Information or Confirmation?

logo2I start every day with the Darren Daily. He’s a guru/life coach and I take everything free he gives me. And if I had some extra scratch, I would quite likely take one of his courses.

This morning, he talks about how we consume information. He makes the case that we like information more as confirmation of what we already think more than we like to actually learn and be informed.

Who isn’t guilty of that? He points out the way you consume news (Fox or MSNBC, New York Times or Drudge Report) is proof of this. Believe it or not, I have a theory that you need to watch Sean Hannity and listen to Rush Limbaugh, and then watch Rachel Maddow and Stephen Colbert, then read articles in various publications and only then can you find the middle, the truth, and form your own opinion.

Gasp. I have my own opinion? Well, I try.

Darren’s lesson, however, wasn’t political. It was about our work, personal, and spiritual life.  For me, I need to apply it to my work life.

Very soon I will celebrate 20 years in radio advertising sales. I’m an “old dog”, yet I want to learn “new tricks”. I desperately want to work with the energy, optimism, and open-mindedness of a guy (or gal) just breaking into the business. I want my mind to be free of the “we’ve never done it that way ” or “you can’t do it that way” mentality that creates roadblocks before I even try.

A guy on the staff “cold called” via Facebook Messenger and landed a great big account. Before he did that I would probably have said everything is about seed-letters (by mail) and cold-calls (using an actual phone).

But good lord! It’s 2017. A “cold call” is an old term. It’s more philosophical than literal. If someone gets a random email, or Facebook Message, or LinkedIn message, or Tweet, or we connect on SnapChat and I start telling him about what I do for a living and how I might be able to help his biz …it’s still “cold”. And think about it …someone pointed out we all hate getting phone calls because we …dont’ …have …time.

That “we hate phone calls” concept came from Gary Vaynerchuck as did this…

Gary Vaynerchuk, another guru type guy, has a podcast and last week (listen here) he addressed “sales” and scolded his audience for having dozens of extra ways to “cold call”, prospect, and make sales and yet when he asked for a show of hands from the audience on who’s using LinkedIn, Twitter, SnapChat, YouTube and other connecting apps and networks, he laughed at the lack of raised hands.

“Do you know how many of you have a point-of-view on what Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook can do for your business and you’ve never used the fuckin’ product?”  -Gary Vaynerchuk

In my day-to-day worklife, it’s time I, too, embrace change and seek out information that is less confirmation and more instigation, aggitation, and frustration. Only then will I grow. I will shake up my own comfort-zone to eliminate complacency and a victim mentality.

Send me a Snap or Instagram DM. Please. Together let’s get outta our old-timer comfort zones.

Snapchat: donkowalewski

 

 

 

Beginning Again

I’ve let some things slide. I don’t make and sell my Donnie Jalapeno Salsa, anymore. It’s the best salsa that anyone has ever made, anywhere, and I owe the world my salsa (did that sound dirty?).

I don’t write, anymore. I used to write for myself, for @spunkybean.com, for clients, and other random stuff. I wrote random articles on a variety of topics through a site looking for website content. I wrote two books. Two. Books. Dammit. I’m not the best writer in the world, but if you give me an hour, I’ll churn something out.

I miss the “old me” who would get home from bowling on a Thursday night and then make 30 or 40 containers of salsa and sell it all weekend. It gave me some nice walking-around cash. I miss creating and telling stories.

I think my happiness level would increase if I got back to doing some of these other things.

Oh, and I used to run 5Ks and train for triathlons. Really. I did stuff like that. Now, I do nothing like that.

Sure. I coach two of my children’s soccer teams, and the three kids and their activities keep me busier than I was 4 or 5 years ago, but I still feel like I’m making excuses when I don’t do my “side hustle.”

What’s a “side hustle?” It’s something the great Gary Vaynerchuk talks about when you have a full time job and a dream. The “dream” is your “side hustle.” He also has great thoughts about actual “hustle.”  I can’t find his definitive blog post on “side hustle”, but essentially it’s respecting that 8:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m., but your “side hustle” is that passion project you do from 5:00 p.m. until midnight when you can’t go on another minute, and then you go to sleep for 6.5 hours, wake up, and start the “hustle” over again.

So? The question for myself, and maybe you, is what is that thing you always dreamed about?

For me, it’s . . .

  1. Write my memoir (don’t laugh, it’s actually more than a memoir)
  2. Establish a Donnie Jalapeno business model
  3. Write again for money

Now. How to fit that into my world. Give me #44 days.

Fear, Loathing, Hesitation, and Whining

I’m not a firefighter.

I’m not a cop.

I’m not serving in our military and I’m not deployed to a war zone.

I’m not a tight-rope walker.

Why do I bring this up?

I listened to Tim Ferriss’s recent Podcast titled, “How to Overcome Fear – Lessons from Firefighter and Luger, Caroline Paul,” and something really struck me . . . my “fear” is not real fear. Do you “fear” things that, truly, shouldn’t invoke fear and the natural biological reactions that usually accompany a dangerous situation? I remember one time, when my first-born was really small, I was out for a walk pushing her in a rickety stroller, and a stray pit-bull approached us. This thing didn’t look like it was doing well – it was trotting, but limping, and sat down. Then got up and started walking, again. It came right up and started sniffing my daughter and I tried to spin the stroller around and put myself between the dog and my 1-year-old. The pit-bull didn’t like this and my quick movements made it angry. The pit-bull stopped and barked. I grabbed my daughter out of her safety buckles and lifted her over my shoulder. She started crying. She was afraid. I was afraid. Dogs, I’ve been told, sense fear. The dog got excited because, now, the toy (my daughter) or meal (again, my daughter) it wanted was being taken away, and was making noise, and I was making quick, jerky, defensive movements. I tried to remain calm, fully aware that acting and being excited would be seen as aggressive. The dog started jumping on me. Kinda playfully. But kinda aggressive. Pit-bulls are full of muscle and strength. I spotted a fenced-in yard about a hundred feet away. I began slowly walking towards this yard with my daughter on my shoulder (still crying …the dog definitely startled her), and leaving the stroller in the road. The dog started barking more and more (I think it was barking, “give me the baby and no harm will come to you, old man …and I’ll only eat one leg …I promise.”) It was walking and barking a few feet behind me. My plan was to throw my daughter over the fence and then jumped the fence, myself, in hopes the standard chain link fence would be tall enough to foil the dog’s pursuit. The dog’s barking turned to angrier snarling as I got to the fence and moved my crying daughter from my shoulder gently to the ground in this stranger’s yard. Snarling. Barking. Then it was my turn to hop the fence and when I quickly (quick movements don’t keep a dog calm) jumped onto the fence to throw myself over, the pit-bull saw this as aggression and bit my leg and jumped at the fence. His jaws didn’t lock. He loosened his grip to try for another chomp and because I was falling over the fence, my leg went flying and I fell over (almost on top of my daughter sitting on the ground crying). The dog was angry. Barking. Snarling. Jumping on the fence. I grabbed my daughter and went to this stranger’s back porch to catch my breath and calm down and . . . and I really don’t know what else. If that dog had jumped the fence, these people weren’t home, and I was trapped in their yard. Luckily, the dog ran back and forth along the fence. Barking. Jumping on the fence. Then it ran quickly around the perimeter (smart fuckin’ dog) trying to find an opening or get a better view, but the fence was enough. I knocked a few times on the homeowner’s door wall (or sliding glass door for those not from Michigan), but they weren’t home. I calmed my crying daughter and pulled up a chair at their patio set.

And waited. 

The pit-bull eventually got bored and slowly walked away. When it was out of site, and was out of site for 5-minutes, I hopped the fence. Got the stroller and put my daughter in it. And then I very, very (very) quickly got the two of us home. Quite an adrenaline rush. Quite a lot of fear. Quite a feeling of helplessness.

Quick aside to dog-lovers and tough-guys . . . you can judge me for being afraid, but I was. This dog was big, had no collar, and was aggressive. Sure, some of you would’ve probably knelt down in non-threatening way and calmed the dog. Fair enough. But I was scared and had read and heard enough stories about stray pit-bulls mauling small children and old men, so I wasn’t going to channel my inner-Crocodile Hunter.

What’s the point of all of this? Well, sometimes I’ll sit and wonder why I’m “scared to make a tough phone call” and I think I’m not alone. If I was alone, and crazy about every-day bullshit “fear”, there wouldn’t be hundreds of articles about overcoming fear of public speaking, cold-calling, dating, opening a business, writing a book, or dozens of other things (my favorite …”fear of failure.”).

An angry pit-bull made me scared. But today, I’m going to start differentiating real terror and the anxiety that comes with it (like knocking on the door of a drug dealer’s house with a gun drawn like a police officer) and being slightly-uncomfortable about a conversation, phone-call, or project.

 

Always Searching for the Next Perfect Breakfast

My breakfast is usually the following:

  • 1/2 cup warm water
  • 1 tsp Macca powder
  • 1 tsp Chia seeds
  • 1 scoop Green Vibrance
  • 1 tbl spoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tbl spoon melted coconut oil
  • 1 tbl spoon melted grass fed Kerrygold butter

And I use it to wash down 200mg magnesium tablet and a baby aspirin. And then I enjoy a cuppa coffee.

Is it balanced? Does it lack protein? Does it taste good?

Other days, I’ll have an egg and diced spinach (and sometimes some lean turkey sausage).

But I’ll try this granola dust – soon.

American Ninja Worrier?

I’m worried about 2015. In many ways, 2014 was my best year, ever. But I’m worried …what if I look back some day and say, “wow, 2014 was the peak? That was as good as I’ve ever been and will ever be?”

I’m really, really good at worrying. I didn’t worry about much for most of my life. I always just kinda thought, “hey, things will work out …they always do.” Then I started worrying about stuff (“stuff” I shouldn’t worry about) half way through 2013 and in 2014, I took my worrying to the next level, man! Worrying so much it effected my sleep and eating and day to day performance.

My 2015 resolution will be to change “worrying” into “warrioring” (not a word, I know). I talk a big game, but my “game” could actually benefit from better game-planning and definitely execution. And when I say “warrioring” (that word I invented), I truly mean fighting a battle. A battle against my fear. A battle against my lack of confidence in certain situations. A battle against my procrastinating. A battle against my feelings of unworthiness.

Over this last week I’ve been watching American Ninja Warrior. For the most part, this is a boring show. If you’re not familiar with it, it’s a buncha really physically fit dudes running through an impossibly difficult obstacle course. Over and over and over, contestant after contestant after contestant, but they’re always competing to head to Vegas, and from there they might head to Japan to compete and as far as I can tell, no American has ever completed Japan’s Ninja obstacle course. Trust me …it’s fun to watch for about a 1/2-hour, but after that, it’s pretty much the same thing on repeat. Don’t ask why I ended up watching it for 4 days straight and logged about 20 hours of viewing.

But I did manage to get something out of this show. The human body is capable of some pretty amazing things. And I was blessed with a fairly healthy body …which is truly a gift …and I don’t really take care of this body. Or my mind. And sometimes my soul.

While driving home after a nice long weekend, my kids and my wife and I saw the Power Ball and Mega Millions highway billboards indicating the jackpots were at $170-million and $100-million and we all started telling what we’d do and buy if we had all that money.

One of my kids said, “I’m going to pray we win that.”

It’s OK. She’s a kid and it’s my job to explain we don’t “pray” to God for a lottery jackpot. We pray for help and guidance and enlightenment. We pray (or meditate, or reflect, or philosophize …if theism isn’t your thing, it’s OK) that we can know ourselves and realize we have what we need to get what we need, and sometimes what we want. And we should realize true enlightenment and “getting what we want” should come with the benefit of helping other people and/or making the world a better place.

Like, if I won $170-million, I told my kids I could quit my job, but only to take another job working for a charity or volunteer organization and I’d be able to work 8, 10, or 12 hour days changing the world. I’m not sure they understood what I was saying, exactly.

After the “what I’d do if I won the lottery” conversation, I went back to driving and everyone went back to their books and electronic devices and I started thinking …wait. I’ve already won the lottery. And I win it again every day when I wake up and my lungs fill with air (not always the case for me) and I get to hug and kiss my kids and wife. I have a roof over my head. I eat food every day and drink clean water (Seth Godin had a really good blog sorta related to this). I have access to medication and doctors and that’s because I had two great parents that worked hard so I would have access to everything I needed and who explained and showed me the importance of an education and hard work and how to have a healthy, happy marriage and relationships and friendships.

What does this have to do with American Ninja Warrior? Well, American Ninja Warrior shows what the human body can do when it’s pushed to it’s limits. My body sometimes only succeeds in showing what a stomach is capable of when pushed to its limits (meaning I eat alot, too much, and to extremes).

We can talk about what we’d do “if we won the lottery” or “if I was 10 years younger” or “if I was taller” or “if I didn’t have kids and a mortgage” but the truth is, we can daydream about what we would and could do if this was this and that was that, but if we’re not already doing everything we can with what we’ve been given, we’re lying to ourselves about how great life would be with $170-million in the bank.

I want to spend the next 6 months training as if I’ll be auditioning for American Ninja Warrior.

I want to spend the next 6 months writing as if I’ll be on American Author Warrior and working at my job like there’s a show called America’s Best Sales Warrior … and I’m going to win.

I may never get the chance to count $170-million in my bank account, but I need to take the time and count my blessings daily …because that’s the jackpot I’ve already won.

In 2015 I’m going to commit to “worrying” less and turning that negative energy into more positive energy. And I’m going to make a t-shirt that says, “What? Me warriory?” Who’s with me and would you buy that shirt?

Goal-setting for 2015

I think something might be wrong with me because when I look ahead to 2015, one of my big goals is to organize my names, phone numbers, mailing addresses, and email addresses. I guess you’d call that “my Contacts.”

Yup. That’s my “big goal.” It’s exciting times in the world of Don Kowalewski.

It’s about getting organized. It’s about re-connecting with people and taking control. And, yes, I’m starting with my Contacts.

See …I have Outlook at work. I enter names and contacts in Outlook and mostly they show up on my phone. But sometimes they don’t. And when I meet people and enter names and numbers on my phone, they sometimes show up in my Contacts in Outlook. But what I’m going to do … seriously, I can sense how excited you are …I’ll use Yahoo! Contacts as my main entry point because I’ve run some experiments and it’s pretty good. If I enter a name and address there, it shows up unduplicated in both my iPhone and iPad. Doesn’t show up in my Outlook desktop, but that’s OK. It’s rare I’m not living-on and working from my phone.

Oh, and for your Google maniacs? Yes. I tried. And it didn’t sync as smoothly.

Why is this my goal? Well, because in our annual Christmas card mailing, with my job changes, I realized I lost many, many addresses. In the last 15 months of transition, I’ve lost contact with many, many friends. And I don’t like myself as much when I turn into a recluse. And, yes, I’ve also considered the fact that none of these people have called me which means either (a) they are in the same boat as me and are busy or lost my # or (b) don’t like me.

But I’m also not going to sit around worrying about who doesn’t like me. Because I like them. And that’s what matters. My old friend Pete came to Michigan twice, and I didn’t even pick up the phone and call him and say I’m sorry I was going to miss him this time around. My other great friend Matt …well, I haven’t talked with him in a year and a half. Shit. I haven’t called my cousin Scott about his big move and promotion or my li’l-brother-from another-mother, Nick, to thank him for guidance and counsel over these past 15 months.

I guess you could say my goal is to start a habit. Start a habit of calling people when I think about them. And this all goes back to my idea that God and angels whisper in our ears all the time, but we don’t always listen. We think we’re going to see a burning bush or the sky is going to open up and the voice of God will thunder down. But what if God just sends angels to whisper little things like, “call your old boss.” Or, “write a quick blog entry.” Or, “tell your Dad you love him.”

Has a random thought or person ever jumped into your head? Ever wonder why it jumped in there? Ever thought maybe an angel whispered it in your ear and you should do something about it?

Note: An angel might’ve just whispered the Knight Rider theme song in my ear, which means sometimes random thoughts are just random thoughts, or some angels are pranksters or really pushing me to think deep.

Focusing on and organizing my Contacts seems frivolous and small. But from a small goal, who knows, maybe big things will happen. Like …I want to lose 10 pounds in 2015. I could do it by mid-January by drinking a million gallons of water, eliminating all carbs, and doing some P90X. But couldn’t I also do it by forcing myself, twice a day, to take my dog for a 30-minute walk and skip snacks in the evening? Two daily walks and skipping snacks is small, minor stuff. But if I do it, by the end of 2015 I’ll have walked for 3,650 hours (exercise, activity, fresh air, healthy dog) and at a typical average walking pace, I’ll have walked 12,000 miles.

I hope I did that math correctly (3.5mph x 3,650 hours).

I’m going to connect and reconnect with more people. I’m going to organize my Contacts. I’m going to have a great 2015.

Follow me at @donkowalewski and tell me what you’re doing. #OneSmallThing

Oh, and put this in your head, today. You won’t regret it.

Things I Will Do: Have Faith

Roy Williams, The Wizard of AdsAs I mentioned yesterday, this past weekend I decided to pick-up Scott Westerman‘s The Spartan Life 2 and read it again. But this time …really read it. And then blog about it. Why? It goes back to that old adage that you should think about a thing, then write it down, and then revisit it again and again. There’s some crazy high percentage that says people who write things down, their goals, dreams, etc …are much more likely to achieve those things.

Another favorite of mine is anything written by Roy Williams, aka The Wizard of Ads. His Monday Morning Memo “blog entry” (even though I think he shuns the idea of a ‘blog’) from this week mentioned “faith.” It’s like someone is trying to tell me something.

Have faith. Be faithful. Trust in faith.

This probably breaks some sort of blogging law, but I could’ve truly copied/pasted Roy Williams’s entire Monday Morning Memo, from yesterday.

Faith is the substance of things hoped for. Happy endings are made of it.

Faith is the evidence of things not seen. It is proof of the invisible.

Hope is optimistic expectation.

Faith is hope with its sleeves rolled up.

Faith is hope wearing working gloves.

Faith is hope yanking the ripcord of a chainsaw.

Faith is hope with a hammer in its hand.

Faith speaks of that which is not yet as though it already were.

Faith requires commitment.

Faith requires commitment and commitment is a choice. It’s not something that arises within you like courage. It’s not something that comes upon you like fear. Commitment is simply a choice.

Isn’t that beautiful?

That word …”faith” was also a main theme in the opening chapters of Scott’s book. And he was quick to point out, “faith” doesn’t necessarily mean religion, but he says “faith” is the most powerful version of belief – I’m paraphrasing him a bit, or maybe I’m telling you how I interpreted his words.

Belief in self. Belief in ones gifts. Belief in ones own voice. Belief, as Seth Godin often calls it, in ones “art” – that thing we do and we love doing it.

I had faith 2013 was going to be an adventure – and it was. Now, I have faith, with the lessons learned in 2013, I will make 2014 a great year. The best year of my life.

I’ll tweet about my best year, and I hope you’ll Tweet at me and mention me as you create your best year ever and I have faith that you will. Oh, I’m on Twitter at @donkowalewski.

Hit it, Mr. Joel!!!