Goaded

A character flaw I’ve always had about my life has been how easy it is to goad me into doing something.

My competitive streak can make me chase the matador’s cape unto my own demise.  I can pursue goals – with zeal and vigor – that I don’t even want, that I’m contemptuous of just because I feel the need to prove something to someone else.  Because I need to win.  Because I need to have victory.

It’s an insane character trait.  It kept me pursuing women I didn’t like (to prove I could win), it kept me in real estate for 10 years.

I want people t o think of me in a certain way, and when they don’t, I find myself fighting to correct that.

Ugh.

Confessions of a New Media Hustler, Part 1

sales-letter

One of a bazillion examples of crappy content sites.

The web has turned pro.  And couldn’t be any happier about it.

In 2008, when I showed up in the space, right out of the Mortgage Broker Call Center (and all that that implies) tons of sales letters and other drivel – like you see on the left were actually normal.  There are still the remnants out there, the “Marketing Geyser,” or the “Stomper.Net” types leftover shilling god knows what.

The idea was that you can use services like TweetSpinner and amass a shit ton of traffic that was all more or less indifferent to you, and send them to sites to sell them things. They’d obediently buy.

Not all of ‘em but if you only had 2% of your 12,000 followers…you’d make oodles.

How hard is 2%?

Even though you would never be fooled, we all believe that they are dumber than us.  They are idiots.  We are just a little bit smarter.

So the story goes.

There were oodles of things you could buy, from people claiming that they were the big time.  Information products from $5.00 to $50,000 were to be had.

I saw them all. I studied the landing pages and copy. I saw what they were doing and I called it good.

Ten Steps To Pissing Away What Little Currency You Have!

It used to be – just a couple years ago-  that people could show up online, spout some sort of BS in their WalMart Headset and then suddenly expect to be paid for it all. I knew then that this wasn’t sustainable.

I joked with Keith Baker  that I was just here for the bubble.  This was all during the election between Obama and McCain.  The social media bubble had been in full swing then.  It’s only gotten worse.

This was before Panda, this was when you could apply some SEO superbasics like title tags to an older site and reasonably expect to get into the top of the search engines.  A little linkbuilding was all it would take.  The web was 90% crap. Sturgeon’s Law applied to the remaining 10%.  You could buy,  at a variety of prices,  poorly done e-books (many about writing poorly done ebooks).  You could get pumped up by worthless commentary from late 40′s baby boomers who had the sense to buy a flip cam and spout nonsense onto YouTube.

I was doing it.  What else would I do?  Sell more houses?  Stay a loan officer?  Gawd no.  I made a living.

The whole business of it seemed instantly schemey.  I was in it, doing the Loan Officer Survival Guide, and a series of other content “products” mostly because I saw that the FIRE industry was dead, and people were working from misguided premises.  My plan was to use my “relator knowledge’ to move into a different space.

A whole bunch of people – then and now – still believed in online e-courses, all that.  I still believe, but I wasn’t Kahn academy.  Hell, I wasn’t even Ramit Sethi.

I didn’t love it.  I love selling.  I always love hustling, I always love instigating, creating, causing.  I love making something from nothing.   I love “closing” as a skill and science.   I get a charge from helping people get what they want- and getting paid for it.  Coaching?  Consulting? Coach-sulting? Selling e-books?  Urf.  Not a fun time.

To sustain that stuff, you have to have a quality product, and something you believe in.  If you don’t, you’ll self destruct.

I didn’t want to be an infomarketer, I realized that I didn’t know anything (despite the revolting and omnipresent assurances that I was enough/beautiful/and I was worthy of success).   

People crave real quality. The genuine article.  Not “the appearance of quality,” but the real thing. In a way that you know when you see it that Apple has made a computer, or that Moleskine gives a shit about their notebooks. Or, hell, even that Columbia cares about their pants.

I wasn’t quality.  I was a netbook in an iPad world.

.:.

There’s a scene in Matchstick Men where the Nic Cage charachter- a con artist – says “I didn’t steal their money, they gave it to me.”  What he means is that people everywhere want to believe that the con was true.

People need to believe even preposterous ideas. Full Sail University  will get you into a career in Hollywood.  Or that once you learn Medical Billing from Devry that you’ll be in a fast growing field and set for life.  That an ordinary iPad won’t be better than you at medical billing in a year.

People were worn out.  The were eager and happy to spend their last $900 on some  e-course to help change their career.  They believed.  Once they learned the skills that were easy as 1-2-3, they too would be successful.

They got their credit cards out.

They bought.  From others.  From me.  They bought my courses and others courses.

When there was nothing of substance there, they rarely even got mad at me or anyone else.  Those that did got a refund.  No harm, no foul.

Even the “regulars’ the info-junkies came again and again.  This time it would be different.  This time, the $800 product really would save me from myself…and it wouldn’t be a bitter waste.

.:.

I did my very best.  I deluded myself. Never are those ideas mutually exclusive.

For a time, I thought that I was helping.

Now, before you get mad. What I mean by nothing of substance was this.  My “course” if you would had the same open and structure of the rest of the “courses.”  Those people that would benefit from it can’t be helped.  You’ve seen the course, here are the modules:

  • Register With GoDaddy
  • Sign up for hosting
  • Get your WordPress going.
  • Select your theme.
  • Start writing.
  • Learn SEO
  • Connect
  • Etc.
  • Etc.
  • Etc.

The problem is that the intensity that you have to write can’t be taught, not really.

You’re either online or your not. You either gravitate, share and have a near biological need to do this stuff.  It’s like closing. You can refine the instincts of a good closer. But you can’t teach a noncloser to close, not really.  They have to have a belief and zeal for it.

You either can’t be stopped, or can’t be helped.

Otherwise it doesn’t work.  SEOing your crap about how it’s a “Great Time To Buy or Sell Your House” isn’t going to do you much good.

And if you needed a course from me on this, you weren’t going to execute with passion or aplomb.  If you were going to execute well, you’d find the info and get started.

I knew this, and that’s why I pivoted towards a service business (you’ll have to wait, maybe a long time, for part 2)

Your Profession

I was going through my contacts in BatchBook today to make sure an activity series was assigned to all of ‘em.

I got to this one guy, had no clue who he was.

Googled him.

Learned he was a realtor.

Realized that he couldn’t possibly have any use for my services, and would only waste my time.

What does your profession say about you before you get there?

[edit: i used to be a realtor. I was better at sales but worse at doing business than most]

Cultivate Gratitude

There is no better asset in my life than profound gratitude.

It makes absolutely everything better and easier.

Instead of “Having to invoice” you “get to make money and are happy this is all you have to do.”

Instead of “only getting to eat spinach salads,” you “get to eat at all.”

You get the gist.  And cultivating that has been one of the most joyful things I’ve done.

How To Fix It All

Today, Ryan and writes a post the more or less describes the path I was on.  It’s a fantastic post.  Go read it then come back.  I’ll wait.

People need attention.  Then, we  flail out against others to prove that we matter.  If we’re not getting attention for our actual achievements…Creating waves, drama, outlandish things makes other people pay attention to us. That satisfies the need.

It gives us some control over our world.  If we say something insulting, mean, or make a scene, people have to pay attention to us.

And getting attention this way is far, far easier than doing real work that matters.

I was given over to delusional nonsense.  Full of flail, posture and bluster.

“You don’t know how to deal with a guy like me.”

I wore people out with it. My coworkers got subjected to endless, stupid games of brinksmanship.

Every negotiation was a drag.

My peers were regaled  with plausibly deniable insults – to the point where sane people mostly stopped hanging out with me.

My parents were (are) subjected to nuclear overreactions to itinerant remarks.

All because it was easier to expend energy in delusionland than it is to do real work.

We all need attention.  The best kind comes from achievement.

We dream of that we get  the key to the city in front of our parents and all our doubters.  We hope for some sort of victory lap where everyone meets our gaze and says “yeah, I want to be like him.”

But that’s not happening anytime soon. We’re not going to arrive.

Because the work it takes to do something great is monumental. Monumental work takes monumental commitment, monumental sacrifice and monumental endurance.

Flailing is easier.  Tantrums are far less dreary than pushing your limits.  So any attention will do.

We enter a pattern.  We do a little work.

Unsatisfied with the recognition, we  lash out at people that are working with us.  Blow it up and start anew.

I’ve been there, and fought it for years.

As predictable as it is boring.  It’s boring to hear about, it’s boring to talk about and it’s even more boring to live.  Because you’re deprived of the best ending you could have.  Your life is predictable, cube dwelling and middle class. Boxing yourself in with every eruption.

We tell others of our past glories, the time we almost made it.

The fact that we’re “too honest” to be a good business person, that wee  ”cared about our customers too much,” and “did the right thing.”

Excuses abound.

The way out though is pretty simple.

Simple doesn’t mean easy.

Get over yourself. Whatever it takes.  Any old kludge will do.  Whatever. It. Takes.

Realize that you don’t matter, that you’re controling a rotting bag of flesh, and you have to live with dignity.  Realize that you’ll be dead, that you’ll be a corpse, and you’ll be forgotten.

If that’s true, what’s left than to live with dignity?

Getting over yourself requires work.

Better than therapy is to read fantastic books. Enter the world of the people that have made a mark. Read stuff that couldn’t be written by some 32 year old attention addled narcissist.

We  read about people that made a mark. We learn what they had to do to think like that, to write like that.  What did they have to go through to be able to come up with sentences that perfect, to live a life with that much conviction?

Then…What have we done?  What attention do we deserve?

Probably not a lot.

It’s not this bleak.

It’s changable, fixable.

It just takes work.  And it just requires that we wait a while before we get our reward. And that we adapt to reality – the market won’t be wrong.

For me, I’m given over to tantrums, drama delusion and nonsense quite quickly if I don’t feed my brain.  I have to feel awe, I have to read about amazing people.  Steve Jobs, Malcolm X.  I have to realize that the price they paid is steeper than the price I paid.

It reminds me that I am entitled to nothing. Nothing.  I have to work to earn everything.

I have to repeat that.  A lot.  Because I wander down that path and delude myself.  When I think I’m entitled to something I realize how good I have it, how I deserve a worse fate.

I have to study philosophy, which is why the Meditations has been hand copied by me 6 times.  Anything to avoid where I’ve been.

If I don’t I implode and worse.

If I don’t do this, it’s not a week that I’m crazy again. It’s not a week that I’m floundering and saying something nasty to my partners, clients and vendors.  I’ll implode.

Every damn day it’s a fight, and I gave up hope thinking that someday I’d arrive and it’d get easier. It’s not getting easier.

Envy

I don’t know of any more destructive force than Envy.

I feel it directed at me for the first time in my life, as people in the space I’m moving into are reacting to what I’m doing.

I understand – lucidly – how destructive of a force it is.

Jerks

Everyone is a jerk.  Everyone has rough edges.

Everyone will have some sort of outrage.  Television – and it’s reality shows with cut scenes to people that are reacting to stuff- plays it up.  We are led to react to anything that anyone says, rather than consider ‘are they accurate?”

Thing is, we can leave it all alone.  Leave others to their mistakes.  Ignore the noise.  Ignore the little snarky comments.

Ignore the insults.

I think about Superman a lot.  I loved Superman as a kid.  Someone so tough that he could do anything he wanted.  Bullets bounced off of his chest.  He could simply ignore them.   He was that tough.

Banish Entitlementality.

This is great stuff. I figured out who Charlie Hoehn is. I’d probably add to his list: resist marriage till you’re at least 30 to his list, but this is truly good stuff.

What is needed is more stuff for us paunchy 35 year olds with wives, kids and all that. What’s needed is an expansion of my Shitless stuff. Something that explains the pivot process. Something like what Pam did at Cubicle Nation, but more step-by-step.

The thing is, people don’t realize that they are already dead when they are dead. They think staying dead is the best path.

Soon Enough…

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I’m more centered than I was a week ago. Lots of good is happening around me right now, and I believe that there is more good to come.

One of the things that I have to respect about myself is, at some level, I’m forced to write to hold onto my sanity.

Twitter and Facebook reduce that to blurting. I blurt easily enough, and I can’t rely on the random blurtings between myself and strangers to center myself. When I don’t take the time to think, I become strange and needy.

So, for me that means I have to wake up at 4:45 in the morning. That means that I have to get ahead of this stuff and organize myself so I can produce some quality work.

When I don’t center–and Julia Cameron calls it Morning Pages, I miss deadlines, get behind on projects and over-promise. That puts a toll on: you get fatter, broker, meaner and life has less flavor.

Soon enough, I’ll have the new “replacement” project for GenuineChris up. Soon enough, I’ll be ruling the world with genuinechris.com. It’ll finally happen when its ready.

Not before.

I don’t have it in me to do quality work in the midst of noise.

It’s not really about the tools, but one of the things that I got was a tool called “MacJournal.” I’ve had it before, to be sure, but this time is different: it’s no longer prone to crashing on a whim. Anyway, that might a fit for some of you.  The image below is the workspace, and along with Backdrop, it’s a killer tool, for working.

I’m still planning to renegotiate the way that this site works. I’m hoping to get to it sooner, rather than later. We shall see. I’m not stressed, and I’m not letting it hang over my head.
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Justify

What if we owned our mistakes.   Instead of comparative morality, what if we owned what we did.

What if we said, “I was dead wrong, and I did something I’m ashamed of.”

What if we stopped letting our ego stand in the way of relationships

What if we said, “Look, that was stupid, and there’s no justification or rationale for it, I’m completely sorry, and I have no clue why I did that?”

What if apologies weren’t qualified by what the other person did and we never added a  “but”.

What if we said, “God help me… I hope I never act that way again?”

What if we really admitted–and owned–our mistakes instead of using the cruel, blame-the-victim nopologies, “I’m sorry you’re upset.,” which admit nothing, and which blame the victim for their feelings (while forgiving us our cruelty).

Would we be diminished or enhanced?  Would that show how weak we were or strong?  Would others be more or less likely to engage us?

Gifts

Heather and I recently culled our possessions down to what fits into our mini-van.  We sold all of our furniture on Craig’s List, we got rid of nearly everything that doesn’t fit into our mini-van.

This was the second time in 2 years that we’d gone through a similar exercise.  We moved from a 2,000 square foot place down to an 880 square face.   The time before the motivation was financial.  My whole life was sinking due to the overhead we’d had, and I had to get rid of the ballast that was keeping u s behind.

What I felt when we got down to a smaller place was liberty.  I felt free because I wasn’t ground down in advance each month.  I was able to give up a near six figure income because I had less overhead.  Heather felt a little bit–or a lot–like we were moving backwards.   That’s understandable, but whatever public success we had had was a ruse: we were flat broke, and our eog prevented us from admitting that fact.

Now, as we drive to Oregon for the big move, two years in the making, I think we’ve gotten to where it makes sense: a tightly packed van load of stuff.

Durring both cullings, we had to make some choices about mementos, souvineers and gifts from other people.  It made me rethink what a “gift” is.  Unquestionably,  I want every gift I give to bless people. And unquestionably, the people that gave us different things wanted to bless us.

When you get someone a substantial gift, you obligate them to store, move and care for this object for some long period of time which ends either in death or in a hard decision to pitch or sell the gift you gave them.  You’re simultaneously making them rent storage spaces and accumulate crap over the years.  It is not a deliberate burden.

How then can we show appreciation for others, without causing a balance sheet burden?  How can we give a gift that’s unfettered and not poisoned by the expectation of reciprocity or gratitude?

Self Pity Is Only Possible If You’re Self Absorbed

Every problem in my life has come when I’ve focused on myself, my pleasure, my own gratification, or the feeding of my insatiable ego.  Every boorish comment, every argument I’ve had and every time I’ve taken a lazy, shortcut path to do something it’s been borne of selfishness.  I’m not talking about honoring yourself like Ayn Rand does.  Her Objectivist heroes have integrity and industry, and her version of selfishness is not conventional, and her people are work absorbed, not self absorbed.  They are driven by a mania to produce, and to make more stuff, and there’s an impossible quality that they have.  Ayn’s use of the word selfish is probably a malapropism and it’s designed to provoke, not describe.

I’m talking about ordinary, garden variety selfishness.  Sloth, laziness, the kind that I’ve found in myself.  The desire to be the smart alecky kid in the back of the room.  Trying to elevate Genuine Chris in lieu of helping others get what they want.  Left to my own devices, focusing in on myself, I think I’m pretty great, I think I’ve earned a beautiful wife, two beautiful kids and a bright life.  Left to my own devices, I believe that the world revolves around me, and that I can be demanding of others and require them to meet insane, exacting standards.

The profoundly mediocre results I’ve achieved have been into my own selfishness.  Focus on self makes us do things that are poor, and appreciate nothing.  The more selfish we are, the less gratitude we get to feel.  We believe we’re entitled to more than we are. We expect others to bend to our will, and genuflect to our ability. We perceive threats and slights where they don’t exist because we are myopically focusing inward.

When all you want is more, more more more, you become a slithering reptile, sneaking off to do things that you’re ashamed of.  You become weaker still because you lie to cover up mistakes–or bully people to cover for you.  Getting found out is the new worry.  All the while, your mind justifies you:  you’re not selfish: shouldn’t I have this, shouldn’t I have all of this is the chorus that you hear.

It’s all dissipation, it’s all destruction.   When you think of yourself this way as the center of the world, everything disappoints you.  Instead, focus on what you’re here to give, what you’re here to do for others.  Serve God, do your duty without self aggrandizement.  Trust me: I’ve taken big steps in this direction in the last six months.  I haven’t got all the answers, but relying on pleasure as the rubric for a good life is ultimately empty.

I’m truly happier now than at any time in my life because I’ve got stuff to do, people to serve, and an understanding of my place.  Considering that we are only significant in our ability to serve others, and in our ability to help changes the conversation.  What am I doing to help?  Is it really helpful, or are people putting up with me.  Self pity is only possible if you’re self absorbed.

I Need, I Need.

I sit in Starbucks this morning doing some sort of morning ritual.  I’m late to start the day, and the serious jolt of caffiene that a venti coffee with 2 shots espresso delivers cna shake the rust off of my skull.

I need a change because I’ve had too much screentime lately, and not enough facetime.  I sit and I can hear the people calling in orders over the drive though.  One of the Baristas has her headset around her neck,  so I can hear the sound of people ordering drinks.   It’s tinny, but the sound carries to where I sit.

“I need a no whip peppermint hot chocolate and a oatmeal cookie.”

“I need a latte and some sugar.”

Need.  That word.  Nothing in starbucks rises to the level of need.  I don’t know if they’ve conditioned people to say that they “need” stuff, or if it was just the culture.  I’ve heard it other times, and it’s like nails on chalkboard.  Hearing people “I need,” when it’s a luxury item has confusion.  I hate entitlementality, and I know that the words we think matter.  And when we claim to need stuff that’s not even a need, that isn’t mandatory, it creates a system where we’ll likely feel deprived.

Words matter.  Saying “I need” means something. I don’t know what.