Long Live the Hustle

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Sometimes you just gotta whip something quick up to test your skills.

Sometimes we get so wrapped up in the work that we never actually hustle to reach the goals that we set out in the first place.

What’s Your Dream?

It all starts with a dream. A notion. An idea.

After work I caught a quick bite to eat with Sean Ward, an old buddy of mine, and he told me the big secret to getting where you want to be in life. To paraphrase:

Keep throwing things out there into the world, and eventually one will stick.

When he’s working on his projects, he’ll share shots and videos of the works in progress so people can get a good idea of what he’s been up to and where he’s going next. It’s not so much a humblebrag or anything of that nature, but rather it gives him the fuel he needs in order to keep producing and moving forward.

The Dangers of Thinking Too Much

Which connects right back to the original point — we might have amazing ideas. We might have entire lists of things that we want to do, but never get around to actually doing them. Why?

At dinner, I called it an “idea backlog”. I’ve said countless times now, but life is the sum of our experiences. And the more experiences we have, the broader our understanding of the world around us grows.

Here’s a look at mine:

So what do you think will happen to an idea that you’ve just left sitting around in your head without having done anything to make it more real? That’s right — it will only grow in scope and scale until it seems unattainable and leaving you too overwhelmed to start!

And no one wants to be stuck with a great idea but no hope to ever make anything of it, do they?

And So, We Hustle

In the end, you need to be less worried about where you should start and about people stealing your ideas, and more about never starting in first place.

Don’t know where to start? Start somewhere. Doing something is countless times better than doing nothing.

Afraid someone’s going to steal your idea? Take what they did and do it even better. These days, the one who did it first is rarely remembered — it’s whoever did it best.

Stop giving yourself an easy out. Stop giving yourself excuses to rely on and just do stuff.

Get your hustle on. What’s the worst that could happen?

–case p.

Stay Classy

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Keeping it classy since 2005, apparently.

“Nice guy” is  something I’ve been called. I’ve been called “funny”, too. Awesome, cool and caring — sure, if someone’s really trying to get my attention.

But “classy”?

Why I Don’t Think I’m Classy

Despite my tenure in private school, classy was never something I aspired to. So that we don’t get this twisted, let’s not confuse this with being classless — I just don’t generally do too many “cultural activities” that would categorize me as a “classy guy”.

No opera, no gala openings (unless I happen to get randomly invited by friends), no black-tie events — none of these are usually my style. I might dress up for work, and you’ll rarely see me at an event without my uniform of a dress shirt, jeans and dress shoes — but when it comes down to it, I’m more beer and burgers than wine and cheese.

 

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If there are burgers available, it’s very likely that I’ll be all over them.

Which is why I thought it would be an interesting change to my daily routine to go see Cirque du Soleil’s Amaluna when I saw this tweet from Val:

[Disclaimer: I’m gladly accepting some Amaluna tickets for writing a post about my lack of classiness, so there you go.]

So How Do You Keep it Classy?

I’ve never hit a Cirque du Soleil event, so I have little to no idea of what to expect. There’re a few things I do know, though:

  1. I’ll definitely be there October 4th at 8 pm, camera in hand. (If they don’t allow photography, that’s their loss, since I promise that the photos are going to turn out great!)
  2. You can feel free to join Sarah and I with discounted tickets using this link handily supplied by Val: http://www.buytopia.ca/deal/1786/?skip=true&a_aid=valtorontogal
  3. One way or another, there will be pic. Oh yes, there will be pics!

But there’s a lesson in all of this. I see a lot of people relying on cultural events to enhance their lives…

“If I hit this TIFF party, my life will be that much cooler.”

“If I show up at this charity ball, my peers will respect me that much more!”

Listen. You’re doing it wrong. If these events reflect your ideals and add to your life, you’re in the right place to be. Otherwise, you’re not being classy — you’re just being a snob and using your influence, privilege and experiences to convince yourself that you’re better than everyone else.

And that, my friends, is only assy. You don’t make it all the way to classy that way.

So hold yourselves accountable. Be true to yourselves. Do what makes you tick. Being authentic these days is the only “class” you need to get ahead in this world — it’s where you can draw your sense of being from and what you can use to remind yourself that you’re doing just fine in the life you lead.

Because if not you, then who?

–case p.

Get Busy.

Human beings aren’t meant to multitask, but we live in a world that demands it of us.

Way back when, we used to be focused; if you were a farmer, you’d toil in the fields from sunrise to sunset. Blacksmiths  would work in their forges, singularly focused on the task of reforming metal into armour, weapons and whatever else was needed.

This is not the world of today.

At any given time, I find myself balancing

  • my marriage
  • my 9-to-5
  • Project: Mansformation
  • learning whatever I can to be successful in my future business ventures
  • working on content for the various side projects that I have on the go
  • band practice
  • keeping up with social media and a social life
  • family
  • many, many other things

I don’t know about you, but I haven’t been singularly focused on anything for ages. We are  a busy people!

Due to this — and the fact that it’s next-to-impossible to plan much on a computer without your attention being diverted elsewhere — it’s good to periodically unplug yourself and get back to basics.

That what I did when I started planning the layout for the website for  Project: Mansformation, one of my upcoming initiatives: 

The idea board I put together to plan the layout for the Project: Mansformation website
Sometimes chart paper and post-it notes are all you need….

Sometimes you’ve just gotta close the laptop (or get up from your desktop — do we still use those, or is it passé?) and switch gears.

You never know —despite all of the tools available to us today, a few dollars’ worth of supplies and a little creativity might be all you really ever needed!

–case p.

#SaugaTweetup

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#SaugaTweetup was undoubtedly a success on Wednesday night.

The best event bloggers in the city must be getting paid to write about the things they go to, because there’s no way you can hold a full-time job down, maintain a social life, be in a relationship (or a family, to take it one step further), and still find the time to write some quality prose on where you were a night or two ago.

With that said, here I am writing up an entry on #SaugaTweetup — originally the morning after on the subway, notebook in hand, scrawling notes out that I hope to assemble into a post sooner than later.

Hosted by Robert Sarjoo and Christian Anderson, #SaugaTweetup found me back in my hometown of Mississauga, Ontario, somewhere I’d long renounced for the siren call of its big brother — Toronto, ON — after serving my 28-year sentence trapped within its borders. (It’s seriously nowhere near as bad as I make it out to be, but I think the general rule applies — if kids live anywhere long enough, you’re invariably going to wind up with some who want nothing more than to escape!)

Tweetups are fun events — go to enough of them and you definitely start to se the same faces over and over again, but it’s okay, because with enough time, some of these faces turn into actual friends, and tweetups turn into the place where you happen to see them more often.

#Saugatweetup, much like Christine’s Crashaversary last year, was this kind of event — catching up with old friends and making new ones! Much of the night was a blur between nibbling on snacks, free swag, prize giveaways and rapid-fire conversation, but I came out of it with a feeling that it was a night where I’d connected well with everyone, making contact with people who could be new faces that I’ll see from time to time!

I look at my calendar and am a bit relieved that this is the last event I have scheduled for a bit; when you have a list of things that you want to work at and you’re out on the town all of the time, there’s a little voice in the back of your head gnawing away at you:

“It’s time to get back to work.”

If you missed the event, feel free to check out some of my photos at my Flickr account (or see the puny versions below)!

 

You can also go see my buddy Justin’s take on the night!

Until the next time,

–case p.

Winning

Where are you winning in life? This is the question I think we need to ask ourselves about our lives more often — what are we doing well and how could we do it even better? As born complainers, we like to focus on whatever we see as the negative parts of our lives, forgetting about the good stuff: the little things that keep us going and get us out of bed every morning; the things that, when combined, make up our reason for living; or perhaps the things that catch us by surprised and bring smiles to our faces when we need them most.

I guess the question here is how do we switch the focus so that we’re living the best lives that we possibly can? How do we get the blinders off to see all the things our lives genuinely have to offer rather than the myopic views we tend to obsess over? In the words of a certain sportswear giant:

“Just do it.”

Just Doing It.

Life gives us all different sets of skills, and it’s up to us how we decide to use them. I’ve always been a bit of a Jack-of-all-trades, always dabbling with a handful of interests and side projects, but never really mastering anything in particular. But that doesn’t mean that I can’t try to work at developing every one of them as much as I can!

It’s fear that causes us to shy away from our dreams or from doing anything with our abilities. We see people who’re way farther ahead at the things we want to do and get discouraged. We see those far more skilled at our hobbies than we are, convincing ourselves that we’ll never get to that level. But more often than not, those people started from the very point you’re at now, with nothing, having yet to prove themselves to the world. I’ve applied this kind of thinking to live over and over, with varying degrees of success.

Recent examples saw me…

  • …put together a video for a Manpacks-sponsored contest, where I goofily rapped about the products they offered but in the end won me a $900 gift certificate for their service

  • …guest host on a friend’s Internet radio show, ending up in what I regard as one of the funniest episodes of the show yet (not safe for work!):

What I Learned.

Now, the rap had bits that were off-tempo and could’ve used more polished instrumentation. My radio voice needs work and I speak too quickly or mumble at times. And my photography skills are nowhere yet near where I’d like them to be. But by doing things like these, you can visibly see that I’m working at it, trying to improve my skills enough to be great at the things I want to do, taking further control of my destiny. Basically, the lesson here is this: YOU NEED TO BE WILLING TO PUT YOURSELF OUT THERE AND KEEP TRYING UNTIL YOU GET IT RIGHT.

The Internet changed the world that we live in by expanding the boundaries of our knowledge. We’re no longer trying to compete with the peers in our classrooms, offices or neighbourhoods alone — you might be the best in your neighbourhood, or even in your city, but the Internet has opened up a whole world of competition for people who do what you do! However. Your reality isn’t there to discourage you from trying — it’s there to make you try HARDER. So each time you fail, dust yourself off and try again. Stop telling yourself that you’re not good enough or getting dismayed when things don’t exactly go to plan. Work at it. Get better. And eventually — hey. You just might get it right, after all.

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DoomzDay

Well, DoomzDay turned out to be doomsday… for one of us.

DoomzDay was… QUITE the party.

I’m pretty sure it was the point where I wound up ejecting the contents of my stomach all over a table where I realised — “Hey! This night did not go as I’d planned it!”

sigh, You’d think that by 29 you’d learn how to tell people to shut the heck up when they offer you shots, but noooo.

Anyway, it was a good party overall — despite what many may think, I do happen to remember much of went down last night, and for the most part what I recall is having a lot of friends around as I celebrated another birthday. Other than how it ended, I appreciate how many people came out and hope that everyone had a good time.

I need to thank:

  • Marcel and Troy for taking photos in my stead
  • Rami for being my best man, best friend and getting the phone I left behind
  • The Pilot for being gracious hosts
  • Adeline, Niya and Kaori for the delicious treats I didn’t get to try but I know were likely amazing
  • And everyone for coming out to show support!

But for now… yeah. On to the next one.

Thanks, everyone,

–case p.

Please Break In Case of Identity Crisis

“Please break in case of identity crisis.”

I’m of an age now where I’m too old for a quarter-life crisis and not quite old enough for a thrisis (i.e. the impending threat of turning 30 being on the near horizon), but there are times where an identity crisis will catch you off-guard regardless of how old you are.

At times, change is definitely one of life’s less appealing pills that is has to offer you, but you still have to swallow it. Change is one of the key reasons why the blog hasn’t seen too much of me lately. Some of the major changes going on in my life as of recently include:

  • having to get all of my stuff out of my home office to convert it to a second bedroom for friends who’ll be staying by Casa de Palmer for a bit (a good thing)

    ;

  • recent changes to my reporting management at work, adding an extra layer of complexity to how I have to do things (a confusing thing); and
  • fairly recently becoming a homeowner (I mean, it’s only been a year and I’ve never lived away from home before! — a hard thing)

Change can bring a sense of adventure and can shake things up in one’s life enough to inspire growth and development — but is there a point where you can overdo change? Can you change so much that you’ve lost all sense of who you are and how to get back to who you once were?

While I definitely feel like I’m lost and directionless at times, I’d be naïve to think that I got to where I am overnight — at any given point in our lives, we are the product of decisions we make and the actions we take. We often look at our adult selves and wonder “when did it all get so complicated?”

Our lives only feel complicated because we compromise. We do things we don’t actually enjoy in the pursuit of money. We forget and forgo our childhood dreams in the pursuit of lower-hanging fruit: jobs that’ll pay the bills; certificates that’ll give us a better chance of getting jobs — we listen to advice from just about everyone other than ourselves because we convince ourselves that people are speaking from experience and know better even though they are not us.

The idea of all this change and the paths is leads us down got me thinking on a few things:

1. THIS ISN’T THE FIRST TIME I’VE WRITTEN ABOUT THIS.

I’d been looking for images of Centennial College’s “What DID You Want to Be?” ad campaign from last year, justifying the sense of deja vu I was getting while doing so by finding them on an old blog entry. But while I was only pondering about how we get to the points in our lives where we’re no longer happy, this time I plan to do something about it.

2: BEING ORDINARY ISN’T AN ASPIRATION!

Sure, you can lead a comfortable life, but it’s very unlikely that you’ll be happy with it.

As we journey through life, we make more and more complex decisions that have us venture farther away from the simple joys we enjoyed as children, all for the sake of learning how to survive in this world. But this ad for Monster.com pretty much illustrates where most of us wind up (thanks for sending it my way, Kathy!):

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rJB0CzlzSwY]

Who wants to be stuck in drab office culture? Who wants to be just another cog in the massive machine that runs our economy? None of us aspire to be “just another worker” — I’d like to think that we’d all like our lives to have meaning — but we need to be active participants in defining what that meaning is.

3: I AM NOT ALONE.

This is an important thing to realize. In Musiq Soulchild’s song “You Be Alright“, he opens the second verse with:

People have a tendency
To think to themselves that they’re the only ones
Going through more things than anyone else
But oh, I bet you’ll beg to differ
If you would just consider the bigger picture
Cause then you would see that most people go through
The same things that you do in life

It’s true. We isolate ourselves and let ourselves think that we’re trapped in the lives we lead, unable to go back to the simpler lives we once had.

Which is totally untrue.

What we need to do is remove the layers of crap that we allow to weigh our lives down so that we can escape the lives we don’t want and move on to the ones that we do.

So with all of this in mind, I finally decided to do something that I said long ago would only happen if I really needed to do it.

That’s right; I’m re-reading my candygrams.

I know some of you out there are saying “big effin’ deal” to this, but hear me out.

I didn’t lead your average school kid’s life — I’ve always been in niche classes, whether they were French language-only, enhanced curriculum — or private school. And in a school of 400+ students where you’re one of 3 Black kids, it’s not hard to stand out. I started out as a quiet child in my first year at University of Toronto Schools, soon coming out of my shell and using my ability to be easily recognized in order to become friends with everybody. It was good that we charged so little for candygrams (10¢ for a half-page or 25¢ for a full one), because I’d end up writing damn near everyone in the school!

And much like everything else in life, you get what you give.

So I wound up with well over 1,000 candygrams in the five years I spent there, a reminder of a time period where I was living 20-hour days with near limitless energy, trying to experience as much in life as I possibly could. I’d leave there, graduate from a public high school with new friends and a new mindset, go to a university that’d only bring out the worst in me, and in the end, end up just like everyone else, paying the bills and trying to figure out how to get the most out of my life.

After high school, I figured that those candygrams just might save me someday (for example, if I got amnesia), so while I didn’t write it out, I put them all in shoebox, covering it in multiple layers of duct tape and thinking to myself:

“Please break open in case of identity crisis.”

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Securely held for a decade, it’s time for me to crack this box open and remember who I am.

With that, I encourage you to break open whatever your box of candygrams might be. Whether it’s your high school yearbooks, old photo albums, or relatives who remember what you were like when you were younger, we all have something we can use to rediscover who we once were — I especially encourage this if you’re not happy with who you are.

It’s never too late to “un-reinvent” yourself — who knows; less change may have been just the thing you needed all along!

–case p.