Where I've been, where I'm going (2023 Azimuth Check)

Dear Diary,

Tom here. Sheesh. It's been a while, eh? I guess it's time for an update...

It's been close to a year since I last posted an update on this blog.

How is that even possible?

Time flies, I guess…

So you might be wondering:

  • Where have you been, Tom?
  • What have you been up to?
  • Why am I hearing from you now?
  • How did I even get here?
  • Where AM I?

Questions. So many questions. Some are even good.

So here’s the deal.

Over the last few years, I’ve been deep in the trenches, creating and launching products and growing an online education business (among other things)...

My focus for the last couple of years has been to build a business that can live and grow on its own and without my name all over it. I designed this business intentionally so as to avoid creating a 'cult of personality' type business (that, while clearly profitable, always rubbed me the wrong way).

I'm several years into this "quest," which has taken increasingly more time and effort than I expected (but also did kind of expect, if you get me), and I'm pleased to say it's doing well, we've built an engaged subscriber list of approx 50,000 readers, and have served over 70,000 customers worldwide...

…yet in spite of this progress, I still have "promises to keep and miles to go before I sleep" and the journey is far from over...

And so I'm writing to share an update on where I've been, and where I'm planning to go moving forward (in business and life, as well as with this blog and the newsletter).

I think there may be a valuable lesson to share here, so let me start at the beginning...

When I started this blog in 2012, I didn’t really have a plan.

I just wanted a place to share my ideas on life, work, and things that I found interesting. A "dear diary" if you will (haha, get it?).

I published unapologetically for myself, NOT for others.

  1. I wrote about things I cared about or that captured my attention...
  2. I wrote about things that I wanted to learn about (teaching is the best way to learn)...
  3. I also wrote things that I wanted to hear from "my corner" and things "I wish I had known" when I was younger (almost like I couldn't find the motivation and encouragement I needed in life from other people, so I was just going to do it myself)...

I didn’t expect anyone to read what I wrote. 

But, they did. 

And, eventually, my ‘dear diary’ became less for me and more for others.

Soon, my blog, podcast, and newsletter became a place for others to find useful training, tools, and resources to help them achieve their goals (and overcome the army of bad habits and destructive self-talk propaganda that keep so many of us dormant, stagnant, and stuck).

So I decided to keep doubling down in this direction; writing about things that I thought would help the greatest number of people, on the subjects I cared the most about.

(and yes, that was the full extent of my ‘marketing plan’)

Slowly but surely, I attracted new readers and subscribers. I did it all for free, spent thousands of hours on it, and made no money from it.

Of course, "free" is not sustainable, so I embarked on a new quest...

Quest #1. I wanted to replace my income from the military with my writing and publishing work.

I resigned my commission as a Captain in the Army in 2013 (making somewhere around $50 or $60k a year if I remember correctly) and replaced it with a $0/year income as an “entrepreneur.” 

Basically, I jumped and then had to build the plane on the way down, so to speak…

My thinking was that if I could replace my previous income with the profit made by creating and selling digital products on my site, I could continue to do this "thing" that I was doing (and, ipso facto, avoid becoming a wage slave).

Fortunately, I reached that goal by the end of 2014, which gave me the runway I needed to keep going.

So I set my site on the next summit...

Quest #2. I wanted to hit that elusive 6-figure mark (annually). 

According to a few random business and market reports I found online, only about 10% - 15% of small business owners earn more than $100k per year. Therefore, breaking that number would put me in the 90th percentile of entrepreneurs.

A good challenge.

I felt like if I could earn at least that amount on my own, through my own creative effort, I could consider myself a “legitimate tough guy” (see page 20 of The Art of Instigating -- hat tip Vin Diesel from “Knockaround Guys”).

Through a combination of my own writing and publishing, as well as consulting with brands to help them increase their traffic, subscribers, and sales (and earning a small percentage of the revenue I helped them generate), I crossed that threshold in 2015/2016.

This was a major milestone for me.

It provided the validation that my monkey brain needed that this “thing I was doing” could be sustainable and that I could keep doing it (despite my Dad's plea for me to get a 'real job')…

…yet, it was also a double-edged sword (as success often is). In this case, the other edge of that sword meant bigger, more ambitious dreams, desires, and pursuits.

Needless to say, I set off on a new journey...

Quest #3. I wanted to build a “proper” business

By “proper” I meant an enterprise with more people than just me and a VA, and likewise: something that provided a bigger impact and delivered bigger outcomes for a greater number of people than I could on my own.

Ideally, this "something" could one day run itself or be sold for a profit.

After a few fits and starts, including growing an agency to multiple 6-figures per year (before shutting it down...a story for another time), I finally got something off the ground that worked (and met all my above criteria).

A few years later, we reached the "important revenue goal" and now we have what some might call a proper business.

That's cool because, statistically, close to 90% of small businesses fail after 5 years...

(so again, hitting that 90th percentile, which I'm a big fan of)

What's also been a great experience is building a team and increasing our scale of impact.

Building a team is challenging. People depending on you so that they can put food on the table is even scarier. This is why it's so meaningful to me that we are able to give our team the ability to work for an amazing company on an important mission (no corporate BS, we're not funded by Blackrock so I don't have to force people how to "think right", and because I'm bootstrapped, I don't have to bend the knee to anyone -- we can focus entirely on serving our customers, clients, and team).

I'm proud to say everyone who has joined our team since the beginning has stayed with us -- and I'm hoping for another decade or more of continued success.

With that said:

  • It’s been hard work…really hard. Like "maybe I should throw in the towel" at times, hard...
  • It’s been unforgiving, scary, and uncertain at times (which makes the dips and setbacks that much more challenging)…
  • And even though we've "made it!" (so to speak), the "grindset" is still very much alive…

And of course, the higher heights you reach, the greater the fall (if you fall)...which makes the 'fear of failure' that much greater.

So while it’s not all Bugatis and bling (more like diapers and a 401k), we now have a substantial asset/entity/enterprise that can make a meaningful difference in the lives of people around the world.

It also means...

  1. We can generate and manage volume (70,000 customers and growing)...
  2. We can handle complex operations at scale....
  3. And it’s been a validation of the strategies and principles I've believed to be true since the beginning (including my more excentric personal beliefs around creative marketing, product launches, and anti-fragile business development)... 

And maybe most importantly of all:

It's proof that with the right mindset, dedication, and a pinch of audacity, it's possible to turn your creative or entrepreneurial dream into reality. 

(if my attention-deficient, cave-man brain can start with nothing and bootstrap to success, I have to believe it's possible for just about anyone to do it)

Waaaaayyyyyy back in 2014, I wrote a blog post called “The Entrepreneur’s Journey." In this post, I wrote about how I envisioned the pursuit of anything creative or entrepreneurial.

I depicted this journey in a classic fantasy format (because -- paraphrasing C.S. Lewis -- sometimes fiction can be "more true" than non-fiction because no one can be deceived by it).

I was so into the idea of it, that I even ‘illustrated’ what that journey looked like in a PowerPoint slide (just Tom being Tom, investing an absurd amount of hours into the "important" things 🤣)…

Long story short -- in an unintentionally prophetic way, my story + illustration about “The Entrepreneurs Journey” ended up being accurate.

In particular:

Once you've conquered one summit, it's natural (dare I say: automatic) to set your sights on the next summit...

That desire for the ‘next great height’ I believe is in all of us -- certainly it's in the heart and blood of creators and entrepreneurs…

And that’s why I’m writing this today.

I'm fueled by the desire to push further and to ‘test my chops’ in this next phase of work, business, and life... 

But I've changed...

My thinking has changed...

The world has changed...

And the things I'm "up against" now are bigger and badder than before...

Bottom line: this path I'm walking is very different than what came before (with a lot more riding on it than ever before).

So I say this with some trepidation around this next phase of life...this next quest, this latest pursuit, this new height in front of me...

Just because I haven't fallen doesn't mean I won't. This is the everpresent reality of business, writing, and life in general ("nothing gold can stay" and all that, since we're getting poetic in today's blog post)...And while I think somewhere in my heart I was hoping to someday be completely over that "fear" of failing...

...the reality is that even with experience, wisdom, and a "track record" of success -- it still feels like I'm at square one...

Which leads me to...

Quest #4. What's coming next...

Over the coming months, my hope is to reignite this blog and my newsletter with a renewed sense of purpose and what I hope is a wealth of lessons learned from my last decade "in the trenches"...

I want to share the good, the bad, and the ugly; what's working and what's not, based on real-world experience...

And I'm also interested in exploring new projects and ideas, like how to use an "A.I assistant" to create simpler and more profitable businesses (especially for solopreneurs and those looking to stay lean/agile), how to tell meaningful stories (that attract readers, customers, and clients), and more...

BUT! -- I only want to share what's useful and meaningful for YOU.

Since I'm over the need for an online 'dear diary' and this blog/podcast/newsletter has served its purpose for me...unless what I write is useful to you, I might as well shut it all down.

And that may be what I do.

But before I metaphorically "nuke the site from orbit," I want to hear from YOU!

What do YOU want me to write about?

What do YOU want me to share, teach, or explore?

Leave a comment below and tell me what would entertain or inspire you? What would make you come back to read my next blog post or newsletter? 

For those who have been following me for a minute; what has kept you coming back all these months and years? Or what would be “Tom returning to form” for you?

All ideas are welcome.

Even the crazy ones.

(post anonymously if you have to, but DO make sure to leave at least one comment!)

P.S. Listen, I know it's 2023, and people don't really comment on blogs anymore. It's likely if this was a TikTok post with me pointing at floating text on the screen while I carefully gyrate my hips to the latest Nicki Minaj track, this would get more views (how couldn't it?)...

...But I believe there's still value in blogging, and there's still a place for long-form content in this world, at least for those of us who can read above a 6th-grade level.

I also believe in the value of being able to have a dialogue outside the policed echo chambers of today's mainstream platform...

Bottom line: I want to hear from you so leave a comment below! Right now!

If you've never commented on any of my blog posts before, make this your first.

And if you're a returning reader; an OG who's been commenting for years -- your feedback is especially important to me and I want to hear from you!

Your words and feedback fuel me, and I’d love some energy moving into the next phase of this journey.

Thanks, and as always: stay frosty.

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85 comments on “Where I've been, where I'm going (2023 Azimuth Check)”

  1. I'd love to hear your latest thoughts on publishing books and providing service to support authors. What has changed since you published your first book or launched Publishers' Empire? What has stayed the same?

  2. Tom!
    You are alive and well. I want to hear from you again!
    A couple of weeks ago out of the clear blue I thought about you, Collaborate (in which you included my endorsement), plus Publishers Empire (does it still exist?).
    My update:
    August 31, 2022 I retired after 40 years of helping top executives in my organization achieve “their goals.” Now it is time for “my Goals!”
    You are not here yet, but I am sure some of your customers have learned to Succeed in Retirement. Can you help me hear from them?

    You have no idea how great it is to read your writings again! Keep it coming.
    Congratulations on your successes. You are fulfilling my endorsement in Collaborate and it makes this old man Happy!
    Bob McCall

    1. Bob, thanks so much for the thoughtful reply. It's great to hear from you!

      Congrats on retirement -- and I look forward to hearing about your success in retirement.

      re: " I am sure some of your customers have learned to Succeed in Retirement. Can you help me hear from them?"

      I love this idea...let me dig into this and see what I can find out + share.

      re: Collaborate -- thanks so much for the kind words.

      I appreciate you Bob. Please stay in touch on this new phase of life!

      1. Thanks for the detailed response, Tom!
        I look forward to what you dig up on business success in retirement.
        Kind words about you are well deserved. Hearing from you again and trying to follow you these many years proves that since I thought you had dropped off the map.

  3. The world of startups is always changing, Tom. That's what makes writing about startups and "how to launch a business" so interesting, endlessly. It's a bottomless pool of content. Commentators need to stay ahead of the curve to refresh their expertise (e.g. AI, Threads, Founders and Mentors). I'm a co-founder of a startup e-commerce marketplace in the pre-launch space – called CrowdMall – which is about to stealth launch in the United States and hopes to contribute to new, disruptive thinking about best practice for bringing products and services to market.

    1. Great feedback Christopher. Thank you for this. Sometimes I feel like a broken record when it comes to some of these topics, but you're right -- the landscape is ever changing, and I think there's value in staying on top of it and covering the latest trends. I'd love to hear more about CrowdMall (and the 'disruptive thinking' you were talking about) -- please keep me posted on your progress.

  4. Pivoting online -- where we e-creators force ourselves to sit and evaluate what initiative are currently important -- is the furthest thing from easy.

    So, first, a kudos to you for putting your vulnerable self out publicly in that regard. (We want sustainable connection to our fans, but often it requires absences in communication when we are juggling new ideas and/or family priorities).

    I think just offering up the nuts and bolts of online wealth building -- well continuing to skip the academics and theory -- will be super valuable for most here on your list.

    Keep on 'keeping on,' as they say. I look forward to more of your updates, posts & emails.

    1. Thanks for the feedback Barry. "Pivoting" -- I agree. It's incredibly hard, and I've now had to do it several times to several 'degrees'...and it never gets easier. But let me put it down and see if there are some useful resources to help with this.

      re: 'vulnerable self' -- I appreciate that. I'm trying to keep it real while providing deep, meaningful content. Not just phony positivity or 'hand wave' solutions.

      re: "nuts and bolts of online wealth building" --> got it. I like this idea. Will let it simmer and more to follow 🙂

  5. Awesome Tom!
    Great to see you doing great and taking risks.
    I would like to see more on how to scale a business as an author.
    e.g. a fiction author that is not interested in the "holy trinity" like books-courses-coaching, but a beginning fiction author still in the traction phase, and before the 1st employee.
    More like a J.K.Rowling I guess?
    Keep up the good work!

    1. Eric, thanks for the message! re: how to scale a business as an author" -- great question (especially how to do it without having to become a coach or create courses, which is, sort of laughably, everybody's solution to it). I will get my brain thinking on this (I work with a lot of fiction authors now and we focus on reader demand generation, so I think I have some good stuff to share with you already...more to follow!)

  6. I've appreciated the solid reliability of your content.

    And the example to check back in with your people even if it's been awhile.

    I'm not exactly your target market, so I have no insightful business type reply to add.

    But I will say you've helped me stretch & learn about a lot of different things that were not on my radar.

    Thanks for all the hours invested!

    1. Thank you Courtney, I appreciate your thoughts. No need for "insightful business" reply, just curious what you would like to see more of (anything goes!). 🙂

      1. My meaning was simply that you’re typically the one that brings the focus and I was drawing a total blank.

        Although I did have something come to mind. Speaking of posting like it’s 2012, are you writing on Threads?

        The name fits as the feed feels like a tangled mess often found at the bottom of my sewing basket.

        So far the value has been reconnecting with people whose thoughts have long resonated, but may have dipped on social for one reason or another.

        It’s highly likely that “I’m doing it wrong” because who has that kind of time to suddenly, engage in July?

        But cracking open the vault and freeing up notes that have never been shared or had no spot has been useful.

        I'd love to hear your early take on it.

        1. great question. i'm ignoring threads for now. feels like periscope or what was the audio chat one that basically went nowhere? i don't know...maybe there's something there. but given that i've been on lots of platforms and seen them grow and die (Google+, etc.)...sometimes i like to be a slow(er) mover on these things. BUT -- now that you've brought it to my attention, i might just check it out and give it a whirl.

  7. Always found your content on writing helpful. I’m not sure if you’ve ever used the term “open loops” before, but you use them a lot in you writing. Content on how to hook readers would be great.

    1. Andrew, thanks so much for the comment. Great feedback. I love open loops and great hooks -- good eyes and good catch. I'm adding 'writing / copywriting / storytelling' to my list of subjects to explore. Cheers!

  8. What does your spiritual development look like during this journey?

    What spiritual challenges have you faced and overcome in this last decade?

    What spiritual challenges do you expect you'll face during the next decade?

    Who are you surrounding yourself on your spiritual journey?

    1. Brian, thanks so much for the feedback. I love these questions. I'm nervous to write about them because I don't want to look like a d... let's say "try hard" -- i think a lot of times that's the 'vibe' given when people write about these things -- yet I think these are the most important questions. And in the last 5 years these questions (and the topic of spiritual development and spiritual journey) have been at the forfront of my mind. I'm going to mull this one over and will see what comes from it. Thank you for sharing 🙂

  9. I really enjoyed this, and I'm looking forward to seeing what you have to offer. I'm a 75 year old artist, and I feel like I'm finally getting to figure out who I am as an artist which has been all over the place my whole (ADHD) life and career. So I'm limited with both energy and time (I'm also a musician, my wife writes and we put out a new CD of original Native American songs every year). Having said all that, I'm not sure how your writing will help/be relevant to me, but based on this blog, I'm curious. I do like your writing style.
    Oh, and yes -- Spyder Webb is my real name. No website since I stopped throwing money away on the last one, but I'll get a new one up before long.

    1. Spyder! Awesome name. Awesome comment. I love the feedback and hope I can deliver (with whatever that ends up being!). Thanks for being a part of the journey 😀

  10. Hi Tom,

    I remember that blog post in 2014! I think I may even have saved it.

    Welcome back!

    Although I am a fine artist who wants to actually make a good living selling his art, I have a soft spot for being a solopreneur, following the likes of Justin Welsh, et al. I would welcome even the most slight tidbit that I can shoehorn into marketing artwork. (I have so many Evernote notes that I could write a book someday; although I am still a work in progress after all these years!) Through the tragedy of losing my wife to COVID in 2021, I pulled a hard reset, and placed my original heart's desire, to be a successful artist, back on the front burner.

    I love writing and self-publishing, but any tips and advice you have would be great for me. I will definitely follow your journey again!

    1. Michael, I'm very sorry for your loss. Thank you for commenting and sharing your thoughts. I'll dig deep on the writing and self publishing front and see if I can pull out something new or thought provoking on the subject. Thank you again for your feedback and for following along on the journey. Good luck with your art, your book (write it!), and everything else!

  11. Thanks for the update Tom 🙂

    It's good to hear success stories and that all your hard work has been paying off.

    Things I'd like to read about would include finding ideas on what to pursue as an income stream for people like me with limited spare time.

    Of course, I enjoy other people's ideas and success as well.

    1. Lisa, thanks for the kind words and the feedback! re "finding ideas on what to pursue as an income stream for people like me with limited spare time." -- yes, this is near and dear to my heart, now that I find myself with extremely limited spare time. When I first started this blog, it was fine to spend a week writing one article...I've had to let that go and be more 'action oriented' now in later life, and just 'ship' as quickly as possible. But I love the feedback and this is a fun subject, so I hope to explore it.

  12. I'd love to hear more about how to grow as a self published author and ur thoughts on whether we need social media to do it. How impactful is IG to generate sales? I'd love to not have to have IG but then that's how I get sales atm 🙈

    I'm also very interested in what u sed about not becoming a cult name. I feel my name is more known than my publishing company (something I didn't plan on or was keen on) and what you sed struck a cord with me, perhaps I should pivot...

    Thanks again for all ur resources btw. I redesigned my entire website based on your advice and I think it's been brilliant. So many more subscribers!

    1. I love it Emma (and great work on the site!). Yes, I'm with you...and re: self publishing + social media...yes, I have some thoughts. Although I try not to say anything on subjects if I have nothing nothing nice/good to say (which is where I'm at with most social media). BUT! We have been testing out ways to turn social media into a 'hub' or 'funnel' -- I'll share that soon, I think (perhaps once I actually practice what I preach with my own social channels, that are basically just the 'book of eli' wastelands right now). More to follow -- thanks again for the feedback!!

  13. I love to hear more about lessons learned on your entrepreneurial journey. I just left a job out of frustration without a plan. Eventually I'll get another job, but I want to then work on building my own business and actually have more time and freedom to do what I love.

    1. Thanks for the comment Marcus. Sometimes I feel like my lessons learned on the entrepreneurial journey is 'don't go this route' considering how painful it can be and that some jobs seem to have better 'payoff' in the short term...yet, i've also been able to work for myself, no boss, work from home for the last 10 years. I set my own schedule, I'm home with the kids, I get to be their teacher for certain subjects (latin, piano, gym/workout etc.), and i can capture 'upside' on projects, meaning random big payouts. Since the grass is always greener from the other side, and having no experience as an employee (since my army days) though, I can say that perhaps I magnify the things that look nice from this side, and downplay the freedom and benefit I get on this side. So if you don't mind living in 'uncertainty' then I would say go the entrepreneurial route, but do it as a side hustle. Do it in your spare time. Do it small, one bit at a time. Then you at least increase optionality while reducing the full risk and exposure of entrepreneurship...but great question. Let me think on it and get you something a bit deeper 🙂

  14. Looking forward the next steps, Tom - your marketing is coming in handy with our new business. A physical asset but there are some things I've been able to pull. For next steps, please do some physical services/ecomm focused marketing suggestions 😀

    1. Donald, thanks for the post. You got it -- I have done some work with physical services and ecomm, so let me look into it...would love to hear more about the pain points and struggles in particular if you get the chance!

    1. Todd, love it. I'm extremely curious about AI and have been using it for several months on different projects. I hope to have some useful case studies soon...but right now, most of it is 'meh' -- but I really think it could go places once integrations across software take off (like being able to get chatgpt or bard or one of the other tools to pull content from google sheets, or recompile info from one document to another...that's where I think the biggest benefit will be, since the generative writing is pretty garbage so far). More to follow on this front for sure.

  15. Tom, You're someone I've learned so much from over the years. Launching my first summit based on your teachings. Growing an audience and community and I'm excited for whats ahead.

    I'd love to hear whats next for you.
    I've thought for years that getting you involved in the investment space, would be a killer place to turn your talents into longer term equity and wealth. But have hesitated to reach out to talk about it. Perhaps this is the time.

    I'd love to hear what you think is the 1 or 2 key things to focus on today - to build a community, a business and grow. I'm curious to hear whats next for you. What you're diving into and what you're getting excited about.

    Typing this, its a reminder that I need to do the same. Perhaps nows my time to start writing more, as I'm sure it would allow me to create better engaging video/audio content which is my current bread/butter.

    Look forward to whats ahead.

    1. Steven, thanks for the comment and the kind words. re: investment space -- would love to hear more of your thoughts. Maybe drop me an email. But yes, I've thought about that...one of the things I've learned over the last 10 years is just the scale and profitability of niches and certain products, etc. I've stayed in publishing b/c I love it, but certainly found way more profit in other projects and activities.

      Re: '1 or 2 key things to focus on today'...yes, lots of thoughts around this, and something we're currently doing. I'll share my thoughts in a future post.

      thanks for the comment Steven!

  16. As a retired USAF captain, I love to see what people can do to build on the Military skills acquired. Like you, I’ve written books and self published. I enjoy hearing about what you’re inspired to write. Because of your summit guide, I was able to do a summit myself (with the help of a VA). Now I’m excited to hear about your next phase and I love that you’re always willing to bring people like me along with you by sharing the “how to” of everything. I look forward to seeing where you’re headed. Best of luck!

    1. Barbara, thank you for the reply! Love connecting with other vets in the online biz space 🙂

      That's awesome to hear (re: summit). I hope it was a big success. And yes, I look forward to creating more 'complete guides' in the future (I've recently done a virtual 3 day conference, I've done dozens, maybe hundreds of webinars at this time...and recently lots of paid workshops...and a lot more...if anything like that piques your interest let me know!).

  17. Hi, Tom. Good to hear from you again! It sounds like you’ve been a busy guy.

    I’m with Eric on wanting to learn about reaching readers for fiction, and I look forward to hearing what you’ve been working on with your fiction-writing clients.

    P.S. I emailed you as Beth. Jaden is my pen name.

    1. Awesome -- thank you Jaden (and yes, saw your email!). Appreciate the feedback; duly noted (and will make sure I get something out on this topic in the future).

  18. Hey Tom, very glad to read something from you. I have always enjoyed, not only what you share but how and why you share. Subject matter is great, but sharing the heart and mind, behind the processes, the ups and downs, wins and losses, you are truly great at exploring and explaining the "joys" of the journey.

    Kim and I have found you and Courtney and family to be loving, real, practical, determined, adaptable and agile which is inspiring and beautiful. Thank you

    1. Michael, it's great to hear from you. Feels like a lifetime ago we got to hang out in Australia! Lots has changed, but a lot more has stayed the same. I'm still trying to keep it as real as ever.

      Appreciate you buddy, thanks for posting -- and I appreciate the encouragement to just share the story, the heart, the mind, and the journey in general. Noted (and inspired).

  19. I'd love to hear about making a brand less personality driven.
    One of my key pieces in this is creating an online community, that can more or less manage itself.
    I'm curious to hear your thoughts on this as well.

    Also, linked to this: where do you draw the line what to give away for free, and what to charge for? I love giving tons of value for free. But sometimes I wonder if I don't value my own ideas/work enough to charge for them.
    (FYI: I'm a vocal coach. I help singers believe in themselves, so they dare to change the world. As singers and as humans.)

    1. Bob, great questions! re: creating a brand that's less personality driven...check. I would love to write about this (something I had to wrestle with and solve over the last few years). And as for creating a community -- I think there's something there too that I can share. Re: what to give away free and what to charge for -- I'm with you. Struggled with that for a LONG time, and defaulted to 'give it away free.' That worked to build an audience, but made me no money. Now I default to the opposite end, but my 'growth' is much more limited (but much more lucrative and fruitful). I will think on this and see if I can codify and share my thoughts on this.

  20. Hi Tom. Wow! What an adventure, eh? So great to hear from you again - the little time we spent exchanging thoughts and ideas has stuck deeply with me and I truly hope that one day, we find a way to either collaborate with each other professionally, or at least, meet in person to give you a big hug. I pretty much love the way you endeavour depth and clarity in all the topics your other commentators have left. As for me, I'm still working with Entrepreneurs and helping them create a meaningful legacy - but now, I've added Genetics, BioHacking, and Shamanic Medecine & Energy work to the suite of optimizations my clients can use to level up their mindset by making sure that their body and soul can fully support their mind and heart. It's passion work for me that makes me forget there's an actual business I also need to run lol - my biggest struggle is probably figuring out how to create from the head something that I experience with the soul, and making it commercial product. <3

    1. Gaia, the feeling is mutual! Would love to collaborate (and have a good feeling it just might!). Love the new focus/angle on genetics / biohacking / energy work...there's so much there, and it feels like something that will be relevant for the forseable future.

      Re: " my biggest struggle is probably figuring out how to create from the head something that I experience with the soul, and making it commercial product" -- I know what you mean. Especially the commercial product part...sometimes it feels like the authentic, genuine stuff has to be really suppressed or neutered to make it commercial / profitable. But I also know that's not always the case, and I've seen people make it happen. Could be a great topic for a new "In The Trenches" episode, so I'll keep my eyes open for some great case studies (and will have to get you on the show when I kick that back into gear later this year).

  21. So glad you are back!!!
    I’ve missed your wit and wisdom.
    I’m particularly interested in how you are currently using AI to build your business. I’m also interested in your thoughts on how AI will impact intellectual property and publishing.

    You’ve been missed… Looking forward to your next chapter.

  22. I have to admit that I’m basically new here but your story is intriguing. I will have to have a look around to get all the back story. I like the way you are honest about the good and the bad. It’s like hearing from a ‘real’ person. Most bloggers, etc, blah blah blah about how great everything is and barely mention anything ’real’. They sound fictional. It’s frustrating. I hate wasting time on ‘fluff’! Thank you for being real.
    By the way this is my first time posting on a blog!🙂

  23. Tom....You are the digital Tony Robbins...always thinking in the "certain way".
    Onward and forward !

  24. Your mention of "exploring new projects and ideas, like how to use an "A.I assistant" jumped out at me. This is the path I pivoted quickly to in December after the launch of ChatGPT. I'm all in learning and sharing how it can benefit solo and small business owners to build and grow their businesses. Would love to hear more about that.

    1. Denise, thanks for the comment. Great feedback and I think there's actually a lot of things we can do with AI if we know what we're getting (and what we're not). More to follow!

  25. Hi Tom, thanks for giving us all an update as well as your history and evolution. Like you, I am in a transition phase having run a nonprofit for 15 years, just published my first book and now trying to figure out where to go from here---after I get all sorts of deferred maintenance on my ranch taken care of. Unlike you, I never made even a living salary doing this and can't afford to hire staff nor have the personality to manage employees, so I applaud you and all you've accomplished. But don't feel sorry for me, I have a very rich abundant life by other measures and incorporate what I learn from you and others into what I do when I can. I've reached a critical mass in terms of resources and waiting for the opportunity to partner with someone who will help me make a real impact in deserving people's lives.

    As far as what I'd like to see you blog about---You are one of those people who observe things and think about them in a deeper, more encompassing way than most. We are living in pretty turbulent times that force many of us to rethink what we are doing. I would enjoy reading your "diary" talking about what you see, what challenges you're facing, how you are dealing with those challenges. I'm sure I will glean new useful insights from you. (For what it's worth, AI creeps me out.) As my old friend learned from his drill sergeant, "Keep marching!"

    1. Sue, thank you for the thoughtful comment. I appreciate you and your feedback is why I want to keep doing what I'm doing. re: "I would enjoy reading your "diary" talking about what you see, what challenges you're facing, how you are dealing with those challenges. I'm sure I will glean new useful insights from you. (For what it's worth, AI creeps me out.) As my old friend learned from his drill sergeant, "Keep marching!"" -- i love this feedback! You got it and more to follow soon 🙂

  26. I agree, there is still a place a a need for blogs & I was happy to see you step back into this format.I keep reading because I appreciate your practical ideas, couched in story and humor.
    Shine on,

  27. Recovering hippie to former military man, thanks for entertaining me with tales of your OCD exploits (similar to mine), and for sharing your insights!

    1. Evan, thanks for the comment. I love it! Part of the reason I write about pay what you want pricing and alternative methods of commerce. But I appreciate it and will see what I can do with this 🙂

  28. Hey, Tom!

    Would love to hear your take (plus/minus) on the different digital platforms for SHARING one’s writing/blogging out there, and which one’s might be better depending upon where you are on the journey.

    With there being so many, it can be difficult to determine where to kind of “plant a flag” and call it “home” as you are sharing and communicating with folks, so would appreciate your insights.

  29. Hi Tom,
    I have buy your "Pay What you want" books and videos and i'm interesting to know How YOU make a Viable business with this mentality and pricing strategy.

    Maybe sharing more about all strategy. Do you use only PWYW product or you combine with another princing offer ?

    Another point, How you federate a TEAM for help your business to growth.
    What's your tips for make a HAPPY TEAM who not only interesting from the moneycheck at the end of month ?

    Friendly from Belgium.

  30. Despite being over my head, or not being that relevant to my day to day, I enjoy your insights, experiences and dedication to any given subject and value that - so am always thankful to read your words, as they always express that. Also, I appreciate that you take the time to respond to emails and care less about regularity and more about quality and the more magnanimous approach ~ keep it up Tom.

  31. Congratulations on all the success and brilliant fails throughout the years! It’s great to read your updates and insights. I always appreciate your writing and perspective. Keep up the good work Tom. I look forward to hearing more.

  32. Tom, Please interview nt bullock of sequential pictures. Find out about his creative endeavors current and past.

  33. Tom, great to hear from you, and Congratulations on your renewed sense of purpose, focus and walking down a pathway that has specific direction for yourself. Thank you for speaking at my summit as you and I bring real content from real-world experience to our authors. I am still in awe of the number of people convincing authors to do so many activities that just don't bring money in the door for them.

    Keep on writing about what works for authors, what doesn't work to bring in their cash flow so they can keep creating their books, spreading their messages of hope and inspiration without having to go into debt to do it!

    I relish you bootstrapping techniques and I enjoy your long form blogs.

    Thank you, keep inspiring us all and let us know how we can support you as well.