Shoot First, Aim later.

Quick!  What’s the last thing you’ve done today?

Chances are if you’re reading this, it wasn’t much.   You might be procrastinating right now!

A lot of the complication in beginning a task usually comes with the plan, we generally never really get to that stage.  If you’re a person like I am, that gets easily overwhelmed by looking at the project as a whole, this might lock you in a state of procrastination to keep your mind from thinking about the project as it induces anxiety or fear.it helps to break things down.

It helps to break things down to formulate the plan, but that’s not this is about.  This about the stage before planning, this is about getting started.   The problem with formulating a plan is you need a semblance of what the task might be like.  This is where you shoot.  Without a plan, with nothing more than knowledge of the task needing to be done, shoot.  Do a thing, the first thing.  Don’t write the plan, don’t think about the plan, just do whatever the first step in your head might be.

By shooting first, you’ll begin to immediately grasp the situation and control where your “bullet” (thought/task) is going.   You’ll understand what isn’t helping the project and you’ll be able to adjust the course and aim.

 

 

The Power of Writing

Over the last two weeks I’ve been trying my absolute best to try and blog every single day! From the daily podcasts I’ve been listening to, The Foundation, Entreleadership and The Brian Buffini Show I’ve learned that many successful entrepreneurs develop daily routines that help them maximize their performance. The daily routines vary per person. Some entrepreneurs wake up as early as 3am – 6am and beginning their days with stretching, exercising, reading and writing. The main purpose of getting up this early is to give yourself personal time to work on the things you want to work on before you begin your work day. My perfect routine is to wake up on time which would be 5am, then to stretch for fifteen minutes. After I stretch I’ll eat my breakfast, get a shower and depending on what day (Wednesday, Thursday & Friday) it is, I will go to the gym first thing in the morning for an hour to lift weights. On the days I don’t go to the gym, well I normally relax with my fiancée until it’s time to go to work. But my routine is about to change on the 28th of February. On the days I don’t go to the gym, I’d like to wake up early and spend an hour reading and an hour writing.

Lately I’ve quite fallen in love with writing (typing at the moment but looking to switch to pen and paper). From the interviews I’ve listened to, writing has helped people clear their mind of the thoughts from the previous day. Some days I’ll wake up and my mind feels like it’s cluttered. On those days it’s hard for me to focus, I can’t think clearly and for me it’s like having the worst case of writers block. But since I’ve been blogging the last two weeks and writing, it has helped me out tremendously. It’s helped scrape my mind of the unnecessary bullshit. It’s helped my mind feel fresh just like your mouth feels after using mouth wash. It’s allowed me to actually validate what I actually know in my head. When I write about my past experiences I am able to explain all the processes and lessons I have learned, which in turn means I am able share with others and teach new comers along the way. Writing really helps you validate everything you know, it allows you to talk about it openly and explain it, just like a teacher explains criteria to students. I try my best to write 1,000 words a day, whether it’s for this personal entrepreneur blog or an actual blog post for our Digital Media Agency. Writing gets me in the flow and the more I write the more I tend to be more creative versus days where I don’t write. For me it’s like having a cup of coffee in the morning.

So since I’m writing almost every day, the amount of clarity I have feels unreal. I feel greater than ever and my flow is on point! It gives me more confidence because now I can go and have in depth conversations on what I know. And since I am validating what I know it’s easier for my brain to process things, learn new things and have more focus. My brain doesn’t have to repeatedly question itself on what it thinks it knows and what it actually knows and what it doesn’t know. I’ve already told my brain what it knows now and it allows us to focus on what we don’t know. All the “I think I know” has been scraped from by brain. Which makes more room to go learn new things and builds confidence. I could go and have a conversation with someone about what I know and who knows from that conversation it could spawn various conversations and opportunities all because I am clear on what I know, clear on what I want and clear on where I am trying to go.  Like I said the level of clarity is unreal, it truly helps things “Click” quicker and allows you to connect the dots. It allows you to go and learn what you don’t know so you can get to where you are going.

I think the most important thing besides talking about what you know, is to be able to teach what you know. When you are able to teach what you know, that means you actually know what you are doing and what you’re talking about. You can now go and help others based on the experiences and lessons you’ve learned. Being able to teach means you understand your craft and you can take that knowledge and make a living in many different ways. I strongly believe that when you don’t write daily you don’t have that clarity. You’re not fully aware, you’re just living on autopilot and I’ll admit that I lived that way for a while. Sure that wasn’t always the case, I was able to learn but when I was learning a lot over the last couple of years, I would stop and reflect on everything I’ve learned. When I reflected I honestly couldn’t tell you what I know. I knew I knew it. But I couldn’t explain it. And that made me question myself on what I really know. Sure I was learning but I felt I wasn’t really paying attention because I could not talk about it. I could show you what I know, which was alright. But being able to truly validate and just take the time to think and expand on thoughts is a truly amazing feeling. If you’re ready this, I challenge you to write (Or type) 1,000 words minimum every single day for one month straight! I promise it will help you reach that level of clarity you were looking for! For the longest time I wanted clarity but wasn’t sure how the hell I was going to get it. Writing it like lifting weights but for you mind. It gets my mind relaxed, just like when I lift weights, my body feels relaxed and free of stress.

I submitted my two weeks notice!

Today February 14, 2017 is the day that I submitted my two weeks! A couple weeks ago I had that little bit of nervousness that everyone has when making a big jump. Going from something stable, safe and secure to something completely unknown and bring determination, hard work and positivity with you. Of course I know the direction we’re going and I know what the plan is, but the main thing I need to focus on is being effective and doing as much as possible in the six months that I do have. The most important thing is to have no expectations. I can’t control the outcome but I can control how much hard work I put in.

To some this may seem crazy, scary or too risky. I know my Dad prefers that I set up my business on the side then make a smooth transition over. I strongly believe that it’s about opportunity being present and taking that opportunity to work on something I want to do and strongly believe in. Pete my cousins husband think’s I’m a little drastic but he’s letting me move in with them for six months at the end of February so that has to say something. My mom believes in me and my abilities, she’s always supported me. Marina my fiancée strongly believes in me. For the last eighteen months she has been letting me work on business related projects and held things down while I work on improving myself and skillset. I recently learned that the famous MMA fighter Conor McGregor has the exact same support from his girlfriend and I believe that a woman who believes in you and allows you to work on your self is a woman you should keep for a life time. My best friend Doug constantly reminds me of all our projects and experiences we’ve had together that turned out to be a major success anytime we set our minds to something and gives me the reassurance I need to know we’ll be just fine. My good friend Andrew believes in my capabilities as he’s watched me grow over the years and mature as an adult. And myself? Of course I believe in what I’m doing and I know we will make it. I think everyone has those feelings of uncertainty and nervousness when making any big life decision but I think it’s normal and I think it’s alright to have those feelings.

One thing I’ve learned from Conor McGregor is to stay calm. That’s something I’ve been practicing the last couple of days. Staying calm no matter what the situation is. When you’re nervous, stressed and afraid, it shuts down the front part of your brain that allows you to do all you’re critical thinking. So along as you stay calm you can continue to solve problems. I’m honestly feeling confident. I feel very happy and it feels good. I’m great at what I do don’t get me wrong but I am burned out. I’m not happy with my current job but when I submitted my resignation at 8:41am, it felt fucking amazing. I felt free, I felt the stress of the world lift up off my shoulders. Soon there will be a new beginning and a new start to the next chapter of my life.

June or July or 2016, I had interviewed for a Desktop Support Role in Ballantyne, NC. They were going to pay me $50,000 salary and the job was much easier than what I am doing now. I interviewed twice. Once with the manager and once with the CIO. I killed bother interviews. However somehow the recruiter never got back to me. She wouldn’t answer my calls or my emails. I called the company and left a voicemail and nothing. At the time I was upset. I thought I was out of WSSU. It’s alright though because I kept my head down and went back to work, working on business related projects and continued to learn. Eight months later and I officially submitted my two weeks and things are feeling much better versus back then when I was going to submit my two weeks. This time I have a purpose, I have goals and I have motivation with hard work to back it up. When I listen to podcasts and they say “Oh you need to have this and have that in your life etc.” I have those characteristics and qualities that I did not have eighteen months ago. Everything has finally lined up for me, it’s only a matter of time before we make it. I have a great feeling about everything and to be honest I’m not as nervous as I was, I’m more calm and confident. I’m going to be positive and not have expectation and only control what I can control.

Excuses

Starting this post was a battle in its own.

“Your stories aren’t good enough” sent me on a 30 minute quest to be a better story teller, True, there may be helpful resources out there, but nothing quite as good as practice.

“I’m not focused enough” took me down a 10 minute trip of getting a cup of tea, to get in the writing mood and spirit of penmanship.

Was it necessary?  None of it ever is, the important part is putting the pen to the paper, the fingers to the keyboard, the click to the clack.   In a world where I anticipate everything to be perfect, a master plan laid out before any work begins, it’s not always true.   Maybe that’s tapping into the creative side, do artists spend a lot of time planning before jumping into their work, a question I know not the answer to.

These past few days I’ve been making an effort to be more mindful of one thing in particular: my anger.   It seems that as the day went by, I would find myself chasing a rabbit hole of thoughts and feeding a very angry wolf, ultimately preventing any work from ever beginning.   I would get so worked up about something I would forget what the original thought was entirely.

I enjoy the game Minecraft.  In this game you can, well, mine.   One of the rarer stones to come by is the Diamond Ore, it’s a grey stone with little specks of light blue spattered throughout it.   In the quest for customizing my environment, I decided to make a Minecraft lamp that twinkled in the night.   This process in itself isn’t that hard, you get some wood, make a box, carve out little sqaures for a blue transparency or acrylic that fits in the reciprocating holes and put a light bulb in the center.

On the journey to come to this conclusion, I had convinced myself that I needed an arduino project board.   This is the beginning of a series of excuses that prevented me from starting the project and ultimately leaving me locked in a state of anger, where I sat festering for a time, before I realized I had completely forgotten about the project.

The heart of this problem, excuses.  They are deterrents that will run you down a rabbit hole so deep you can’t even see the light anymore and it got me wondering, how many opportunities in life have I passed up because of an excuse that worked just right?  How many businesses never start because of an excuse in the way ?  (We cant do X because we don’t have Y).

There lies the difference between two types of people, the ones who makes excuses and the ones who get things done.   The ones who make excuses, only have excuses to share.  When triumphant after completing a task, where once there would have been excuses, there are now stories.   They usually start with something such as “Did I ever tell you about a time when?” and a series of events that were in the way of the hero completing their task, but they didn’t stop the hero, no.   The hero prevails.

Be the hero, slay the excuses, tell a story when you’re done.

I can feel spring coming, I can feel change coming.

Hi, my name is Aaron. I am 25 years old, I am engaged, and I have a daughter who just turned 1 years old five days ago. Next week on February the 14th (My anniversary with my fiancee) I will be submitting my two weeks and leaving my full time job with the government that many people would kill for. I will be working full time alongside of my best friend Doug on our start up BeeSocial. BeeSocial is a Digital Media Management Agency. For those who have no idea what that is, we help businesses build their online presence to help people discover them and what they bring to the table. It’s great for businesses who are looking to acquire new customers and generate more sales but I’m not here to pitch that to you today. I’m here to reflect on how the hell I ended up in this unreal bizarre yet beautiful journey.

Today is February the seventh (Happy Birthday Little Sister!) and the weather is absolutely perfect. It’s sixty degrees outside and the sun is oh so warm. I can feel spring in the air and you may wonder how the hell do I know that? I’ve been raised in North Carolina a good twenty years of my life and I know when the seasons change and I can feel it. Not only do I feel spring in the air but I feel change in the air. Change in my life is finally coming. I’ve been waiting so long for change and you may also wonder why I’ve waited so long before making any change. Let me back up for a second. I work at a University and I am part of the help desk (Correction, My Coworker and I ARE THE HELPDESK!). I do a lot of desktop support, trouble shooting and working with Students, Faculty and Staff face to face. It only takes me two to six months to pick up my job and perfect it. When I say perfect it I mean I can analyze the problem and find a solution within a matter of minutes. I also like to make my job as efficient as possible so I have very little work to do. I’ve been here since August of 2015, this September will mark my two years (Too bad I’m submitting my two weeks next week!). Back to the story, Last June / July I got a job offer making more money doing less work for this company. I had two interviews and I absolutely killed it! Somehow the recruiter I was working with stopped returning my calls, my emails and all forms of communication. What turned out to be one day turned into two and then slowly snowballed into months. I was so upset, I really wanted out of this job and I was so close to putting in my two weeks. At this point I was devastated. I had stopped applying for because at this point, most of the job offers were contracts and most of the full time positions wanted to pay me entry level still. I have five years’ experience in Helpdesk / Desktop support ( I know I should have went a different route in IT and yes, it does suck) I had my A+ and Network + certification plus my associates degree and employers still wanted to pay me an entry level salary. It did not make sense. I mean growing up all you hear is go to school, get a job, experience, experience, experience. But apparently experience didn’t mean shit any more.

So around September 2015, Doug and I had made a decision to pick a project, any project and stick with it 100% beginning to end. We decided to start a subscription service selling T shirts with unique artwork on them by undiscovered artists. At the same time I decided to start a motivational Instagram account called MotivationUp. So at this point we had two projects we were working on. One project in hopes of making some kind of money and one project in hopes of watching it grow and evolve into hopefully another cash revenue. Our Subscription service went on until March of 2016. Seven months of Doug and I working full time jobs and coming home to work on our business. Doug worked in IT as well and we both worked 8 am to 5 pm every day then we would come home, eat and work from 6 pm to sometimes 1 am. This went on for seven months and to some it may not sound like not a long time but we literally worked from when we got home to when we went to sleep. We ended up making 2 sales during this time. One sale to a good friend and one sale to an absolute stranger. We grew MotivationUp to 700 followers and then I stopped. I stopped because I lost interest and the subscription service had more of an opportunity to make more money. Around March 2016 Doug had met a guy by the name of Chris and the next thing I know is that we’re working on another start up. It was for fishing analytics. That only lasted a month or two and again things fell through. At this point I had started another business called Rock Solid Stickers. What did I sell this time? You guessed it! (Probably not) Penis Stickers! I don’t care what anyone says I think they are hilarious and I have the best looking penis stickers on the market to date! We paid $250 for 1,000 stickers and ended up breaking even and making $200 plus in profits! I am still proud of this accomplishment! I mean I’m selling a sticker that costs $0.25 for $3.00 apiece. You may be wondering how all this ties together, well I’m getting there so go to the next paragraph!

June 2016 Pokemon Go became the biggest trend if not one of the biggest trends of the year! Everyone was so excited about the new AR app where you pull out your phone and use your camera to spot and capture Pokemon. It was need and definitely nostalgia! I can’t recall how Doug got the idea (Reddit maybe?) but we decided to open up a shopify store and import items from Ali Express and run advertisements via Google, Facebook and Reddit. We threw this all up in the matter of one day, if we had done it right we probably could have made more money and things probably wouldn’t have gotten so messy. I remember our first week open we had sold $900 in revenue! That was absolutely crazy for us seeing as how we weren’t businesses guys. We were just normal guys who were best friends and had jobs in the same field. As you can see we’ve learned quite a bit and started connecting the dots through the year and so. We went from working on a business that turned zero in revenue and profit to starting small businesses that were finally starting to make money. Of course I’m not going 100% in depth with all my experiences and business adventures but I can tell you that things were finally starting to look up for us. I know understand that “overnight success” reference, you know where it can’t happen over it. It takes time and it took us a little under two years which is pretty damn fast, but it’s the fact that it takes time to learn and to go through experience to see what’s working, what’s not working and to see what you actually know.

Fast forward to October 15th I believe. Doug and I had spent a good amount of time familiarizing ourselves with Social media, how to create a brand, how to build an audience, how to push traffic to your website, How to create physical products, How to run ads, How to drop ship, How to start a subscription service etc. We had been talking for a little bit about starting a social media management company and it sounded great, but it didn’t click until this day. We could finally utilize all our skills and start a business helping other businesses manage their social media, create their content, target their audience and generate reports. We decided everything we were working on was going to be put on the back burner and make this our number focus. Why? Because this was the most profitable idea we’ve had and this was what we had been practicing.  At this time I was trying to take of one a week and go to Doug’s house to help get this off the ground. Sometimes I would take off two days a week to go and work on this. Hell I’m not even going to lie, I spent time at my full time job working on whatever I could to get this going. If you’ve started a business before, it’s not really complex. It’s just time consuming and there’s a lot of documentation and what not that needs to be completed before you can start getting customers and convincing them why they need your service. I remember November of 2016 I took off eight days that month! (LOL) we even got familiar with cold calling. Let me remind you we are normal guys who working in the IT field. We didn’t go to school for business, we are not salesmen, but we learned how to create a script, we learned how to pitch and we learned how to cold call. It’s not hard, it’s time consuming and it’s a process. It doesn’t matter how much you read or how much advise you’ve been given, business is one of those things where you have just to go out there and see what you can do. You need to see what you know, what you don’t know, you’ll figure out what you need to learn and its fun. We messed up but thank God it wasn’t anything critical!

So we went from Social media management to Digital Presence management. We not only want to help people manage their social media accounts but their overall digital presence. We’ve learned that it’s good to have a website but it’s better to be everywhere on the internet. You want as much exposure as possible to drive traffic, to get new customers and to make sales. Now back to today. I am so excited to quit my job and work on what I am passionate about. As you can see I’ve been on this crazy journey and it all started with the goal of picking something and sticking to it. I would have never guessed that I would be so blessed to have the opportunity to leave my job that I have got burned out from and start a business with my best friend and work on something that is meaningful and opens up so many doors for us!! I can feel spring coming, I can feel change coming and it is very very exciting and still so very bizarre and unreal to me.

Taking Notes.

Taking notes, in my opinion, is the corner-stone between success and failure.

 

A process can not evolve if you do not know what has changed.

If the only notes that were kept are in your head.

With mental notes, they’re great for a day, but you’ll find that something important will arise and completely erase all the progress you had made.   With adequate notes, you can always pick up right where you left off.

Identifying a great idea, heck, even just an idea and differentiating it from a thought is a subtle skill that will take you far.

What’s the difference?  An idea must be written down.  When read later, it will take you somewhere.  It might incite a series of thoughts or actions that will help you push the ball a little further, day after day.  Communicating an idea to a team-member, or even to yourself, will help incite more progress.    An idea may come in the derivative of “I should plant tulips”  Which can ultimately be chalked up to an actionary ” Buy Tulips.

A thought will have no direct bearing on your progress.  Thoughts can float away seamlessly.   A thought may be something like “That tulip is beautiful.”

There’s a very subtle difference between the two and often one leads to the other.

Being able to take notes on your ideas and incorporating the thoughts in a meaningful manner is a skill well-learned.    Let’s take the Tulip example one step forward.  It was first the thought:  “Tulips are beautiful.”  This lead to the idea ” I should buy Tulips”  and you can record it in your notebook as such.

“Buy Tulips.   Tulips may help improve the environment and improve the flow of creativity.”

Now that the idea and thought are safely recorded, you can forget it about.    This is where the next critical part of note taking comes in.  Note-reading.

It’s important to have one database or repository for your notes.  Returning day in and day out to both harverst old ideas and return fresh content.   You will be able to store resources you learn along your journey, maybe where the cheapest Tulips are, the best time to plant tulips.

When diving into new topics, you can brainstorm in your notebook and create a comprehensive resource for yourself (or others) so you won’t need to revisit it.

Where can I buy tulips?

When should I plant tulips?

Which tulips are hardiest?

By taking the time to research the items later, you can leave the answer directly in your notes, with a link to the reference websites for more details.   This guarantees at a later date, after the information has been long purged from your brain, you can quickly digest the information and in a matter of moments be thrust back to the height of all the progress you’ve previously made without having to do the hours of research again.

Trading Hours for Dollars

Trading Hours for Dollars.
It’s a common tactic, it’s the most common of all for pretty much everyone.  It’s typically referred to as “getting a job.”

There’s a flaw with this, in that you’re not only sacrificing your hours for a few dollars.   You end up sacrificing your thoughts, your spirit, your soul.  The greater things that you have inside that just can’t be accounted for by any monetary figure.   If you stay at it too long, you’ll find yourself empty.

It’s one of the things you don’t realize is happening, but after a year, two years, three years, maybe forty, you look back and think “where did all the time go?”  You might find yourself surrounded with more luxurious items, adorned with fancy clothes and jewelry but completely void of all the spirit and heart that you started the journey with .

It’s not always this way, it’s not a universal truth or necessary evil of all jobs, no.   It is, however, the common experience for many.    There are a few methods to get around it.

You can start your own business, this is very demanding, often more so then having a job.  There is a key difference though, it’s a constant learning experience and period of self-discovery where you must ask yourself important questions to make decisions for the better of the business.  They’re not always the right decisions and that’s okay, life’s not always right, but often you’ll find everything is okay.

Though it may take up all your time, you’ll find yourself awake with more energy, excited to get more work done, to get to that next e-mail, call that next client, make that next doo-dad, whatever it is you’ve done to find yourself self-employed and call yourself the boss, it’s exciting, it’s invigorating, at times down-right terrifying, but definitely worth it.

You could ultimately get a career in a field that you’re passionate about, I find a lot of struggle in this and I imagine most might as you must know what your passionate about.  Some people have it cut and dry and know from day one exactly what they’re in love, but most of us don’t.   Again, this comes with the journey of self-discovery that we all must make.

So the question you really have to ask yourself when you get out of bed to trade your hours for dollars in the morning, isn’t “how much is my time worth?”  It’s how much of your soul are you willing to give away and never get back.