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Letters With News

By on Aug 13, 2014 in Featured, Marketing | 0 comments

Think about the newsletters you almost always open. My guess: most of them will read less like “news” and more like a letter from a friend. They will entertain, impress, inspire, they will provide helpful advice and worthy links.

Five Audiences Bad For Your Creativity

By on Feb 18, 2014 in Marketing, Writing | 1 comment

Too many people create something that a only very small and generally non-lucrative audience will appreciate or, worse, they don’t take a chance creatively because they fear the reaction of those small, non-lucrative audiences.


By on Nov 12, 2010 in Featured, Philosophical | 0 comments

During the book signing and meet-up with Chris Guillebeau at Sam Weller’s on Wednesday evening, one of the follow-up questions from the audience was what Chris, as well as audience members, found to be the biggest barriers to accomplishing goals. The first one mentioned was fear, which is the most obvious and most accurate for many people. But there are other reasons. Another person talked about finances and retirement, when incomes are fixed, health issues loom large and the desire to work long hours — even at something you love — is minimal. Other answers included fighting inertia, avoiding change (which is a form of fear), lack of passion or inexperience. I didn’t have an answer that evening that wasn’t already said by somebody, but as I thought more about my particular situation, I realized that for me it’s selfishness. It’s one thing to live the life I want when there is only I, and I have lived that life in the past. Now, my life is a WE: my wife, my child(ren) and me, and I wouldn’t ever want to go back the life of I. There are trade-offs, though, most importantly that I now want to live the life  we want. If I simply did everything I wanted, it would almost certainly come at the detriment of the we. This is not a complaint, by the way. I love the we and what it means, including things that some people consider “burdens,” whether it be a mortgage, a full-time job or, yes, children. But it also means that while I could certainly see myself devoting 60 hours a week to writing and loving it — even if I only earned a few hundred dollars a month — the we would suffer greatly. Even if we didn’t suffer financially, the we would suffer from a lack of time with me. But that doesn’t mean we can’t live unconventionally. In fact, that is the primary goal for we, even if unconventional is done within the conventional world of mortgages, car loans and full-time employment with benefits. So, what might that involve? A few ideas: * Get out of debt and stay out of debt. Initially, that’s credit cards, but eventually would hopefully include everything, even the mortgage. * Travel for adventure, kids included. This could be a summer living in an RV or a sailboat. It could be a year in Europe. It could be anything that isn’t simply a 3-star hotel and chain restaurants. * Low-priority jobs. This doesn’t mean I want a mindless or meaningless job. It means that I/we are as picky as possible about stress levels, bosses, vacations and hours. In other words, jobs that don’t haunt my thoughts during my free time. * No cul-de-sacs. Instead, we live in places with character. In Salt Lake, that means our burgeoning urban farm. In a few years, maybe it means a high-rise condo in NYC, a boat house in Portland, a flat in London or a 5-story walk-up in Barcelona. * Multiple incomes. No, I don’t mean two incomes. I mean enough income from things we love — our chutney, brewing beer, freelance writing, whatever — that we can actually be picky about our full-time jobs. This goes hand-in-hand with debt free living, which will eventually equal savings. * Constant education: This goes for everyone. I hope that every trip we take teaches our children something about the world. That may be actual education (a trip to D.C.), it may show them different cultures or it may teach them more compassion. But I would hope my wife and I keep learning, whether it’s professional development, hobbies or simply expanding our world...

Chris Guillebeau: Meaningful Adventure

By on Nov 11, 2010 in Philosophical | 1 comment

Two guidelines for living unconventionally: 1. Pursue meaningful adventure. 2. Ask, “How can I contribute?” Those guidelines were the heart & soul of a brief yet thought-provoking talk by Chris Guillebeau during a Wednesday night book signing and meet-up at Sam Weller’s Bookstore in Salt Lake. All in all, his entire talk lasted barely 15 minutes, with another 20 or so minutes for Q&A with the crowd of about 20 people. For those unfamiliar with Chris, he has been blogging for 3-4 years about living an unconventional life, dispensing philosophical advice about becoming your own boss, embracing creativity, becoming financially independent (debt-free, minimalist living) and, basically, living the life you want. He also writes a lot about his goal of visiting every country in the world by the time he’s 35, which is he doing by “travel hacking” that includes loading up on airline miles, sleeping on airport floors and any other method that allows for cheap travel. That’s an incredibly simplistic description of Chris’ work. Really, the best ways to learn about Chris and his philosophies is to either buy his book, The Art of Non-Conformity, or visit his website, In person, Chris is a friendly, quick with a smile and seemingly still amazed that he is living the way he wants. This came across in his reading, as he engaged the crowd, patiently answered questions and stepped back from the conversation when others wanted to talk. More than anything, his speech was a pep talk for people looking for more out of their lives. That reflects his overall writing, which is really geared towards people who are comfortable with their lives but are looking for more control, more quality of life. Understand that when I say “reading,” this was — as can be expected — unconventional. Chris is doing a book tour, which in and of itself is uncommon in today’s publishing world. Further, he’s hitting 63 cities, at least one in every state. In each city, he’s partnering with a local person who can help with promotion and whatever else is needed. (In Salt Lake, that was handled by local blogger Ghennipher). Finally, all of the proceeds from his book sales on the tour are going to Charity Water, which is bringing clean water to African communities. As for the reading, Chris never actually read from his book, although some of the things he said are in the book (his time in Africa, for example). He also touched on things he has written on his blog, such as advice about how to start a blog that was a post a few days earlier. After the above-mentioned Q&A, he went upstairs in Sam Weller’s and signed copies of his book, ate cookies and asked more questions than he was asked by the people there. Overall, it was a great reading — primarily because it was so much different than a reading. And like his blog, it was inspiring. So, thanks to Chris, thanks to Ghennipher and thanks to Sam Weller. A version of this post was published at...