I have a sickness. A never-ending quest for better and better headphones.
The latest addition to my collection are the JBL Everest Elite 750s. My regular-guy review is here. For music listening, they’re B+ or A-. For phone calls, especially when wired and speaking into the inline mic … they’re the best. Period.
My brother and I will be attending (and hopefully I get picked) The Moth in Ann Arbor on December 18th. Gotta come up with a story about “joy.”
Yes. I’m going to become a story-teller. Why not? It doesn’t matter that I’m 45-years-old. I’m still living out my promise to myself, and my promise to the spirit of my friend Matt, that I won’t waste another day.
Like, I’m getting emails from kids at Michigan State who saw my lecture a few weeks ago and they’re asking for advice. I’m not about to tell any of them, even the 23-year-old who said, “I feel like I’m running out of time,” that they should take chances and have adventures and then I sit home and wish I would’ve written stories, told stories, and wrote a book, but now I’m “out of time.” If I, at 45, told a 65-year-old how I’m feeling, he’d probably punch me (that’s what that generation did …punched and tweaked ears).
Today’s Blog post is brought to you by “listening.” Listen to your heart. Listen to me. Listen to quality headphones.
I’m not the only guy on the planet obsessed with Podcasts. It’s entirely possible that I spend, at a minimum, listening to 10-hours worth each week. It’s also possible I’m lying about that number so when my wife, boss, or Dad reads this they don’t realize I’m probably pushing 20-hours a week. 20-hours a week listening to Podcasts.
This is where I would list all my Podcast subscriptions (Drew & Mike Podcast = 10 hours, Up First = 1.25 hours, Fareed Zakaria GPS = 1 hour, PTI = 2.5 hours, The Tim Ferriss Show = 1 hour, UMD Newman Catholic Campus = .5 hours, View from the Cheapseats = 1 hour, and many, many more that I subscribe to and listen to if I like the guest).
What a waste of time, right? Some? Yes. Total waste of time. But I like inspirational, instructive, and interesting Podcasts, too …like Hidden Brain, the Jocko Podcast, and Fat-Burning Man, to name a few.
Today I want to share two Podcasts that might’ve changed the direction of my creative life. Yes, I like to think I have my regular life, and my creative life. I like to think, and I told my life-coach this very thing – I’m at my best when I’m being creative. I like to write. I like to turn a story into a presentation or eulogy. I have for a long time. I thought, maybe, at one point in my life I could be a stand-up comic. Then I tried improv theater. I’ve spoken to businesses at grand openings, to a class at MSU, to my church, to the parents at my school, and I liked doing it and people said they liked listening to me.
So what? What do I do with that.
This week, I liked the topic on the Art of Manliness Podcast. The guest was Matthew Dicks and the episode title was “How to Tell Better Stories.” It might be the exact right thing I needed to hear at the exact right time in my life when I’m grieving and dealing with a mid-life crisis of sorts. Some of you might know I lost one of my best friends, very suddenly, in October 2018. He was 47. He was out for a run, ya know, like doctors say we should do to stay healthy. Cardio. It’s supposed to be good for us. His heart didn’t allow him to finish his run.
This guy, Matthew Dicks? He tells stories. That’s it. Someone told him, years ago, he should share his stories. He did. It went well. And three books, many awards, many episodes of a Podcast, a wife, two kids, and many stories later, that’s what he does. And he’s very, very good. I’m not even saying, “I want to be the next Matthew Dicks.” I’m just saying, hey, I have stories and I want to try this.
I bought his book, Storyworthy. I’ve been reading it like I’m on death row (I don’t know what people do on deathrow, truth be told, but I would read books like crazy… and eat Double Stuff Oreos with milk for every meal). I’ve identified a few storytelling events I’ll be attending.
All those Podcasts sometimes feel like a waste of time. All this Blogging over all these years might all be for nothing. Then again, if we spend some time filling our ears and brain with good ideas, inspirational people, and listening to stories, maybe – just maybe – we can write our own.
Here’s Matthew. This. Is. So. Good.
Say good-bye to Kaleidoscopic Raygun as you know it.
And get ready for a Blog that will act as my creative portfolio, a resource for my clients, a landing page for my writing, and pretty much “my brand” (or “Brand Don”).
Earlier this week I had the good fortune to be invited by Professor Karl Gude to guest-lecture at his super-cool Media Sandbox. It’s a HUGE class with 500 enrolled students and I would guess 400 of them were in attendance to watch me speak. I spoke for about 40-minutes and then answered about 15-minutes worth of questions which included me singing a commercial jingle I had written at one point in my career, and telling two of the jokes I could remember from my stand-up act from 14 years ago. I hope the horrible singing and the un-funny stand-up material didn’t detract from what I thought was a somewhat interesting lecture.
The lecture was on evolving media with an emphasis on journalism, I talked at length about radio, and then I tried to mix in some life lessons about making bold moves and realizing that sometimes a “bold move” can be nothing more than showing up or introducing yourself to someone.
After my lecture, some students came up to me and asked me questions about my job, about switching careers, and someone asked me, “how can I make my Blog blow up.” I gave out all sorts of advice. Some pretty good advice, I might add. But …then I drove for an hour and half back home and the entire time I was thinking, hey, ya know …I don’t actually take my own advice.
This is not just me saying it. This is my friend Nick G., this is my friend Dave A., and my friend Word (that’s what we call him). This is everyone saying I should “do this” or “do that” and my mind hasn’t ever really believed “this” or “that” was realistic or was anything more than a fantasy.
That is not what I told the 400 kids at MSU on Tuesday, November 13th. Nope. I told them “dream big” and “make bold moves” and for a Blog to “blow up” it needed to have daily posts about one thing and should be supported with an active Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, Tumblr, and email blasts. Every Blog, I said, should be a Podcast, even if that Podcast was simply on SoundCloud.
I was channeling my inner-Gary Vaynerchuk. But I’ve never actually done the things I was telling these kids to do.
Chances are, you know what you want to do and you might even know what you should do to make it happen, but you’re not.
Follow me on my journey, OK. Or take the steps with me.
Step 1 …make my Blog more than just a collection of funny posts about coffee and my amazing hair.
What’s your Step-1?
Do ya ever get into a rut? Wake up. Start the day. Maybe you nailed your good morning routine. Maybe you didn’t and hit the snooze alarm, but you did get the stuff done you absolutely had to get done, like make breakfast for your kids. Shower. Get dressed. Drive your kids to school. Drive to work. Start working. But maybe, like me, you skipped the other parts. For me, the “other parts” are wake-up at 4:55 a.m. (preceded by a 10:00 p.m. bedtime the night before), guzzle 500 mLs of water, take a half-hour power-walk, arrive home at 5:30 a.m. Make a cuppa coffee. Write. Plan the day. And by 6:15 a.m. I will have done the “me stuff” because 6:15 a.m. until 7:30 a.m. is family time. Breakfasts. Clean kitchen. Empty dishwasher. Drive ’em to school.
Too often, though, I know I’ve got this vast safety net of time and I simply hit-the-snooze until 6:15 a.m. I call that my “last chance” moment. Or as my friend and coach, Nick G. says, “is that a ‘must-do’ or a ‘should-do’? Do your actions show you believe the things are a ‘must-do’, or only a dream? And if it isn’t a ‘must-do’, why isn’t it?”
You get it, right? If sleep through my morning walk, excess water, a few moments of prayer and writing, nobody cares. Nobody is hurt. But if I just decided at 6:15 a.m. that, screw it, I’m gonna sleep until 8 o’clock, my kids would get out of bed and have to make their own breakfast. The dishwasher wouldn’t get emptied. My wife would have to do it all …breakfast, pack lunches, take the dog out, make sure everyone is packed up for school, quickly drop the older two at school and then get our youngest daughter to school and get herself to work. I’d miss out on family time and the morning chit-chat about what their days have in-store, I wouldn’t actually have any influence on their healthy breakfast, and my wife would be crazed and probably resent my laziness and selfishness for just sleeping through it all.
So you see …getting going at 6:15 a.m. is a must-do.
But first I gotta admit it – I haven’t been doing the things needed to get anywhere near my dreams.
I admit it – I waste alotta time. I know it. And shame on me for that.
A month ago, I lost one of my best friends very suddenly and way-too-soon. He was 47-years-old. He was in great health and had recently started running again and hitting personal bests. He had an amazing job, more friends than I’ll ever have, a beautiful family, and in an instant, while out for a run, he was gone. Out for a run. Exercising. Just like we all should be doing and our doctors tell us to do.
Chances are you’ve lost someone too soon. My sorrow and grieving isn’t different than anyone else who lost a spouse, sibling, or child way before their time. We all kinda have expectations when we sign the contract on our lives, or our marriages, or when we have kids. We’re supposed to work, get to see all the milestone moments, retire, dance at our children’s weddings and then, if we’re lucky, get to hold some grandchildren. That’s the deal. That’s how it works. Or at least that’s how it’s supposed to work.
When someone, like my friend Matt, is ripped out of our lives and the contract he signed is ripped up and can’t be renegotiated, we all head to the funerals and are very sad and says its tragic, but we also say, “that could be me.”
If you want to read about how extraordinary my friend Matt was, please, take 15-minutes and read this.
Then. Stop hitting the snooze bar. Stop watching mindless TV at night (another tip from Nick G.), and use your time (the first “T” in Matt’s success formula). Start doing things as if your “wanna-do” and “should-do” become as “must-do” as things like raising your children and going to work.
Easier said than done, but I’m going to do it and, as is my way, will Blog about the journey. Don’t worry. I’m still gonna Blog about coffee and headphones and my other obsessions. I still wanna be fun and funny. But I’m going to make daily and weekly progress and stop wasting time.
About two years ago I replaced all butter, vegetable oil, and canola oil with ghee, olive oil and coconut oil. With that triple-play move I assumed I’d solved my cholesterol, Alzheimers, and heart disease issues.
Or did I?
I replaced my peanut butter with almond butter. I replaced my milk with almond milk. I take a daily multivitamin. I added a salmon oil supplement. Started sprinkling cinnamon in my smoothies. Started exercising. I replaced my mayonnaise with an avocado mayonnaise product.
Yesterday my wife said, “I just read something from the American Heart Association that coconut oil is the worst.”
“Coconut oil is 82 percent saturated fat, and studies show it raises LDL “bad” cholesterol as much as butter, beef fat or palm oil. Canola oil, on the other hand, has only 7 percent saturated fat.”
Next I’ll probably hear my essential oils cause skin cancer and that my salt lamp will make me blind.
I like popcorn popped with coconut oil. I think ghee (aka clarified butter) makes my scrambled eggs taste better. A dab of coconut oil massaged onto my beard before shaving, and then another dab on my neck after shaving and a shower, has finally cured my lifelong battle with razor burn and post-shave acne.
Talk about “fake news”.
*sigh* I know the truth. I wasn’t looking to coconut oil to help me live forever. But I did read it made for the best stove popped popcorn, and it does. I read coconut oil has MCT and is good for the brain. I like the smell. I use exactly a teaspoon daily. I also know excess butter, ghee, canola, or vegetable oil is not as good as not using it at all. Just like I know if I was a vegetarian I’d be healthier than I am as a guy that eats cheeseburgers, steaks, ribs, and bacon.
All in moderation, right?
An expert quoted in the articles probably says it best…
“It’s a moderation thing. People don’t want to face reality when it comes to their own dieting, their own health. They want to believe in wishful thinking. … But thinking you can have unlimited amounts of one particular thing and everything will disappear is not based on reality.”
I wrote this Blog post for my wife.
When I was younger, I thought IZOD was a pretty good brand. So when I was at Kohl’s shopping for some wrinkle-free microfiber wash-n-wear no-iron dress pants that could, as they say, go from the boardroom to the bar, I thought these Izod golf pants looked like dress slacks but could stretch and be washed and be inexpensive and make me look dressed up. I thought, hey, these would go well with a shirt, tie, and blazer or with a polo-style shirt.
From day-1, my wife has looked at me in them and frumpled her face and says, “I’m just not so sure about those.”
I really do think I’m fooling everyone, but am I? Or are people looking at me and saying, “why is that guy wearing golf pants to work?”
Should I care? In a world where Account Executives wear jeans and logo-Ts to work on days when they don’t have appointments or presentations, or when everyone wears chinos and jeans, should it matter?
This is where our P.C. society (and my current lack of co-workers) fails me. In the old days, if someone dared show up making a bold fashion statement, and it was obviously a failure, co-workers would point it out. If I showed up to work in a white half turtle-neck and blazer, I’d be helped by co-workers all saying, “what the hell is that you’re wearing?” And it would be the last day for that turtle-neck/blazer look. If someone wore a blue shirt with a white collar, he should rightfully be mocked and immediately retire that 80s/90s look.
Hence, here I am confidently sitting my Black IZOD Swingflex Stretch Performance Golf Pants from Kohl’s and I believe in my heart I look like I’m wearing wool-blend dress pants …but what if I don’t?
These are the things that stress me out on my commute each day.
As a high-performing, type-A person, I like to tell people, “I get more moles and abnormalities removed before 9am than most people do all day.” I think the Army or Marines used to use that catchy slogan.
Yup. Hate to brag, but a couple spots on my back were deemed, “suspicious,” and my Dermatologist removed them this morning. One needed two stitches. One needed only a band-aid. I’m not worried (OK …well maybe a little until 10 days from now when the labs come back …and when I have to ask my wife to attend to the dressing of my wounds …hot bedroom stuff, right?). I’m primarily of Eastern European descent and don’t really burn while out in the sun. And because I don’t “burn”, in my youth, I didn’t wear sunscreen at all. And I had a pool in my backyard as a kid. I was born in 1973 so I spent my childhood and teen years in a pool and employed the following sunbathing regimen.
My days were spent in the pool, then laying on the patio “tanning” and then probably riding my bike shirtless, playing kickball shirtless, eating lunch outside shirtless, and pretty much just browning myself constantly like a S’more. As I got older, I got smarter. I learned a perfect tan doesn’t just happen …you gotta make it happen. So I used many bottles of Hawaiian Tropic Deep Tanning Oil (SPF 4) or simply straight up Johnson & Johnson Baby Oil. Can you believe that might be coming back to haunt me? Notice Hawaiian Tropic used the word “oil” instead of “lotion” or “sun block.”
Could I sue them?
Full disclosure, I didn’t use anything over SPF 8 until my late 20s. People who’ve met me since think I’m a dork with pale skin who can’t tan …trust me …I can tan with the best of the best, but I’ve chosen an alternate path. I’ve chosen a wide-brimmed sunhat (an expensive hat from Peter Grimm, if you must know) and, more recently, swim shirts.
Yes. Swim shirts. I just bought my fourth …a dark blue Speedo …to add another color along with my all-black Champion swim shirt, and my Hunter brand swim shirt. Yes. They’re all long sleeve and, yes, I look completely lame but after the events of this past month which included a biopsy, two mole removals, and a frowny/concerned face from my dermatologist, I don’t care that I’m the embodiment of Jim Gaffigan’s “long sleeve swim shirt” bit (see below).
I don’t even look all that fat in it. Hooray!
What’s my point? Well …I’m as vain as anyone …I promise you. I’m so vain, in fact, I just switched from Kiehl’s Facial Fuel and Eye Fuel products to Rodan + Fields Multifunction Eye Cream and Redefine Triple Defense. I like when people gasp when I say I’m “45 years old.” Maybe they’re just being nice, but maybe they aren’t, and maybe my detailed, daily, vanity-inspired skin care routine is part of it. Either way, I love when they can’t believe I’m 45 and that I have three kids, two of whom are teenagers.
What I don’t long for is anyone saying, “wow, you have an amazing tan.”
Go ahead. Laugh at me. Or …join me. If you want to know where to get a badass swim shirt, or you need my friend P.H.’s contact info to order your own Rodan + Fields, leave a comment or email me.
I haven’t posted anything in a month since I turned 45. I’m not having a mid-life crisis or anything (I actually went through that already when I turned 40). Nope. I’m enjoying life and now I’m working on ideas and things to make my next 45 years totes amazing.
OK. Now. Like I said. Laugh and get started with Jim Gaffigan.
Another glorious I Love Don Week is in the books and while I only got a few things off my ultimate wish-list, it was the surprises that delighted. But truly, if you meant to buy me something, don’t be embarrassed if you send me a belated gift, card, or call the hotline. What? A hotline?
Yes, my 45th birthday featured the Don’s Birthday Hotline debut …call (231) 660-1491 TODAY because a belated birthday greeting is sometimes better than a day-of greeting (and I’m curious why nobody ever sends a pre-dated birthday greeting …like, no one ever calls a day early).
The Hotline was a BIG HIT …I got EIGHTEEN messages. Some sang in chorus with others, some shared their favorite Don Memory, and some just stumbled over their words because THEY COULD NOT BELIEVE I HAD A HOTLINE.
As always, for those who don’t know me, I do it to be funny. In this world where so many people are worried about the everyone-gets-a-trophy world, and nobody-loses, and Millenials with their helicopter parents, and where old-schoolers lament the look-at-me, center-of-the-universe social media culture where EVERYONE thinks they’re important and that happiness and self-worth is defined by Likes, Follows, and Comments …well, many say it’s a bad thing. I say it’s a GREAT thing. I would move back in with my parents if I could …who wouldn’t!!!???!!!
Anyway, it’s all for fun AND because I have this writing and a content-creation thing I do on the side, it’s all an experiment, as well. I got a call from someone I never, ever, never expected would call the Don’s Birthday Hotline (the caller is 100% not a silly person) and so my experiment and theories and hypotheses all need to be refigured because, when I tell the brands and clients I coach about social media, what I’m telling them might need to be updated.
One more time, my updated wish-list is below. Don’t think because only a few things are crossed off that I didn’t have a kick ass I Love Don Week. My wife made my favorite dinner on Tuesday. We had Big Chief burgers at Duggan’s Irish Pub last night (with dessert). I got an emergency filling on one of my molars. Eighteen people called the hotline. I’m going to see Weezer this Friday. I had a beer yesterday afternoon with an old friend and watched some World Cup soccer. My wife and I had a wonderful date-night.
Life is too short not to have fun if you’re lucky enough to wake up in the morning with good health and your loved ones around you. Last weekend a former co-worker died in a car accident (early 50s). I texted an old friend this morning and she said she hasn’t worked in 4 weeks, just started more chemo, and she’s struggling. Another friend shared how she’s having a hard time dealing with a mother-of-four who passed away unexpectedly (a young mom).
*** Please pray for J.S., S.L., and for J.P.’s soul. ***
This morning, my 11-year-old daughter is off to a commercial shoot. Yes. She’ll be in a TV commercial if things go right and I told her, “go into this production with the JOY you do everything with.” It’s great to be 11-years-old. She smiles when she dances 14 hours a week. She smiles when she does flips in the backyard. She smiles when she plays piano. She smiles when she plays soccer. Joy. Joy. Joy.
Yesterday and for the entire week leading up to my birthday, I just tried to be joyful and fun and positive. I’m certain I annoy the shit out of some people, but mostly I want to be joyful and share my joy and if I did that for even one person, I win again.
Phew. That got deep. Back to narcissism and stroking my ego. My wishlist and then Weezer’s best song ever …”The Greatest Man That Ever Lived” which is my theme song (and the video is hella good).
Love you all.
Finally. I’ve challenged myself a few times in my life, but this is something I’ve feared and procrastinated about for years. My procrastination might be going on a decade. In previous posts I’ve mentioned I want to take all the eulogies, wedding toasts, and speeches I’ve given, compile them into a book, and leave it as an heirloom for my kids. Maybe some cousins will enjoy the collection. Maybe a few friends might like it. But my nagging self-doubt says they will all humor me, say they like my stories and speeches and tell me how glad they are I did this, but the minute I’m out of earshot they’ll say, “Don is nuts. Why does he think we care about any of this?”
Is it this difficult for everyone? Yes. I’ve been asked dozens of times to write and deliver eulogies, but I tell myself they’re only asking because they think I’ll have my feelings hurt if I wasn’t asked. Yes. People thank me after each eulogy for being able to take the stories and memories and tell a story they wish they could. But I think everyone who’s ever given a eulogy gets told these same things.
However, reader and friend N.G., and my biggest critic (and biggest cheerleader and supporter) K.K., both told me to stop over-thinking and just do it.
This is me just doing it. I’m going to list my self-criticism and then, below that, is the eulogy …15 years later.
Thank you to the dozens of you who check-in to my Blog every now and then and if you’re a family member, I hope you were able to smile remembering my Grandpa.
Before you roll your eyes, you might wonder, “why does Don do this stupid I Love Don Week?” The answers might suprise you.
But if #1 and #2 are the main reasons, well, here’s my list again and a little “Welcome to I Love Don Week” video greeting.
We’re officially TWELVE DAYS away from the start of I Love Don Week 2018. Can you believe it?!?!?!? Only twelve shopping days. And now, for the official announcement.
That’s all I got for now but that should get you started.