Life lessons

I’m awkward, neurotic and completely introverted. But still, I’ve learned some life lessons on how to run a successful business—in my own way—that’s supported myself and my family for 20 years.

These are a few of the things I’ve learned along the way:

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Anti-social

I first got online in the mid-90s. Back then, we connected with each other using BBS’ and IRC (“Bulletin Board System” and “Internet Relay Chat” for new or non nerds). It was an interesting time, because it was the first time this whole “digital connection” thing could happen. I still remember the first IRC group […]

The problem with thought leadership and the dark side of building expertise

Knowledge and expertise aren’t static. It’s preposterous to think any one person has all the answers… or even 1/50th of the answers. Everyone, regardless of their status as a thought leader or guru or expert, is just trying to get by in this world, just like everyone else.

Do you have what it takes to run a business? (Also: it’s totally cool if you don’t want to.)

Running a business is about choices. You can choose to make less money by saying no to a project or a client or a customer that you don’t think is a good fit for you to work with. You can choose to unplug for 3 months at a time. You can pick what to work on next, and not have that work handed down.

Do what you say you’re going to do

People often ask me for advice on freelancing and my answer is always the same. It may come across as stupid or reductive, but it’s what’s made me stand out a designer, and now as someone who sells products.

Stop trying to find the courage to follow your passion

As if courage and passion are all’s that required, and everything else is a minor detail that will eventually work itself out.

The problem with curated photos on social media

Maybe the next time you take a photo and post it you’ll question your motivations.

Action-based belief

Belief is only the first step to succeeding at something, action must follow. I honestly don’t think successful people are smarter, more driven, or possess some magic skill (from transcendental gnomes) that makes them somehow “better” than other people. I just think successful people assume they’ll succeed and then get to work proving themselves right.

You can’t eat excuses

We all assume that motivation is required for creative work—but I think it’s the opposite: creative work is required for motivation.

What if I’m wrong? A self-guided practice of empathy

Assuming we’re 100% right, 100% of the time is a recipe for never growing, never learning, never changing (for the better).

Motivational quotes are ruining your life

There are few things that incite rage in me like seeing a motivational quote on social media. There’s a few reasons why (other than, obviously, the fact that I’m a crotchety old man in training and get mad at most things on social media).

I put a lot of people off

If you let your ethics and point of view into your brand, you’re going to leave money off the table.

Sorry, your hard work isn’t enough

If some part of your work isn’t… working, then you’ve got to figure out what can be changed or done differently in order to see better results.

The astroturf is always greener

Personal growth happens when we take chances or try new things or see what happens when we turn everything on its head.

Absolutism can absolutely ruin your business

Business is an experiment. If it wasn’t, everyone’s businesses would be profitable all the time. And experimenting implies an outcome is unknown.

The advice gold rush

Write, speak, share. But think about why you’re doing those things. Is it because you want more authority for the sake of authority (or for the sake of higher speaking fees)? Or is it to help others with what you’ve actually learned?

I found your passion

Passion is a fickle flame that burns brightly in one moment and is snuffed out the next.

Screw it

In the end, it’s not about trying to train ourselves to never get mad. That sounds like a recipe for disaster resulting in ripped shirts and green skin…

There is a war going on for your mind

What we can do is act in spite of these negative feelings. We can take those fears, those worries, those doubts and move forward anyway.

I think I’ve lost my mind

Do you ever get a sense of dread or feel overwhelmed when you think about your list of what you need to do within a certain amount of time?

The 1% of a long-lasting career

Wanting a successful career is kind of myopic. Any career will have its highs and lows, times when you feel on top of the world and times when you feel like giving up.

Whose playground are you playing in?

Existing in or building your audience in someone else’s playground should never be your primary strategy.

Does anyone remember laughter?

I get a lot of flack for my humour. Not for how bad it is, but because I use it at all. I’m supposed to be a professional!

No one on the Internet is living the life you think they are.

No one on the Internet is living the life you think they are.

Being successful vs. being known

I know a great number of people (that you’ve obviously never heard of) that have made a fulfilling and lasting career out of being invisible makers.

The one thing every aspiring freelancer, college student or person with access to a time machine should know.

It’s all a balancing act.

Sometimes I hate my guts

My gut is an asshole because he cares. He doesn’t want me to make the wrong decisions, especially when I know they’re wrong and still proceed to choose them.

Our work ego: the good, the bad, the ugly

Egos are a funny thing when we’re working for ourselves and launching our own products.

The complete and logical guide to winning at your own life in 19 super difficult steps

Just like every other human on the planet, I have epically awesome days and days when life just shits on my face.

What if your best work is behind you?

What if all my best writing is behind me? What if last week I finally said everything I had to say about … everything?

A world without advice

What if all advice just stopped existing?

8 out of 10 statistics are completely made up

According to a fake study done by Bloomberg, eight out of 10 small businesses will fail within the first 18 months.

Survivorship Bias and Hungry, Hungry Hippos

When Tim Ferriss or Seth Godin (or insert name of successful person here) write and release a book in a new and different way, of course it’s going to do well. They’re Tim and Seth!

What do you do when the trolls come marching in?

I’ve been called a spammer, a hack, a link-baiter, a self-centered and flippant asshole, and shoddy excuse for a writer who would do better if I stopped putting articles out.

The most useful business advice you’ll ever get from me

The Internet isn’t a meritocracy, where we can just do good work, put it on a website and hope others will find it and buy it.

How to be rich like me

People assume that if they’ve heard of you, you must be raking it in.

100% Proven Tactics

Grow your audience with little to no work!

A (fall out of) love note

Fall out of love with your inner critic immediately. Kill its voice before it kills you.

I don’t live up to my online self

In fact, I come up very short. Online me is a fearless, straight-shooting, awesome(ish) communicator. While nothing about that is an actual lie, it’s not always true. Just like everyone else, I illustrate certain points and let people see part but not all of me.

Push Fear

Fear plays you against yourself. It can’t actually do anything to you, but it makes you think that it’s the biggest, baddest bully in the playground, who’ll slap you down if you stand out enough for fear to notice you.

Crisis of Confidence

Feel like a fraud? Like you’re not good enough? Like what you make isn’t as good as what other’s make?

Don’t ask for the wrong things

There are common things clients of web design ask for in every project. These aren’t always the right things to ask for or even focus on, yet they are almost always brought up. Not because it’s the best thing for a project, but because it’s what clients think they should be asking for.

Copycattery

I’m asked at least once a month by potential clients if I can copy a design of a website for them that’s exactly like X [insert previous client name here] or if they can buy the design for X to use for their website. My answer (obviously “no”) is always the same with the following explanation.

Notification separation anxiety

Less means fewer distractions and more focus (hopefully). Specifically, and what I mean to say by “distractions” in this instance, is notifications.