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The Greatest Sin

Dear Jake,

I don’t write to you enough. I feel like the words I write to you here should be profound and life changing and that stops me from writing anything to you. That is a HUGE mistake.

We just had a conversation about how executing is the hardest part of doing anything. Seth Godin would call it shipping but you and I called it executing. I don’t ship on this blog enough. I don’t send you these messages as often as I should. Technology has created this unbelievable way for you and I to communicate through the ages and I don’t do it enough…I’m sorry.

Here’s the background:

You put on a great show today. You and Molly (and the rest of your second grade class) are obsessed with the movie, Frozen. Everywhere we go, kids are singing songs or quoting lines from this movie.

The other day, we were up on LI visiting with Nana, Opa and your cousins after Uncle Billy’s wedding. You and Kaitlyn broke into song. The kid at the table next to us joined in and knew all the words.

If you go into acting or movie making, it will be Frozen that lit the spark in you that got nurtured into the fire that is your passion.

Please don’t take these words as pressure to go into movies. Too many parents encourage only certain traits in their kids because they use their kids to reflect how they think about themselves.

They want to be athletes so they encourage sports.
They want to be educators so they encourage teaching.
They want to be seen as smart so they encourage math and the sciences.

I want you to know that I’ll support you no matter what direction you go.

Just go at it with your whole heart. So many people act lost because “they can’t find their passion” This is bullshit. Please don’t do that.

Here is they key: Most people don’t know what they want to do so they don’t do anything. And not doing anything is the greatest sin you can commit.

Your passion is not going to knock down walls to find you. It may gently knock on the door but it’s up to you to get up and answer. You must execute or you’ll never discover what you like.

After your show tonight you kept asking me questions about how it went. And I told you the truth:

- Everyone loved it. The joy and passion you and Molly brought to this show shined through.

- You are skilled at building an audience. You got key people in the neighborhood to come and they invited their friends. Your show had a great crowd.

- You could have prepared better. Right away you spoke about charging 25 cents for your next show – I LOVE your entrepreneurial spirit! We discussed that you need more value in order to charge and that people don’t mind small mistakes (like not having Let It Go ready to play for the show’s finale) when a show is free but if you charge, you need to plan and be ready for contingencies.

- You rocked the house! And you came up with ideas on how to improve costumes and props to create higher production value.

- Making people feel good is a worth while pursuit in life. And you seem perfectly fitted for it.

I’m not sure why I felt moved to immediately write this to you. Maybe it’s because I think about writing to you a lot but don’t do it and our conversation about executing made me feel like a hypocrite.

Maybe it’s because I see how happy you are and I want your older self to know the things that made you truly happy as a kid.

Maybe it’s because I hope you go into show business.

To be perfectly honest, I’m not really sure of my motives but sure am glad that I executed. I hope you are too!



How to Be Your Own Boss (in 1 not-so-simple step)

how to be your own boss

How to be Your Own Boss

It was 4:15 in the afternoon and I was eating rubbery Chicken Marsala for dinner. It was left over from the banquet the night before.

“I gotta get out of here,” was the refrain repeating over and over inside my head, while my co-workers and employees joked & chatted, mentally preparing for another night of serving holiday parties.

“Is this really the life I am supposed to lead?”

I rose from the table and walked out of the employee break room. And that’s when I saw the sign that would change my life forever.

More on that sign in a minute though….

How to NOT be your own boss

I remember that day, that meal and the sign because that moment was when I became my own boss. Until then I let life, other people and “circumstances” determine my fate. Avoiding decisions and hard choices is NOT the way to be your own boss.

When I graduated college with my useless Philosophy degree (don’t kid yourself — all degrees are useless) I wasn’t ready to grow up. Not the way the world wanted me to anyway. I wasn’t ready for “the real world.”

Not Being the Boss in NYC

I told people, “I want to experience LIFE, not a cubicle.” Truth is that I was too afraid to get a “real” job. The thought of an interview could give me butterflies. And I liked my long hair. I didn’t want to cut it.

So what did I do?

Become a bartender, naturally — In the East Village. In the late nineties. You can’t get much more life experience than that!

I’d love to say it was all part of some master plan but that would be a lie and I’m done with lying to myself. I had a couple of “real” job offers back then but fear held me back. I was content getting to know the characters in the East Village. And boy, there were a lot of characters. You meet all kinds of interesting people when you’re a nocturnal city dweller – but more on them in another post.

I tended bar in NYC for 3 years because the money was good and I could delude myself into thinking I was free…that I was my own boss. When I worked I was the only employee at the bar. It was easy to pretend it was mine. No boss..just me and my customers.

You can only lie to yourself for so long. After a while, at your core, you know it’s not true. But instead of solving the problem – hell, I don’t even know if I recognized it yet – I moved across the country.

Waking Up (still not the boss) In Reno

Moving makes everything feel better. Your entire world is new. You feel free because you don’t yet recognize the chains that are holding you down. You meet new people. You get a new job. You establish new routines.

All of this newness becomes a substitute for real freedom. When daily routines of life haven’t yet become ruts, you feel like a free man.

But that “newness” is a false freedom.

When the shine started to wear, I thought I needed a career. If I had a path to follow – with success milestones and job titles that included the word “Director” – then I could be happy.

The problem with this method is that you can’t delegate your happiness to someone else. You can’t abdicate responsibility to your job, your lovers, your friends.

I started my “career” in March 2000. I didn’t see that sign that lead to true freedom until 2010. The oughts are my lost decade – the “ought have beens.” Don’t let this happen to you. Take control of your destiny. Grab your freedom and make a go of it.

The Secret to Becoming Your Own Boss

You don’t need to move across the country to be your own boss. (I know, I tried it twice). You don’t need any start-up capital. You don’t need anyone’s permission. Hell, you don’t even need your own business.

All you have to do is decide.

When I finished that rubbery chicken back in 2010 and left the break room, the admin assistant was changing out the employee bulletin board. You’ve seen them before. The cork board that gets redecorated every month or quarter. The one that bestows accolades on the employee of the month and holds all the legal info on what to do if your boss abuses you.

On that day, she hung up signs with quotes on them. Typical corporate motivation:

“Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence wins championships.” – Michael Jordan

“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” Ben Franklin

You know the stuff. But there was one on the board that just hit me. Like a splash of cold water it woke me up from a long sleep. It made me realize that I had to build the life I wanted:

The people who get on in this world are the people who get up and look for the circumstances they want, and if they can’t find them, make them.” - George Bernard Shaw

I didn’t like my circumstances. I traveled all over the country looking for better circumstances when I should have been looking inside myself for the courage to create the circumstances I wanted.

That sign now hangs in my office. It is a reminder of what I can accomplish with focus and desire. It reminds me of how far I have come AND how far I can go – as long as I decide to keep creating the circumstances I want.

Decide to Be Your Own Boss

No one is ever going to come along and congratulate you on making it. Their won’t be a day where your old boss, or your parents, or your friends, come and pat you on the back to say “job well done, you made it.” — It just isn’t going to happen, so stop expecting it to.

But decide right now to be your own boss. Control of your own life. The strength of that conviction can carry you on while you create the circumstances you want. That is all you need to be your own boss.

For as long as you stay in pursuit of the worthy goal of leading your life, you will be a success and your own boss.

Be the boss of your life – create the life you imagine. Don’t settle for the life society wants you to live, don’t let them be the boss.

When the alarm clock rings tomorrow, jump out bed and start creating the circumstances you want.

Stop eating the rubbery chicken and start looking for the filet mignon.

Dear James Altucher, F^#& You (A Choose Yourself Review)

me reading choose yourself by james altucher

Dear James Altucher, Last week I sent you a tweet thanking you for writing your blog and your latest book, Choose Yourself. Now, I take it back. I’m taking it all back. Today, I rescind my naive thanks and change them to a resounding f^#& you. I was proud  I started a business. Proud that […]

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Fear, Action & Your Soul’s Quest For Meaning

When is the last time you were scared to do something? Not the easy kind of scared like from a movie and not the out of control kind, like a loved one getting sick. But truly and deeply scared to do something you wanted to do? I want you to think about that time. Go […]

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An Email on How to Be Free


This post is an email I sent to my 2 sons after my old employer tried to entice me back to my old job. They are still just little kids but we set them up with accounts to share stuff like this and send some pictures. I hope this resonates with them when they read […]

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