Podcast Episode 7: “Bring Your Personality To Your Content.” Interview with Rachael Green, Rach Green Cocktails.

To listen to the episode, click here

Rachael Green is the founder of Rach Green Cocktails, and provides everything from virtual cocktail classes, to bartending workshops, to bar program development programs – all in the spirit of “making education a party.”

Rachael and I got connected through her content on Instagram (@rachgreen_cocktails), and with her background in brand management and social media strategy she was able to explain to me exactly how that happened. In addition to geeking-out on all things cocktails, we discussed a number of other topics that I’ve often struggled with: things like developing a personal brand, navigating different social media platforms, and bringing your authentic personality to your content. I learned a lot from this very fun conversation.

Cheers, Rachael!

Podcast Episode 6: “We Want To Be The Very Best.” Interview with Andrew Wilen, Chef Alyssa’s Kitchen.

To listen to the episode, click here

Andrew Wilen is Co-Owner of Chef Alyssa’s Kitchen here in Charlotte. My wife and I love Chef Alyssa’s kitchen – the food is amazing, the events are fun, and Andrew and I cover a lot of ground during this episode including business, family… and of course, Festivus.

As a Charlotte local, it’s been a pleasure to watch Andrew and Alyssa’s business grow – I remember years ago first seeing Alyssa on TV doing a cooking demonstration, then hearing about their expansion into a larger facility, then reading about their new brunch options, then seeing them at the top of all sorts of lists for cooking classes and entrepreneurship, and then stumbling upon their name in a Food & Wine article just this week.

In a word, it’s impressive.

But I have to say the thing that impressed me most during this interview was Andrew’s relentlessly positive attitude. At a time when many local businesses are struggling, Chef Alyssa’s Kitchen has managed to pivot and continue to deliver great products and services through at-home deliveries and virtual cooking classes. Whether he’s running a business, giving back to the community, or taking on the responsibilities of being a new dad, Andrew does it all with a smile.

Andrew, thank you so much – this interview was a blast!

Show Notes:

  • Festivus [01:47]
  • Andrew’s journey after Elon, and how he met Alyssa [7:10]
  • How Andrew and Alyssa decided to start Chef Alyssa’s Kitchen [11:05]
  • Overview of Chef Alyssa’s Kitchen (pre-COVID-19) [15:35]
  • How Chef Alyssa’s Kitchen grew into new revenue streams, and how that helped position them to pivot in response to COVID-19 through delivery and virtual cooking classes [19:05]
  • Andrew’s “community-first” approach to marketing [24:54]
  • How Andrew and Alyssa are enjoying the joys (and challenges) of being new parents and owning a business [29:38]
  • A day in the life, and how Andrew and Alyssa balance responsibilities and try to leave work at the office [36:35]
  • Big question: does Andrew get to have gourmet meals at home all the time? [39:35]
  • Specifics on virtual cooking classes [41:12]
  • How Andrew plans to “Do Better This Year” [44:04]

Podcast Episode 5: “You Can’t Control What You Can’t Measure.” Interview with Jurgis Kirsakmens, DrinkControl

To listen to the episode, click here

Jurgis Kirsakmens is the developer DrinkControl, an iOS and Android Mobile app used for tracking and monitoring alcohol consumption. DrinkControl allows users to easily track their drinks and convert them into standard units of alcohol. The app lets you know when you go over the limit set by moderate drinking guidelines, and see how much money you’ve spent and calories you’ve consumed with your drinks.

Jurgis’s journey to becoming a programmer in Riga, Latvia is fascinating, and in this episode we get into everything from building apps to building companies.

Thank you, Jurgis!

Show Notes:

  • How Jurgis and I got connected through my blog post [00:00]
  • His journey to becoming a developer, which includes starting and selling a company employing over 300 people [00:00]
  • How his role expanded from developer to management, marketing and other business functions, and how he managed that change [12:00]
  • How he got into iPhone mobile app development specifically [14:30]
  • His team’s first app project which, in his words, “failed miserably” [16:30]
  • How the DrinkControl app idea got started [20:00]
  • His philosophy on tracking drinks, and whether that comes at the expense of having fun and being “in the moment” [23:40]
  • Answering the question, “how do I learn how to code?” [28:09]
  • How he would approach developing a hypothetical “mood monitoring” app from scratch with no prior experience [31:30]
  • How Jurgis plans to “Do Better This Year” [36:00]
  • Habit development, working in a “flow state” vs. finishing projects [39:30]
  • Closing thoughts on app development and how it fits into the bigger picture of business, marketing and sales [43:00]

Behind Closed Doors

I remember hearing a story about a kid who was picking his nose while riding in the back seat of a car. His parents kept turning around, yelling at him to stop it. They weren’t paying attention, ran off the road and hit a tree. Both parents were uninjured; however, the kid was still picking his nose at the time of the crash. Tragically, the impact caused his finger to jam so far up his nose that he touched his brain, killing him instantly.

I’m not a scientist – whether this is a true story or an urban legend is a question I’d normally punt to the good folks at Snopes or MythBusters. But last week, I decided that it is definitely not true.

Because last week I got my first ever “nose swab” to test for COVID-19, and I’m 90% sure they touched my brain. Yet here I am, alive to tell the tale.

I’m fine. I haven’t gotten the test results, but my symptoms (which lasted about 5 days) appear to be subsiding. In the meantime, I’ve been self-quarantining in our bedroom for over a week now while my wife handles our two girls with 20% less space and 50% less help than before. Despite my condition, I definitely have the better end of the deal.

Around this time last year, I quoted Stephen King in a post about writing. King wrote that a writing space “really needs only one thing: a door which you are willing to shut.” I remember at the time lamenting the fact that I couldn’t seem to shut out life’s distractions, and wondering whether I truly had such a door. Well, now I’ve got one:

Staring at the door, I’ve been thinking about just how unique this situation is. Yes, the human race has suffered pandemics before. And yes, although technology is constantly changing and evolving, most of what we now consider the “basics” (phone, email, video conferencing, even social media) have been around for a while, relatively speaking. But at no point in history have we ever encountered such a far-reaching challenge, while also having such far-reaching means of sharing our experiences. 

In some ways, it’s the perfect opportunity to develop empathy.

If the word “opportunity” sounds optimistic, it’s because I am optimistic – at this moment. I’m in a good mood. Which, by the way, changes day-to-day, sometimes hour-to-hour. There have been plenty of times when I’ve been downright pessimistic. If this isolation has taught me anything it’s that I can be quite the moody person. And my perspective on all this, along with my opinion on how it should be approached, changes with my mood. I chose to write this post while I was in a good mood, because if I’m going to put something out there I want it to be positive. If the results are a little Pollyannaish, so be it.

I’ve seen a lot of back-and-forth on social media about what’s “the right way” to handle this isolation. It appears there are two camps:

  1. You should take care of yourself, be kind to yourself, and cut yourself some slack. This event has no precedent – do whatever it takes to stay sane, and forgive yourself.
  2. You should take advantage of this opportunity to push yourself, to “pivot”, and grow – you should come out of this thing better than before.

This is a false choice, and it isn’t unique to pandemics. These approaches are not mutually exclusive – taking care of yourself doesn’t mean you can’t grow, and trying to better yourself shouldn’t come at the expense of your self-worth. I like how Gretchen Rubin put it recently: “Accept yourself and expect more from yourself.” There’s no reason we can’t do both, although it isn’t always easy.

So what am I doing? I’m sleeping as much as I can, but I’m making my bed when I get up. I’m getting dressed in new clothes every day, but I’m keeping it casual. I’m eating as much as I want, but trying to limit it to healthy foods (pizza date night notwithstanding).

If you’re getting a little stir crazy, I feel you. I am too. Keep fighting the good fight behind closed doors – there’s important stuff on the other side.

Podcast Episode 4: “Getting Things Done.” Interview with Julie Ireland, GTD Focus.

To listen to the episode, click here

Managing tasks at work and at home has never been easy. COVID-19 hasn’t made it any easier. Which is why I’m so excited to release this week’s podcast episode, where I had the privilege of interviewing Julie Ireland, Senior GTD Coach at GTD Focus. When I first heard about Julie’s Getting Things Done or “GTD” Coaching services, I figured it was just about being more productive. Turns out, it’s about a whole lot more.

GTD Focus is the Exclusive Partner for the delivery of Getting Things Done® (GTD®) individual coaching in the United States and Canada. Their workflow coaching services are one-on-one intensives that will drill down to the core of how you work, coach you in making better tactical and strategic decisions, and guide you in building sustainable systems that will better support your flourishing, amidst rapid change and growth.

Julie’s work is fascinating, and my take on GTD is that it’s more of a philosophy and a mindset than an instruction manual. But I have to say the thing I was most impressed with was how open and present Julie was during our interview. It was contagious (not a great word to be throwing around right now but I can’t think of a better one) and before long we were both talking about big picture topics, such as:

  • Managing through crisis
  • Getting help vs. DIY
  • Creativity, where it comes from and how structure plays into it
  • The benefits of testing and “trial-and-error”
  • The challenges we’ve seen with COVID-19, as well as the bright spots of graciousness and generosity
  • Books (obviously)

At the end of the day, this interview was about coaching. That word means a lot more to me now, and based on what I’ve seen Julie is everything a coach should be.

Show Notes:

  • How this episode almost didn’t get recorded, and how Julie and I got connected via Scott Wurtzbacher (episode 1) [00:40]
  • Julie’s introduction to GTD [2:30]
  • What it means to have a coach, coaching vs. DIY and the importance of being vulnerable [8:15]
  • The essence of GTD and the work that Julie does [12;30]
  • COVID-19. Managing tasks (as well as expectations) while working from home [19:50]
  • The importance of knowing what you’re saying “no” to when deciding whether to say “yes” to something else [25:50]
  • Julie’s “fast-food” analogy to managing email [29:25]
  • The “five ‘I’s” of GTD [31:55]
  • Once your daily tasks are done, where does the next big thing come from? [38:33]
  • Recommendations for getting started with GTD, including setup guides [39:46]
  • Julie’s approach to prioritizing nonfiction, and her “read watch and listen” list, and the importance of making decisions based on [41:20]
  • The different horizon levels of the GTD model, the importance of making decisions that are in alignment with your values, and how Julie applies the GTD principles in her personal life [47:17]
  • Several favorite books Julie and I have in common  [52:45]
  • How Julie used GTD principles to pursue her passion for painting [56:03]
  • GTD Focus, and its nuanced approach to helpin clients through GTD in alignment with their learning styles [58:35]
  • How Julie plans to “Do Better This Year” [1:01:14]

References

“Have A Morning Routine.” *Sigh…*

I was standing on my balcony talking to a good friend of mine earlier this week, and at one point in the conversation he commented,

“You know, I noticed that you’ve been sighing a lot during this conversation. Why is that?”

I’ve been sighing a lot these days. During FaceTime visits with family, Zoom meetings with colleagues, and Google Hangouts with friends, at some point in the conversation I’ll fill the silence by shrugging my shoulders and sighing. What else can you do?

A lot has changed in the past few weeks, and the change seems to be coming faster each day. Decisions that used to be simple, like when to go to the grocery store or what to do to keep the kids busy, are starting to feel a little more complicated. Now it seems like every little decision I make affects not just myself but my family, my community, and America.

And a lot of the goals I set in 2020 have been completely derailed. Drinking has seen an uptick. I haven’t been working out as much while I figure out what “working out” looks like now. Liz and I were off to a good start going on more dates in 2020, but who knows when we’ll be able to go to a restaurant again? Although I will say that keeping the car clean has been a lot easier since the shelter-in-place order. Silver linings.

But there’s one area in particular where the wheels are really starting to fall off: my morning routine. The routine I described in October, which involved working out, meditating, reading a book, planning my day, and getting into the office with a cup of coffee by 7:45, seems a far cry from what I’m doing now. These days jeans are formal wear, meditating is non-existent, and reading a book has been replaced with a 24-hour news cycle revolving around one, single story.

Some of my struggles are more practical.  The gym is closed – and my “home gym” consists of two 15 lb dumbbells in our dining room/kitchen/family room. And I really took for granted how helpful was to have time to myself during my commute – I don’t really have that now. Some real pivoting is in order in some cases.

But other struggles are harder to tie to specific external circumstances. Take snacking, for example. What is going on with that??? The snacking is getting out of control. I stopped doing intermittent fasting, and now I literally just walk around the house eating things, opening up and shutting cupboards and refrigerator doors again and again hoping to find… what exactly? Comfort I guess.

And isn’t that understandable at this time? Let me hit the pause button and say unequivocally that yes, it is. If you’re struggling with something similar, let me just say that it’s OK in my book. We’re all dealing with this in different ways, and I don’t think there’s a “right way” to be handling this right now. Still, it brings up an important dichotomy that I’m having trouble with these days:

I want to practice self-acceptance, but not at the expense of personal growth.

So how do I do that? How do I reconcile devouring an entire sleeve of Oreos that were supposed to be for the kids but Liz left them on the counter so they’re gone now?

Maintaining order where we can is important now more than ever as we collectively navigate this time of crisis. At the same time, we have to forgive ourselves. Two of my friends have recently used the word “grace” to describe this. It’s not a word I typically use, but I might pick it up. We could all use a little grace during this time. At the end of the day, it’s a balancing act. I need to forgive myself for the past without encouraging similar behavior in the future.

So this month, let’s focus on the present, and what we can do in the here and now to get things trending in the right direction again. I’m still convinced we can Do Better This Year, we just have to get things back on track, starting with where we have the most control. For me, that would be the alarm clock.

Podcast Episode 3: “Fitness Longevity.” Interview with Rich O’Neill, Elite Functional Performance.

In this episode of the New Year’s Revolutionary podcast, I had the privilege of interviewing Rich O’Neill, owner of Elite Functional Performance (EFP) here in Charlotte. 

To listen to the episode, click here

Rich is a certified personal trainer with over 30,000 hours of personal training experience. He uses his skills to first evaluate each client’s bio-alignment and functional mobility. He then begins to organize a system of movements designed to alleviate pain, improve functional movement and avoid further injuries down the road. I’ve experienced this process first hand, and am excited to continue working with Rich and his team on my own fitness development.

We covered a lot of ground in this episode. I was blown away by the depth of Rich’s knowledge about physical fitness and nutrition, and his ability to distill and explain it in ways that made sense. We talked about Rich’s unique entry into the field, and how that has shaped his approach and perspective. We discussed his thoughts on coaching, nutrition, books, routines, and the challenges of work/life balance as a business owner.

(One thing we did not talk about was coronavirus. We recorded this a few days before the response really started developing here in North Carolina. Hopefully this will be a nice respite from the news!)

Show Notes:

  • How we got connected via Scott Wurtzbacher (episode 1) [00:45]
  • How Rich first got introduced to fitness and nutrition, and overcame personal injury in the process [1:49]
  • Rich’s immersion into the “Fitness Longevity” philosophy through his mentor Sam Iannetta [10:35]
  • How certain habits can lead to pain and injury down the road, and how they can be corrected in the gym [19.30]
  • Coaching vs. DIY in personal fitness [24:44]
  • Nutrition, and Rich’s thoughts on recent trends (keto, paleo, Whole 30) [27:50]
  • Intermittent fasting, and timing protein intake with your workouts [35:30]
  • Two supplements that the average person might be deficient in [40:00]
  • Book recommendations on fitness, and the importance of understanding both anatomy and physiology [43:10]
  • Rich’s morning routine which starts at 3:36 a.m. (a new record for the NYR podcast!) [50:00]
  • Entrepreneurship, and the challenge of running a business while maintaining a work/life balance [53:40]
  • Rich’s plans to “Do Better This Year” [59:20]

References