Into the Unknown

Maybe I’m Crazy… Photo credit: kconnors from morguefile.com

In fact, I must be.

Right now, as I write this blog post, I’m sitting outside a Starbucks in Boise, Idaho…

I’m thousands of miles away from most of my friends and family…

And I’m Homeless and unemployed.

That’s right – no job, no predictable income, no home…

And I have no intention of trying to get any of those things back.

Crazy?

Maybe not as crazy as you’d think.

Let me explain…

“Losing” Everything

You might be thinking that being homeless and unemployed is terrible.

After all, that’s the scenario presented to us – no job, no home; it means you’ve lost everything, right?  Pretty soon, you’re running amok inside a fast food joint demanding breakfast for lunch, even after they stopped serving breakfast

For some reason, I feel like that’s Hollywood’s (embellished) take on it.  The reality is often much less dramatic.

And in my case, it’s actually a little boring.

You see, I didn’t lose everything.  I made a conscious decision to give up certain things that weren’t important to me.  To simplify and streamline my life in a way that’s congruent with what I want to do and who I want to be.  To get rid of excess.  To trim the fat, so to speak.

I didn’t lose everything.

I have exactly what I need.

And now I have the opportunity to build whatever life I want.

It’s a choice most wouldn’t be willing to make.

But what good are talents if we keep them buried?

The Transition

About 6 months ago I put my 2 weeks notice into my employer.

Two weeks ago I sold my car and most of my belongings.

Last week I packed up what remained and shipped it to the West Coast for storage.

This past weekend, I signed out of my unit for the last time and started driving across the country with my fiancee (we get married next month).

I have no conventional job prospects lined up.  No massive savings account or trust fund to rely on while I ‘get back on my feet.’  No escape route if things go south.

I’ve burned the boat - there’s no going back.

No more job.  No more house.  No more semi-monthly paycheck.  No more job title.  No more certainty…

In exchange, I get the opportunity to fail.

And that’s all I’ve ever wanted.

What Matters

Why does the opportunity to fail matter so much?

Because without the possibility of failure, there is no possibility of real success.

And real success is the only thing that matters.

Success means triumph.  It means achieving what we set out to achieve.  It means growing, expanding and advancing as an individual (and helping others do the same).

But if there’s nothing challenging us, no roadblocks on our way to the top, no obstacles along the path, then success is hollow.

I’m sure just about any adult reading this could be the best 1st grade soccer player in the world.  But what does that even mean?  More importantly, why would it even matter?

The answer, of course, is that it really wouldn’t mean anything (and it most certainly wouldn’t matter)….

And so we need the prospect of real failure if we want the prospect of real success.

If we want to do something that matters – contrary to the classic expression – failure must be an option.
 Photo credit: RoganJosh from morguefile.com

Guideposts

There’s a very simple litmus test to determine if what you’re going after has the possibility of real success (and thus real failure).

Does it scare you?

If yes, you’re probably doing something that could fail.

Fear is a guidepost.

It let’s us know we’re headed in the right direction; it means we’re doing something outside our comfort zone; it means we’re challenging the conventional, safe and certain approach.

If you’re fearless, you’re probably playing 1st graders in soccer.

And that should be a signal for you to move in a different direction

What’s Next

So here I am in Boise, Idaho, enjoying an iced Americano and thinking about what’s next.

Right now, we’re on our way to the World Domination Summit 2013 (#wds2013) in Portland, Oregon.  We started in Nashville, TN and after several days of cross country travel, we’re almost here.

If you’re not familiar, WDS is essentially a massive, 3-day conference on entrepreneurship, creativity and creating impact.  Obviously, I’m a fan and supporter.

If you’re there, shoot me an email and let’s connect.

After the conference, my fiancee and I will be traveling up to Seattle to get married.  Then we’re taking a year long trip around the world.  For about 12 months we’ll be traveling the southern hemisphere (New Zealand, Australia, South Africa, Chile, Peru, etc.).

While this sounds like a year long honeymoon / vacation, it’s really not.  We’re traveling for a year but we’ll both be working.  We’re just not working conventional 9-5 jobs that keep us tied down in a particular geographic location.

Instead, through conscious and calculated decisions (which I mentioned in the beginning of this article), we’ve created a lifestyle that is sustainable from anywhere in the world.

Believe it or not, this is possible. 

Not only is it possible, I think it’s necessary for any person hoping to survive in today’s economy (a topic for another time).

So how can I sustain myself from anywhere in the world?

Through a number of projects:

Starting an Insurgency…

Well, I’ve mentioned it before, but I’m going full steam ahead with my publishing company: Insurgent Publishing.

Insurgent Publishing is a boutique, creative publishing platform.  That’s a clever way of me saying it’s a very small operation right now that focuses on bringing a specific type of content to a specific group of people, via non-standard methods (beyond simply publishing on Amazon, for example).

So what kind of content are we publishing and who is it for?

Well, if you’re a reader of my blog, you’re already savvy with the style of content I want to publish.  Insurgent Publishing focuses on unconventional non-fiction.  Like its namesake, it’s all about bringing insurgent ideas (i.e. the types of ideas that don’t fit the one-size-fits-all mainstream status-quo) to the attention of readers.

Some of my favorite books of all time include The War of Art by Steven Pressfield, Poke the Box by Seth Godin and Steal Like an Artist by Austin Kleon.  I love these books.  I read them several times a year.  I’ve probably read each over a dozen times.

But there’s a problem – there aren’t enough mind-blowing books like this in the world.

What makes them unique is their brevity and power; they’re urgent, critical, and they demand action after you read them.

And they don’t fit a specific, conventional mold.

My goal is to find powerful authors (unknowns and well-knowns), creatively collaborate with them in order to break, build and design disruptive ideas, and publish them in beautiful ways for the happy few who want to read them.

Conceptually, I like to think of it like TED talks in book form (and with more depth).

It’s a company that won’t produce content for everyone.  But I’m hoping it produces the right content for the right people.

The website isn’t complete yet.  It’s taken me about 6 times longer than I expected (which, ironically, I DID expect).  I’m hoping to have it up and running this August.

If you enter your email on the home page of the under-construction Insurgent Publishing website right now, you’ll get lifetime discounts on everything we ever publish…(everything – forever).

My way of saying thank you for taking a chance.

*NOTE: if you’re a writer, designer or artist and would like to collaborate on a project and get your work published, shoot me an email (tom @ tommorkes.com)

Taking On Courage

I’m also in the exploration, research and note taking phase of my next book.

I’m hoping to take the same easy to read, urgent style from my book “The Art of Instigating” (get it free by joining the Resistance) and apply it to the topic of “Courage” – what it is, how it works, and how we can cultivate, learn and teach it.

In the book Decisive, by Chip and Dan Heath, we’re given a framework for how decisions work, and how, ultimately, to make better decisions in life.  It’s a fascinating and useful book as it helps the reader gain clarity before making a decision.  I highly recommend it for those curious about the brain, psychology, and/or marketing – or for people who simply want to make better choices in life.

But it left me wondering: what about the choices in life that are already crystal clear, but the right choice leads you down a path of uncertainty, pain or even death?  Or the wrong choice leads you down a path of safety, security or fortune?

How do we make those choices?

While not the entirety of the subject, I consider this an important microcosm of courage as a whole – the ability to make the right choices in life, even if it means sacrificing our comfort, happiness or even our lives.

I hope this gives you a little insight into my thoughts on (one aspect of) the matter.

Would love to hear what you think – and what you’d like me to explore in the book: courage in business, perhaps?

Or possibly courage in writing, art or entrepreneurship?  Anything goes – just email me – I’d love to start a conversation.

And Still In the TrenchesIn The Trenches

My podcast In the Trenches may be put on hiatus once I start my international travel.

That’s not to say it’s dead – it would just have to be put on pause.  I’m hoping that’s a worst case scenario and the places I travel will allow me the internet access I need to upload and create this type of content.  I’m also hoping traveling will expose me to even more awesome people around the world doing great things so I can interview them for the show.

So I’m not sure what will happen with In the Trenches…but if you want it to continue, you should write a review and rate the podcast on iTunes.

The only way this podcast or blog spreads is through word of mouth.  Thanks to all those who have spread the word already – and thanks in advance to those who help spread the word in the future.

So, again, please leave a review on iTunes if you want In the Trenches to continue!

Super Secret Projects

I also have a few other (super secret) projects I’m working on with several different people in various fields.

I was just brought on as a project manager for a small, potentially disruptive, startup.  Excited to see just how quickly this company can grow and dominate its niche.  I hope to share more details after we launch.

I’m in the works with a partner to develop a new online sales platform (apologies for the purposefully vague description).  It has the potential to be huge, and I have no doubt we’ll be able to develop it into a successful platform – but it’s going to take some hustle.  We’ll be bootstrapping the project using the lean startup approach (i.e. iterative testing until we find a product/market fit).  Again, as soon as we have a working product you’ll be the first to hear about it.

I’m also expanding my business consulting services.  It’s not for everyone, but if you’re a bootstrapper or a solopreneur looking to make sales (or start making MORE sales), or an author who wants to make money from his or her writing, you should definitely connect with me.

This is limited and I can’t accept everyone.

So shoot me an email and we’ll see if it’s a good fit for both of us (a caveat: I only work with hustlers who are totally committed – fence sitters need not apply).

Leading the Resistance…

Along with all this, I’ll continue to write for the Resistance.

Expect the same great writing as always sent directly to your inbox (plus behind the scenes stuff exclusive for subscribers).

While difficult to keep up the pace of multiple quality articles a week, I intend to do it for as long as I’m capable.

And I’ll continue to create free and pay what you want content.

If you enjoy my work and want to contribute, the best way is to grab my pay what you want products and treat me to a cup of coffee or something.

Here are a few of my products you might enjoy:

The Gunslinger’s Guide to Starting and The Gunslinger’s Workbook – Start, finish and ship your project in 30 days or less

Putting on Your Brain Goggles - become more creative instantly

2 Days With Seth Godin – I went to a 2 day seminar/conference w/ Seth Godin.  Here’s everything we talked about (consider this material gold for entrepreneurs and writers)

Thank you so much for contributing to my creative work.

The End (or is it?)

Well, that’s it for today.

Hope it was enjoyable to read a bit more about me and what I’m up too.  More personal than I usually get (and, thus, slightly uncomfortable for me to write), but I hope you enjoyed it.

Leave a comment below to let me know what you think.

And of course…

This is Tom Morkes.  If you’re reading this, you ARE the Resistance.

In the Trenches 006: Creating New Paradigms with Clay Hebert

You Can Change Your LifeClay Hebert

Or at least that’s what Clay Hebert did.

In 2008, Clay was at a crossroads.  Should he continue to work for Accenture, where he had a guaranteed salary and could easily move up the ladder?  Or should he branch off on his own path, a path completely uncertain and paved with obstacles and possible failure points.

It turns out serendipity was on his side: it just so happened that as Clay began soul-searching, he noticed a blog post by Seth Godin titled ‘If You Could Change Your Life’…

Would you?

And for Clay, the answer was yes.

Starting From Scratch

After the 6 month intensive MBA program, Clay went straight into bootstrapping his first business: Tribes Win.

At Tribes Win, Clay worked with a plethora of clientele, from entrepreneurs to authors, and helped them build their Tribes.

After the success with Tribes Win, Clay moved onto bootstrapping two more companies: Workhacks.com and Spindows.com

Both businesses have the chance to redefine their genres (and yes, you should check them out).

Things we talk about:

Spindows

  • The fear of walking away from a guarantee into the unknown
  • How to overcome fear
  • The difference between Freelancer and Entrepreneur (and why it’s crucial you know the difference)
  • “Product Market Fit” – and why you need to use it, whether you’re a writer or an entrepreneur
  • The power of the lean startup versus conventional business development
  • Why you should TEST and VALIDATE your business before you jump into your next venture
  • How to multi-task like a ninja…but also why it’s not recommended for most people!

Quotes to Live by From the Interview:

“Don’t start by building, start by validating.” (tweeeeet!)

“Get out of the building and talk to actual customers.” (tweet it!)

Socialize:

Twitter

Facebook

LinkedIn

Additional Show Notes:

Crush It

Hugh Mcleod

Spindows

Purple Cow

Tribes Win

Work Hacks

The Lean Startup

Launch Rock

Skillshare

What Will You Do With Your Dreams?

Dreams and Building Empires

Dreams

We all have them.

Not just the kind when we sleep, but the more important ones – the ones we have when we’re awake.

They come to us when we’re driving home from work, when we go for a long run, when we reminisce over war stories with an old friend.

These dreams usually spark something deep within us.  They excite something dormant; something we didn’t know existed…at least for a moment.

In most cases, as quickly as they come, they go; they pass through us unscathingly, with us no worse (or better) for wear.

But sometimes…

Epiphanies Happen

Sometimes they come and hit us like a ton of bricks.

That feint twinge of excitement in our gut becomes a blinding vision of what could be…

The image is crystalline; the emotion is palpable; we see everything as if for the first time, with brilliant clarity and gratitude.

The dream isn’t a dream any longer – it becomes something tangible, something that physically moves us.

It scathes us and leaves a mark, for better (or worse).

What Happens Next…

But even the exhilaration, the rush of an epiphany fades.

And we’re left stuck in traffic, or struggling with an incline, or realizing our stories are mostly embellishment now…

All people experience something like this at some point in their lives.  It might not happen with quite the same intensity, but every person experiences moments of understanding, appreciation, and possibility followed by a fall back into reality.

And the majority will go back to work the same way as they did before the dream.  They will lay bricks for a day’s wage.

It’s the reasonable thing to do.

It’s the realistic thing to do.

Dreams are silly anyway – real life matters more…

The majority will, but not everyone.

Some Choose a Different Course

A few will go back to work differently.

Their actions will take on the power of purpose, their goals the strength of intention.  They won’t lay bricks for a day’s wage, but to build their own castle.

It’s the unreasonable thing to do.

It’s the unrealistic thing to do.

But dreams matter – sometimes more than real life…

“Then all I can say is that, in that case, the made-up things seem a good deal more important than the real ones.” [The Silver Chair]

What will you do with your dreams?

 


p.s. let us know in the comments what you’re working on – and more importantly, why you’re working on it.  We want to hear!

p.p.s. Subscribe to The Resistance Broadcast and get the help you need to complete your worthwhile project, build your empire, and create your life’s work.

 

 

Winning Your Inner Creative War

Winning the Creative War

The Pain of Creation

Every act of artistic creation (business, blog, book or otherwise) begins in the mind.

They begin as acts of love (we care about our ideas) and defiance (challenging what is with what could be).

But being inside your own mind isn’t a pretty thing.  It’s nasty in there; what is right seems wrong; up is down; and every course of action can be rationalized (adding to the frustration).

Struggling with a creative puzzle or wrestling with a conceptual problem is brutal.

It challenges your skill; do you have the ability to bring this vision to life?

It challenges your character; do you have the fortitude – the grit – to take it all the way?

It challenges your belief in yourself; can you keep working toward an elusive goal, even when nothing pans out for weeks, months or years?

Do you really have what it takes to fight these creative battles, day in and day out?

And if the answer is YES to all of those questions, are you sure you’re not just lying to yourself?

The Inner Creative War

These are the internal battles of someone trying to do something new, of someone building something from scratch, of the person creating something unique, not because he was told, but because he chose.

It’s not reserved just for writers (experienced as writers block) or entrepreneurs (experienced as failure to launch), but for every single person who stands up and challenges the group; who leaves the tribal boundaries; who demands self-determination, regardless of the consequences.

It’s a battle waged by artists and inventors; by builders and breakers; by warriors and leaders.

It’s a war fought by those brave enough to question, challenge, and try.

And like any war, there will be casualties: your dreams may not become reality, your goals might not pan out, and your projects might fail.

It’s difficult, it’s unforgiving, and it’s (often) unfair.

When I characterize creation as an act of war, I mean it.

Winning the War

And yet some of us still feel compelled to create, even with this guarantee of discomfort.

Perhaps it’s because we expect the discomfort will fade when we “make it.”  And it might.

Or perhaps it’s because we believe the reward at the end will outweigh the pain of the process.  And this might be true.

Or perhaps we have no other option because the discomfort of not creating is more painful and terrifying than the possibility of trying and failing.  And this is probably the case.

Regardless the reason, the fact that some still want to create, still need to create, is what matters; because these are the people who will create.

Winning the creative war isn’t a matter of how.  For the creator, it’s a matter of when.

Oddly enough, that is exactly how you win.

It ain’t about how hard you hit, it’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward. How much can you take and keep moving forward? That’s how winning is done. [Rocky Balboa]


p.s. are you fighting the creative war right now?  Share with us in the comments below what you’re creating and where you’ve found success (or how you’ve dealt with failure).