awesome song), it’s early in the morning and I’m the only one in the office. I like this time, mostly to talk to myself about upcoming presentations or how to articulate our value a little better when I talk to prospects. But I love this time too, morning time. It’s quiet, except for the music, but it’s peaceful. There’s a calm about me and I can’t express into words the feeling that just sweeps over me sometimes, I feel connected, loved even.

I joined a community called thelistserve, it’s kinda like the lottery. But instead of winning money, you win an email, one email. And you can say whatever you want, you just can’t link to anything in the email. It goes out to the 30,000 people who are a part of this community. All the emails I’ve read from others have been extremely positive. People looking to help others, either through what they do or who they are. A personal tragedy brought to light, a haiku style rant, a plug about your company or music, it’s a really cool community. If anyone wants to be a part of a growing community, join up and maybe one day you’ll be able to send an email to all the people on the Listserve.

Balance is everything

I also wanted to touch on work (I know, I know). I haven’t posted anything in a really long time and I’m sorry, I’ve been super duper busy! It’s an ongoing battle to consistently get my work done, but still save time for myself and doing the things that I want to do. I am losing this battle, work has been winning. And maybe as I put this down on paper (or a WYSIWYG) I’ll hold myself to keeping myself in check. I need that balance, we all do. Or at the end of our lives, we’ll look back and weep for not doing the things we wanted to do. Now, I’m all for learning new things at your job/career, but you have to sprinkle in “fun” time. It’s the only way to continue to do what you/we do, and do it well.

Go do something fun, NOW!!!!

Find the time to be weird

I’m weird, super weird, and those who know me, know that. I’m human and I’m weird…..that’s okay, trust me, it is OK!! We all have our quirks, embrace them. So what if I talk to myself. People around the office know this about me and they’re cool with it. They might laugh behind my back, but that’s ok. If you like to eat peanut butter and egg salad sandwiches, eat up. If you’re a secret Rebecca Black lover, sing that shit at the top of your lungs. If you have a natural aptitude for krumping, thug out! It’s okay, seriously, we’ll like you more! Weirdness is ——- COOL

Embrace it and own it!!

___________________________________

Now for one final note, ever since I’ve been a part of the listserve, I’ve felt connected again to something bigger. I was born and raised Catholic (and yes, I’m still recovering from that), but when I was a kid I prayed all the time. To me, God was Dan Rather in a white robe standing in the clouds looking down on me, and I prayed to him. Somewhere in high school I lost my faith, did some stupid things (that teenagers do) and didn’t think about religion for years. Coming full circle, I have found my faith again, but I don’t believe in God in the traditional sense, I believe in connection to all other living things, that’s God. This is why I’m able to empathize and feel someone’s pain or suffering. This is why when a stranger is wildly laughing walking down the street, I laugh too. And why tragedies (like the recent airplane crashes) greatly affect me and my state of being, I cry because their loss, is my loss, it’s our loss, because we are all together. And that’s good, it’s great in fact, for we are here together, and for generations to come, we will always be connected to them. We feel what everyone feels and I’ve seen more and more acts of kindness and good for me not to believe there’s something bigger.

My view this morning:

It’s a cloudy day, but it’s beautiful. The possibilities today are endless for me, and for you, for us!! Let’s make today special, maybe we’ll meet each other on the train, or see each other sitting in a coffeeshop. If that happens, say hello, I won’t hesitate to ask how your special day is going. Just think, something miraculous is going to happen to YOU today, something great and wonderful and unexpected. But make sure your eyes are opened, because it can happen in the blink of an eye. Remember, if it happens to you, it happens to me and I’ll cherish that moment we share together!

Everyone, have a wonderful day, it’s only the beginning and wherever you are – there’s the entry point.

Well, it’s the end of the year! We are all heading into 2015 and, hopefully with some reinvigorated purpose of ourselves and our lives!

I’d like to take this time to kind of reflect on this past year, where I was and where I am now. I’m proud to say it’s been one of the best years of my life! I work for an incredible company, I have a wonderful family, great friends, and I’m still constantly learning.  I think I’ve learned more in this past year than I have my entire four years of high school – sad, isn’t it? Over the last year I did a lot of freelance, worked for a small web agency and now work for a big web agency. I’ve got a pretty good idea on how much certain web projects cost and how long things should take. Here are a few of the things I’ve learned over this last year, the good, the bad, the whole bunch!

Lessons-Learned-GreenChalkboard

Business lessons learned this past year:

  1. In order to have successful projects, a company needs project managers
    • There is no two ways about this, someone managing clients and the team need to be between those two entities. A good PM can handle several different projects at once while simultaneously communicating to both the client and the developers. A great PM can do all that plus still find time to teach, luckily, I have a few at my company!
  2. SEO and Analytics is on everyone’s mind
    • In the world of web and everything digital, it pays to know about SEO and Analytics – Google Analytics, WebTrends, ChartBeat, Moz Tools, etc. One can make good money having certifications/knowledge in these areas. Take a little time just to learn the basics and you’ll thank yourself. Knowing about this stuff has been a great sales tool as well!
  3. It’s better to say you don’t know than to lie, especially to a client
    • This just sets you and your company up for failure. If you tell a client you have a developer that can do something (like build something you’re not sure your developer can build) and then you can’t deliver, that’s a huge problem. If a client asks you about some technology you’ve never heard of, it’s better to say “I’m not sure” than to B.S. It’ll make you look smarter in the long run.
  4. Enterprise level companies follow their own set of rules
    • If you’re lucky enough to be in the arena of premium brand names and deal with them on a daily/weekly/or even
      Crazy Bananamonthly basis, then you should be familiar with this. Whether it’s invoicing at certain times or special terminology, each enterprise brings its own bag of crazy – which, honestly, isn’t that difficult to navigate and can be fun half of the time.
  5. Qualify correctly
    • This can make all the difference and save a hell of a lot of time. Ask prospects questions – right questions. Like what their process is for vendor selection and get budgets/timelines/business objectives. The more you do this, the easier it’ll get. The deeper you dig with a prospect is the best way to find out what they need and if you can provide it for them.
  6. Proposals take time
    • The first proposal I wrote in response to an RFP I received wasn’t that great, but the more I learned the better I got. Now I write some pretty awesome proposals, but they’re still difficult and they probably always will be. Why? Because each RFP or project you come into contact with will be different. Some will be similar, but no two are exactly the same. We aren’t the type of company that just churns out proposals, we take the time to write them correctly. I spend a minimum of 40 hours putting together the correct solution to a web challenge.
  7. Tech is easy, business is hard
    • In the words of the great DM (you know who you are), “tech is easy, business is hard.” Tech is the easy part, any company can hire a digital agency to do the WordPress install or build a plugin. It’s the business part that’s challenging. Strategy is an integral part of any digital agency, so hiring developers are great, but you also need strategists.

Now onto non-business lessons learned this past year

  1. Take pride in doing things right
    • This does relate to business, but there are many opportunities to cut corners. Honestly, I always feel better when I don’t. And spending that time doing things correctly, whether it’s writing a proposal or blog post, it’s worth it.
  2. Be friendly, be nice, and be available
    • Don’t go into work with a frown. Place all your problems on that tree that’s standing right outside your office because it’ll be there when you go home for the day – I know this is hard to do, but nobody likes a grump. Get to know your coworkers, they’re cool people. And be there (by there, I mean present in mind as well as body) when someone asks you a question, listen, and respond accordingly.
  3. The clothes people wear are never indicative of wealth
    • Believe or not, the guy in the 3-piece suit usually doesn’t have much money. It’s the guy who wears jeans, boat shoes,
      BusinessManMoney-2014Reflectionand a flannel jacket that’s the loaded one! The general rule of thumb is that the guy who dresses like he doesn’t care, doesn’t care because he doesn’t need to impress, generally because he’s got money – if that makes sense. It’s the guys who dress to impress that need to try to impress. I know, I’ve been that guy!
  4. Developers keep their own hours
    • This one is pretty common, no matter what company you’re with. Coders usually come in late and leave early, but they work hard and are often on the computer cleaning things up at 2am, so back off and give them some space. This is tech not rocket science!
  5. Let things roll off your back
    • This is something I should have learned a long long time ago. Don’t let things get to you. Often times people will totally ignore your emails or requests and the bottom line is, you have no idea why that is. We would all like to suspect that it’s because they’re too embarrassed that you did a whole bunch of work and they’re not going with your company, but you don’t really know. So, let it go, it doesn’t matter and there’s more people out there who need your services.
  6. Walk around
    • Seriously, get up and walk around. Blood flow is essentially to healthy living, so get up from your desk and get some movement in your veins. Stretch, do jumping jacks, and think about getting an exercise ball for a desk chair. One of my coworkers sits on one and it really keeps your back straight. It’s on my to-do list!
  7. Take mental breaks
    • Everyone needs time away, even if that means daydreaming for five minutes a day. Take a break, mentally, for a little while. It resets your brain and helps you focus better. I used to work construction and my body would ache when I got home. Now, my brain hurts when I get home. Those mental vacations during the day help tremendously.

2014 has been an incredible year! With the holidays down and 2015 two days away, I can’t wait to start the new year. I wish everyone a Happy New Year and hope 2015 brings as much joy to you as I’m sure it will to me. Cheers!!!