On Identifying as an Underdog

Ever since I was a young boy I’ve been the scrapper, the tough kid, the underdog. I was tenacious as a pit bull and everyone knew it.

When I started playing hockey at 10 years old, I was the smallest kid out there. And that never really changed.

By the time I turned 17 I had only grown to 5’9 and maybe 155lbs; very small for a hockey player in the 1990s. Still, I was tough as nails and the size of my heart was no match for my small stature.

Along with that big heart came a quiet confidence (the arrogance came much later in life 🤪) that made me a natural leader. When we went to Chicago for the U18 national tournament in 1998, I wore an A on my chest with pride (A = Alternate captain for the non-hockey fans). My teammates looked up to me and I always tried to lead by example. I never gave up, no matter what. I still don’t.

Over the years I’ve played with broken ribs, a broken jaw, a broken hand, even a fractured Tibia once which I thought at the time was an ankle sprain, so I threw on a compression brace and laced back up. I’ve had butterfly bandages applied to get me through a game, then I’d drive myself to the ER afterward to get stitched up.

I’m saying all this not to brag, but to set the stage.

The fact is that I had the attitude and the grit to make me a pain in the ass and, despite my smaller size, I was never afraid to go hard into the boards or even to throw fists. I let the opposition know I was there with a cross-check or slashing the ankles and, when they turned around and laid me out, I’d get right back up and do it again. I was the very definition of scrappy underdog.

This soon became a part of my identity: The hockey player, the tough guy, small and quick, tenacious, pain in the ass, trash-talking, bruised and bloodied who wouldn’t give up until the very last buzzer echoed throughout the arena. After a fight, I’m as likely to fist bump you and say “good job” as I am to fight you again. Integrity is part of The Code and I had principles that I learned from my coach and which governed the way I played the game and the way I live my life to this day.

I had no fear, and believe me when I say, I could take a hit.

Colloquially, this type of hockey player is called a grinder, and we have many great qualities on and off the ice. When it comes to business, we can take a punch and rebuild. When it comes to relationships, we wear our hearts on our sleeves. When it comes to defending those that we care for, we are extremely loyal.

The problem that I’m facing is that, 20+ years after my brief stint playing national-level hockey, I still love my underdog story and I still believe in my underdog identity.

“Why is that a problem?” you ask. “Everyone loves an underdog.”

Well, while it’s certainly a great story to tell to others (you’ve read this far, after all), the problem is that it’s not such a great story to tell yourself. See, when you set yourself up as an “underdog,” you set yourself up disadvantaged. Right out of the gate, if you’re the underdog, you’re not as big as the other guy, not as strong, not as capable.

You’re handicapped, in your mindset if not elsewhere.

See, as Fortune here explains to Rudy, with age comes wisdom and a knowing that there’s nothing to prove to anybody but yourself. Sure it’s platitudinal, but hey if the shoe fits…

Now don’t get me wrong, I enjoy all the “comeback kid” stories. In fact, I love them. Rocky, Rudy, Pursuit of Happiness, and others of that ilk… they’re all inspirational and can make just about any grown man cry from heartache or simply hitting too close to home.

I just know that moving forward, I don’t want those stories to be my story.

Being an underdog and constantly fighting and struggling simply doesn’t coincide with living a happy, easy-going life filled with joy and love and success by any measure.

As I turn 40 this April and begin to think more about family and retirement I have to ask myself, “Is this story of me always being the struggling underdog worth keeping?”

The answer, clearly, is no. It’s time for me to grow up. Time to change that story.

I have less to prove these days, to myself or to others, and thank god I’ve been blessed with a family to think about.

And so, one of my big goals for 2020 is to rewrite my story. While there is a strong argument for Rudy being the best underdog drama ever made, it’s just not mine anymore. I’m not the underdog. I’m a 39-year old man who is handsome, strong, intelligent, empathetic, and who knows how to run a god-damned business.

So, I’m going to work on my story this year. Come up with something new, perhaps less convenient and less fun, but something which aligns with the monumental goals I’ve set for myself.

I’ll let you know how it goes. 🚀

On Procrastination and Note Taking

Below is an incomplete thought.

This morning I had a great idea for a blog post. Something really simple and impactful. The idea stemmed from some article I was reading on some wiki page somewhere on the internet.

I then had a fire to put out at my agency, Boxer. Something that needed to be dealt with immediately and effectively.

I told myself I would get around to the idea I had later in the day.

Neglecting to write the idea down, I simply turned my phone off, thinking that when I turned my phone back on later in the day I would open it up to the page in question.

No such luck, as by the time I opened my phone back up again I had totally forgotten about the blog post idea and only now, 12+ hours later, am I remembering bits and pieces about it. Sadly, I don’t remember enough to find the article again.

Takeaway: Take notes, boys and girls.

The Deep Work of Limiting Beliefs

Today was a rough day. Not a bad day (there’s no such thing 🌴), but a mentally and emotionally tough one.

It started with some small fires that needed to be put out. Nothing too bad.

At 9:30 I had a call with my biz/life coach, Doug Holt. I started working with Doug about 10 weeks ago, and recently we’re getting into some deep mindset work. Today we talked about heavy stuff, stuff that affected my physiology and forced me to reconsider a lot of the ideas I’ve carried with me for the past 39 years.

I’ve discovered, and am still exploring, some of my limiting beliefs. They include guilt as means of protection from complacency and homeostasis, and a rather serious fear of failure to reach my potential. It’s a no-win situation because I’ve flanked myself like a smart war general: I’ve got my guilt pushing me to move forward, pushing me out of homeostasis, pushing me to make my big plans happen, pushing me to do just enough to feel like I’m doing the work… Then I’ve got the fear of failure: What if I work my ass off, try super hard, and then fail? Then I lose my identity as the smart guy in the room, the one with lots of potential.

Between the guilt and the fear, I can’t win. This is my struggle.

It’s the stuff that “fragile masculine egos” are made of. I don’t generally care for SJW types, and the idea-du-jour that cis white men are to blame for all of society’s problems makes me rather ill… But damn, they may be onto something with this fragile ego thing. 😂

This is, for me, akin to not being able to sit down after you’ve done some wicked heavy back squats. Everything hurts like hell, but inside you know that everything is changing and the fact is that your muscles are growing.

So I’m trying to just get comfortable with the pain.

It’s a sign that I’m heading in the right direction. 💪

R.I.P. David Turner 1/2/2020

Wherever You Go, There You Are

It’s a great book on meditation by Jon Kabat-Zinn [affiliate link].

It’s also something I’ve recently noticed to be true in my general reality.

Let me explain.

Today is January 1st, 2020. Last night was New Years Eve, and many people were celebrating and making resolutions and posting meaningful quotes across various social media platforms. One post that found its way onto my Facebook wall read…

“Never forget: Years ago you dreamed of getting to where you are now.”

To me, this quote means a number of things.

1. Years ago, I dreamt I would be happily married, healthy, working from home and making my own hours, and living a generally comfortable and happy life. Here I am, living that dream.

2. Years ago, my facebook feed was full of a very different type of New Years post. Quotes like, “Thank god this fucking year is over. Here’s hoping the next one is better! 🍻” Hope is what you do when you buy a lottery ticket. If you’re not taking action to make this year better than last, well, good luck to you. Keep hoping, you’ll need it.

Clearly, I’ve changed the type of people I associate with and the kind of media that I expose myself to.

This took years of strategic Facebook feed grooming. I taught myself to Like certain kinds of posts while ignoring others. There was a lot of tongue-biting and forcing myself to not get involved in Comments melodrama, and a healthy dose of using the “See fewer posts like this” function. I even unfollowed a number of friends that, though we were once close, I had begun to realize were toxic to my personal growth.

I like the vibe of my new Facebook feed better.

3. As I sit here on my beautiful chocolate leather couch (I’ve always wanted one, and we finally pulled the trigger this year) with my beautiful wife next to me and each of us with a dog resting her head on our arm or leg, the fire is roaring in the fireplace, and it’s about 3pm on a Wednesday when most people have to be at work, I realize that not only is this now a run-on sentence, but this is also the life I was dreaming of way back in 2015.

That’s an accomplishment worth acknowledging.

It’s easy to forget how far you’ve come because wherever you go, there you are. Even now, I’m in the midst of a 90-day intense coaching program as well as a digital agency academy program, constantly thinking about personal and professional growth, and building a bigger and better future.

If you’ve got big plans that sometimes consume you, it’s nice—and probably important—to spend some time thinking about how you’ve managed to reach the big goals you set for yourself some years ago.

Reviewing past performance helps orient you for future performance. What would the you from 3–5 years ago think about where you are now? Have you grown personally and professionally? Have you contributed? Have you hit your goals? If no, why not? What can you change or do differently to make a positive impact and begin seeing changes in your life starting today? New Years resolutions are bullshit, there’s no doubt about that. But if you didn’t plant your tree last year, plant it today. Your future self will thank you.

As for me, in 2025 I’ll be writing these blogs from the 2nd story balcony patio overlooking my Pacific Northwest horse ranch and getting ready to take the Cybertruck into town to have a slice of cherry pie and a damn fine cup of hot, black coffee.

“Harry, I’m going to let you in on a little secret: every day, once a day, give yourself a present. Don’t plan it; don’t wait for it; just let it happen. It could be a new shirt in a men’s store, a catnap in your office chair, or two cups of good, hot, black, coffee.”

Dale Cooper, Twin Peaks

Taxes, Payroll, and EOY Things

That’s End of Year for those in the cheap seats.

In the past two days I’ve spent a grand total of six hours or so on the phone, in user portals, and talking to my expert tax, bookkeeping, and payroll team, getting some last-minute planning done for 2019 taxes.

What did I learn? Well, first of all, I learned that 2019 was a year of learning and planning for me. I didn’t do much client work this year, and I spent a bundle on education and coaching. Most of the year’s working hours were spent in planning and building systems for massive growth in 2020. Yes, 2020 will be the year when the rubber meets the road and my business takes off like a rocket into the stratosphere, if you’ll pardon the mixed metaphors. 😉

At any rate, if you run a business, try to manage everything yourself, and want to scale at some point, you’re going to learn sooner or later that you’ll need to hire a team of experts for the business periphery; things like bookkeeping, taxes, payroll, HR, and so on. All the stuff that is part of running a business, but isn’t usually an entrepreneur’s area of expertise.

One thing I might suggest is outsourcing that stuff sooner rather than later. I recommend Anderson Advisors for tax law and planning. They also do contract reviews and offer many other services for their USD $35/mo Platinum service.

For Payroll, I’m currently using ADP for cost and simplicity reasons, but I’m already planning my switch to a more concierge payroll experience with Shannon Theis at Payroll Solutions Plus later this year.

And finally for bookkeeping, I’m using the awesome Deepika Yeldandi at DRY Financial.

I only share these resources with you because they have been great for me. None of the links above are affiliate links, nor do I get any kickback from referrals. However, I would love it if you would drop my name if you talk to any of the above businesses as I do like them to know that I am out here spreading the word! 😁

That’s it for now. Godspeed, and happy new year!

On Journaling Daily and Why

So I’m going to try journaling publicly five days a week. Two coaches that I’m working with are pressing me to do this, and they are both far more successful than I am, so I suspect I can learn a lot by listening to them.

The point of this exercise is to work through problems via writing. By making it public, I’m held accountable and, perhaps, you can learn from my mistakes along the way.

Lately, I’ve been working hard on building out Boxer, my marketing agency. One thing in particular that has been difficult for me is the decision to niche down and work with a specific subset of clients.

For now, I’m going to focus on high-ticket life coaches. Why? Because since I hired Doug Holt as my coach, my life has improved dramatically, especially in terms of sales success and my ability to focus on important things.

One of my all-time favorite quotes also defines the way in which I would like to operate my business. Napoleon Hill once wrote, “I fully realize that no wealth or position can long endure unless built upon truth and justice; therefore, I will engage in no transaction which does not benefit all whom it affects.”

So I thought about it and hassled some peers and mentors for advice on the subject, and I think working with life coaches and possibly financial and investment coaches in the future would fit the bill nicely.

That’s all for now. It will be interesting to see how deep or shallow these blog posts are in the future. I suppose they can’t all be gold.

No Anonymity Protection for .US Domains

Last week I made the mistake of purchasing a “.us” domain for one of my businesses without doing the proper research.

Because you must be a US resident to purchase a .us domain, they don’t allow any kind of whois protection which means that my company information is on record and searchable in whois databases, as associated with this new website. My company is small enough at this point that the phone number is just a Google Voice account which forwards to my cell phone.

Since purchasing the domain last week I’ve had dozens of phone calls from would-be web developers and desigers, and hundreds of emails from people trying to tell me that they’re the best web designers on the market, and that only they could help me build my new website.

Sales and marketing are at their absolute worst when the strategy is spray and pray. These people haven’t delivered any value, and in fact they’ve immediately given me more work to do in going through their unsolicited pitches, thereby making my day more stressful.

Call me crazy but when I work with clients we only look for ways to deliver value, to become the prospect’s friend and servant, and to figure out how to show up in their email or voicemail box as a helper rather than an enemy of the people.

But this… What a waste of time for everyone involved.

Permission marketing evangelism and thought leadership is a worthy pursuit, my friends. Sales and marketing is supposed to feel good when it’s done right. Everyone’s is supposed to be a winner.

Not like this, though… oof.

Daily Affirmations from Napoleon Hill, Zig Ziglar, and Mark Douglas

As an entrepreneur, marketing consultant, retail stock trader, soon-to-be husband, and some-day father, confidence is absolutely necessary to my success. I read about a page-and-a-half worth of affirmations to myself each day. I have these printed on a sheet of paper that has been laminated. There are sections near the end for AM and PM affirmations.

These, when read aloud, remind me each morning and evening of what I already know, but don’t want to forget. Namely, that I am confident, capable, and extremely grateful for all that I have.

The first paragraph, and quite possibly other later paragraphs, were adapted from Napoleon Hill’s seminal work, Think and Grow Rich. If you haven’t read this, you should.

Paragraphs two and three were borrowed from Mark Douglas and his essential trading book, Trading in the Zone. If you’re not a trader, feel free to cut these paragraphs.

Most of this, however, was adopted from my man Zig Ziglar. Some of it was rewritten to suit my own personal preference.

At some point I plan on whittling this down a bit and then adding in some words of wisdom from Stoic philosophers Marcus Aurelius and Seneca.

I hope that you take this opportunity to copy the text below and adapt it to suit your needs, then read it aloud every day and feel the difference in how you approach problems and roadblocks in your personal and professional life!

By the 1st of January, 2021, I will have one million dollars, which will come to me in various amounts from time to time during the interim. In return for this money, I will give the most efficient service of which I am capable, rendering the fullest possible quantity and the best possible quality of service I can as a consultant and marketer. I will invest 20% of my money wisely, and use the financial and real estate markets as a means to compound my investments.

I believe I will have this money in my possession. My faith is so strong that I can now see this money before my eyes. I can touch it with my hands. It is now awaiting transfer to me in proportion to the services I intend to render in return. I am awaiting a plan by which to accumulate this money, and I will follow that plan when it is received.

I am a consistently successful stock trader. I objectively identify my edges. I predefine the risk of every trade. I completely accept the risk or I am willing to let go of the trade. I act on my edges without reservation or hesitation. I pay myself as the market makes money available to me. I continually monitor my susceptibility for making errors. I understand the absolute necessity of these principles of consistent success and, therefore, I never violate them. I am a consistent winner.

In order to help fulfill the above stated, I intend to believe in the following statements with full faith, a full heart, and an open mind: I am a self-starter who is disciplined, focused, dependable, and persistent. I am a positive-thinker with courage and great self-control. I am an energetic and diligent team leader who focuses on listening and influencing. I am a hard worker who appreciates the opportunities that the free enterprise system offers me. I am thrifty with my resources and apply common sense to my daily tasks. I am an honorable person and am balanced in my personal, family and business life, and have a passion for being, doing and learning more today so I can be, do and have more tomorrow.

I am a compassionate and encouraging leader who is non-judgmental. I am supportive and forgiving. I am a sincere and open-minded listener. I am trustworthy and I always find the goodness in people. I am a person of integrity, with the faith and wisdom to know what I should do and the courage and convictions to follow through. I have the vision to manage myself and to lead others. I am decisive, authoritative, and confident. I am grateful for all opportunities life offers me. I am a consistent and well-spoken teacher with strong character and a finely-tuned sense of humor.

I believe that failure is not a person but a path to wisdom. I have the courage to admit mistakes and to ask for help. I have the courage to continually strive to be physically, emotionally, and financially successful.

I have vision in my life, which means I see not only with my eyes but also with my heart. I have 525,949 minutes in every year of my life and I utilise them well to maximise my ability. I focus on the task at hand and experiment with different ways of improving my life each day.

I am successful because I believe that to be truly educated I must be mentored, either in business or in my personal life, or by reading or by association with superior minds with greater skills and mature spirits. I discipline myself to do the things that I need to do when I need to do them, because I know that doing those things will enable me to one day do the things I want to do when I want to do them. I clearly understand that if I develop yearning power and apply learning power, I will increase my earning power.

I am successful because I don’t confuse activity with accomplishment. I understand that staying busy for the sake of busy-ness is nothing more than a futile distraction. I know that I can’t make it in life as a wandering generality, so I am a meaningful specific. I enjoy life because I have a great sense of humour and an ability to laugh at myself. I recognise and learn from my mistakes. I am not bothered by someone else bragging or accepting undeserved credit. I fully understand that it isn’t the whistle that pulls the train.

I move forward in my life everyday, even if it’s only a tiny step, because I know that great things are accomplished with tiny moves, but nothing is accomplished by standing still. I am a hard worker but I don’t overdo it, because I know that the person who is always as busy as a bee may one day awaken to discover that someone has swiped his or her honey.

I fully realise that no wealth or position can long endure unless built upon truth and justice. Therefore I will engage in no transaction that does not benefit all whom it affects. I will succeed by attracting to myself the forces I wish to use, and the cooperation of other people. I will induce others to serve me because of my willingness to serve others. I will eliminate hatred, envy, jealousy, selfishness, and cynicism by developing love for all humanity because I know that a negative attitude towards others can never bring me success. I will cause others to believe in me, because I believe in them, and in myself.

AM {

Today I will seriously look for the good in every situation and find something about which to praise every person who works with me. Today I will be friendly to the people I work with, and will treat them as though they are completely responsible for my career. Today I will express gratitude for my career and for the society of which I am a part, and specifically for my family and friends. I will also express gratitude for the fact that my career is rewarding in ways that go far beyond financial remuneration.

I will sign my name to this formula, commit it to memory, and repeat it aloud every day with full faith that it will gradually influence my thoughts and actions so that I will become a self-reliant and successful person. Today is a brand new day and it’s mine to use in a marvelously productive way.

(Now think of the person you want to become for 5 minutes)}

PM {

These are the qualities of the winner I was born to be and I am fully committed to developing these marvellous qualities with which I have been entrusted. Tonight I’m going to sleep wonderfully well. I will dream powerful, positive dreams. I will awaken energized and refreshed; tomorrow’s going to be magnificent and my future is unlimited. Recognizing, claiming and developing these qualities which I already have gives me a legitimate chance to be happier, healthier, more prosperous, more secure, have more friends, greater peace of mind, better family relationships and legitimate hope that the future will be even brighter.

(Now think of the person you want to become for 5 minutes)}

2019 Brings Strange Tidings

On the 28th of December, I flew to Atlanta to help my future sister-in-law move across the country. She, having found a job in New Mexico after graduating with a Doctorate in Physical Therapy, needed to make the move from Pittsburg to Albuquerque. We all decided that a road trip through the South would make the move more fun. We were in Baton Rouge on New Years Eve. I watched the clock tick over to midnight from the kitchen counter of an AirBNB, working quietly on my laptop.

A close uncle of mine passed away yesterday, on his birthday, after a long and difficult battle with cancer. He will be missed by many, but it is good that his suffering has ended.

And this. What is this?

The remix of the cover that you never knew you needed.

This morning I stumbled upon this strange adult-contemporary/lounge/Caribbean folk hybrid…. From Weezer….. and RAC…. ….and ostensibly Toto?

And yet it is neither Weezer, nor RAC, nor Toto. It’s at once both strangely disturbing and comforting, an odd synergy of the three bands that sounds something like a chance conversation between Paul Simon and Sade at a coffee shop in Seattle late on a rainy January morning.

2019 feels…..good. I have a quiet optimism for the personal development and professional growth that will come this year, to say nothing of getting married to the love of my life and focusing more on what our future together will bring.

I think this song encapsulates my 2019 vibe so far. A little strange, but nice, and comforting. It’s also a pretty great song for a drizzly, overcast Vancouver morning.