Leveling Up

Every time I’m about to level up in my career, every time I can start to see a new area of territory that can be explored…

I hesitate.

It’s uncomfortable to leap into something you’ve never done before. You don’t know what the fall will feel like. And you wonder… will there be a soft landing?

The truth is you don’t. And as you tiptoe closer to the edge of your next big business move, your career change, your product launch… that leaning back, that warping vision of thin air in front of your eyes escalates.

This is normal. It’s normal to want to grow, and simultaneously want to hide.

And it feels safe to focus on what we do best, and it’s how our brains are built.
And you can’t beat yourself up about it…

But you also can’t NOT move forward.

Because the biggest opportunity is almost always in the area that scares you most to work on.

And today we can’t afford to stay in one place. Not when there’s so much opportunity. Not when our work depends on taking creative and emotional risks to succeed. So there’s a gap that needs to be crossed. And we make a transition every time we level up.

The good news is, I’ve never had to jump alone, and neither do you.

The “simple hack” for getting to that next mountain is to find someone who’s already gone to where you want to go.

Find someone who sees your scary leap is a simple hop that they’ve done a thousand times. Someone who truly understands how to bring clarity and confidence to get you from where you are now to where you want to be.

Every time I’ve gotten stuck on the ledge, I’ve hired a coach, a course, or found the right people to help me out. The bigger the jump, the more important it is to find the right person who can guide you through. I’ve spent thousands on coaches, courses, and books and it’s been worth it every time. Because the right moment of clarity, the right tip, can change your course in life for good.

Education is changing. The work we do is difficult, not dig for hours by hand difficult, but emotionally difficult. There are no longer “right answers.” There are strategies and outcomes but nothing is final. It’s a rolling process. Unlike the tests we had to take in high school, where the grades were clear and everything was A – F. This way of thinking and acting that isn’t helpful for today’s business landscape.

When 40% of people will be freelancers by 2020, we all need coaches and mentors to help us continually level up. Because there’s no longer a clear system to follow but your own compass and at every turn, we can bring on new opportunities that take us to new places.

To me, customized learning is a necessity.

So sure, it’s makes me feel a bit gross seeing all the “courses launch! 10 figure income coaching program! buy now in the next 5 minutes and..” going on. But at the same time, this is the world today: coaches, online courses, communities are a huge component of how we grow. So don’t discount them, instead find the ones that really help. And pay for them when the time is right to make your next move.

When you’re looking to grow your income by %25 each year… you need coaches to show you new heights.

When you’re looking to build and grow an audience for your product, you want your blind spot shown to you so you can grow to the next stage instead of spinning your wheels.

So, as we head in 2018, think about what the one move is that would make the most impact on your career, but feels like the biggest risk.

Chances are you know what it is.

Then see if you can find someone in that area, a class, a community, with the goal in mind of taking that one or two major moves in the new direction.

To level up, you need to jump the gap.
And you don’t need to do it alone.

By the way, I wanted to let you know that in 2018 I’m opening up 4-6 spots for business owners, individuals or brands who are looking to make a very particular type of move. It’s the first time I’m making this available and it’s first come first serve. It’s one-on-one, with me as your guide in an area I’m confident we can move the needle on.

I’ve had thousands of conversations with individuals about their brands, marketing, and standing out… And I see where people get stuck. The program is built for business owners who currently have a product or service, and are seeking to build and develop an audience in a unique, meaningful way.

It includes one on one calls, homework and audio lessons to teach skills and refine your thinking, plus a bit of creative direction + feedback. If this sounds like you, and it sounds like the right time, You Can Apply Here, or Read More Info Here.

xx David


Bitcoin Goes Mainstream

 

Make no mistake.

This is really about permission to build our own financial instruments. The gatekeepers are falling in every industry, and it’s time for one of the last ones, finance, to topple.

The blockchain, bitcoin, and other cryptocurrencies are showing the potential to transform how we interact with, store, and share our money with others.

Of course, before that happens, we’ll see some significant pushback.

But let’s back up.

Cryptocurrency chatter, forums, subreddits, this new tech has been buzzing in the background of my work for the past 3 or 4 months. For better or for worse, which was illustrated by this beautiful tweet.

You’ve probably been hearing these words buzzing around, and not pay too much attention.

The thing about this tech is it’s still in its infancy. People forget that there was a time when email was all but unusable to folks not super tech savvy. So if it feels opaque, if it sounds too technical, that’s because right now it is.

But it in the future it won’t be.

Like how you got your first cell phone and every text message felt like a miracle. The computing power of your phone outweighs the best computer from the 50’s, but by the time you’ve used it for a year or more, that magical technology has lost its luster.

That’s how technology works, it all eventually becomes invisible. The topic of conversation and then boorrinnng.

But right now we’re still in that first phase.

So those who want to dive in are still hesitant, and for good reason. I’ve probably spent ~50 hours so far dipping my toe into the landscape, and I’m only now starting to understand the high-level view of this thing.

So it goes without saying that I’m not making investment advice here.

Bitcoin is a Black Swan event: unprecedented, unpredictable, and wildly interesting. A lot of turmoil will happen before that shakes out and steadies the market.

CURRENCIES EVOLVE.

To start understanding Bitcoin, you have to start by looking at the history of money. You’ll see that, every so often across the centuries, the manner in which we share value with each other changes. Used to be we bartered, used to be we used gold coins, used to be the U.S. was on the gold standard. It changes when we recognize there are better instruments for moving and storing value. No surprise, this isn’t a process that stops.

This is just the next evolution of the species of money.

IT’S NOT ELECTRONIC MONEY; IT’S PROGRAMMABLE MONEY

We already have electronic money. The 1’s and 0’s in your bank account previously store your value. The difference is we have no control over our money online, which is why there are data breaches; and if you want to understand an issue with your bank, you have to wait on hold for an hour. You think you own your money, you think the number in your account is yours, but what about when you get locked out of your account?

What about when you live in, say, Greece and suddenly there are withdrawal limits on your ATMs? What about when the money in your economy is devalued by rapid inflation?
What about when bad actors tank the system?

See, you don’t have as much control over your money as you think. You’re on the bank’s network. They own your account, not you.

Bitcoin aims to change that.

We take for granted that everyone can publish on the web, and everyone can make a website and give their business a shot. No one can tell you no: We treat all IP addresses the same despite their race, gender, identity, and age. It’s why there are Youtube stars at 16.

It’s incredible.

But not everyone has access to a bank. (In fact, billion’s don’t.)
Not everyone is capable of storing their money, and most people pay large interest on loans internationally, to the economy’s detrement. This impact is most interesting for those in developing countries.

What the internet did for publishing, business and communication, Bitcoin is doing for finance.

HOW DOES IT WORK?

That’s the question everyone is trying to understand, but believe me, you’ll use it even if you don’t understand it.

But think of it like this:

Bitcoin is a network of computers that agree on who has money, and lets you send money from one computer to the other. (Just like you’re sending email).

Your Bank, too, agrees with you on who has money and lets you send money from one computer to another.

Now imagine that you can drop the Bank and replace it with Bitcoin. Like how you dropped the USPS and replaced it with email.

Suddenly how we move money around changes.
Just as, suddenly, the speed of email vs mail, and the contents of a letter, entirely changed.

Bitcoin is only the first example of what this new technology, the blockchain, can do.

Ok sorry, so the Blockchain is the technology, and Bitcoin is the first application of the technology.

Like how we had the internet, and then we got email. There are many potential applications of this technolgoy. Which is why there are also many other cryptocurrencies out there, so if you’re going to invest, you will want to find out the special aspects /focus of each and decide what makes sense to you. And again, this isn’t meant to be financial advice.

ISN’T IT FOR CRIMINALS?

I have Bitcoin, many of my friends have Bitcoins, thousands of other individuals and companies are utilizing Bitcoin.

And, some criminals probably use it as well, just like they use cash from banks and the internet.

DECENTRALIZATION IS THE FUTURE.

Centralization creates power, and eventually, power corrupts and negatively affects the public. New technologies are decentralized, meaning there’s no boundary, and no one is in control. It’s borderless, international, and non-discriminatory. Innovation happens at the edges, not at the center.

We’re interdependent, yet separate. Think Wikipedia.

THE MARKET NEVER STOPS.

Unlike our stock market, it’s up and down 24/7. There’s no market close, so you go to sleep and hope nothing major happens while Asia is making trades and…

THE REST OF THE WORLD IS INVOLVED

Other markets are adopting it rapidly, and the price is based on global investment, not just U.S. investment. My Global Econ degree might come in handy after all….

But if you’re like most people and you’re a spectator or wondering what the buzz is, just try and wrap your head around the basics, my prediction is we’re 5 years from serious adoption. 2023 and all of a sudden cryptocurrencies feel like the new norm.

And if you don’t believe me on any of this: like all industries, follow the money.

First, it’s the geeks were mining Bitcoin for free. Then the techno-elite like the Winklevoss twins go all in with investment. Then Venture Capital goes all in (where we are now). Then the masses hear about it.

Then….

Sincerely sifting through the noise,

xx David

Resources to get you started:

Regarding investment, read this before you decide what to do.

Diversification (aka How To Survive A Crash)

Best author, and easiest to understand book.
https://www.amazon.com/Internet-Money-Andreas-M-Antonopoulos/dp/1537000454

Commentary on the price fluctuations.
https://decentralize.today/dont-fall-for-the-hype-why-bitcoin-s-10-000-price-doesn-t-reflect-its-true-value-6b42a59fce0a

Podcast Episode.
https://www.kevinrose.com/single-post/andreas-antonopolous


I was in over my head as a DJ

 

 

::: 1 Hour until guests arrive

It was only upon arrival that the thought crossed my mind. I had just parked outside a hotel downtown, and I was early. I felt calm, mostly.

It was my first real DJ gig in public, a fancy charity event for about ~75–125 people that ran $100 a ticket. The event was classic attire, set like the 40’s – so my music set was comprised of all electronic swing music. A fun mix of 40’s big band and house music.
(ex: Parov Stelar, Gramatik)

I’d picked up a DJ controller/mixer about a year prior, using Serato and my computer speakers I’d practice in my room every night after work. It was how I winded down. Except usually it had the opposite effect because at 180 BPM your pulse starts to quicken. That’s one thing I picked up in my learning actually… see DJ’s control the crowd. They set the tone for the evening, and if they want you to go to the bar to get drinks they’ll bring it down a notch and when they want you back dancing they’ll ramp up the BPM and crossfade between tracks faster building to a crescendo.

I learned everything from Youtube, specifically THE Dj Tutor, Dj Ellaskins. Mostly I’d been mixing house music and a bit of rap.

Anyways.

I’m in my car, I was doing a bit of mental prep for the evening.
And then the thought hit me.

“I wonder if they already set up the sound system for me?”

“… I have ZERO idea how speaker systems work.”

::: 45 min until guests arrive

Upon arriving inside, my fear had come true. Laying on the ballroom floor in front of the stage was an assortment of bags, speakers, cables, power-strips strewn around the ballroom floor. While staring at the pile of foreign objects in front of me, somewhere in the blurred atmosphere outside of my peripheral vision I heard a murmur of…

“…Oh good the DJ is here, go ahead and get set up so we can sound check.”

Because I’m the DJ… and I’m here to do my job… which includes knowing how everything works. My heartbeat picked up a bit, and my palms began to sweat.

Trying to hold it together, and not in a total panic just yet, I did what most smart people would do in this situation: I started working to assemble every piece at random hoping I might get lucky in connecting things correctly. I looked like a space-monkey playing with new toys in his enclosure. Testing and seeing if the male part of one item went into the female part of the other. Then male to male and every such combination.

::: 30 Minutes until guests arrive.

Good news. Somehow by the sheer volume of science experiments and pure I’m-totally-screwed determination, I had figured out a setup wherein the speaker on the left side of the stage was working correctly, as was the subwoofer at center stage. So there was sound, but it was incomplete.

I remember part of me wondering if I could still somehow back out of this. What could I say? Could I just run out while mumbling the words “grandma” “hospital” “homework” hoping I’d be forgiven?

There was a lesson at this moment somewhere, but this was no time for learning. This was a time to make it work to save myself from embarrassment.

Bad news. “Hey, can you get this microphone set up? I want to give a speech before you go on to thank everyone for coming out?”

This task I performed surprisingly quickly. Hooking the microphone up to the back of the speaker to the right, I tested it “pfffpp check, check” and had good sound coming from it.

Taking stock of things, I had sound coming out from my mixer (the DJ setup connected to my laptop) to the left speaker and the sub in the middle. Then, I had the microphone hooked up to the right speaker, which was working, but not connected to the DJ equipment.

This would be noticeable to the audience, but also not zero music, which would be worse.

::: 15 minutes until guests arrive

I AM EINSTIEN REINCARNATED.

I AM MATT DAMON WORKING AS A JANITOR BUT SECRETLY A WUNDERKIND.

The breakthrough idea was that the working microphone from the right speaker could be used to amplify the sound coming through the left, and then back out through the right.

I took the mic stand, and set it up pointing directly into the left speaker with the microphone set to “on.”

That way, when the sound played from the left speaker, it would go out into the microphone which was pointed directly at it, thus producing the music out of the right speaker.

Left speaker music –> Into Microphone on stand –> Plays out right speaker = Full sound to audience.

It was a hack, but a hack that just might work.

Standing in the middle of the room, I listened and found that there was no delay, no feedback noise, or any way for the audience to know that the sound wasn’t working correctly.

Aside from the akward stage microphone placed right in front of the speaker pointed into it.

::: 5 minutes until music begins.

With the mic working, the sound appearing to people as normal, and the room buzzing with guests greeting each other and sipping on cocktails, I felt a sigh of relief.

I was due to begin in a few minutes, as soon as the event organizers speech ended. For which the mics were working and the sound was functional.

Everyone was in a cheerful mood, they had just raised $10,000 for charity and it was time to have some fun. I was ready to take it away.

*…It was right then that I noticed that my mixers USB cable was no longer fully connecting to my laptop…and an error came up on my screen*

**Miraculously everything reset and powered up the moment it needed to. The set went OK, and I only had one lady ask me to play Maroon 5!**

That was the first time I DJ’d publically.

Start before you’re ready.

xx David


Solving other people’s problems

Can start after solving your own.

After pain, after struggle, or after working really hard to get somewhere, we see more clearly.

That newfound site you’ve earned can be a gift to those still only seeing clouds.

Have a great rest of your week.

xx David


Faces: Detroit

I stopped through Detroit on the way back home for the holiday and offered up portraits to anyone on this list who wanted to swing by. It was a great way to meet a bunch of people local to the area, and I’m looking forward to doing this again soon in the next city I visit.

While taking portraits, I asked everyone the same question.

What’s about to get much better in your life?

Here are a few of the images alongside their responses.

Read more


Consumers Today

If you expect valuable media online, expect to start paying for it.

With the explosion of free content abundant on any channel, everything has gotten crowded. The hype machine of marketers has given us overflowing feeds of content streaming through Facebook, Instagram and other media sites on the web.

And we’re about to see the reprisal for how artists making quality media can deliver and capture value in return. But how? Can the arts find support in a digital world where copying bits is free?

See, it’s about finding the right model. And decades into the evolution of the internet, we’re seeing emerging methods for how this will shake out.

In most industries the value didn’t go away, it just moved. For musicians, value moved from CD sales to concert tours, VIP tickets, and sponsorship deals. For media sites, the attention was leveraged to host large-scale conferences and tradeshows. For example how Techcrunch has built out their “Disrupt” events in SF, NYC and London.

But most artists have had a hard time figuring out just where it’s moved.

And I’m not someone that believes that all arts should immediately get funded. We all do things in our lives that we don’t get paid for because we just enjoy doing them. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t legitimate channels for finding revenue as someone giving value through their art.

There’s always a fearful question in the back of the mind of an artist today: “Will anyone pay for this?”

It’s the economics. Artists hate talking about the economics, they don’t want to mismatch incentives. I have a part of me that lives there too. This fear is based on truth; money can muddle art. But it also empowers it, when the right incentives are in place.

And so first we had advertising. WordPress and the like. If you wanted to make money on the internet, you built traffic to a site and then pasted up banner ads by Google and start earning your fee.

Which turned into affiliates. These are still both very much in play, but also can to be seen as in-poor-taste. There’s a credibility loss that happens when your content is surrounded by ads served by a site you have no control over. If I’m getting sold pet food while I read about your life as a nomad…it doesn’t quite sit right.

But that was the past. Today, we’re seeing a host of new models for artists to share their work and consumers today will pay because there are still artists that move us so much that we want to support them.

What’s here NOW is the shift to a new value system for how we consume and purchase media. These new economic models support artists and creators directly, without much of the middlemen in the way.

Let’s look at today’s landscape:

Donation

Spontaneous support. Fundraisers, and ongoing contributions to artists and organizations that you just want to see continue. Think, Brain Pickings (individual), and Wikipedia (organization).

We pay one-off, or recurring, without expectation because we love what they provide.

Pay by stream count

Tracked streams, tracked downloads, with a licensing model based on volume. Anyone today can put their music on Spotify and get funded based on quantity. Licensing isn’t new and is used in a variety of other forms of photo video and other art.

We pay ~$5–$15 ongoing, and we pay with our attention.

Pay by “Likes”

With Medium’s partner program. Members pay $5 to access exclusive writing from authors behind a paywall. You’re paid based on engagement, such as reads and “claps.”

We pay ~$5–$15 and we pay with our attention and engagement (“Claps”).

Pay by Patronage.

I give credit to Patreon, the original player in the field. They lead the charge, along with beloved artist Amanda Palmer and a few others creators. Patreon showed what was possible when you provide an outlet for the artist to connect directly with fans and offer exclusive rewards. They continue to lead in many ways.

In my opinion, patronage has the most aligned incentives for consumers and artists alike. I just spoke with Tim Urban from Wait But Why and his sentiment was that he’s never been happier and more aligned with what I’m doing for a living than right now. This is good for readers and for people like Tim.

We pay to support content production and to connect with artists (and the community).

Pay by Advertising.

Youtube, Forbes, many media outlets. These companies are still using the ad-based model and a hybrid of subscription and advertising. The problem here is there’s sometimes an issue with incentives, especially in news-related media having a conflict. It’s also less clear to readers what was paid for and by whom. Youtuber’s get paid through their ad-network based on view counts.

We pay with our attention and our data.

Pay per thing.

Buying something isn’t new, but pre-ordering it en masse is Kickstarter and other crowdfunding sites allow consumers to both support and receive a product. You can hit a spectrum of support vs. solidified price points of an end-product.

We purchase products, but there’s a feeling of support and early access baked in.

 

Read more


Signed, your name.

Today I got a generous email that changed my attitude for the day.

It might not make total sense to you, but for me, it was just the right type of message at the right time. I wanted to share it with you alongside another kind email I have saved in my inbox from the past.

I’m going to respond to one or two other people with notes like this, right now.

Can you send 2 of these types of messages to your friends/relationships today? Even a text is good. Even “hi, I thought about you” is ok.

Have a great rest of your day.
_________________

_________________

You are doing great and we are lucky to have you,

xx David


Artists Today

Artists today go direct.

If you want to build an audience, go to the distribution channels with the most potential that will put the most gas on the fire. The earlier you arrive, the more opportunity you have. People need to get a taste of what you make and get a sense of the quality. So free samples is good. And, your focus is shareability without compromising your values or dumbing down the work.

Shareability comes from the level quality, the perspective you bring, or how you connect your work to what’s happening in the culture.

Remember, word still spreads fastest person to person.

Skip trying to get on the major media outlets and PR. That comes later. Right now it’s just about doing great work that connects with a small group of people who will share it.

Enter your field by challenging assumptions. If no one else is doing it the way you are, you’ll question yourself, but that fear is a good sign.

Claim that new territory as your own. Opportunity is available everywhere, as there are infinite new lands available for those willing to go against the grain. Draw lines that others don’t yet see, even if it’s only slightly differentiated than what’s out there.

Don’t listen to the articles with specific step by step methods. If someone is selling a concrete road to travel down, it’s likely trodden by thousands of others and is no longer viable. Focus on the work and learning from mistakes and experience.

Risk is your friend: if someone can smell the risk you’ve taken in your work, they’ll want to pay attention. They want to see an artist that appears on the high-wire because you can’t look away when there’s risk involved.

Risk, very often, is emotional. Stunts for attention don’t work. Putting yourself out there and continuing to take the next step is harder than it seems.

Do this consistently until you’ve got a tribe. Once you start building some interest, enough that you see the runway of future growth, it’s time to diversify.

You want to start building as direct of a bridge as you can to your audience. You can use Facebook to grow your community at scale, but at a certain point, you’ve got to build a bridge to go directly to the audience. Because eventually the algorithm changes, and suddenly it’s pay to play.  This happens anywhere there’s centralized power with a profit interest. This is ok. Just know that there will be a time to ladder yourself into new areas. Each inflection point necessitates a leap.

Build a brand, but connect with people personally. It’s no fun to be in a person’s fan club. It IS fun to join a movement of like-minded people who want to connect. Keep your personality and mission on track for the long run without becoming stale.

Longevity is about change. And this is about the long slog. We do this because we know it’s incredibly rewarding. And the best opportunities will come in ways you would never expect.

The blueprint is nothing compared to discovering what’s down the unknown road.


Re: Sticky Note

Re: Sticky Note

My sticky note says (quoting Derek Sivers) “What if you didn’t need the money or attention?” I’ve been chewing on this thought for months (years?) now. Loving it, and hating it at the same time. 😉

– Mathias Maul

___________________________

Not on my mirror, but on my computer monitor. It says “Good things come to those who stop whining and get shit done”.

Carly Bevis

___________________________

You know, once I did one of this sticky notes in my mirror, and it stayed there for nearly 3 years. It was Breton’s quote: “Dear imagination, what I love most about you, is your unforgiving nature“. I was sixteen when I wrote it down, but I could write it again today.

Best wishes to you, directly from São Paulo Subway

Lidia

___________________________

Mine says

YES!

Best,
Sue

___________________________

Hi David,

My sticky note lives in Trello and it’s about this project, scarves to raise funds for the Royhinga refugee crisis.
I’ve everything, fabric etc.
But I’ve not acted on it, even though I believe in the cause.

Hmm…

Ahah… I know… I’m scared no one will be interested.

Zara

http://www.minnowzola.com

Sent from my iPhone

___________________________

Hey,

This email is so amusing to me today, lol!

I actually found a post it on my desk that i had in that mirror-esque fashion to remind me of something… and i totally forgot it existed.

Found it today, and it says:

FAITH
Forward
All
Issues
To
Heaven

Have a good day!!

Yvita

___________________________

Mine says … “Do it TODAY! Don’t put it off!”

A reminder that if I put it off too long, I may miss the chance from something meaningful or impactful. My own apathy can often be my worse enemy. I’m always better off if I can just get started.

Thanks for the chance to share! Loving your thoughts.

Bill Rasco

___________________________

Don’t leave us hanging… what does your post it say?

Silva
___________________________

This was a funny one. My sticky note is actually for our babysitter with instructions on how to operate our television (it’s IP TV, so there are some various buttons you have to press to get anything). To be fair, there’s another sticky note from my mother to me. And another one from me to myself. That one is a sketch of a place I’m writing about.

The week has been odd, but nice – and I hope your week is going well!

Thanks for continuing this interesting experiment.

Jennifer

___________________________

P.S. – If you didn’t have a note, write one for someone else, then gift it back to yourself.

P.P.S Who will create an AR sticky note app for glasses in the future? I’d like for them to float by on my walk to the office.


Hipsterify: Williamsport

[ 6 hours east of Columbus, back in the midwest for a wedding.]

I opted to stay downtown in Williamsport, at the Genetti Hotel, the most prominent landmark in the area. Owned by Gus Genetti, whom I assume is a giant of the town based on the size of his name on the property.

And if you haven’t been to the Midwest, you’re probably unfamiliar with how these towns work. How beautiful the foliage is, how communal the neighborhoods, and there’s always someone stopped on the street having a conversation with a friend that they bumped into.

You ever notice that the wider the streets are, the less a place feels like a community?

That’s why New York City has kept its tight-knit culture: everyone is bustling together, mixing in the subway, like the capillaries of the city. Now in LA, we’re all bubbles in a car on a giant highway, spread out….

So I’m in a cafe on Pine Street called Alabaster.

It’s possible that I’m in a new bubble, and haven’t realized that there’s always been so much art, culture, coffee, veganism, and small batch kombucha in towns everywhere across the country… or, everything has been slowly changing behind the scenes.

I’ll call it the “Hipsterification of America,” a process that is most likely almost complete. Because as I walk into Alabaster Coffee, I might as well be in any city in the U.S. I’m now at “the shop,” which is well decorated and almost too cliche, with Notorious B.I.G. playing, wood-paneled walls, a big chalkboard with hand-scripted lettering.

But the coffee’s great and I’m at my watering hole with my people. Coffee culture people.

See, I worked on Death to Stock out of coffee shops for 3 years before I got an office. That, plus my constant travel, made me somewhat of a coffee shop connoisseur of sorts. I judge coffee shops based on criteria no one in their right mind would notice. Like chair to desk height ratio.

So, I’m in the middle of nowhere in the midwest, and what does my morning here look like?”

Well, it starts at the farmers market: a mix of Amish and country type vendors with veggies, meat, and baked goods. Your typical farmer’s pull, as local as you can get.

As you go through the market, you notice another wave. Every few shops it’s vegan soaps, beard oils, and soy cheeses. I stopped by a vendor to pick up a muffin, and they told me that they now carried a “paleo” muffin but hey weren’t sure how to describe it.

Apparently, their daughter bakes them (and is “trying paleo”), and said vendor didn’t care for them but believed they carried no eggs or cheese if I was into that.

Is this because of Pinterest? Instagram?

While we’re no longer synced up with TV shows or music, it seems like there’s an undercurrent of cultural trends that are playing out in every town and city across the country. Maybe it’s the “Image” that pervades once again.

When everything is documented, when everything is stylized, we want to belong, we want to be on trend.

This is the irony of our times. We crave to be unique, and so often we buy what we see online, like Supreme, Glossier, 5-Panel hats. The problem is, EVERYONE IS BUYING IT. Or, all of your friends.

So the culture here is changing.

Are you feeling it elsewhere too?

Sure, you can be the guy or girl who rags on the vegans or lifts their chin at the new coffee shop serving a $5 cup, but then suddenly YOU’RE the square. The Luddite.

You see, culture permeates just like products do.
Actually, it is culture that drives the products, not the other way around.

Which as Geoffrey Moore explains in “Crossing the Chasm,” moves through a cycle and then repeats itself.

First, among the innovators. Those willing to take the biggest risk on something that might not work, like, a pour-over coffee bar with $5 cups.

Then, the early adopters, who notice the talents, don’t understand the science but want to believe in and support the makers.

Eventually, once made safe, and with the help of the prompting from the cool kids on the gram, the early majority arrive. That’s when the wave hits when the coffee shop goes mainstream and begins cashing in on their bet.

But, there’s still the holdouts. Loyal to the old brands, they opt out from pride, ignorance, or the desire to keep things as they’ve been or as they were. And we all do that to an extent. Like the Amish, we too make decisions about what tech to adopt, what to embrace and what to shun.

I’ve been off of Facebook since 2012. And I’d be lying if I didn’t dream about a place in the country where it’s quiet, and no one cares about what’s happening on Twitter…

But today, you feel pressure to be ahead of the curve, not behind the 8 ball.

It’s just not promoted or accepted at this point to not go forward. Call it a sign of the technology revolution. And so, these memes of coffee and Kombucha and veganism eek through the rivers and streams of our culture. The more diverse the city, the quicker the adaptations.

And the good news is mostly these are new healthy expressions of who we are. New lanterns are being lit for segments of the population that didn’t have a voice in a monoculture.

Remember, hip-hop was taboo. Yoga was taboo.
Meditation was….

So the cultural revolutions always happen slowly and then suddenly they’re here. The new culture has spread, and now it’s up against the “late majority.”

It’s called majority because it is a large segment of the population who doesn’t want any part of this change. But the cultural always shifts.

I think the Hipsterification of the U.S. is already here.

It’s already spread. And sipping my coffee, feeling at home in a town a thousand miles away, I can’t complain.

What’s next?