ask a question

i’m curious what challenges, setbacks, and struggle you are facing. as entrepreneurial folk, we’re often ambling in the dark with no handbook or map. the best thing we can do is try and try again, but i’d like to see if teaming up and working together can clarify the next steps of our ventures.

so, what’s up? what questions do you have for us at the orbit? we interview creative professionals every week, so odds are if we can’t answer your question, at the very least we’ll know where to look. submit your inquiries via this typeform here. no e-mail required, just your name, your locale, and your question. thanks in advance, and i look forward to seeing what you’ve got for us!

finding time

finding time to do the thing you love is incredibly difficult. a lot of us simply don’t have a lot of time to spare, and we end up buying books, getting gadgets, and asking for advice for ways to get more time.

time, like money, is a resource. and i’ve learned that we can get more time if we pay attention to the time that we already have.

in ramit sethi’s book i will teach you to be rich, he claims that people don’t actually want to be rich. they want to feel rich, which means being able to spend money guilt-free on the things you enjoy. buddhist thich nhat hanh tells a similar story in his book the miracle of mindfulness. he tells a parable of a man who spends time at his job, with his kids, and running errands and doesn’t have any time for himself. but, at one point he learns that all this time is actually his time.

This kind of perspective shift frees us – if you don’t have time, what are you doing with the time you already have? How can you reframe your day so that you can properly use the time that’s already given to you?

you’re already good at something

a lot of us are trying to learn a new skill set: programming, budgeting, waking up on time, drinking water. even as we are expanding our capabilities, i think it’s important to remember that there are some things you are already good at.

for a long time i wanted to be like my friends and become a software developer. it was really difficult trying to teach myself code, so i took some courses and went to meetups and interviewed folks i knew to ask them the best way to go about learning to program. then i realized that i had a skillset that others didn’t have: networking. using my social skills, i gathered a lot of information about writing javascript, freelance work, and the struggles of going at it alone. this led me to found my company, the orbit.

never forget that you likely were born with a superpower. it could be assembling ikea furniture, or making a tube of toothpaste last a really long time. but you never have to start from scratch with your skills, you build upon the ones you already have.

get sophisticated clients

i was lucky enough to talk to a media consultant this past week. she makes a living studying the impact of social media campaigns for businesses, which is something that i am very interested in. i asked her a ton of questions about her career journey, and in return she asked me a lot of questions about my own business ventures.

today, i’m thinking about one of the things she told me in our meeting: “get sophisticated clients.” “are you interested in doing innovative things?” “yes, of course,” i replied. “well, that means you can’t waste your time with companies that aren’t interested in innovation. you need to find clients who are looking for cutting edge stuff, especially if you are providing cutting edge stuff.”

previously, i had been spending time working with small businesses and teaching them how to run their social media campaigns. this was all fine and dandy, but many of them were uninterested in social media as a whole, along with anything that was different from what they were already doing. “this is not going to help you in the long term, because the kind of work you will be doing will be a little bit basic,” my new friend told me. so, currently, i’m taking this to heart and continuing my search for “my people”, the tech-savvy folks who are looking to become better managers.

i changed my day job

this week, i had my last shift at a day job that required a lot of mental energy. i got another gig, and though i haven’t started yet, i am hoping it will free up some cognitive space for me to hunker down and work on my passion projects.

this was a difficult decision. job X was stable but demanded a lot of time off the clock. job Y is less glamorous, but will pay roughly the same and will have a varied schedule. however, i can say with certainty that i am relieved to close one chapter of my life and open up a new door.

i spent the afternoon after my last shift in seattle’s cal anderson park. i stared at the clouds and closed my eyes, and just enjoyed being in this temporary limbo between gigs. i learned a shitload at job X, including how to sell to a particular client, how to work with manufacturers, and how to maintain a standard of excellence on a day to day basis.

it was an exhausting journey, but i know i will bring everything i learned at job X to each new project i take on.

what is information for?

there is too much information out there, far too much than we need on a day to day basis. i used to want to be the smartest person alive, but i realized that this didn’t make sense. even if i knew everything, would i use that information to get through my day? maybe, maybe not. more likely not.

joi ito presents the idea of pulling informational resources as you need them rather than stocking up and saving them. this makes sense – i don’t need to memorize the directions to a new restaurant, i can pull up that information on my phone. i don’t have to remember all my friends’ phone numbers, i get them as i need them.

i like to think of information, especially the information in books, in the same way i think about food: i eat enough of it to get me from one place to another. not only does this minimize the amount of reading and research i have to do, it also narrows its scope in a good way: “what do i need to learn today to get me to the next step of my grand plan?” Each informational “meal” provides us with cognitive energy to figure out the problems in front of us, and eventually we just have it all stored in our bones through repeated use and practice.

good job

“productivity” sucks, because the culture around it encourages us to maximize what we produce without encouraging us to take care of ourselves. look around you: so many self-help books, articles, videos and podcasts exist just to remind us that we are worth something.

i have a small e-mail folder called “good job”. it’s where i put the e-mails that highlight work that i am proud of. sometimes its kudos from a co-worker. other times it is a newsletter that i wrote that turned out really well. my “good job” folder helps me get in the habit of praising and rewarding myself every once in a while.