2018

Almost time to turn the heat up again.

Last year, 2017, the theme I set for myself was Turning Pro. 

At 26, I wanted to leverage my past work growth and momentum into professionalism. Showing up and doing the work.

So I dedicated my year to channeling my inner-Pressfield.

2017 was one hell of a year: I moved to LA. Moved in with my girlfriend. I split with a business partner. Ran a Half-marathon. I drastically reduced my stress. I learned how to lead myself.  And as I’m writing this down, I’m feeling like the list should be longer…

See the intention played out, just… not how I thought.

What I didn’t expect was the twists and the turns and the shift from a focus on work, to a focus on working on me.

Despite the new ocean view, 2017 was a year mostly abundant in internal changes. This means that the public scoreboard hasn’t drastically shifted.

And I’m underselling here, but as Warren Buffett said:

Would you rather be the world’s greatest lover, but have everyone think you’re the world’s worst lover?
Or would you rather be the world’s worst lover, but have everyone think you’re the world’s greatest lover?

The question is, what type of scorecard you keep? External or Internal?

I’m much happier now, much more creative, and ultimately much more effective. I feel a new confidence in my abilities. Which means the internal scorecard is feeling pretty good. And that’s what really matters, but despite knowing that, you want to see that translate more visibly.

Self-improvement is a solo sport and honestly, no one else cares, which is why I won’t go into detail. But 2017 ended up taking a huge amount of energy, and endurance to make this shift.  So, capping the year with an improved mindset and perspective, with an urge to bring more to the world.

And why is it that 16 years old me is still showing up with his interests and desires? I swear there’s work I still fantasize about accomplishing that relates to my earliest days on the internet, browsing Tumblr and writing some of my first blog posts. I’ll take it as a positive sign for now.

The hard thing is, you can’t do everything at once. That’s one of my pitfalls. When I have an idea I want it done right away. So one of the goas for me is to better schedule myself out into the future to allow for things to be done in the proper timing and process. So I’ll try and be more patient, and I’ll try and bring creative inspiration back from every age.

Theme for 2018Simplicity and Efficiency.

I want to maintain a strong perspective of my impact and abilities, and reduce complexity whenever possible. This means staying focused on what’s important, asking “what is this for?” removing clutter and asking the right questions. High impact work, over wasted movements.

Habits

Reading – No strategy to this, new books and articles are consumed in a constant flow. I’ll pick up and put down different blogs every day, no real change just continuing.

Whole 30 – Shame me all you want, but clean eating clears your head and keeps you sharp. I’m starting the first of the year off with 30 days of real food, and hopefully no cheats.

Email – My only “productivity hack.” On the holiday I set up a new email system with a goal of keeping inbox zero and checking once a day. I used this outline and I’ve messed with my settings for a simplified inbox, and I have a clear method for responding, organizing, and taking action.

Social Media – Still a bit stuck here; Instagram is less inspiring and my time on twitter is hanging by a thread. Maybe something else will come along. Maybe I can tie it more to this community, which would help me get flowing again.

Leading indicators –

666, AKA the Kobe Bryant method.

6 Workouts a week
6 AM wakeups
6 Deep Work sessions per week.

If I hit these many of my other goals should have some solid ground to stand on.

Priorities – Still pondering, and should have been the first thing I got to, but you can’t force them into perfectly clear view.

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Once again, I see these emails as an ongoing discussion, a weekly conversation that happens over virtual coffee.  Thanks to the wifi and email plumbing that’s connecting all of us, I’m grateful to be having it with you.

So I’m curious:

What did you think last year at this time?
And what are you thinking about this next year, right now?

Or, maybe you’re just happy to see 2017 in the rearview and you’re letting the time flow without too much thought.

For that, I say kudos and Happy New Year!

xx David


Life on Schedule

My headphones were in, it was hot, and steam was shooting out along with an occasional *BANG* that came from somewhere deep inside the machine.
I was staring directly into a giant industrial dishwasher machine at my college job as dishwasher for the university’s catering company. Steam was all around me as 100’s if not thousands of plates, cups, silver-ware and food hauled out of the dining room and rolled in on carts in bins stacked 6-feet-high.

My job was to throw them into the “car-wash,” then dry, stack, pile and polish. In the catering kitchen for Ohio State, things came in waves, from mad rush to pick your nose boredom. We had a radio, and I’d listen to albums on repeat.

There were a few of us back there; a manager who looked like a former bodybuilder, a quiet and skinny kid in a band, and the kid that only talked about what life was like on the West Coast where he used to go snowboarding every weekend. I wasn’t sure exactly which character I played.

Mostly I just listened to music and tried to be passively productive to make it through a shift.
We were layers away from the real action at the fancy balls and receptions. I was the lowest level in the hierarchy of the service. We were behind the door, that is behind the door, to where the people ate and socialized. We were the “Rag Bandits,” a name I comically made up because of the rags tucked into our shorts. We’d take said towels and whip them at each-other, use them to cover our hands to handle the hot forks, and for wiping the sweat off. I know that visual doesn’t help with your appetite.  We’d have our fun in the background, and sometimes it felt more enjoyable being anonymous, silently getting things done or goofing around because we had more leeway.

Dishes would come, and you’d get through the wave. Shifts would start and end. Days off would arrive. And eventually you’re schedule would busy with class and my shifts would fade.

I believe everyone in the kitchen had all been thinking, “I will only do this until ___ and then I’ll quit.”

I don’t believe any of us thought this work was permanent. Which is the luxury of the student in higher education. This isn’t to say working in a kitchen or as a dishwasher isn’t a job we should devalue or look down upon (or keep). But rather the mindset that let us persevere in a role that we didn’t particularly care about. The hours dragged by, and we were behind the door that was behind the door. But we always believed we’d eventually end up on the other side.

We didn’t just carry on, we imagined a future beyond. I never once thought that this was a hole that I jumped down and I’d never climb out of it.

While you were standing there and there’s steam shooting out in between racks of wine glasses, you’re thinking about where you might be next month, or next year, or in 5.

You would perform complex number crunching about pay-checks, math that looked favorable for how much time was left in your shift, or how much longer you’d be in school.

I can picture everyone in the back of the kitchen, headphones in, with little thought bubbles above their heads, all playing video reels of where they’d be in a year or two. Elsewhere. Beyond. Hopefully not still there.

Eventually into the next door, and then the next, and eventually eating at the table our company served.

And isn’t this all of us? Not just us kids in the back. It’s human nature. We see people around us and think they’re fixed. We measure, assign labels, and construct personas. Dishwasher, party attendee, server. Guest. President.  Impermanent roles, in flux until something better and back into flux.

I don’t really know where everyone else is at now from that group. But I doubt they’re still there. In fact I think the one guy made it back to living out West.

Regardless…

You see me for who I am now, not as who I imagine I’ll be.

But at one point I was the kid doing your dishes.

And now I’m writing you emails.


Holiday Unwind

Finally, some time to unwind.  A few days.. but I’ll take what I can get.

Or rather, I’ll take what I give myself.

If you own your own business, you know that you can never really turn off; Never really sleep with both eyes fully closed.

I got together with a friend who’s grown a successful agency, doing billings in the millions and yet he still can’t entirely turn off. You just feel like you can’t let any lead slip away, no matter how illusory.

He’s been reading the autobiography of a long-dead Chinese philosopher who noted that;

“Only those who are truly successful have the ability to just loaf around.” 

So he’s trying to modify his relaxation time. To “loaf.”  And so am I.  Becuase otherwise what’s it all for? But I don’t feel successful. And that’s the paradoxical curse of ambition. When is there a point where you can just relax?

I guess all this work runs in the family.

I’m here at the coffee shop with my sister who’s not only working full time but is also getting her Ph.D. And my dad was up at 6:30 working in the lobby of the hotel we’re staying in.

But honestly, this is healthy for me. I came with my laptop, but I’m not opening up any projects. I’m just here catching up on some reading and communicating with you.

Reading and writing is me-time. 

I’m one of the lucky ones. Probably 1 in a million, in that my family understands and lets me work or not work and are supportive and don’t badger me about it. Like my other friend who’s 29 and runs a startup and hates to go home because of what his family will say. They still don’t fully accept it, and one of the first questions that he’s asked when he walks through the door is about his sales numbers of the biz. YEESH. I don’t think I could take that.

Talk about stress. Going back to the one place you feel comfortable and you’re parents do the inquisition about how your business is going. I shuddered for him. Because home should be a safe space where the business scoreboard is erased and at the same time you’re granted the legitimacy of being an adult.  I know that family is tough for many… like I said I lucked out in this department.

But I don’t have kids so maybe this dance is harder than I think. I’m not ready for the responsibility, or rather, I haven’t achieved the cash flow to make me feel it’s a possibility. Like my legal counsel, of which both partners at the firm have twins! How do they do it!?

Then again, maybe I’m too logical about all of this. I can’t imagine that everyone is outlining and planning on having a family before they do.

Instead, they fall in love, and a family happens because we’re emotional beings acting on our Sapien impulses.

So that’s part of the goal in the year ahead. Stick to emotions over logic. I’ve let that side of my brain win out for far too long. Except in my art, which is where it has the best chance to flip.

And the other goal is to minimize the amount of importance of any given situation, which reduces stress. In business, everything’s an obstacle. Each day or week or month you’ve got a wall in front of you, and it’s your job to find a way over it.

But some people see every wall as tiny and a game to skip, play and jump over, while others get frozen visualizing the wall as massive and unpenetrable.

I guess what I mean is that every situation is stressful or not based on your perception of it’s importance and difficulty. We give our problems significance or we reduce their significance and laugh.

Better to opt for the latter and keep perspective.

I’ve stressed too much in the past, making obstacles into giant wall: Which is why I ultimately got Shingles last November. I had four vaccines before my trip to Asia, which brought my immune system down and let the stress seize its opportunity for revenge.

But for some reason this holiday season is different.

I’ve done it! Well mostly. I worked all last week, through Saturday afternoon.

But on Christmas Eve and Christmas I was with Patty’s family, and I was entirely disconnected!  We hung out on the couch, I ate too many sweets, and we watched Elf, White Christmas, and Frozen.

So this year I feel like I’ve taken advantage of my time. I’m seeing the break as a time of opportunity for my brain to recharge and file away everything in my head that needs to be sorted and compressed to free up space for the next year. To accept and welcome a few days of time to unwind and not have anything to do.

I’m warm, and I’m planning the year, and I’m catching up on reading and grateful for space. I know not everyone gets it. So take time for yourself when you can, and if possible ride with the rhythm of the season into 2018.

See you soon.

xx David


RE: Ideas for Coffee Shops

Assorted Community Response, Re: Ideas for Coffee Shops

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Spyhouse is definitely one of the best-designed coffee shops I’ve ever experienced. For me, though, the coffee from Dogwood blows Spyhouse out of the water — but their coffee bars aren’t all perfect for work. And of course, Stumptown at the Ave is freelancer heaven.

I have a corollary to your perfect coffee shop thesis: There should be a story. For creative work, anyway, I feel more inspired and motivated when I’m in the context of a story-driven environment. Perhaps this coffee shop was opened by a guy who used to source coffee for Starbucks and opened his own place. Perhaps this one is the brainchild of an architect who hired her coffee friend to run the bar, but it exists because she always dreamt of her perfect spot, and this is it.

That, and I love a spot that’ll let me get a glass of wine or beer as the sun starts to set.

Cole Kennedy

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for me, it’s all about the people. interacting with the owners, the staff, and the baristas making your coffee. decaf sorta sucks so I switched to tea lately too for anything after 11am, and a great selection and quality tea is a huge plus. check out ipsento & dark matter in chicago, treeline in bozeman, and panther in miami. I hear sparrow is opening a shop too next month in naperville, just outside chicago. they roast some of the best coffee I’ve ever had and are awesome, awesome people so I’m sure it’ll be worth a look. Christopher Roberts

Christopher Roberts

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Hi David,

Clearly, you do not see things from a coffee shop owner’s standpoint.

I personally don’t own one, but I have read somewhere that they’re not very profitable due to thin margins. Their bulk of revenue is based on the amount of lattes they sell (pastries and such are just expected to be available, but coffee is the main draw). If a shop is comfortable with great wifi, there’ll be loafers with laptops taking up all the tables, buying one latte and over staying by multiple hours. Basically, creating a situation where less customers can be served, ergo less lattes sold.

I believe the business model is similar to restaurants where it’s preferable to “turn and burn” the tables so more revenue can be generated. Folks that sit in restaurants hours after they have finished dessert are frowned upon.

Anyhow, as much as your ideas would be nice, I don’t think they’re realistic from the standpoint of keeping the shop profitable unless you’re an owner that is OK with being in the red every month.

But thanks for sharing!

Best,

Timothy Egan

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I think the evolving coffee shop culture is really interesting.

I’ve been having some conversations with my mother; she does some freelance marketing for a local coffee shop in town. It’s the only shop, it’s a small town. She’ often commented on the people who spend hours camped out at coffee shops (particularly when they don’t buy much).

Of course, I understand that people need to buy to stay, for the business to be profitable, but I think it’s hard to deny the fact that coffee shops have become prominent remote workplaces, especially for college students and freelancers.

Part of the problem with this local coffee shop is the denial of this reality, I think. There are a college three blocks away, but the shop is 9-5 and doesn’t hire short-term, so staffing is always a problem. The interior design is unfortunate, and the customer service is poor.

One of my favorite coffee shops in Santa Barbara did something I think is effective: the first shop remains a daytime coffee shop with solid design and branding, and then they opened a second shop, in a different part of town with better parking. Still a daytime shop but in a more warehouse space, and at night they host live music from emerging artists, serve a limited menu of wine, beer, and food. I’ve been to several of these nights, and they’re packed, bringing a much older, family-oriented, and social crowd than the daytime work crew.

I just think it’s interesting that coffee shops have become such a workspace — I spend so much time in them — and I do wonder with these complaints from the local coffee shop how they do remain profitable and if there’s room for innovation there as the space evolves.

I know scaling is a way, upselling with food, and I’ve also been to shops that have time-out wi-fi passwords to encourage frequent purchases. I’ve also been to time cafes in Russia, where you pay for the time you stay. I think it’s just an interesting change.

Favorites for working:
Kreuzberg Coffee in San Luis Obispo
Crushcakes in Santa Barbara
MiiR in Seattle
Bard in Portland, Maine

Haley Johnson

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I work at PublicUs here in Las Vegas most days a week. I think they check all the boxes. 🙂

Maureen

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I spent quite a long time in coffee shops for a while too when I was on maternity leave in London (I had two lots of 12 months off – this probably less of a thing in the US than here). It was a strange environment where bearded men on laptops and groups of women and babies rubbed up alongside each other, sometimes not so harmoniously. They’d be trying to work on something quietly, I’d be whirling in with a pushchair too big for the space, trying to simultaneously catch up with a friend, breastfeed a baby, eat a sandwich with one hand, stop my toddler demolishing everything, clear up raisins from the floor etc. You get the picture.

Some coffee shops catered better for them, some for me. The best had different zones for each of us; booths for quiet meetings, comfy sofas for mums, paper and crayons. The worst had men audibly tutting at us for disturbing their ambience, as if they had more right to be there, despite the fact they’d been nursing the same cup of coffee for an hour or more and we’d just spent a small fortune on babyccinos, croissants, carrot sticks and cheese toasties our kids probably refused to eat anyway.

We probably needed rather different things from coffee shops. I’m with you on the healthy snacks and table service though.

I dearly wish someone would open a decent coffee shop in my town, we’ve got more tea shops and cafes than you’d ever need, but barely a decent cup of coffee amongst them.

Thanks for getting me thinking again. Have a great Christmas!

Joelle

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Hey David — I’m a big fan of The Arrow Coffeehouse in PDX. It’s in a gorgeous space and the staff is great. In addition to the items you mentioned, I have to enjoy the people who work there and see they care. It’s too easy to be a “coffee drone” and just shove a cup at me, but even just asking how my day is going or talking about the song playing makes me smile.

As a bonus, they have a menu that accommodates different palates and they’re cool if you opt to have a sandwich without bread, for example. Of course, they also have sweet things, but like you, I’ve started to move away from that routine. Highly recommend the Mr. Burns sandwich.

Cheers,

Angel

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This felt like a personal letter to Mission Coffee Co.  

I did love it!!!!

Val Geisler

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Ideas for Coffee Shops

Over the past 3-4 years, I’ve worked almost exclusively in coffee shops. From Columbus to Santa Monica, I’ve tried many.  I’ve spent 4-6 hours per day in them: Mostly, as someone looking to get work done, often just to read or hold a meeting. I don’t know if this makes me an expert on anything, but there are things I’ve noticed about them.

I wanted to create a list of questions and ideas that I’d think about when considering the formation of my very own coffee shop – one that would be thoughtful for one type of customer: me.

1. Seat height and quality.

Most shops tend to go for the low-cost option on this, something semi-aesthetically pleasing but also from IKEA. To me, adjustable height would be a must, even above comfort. This is because the angle at which you’re able to rest your arms, use your laptop, or hold your cup needs to be comfortable. Being that we all come in different shapes and sizes, we should accommodate for that.

Seat comfort can be secondary but is a bonus. I haven’t found wood to make much of difference, and, while couches seem like a great option, eventually they “sink” in the middle and become awkward for sharing. If you pick up the chair and it’s got no heft, it’s apt to be knocked over and that’s not a good thing around hot coffee.

2. Line formation.

Specialty shops all have lines because the coffee is made to perfection for every individual customer.

Usually, this is because the person at the register is also the barista. I have no problem waiting in line; however, the problem begins when the line starts to pour into areas that do not seem designated for standing in. Out of the doors and into the cold in Brooklyn, people hovering by your table during a meeting in Denver…as people were just waiting in line. If you’re discussing legal matters or anything personal with your friend it’s awkward for both parties, the line is sort of an intrusion in your space.

I’d aim for a line that had a clear demarcation.
Americans are especially dedicated to following rules and being fair about lines. Just place some markings where you’d like us, or kindly suggest it if it goes astray.

3. Great Wifi, with an easy to find password. 

How frequently do you find yourself asking either the barista or a neighbor about the wifi password?  I won’t even get into wifi here, as to me it’s non-negotiable.  Either get super-fast wifi that can handle big crowds OR go no wifi at all. I’m ok with a shop that declines, but the in-between shops are a headache.

4. Service to your table.

A lot of times it’s hard to judge whether or not, by the time you get your coffee, you’ll be able to have a seat or not. You’re meeting with someone and you don’t know if you should sit down first or wait for the coffee first. I’m not saying this is a total necessity, but the best interactions I have with baristas are when they bring the coffee right to you.

Mick at One Line in Columbus, Ohio, has always gone out of his way to give a sense that each cup is made with love, and he delivers it to your table like he’s an excited friend sharing his new recipe with you.

5. Real, Healthy snacks, and protein for the caffeine. 

Most shops have the baked goods covered. It’s almost always croissants, muffins, bagels, and then only potentially some fruit or oatmeal. I used to do Croissant Friday. Dan the Baker’s chocolate croissant with an espresso. It was the best. But I’ve since I cut out sugar for the most part, and every coffee is consumed “black.”

Now that I’m more knowledgeable about food, and have more distinct dietary preferences, I’m always amazed at how few healthy options shops have. True, coffee pairs amazingly well with a croissant and poorly with, let’s say, an apple.

But food is a great upsell for the shop and healthy food tends to be more expensive, and in higher demand for those who seek it.

I bring a snack every day now to the coffee shop – usually, something with protein, as caffeine is balanced in your body a bit through protein (and sugar). I feel bad sometimes eating something that’s not from a coffee shop, but I would typically buy something if there were something available that’s on my current diet. An Epic Bar (chicken-siracha or bison), Healthy Warrior Chia Bars, or some type of nut/protein bar like Larabars. When in doubt, opt for an apple.

But when you’re a few hours into work and your brain is slowing down and caffeine will have the opposite effect of what you need due to hunger, shops that provide healthy snack options have a special place in my heart.

6. Elegant lighting, light blocking.

Lighting is massively important to set the mood of the shop. You can almost control the whole brand experience with light, choosing between fluorescent lights,  hanging lights or big windows. Dim light is great if there are lamps on-table, not so much if it’s overhead.

I won’t get into the aesthetics of a coffee shop now because that’s something uniquely important. I will say though, that a great space will drive more customers than great coffee. We’re much better at discerning how we feel than what we taste. Actually, how we feel affects what we taste.

Customers would be happy in a shop with a great atmosphere whether it’s your beans or the roaster down the roads. Remember experiences are about all the details together. But if I were to spend my money in one area, I’d spend on big windows and an elegant aesthetic. Like or not “Instagram-ability” could be a metric these days to judge a shop by.

Oh, and then there’s negative lighting, too. Light negatively covers the screens of computers, as well as light in one person’s eyes during a meeting, and light that keeps you from taking beautiful photos to share with others. Drawable blinds are an easy fix here.

7. Education.

One Line Coffee changed my perception of coffee. This was through education, and not pretentious education. I honestly didn’t know what a pour-over was, or what the difference between a cappuccino or a Cubano was.

Later, I learned about its origins and sourcing.

Education helped my appreciation, but it also helped me not feel dumb or nervous when I ordered. You want your baristas to educate and invite people to learn more without fear of mistakes or failures. Sometimes when people return their order, it’s because they didn’t understand the menu, not because they’re rude.

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I would be remiss to not mention some shops that I think have done a wonderful job of the above items.

Some of my favorites:

One Line & Mission, Columbus, Ohio.
La Colombe, Chicago.
Spyhouse, Minneapolis.
Milstead, Seattle.
Stumptown at the Ace, New York City.

What makes a shop out to be a place you love? What’s your favorite location?

Sincerely, too much caffeine, 

xx David

 

 


Creative Caffeine Website + Other Media

Hey to everyone out there still not using an auto-responder for the holiday.

Stay strong, almost there.

Although, I have to say I treasure the time when the inbox goes quiet.

This is one of the best times of year to *think* without distraction. I’ve acquired a lot of hard earned knowledge and skills this year, but one that still needs working on is taking breaks from working. I tend to work until I’m burnt out and feel like curling up in a ball under the blankets and re-watching all of Breaking Bad, instead of knowing when to release my mind before it gets too overwhelmed.

Anyways, I wanted to create a space where this community can live outside of email. I think there’s still a lot of room to grow and connect further in 2018, and no doubt I’m loving writing and interacting with everyone.

I launched a website for Creative Caffeine with the help of Maxim Seibert.

It’s a work in progress… so what would you like to see here?

This is your space too, so It would mean a lot if you checked it out and left some ideas for how it could grow. I’d love to help you all connect further and build upon what’s here now.

What could you use more of in the year ahead?

Here to help,

xx David

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Newsletters, still awesome.
Newsletters have still been the method for gathering like-minded people online to discuss and share ideas with. It’s amazing, even with all of the other networks out there, I find that carving spaces without commercial intervention, ads and is still essential for more concrete connection between people.

I’m surprised at this, but also happy as I see them as providing much-needed meaning and support without the deafening sound of politics and clamoring for attention on social media.

Community hours.
I’ve been wanting to host more community hours of Twitch. I have a vision for how we can hop on once a week or once a month via Twitch and for anyone alone at work or who wants to connect more with others.

Other/Miscellaneous Media:

Death to the Stock Photo’s website got a facelift
New Death to Stock video about Passion: Get Down
I launched an interview series called Non-Conformist Empire Builders
where I interviewed:

Paul Jarvis – blogger/author
Miki Agrawal – the founder of Thinx
Tim Urban – Wait but Why
Michael Ventura – Sub Rosa Agency

I’ve cooled off on the podcast train, used be a few hours a day.  Right now I’m loving Dissect podcast because it’s so in-depth. I also grabbed the free trial of XM radio to consume about 50 episodes of the Howard Stern Show before it ended.  I’m sort of reading a few books right now including Who Can you Trust? re-reading Just Kids and Deep Work and The Culting of Brands.

Nostalgia.
Last night I saw Home Alone with my girlfriend at a roof-top theater and it’s been bringing me back to my childhood. Not because I was alone, but just movies I used to watch… Nostalgia seems to be creeping up on me more these days. I had an obsession with Star Wars that was re-kindled with this newest movie. Just noticing more signs that remind me of childhood or old obsessions. I’m wishing I had time to bring those old desires to play out in my life ahead. I’ll be thinking about this over break.

Fresh calendars ahead!


I bought clothing over Facetime

 

I can’t help but raise my hand first for this type of stuff, it’s in my nature.

I’m in bed late in the afternoon, and an email about shopping with a brand that’s been catching my eye.

So I click a link, and then I’m on with Ariel, a manager at the store as she’s suggesting some items and I’m telling her about sizes and preferences and I’m asking her opinions as she holds up items in front of the iPad…

American Apparel closed all of its stores and was sold to Gildan.
You’ve probably seen their bare bones shops looking even emptier around your area.

What you don’t see, at least not right away, is that there is more that gets left behind with a brand as prolific as American Apparel: Quality people.

Iris Alonzo and Carolina Crespo both spent over 10 years with the company.

And now they’ve launched their own endeavor, Everybody World.
Which is who I had been shopping with at their Standard Hotel Location.

“We thought, we have all these resources at our fingertips, and these people are desperate for work. How can we do something that utilizes all these great manufacturers that are literally in our backyard?’” (Vogue)

They took it upon themselves to fill the vacuum that was created from American Apparel’s fall. And that’s a key point for when a brand dies, look to the ashes for the Phoenix. These people and companies come renewed with the lessons of the old model but adapted with ideas for the new world.

Happens all the time in tech.

But not always at the time of a crash, sometimes at the peak. I imagine there are quite a few Facebook/Google movers jumping ship to a new startup so they can ride the wave again.

What interested me in Everybody World was the clear signal being put out about a stance they are taking. That they won’t stop until it’s everybody’s world. A world for the everyday people, the makers, the buyers, the goods, it’s for all. Democratic fashion, sourced from everyday humans.

The past 2 years kicked off a sweeping change in our country about transparency and inclusiveness.
How could we not expect that to translate into fashion, music, sports, and TV?

This season it’s about making sure everyone’s got a voice. Everlane lead the market by doubling down on transparency. And then the same brand sees the wave and smartly catches it again with their brilliant 100% Human campaign.

100% Human, Everybody World, the countless protest images that captured our attention have now been monetized. Or, rather our demand has been realized.

But I’m not complaining, I’m applauding!

Fashion is about change. And note how simple yet effective the 100% human campaign is. They didn’t invent some new fashionable item, they stamped a message, the right message, on a t-shirt and everything else they sell with it.

The hard part wasn’t making the shirt, the hard part was making the decision to sell it in the first place. To stand for something! There’s fear of blowback, which comes with progress.

The best way to amplify your signal is to play off the culture.
Leading it, or pushing against it.

American Apparel never feared blowback, and it’s what led to their growth. I don’t think that at this time Everybody World has the desire or means to hit the scale of American Apparel. But their message is resonating and expect to see more brands like this.

And I thought Everybody World would solely live online, but crossing over into brick and mortar still has its perks: foot traffic. American Apparel was the anti-experience; with their blank white stores and minimal shelving.

This worked when Brick and Mortar was king but is antithetical to success in 2017.
2018 brick and mortar today all about the experience of shopping. Step into any new Nike store or boutique and be ready to see the shop has a dedicated barber in it or a coffee shop inside, a la Shinola.

We’re all busy today, and the online world is getting crowded. So Everybody World set up in the Standard Hotel in LA. And, they figure if you’re waiting in the lobby for your room, you peruse…

Except not me.

This time I was able to be a part of everybody’s world from the comfort of my room.

https://everybody.world

https://www.everlane.com/collections/100-percent-human


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