What a difference a year can make…

This past week marks the 1st anniversary of me leaving my full time job!

I’ll share my story today (for those interested), and then offer some tips from my personal experience & the experience of others come Monday. I’m choosing to wait until then to offer this, because by then most of you that have any inkling of wanting to leave your job will have a case of “the Mondays”, and that post will hit you like a bomb to your brain. Boo-yah!

The book that ruined me

Let’s back up to December 2008. I was hustling, working hard at my job. Things were going good, but I felt like I didn’t want to stay there forever, and had this really weird feeling that something wasn’t right.

I get a call a few weeks before Christmas from my home dawg, Bruce (not his real name). He’s ecstatic, telling me, “DUDE! You HAVE GOT to read this book I just picked up!!!”. He goes through a near textbook Billy Mays-esque job of pitching the book to me, and then finally remembers to say, “Oh yeah, it’s called the Four Hour Workweek, by a guy named Timothy Ferriss.” (If you’ve been reading this blog for more than a week and haven’t yet read this book, please punch yourself in the face, and then go buy a copy. Thank you.) I thank him, and then pretty much forget about the book altogether.

After hanging out with our friend Bruce once again about a week later, he’s still on Cloud 9 about the book. I figure if it’s been a week and he’s still going nuts (he’s a fast reader), it might be something I want to check out. I head to Amazon and grab a copy. Somewhere around 7 or 8 days later it arrives

Uncomfortable

It’s now 6 months later, around June of 2009. I’ve read the 1st edition of the 4HWW at least 6 times, and have mauled each page with enough notes to make it look more like my daughter’s Dora coloring book than a NY TImes best seller. The crappy part is that I’ve done very little to act upon it.

The incredible thought of “escape 9-5, live anywhere, and join the new rich” keeps toying with my mind. All of a sudden, my job isn’t so shiny and sparkly like it used to be. I start implementing some 80/20 thought processes to my workflow and realize that it takes me roughly 2 hours to do my entire day’s worth of work. Worse yet, I realized that I can do it all remotely.

With the best of intentions, and the company’s best interests in mind, I approach my boss with the work-from-home trial proposal.

The idea fails.

Once.

Twice.

Three times.

No dice.

So I read more, and get more frustrated…

The temptation to take the easy road

Out of the blue, a position within the company arises that catches my eye, and offers up some unique learning opportunities from my present job description. I apply, and oddly enough, I’m scheduled for an interview (even though it’s a position I did not feel “qualified” for at that time – whatever that means). I approach the interview with the mindset that I have nothing to lose, and actually end up having a blast, quoting from the 4HWW left and right. I’m hired with the position and start within two weeks.

Being upset vs. actually having something to look forward to

The new position that I’m in is great! I’m working with great people, learning tons, and having a good time. I come to work not dreading my days (anymore) and enjoy what I’m doing.

There’s just one small problem.

My time still isn’t my own.

I very quickly realize that this job, although very fun and educational, has its time-suck flaws. Much of what is done throughout the day can be done quicker with a few systems put into place. It isn’t long before I realize that this may not totally be for me.

SIDE NOTE – At this point in the year, my wife is pregnant with our second child, and my year old daughter is accomplishing a variety of “firsts” (first steps, words, fun stuff like that) that I’m not able to be home for. Although my job is a good time, being home with my girls would be a better time.

All of a sudden, the complete pissed-off rage that was my old position now turns into a burning desire (in a positive way) to find a way to be home with my family. I’ll cover this more in detail on Monday, but for those of you looking to leave your job, please heed my advice: It is not enough to simply be dissatisfied (even upset) with your job. You have to have something larger than those negative emotions that will last longer.

For me, it was being able to look forward to being home with my girls to help raise my family.

Shoot first, ask questions later

With 3 months until my wife’s due date, I take a step back and try to take an analytical approach to how I can make my way home and be with my family. It just so happens that our hero Tim Ferriss releases the updated and expanded edition of his wonderful book, and I’m first in line (not really, I buy on Amazon at the first chance I get) to pick it up. My resolve is revived! My mission is clear – Get home with the girls by all and any means possible.

I begin approaching the book how every author intends their readers to – APPLYING the knowledge that’s shared. I write up a little Google Doc with all of the hard questions the book asks in the beginning, and actually answer them (If you’d like a copy of this sheet, just email me and I’ll send it your way).

One random morning (it seems), Tim Ferriss hops on Twitter and offers up a little special for his Facebook fans. “Take your picture holding a copy of the 4HWW, and tag 5 friends who need the book, and I’ll send the first 100 people 6 copies of the book.” After jumping out of my skin, I grab a camera real quick, and end up being number 43 (or something close to that).

The books arrive in just about a week, and now I’ve got motivation flowing! Not only am I gonna “do this”, but I’m going to recruit some other peeps along for the ride to keep me accountable!

I send the books to the designated people, and conversations ensue. I’m pumped, they’re pumped, we’re all pumped.

Doing something that scares you

I decide that it’s time, I’m going to make the choice to leave my job, and figure out the rest as I go. This scares me to no end, but I know that because of the “fear”, it’s a step in a good direction. Steve Kamb wrote about this recently (quite a good read. Check it out!).

With just a few weeks until my wife’s due date, I have a potentially scary meeting with my boss to tell her the news. She’s totally cool with it, and actually supportive of the idea. Score!

Our daughter is born in the end of December, and it gives me 2 weeks of “preview” time for what it’s like to be home with the girls. I gobble up every stinking second of it, and can’t wait until it’s time to be home with them full time!

I go back to work for one more month, and then…

Stepping into the unknown

In the last week of January 2010, I leave my full time job.

(Pause for emphasis)

I still remember walking out of the building like it was yesterday. Heading down the stairs, I sent this little tweet. I snapped a quick pic walking out the door to send to my wife and girls and let them know that Daddy is coming home:

I drive home, not really feeling any different than any other day. We all have a great time hanging out, and we go to bed.

Detox

The next morning, I wake up to no alarm clock. If it was springtime, or a more Southern location, I’m sure there would be birds chirping. It’s a Wednesday morning, and I’m not at work any more.

Enough storytelling for now

I’ll share more of my story in future posts. But for now, I want to just paint a picture for you. We can (and will) address the specifics and the “how-tos” of it later, but let’s take a look at the “why” first.

As I said above, negative emotion is NOT enough to carry you through a decision like this.

Many of you work in a place that’s the human sterilized equivalent of a cage at the zoo. Your boss may be a jerk, coworkers are idiots, coffee tastes terrible, whatever. All of these may be motivations enough to move you to action, but they’re not strong enough to actually carry you through in the long run.

Remember, I had these feelings at my first position listed above. My 2nd position (the one I left last year to come home) was great! But even something “great” in that sense as my why for coming home. I wanted to be home to raise my family and have the freedom to manage my own time more than anything. It was something bigger than myself.

I can’t help but think of my good friend David Crandall’s post “How I Show Up When I’d Rather Not” while writing this. Your “why” has to be bigger than just “I hate my job”. Hating your job isn’t totally bad, but it’s not good enough to last. It’s like running your lawnmower on ether. It provides a great spark, but it’ll burn the engine out quickly.

A few closing thoughts

I can’t tell you all how amazing the past year has been. Just to be able to do simple things like take my girls to the park, work out during the daytime, and help out friends and relatives in need has been so incredibly amazing! Many in the lifestyle design arena paint a (rather beautiful) picture of traveling the world and doing insanely epic things (which are in the plans for me and my family as well!). But what if you don’t desire to be a world traveler? What if you don’t want to jump out of airplanes, climb mountains, and do crazy things?

“Location independence” (the ability to earn income and sustain living without needing a set-in-stone location) is not for everyone. But it doesn’t have to be solely compacted into the category of world travelers. Right now, my wife and I could live anywhere we want, but we’ve chosen to live where we do. You may find yourself wanting the same thing.

If you’ve ever wanted to slow down and enjoy where you live, who you live with, and see a new side to the world around you, then  you may want to pay attention come Monday. 🙂

Talk you y’all soon!

– JC

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An Update, and a Plan!

What’s next?

By now, you’ve probably heard about The Four Hour Body. It’s been out into publication long enough to where folks are writing their reviews. Although this won’t be my “official” review (I may not even end up writing one), I do want to share just a few short fun things about this book and my experience thus far.

I was such a happy camper when I picked up this book from the post office (notice the pasty white complexion of my skin in this pic? This was in the heart of sick-season…yuck)!

As Tim Ferriss recommends, I did not read this book from cover to cover. As a naturally skinny boy, I had one singular goal in mind at the onset of cracking the cover – Gain. Muscle. Mass.

Those that follow my Twitter feed know that during the month of November 2010, I followed (almost to the letter) the prescribed workout for Tim’s post “From Geek to Freak: How I gained 34 lbs of Muscle in 4 Weeks“. This original post, written in 2007 (and judging by the photos used from the post which also made it into a chapter in the book of the same title), has since been updated in the book, with just a few minor changes. I believe Tim wrote this post shortly after the research for The Four Hour Body began.

There was just one problem between what I did in November 2010, and what I’m doing now: measurement.

“What gets measured gets managed” – Peter Drucker

Students of the Four Hour Workweek know the above quote like the back of their hand. As I’m a self-proclaimed Tim Ferriss “fanboy”, I realize that he takes a methodical, scientific and analytical approach to almost everything he does. If you’ve read up on how he measured his fat loss in the new book, you’ll see some borderline OCD behavior (it’s a pretty funny portion of the book also). If I was going to glean as much from his new book as I did from his first one, I would need to become a measurement freak.

Thankfully, there are some tools to help with that, which I’ll get to in a minute. First let’s talk why “Geek to Freak” round 1 really didn’t work for me:

  1. Not enough caloric and protein intake (I had not measured any of this, and really only ate past the point of feeling “full” at regularly scheduled meals – FAIL)
  2. Incorrect measurement and execution of the exercises (The proper way to do both the Geek to Freak, and the Occam’s Protocol [the plan I’m on now] workouts is ONE set to failure. My first round of G2F, I had multiple sets, sometimes out of order, and of differing weights and times. If it’s supposed to be an experiment with controlled variables, I failed miserably – FAIL)
  3. No measurement whatsoever of bodyfat % (The scale was my only litmus test as to whether I was “gaining” or “losing”. Gaining or losing what? Fat? Muscle? – FAIL)

Not this time baby!

This time, I’ve got a plan, Stan!

Following the Occam’s Protocol I and II portions of the book (with a little mixture of some other chapters, as that’s what Occam’s calls for), I’ve got a system worked out. I made sure to write it all down before I began so I’d have a pretty good idea of what my plan was. And, like Tim talks about in the book, I have a copy of my workout, rest, and eating plan printed and tucked inside my lifting notebook that I’ve used for the past year. Here’s some suggestions from what I’ve done so far:

  • Set a solid game plan for what exercises I would be doing, and what days I’d be doing them on. Judging by how many reps to failure it would require in each exercise (and if you don’t know what I’m talking about by now, you seriously need to stop and buy the book. Trust me, it’s worth it!) would determine how many rest days would take place between workouts, so I only planned the first 2 weeks worth of training days.
  • In that same “game plan” sheet of paper (the one tucked in my workout notebook), I had a rough plan for eating, and what days I would measure my weight and bodyfat % – I picked up a set of Slimguide Skinfold Calipers to measure this, and will be using this method for the first round of testing (2 months). Because I know not only my weight, but also my bodyfat %, I can determine how much fat I lose, muscle mass I gain, and what the minimum amount of calories and grams of protein I should be eating daily to continue to add mass. Cool! Measurement is fun!
  • I DID take the “before” pics from 4 angles (front, back, left, right) and then a few flexing in my “selfish” (short) shorts. Sorry lads and lasses, I will NOT be posting these on this site. Become one of my motivators on DailyBurn and MAYBE you can get a sneak peek 😉
  • Speaking of DailyBurn, I pre-loaded the most common meals that I would be eating, and also set up all my workouts in there as well. I have an iPod touch with the DailyBurn app, as well as an iGoogle homepage on my browser that has a DB widget on there as well. Tracking what I eat and workouts only takes about 30 seconds per meal, and about 2 minutes per workout day. I STRONGLY suggest this part. It makes all of the difficult math and counting of protein and whatnot so easy.
  • I also joined a VERY helpful Facebook 4HB group. There’s a good amount of interaction, a few “bike shed” discussions (but they’re dying down), and a TON of helpful information. Not to mention the Bonus Chapter info that Tim just put out on his site, and the coming forums which will help as well. The advantage to all of this is seeing that I’m not just doing it alone. Just do a simple Twitter search for the hashtag #4HB and you’re bound to come across a wealth of information and support.

And them’s be my secrets.

Progress thus far

So far, it’s been almost 3 weeks on Occam’s protocol. My personal stats are this:

  • I currently consume on average around 3800 calories, with usually 16-18% of that being made of protein.
  • My bodyfat % has dropped from 14.3% to 13.4%, and total body weight has gone up 5 lbs. Not too shabby if you ask me! 🙂
  • I’m almost to the point where I need to start adding another day in between workouts, as the last rep to failure is decreasing as weight goes up (especially on the leg press, where it’s kind of comical to “finish” the workout with my knees almost in my chest. If you’re self conscious about looking a little goofy at the gym, get a spotter to help you with this exercise).

Next up?

So that’s my 2-week 4HB progress report. I’ll be cranking away on this for a while, with some other fun fitness goals to attain once I reach my mass/bodyweight goal (still have a few more lbs to go!).

With that said, I want to highlight a freakin’ amazing site that I’ve really enjoyed over the past 2 months: Nerd Fitness

Steve Kamb, the creator of Nerd Fitness, is a man on a mission. Created with the idea of helping nerds (like me) “level up” their lives, specifically through fitness, he’s done what looks to be a pretty amazing job! As I type this, I’m awaiting the arrival of my NF t-shirt (a birthday present from my wifey), which you’d better believe will be making some appearances on this site in the very near future.

The NF Forums are a great place to get that supportive community that was discussed earlier talking about the 4HB. Way to go Steve!

And as I get ready to send y’all off, here’s one of my favorite NF posts for you to click on over to. Who knows? Maybe you’ll see this as one of my fitness goals here in the coming months, especially as the snow starts to melt here in NY.

Cheers!

– JC

Odds and ends: Sorry for the radio silence there, friends!

The past 2 months have been wildly insane here at TFS Headquarters. Due to a flu shot gone wild, I was sick for the entire month of December. The past few weeks have been spent at the hospital with my family, hanging out with my dad who took a pretty nice fall and is recovering slowly (but surely!). I appreciate the support and prayers on my family’s behalf that I’ve received from many of you. You guys are amazing, and it just goes to show how great it can be to surround yourself with great people! 🙂

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2010 – A year in review, and The Besties!

What a fun ride 2010 has been!

The best year ever

I’ve been doing some great reading around Internet-land lately, and have taken up quite an interest in reading people’s reviews of how their year has gone for them. Joel, Steve, and Sean wrote some really great posts on their 2010, so I’ll do my best attempt at doing a mini-summary of mine.

Put very simply, 2010 was the best year of my life (so far).

Month by month

If you’d like to skip on to “The Besties” (my take on some of the best moments, media, and happenings of 2010), head on down to the lower portion of this post. If you’d like to come along for a story, stick around.

Let’s take a journey of some of the major month-by-month happenings in the land of TFS and JC…

January

  • With a brand-new daughter (Neely Edyn) born at the end of December, my sweetie and I bring her home and now begin learning the masterful art of parenting TWO little girls. Neely and her big sister Kelsey are truly the apples of my eye, and my desire (at this point in the year) is to do whatever I can in order to spend as much time with these two little joys and their mama.
  • January 29th, 2010 – Maybe the most profound date of the entire year. I leave my full time job to head home and start down the insane path of “lifestyle design” and to help my wife raise our little girls. I may not throw this one into the Bestie awards below, but this is quite possibly one of the best decisions I’ve made in the past 3 years. More on this later…

February

  • With the exact opposite amount of wisdom and good decision making required to leave my job, I make the mistake (or maybe I should call it “learning opportunity”) to enroll in a local community college for web design. I think this will be a good idea because I somewhat understand the Web, and want to understand it better. I learn everything I need to learn in order to get started in my first week of classes, and due to financial restraints (and STUPID state laws), I’m required to remain in classes for another 3 months until the end of the semester. Lesson learned? Do your research prior to making a “big” decision like this. I am not anti-school, but I think many young folks make the terrible mistake of going to school simply because they think it’s a good idea or the “right” thing to do, without ever asking “Why am I doing this?” I made that mistake with this decision.
  • Since I am now forced to go to a few classes at night, I capitalize on the time by beginning to do some serious blog and ebook reading on my laptop during the classes (slacker? Please…I already took most of these classes in high school. In fact, I had the highest GPA with almost no studying during this semester. Eat your heart out, 11th grade English teacher!  😎 ). I come across quite a few bloggers and personalities that end up giving me some serious inspiration.
  • 2nd best choice of the year: Bethany and I join a local gym and get our first-ever official “health assessment”. For those who have picked up a copy of Tim Ferriss’ recent Four Hour Body, the health assessment is a basic measurement of almost all that he talks about in the first few chapters. We have our “body redesign” GPS set, and begin to work out and gain a love for all things fitness.

March

  • March can be summed up in 1 word: Tea. I begin delving into this foreign-tasting beverage and end up falling in love with all of it. The process of how it’s grown, how it’s brewed, and even some of the quirks of how it should be drank. With a band of helpful friends and their wisdom, I begin buying and taste-testing all kinds of tea. Strangely enough, this is the only nutritional change I make in the beginning of the year, and I start to feel great!
  • In the middle of the month, I head to the Adirondack mountain range of NY with some fellow manly men from our church and climb a mountain for some winter camping. We end up having an absolute blast, and this becomes my first video I post in my “Adventurous Videos” section of this site.

April

  • We celebrate Bethany’s __th birthday (You can ask her how old she is…I won’t incriminate her on here 🙂 ) by heading to NYC with the girls. We have a fun time hanging out in Times Square for the day and riding the “alligator” (escalator) in the Toys ‘R’ Us store with Kelsey. Interestingly enough, 2 days later there is a bomb scare right outside of the restaurant we were having lunch at. Weird.

May

  • I run my first 5k race ever, dribbling a basketball with a friend to raise awareness for Ball for Lives, a charity established by my friend Dan “Occh” Occhiogrosso. This is a monumental day also for Bethany, as she’s able to compete, and complete her first competitive race ever. Score one for accomplishing goals! This was a fun day also, because it gave me an opportunity to create a 2nd Adventurous Video:

June

  • Heading back to NYC, Bethany and I once again have a great time running a race. Again, for Ball for Lives, we participate in “El Maraton Descalzo” (The Barefoot Marathon), to raise awareness for an organization called Samaritans Feet, which helps to provide shoes to children in countries where they don’t have or can’t afford them. The idea behind the Maraton Descalzo, is to have teams of runners (1 runner, 1 dribbler) who run 2-mile relay stints for a total of 26.2 miles (marathon distance). I dribbled down to the turn-around point (At the end of Liberty State Park along the Hudson River in New Jersey, directly across from Downtown Manhattan), and passed the ball off to Bethany who dribbled back in the direction I just came from. It was about 1,000 degrees out that day, and our feet were slightly burned, but it was a TON of fun!

  • In the last week in June, I’m able to return back to my alma mater and participate as a “coach” at basketball camp. It’s a great time teaching high school kids the game that I love so much, and it’s also a great time catching up with a lot of guys that I played basketball with in college and who played before me. Fun fun!

July

  • Almost the entire month of July is spent with no Internet out in the wilderness of Wisconsin. It’s the annual training time for the Army Reserve, and I have a complete blast! We got rained on with storms I’ve never seen (8+ hours of thunder and lightning at night. It sounded like an air show was going on all night), and I get to see my first tornado. What an incredible time!

August

  • This month is a blur for me in my memory banks. All I can remember is hot temperatures, lots of swimming, lots of basketball, and lots of hanging out with family and friends. Some great stories were made during this month, most of which are better told in person 🙂
  • Ahh wait…I DO remember 1 thing that happened in August. A friend and I somehow got selected by our Army unit to take a trip to the lovely state of Montana for some good old UFC-style jiu jitsu training. A few missed flights, a long layover in Colorado, incredible scenery, and some choke holds & arm bars later, and it turns out to be one of the best trips I’ve taken in the past 10 years. Montana is pure magic, and I can’t wait to go back there for more training, and to take my family there for a visit. One of the big pluses for me on this trip was how much I learned by not talking and just listening. It was amazing.
  • Thankful. Somehow, during the month of August, David Crandall and LaVonne Ellis came up with this crazy idea for a “customer love” challenge. Thanks to some inspiration from Sean Ogle, I decide to take my customer love to the Twittersphere, and I begin what ends up being called the “Twitzkrieg“. If you want a good story, check this one out. 🙂

September

  • My little Kelsey girl turns 2 years old, and we celebrate in grand fashion, complete with a bounce house out in the yard (that just BARELY supports Daddy’s weight). Much fun is had by all in enjoying 2 years with this little Magoo 🙂
  • In what became one of my favorite events of the year (more on this below), Bethany and I flew to NYC for the day to meet up with some great friends. One of my best memories of the year was our 3+ hour long dinner, in which we enjoyed great food, conversation, and friendship. I can honestly say this is one of the moments of 2010 where I felt most alive. What a joy and an honor to share that moment with people I love!
  • Lastly, in the very last week of September, I muster up the courage (thanks in part to some big time motivation from friends, and an “impossible” deadline) to release my first product. I learn more on e-commerce and info product creation in 72 hours than I learned in the previous 9 months, and I overcome the terrifyingly (yet seemingly small) goal of earning my first $100 online. Ahh the relief, and joys of digital entrepreneurship!

October

  • I end up writing the largest amount of posts in 1 month that this tiny little blog has seen in it’s short existence, and get tons of feedback from many of you readers. I feel like I’m starting to understand this whole community thing, and I get fired up! I pour myself into one of my posts, which actually rekindles a relationship with an old friend – this makes any “ROI” of this blog look like chump change, because I was able to gain something that matters so much more than money. Inspiration ensues…
  • Travel, travel, and more travel. I hit up the mountains of NY once again for some fun Army training, along with the Show-Me-State of Missouri.
  • I become a licensed motorcycle rider, and go on my first road trip with Bethany. We dress pretty much like a mixture of this and this, and end up feeling like true biker dudes/dudettes.
  • I complete my hunter’s and bowhunter’s New York State safety courses (something I should’ve done when I was 12…not 26) and prepare myself to become a manly man (starting next year…of course there will be pics of my first deer. Holla!).

November

  • After 6+ months of late-night phone calls, long emails, and “war room” Skype sessions, Tim Morris and I release our first joint-venture project, “The Core“. One of the best returns we got on this book was the opportunity for both of us to return to the college we graduated from and lead workshops and leadership sessions on the contents of the book. Public speaking is the most amazing job ever. Seriously. That said…Tim and I are available to lead some leadership training (who doesn’t like a harmless sales pitch?). 🙂
  • Thanksgiving with my family here in NY is a blast. We spend Turkey day hanging out with extended family and some friends, and a good time is had by all.

December

  • Our Christmas celebration begins the day after Thanksgiving, with the selection, cutting down, and decorating of our tree. We blitz the decorating process and have our whole house turned from zero to Christmas in 2 hours. Productivity win!
  • In the middle of the month, we once again return to NYC with my family. Out of the 10 of us that went, 4 had never been to the city before. Bethany and I had never visited during the holidays. Needless to say, it was one of the best times I’ve had in the city!

  • I should give highlight to one last piece before I close. Ok maybe 2. The first is Neely’s 1st birthday (which we celebrated yesterday)
  • The second is the long-anticipated (by my family at least) release of Tim Ferriss’ Four Hour Body book. Armed with fat calipers, measurements, “before” photos, and a workout and nutrition plan like no other, we’re hard charging into 2011 with some serious fitness goals!

There’s much more

There is a lot that took place during this year that went unmentioned. Some good, some bad, but all worth it. Maybe I need to do a better job recording and keeping track of events in 2011 so I can steer the ship better.

A matter of perspective

There is one event that took place this year, which with the wrong perspective, it could appear to have been a very, very bad event. This is the first time I’ve shared this news publicly on this blog:

My dad was diagnosed with ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease) in the beginning of the year, which came as a shocker both to him and to us. Many would get upset with why this would happen, and saddened by what is currently known of this disease. But as people that like to take opportunity and make the best of it (and as Christians who place our trust in the sovereign Creator of the universe), it may have turned out to be one of the best things to happen to our family this year.

I love my Pop, and have prayed at the beginning of the year that my relationship with him would improve and that we’d be able to spend more time together. Well…it turns out that this disease may (in a weird way) have been an answer to that prayer. I have had more meaningful times with my dad this year than almost any other year. We’ve had some great laughs, cries, and story times. He’s been able to be an integral part of his granddaughter’s young lives, and I’ve loved every minute I’ve gotten to spend with him.

I don’t mean for this to be a tear-jerker, but let me ask this question as many of you are planning your 2011: What matters most to you? Put quite simply, Do that this year.

I’ve enjoyed the time I’ve gotten to grow closer to my dad in 2010, and I look forward to our relationship getting even stronger in 2011.

2010

All in all, I’m pretty excited and happy with how the year turned out. It was a year of laughter, learning, love, disappointment, joy, fear, and fun. Would I change any of it? Nope. Will I learn from it? Yup. Will 2011 be the best year? Yes. 🙂

And now…

The Besties!

No, not Beasties, Besties! Aka, my take on the “bests” of the year. Holla!

I’ve polled the audience for some of the items that they’d like me to weigh in on for the Year of Our Lord Two Thousand Ten, and here we gooooooo! (Side note: These are purely my opinion. The great thing about opinions is, if you don’t agree with me, that’s super duper. Share your besties with me in the comments, fine reader! I wanna hear ’em)

Let’s start with the BEST MOVIE

Hands down, with out ANY competition, this year’s best movie award goes to Inception. This movie rocks like no other. It was the brain-child of Christopher Nolan’s experience with lucid dreaming, and interestingly enough, it inspired me to study lucid dreaming as well (with some fantastic results!). Congrats Inception! You’ve earned it!

Best Album

This one may upset some. A quick explanation first:

I’m not much of an “album listener” anymore. Due to the magic of technology, I can pretty much get any song I want, when I want. I spend most of my day rocking out to artists I like on Pandora. I’m also a super sanguine personality, which means I flit back and forth from song to song, sometimes not even listening to the entire song (yes, I know, this is frustrating to many people. Sorry). If I DO buy an album, it’s gotta be solid gold on almost every song.

With that said…this year’s Bestie for Best Album goes to….TRON: Legacy Soundtrack

Yes, I know that this movie JUST came out, and so did the soundtrack. BUT…for the type of work I do, music without words (and a solid beat) harbors serious creativity and motivation. This soundtrack hits the spot on almost every song, so that’s why I picked it as the winner.

Congrats Daft Punk on writing some amazing music!

Best Book

This one is near and dear to my heart, as reading is one of the biggest force-multipliers one can apply to life. I have a post I’ve been writing and adding to for over 6 months on this topic alone that I’ll be bringing out in 2011 (split up into multiple posts, of course).

I read a lot of nonfiction, and have recently been reading a little more fiction (to add to my creative juices). Much of what I read directly impacts me long term and on a day to day. As this was a year for big time business idea generation and growth, I spent a lot of time in the business book section of Amazon and the library. There were 2 big timers that I read this year, the first of which (and runner up) was “Rework” by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson. This book helped to change a lot of the paradigms that I “thought” were necessary in starting and running a business. Much of what is perceived simply isn’t necessary. It’s a great book that helps to answer the great question (“Why?”) when it comes to business.

And that leaves us with our winner. I’d been introduced to this author in 2009, and was taken back by how impressive his writing style and thought-patterns were/are. The winning book has been his crown jewel for the past few years and the one that has drawn the most blood, sweat, and anxiety out of him in writing it.

The 2010 Bestie award for Best Book goes to…..Linchpin, by Seth Godin.

Any review I can do for this book simply wouldn’t do justice. If you trust me, take my advice here, and READ THIS BOOK in 2011.

Congrats on a great book Seth, and thanks for showing me that “real artists ship”! 🙂

Best trip

Obviously, this one is pure opinion and experience, because it’s my own travels.

It was mentioned above, this year’s winner for the best trip is: Our NYC trip with the Crandalls and Morris’

You can’t beat a day in the big city with good friends 🙂

Best sports moment

Ok, I’ll finish with this one. It’s simply goofy. There were quite a few amazing sports moments this past year, with some great finishes to some great seasons. But none, NONE can compare to the winner.

This year’s best sports moment goes to….Ron Artest thanking everyone under the sun for his performance in the NBA Finals.

“I wanna thank my psychiatrist!”

If you liked Ron Ron’s interview, you’ll love his press conference afterward.

That’s it!

Happy New Year everyone. Thank you all for the best year (so far) of my life, and cheers to 2011!

– JC

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Your Next (best) Business Idea…Revealed!

Navigating your brain

How many of us come up with “great” ideas all the time? Maybe some type of cure to a problem, new way of bringing happiness, or possibly a dynamite business idea?

You play it out in your mind, you imagine what it looks like, feels like, heck, even smells like. You’ve got it laid out perfectly. This is going to be the big one, the one that makes you rich. The one that is going to solve your financial problems for quite a while.

But then it hits you…

You have not a frackin’ clue how to begin. You have no idea where to start. You haven’t the slightest on who to contact.

Self-doubt begins to creep in, and now you start thinking of all the ways it’ll never work. You think about how it was such a STUPID idea in the first place.

Before you know it, your once-great business idea is swept out of your mental arena, never to be thought-upon again.

But you never bothered testing the idea!

Worse yet, you see someone in the near future pull off YOUR idea and start making money from it. Someone less qualified, less intelligent, less pretty (ok maybe not, but who knows?).

Let’s avoid that scenario before it even presents itself.

Introducing ETL – Extract Transform Load

My good old homeboy Mark Twain once said, “I am an old man and have known a great many troubles. Some of them actually happened.” This of course is referring to how we humans love to play out our worst-case scenarios in our minds and imagine them to be actual historical events. We’re really good at faking ourselves out.

Part of the reason for that, is that we have very little idea of how to navigate our own thought-processes and ideas. But fret not, ye mind-warriors. Help is on the way!

Internet-wizard, and Heroically intelligent BIBA David Crandall has come up with the solution.

ETL

Using his background in Business Intelligence, and some sexy design skills gained “from a past life” (as he puts it), David has developed THE best way to map the greatest database you have for your business dreams – Your mind!

As a student of David’s coaching (He was one of the driving forces behind the creation of my motivational fitness guide), I can tell you first hand that his methods WORK. He has helped me capture, record, and manage data (thoughts) within my own mind that have helped to propel many of my “ideas” into real-life, tangible products, that people are willing to pay $$ for.

If you’ve ever wanted to know where to start when it comes to making money online…

…Then David’s program is for you. Click here to head over to the sales page (yes, this is an affiliate link. So not only will you help David with creating more mind-blowing content by clicking this, you’ll be helping TFS take it to the next level as well. Boo-yah!)

I’m so excited for my friend to be able to introduce this program, and I’m so excited for YOU for taking your first steps toward becoming and online entrepreneur!

Cheers!

– JC

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Business is Changing

I’d like to share another goodie I’ve come across lately. For my Wu-Tang Clan of dedicated readers, don’t worry, I’ll be pumping out some good content for y’all soon. I just wanted to have a professional share something I’ve been trying to communicate to quite a few peeps lately. He can say it better than I can. So…………

Welcome Gary Vee

Gary Vaynerchuk is a social media pro. To even call him that gives him a disservice. He is at the very tip of the sword when it comes to identifying where our current web/social/business realm is, and is headed. His best selling book Crush It! was one of the best books I read in 2009, and I continue to look back to it often for reference concerning this blog and my business.

His upcoming book, The Thank You Economy talks about the “humanization” of business and how we are living in a time period where brands that are truly successful are those with a personality. There is a lot more to this concept which Gary will share, and when this book comes out, I STRONGLY recommend it! As a social marketing consultant, this concept stands out to me every single day as I meet with different companies and different personalities.

Enough jibber jabber, let’s hear Gary!

I’ll say this as a disclaimer: if cursing upsets or offends you, don’t bother watching this video. I’m serious. Gary is a very passionate “East Coast guy with an East Coast flavor” as he puts it. His keynote speeches involve quite a good bit of cursing. If you can stomach the cursing and listen to what he has to say, you may find some serious nuggets of wisdom as I have. Enjoy!

(By the way, I’ve left a little “personal” note for those who are regular readers at the bottom. If this is your first time, don’t worry about checking it out. Just enjoy Gary and we’ll catch up soon 😎 )

Cheers!

– JC

Odds and Ends – I’ve chatted with a few of you about the idea of having 2 separate blogs: 1 for business and 1 for personal.

I like to keep things central, and anybody that’s talked with me over the phone or face to face knows that my business is personal. So I don’t mean to confuse people by sharing all these somewhat “random” thoughts. Taking Fun Seriously is not only a brand name, but an ideal I hold to, and one that can permeate (wow, great word!) all areas of life. In other words, I’m the same dude in my living room that I am in the board room, that I am on the basketball court, that I am in someone else’s home.

John Maxwell shared a fired-up quote with me once in one of his books (this is paraphrased): “When you do what you love, you never really end up having to ‘work’ again. Your work becomes your play.”

So who’s ready to have some fun? 🙂

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A Change of Environment

Here’s a shot from my recent workshop I gave on fitness.

Short and Sweet

That’s what today’s post will be.

I’m in between some big (and fun) projects at the moment, but wanted to share a brief thought with you…

Hitting the wall

Sometimes during bouts of creativity, the creative juices stop flowing. This can be referred to as “writer’s block”, “creative drought”, or “hitting the wall” (my favorite). When these moments come, change is needed.

For my wifey and I, one of the biggest and best sources of rejuvenation we can find comes from traveling. Be it a road trip, a flight, or even a short drive into our local city. It gets us out of our working environment (the house) and lets us do a number of different things: See some sunlight, meet some new people, see new sights.

Often this change in environment gives the mental cleansing that helps us remove stress, get over mental barriers, and allows us to take a “30,000 foot view” of our problems and goals. It’s very refreshing and fun!

Try it some time! 🙂

Cheers!

– JC

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This Just In…

My good friend, fellow entrepreneur, and co-author Tim Morris has asked me to keep the good fans of TFS updated on my whereabouts and status. I first asked, “Who gives a crap?!”, to which he replied, “Well, I do!”. I suppose there’s others who are curious as well, so this is for all of y’all. I’ll see if I can section it off into nice bite-sized chunks.

Some of the stuff I’m doing right now I’m reeeeaaaaalllly passionate about, so I may get wordy. If I do, just slap me. 🙂

What I’m Learning

Lucid Dreaming – As you may or may not have known, I’ve been going through Tim Ferriss’ archives for the past few months to learn all that I can from this dude. We all have our “go-to” role models. He’s one of mine.

I came across his article on Lucid Dreaming, and have been completely blown away by the study (and now implementation) of it.

What is Lucid Dreaming? If you’ve seen the movie Inception, you’ve gotten at least some of the basics down. Lucid Dreaming (or becoming “lucid”) is the ability to become conscious during your dream(s). You are aware that you’re dreaming, and can interact with certain parts of the dream world. Full-on 100% lucid dreaming allows the dreamer to have complete control of the dream environment, making things possible that are physically impossible in the real world.

Almost 2 weeks in, I’ve just recently had my first lucid dream, and it was INCREDIBLE! I’ll spare you the weird details, but it was pretty amazing. I was able to fly a few hundred feet off the ground through my neighborhood for about 15 minutes and then woke up ecstatic. It deserved a definite YAGA and BOOYAH combined!

If you’d like to get started on this incredible study and experimentation, get in touch with me, and also download a (free) pdf copy of Dr. Stephen Laberge’s book, Exploring the World of Lucid Dreaming. Grab a journal to chronicle your dreams, and start setting Google Reminders to ask yourself “Am I dreaming?” throughout the day. I can’t wait to take this to the next level… 🙂

Books – I have quite a few books I’m reading through right now, but I don’t want to give them all away right now…

…However, there are some real gems I’ve been working through as of late. My favorite out of the bunch has been:

Keith Ferrazzi‘s book, Never Eat Alone is a freakin phe-nominal book! Written in the P.T. (Pre-Twitter) time period of just a few years ago, he reflects on the importance…nay I say…the NEED for professional relationships. As a dude that is always trying to improve my Emotional Intelligence and people/leadership skills, this book is a MUST read! I’ve been reading through it slowly to make sure I’m not missing out on any of his wisdom. It’s one of those books that makes you stop and think, “Hmm, I knew that, but why don’t I ever DO that??” I love books that make me think and feel that way. 🙂

Audio – I just picked up Seasons 1 and 2 of Dan and Ian‘s Lifestyle Business Podcast. If you have ANY hint of entrepreneurship in your blood, and don’t know who these guys are, you need to know them QUICKLY! They’re simply the BEST advice on lifestyle business out there. Nobody else can touch these two dudes! I don’t want to give away all the goodies I’ve gleaned from just a few episodes listening to their podcast, so I’ll save it for another day. Bottom line, subscribe to their podcast on iTunes brothas and sistas!

What I’m Working On

Tim “The Toolman” Morris and I have just released our first book together, The CORE. A fan-friggen-tastic book on what the foundations of leadership are, how to learn them, and how to improve as a leader. We’re both pumped for this product, as it’s been a project we’ve been working on for a few months. There will be multiple “waves” of promotion for this product, and many continuing improvements to be made. This is the first of many in the Morris/Crocker production company, so be on the lookout for good stuff coming down the pike!

With the release of The CORE, we’re also starting off on our first leg of our book tour release party! Well…not really. But we will have opportunity to speak about it coming up soon. We’re both going to be leading some workshops on topics such as leadership, integrity, motivation, and fitness, at our Alma Mater’s “Growing Leaders Conference” later on this week. It’ll be a fun time had by all, and there will be video to follow. Stay tuned! 🙂

Where I’m Traveling

I filled out my 2nd official Dreamline Sheet recently (and will be posting an update on that soon as well), and have written down just 2 fun and simple travel goals for the next 3 months. They are:

  • Gloucester, Massachussetts – Home of our good college friends Josh and Amanda. It’s a gorgeous little fishing town on the coast of Mass, and it’s full of great food and interesting people. I’m sure we’ll have videos and pictures to follow.
  • Dallas, Texas – This all-American town is not only home to the (currently TERRIBLE) Dallas Cowboys, but it’s also Heroic Headquarters, home of none other than the ever-growing-more-and-more-popular blogger, business intelligence badass, and my brosef, David Crandall. He doesn’t know this is in my plans just yet, and I know he doesn’t read my blog (wink, wink). So this’ll be a nice surprise! David is of course, a member of the trio that was involved in what is now known as “The Greatest Internet Meetup In The History of Technology“. I plan on discussing things with David in Texas like: Business, Business Intelligence, Blogging, Family, Relationships, Haircare Products, Unicorns, Monster Trucks, and Southern-style Barbecue. As a matter of fact, I may interview this intriguing lad prior to visiting him, just to get the ball rolling in advance. Here’s a thought: Write your questions in the comments – What would you ask Internet-master David Crandall if you had the opportunity to hang out with him for a few days? I can’t wait to see what ensues…

Big Vision

The big vision for Clan Crocker and Taking Fun Seriously is a little cloudy. I’m in the midst of working on some offline “muse” related projects that I don’t want to talk about just yet. There are also a few leadership opportunities that Tim and I will be working on in the coming months that I’m pretty pumped about.

Bottom line – I plan on being open and honest about a lot of fun stuff that’s going on in my life, my family’s life, and those around me. A few goals that I want for this blog:

  • Become a connector. I know a lot of people in real life from all different careers, backgrounds, cultures, and walks of life. I want my online “home” (here) to reflect that as well. I want people to be able to look to me and to this site to be able to meet new people that they normally wouldn’t hang with, and hopefully strike up a conversation and a relationship with them. Both “professionally” and “personally” (I put those 2 in quotes because I really don’t see a differentiation between them very much in my life anymore). Booyah!
  • Do more video and audio. I have quite a growing list of people that I want to interview. Some of the people are business related, others are just plain interesting dudes and dudettes. I’d like for y’all to see and hear both.
  • Give away free stuff. I love free stuff! Who doesn’t? I want to give away more free stuff to people who are involved in this little community (hint hint, let’s get those comments flowing ye lads and lasses!). I can’t wait to surprise some of you 🙂

…and that’s really all for now! I’ll share more in the coming weeks. Talk to y’all soon! 😀

– JC

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The CORE!

6+ months of writing. Multiple Skype calls. 10+ visits back and forth from NY to PA. Hours upon hours of reading, studying, planning…

…And it’s finally here!

Announcing The CORE

Tim Morris and I have been working night and day for over half a year to prepare this material for wannabe leaders, current leaders, and people who think they may never have the opportunity (or “need”) to lead. Trust me, they will!

Click on over to our page talking about The CORE. We’re soooo pumped!

See ya there!

– JC

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Leading by Following

Success

I played basketball for 3 years in college. During my senior year, we had the privilege and the pleasure to compete in our division’s national tournament. We actually ended up going all the way to the National Championship game in Oklahoma City in 2006. We led the entire game, but ended up losing on a tip-in at the last second right as the final buzzer sounded. Depressing? Maybe. But it was an incredible learning experience! I’ll share more on this loss in the future but for now, I’d like to talk about why we were able to succeed.

My buddy Jon was (and still is) one of my best friends. At six foot six, 220 lbs, Jon was a bundle of basketball joy. The perfect size for a dominant division III NCAA post-player. Not only was he built for the job, but he had the work ethic and skills to pay the billz (the “z” is added there to maintain my status as a gangsta). In 2005, he was the recipient of the NCAA Field Goal Percentage award. That means out of every basketball player in Divisions I, II, and III, Jon made more of his attempted shots than anyone else (Emeka Okafur [who is now in the NBA] was the Division I leader for the University of Connecticut, came in 3rd place behind my Jonny boy)!

It was a no-brainer that our coach named Jon team captain for the 2005-2006 season (our senior year). Our senior class had 4 solid players (3 all-Americans, and 1 point guard who is the best defender I’ve seen in my life) who had been starters for the past 3 years. A “perfect storm” of talent and hard work was forming, and success looked immanent.

But even though we had 4 pillars to our potential championship team, Jon and company couldn’t do it alone. They needed the help of the rest of the team. The old phrase “a chain is only as strong as its weakest link” comes to mind.

I was that weakest link.

The last guy off the bench, I took my job as “bench captain” like it was the greatest job in the world. Fun!

Motivation

So we have a “sandwich” of a team. We have Jon as the top loaf of bread, and Josh as the bottom. Now, how do we motivate all the “meat” in the middle? This is where understanding the Foundations of Leadership really came alive to me.

Our Coach (spelled with a capital letter on purpose) was the very best in the nation. That’s not an exaggeration either. He worked harder at becoming a great coach than anyone I’ve met before. As a D-3 All-American in the early ’90s, Coach led his team (as a player) to a national championship. It was around his 12th year that he took our team back to the championship as a Coach. All of the early mornings, late nights, trips, conferences, scouting missions, and hours upon hours of video and practice got him to be the leader that we needed.

However, just like I’ve mentioned before, Coach couldn’t do it alone.

Let’s get back to the story of our hero, Jon.

Follow Me

Jon bought into our Coach’s philosophy and ideals early. A talented player, he never let his play depend on talent alone. Hard work, trips with Coach, hours upon hours of video, and practice, practice, PRACTICE helped him work to becoming a great player.

Because he spent so much time with our Coach as a freshman and sophomore, he understood how Coach thought. How he viewed the game, what his tendencies were, what our team needed to get to the next level.

The success of our senior year really began in the summer of our junior year. Once Jon started influencing (key word) the rest of our team to follow him, as he followed Coach. He knew the mission, he knew Coach’s goals, and he had a sort of “in the trenches” rapport with the rest of us that Coach couldn’t have. It was through this “following” that we gave Jon our respect and attention, and eventually saw that he was only replicating what Coach had already taught him over the previous 3 years.

The CORE

Because Jon knew how to follow, he was able to influence the rest of us to follow. We jokingly called him our “fearless leader”, but looking back, that’s exactly who he was, a fearless leader. It takes guts to lead.

He didn’t wait for some magic moment to start leading, either. He began right where he was, and learned from somebody who knew the ropes (our Coach).

Maybe you’re like Jon was in the beginning, wanting to lead but not knowing where to start. Maybe you have someone that you view as a leader, and wonder how they got where they are, and WANT to be like them. Maybe you don’t care (but I doubt that, otherwise you wouldn’t have read this far).

We’re all called upon to lead at some point in our lives. Whether at work, play, or with our friends or family. Leadership can jump upon us sometimes if we don’t expect it. Or, it can be brought about intentionally, methodically.

Tim Morris (of Intentional Influence fame) and I have teamed up to bring you the building blocks of leadership. Like the story of Jon above, learning how to FOLLOW is a necessary building block. It’s also one of many characteristics that Tim and I cover in our new book, which I’m proud to announce.

On the morning of November 2nd, the United States will open up the polls to potentially changing the leadership of our country. I hope that y’all will vote and make a difference. There’s also another momentous opportunity for you to “vote” on November 2nd as well.

Vote on changing your own leadership.

Tim and I will be releasing our e-book, “The Core” November 2nd at 10 AM ET. If you’ve been riding the fence, sitting on the bench, standing against the wall (or any other phrases I can think of for not taking action), now is the time to jump in and get your feet wet.

There are more goodies to come concerning The Core, but for now I’ll leave with a question:

What are you doing to change or magnify your influence in the lives of others?

Cheers!

– JC

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