ask

“how did I get an interview with kurt cobain? I ASKED.”

nardwuar the human serviette is an eccentric radio personality known for hosting incredible interviews with musicians. he is loved for his quirks, his personality, and in-depth research/preparation for his interviews. his subjects are often surprised at how much he knows.

in his ted talk, nardwuar tells us the secret to how get got as many great interview subjects as he did: he asked.

sahil lavignia is the ceo of gumroad, a kind of commerce platform for the indie creator. his twitter (and gumroad’s twitter) is full of encouragement. you’ll find that both accounts root for the underdog on a daily basis, because it’s the underdog who needs that extra push the most.

me? i’m encouraging you to ask. ask for help, as for your next gig, ask someone you admire for a pointer in the right direction. you don’t necessarily have to go at the entire journey alone.

why do i live in an expensive city?

seattle is not cheap. lunch, on average, costs $15 downtown. coffee costs $4. rent is a whole ‘nother story. i make it work, but it takes a extra amount of effort to get by. it means that i have to be smart, scrappy, and always on the hunt for a better opportunity.

and, thank god, the city is full of opportunity. living in seattle has connected me with incredible friends, cool communities, and great stories. the pressure has pushed me to learn a lot as quickly as possible. i live in an expensive city because it offers all the things that get my brain going.

i expressed my concern about seattle’s cost of living to a friend, who told me “the reason i came here is for opportunity. coming from a smaller town, i know that there is not a lot there for me. that’s why i am here.”

sometimes i feel tempted to move to a smaller town, but for now seattle is checking all my boxes. i get discouraged, but every once in a while the city throws me a bone, and it’s just enough to make be believe that i’m making all the right moves to secure a meaningful career in the long term.

let’s talk

writing doesn’t pay very much, but we do it anyway. art doesn’t pay very much, but we do it anyway. some people get lucky, some people don’t. it appears to boil down to a combination of skill and chance in terms of who gets to make art for a living. i don’t think this needs to be the case, especially now that each of us with an internet connection has the potential to reach the entire world.

i run a podcast/video series that you may know about, and my goal is to figure out what people are doing right. i want so badly to get paid to do the thing i love – to write and to help creative folks make money. but this means i have to first learn how to make money for myself. that means having my day job. that means doing a lot of unpaid prep work.

it is disheartening and i don’t know when this will end, if it ever does. but i hold on to the hope that it will pay off. and my research suggests it just might. and the best i can do in the meantime is to try my best, and to take care of myself in the process.

invent your job

we are living in a world of accelerating change. technology, careers, and strategies become obsolete at an alarming rate. if you want to be marketable, you have to be creative. the jobs of the future don’t exist yet, and its up to you to figure out what these jobs are.

this week i interviewed moji, a woman who created her own title as a environmental sustainability consultant. she told me that a lot of her job was education – she had to explain to clients what she did and why it was important. it’s an emerging field and more and more companies will experience pressure to become environmentally conscious, and moji saw that she could help.

for you, i’m sure you’ve noticed gaps in the market. if you see an opportunity to try something that might benefit a friend, a business, or a community, it’s possible you might be inventing a career for yourself. test it out, and see if you’re right.

websites – who really needs them?

i have a vendetta against the personal website. i have one (it’s not this one) and i’m ready to get rid of it. i am told, for a business, you need to have a website. my question: do you really?

like, i understand for websites that sell products. you want to go to the site to investigate the brand, the products, and possibly purchase. but for many other folks, you visit the website once and never again. the page i go to the most is the company’s “about” page and then maybe their “pricing”. i rarely read their blogs or any of the body content on the site. maybe i’m alone in this, but i have a hunch i’m not.

considering my squarespace costs $18/mo and it does very little in terms of connecting me with an audience, i am planning to retire it. if anything, i am paying $18/mo for faux credibility. “oh he has a website, he must be legit” says the imaginary voice in my head. this is indeed a fantasy. you don’t need a website to be legit. you do, however, need an internet presence. and this can be done FOR FREE on facebook and instagram. you can even have a low cost blog (like this one) which yields much more engagement than a static site that serves as a $18/mo business card.

maybe one day i’ll hit the scale that i can afford a website. but as i am experimenting and trying to find out my niche, my customer base, and my services, i am not going to pay a recurring fee for a billboard that does nothing for me.

toys and patience

i had a good weekend! interviewed seattle toymakers marnin-saylor, which will be up on youtube and podcast soon. what struck me about them is that they are immensely creative – they are never short on ideas for products or stories for their pastry pet toy line. their struggles mainly surround time management. it’s hard to be a manufacturer, a salesperson, and an administrator all at once. however, outsourcing is also scary to them. it’s hard to get the initial capital to expand, and you also run the risk of losing creative control.

in response, marnin-saylor are waiting for the right moment for growth. they care about their business so much, and as a result they have something that i don’t: patience. taking a leaf from their book, i am trying to enjoy my successes for the time being and to quietly be on the look out for the right conditions to next-level my own projects

discouraged? me too

every project has its setbacks. the path is never linear, and success is not clearly defined nor easily achievable. last night i stayed up awake for a bit because i was unsure of what i was doing, or whether or not it was valuable. this is a hard place to be, and i know for a fact that this happens to a majority of my more entrepreneurial friends.

but, i remember that there is hope. for every doubt that i have, there is at least one cheerleader in my court, and one clear example that what i am doing is valuable and meaningful. i try to identify these little victories and bits of positivity in order to maximize them. my friends and family believe in what i do, and so do i. the trouble is marrying these values with a viable business. i recently read this article by gumroad’s ceo sahil lavingia, in which he navigates his own successes and failures that he had to face at a very young age.

we are all being courageous in trying things that we’ve never tried before. and that courage carries us through the moments when we doubt ourselves and our venture. our courage and resilience are paramount in soldiering forward with open eyes and many ideas for making our vision work.