When things don’t go as you expect…..

This blog has been quiet for a while. It’s not that I didn’t want to write, it’s more that I really didn’t know what to say. I’ve just needed some time to process through all the things that have happened over the past few months.

For those of your interested, here are some of the highlights of my last few months.

  • I split with the company I had previously been working at and launched my own digital strategy firm. It’s called Analytive. Our goal is to help make brands and companies as good online as they are offline.
  • I got my first paying customer for Mixcademy. There’s still a lot of work ahead on this project, but I’ve learned so much and can’t wait to see where it goes!
  • This week, I accepted a contract teaching position at Fort Collins Digital Workshop where I’ll get to teach Adobe Premiere, After Effects, Google Analytics, and a Microsoft Excel to local and regional business leaders
  • Within the past few months, I went to California to spend some time with Tanner and Cory. My amazing dad, Tanner, and a handful of other friends also came and stayed with me up in Estes Park for a week. It was great to just check out of reality for a week and rest. I also realized I’m generally terrible at resting. And I’m unhealthily competitive. 🙂

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. There’s so much good and not-quite-as-good stuff that has happened in the past few months that to write an entire blog post on it would be overwhelming.

However, here are some really valuable lessons that I’ve learned along the way.

Find what you love, then make it work:

I’m happier now than I’ve been in months. You see, I’ve finally found what I LOVE doing. And it’s not marketing per se. It’s working for myself and with my partners. Every other time in my life, I’d had somebody telling me exactly what to do. There were clear directions, goals, and to-do lists. And I worked well in that system. But I really hated it. Getting approval for everything I had to do, spending endless hours in meetings that didn’t need to happen, and all the other bureaucracy that comes with companies just wore me down.

I was miserable. And I didn’t understand how miserable I was until I got out from under it.

For me, finding what I loved wasn’t about finding that one thing that I wanted to do. Some people know what that is. I had no idea. In a sense, I still have no idea. What gets me up in the morning is the competition, the vision, the passion to help my clients and my businesses succeed. That’s what drives me.

So for me, what I “love to do” is far more abstract than I imaged it would be. I always thought I’d find that one thing I loved to do. Maybe it was play music, write code, write, make videos, or whatever. The truth is, I like all of those things. What I love to do is help other people. It just so happens that marketing is where I have a very strong skillset and success rate. And working for myself gives me the greatest bandwidth and opportunities to help others. There’s no longer a 9-to-5. I have the freedom to do what works best when it works best.

And on this journey there’s no guarantee that I will succeed. I believe that I will, but that is still to be determined.

Invest in others:

The other beauty of working on your own is that you can help people without someone telling you to stop. In a big company, there are extreme limits on what services you can provide for free or a reduced rate. “We can only do this if they are willing to pay $x,xxx” was something I heard over and over. And to run a successful business, that is necessary. But sometimes just giving someone a hand really pays off. Teaching someone how to do something can change the way they think and will benefit them in the future.

On top of that, people trust you if they believe you have their best interests at heart. In my companies, I desperately want my clients to succeed. Of course I want to make money at it, but I always want it to be a win-win. If clients feel that I’ve “taken them for a ride”, that’s a huge failure on my part.

Do I always work for free? No way! I have no problem making people pay me if they have the money, and it’ll be a benefit to them. But sometimes the best thing is just to help out.

Here’s what Zig Ziglar has to say about that:

“You will get all you want in life if you help enough other people get what they want.”

I’ve found that this is the best way to do business.

Learning isn’t about skills, it’s about changing your mindset:

In school, I was taught skills. I learned how to create balance sheets, write business plans, and other semi-useful skills. But I believe anyone can learn that. The people who I’ve met who are most successful have a different outlook on life. Rather learning a shortcut to save a few minutes, they try to learn things that change the way they see the world.

In the past two years, I’ve read more books than I read in the rest of my life combined. And virtually none of them were textbooks (sorry AU). Textbooks teach you things to memorize. The best books teach you how to think.

What you think will make you happy won’t:

Finally, the biggest lesson that I’ve learned is that the things you think will make you happy won’t. Getting a job, making money, and being in a romantic relationship are all wonderful things, but if that’s where your hope and happiness live, you’ll never be happy. Let me rephrase that: Those will never provide you with real joy.

About six months ago, Bob Goff came into town and I snuck backstage to talk with him for 10 minutes. He said a lot that really stuck with me, but one of the most impact things he said was:

“I used to be afraid that I wouldn’t make enough money; now I’m afraid I won’t make enough difference.”

Money is a resource. I’m still learning to acquire it and manage it well, but ultimately I want to make a difference in my family, my church, my community, and the world. This was ultimately the challenge with working for someone else. I was stuck just existing. For me, that wasn’t enough. I needed to be free to make a difference when the opportunities presented themselves.

Final thoughts:

This post is a little disjointed, and I apologize for that. As this is my personal blog sometimes you just get my personal thoughts, (mostly) unfiltered and raw. I’m on a way different journey that I’ve even been on before. I’m excited for the opportunities ahead, and I’d lie if I said I’m never nervous. But I wouldn’t trade what I’ve learned in the past few months for anything. And there’s already some wonderful things on the horizon I’m excited to see begin.

May God direct your steps as he’s always been directing mine. And may we both learn what it means to live life to the fullest in Jesus.