Social Media Isn’t So Bad

I have criticized and will continue to criticize social media and the internet. Today, however, I’d like to shed light on how incredible these intangible entities are.

With the power of the internet, we can:

• communicate with each other, with strangers, and with folks around the planet

• discover new music, artists, writers, thinkers, speakers, teachers; and share them with our friends…

• promote, at scale, our own ideas and creations

• collaborate with others on projects without ever having to meet them in real life

• learn almost anything we want if we have the gall to sit down, watch videos, and read

Explain all of that to someone before you were born, and they literally wouldn’t understand how you’d be capable of such a thing.

Free Experiences

Things that cost $0:

• calling a friend or relative

• complimenting someone

• sharing a laugh or conversation

• going for a walk

• reading and writing

Respect vs. Support

Creating content is tricky business.

How can I create and share stuff I love, promote it, try to bring value to people, and avoid annoying others as I ask them to check it out, like it, and subscribe to it?

If there’s a perfect balancing answer to this question, I have yet to figure it out.

Seth Godin once wrote in his blog: “Creators have two choices: to be judged or to be ignored.” I choose judged. Always.

In the beginning, my aim was to be a great marketer. Gary Vee would inspire me to constantly create and promote my blogs, videos, podcast episodes, collaborations, etc. There’s definitely something to consistently creating and building things. Not only does it force experience and practice upon you; it also increases the chances of catching the awareness of new consumers in terms of a numbers game.

But it often felt slimy. I hated asking people to like my YouTube videos and subscribe to my channel. Unfortunately, the only way for a YouTube channel to grow and reach more people is when its algorithm recognizes it from people liking the videos and subscribing to the channel. I hated asking people to rate and review my podcast. Unfortunately, the only way for a podcast to grow and reach more people…you get the deal.

Aside from those two major forms of content, I write this daily blog. I’m okay with it being mostly for me. It’s lovely to start the day by dumping improvised thoughts onto the screen. Sometimes I only feel like writing for 2 minutes. Other days (like this one), I have the energy to work through longer, more intimate stories. Typically, the longer something is, the less likely it is to be consumed in its entirety. Anyway, a lot of times I really enjoy what I write, so I publish it on other social medias. Sometimes the post gets 20 likes; sometimes it gets zero. I have noticed over the year that a number of people have either begun ignoring them, stopped using FaceBook, or have blocked me so as not to see my frequent posting…playing hard to get.

It’s nerve-racking and slightly embarrassing to admit that you want a following or a community as a creator. I do want that. Whether it’s 1000 or 100,000…I want to provide value, lessons, stories, and entertainment to people who will accept it.

As of now, I’m aware of my lack of polish. My videos aren’t professional grade and I’m already unable to watch the first ones I filmed because they make me cringe. My skills as an interviewer and conversationalist also need improvement before my podcast makes it on the top charts…but I’m so much better than I was a year ago when I started all this.

To try to answer the question I opened with: What if instead of trying to constantly shove my stuff in the faces of others, I focused most of my attention on producing the highest quality I can so others will hop on the train without me asking? Don’t like and subscribe. Like and subscribe if you love it. In the meantime, I’ll just be over here doing what I love.

I’ll end this with a story:

When I uploaded my first podcast ever, I posted it on FaceBook. It got about 100 likes and several comments. I was stoked. People were congratulating me for actually starting something I had been talking about for a while. I thought, “100 likes on the first one? This is gonna be easy.” Then the more I uploaded—the more content I created—the engagement quickly fizzled away. When I posted my tenth episode, I felt so accomplished and I was certain that it was my best one yet. It got 2 likes.

That’s when I realized two things:

1) The High School Effect
People are more likely to judge or dislike what you create if they know you or knew you in the past. This is not an excuse for poor quality; but it’s a lot harder to listen to the SoundCloud of someone you went to high school with than the SoundCloud of some random kid from New York. When you don’t have a face or personality to the name, all you’re thinking about is the content itself. You just hear his music; as opposed to what he sounded like in English class.

2) Respect and Support are two different things
Just because family, friends, and acquaintances respect the fact that you’re putting time and effort into creating things you care about…doesn’t mean they’ll be consuming your content every week. That’s why I got 100 likes on podcast #1 and 2 likes on #10. Most of my friends don’t give a shit about personal development. I welcome that. It forces me to work harder to pique their interest, and allows me to hone my skills so I can develop an audience which does give a shit. My good friend Molly Graham, founder of Low Blow Candle Co, once said in her Instagram story: “Stop liking my pictures and buy some fucking candles.”

I am eternally grateful to anyone who has spent even one minute looking at my stuff. For them, and for myself, I will never stop trying to get better so I can deserve the support…and I can’t wait to look back a year from now and see how far I’ve come.

Like and subscribe. Just kidding.

Judged or Ignored

These are really your only two options if you decide to build or pursue anything.

People will judge you if: they don’t like or agree with your work or style; they respect and appreciate your work or style; or they are envious that you have the balls to put yourself out there in the first place.

People will ignore you if: you do nothing out of fear; or you do not work harder to grow and be louder.

– From Seth Godin’s blog.

A New Way to Look at Discipline

I did a podcast with my best buddy Scott Clampet this week. We discussed his passion for creating music and his process for doing it in a disciplined and productive manner.

The big takeaway for me was how he looks at discipline. We often think of discipline as stuff we have to do everyday because it’s good for us. His take goes a little deeper, and to him, is not nearly as arduous.

By clearly defining his values and why he wants to do the things he wants to do, Scott’s routine isn’t full of tasks he’s forcing himself to do; it’s full of tasks he’s glad he gets to do because he knows they’ll make him a happier person.

Scott sits down each and every day to develop—in some way, shape, or form— his ability to create music. He doesn’t do this because he has to everyday to “strengthen the habit” or because “it’s good for him to be so disciplined.” He does it because he knows that if he were to stop, he would begin to become less happy.

Write down your values, then write down why you want those values to be a part of your life. This will make discipline ten times easier, because then you’re not pushing through pain; you’re fighting to do the things which make you a happier, more fulfilled person.

Write Everyday

There have been times where I have written several blog posts and then scheduled them out for the following days. While efficient, I much prefer to sit down each morning to write a new one.

I enjoy getting my mind working early in the morning; having to articulate my thoughts onto the keyboard. Aside from that, I have been doing it for so long that it has become a true habit (i.e. something I literally never have to think about doing; I just sit down and start writing).

You do not have to write a daily blog post for the world (who am I kidding, *6 people) to see; but I recommend writing something each day. Get your thoughts down on paper or screen, even if they make no sense. You will be glad to look back and see the stories you told, how your mind worked, and how your writing has improved.

Finding the Opportunity

Since beginning a new full-time job at the start of the year, it has taken the front seat of the majority of my time and energy. I don’t see it as a new burden which has taken me away from my passions. Instead, I perceive it as a challenge in which I must adapt to severe change.

Keeping up with short, daily blog posts has been easy enough. However, I’ve stepped away from my weekly newsletter, created zero YouTube videos in four months, and haven’t recorded a new podcast in over a month. That’s on me.

For better or worse, my stuff isn’t huge enough for any significant number of listeners to complain. But everything on this website embodies the clearest picture of what matters to me.

So, it’s time to come back to home base; i.e. it’s time to get my shit together, practice what I preach, and develop routines and schedules which allow me to pursue my passions.

As always, let’s begin with my favorite list—What I can control vs. What I can’t

Can’t control:

• Everything being closed/cancelled (gym, events, work)
• The fact that I’ve slipped up in the past
• Other peoples’ time-availability and interests

Can control:

• How I take advantage of the opportunity of more down-time (spending more time with my mother, getting more work done, reading more, saving money by not going out)
• Creating the best possible work I can right now (In the beginning, it makes more sense to be consistent and improve rather than obsess over people liking your stuff)

Matt D’Avella (my favorite YouTuber) made a great video on batching—a productivity technique where you have a certain time on a certain day where you complete certain tasks. Using this as well as creating checklists for myself, I’ll get the train moving again.

It’s easy to let things slip away when you have an excuse of something else necessary and seemingly gigantic.

”How can I film a video each week when I have to hit my numbers for work?”

”How can I write this essay when I have to reorganize my entire closet??”

You can always do both. Just sit down, breathe, and plan it out.

Final note: This is naturally a strange time. I’m aware that finding the opportunity during the spreading of this virus and the closing of businesses sounds like a privilege many people do not have. I have many friends working in the service/entertainment industry who will be massively affected by the closing of restaurants, theaters, and other organizations. If this applies to you then I wish you nothing but the best. Much love.

Write Something Everyday

Even if it’s only a sentence.

Plan your day. Describe how you feel. What are you grateful for? What do you want to do today, this week, this month, this year?

Write it down.

Amateurs and Pros

The difference between amateurs and pros is simple:

It’s not level of talent or quality. This comes with time…

It’s that the Pro shows up each and every day and does the work.

The amateur does the amount of work they feel like doing at a given time.

Be a pro. Do the work.

You Never Forget Your First

I follow several entrepreneurship and finance/motivational Instagram pages (because that’s obviously the key to getting rich). Most posts are cheesy but here’s one I truly love:

Your first podcast will be awful.
Your first video will be awful.
Your first article or blog will be awful.
Your first art will be awful.
Your first photo will be awful.
Your first scene will be awful…
But you can’t make your 50th without making your first.
So get it over with, and make it.

3 Mantras

These three things have been a serious help in my stressful life lately. I wrote them down in my phone notes so when I’m feeling overwhelmed I can easily revisit them and remind myself:

• The thing you least want to do is probably that which you most need to do.

• Ignore the voice that’s tempting you with comfort.

• Some people can go straight from A to Z. Others must take the long road—A, B, C, D…all the way up to Z. In the end, both end up at the same place. But those who take the long road have grown more and have learned more about themselves.

Kevin Hart

I had the absolute pleasure of seeing Kevin Hart speak at the annual kickoff for my company yesterday in Philadelphia. He was incredibly inspiring, humble, and of course…hilarious.

Aside from his comedy, he deals heavily in productivity and following one’s dreams.

Check out this beautiful video to hear a few of his mindsets/philosophies.

How Embarrassing!

Check out my good friend’s podcast, How Embarrassing!

I was lucky enough to be a guest on the show and got to spill the most embarrassing moments of my life. Subscribe, laugh, and cringe.

So Good

We can get a ton of satisfaction by being really fucking good at what we do.

Many of us are okay with being mediocre out of some lazy mindset…But if you went a month being the absolute best you could be (at anything: your work, side hustle, passion project, sport, exercise, basic discipline), you’d be so incredibly happy and fulfilled that you’d feel like a different person.

It won’t be easy by any stretch. But you’ll crawl out the end of it feeling like a superhero.

Do Great Work

Who sets out to be mediocre?

What reasons do you have for not doing the best work you can? How’s that working out for you?

If You’re Good

“If you are good at something, other people will say it about you.”

Just like on a resume, don’t tell people what you’re good at…Let your history, accomplishments, and results speak for you. If you’re amazing at kickboxing, don’t say so, just be fucking amazing at kickboxing. Other people won’t be able to deny your talent and ability.

Dream Journal

Using your phone Notes, or a physical journal, you should track your dreams.

Not only will this increase the likelihood of lucid dreaming, but you’ll also wake up remembering your dreams at a much higher rate.

Plus, it’s so much fun to read a short snippet of a dream you had and be reminded of it entirely.

Difficult Shit

Here’s a list of difficult (sometimes what feel like impossible) actions which ensure a happier life:

• Be a fantastic listener (in order to be a fantastic conversationalist).
• Be patient when others are impatient.
• Be kind to someone who is being an asshole.
• Smile at someone who is stone-faced (for they need it the most).
• Be interested in the world (with no motivation to seem interesting).
• Do the right thing when no one is around (and tell no one).
• When someone asks a stupid fucking question, answer it thoroughly.
• When a child asks you something about the world, answer them with detail.
• Take your work seriously, not yourself.
• Cancel your online shopping cart of things you don’t need, and put that money in your savings account (you were willing to do away with that money, why not save it?).
• Stop thinking about that thing you want to pursue and just fucking do it.
• No matter the situation, even if you are completely and totally the victim, never see yourself as one. Never look for reasons or excuses as to why something unfortunate has happened to you.

We all struggle with this shit everyday. I certainly do. In the moment, this stuff truly feels like sprinting in a swamp. But in the long run, I have never regretted doing any one of these things.

Impact

Wordsmith prompt #3: What event do you think impacted the world the most?

I will cheat. This isn’t necessarily a single event, but one which has progressed and lasted many years….the creation and evolution of the internet.

The internet has changed everything: how we communicate, how we buy and sell things, how we entertain ourselves, how we create and produce art, how we go to war…It has sped everything up. Two-day delivery. Millions of peoples’ reaction to the President of the United States’ last tweet. Taking classes for a few hours as opposed to a few months. Our access to knowledge and information has never been so impressive. Something can happen in Syria and we don’t have to wait for the next newspaper article to learn about it.

It has also devolved us in several ways. Having more and more interactions through a screen has made people more awkward face to face because real, human contact is not relied on as frequently. Our argumentative skills have faded. It’s one thing to type something passive-aggressive from the safety of your bedroom to someone you’ll never meet…and another thing entirely when you have the courage to criticize someone to their face and back up your claims.

Our patience has also taken a toll. We want things now. Quickly. We’ll pay for it if we have to. Gone are the days of writing letters to our friends and family and waiting weeks to receive their response in the mail. Gone are the days of having to go to a brick and mortar store, scoping through the aisles, trying things on for hours. Gone are the sidewalk anxieties of waiting to hail a cab, finally grabbing one, and realizing the cab driver is far from five stars.

I love the internet. In all of its chaos, in all of its destructive tendencies, it has allowed us to do things our parents literally couldn’t conceive of doing when they were our age. I started a podcast (my own show!) and built a website all on my own. This wasn’t because I’m some artsy, gifted individual. It’s because the internet gave me the tools in which it was so stupidly easy for me to do so. It has saved lives, changed opinions (solidified others), made us laugh until we cry, and made us more (or less) productive than we ever dreamed.

Check out BestSelf’s array of productivity tools to get you taking action, writing clearly, and trying new things!

Reaching People

“If you try to reach everybody, you will reach nobody.”

No matter how good your intentions are, you cannot resonate with everyone…especially if you have a platform, speak a lot, and write a lot. I have written and said things which have fired people up and they have vehemently disagreed with. This is an occupational hazard when you have a lot to say. You may be dead wrong and later regret the things you’ve spouted, and that’s okay. You need to be allowed to make mistakes, so long as you are sticking to your principles and values, and coming from a place of love and respect.

Letting your ideas out and having conversation is the only way to course-correct. It’s how we learn.

A Letter to a Hero

Wordsmith prompt #2: Write a letter to someone who has impacted your life.

Dear Joe Rogan,

Sometimes I get flack for being just another dude who talks about your podcast but I’m an enormous fan and you’ve changed my life. Roughly two years ago, I got kicked out of school and the woman I was prepared to marry left me. This was the darkest time of my life and I considered ending things. I had no job, didn’t exercise, didn’t eat well, had ideas and aspirations but wasn’t taking action on any of them, and simply had no direction, values, or principles.

Two things got me out of this mental prison: the practice of meditation, and listening to you rant about discipline and happiness. Both of these kicked my ass into gear by forcing me to realize that any outside forces which were blocking me were actually just in my own head. The world wasn’t out to get me…Shit just happens and you are either mentally and physically prepared for the storm when it comes, or you’re not. You taught me how to prepare for and conquer the storm.

It doesn’t work for everybody, but a lot of people (especially men) just need a jacked, bald, tatted comedian to shake them by the shoulders and say “Get your fucking shit together!” By following your basic formulas for developing meaning and satisfaction in life, mine turned from a pit of nothingness to being excited to live each and every day. The formulas include:

-Find something you love to do, do it all the time, get better at it.
-Write down the things you want in your life.
-Be a great person, even to the people who don’t deserve it.
-Have conversations with people, it’s okay if you’re not a genius who knows everything about everything.
-Realize that if other humans are doing it, you can do it too.
-When you’re feeling stressed, remember that you’re just one of 7 billion monkeys on a giant floating rock in space.

You’re an incredibly humble man, who has dedicated his life to solely doing what you want—bow-hunting, MMA commentating, podcasting, traveling, loving your family. You’ve worked your ass off and continue to work your ass off so that you may live the life you want to live. Thank you for showing me that all this was possible. Life will take the wheel if you allow it. I am working each day to ensure that life takes the back seat, so I can throw on my shades, turn up the music (or your podcast), and drive myself down the road I choose.

Thanks again brother,

Dill

Tell me about a person who has impacted your life.

Check out BestSelf’s array of productivity tools to get you taking action, writing clearly, and trying new things!

Leadership

Leadership isn’t something interesting until you’ve seen it done well first-hand. Leaders are not the same as managers or bosses. Leaders inspire action. Simon Sinek has written a multitude of amazing books on what it takes to be a leader in the real world.

The most effective leader I’ve ever known (and the sole reason great leadership is one of my life goals) is Mark Milecki. Mark was my General Manager at the Cheesecake Factory. And although we were just working with burgers and fries, he taught me how to take care of people, solve problems, and lead by creating leaders. We did an amazing podcast (#13 – Leadership, Done Right) on his climb of the ladder from busser to top-level GM. We also discuss his son’s battle against a rare form of leukemia.

In a nutshell, a leader must:

• listen to everyone, learn about everyone
• make everyone feel valued, but hold everyone accountable
• take responsibility for their own actions as well as their followers actions
• be willing to do the work that they request of their followers
• inspire others to be independent

This blog post is dedicated to the Mileckis.

Your Thing

Every one should have a thing. Something that is just for them, which they do by themselves (or with a few others who share that thing) which brings them peace. Preferably something challenging and where a skill can be improved.

This can be playing the piano, swimming, juggling, doing sudoku, yoga, reading comic books, taking bad (or good) photography…

I spoke to a buddy yesterday and he said he lacked a thing. And he was certain it was creating a void in his life.

These are my things:

– Writing this daily blog (I don’t mind if no one reads it. It’s just for me to start my day with releasing a small bit of creativity and philosophy. I don’t like journaling so I have to find replacements)

– Martial arts (Muay Thai and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu test my body and mind and I learn newer and better ways to move, defend myself, and learn)

– Editing podcasts and YouTube videos (It is not necessarily pleasurable during these processes, but the satisfaction of having completed the editing journey is truly meaningful to me. It’s like, “Hey, look at that! I did that!)

If you don’t have a thing, find one. Experiment. It’s crucial to one’s happiness and meaning. Make sure it’s something you do alone (or worst case, with a small group of individuals). Just for you. Not because you want to brag about it or show it off to your friends…it’s just your thing.

Do

The biggest piece of advice I’d give to my younger self is this:

Stop talking. Stop thinking. Do.

It’s lovely to discuss with your friends or in your own mind all the incredible things you think you could do to make your life more adventurous, productive, colorful, lively…But often times, we say these things out loud, and the train stops when we get that dopamine hit of hearing, “Wow, that would be cool,” or “Yeah, I think you’d be really good at that!”

Not that I am any sort of success story, but I dreamt of starting a podcast for over a year. Dreamt…Tinkered with the idea, mentioned it to my friends, articulated how I’d go about it. I got a ton of affirmations about how my friends would listen to it and how they’d love to hear my voice on iTunes. But as Newton’s sixth law of Not Actually Doing Shit concludes, a year went by and I had nothing to actually show for it.

You have to just do, man. Once I finally swallowed my fear of imperfection (which never goes away when you create stuff), and just started putting things out there, the ball began rolling. I look back at the first podcasts I created and laugh at how unskilled I was. BUT I CAN ONLY DO THAT BECAUSE I HAVE BEEN DOING IT EVERY WEEK FOR ALMOST A YEAR. If I had never started, I wouldn’t have acquired any skills, any knowledge, and worse, I wouldn’t have ever experienced that deeply fulfilling feeling you get when you have a delicious conversation with someone, edit it for several hours over several days, upload it, and see it in your iTunes library and know that that is your creation.

It literally doesn’t fucking matter at all what you want to do. For the love of Allah, just shut up and starting doing it. You will suck. You will not gain the respect of those who are better than you right out the gate. But you will get better, (and if you keep going) much better.

Do.

Starting

Having an idea is fun. It’s perfect in all of its unknown potential. You have no idea what will become of it.

99% of the time, it will remain in your head and you’ll never attempt to make it tangible or bring it out into the real world. Because if you do, then it won’t be perfect anymore. It’ll be muddy, incomplete, worse than your friend or coworker’s idea. So we keep it bottled up, safe and sound, until years go by and we have an archive of all of these could have’s and should have’s…many of the best parts forgotten.

This is the first blog post on this website. And similar to the content of my YouTube channel and podcast, I have no idea if anyone will consume this. And I certainly have no idea if anyone will derive value from it. But what I do know is that if I just kept these ideas to myself, there stands a zero percent chance of reaching even one person. None of my dreams will be realized.

If you’re worried about beginning because your work will be garbage, don’t worry, it will be. The trick is to understand the value of sucking and keeping at it until you develop the potential quality your idea deserves. Here we go.

Start.