Welcome to My Blog

 

I'm a writer, inbound marketing expert, Mavs fan, travel enthusiast, and coffee addict. Read more about me and my adventures here!

Subscribe

The War Against Creativity

Creating is hard. It’s choosing to go to the point of no return and to commit to creating something new, unseen, not yet in existence, and something that will more than likely fail. Not creating is even harder though, it’s the choice of putting your curiosity in a prison and throwing away the key. At first it’s missed, but over time it becomes easier to forget the absence and go on in normalcy, following the trends and working to forget there was ever an option to chase curiosity in the first place.

There’s a war against creativity. From an early age we’re taught to put away the crayons and to conform. To stop coloring outside the lines, to stop making up stories, and to start following the rules. We’re taught this is the path to success.

Creating seems to be outlawed, and you can see the evidence everywhere. It’s very easy to conform. The thought of going against the norm is strange to most people. Creative people that have bought into the normalcy must wait to be picked in order to create, and once they are, they must color inside the lines that someone else has already drawn. They wait for the system to choose them, passing the ability to initiate off to someone else.

Initiating, like creating, is hard. There’s pain in it, and fear too. The fear of rejection, of isolation and loneliness, and the fear of failure. It’s easy to see why avoiding the fear and pain of failure is the norm when it’s what has been taught since day one.

The war against creativity isn’t conforming vs. not conforming, it’s the effort at making you think that failure is actually a bad thing.

Hoverboards

It’s 2015 and hoverboards still aren’t here. Neither are flying cars, self-lacing shoes, Jaws 19, and as a kicker, the Cubs are still awful. But hey, that’s ok, at least the last one was expected.

2015 is the year that Marty McFly arrives in the future, October 21, 2015 to be exact. And although hoverboards were shown extensively in his version of 2015, the real deal has yet to arrive in our own 2015. Only recently have people started working towards creating a hoverboard, and what they have, is nothing like Marty’s board.

There is never a reason to wait for a reason to innovate. People who wait to innovate are like those waiting for 2015 as an excuse to start creating hoverboards, or self-lacing shoes, or trying to find talented players to put on the Cubs.

In Waiting

The illusion many have is that without a push or a reason to innovate, failure is right around the corner, waiting. The innovators are the ones that scratch their own itch, solve their own problem, and embrace their own failures. They’re the kids that don’t wait for a push to send them on their sled down the hill.

In a commencement address to the 2014 graduating class of Maharishi University of Management in Fairfield, Iowa, comedian Jim Carrey spoke on the fear of failure:

My father could have been a great comedian but he didn’t believe that that was possible for him, and so he made a conservative choice. Instead, he got a safe job as an accountant and when I was 12 years old, he was let go from that safe job, and our family had to do whatever we could to survive. I learned many great lessons from my father, not the least of which was that you can fail at what you don’t want, so you might as well take a chance on doing what you love.

Ideas are perishable. And like ideas, goals and dreams that sit in waiting, untouched, can never be real unless action is taken to make them that way.

Don’t wait for someone to tell you its okay to create your own hoverboard. Go ahead and do it.

Chapters

Tolkein Quote

To most of the world, the average person is just another page in a book, read once and forgotten. Sad but ordinary. There’s a secret though, and only a few realize that they can burn the book altogether and write a story of their own. This is where creation begins.

Chapter 1

If we’re all just pages in a book don’t you want to be the reason a new chapter begins? Why not start something crazy? or something daring? The services we rely upon, the products we use, and the brands we trust were forged by people who decided to write their own story and start their own chapter. Chase them, not everyone else.

The chapter-starters are all people who bucked the system. Mark Cuban slept on the floor and couch of his friends’ apartments trying to make it in Dallas and save money while he learned as much as he could about computers. Cuban would later sell two companies: MicroSolutions for $6 million and another, Broadcast.com, for $5.7 billion.  In an interview, Cuban said, “When I was poor and sleeping on the floor I was having fun.”

Mark Zuckerberg dropped out of Harvard chasing an idea that he lived and breathed every waking moment. Zuckerberg said in an interview, “I remember really vividly, you know, having pizza with my friends a day or two after—I opened up the first version of Facebook at the time I thought, ‘You know, someone needs to build a service like this for the world.’ But I just never thought that we’d be the ones to help do it. And I think a lot of what it comes down to is we just cared more.”

The people who deviated from the norm are likely to be the people we remember the most. There’s a theme here, one that speaks to the ingredient found in successful people:  they chase their goals, breathe them in during every waking moment, and are relentless in doing whatever it takes to capture them. They are the author of their own story.

The Road Less Traveled

Your deviation from the main road, from whoever’s book you’ve been existing in, doesn’t have to be sudden or extreme. This is where most people burn out, they see a goal and jump off of the cliff to get to it without realizing there was a cliff there to begin with.

Those who’ve found great success, the Cubans and Zuckerburgs of the world, work day and night, living and breathing their dream in order to build and create their own path, and write their own chapter.

Chasing the Light of Yesterday

Andromeda

Andromeda

On most clear nights between the Pegasus and Cassiopeia constellations lives the light of a trillion suns. This light must travel 2.5 million years in order to reach the Earth, giving a glimpse into the past if we only choose to look up and search for it. This group of stars, now called the Andromeda Galaxy, has been hovering over Earth for silent millennia, waiting to be recognized.

Astronomers from long ago looked upon the Andromeda and thought it a celestial cloud.  Persian astronomer Abd al-Rahman al-Sufi wrote about Andromeda in 964, calling it a small cloud. For centuries it was included in star maps, even before the advent of the telescope in the 17th century. It wasn’t until 1925 when Edwin Hubble correctly identified the Andromeda as a galaxy entirely separate from our own, instead of a cluster of stars held within our own Milky Way Galaxy.

Chasing the Light of Yesterday

Our own light can appear to the world as easily as the stars appear to us in the night sky. It can be just as easy to miss though. If the world doesn’t know we’re there, or know where to look for our story, we’re invisible and become just another dot scattered in the sky. Only when we focus our light – our goals, dreams, passions – forward with purpose, can we shine and be found and admired.

Perspective is everything. If the Andromeda Galaxy appeared to the naked eye as it does to a large telescope, it would be six moons wide in our night sky, a small space for a galaxy that contains an estimated 1 trillion stars. What’s more amazing is that the galaxy we see is 2.5 million years old, as the Andromeda Galaxy is 2.5 million light years away from Earth. Perspective gives us balance, and helps us know what should hold our focus, and what shouldn’t.

You could spend your life looking in the direction you think is forward, doing what you think is dreaming, and working towards what you believe to be your goals, only to ultimately find yourself stationary during the whole affair. Life moves fast and the ideas within us are fluid. Move with them. Don’t be stationary. Let yourself live and let your ideas shine everywhere.

The light from Andromeda left its source long before you or I were ever a thought in the world. Two and a half million years later,  only those who search for Andromeda see its light or ever truly appreciate its significance. For centuries, the greatest minds looked through their naked eye at this faraway celestial body, thinking it merely a part of our own galaxy.

Only recently, in the grand scope of our history, has the truth come. And now we realize that we are but small granules of sand in an ocean of stars. We’re made of carbon, of the very stardust that sends pure light two and a half million years to our Earth, only to beg to make it to our searching eyes. Our Creator intended us to be explorers, to live for the light of yesterday but chase the light of tomorrow.

Our lives are meant to be lived as explorers today, not as people chasing yesterday. If you’re stuck, there are inspirations everywhere you look – stand outside on clear night, and let the ancient light of a trillion stars wash over you.

Regret

Alex Honnold

“Alex Honnold reenacting his rope-less free climb of the 2,500 ft. Northwest Face of Half Dome (5.12), Yosemite National Park, California, USA. Alex’s ascent is arguably the hardest free solo done to date in Yosemite.”
AlexHonnold.com Via National Geographic

I’ve lived with depression the majority of my post-college graduation life. It’s debilitating and it really sucks. It’s not something I talk about to practically anyone, which makes this article a sort of letter, I suppose. But that’s ok, depression is just a thing in my life, it’s just a weight. That’s it. Like any psychological weight in life, it seems to be attached at the ankle, trying to keep me from moving forward, trying to sink me, drown me. But these are just threats from an invisible and unrealistic enemy. And that’s not the end of my story.

We all have our own weights in our lives, our own leg irons that promise, beg for, defeat. They promise to sink us, to keep us back, to prevent us from even being. To stop us from living. But the only way you realize you have a psychological leg weight bringing you down is if you keep looking down, the only reality in which the weight controls you is if you keep making sure it’s there. Once you ignore it, you can begin to live again. Then the sun shines brighter and life sings to you once again.Continue Reading

The Self-Powered Life

The Ancient Polynesians navigated the Pacific using the sun and the stars as their compass. Their journeys took them to places across thousands of miles, from Hawaii to New Zealand and New Zealand to Easter Island, within an area encompassing 10 million square miles, now known as the Polynesian Triangle.

These ancient navigators, exploring and settling the Polynesian Triangle between 3000BC and 1000BC, set their eyes forward and upward, using the stars as their guide and the horizon as their goal. Entire villages traveled great distances in Polynesian double-hulled canoes, setting out to find new islands and lands.

No ship guides itself. There must always be a captain to decide where it goes. But each ship, regardless of the number of people who man it, are reliant on the winds, engines, and masts that power it.

Life is challenging. But life is only captained by its owner. Each life must steer itself.  The road less traveled is worth the risk, though, and the misfits who are brave enough to journey there have great stories to tell. Stories of adventure and fortune, of risk and failure – and of life.

The Art of Being Remarkable

Nobody plans on having a boring life, but once you realize you’ve gone down that path, you can feel overwhelmed by the dull and mundane events of your life that make you feel like you’re barely able to keep your head above water. It becomes easier and easier to close the door to whatever exploration is calling you, to whatever your dreams are, and continue on the uninspiring path that truly offers nothing remarkable.

Being remarkable is about the journey. It’s what you see along the way and the people you meet. The journey makes the destination worth it. It’s true that people make the world spin around, but the dreamers are what make the world worth exploring. Realize that you can be one; find them and join them.

‘A Handcrafted Event for Artists, Troublemakers, and General Riffraff ‘

On the last weekend of May in 2014 I found myself among a fantastic number of dreamers in sunny Fargo, North Dakota for a conference that can only be described as A Handcrafted Event for Artists, Troublemakers, and General Riffraff. It was a weekend dedicated to those who seek creativity out as if it were a money tree. That weekend, I was one of several hundred people from all walks of life that are doing amazing things across the globe, and I felt at home.

This year’s Misfit conference was the second one in as many years put on by Misfit Inc., a company headed by my good friends AJ and Melissa Leon, along with many other cool people. A fair number of attendees had gone to the previous year’s Misfit Con, and each one of them spoke of the magic that occurred there. I was pumped to say the least.

AJ and Melissa

My bizarre journey to Fargo, of all places, began a year before the plane even left the tarmac. I was first introduced to AJ Leon in 2013 through his Kickstarter campaign that aimed to fund his book, The Life and Times of a Remarkable Misfit. My dad is the one who sent me the link and asked me to check out the Kickstarter video – it looked interesting and I did.

AJ’s Kickstarter video caught me completely off guard. Here was a guy who had “made it” and had everything but an actual contract to a very rich and wealthy future. AJ had left a comfy six-figure job in Manhattan for an unknown and uncertain life. He had decided that he wanted to change the world, explore, and do something remarkable and different with his life. Fourteen months later he had started his own successful business with his wife (Misfit Inc.), was exploring the world, and was doing life fulfilling things. This was right up my alley.

His journey has taken him from Manhattan to places all around the world. With his wife and team of Misfits, AJ has built a windmill in Africa, promoted the value of Shakespeare around the world, inspired millions, and created a place for misfits around the world to come together and be wonderfully eccentric.

As a gift to me, my dad purchased one of the options on the Kickstarter campaign that would have AJ hand delivering his new book to me in person once it was completed. I immediately began devouring his blog, (aj-leon.com/pursuitofeverything/), and ate up everything he had to say about life, the world, and everything in between. His outlook was an injection of inspiration that gave my dream of writing and working for myself wings.

Later that year my dad and I met AJ and his wife Melissa during SXSW. We shared coffee and stories of self-starting adventure. This year we all met again during SXSW 2014, where AJ delivered his completed book to me.

Misfit Con 2014

Misfit Con is described as A Handcrafted Event for Artists, Troublemakers, and General Riffraff. If you haven’t yet met me then you should know that description fits me, not perfectly, but close enough. It’s a great description of an event, certainly, but there’s not much else you can do to prepare for what actually happens. There’s not a real way to describe it beyond those words. It’s magical.

The night before the plane was scheduled to depart I didn’t sleep a wink. The first leg of the journey that took me to O’Hare felt like it went by in a second. The second, and much shorter leg felt twice as long as the previous 3 hour plane ride. Before I landed in Fargo I finished reading Srinivas Rao’s book, The Art of Being Unmistakable, which set the mood for the conference. Little did I know Srinivas would be attending as well as speaking, and I would get a chance to meet him and speak with him.

Landing in Fargo was an experience. Firstly, there was no one else waiting for a shuttle, car, or friend pickup. I was it. The people who exited the plane with me quietly walked to a small parking lot where they left in their own vehicles. After more than 30 minutes my Hilton hotel shuttle arrived and picked me, and only me, up. I made it to the hotel a short time later in time for the informal Misfit meetup that Thursday evening at a local museum.

That evening was special. I met friends there who I still connect with today: friends from Austin, friends from Canada, the US, and all over the world. It was the perfect introduction to what would be an incredible weekend.

I awoke the next day refreshed, eager, and very anxious. If you’ve ever been to Fargo then you’ll know how special it’s small, quaint downtown can be. Though small, it’s a very chill and welcoming atmosphere. Large enough to have the unique things that make a city special, but small enough that walking about it will have you running into friends and meeting new people. Downtown Fargo that Friday morning just before 8am was inhabited by few people. I didn’t recognize anyone from the night before but I suspected we were all Misfits there for the conference. There was an electricity in the air that was begging to be consumed and shared.

I left my hotel early enough to stop and get coffee at the local shop, named Atomic Coffee, next door to where we were instructed to meet. There was a group of people talking animatedly by the door, they seemed too spirited to be simply having coffee before an 8am job, so I knew I had found the Misfits. I grabbed my coffee – something black and strong, from what I can remember – and headed over.

We finished our coffee, and walked next door to begin the weekend. Then everything changed.

Find Your Fargo

This is where I stop telling my Fargo story, it’s a beautiful experience and memory to me, but it wouldn’t make sense to you unless you were there.  There aren’t enough words to describe what happens next in my own, unique Fargo story.

Choosing to be different, to be creative and challenge your status quo is the first step off of the beaten path. But one step doesn’t get you there. Being around many people who are all journeying to and on the road less traveled is the inspiration everyone deserves to have.

The motivation my fellow Misfits and I gained there is invaluable. Each of us began the journey to Fargo seeking to alleviate a pressure to create and perform, looking to find out what makes others tick and why they create such beautiful masterpieces. Each of us left from Fargo with a sense of community and a reason why – a reason why to create, why to love, and why to continue embracing our own uniqueness.

Find your own Fargo, your own tribe of Misfits. Find your group then go create value in your own world. I found mine. I’m a Misfit and it’s awesome. Being a Misfit is hard, and at times it doesn’t make sense. The only solution is to discover what makes you tick and search for the magic that makes things click in your life. Find your own Fargo, and hold onto it as if it were a precious jewel, because I found mine and I guard the memories dearly.

Create your own lightning storm that powers your own life and lets you guide your own ship to wherever you see fit.

Your Self-Powered Life

Our society is obsessed with people who’ve decided to steer the rudder of their own ship – the Steve Jobs and Bill Gates’ of the world, our favorite writers and authors, people like Mark Cuban, bands who don’t have to have a day job, and countless others who inspire our inner creativity.

But it’s not something you have to only look at or dream about. The self-powered life is entirely possible. It’s an adventure that allows your soul to speak to the world in a spectacular way.

Many people lose the reason why they love to create. It’s either ironed out in school, or lost in the mindlessness of the cubicle. This creative drive escapes them slowly as they continue to deny and ignore its existence, slowly pulling them through a bleak and hopeless road atop a cliffside thats just begging to be explored. Being a misfit is not always, if ever, easy, but life favors the bold and only those who challenge the cliffside will ever know it’s there.

As soon as you lose sight of why you create, anything you try and bring into the world will be void of that special magic that only you can add to it. Learn to live, drift, and sail in your own ocean and your sunsets can only grow in beauty.

Yes, being a misfit can be difficult, but it’s worth it. Take your ideas to the edge of the cliff and step off of it and see where life and your parachute can take you.

Voyager 1

On September 12, 2013, Voyager 1, the farthest man-made object from Earth, left the solar system. But things weren’t always this way. Voyager 1 started with just an idea and a dream by NASA after a Grand Tour plan was proposed in the 1960s to study the outer planets of our solar system. In the early 70s, NASA began to work on this mission, ultimately culminating in the Voyager 1 launch on September 5, 1977.

Voyager 1’s primary mission was to study the outer Solar System, and was ultimately accomplished as the spacecraft encountered the Jovian system in 1979 and the Saturnian system in 1980, taking the first detailed photographs of the two planets and their moons. After its primary mission ended in November of 1980, Voyager continued to soar through the solar system, and as of August 22nd of this year, has been operating for  36 years, 11 months and 17 days.

The Voyager 1 spacecraft is currently 128.26 AU, or 11,922,511,800 miles, away from Earth. Tomorrow it’ll travel further, nearly 900,000 more miles, leading it closer to its next destination, the Oort Cloud, only 300 years of travel time away.

Perspective

By today’s standards, the technology aboard Voyager 1 is as simplistic as you can get. Currently operating with just 70 kilobytes of memory on board, 240,000 times less than a 16GB iPhone 5, Voyager’s journey has taken it further than the wildest expectations of NASA and the scientists and dreamers that built the spacecraft.

On February 14, 1990, having completed its primary mission nearly ten years earlier, NASA gave Voyager 1 the command to turn around, point its cameras toward Earth and photograph the Solar System. By this point, the spacecraft had reached a distance of 3.7 billion miles from Earth and was traveling at a rate 40,000 miles per hour.

Of the 60 frames sent back to Earth from Voyager 1, one stands out above the rest. The photograph, named The Pale Blue Dot, puts our world in perspective.

Pale Blue Dot

Seen from about 6 billion kilometers (3.7 billion miles, 40 astronomical units), Earth appears as a tiny dot (the blueish-white speck approximately halfway down the brown band to the right) within the darkness of deep space.[

Earth is visible in the image as but a small, pale blue dot, taking up just 12% of a single pixel. The great astronomer Carl Sagan commented on this photo:

From this distant vantage point, the Earth might not seem of any particular interest. But for us, it’s different. Consider again that dot. That’s here. That’s home. That’s us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives. The aggregate of our joy and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies, and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every “superstar,” every “supreme leader,” every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there – on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam.

Feel small? Your one day in a sea of billions of days being lived – innumerable human experiences happening, goals being won or lost, life happening – might make you feel small and insignificant, but your one day can lead you magical places.

The operational capabilities of Voyager 1 are expected to stop functioning somewhere between 2025 to 2030, well before its scheduled arrival in the Oort cloud in around 300 years. But the spacecraft’s significance won’t end there. Voyager 1 carries with it a gold-plated audio-visual disc filled with images of Earth and its lifeforms, scientific information, spoken greetings from dignitaries, sounds of earth life, and music from around our world.

Voyager 1 launched with just 70 kilobytes of memory  and a primary mission that ended just over three years after its launch. In 40,000 years, carrying with it the signs of the cultures of humanity, Voyager 1 will pass by its next star. The small, golden disc on a spacecraft launched on far outdated technology will be traveling long after you and I are gone, doing so one day at a time.

The way you look at the world and your own life will dictate whether your goals are visible and in your future, or lost in the darkness around you. Your perspective is everything. Always keep moving forward.