3 Things I’ve learned about Blogging

I started Blogging as a hobby because I love to learn, I love to create, and I love to share. I was that kid that ran home from school and followed mom around telling her everything that happened at school that day. In doing so, I’ve learned a few interesting things in the Bloggersphere that weren’t immediately obvious to me from the get go. Lets get to it.

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1) Ya’ll don’t like to read that much.

I’ve already had people tell me that, although they like my blog, it’s too long at times. Did I say people? I meant friends. Those strong supporters of what I’m trying to do in my life cannot seem to take the time to read something that is supposed to encourage them in theirs. See that sentence above?^^^^^ It has 29 words in it. The average reader has the attention span 7-10 words. True friends tell you how it is. Same point- six words. Lesson learned. I’ll shoot for shorter. Alliteration intentional.

2) Writing is meant for the readers not for the authors

As much as I LOVE to write exactly what my opinions on certain topics are, that’s not necessarily what you like. Most of the time I’m trying to share a cool insight or something I learned that day. So although I have the reader in mind, my writing may not show it. It’s kind of like a doctor who spews medical jargon at you just to hear himself talk. I need to convert it into layman terms or just something that you will find valuable.

I had a Creative Writing teacher who taught me a great lesson. I wrote a story about a suicide (maybe I’ll share later) and allowed the class to give me real time editorial feedback. I got torn apart. They kept doubting that this could really happen and said the story was not believable. “Believable?!,” I fumed, “This is my life! This happened to me!” After class the teacher took me aside and explained why the class poked holes in my true story. Believability, she explained, has little to do with the facts, and a lot to do with the reader’s perspective. This is how writing fiction is different from journalism. Also, when a reader can relate to something they feel they know, they are quick to see any discrepancy. For example, I write about having coffee with a friend at midnight when an earthquake hit. You may be interested in hearing about what happens next. What if I rewrote the first sentence like this, “I was with a friend at a Starbucks around midnight when an earthquake hit.”   Some of you say, ‘wait a second. Starbucks isn’t open at midnight. I know because I’ve been there often and sometimes as late as 11 but never midnight.’ My credibility as a story teller is gone, your interest is elsewhere, and the earthquake, in your mind, probably never happened. In the first scenario, I allowed you (the reader) to decide where I was having coffee. Once I state a fact, it’s open to argument and especially if it’s something you’re familiar with. I hope that makes sense to any writers out there. Write for your reader, not yourself and definitely not like journalist.

3) People respond to pain more than passion

The largest response to my blog has come from the post People are going to let you down. It’s not just the title either. Friends and strangers have messaged me saying how encouraging it was to hear that perspective. It’s always comforting to know that your not the only one. And, by the way, people are going to let you down and people are going to screw up. This includes you. I look at the greatest business leaders, athletes, and critical thinkers in our society today, wondering how they got there. All have different paths to success but many have one thing in common. Many of them have hit a rock bottom or low point that has given them that hunger to do more for their life. For myself, I’ve got a couple low points that I may eventually get to share with you. However, I would NOT be who I am today if I had not come from and through everything in my past. I believe that with 100% of my being. So passion and pain are more alike that we may think. Passion, in many instances, stems from pain. Rappers talk about their hunger, athletes say sports is a ‘ticket out of the hood,’ and poor Irish immigrant orphans who rise to make a way in this world. I’m referring to Andrew Carnegie, steel king who amassed millions he never spent and did not know much about steel either.

SOOOOOOO… In posts to come, I will try to shorten my topics and posts. I will look for feedback on what you as a reader, like to get out of my blog. Hopefully we can build a community because I truly love people. I will provide resources and links to podcasts, speakers, books, TED talks, and anything else that I believe you can benefit from. I also know that we all are struggling with something. I have a long list of struggles…believe me. Try starting a conversation like that, “What do you struggle with.” Probably get some weird looks but you can find out a lot about someone. Be vulnerable. I will try and do the same. Thank you for all of your support. Happy Valentines Day! ❤

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Use fear to your advantage

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10 year-old wisdom

Fear. This phenomenon affects almost every person we meet in our daily lives and yet, is never fully addressed. I believe understanding our fears is the key to overcoming them. Jerry Seinfeld talked about fear during one of his stand up comedy routines. At the time, in the United States, the number one fear was public speaking. Number two was death. “Death!” he proclaimed, “Death? That means that at a funeral, you would rather be in the casket than giving the eulogy.”

 

Can you guess what the most common fear of the American people is today? A break in service…as in no bars, no signal. The term phobia is one way we hear about chronic fear today. In a recent study, TIME magazine found over 50 million Americans are plagued by some phobia today. There are many that you or I would recognize but many others border on the ridiculous. There is a fear of chickens, of ventriloquist dummies, and bald people to name of few. I mean there is even a fear of phobias- phobophobia. It is my personal belief that these terms will only grow in years to come. Why? People like to identify with something. Hearing that their condition has a name provides the comfort of identity in an alienated world. There are many irrational fears but how about we talk about a completely common and normal one.

Can you identify with a fear of failure?

When I listen to entrepreneurs speak on their successes, many say they would never have chosen their business if they had known how hard the road would be. So why did they do it? I’ve heard one recurring theme- youth. They were too young to be discouraged or put off by naysayers. They had a vision and intended to follow through on it. Consequently, that vision and passion holding a lot more weight than a thorough business plan to Venture Capitalists these days. The point is that Youth doesn’t know or recognize fear of failure nearly as much as someone that has seen his or her share of hardships. Kids dare to dream and change the world. Ask a kid what he wants to be when he grows up and you will most likely get a response like the president or an astronaut. If you ask an individual recently unemployed or laid off by this recession the answer will be very different. Of course there are exceptions but don’t miss the point. I remember my Dad put this career question to me at the ripe age of ten. With a smile, I responded, “I’ll be an athlete first and then an entrepreneur and then a teacher. When I retire I’ll run for president.” Not to toot my own horn (because I’m far from any of these positions) but I knew how to dream even at that age. Kids seem to know something that the elders don’t. Or maybe its what these kids don’t know. Either way, you are free to come to your own conclusion. I think we should be fearful of something far more crippling than failure. Average.

 Average, mediocre, pedestrian, common place, ordinary, run-of-the-mill- call it what you like. This attitude affects far more people than any fear or phobia. This is what happens when you grow up. I’m ten times more worried that sometime in my twenties, I’m going to realize the grass isn’t greener on the other side. I’m going to say, “Well Drew, this is the real world and you better get used to it. Smile and do your job and someday you might have a nice retirement.” Actually, I’m terrified of this. My Dad told me I’m extraordinary and I plan to be.

Flipping fear on its head allows me to use it to my advantage. Fear of the average gets me up in the morning. It pushes me to separate myself from the gradual curve because I want nothing to do with the mean, median, OR mode. I want to be an outlier. I want to look at failure as lesson and, if I can, learn from other’s mistakes. God knows I’ve made enough on my own. I’m not saying that a wife, a dog, and 2 ½ kids is bad. If you’re happy where you’re at, that trumps all else. I’m talking about those of us that say, “I don’t really hate my job but I don’t like it either. I would do something else but everyone told me this is my only option or my only strength.” Are you LISTENING to yourself? Do you realize the path that you are sending yourself down? I heard once that Someday” is a disease that will take your dreams to the grave with you. I listen to too many people start sentences with “I wish I would have…” and not enough “I’m so glad I did…” This fear is the reason I started blogging this New Year and Journaling on a daily basis as a measurement tool. It’s why I start everyday at the gym listening to Business podcasts instead of music. It’s how I realized the need for me personally to be involved with people who hold me accountable. The Progressive Group just hit the one-month mark with our meeting last night. One month of consistent behavior from strong friends holding each other accountable to their short AND long term goals. Life is too short for me to do anything different. There is no excuse for you to not be taking what you want out of everyday. Come on now- Carpe Diem is a pretty old concept.

There is one thing we are all poor in and that is TIME. Every person is given the same amount of hours in a day but tomorrow is not guaranteed. You need to take your fear of failing and turn it around. What if you don’t apply for that job? What if you never move away from home? In Napoleon Hill’s book Think and Grow Rich, he tells a story about Thomas Edison’s assistant. This man was determined to be Edison’s assistant. He was so determined that he woke up one morning, sold all his belongings, and road as a vagabond in boxcars down to Edison’s lab. When he arrived, he told Edison he was there to be his assistant. After several attempts to turn him away, Edison consented to his doing some sweeping and cleaning duties. The point is the man eventually became Edison’s primary assistant. What if you sold all you had and wholeheartedly risked it all to go and follow a dream? I ask because this doesn’t exist in our society. There is always a “fallback plan” and young people end up settling for what’s easy instead of determining to carve out the destiny they dreamed of. Quitters never win and winners never quit. Redefine determination and flip fear on its head. What happens if you don’t? The first thing to die will be passion, then hope, and then the dream itself which will be fleeting memory of ‘when you were young.’

Momentum

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Each day is a new life to the wise man

I’m not a good decision maker in more ways than one. First, I hate being the one in the group deciding where to eat or what movie to see. This is because I’m a people-pleaser (to my own detriment) and am often afraid of upsetting..well…anyone. Second, because I’m a people pleaser, I am likely to go with the popular vote. As you probably know, this doesn’t always put in you in the best place. In fact, the title to a chapter in Timothy Ferriss’ The Four Hour WorkWeek is title “Everything Popular is Wrong.” It’s time to get with the minority.

Today I have a few thoughts about momentum. Is it ever hard for you to get moving? Do you ever feel stuck? Again, welcome to my life. In my first post, A new year, a new you, I mentioned my goal to create a mastermind group of like-minded individuals. We had our second meeting last night. We have named it The Progressive Group. The week before we set some initial goals and this was the opportunity to follow up. Guess what? Most of us didn’t accomplish even one, myself included.

Was the group a failure? Not at all. The group was created for just this purpose- to bring tangibility to our goals and accountability for our time. We reworked our goals more specifically. We realistically looked at our schedules and decided exactly when we could accomplish things within the upcoming week. We set new goals. We challenged each other to do more. We generated momentum.

Momentum is defined by Merriam-Webster as “strength or force gained by motion or by a series of events.” You need to get the ball rolling and you need to define what your motion or event will be to do that. Let me tell you what it will not be-RESEARCH or IDLE TALK. If you want to set a goal to travel to Europe it’s great to research ticket prices, tours, and places you want to see. Nothing wrong with that, but tell me: How much momentum does that create? You can complain about your job or where you live but until you do something about it, you’re the only one who’s really in the way. Find out what you want and take step one TODAY. Be specific in terms of a daily or weekly goal.

A turning point in my life was when I decided to study abroad in college. I wanted to go somewhere warm. I told my family and my friends and got responses like, “Good for you,” without much conviction or belief that I would actually do it. I needed momentum. I decided to go to the office at school. There, I was directed to the upcoming Study Abroad Fair at the union. I initially thought of a three-month interim trip but everyone I met told me to stay the semester so I could really see the country. I chose Australia because they spoke English and it was opposite seasons so it would be warm for the entire spring semester. That’s how long it took just to pinpoint WHAT I WANTED.

My momentum hit a brick wall when I found out how much it was going to cost between flights, traveling, tuition, and living expenses. After two months of trying, I felt defeated. I remember going back to my counselor desperately asking questions about funding options. She stopped me short and said, “Drew relax! We want you to go to Australia and will do anything we can to help you get there.” She gave me a list of scholarships to apply for and explained how to change my “need” requirements for Financial Aid. She gave me step one to get my momentum back. A week or two later, my Dad ran into someone whose daughter who had just gotten back from studying Australia. I called her to ask for any advice or tips and we arranged to grab coffee. She took me through almost a thousand pictures on her laptop over the course of two hours. Guess what happened? I MADE IT to Australia. That experience has given me the confidence to do anything.

Keep in mind; no one thought I was serious. I didn’t allow anyone to stop my momentum though. I gained more motion through conversations with people and my actions than any talk or research would have achieved. If you want to go to Europe, find and talk to someone who has been there. Call a travel agent. If you want to live somewhere else then find out who lives there or who has been there. Make a phone call. Take a trip. Gain some momentum. A few closing insights: 1. Life does not stop for you to make a decision but it will pass you by. 2. Change scares EVERYBODY. Real learning and real growth comes from getting out of your comfort zone. It’s being not afraid to fail. I heard one description of success as becoming “incrementally better at failing.” You’re going to fail anyways because you’re human. Why not stumble or fall while taking steps in the direction you WANT for your life? Start doing this today but be specific. Be realistic. Don’t set a goal you can’t accomplish. You will feel defeated before you even start. Now take a look around. Welcome to the minority. 🙂

A new year, A new you

ImageThere’s something about turning the calendar that inspires change. If you’re like me you want change in your life NOW and have felt that way for a while. I graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee just over a year ago and decided my first change was going to be a move. As the 23rd winter of my life approached, I abruptly packed up and moved to South Florida. The last year has been a search for the right outlet to plug my talents and resources into. Through it I’ve learned a couple things about myself.

The first thing I’ve learned is that wherever I work, I have the ability and drive to become the best employee at the business. The second thing is that I’m not a very good employee. These are not as different as they may seem. On the one side, there is the Drew that wants to learn all the ins and outs of the business to become as effective as possible. On the other side, once learned, the same Drew seeks to reveal inefficiencies in the business and explore betters ways to do things. Independent and entrepreneurial Drew has the same problems from a different perspective. I constantly look to better myself and improve both my knowledge base and habits in my personal life. I have a hunger to apply myself in all areas. This becomes a problem when I look for a direction or project to put those talents into action. I am simply a different breed of most people. I will never settle for mediocrity. I will always want to set a new standard once the old one is accomplished.

This leads me to today. I’m looking to develop a “Mastermind” group of friends who are also driven and passionate go-getters. Without any real direction to take real steps, I’ve begun to document where I’m at TODAY. It’s simply a tool of measurement and of expression and, with repetition, my hope is that it will convert to realities.

To master my new year, my goal is to become Master of my day. Does anyone out there feel me?