The Curse of the Capricorn

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the capricorn goat

I am a Capricorn.  I’ve never been one to look at my daily astrology chart, but my dad instilled a sense of Capricorn pride in me from an early age.  My dad is a Capricorn as well. He told me he even had a boss at one time who only hired Capricorns.  If you are unfamiliar with the Capricorn symbolism, we are the mountain goat that scales the rocky cliffs.  We are planners and are constantly working on multiple goals simultaneously.  Like a good chess player, we are always thinking five moves ahead.  We are part juggler and part conjurer, part manager and part engineer.  We need our lives to be in order to keep everything running smoothly. 

We relentlessly pursue our goals and do not rest until we achieve our objectives. Everything we do is about reaching the end goal.  We are obsessed with seeing the fruition of our dreams.  Almost everything we do is part of a greater plan.  Every act, every intention, every undertaking has a purpose. 

We are silent achievers, and most people underestimate us.  They compare us in contrast to the robust looking Aries ram, Taurus the bull or Leo the lion and just nod their heads.  They say to themselves that goat doesn’t have a chance. 

But while those mighty signs charge ahead of us, relying on their physical strength to overcome whatever obstacles lie ahead, we have already mapped out the journey.  And as they stumble, and eventually fall, tumbling back down the mountain, we meticulously make our way up the rocky cliffs, one step at a time, carefully maneuvering the narrow path, until finally it is us who stand at the crest of the mountain peak, enjoying the view in our success and triumph.  Never underestimate the goat.

Being a Capricorn is also a curse. For as we are enjoying the crisp mountain air, the wondrous view from the mountain peak we have just scaled, taking in the sense of accomplishment, we see another mountain peak just ahead.  That mountain is taller than the one where we stand, its view even more enticing, or so we tell ourselves.  This discovery propels us forward on an endless journey to scale that next peak, and the next one, and the next, for there is always another one.   Any sense of accomplishment is quickly circumvented by the desire to achieve the next objective.  It is a never-ending cycle.  It is the curse of the Capricorn.

It gets tiring being the goat.  Ask those who personally know us well, and they will tell you.  Now and then, we crash from exhaustion.  At times we get overwhelmed from overcommitting ourselves. We forget that Father Time only allots 24 hours in a day, and that we have to find time to sleep at some point.  However, it’s hard to sleep restfully on the mountain.  There is nowhere soft to rest your head, the air is cold, and you have to constantly be aware of the edge of the cliff beside you. 

Lately, I have taken a break now and then, while ascending whichever mountain I happen to be climbing at the time, and gaze down at the lush green meadow below me.  The problem with climbing rocky cliffs is having to constantly watch out for the trail in front of you, a trail of dirt, gravel and an occasional boulder.  The sprouts of grass growing along those cliffs are few and far between and barely satisfy.  I have recently become infatuated with the meadow below and long to repose in its appealing dark green blades of grass. The meadow looks so inviting.  I long to run amongst the blooming wildflowers and enjoy their fragrant smells.  I aspire to enjoy the warmth of the sunshine, rather than continue to endure the cold thin air of the mountains.  I dream of spending days upon days in the meadow with no sense of purpose other than my own personal enjoyment and pleasure.  Rather than accomplish lofty dreams of aspiration, I find myself desiring only to lie in the meadow on a comfortable blanket with the woman I love beside me as we bask in the sun, relishing the simple enjoyments in life we’ve missed.

The truth is, I am tired of climbing mountains.  I now long for the simple pleasures of life.   My definition of Someday has now changed.

Earlier in my life I said, “Someday, I am going to record an album,” and I did.

Earlier in my life I said, “Someday, I am going to become a syndicated newspaper columnist,” and I did.

Earlier in my life I said, “Someday, I am going to break into the IT field and be very successful despite no formal academic IT training,” and I did.

Earlier in my life I said, “Someday, I am going to run for political office and get elected,” and I did.

Earlier in my life I said, “Someday, I am going to write a book,” and I did.

But now I want something completely different.

I accomplished so much in my life thus far, and yet I felt unhappy.  I sought a counselor last year to help me examine my life.  During our first two sessions, she asked me a number of questions about all of the commitments in my life at the time. At the end of the second session she said, “As I look over my notes at everything you’ve told me about your life right now, the word that comes to my mind is OVERWHELMING!  Where is your fun?  Where is your night out with the boys to go bowling, or play poker, or do a round of golf on a Saturday?  You have to crash at some point.  There’s no way you can keep up this pace without a breakdown now and then.  How have you managed to keep going at this pace for so long?”

She was right.  There was little fun in my life.  That was the moment I realized that I was tired of constantly climbing.  What good is accomplishing greatness if I have no time to enjoy it?  On my deathbed one day, it is not my accomplishments that I will relish in my last moments of life, but the loving and joyful memories that I created at one time or another with the people I love.

As I walked out of her office, I said to myself, “Someday I am going to do nothing, nothing but enjoy life to its fullest.” 

Yes, Someday, I am going to put the needs of my heart above the needs of my financial obligations.  Someday, I am going to put my personal needs ahead of my career.  Someday I am going to rediscover my spirituality.  Someday I am going to wake up and spend the entire day with the woman I love beneath the sheets.  Someday, I am going to enjoy doing nothing.

Doing nothing is very hard for a mountain goat.  It’s not in our nature.  But I know that if I don’t attain my Someday now, that I may never see it come to fruition until it’s too late to fully enjoy it.  It was upon leaving her office that the idea for this book came to fruition.  I also realized something else that day.  I recognized that I am 49 years old and that it is a very critical year for me as a human being, which is what the next chapter is all about.   

From the book, Someday, I am Going To… by Brad Rudisail, available on Amazon


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My Life as an Airbnb Gypsy

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My life as an Airbnb Gypsy, the new definition of home

Confessions of an Airbnb Gypsy

The other day my mom and I caught an Uber ride leaving the Atlanta Falcons game.  I love the convenience of Uber and I also enjoy talking to their drivers as my inquisitive mind is constantly fascinated with people working in the gig economy.  As I barraged the young lady at the wheel with my usual questions about life as an Uber professional, she interrupted my train of thought with a questions of her own.

“Where do you live?” she asked.

I paused for a moment, not because I felt she was imposing on my privacy or because I didn’t want to tell her.  I sat there in twenty seconds of uncomfortable silence because I didn’t know how to honestly answer her question without a twenty-minute dissertation about my life.  I responded, “That all depends on what day it is,” I said in a humorous tone.  Thankfully she let that one go with just a chuckle.

I answered her question in an attempt to be funny, but I was also being totally serious as well.  I am an Airbnb gypsy.  My residence literally depends on what day it is.  I’m not an Airbnb resident because I’m a perpetual traveler exploring the world.  I have a regular 9-5 job five days a week.  I don’t do it because I can’t afford a place of my own.  As a matter of fact, I own a house that I rent out as a vacation rental or Airbnb hub myself.  People love my home and stay at it constantly all year round, so much so that I couldn’t stay there if I wanted to, which I don’t.  I would sell it in a heartbeat if my house weren’t turning a profit.  My home is an employee to me and it is expected to produce.  If it doesn’t, a “For Sale” sign will serve as its termination notice.  Like a valued employee however, I take good care of it.  Right now it is enjoying a kitchen remodeling.  I hope my guests love the fresh new look because I am doing it for them, not me.

The road that led me to my cynicism of home ownership today was a long journey filled of stress and remorse.  I was married for over twenty years and the majority of those years we owned two houses, just not the same two.  To me they were anchors that were dragging me under, drowning me.  Despite a very successful career, we were always house poor, doling out two of everything in Noah’s Arc style: 2 power bills, 2 cable bills, 2 property taxes etc.  The second house was always plugged to me as an investment but I never witnessed any positive returns from it.  In 2002 I lost my job and was unemployed for nine months and those two houses nearly emptied our savings.  The housing bust of 2007 wiped out that fickle hallucination we refer to as home equity, wiping out any hope I had of selling them and ridding myself of those inflexible moors.  I have turned down magical career opportunities because my houses couldn’t relocate.  We could never afford exotic vacations and never saved enough for retirement.  To me, home ownership meant a life of slavery that constricted our lives.

Today I am free of the chains of home ownership.  For $30 a night I stay in a charming home that is wonderfully furnished.  I have a great bedroom with my own TV and fast Internet.  Every week I enjoy clean sheets and am furnished with fresh towels and toiletries.  The kitchen is fully stocked with every utensil I would ever need.  I have a favorite house I primarily stay at but I rotate locations as I have the privilege to be able to call some of my Airbnb hosts, friends.  Every once in a while I venture out of my comfort zone and try a new Airbnb to stay in a different part of town just to see what it is like.

I don’t stay seven nights a week at Airbnb.  I visit my mom two nights a month.  On the weekends I visit my girlfriend or go visit other friends.  If I were to stay seven nights a week I would be spending upwards of $800 a month.  Yes, you could argue I could have my own apartment for that.  But now consider that I have no power bill, no cable bill, no first and last month deposit and no contract.  My life is fluid and agile.

Because my budget is no longer busted by housing costs, I am able to travel and see the beautiful world we live in.   I was able to take a bucket list trip to Ireland earlier this year where, yes, I stayed at Airbnb homes.  In two months I am headed to Utah to go skiing where I will call a lovely Airbnb right off the ski slope my home for four nights.

This life isn’t for everyone, but it works for me, and in a time in which the uncertainties of a global economy and the impending threat of the vanquishing of jobs by technology and robots, it provides me the elasticity I need to feel secure.

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7.9 Million of Us!

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Are you 1 of the 7.9 million multi-jobbers in America today.  Buried in last Friday’s jobs report last Friday was that 301K more Americans now hold that title, the 5th highest spike in a decade.  For some it is a circumstance foisted upon them by the inability to meet their financial obligations with one job.  For others, it is a choice that garners them a good night’s sleep knowing that their personal finances and dignity are not controlled by a single job, boss or organization.  And for others, it is because of the great opportunity that the new technological world we live in allows people of talent to compete anywhere they wish.

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How Much Money did You Trade Your Dreams For?

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In the movie, Up in the Air, Ryan Bingham, played by George Clooney, is informing a long time employee, Bob, that he is being let go of his position due to a large company downsizing.  Ryan is an outside consultant hired by the company because he specializes in the art of laying people off.   Bob is just one in a long line of people that Ryan must meet with over the course of two days.  As Ryan unveils the bad news to Bob, the following conversation takes place,

Ryan Bingham:  Most students work the frier at KFC. You busted tables at Il Picatorre to support yourself. Then you got out of college and started working here. How much did they pay you to give up on your dreams?

Bob: Twenty seven thousand a year.

Ryan Bingham: At what point were you going to stop and go back to what made you happy?

The movie doesn’t reveal Bob’s last name.  Bob represented more than a simple character.  Bob is an icon, a symbol of our society today, representing thousands, maybe millions of people.   At some point, many of us exchanged our dreams for a payout.  For some the payout may have been twenty-seven thousand a year like Bob.  Some may have settled for fifty-thousand while others were fortunate to negotiate six digits in the trade.  In the end, the payout doesn’t matter if you aren’t happy.  Happiness has no price tag.

At the time, we probably told ourselves it would only be temporary.  Maybe you wanted that shiny new car and you said, I will take this job I loathe just long enough to pay for the car.  Then I’ll go back to doing what I love.  Perhaps the dream of owning your own business was forestalled for the mirage of being a home owner, only to find that the upkeep and expense of a home extracted so much of your resources and time to maintain it.  Maybe we told convinced ourselves that security was more important than chasing our dream, only to find that a disruptive economy and constant technological change stifles and extinguishes whatever sense of security we convinced ourselves we had acquired.  The animal at the zoo is secure, that is along as the zoo keeper continues to come by and feed it every day.  It is only as secure as the financial viability of the zoo itself, for which it has no influence or control of.  Job security is just that, unless our boss decides he doesn’t like us, or the company’s profit margin is being squeezed by an industry disruptor, or the company’s board decides to move our division to Mexico.  We can tell ourselves we have security, until we’re called to meet some guy liked Ryan Bingham.

At one time I was working four jobs at one time.  I was working four jobs in the name of job security.  I was working four jobs to support two houses that had enslaved me.  I was working four jobs to pay for a shiny BMW for a family member and a list of other stuff.  I was a rat on a wheel, very productive, but not much sense of introspective happiness.

And then I had my Bob moment and was reminded about the trade I made years ago.  Since then I have been going through a process of decoupling and self-actualization.  Two weeks ago, I went to Ireland, a place I had always dreamed of visiting but never had the time or money.  I stayed at Airbnb’s across the country and traveled lite.  As I hiked along the Cliffs of Moher and inhaled its incredible beauty every time I turned my head, I realized that the fruition of one’s dreams is what life is all about.  That is what makes one truly happy.

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Two Very Deadly Words You Should Stop Using Right now

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You may remember from your high school chemistry course that the ordinary table salt you use every day to improve the taste of your food is made up of two deadly poisons; sodium and chlorine. Imagine that, two lethal elements come together to form a compound that not only doesn’t kill us, it actually adds aesthetic value to our lives. It makes our food taste better, and since food is such a primary part of our lives, these two toxic elements actually improve our lives when used in conjunction with one another.

In the English language there are two words that when used singularly or isolated from one another, are useful wonderful words. But when they are used in conjunction with one another they form a deadly phrasing compound.

I’m sure you’ve uttered these two words in succession. They seem innocent enough. It seems perfectly logical to use these two words as a pair. And once I point out the dangerous oxymoron that these two words make up, you will realize that you’ve probably used them more times than you will care to admit.

These two words are an evasion that help ensure that Someday never comes. Are you ready for these two words?

Here they are: “I should.”

And after today, you need to wipe these two words from your vocabulary!

So what is so terrible about this phrase? It’s because like an iceberg, you don’t see the entire object. It’s not the visible part of the iceberg that sinks ships. It’s the part that lies hidden underneath the ocean that rips a tear in the hull, sending the ship to its watery grave, and sometimes the crew as well.

“I should,” has an invisible element as well. “I should” is actually the visible part of a five word phrase and it’s the hidden aspect of it that is holding you back from seeing your Someday through.

You see, “I should” is invisibly followed by “but I won’t”

When you utter the words “I should,” you are really saying “I should, but I won’t.”

When you use that phrase with someone in a conversation, what you are saying is, “I agree with you, but I’m not going to do that.”

Maybe a friend of yours at one time suggested that you scale down your life and decrease the size of your overhead because the financial pressure of having to meet all those payments prevents you from enjoying life and you said, “I should (but I won’t).”

And now five years has passed and the bills are still mounting to support your overly large home, your two new cars and the store size selection of clothes in your master bedroom closet. You find yourself working all the time, which keeps you away from your family or simply relaxing on a lazy weekend.

Maybe you’ve reiterated the news to your family that your doctor gave you that you need to start losing weight before it starts impacting your health down the road, and when your family asks you if you will indeed follow the doctor’s advice, you answered, “I should (but I won’t).” And now ten years later, you are even more overweight and your back aches every morning and your feet hurt at the end of every day as they are forced to support your ever increasing weight.

So what are the two words you can use instead?  I will tell you next week in my blog.

Brad Rudisail
Author of the book, “Someday I’m Going To…” (on Amazon)

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What is the True Cost of Buying Something?

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Why not live more simply?

Because the more stuff we buy, the more we end up exchanging our life for the things we own.

This is a radical way of thinking about cost. Normally, we think of cost as a measure of dollars and cents. The latest iPhone costs $399. A new Toyota Prius costs around $25,000. A house on the beach in Malibu costs $20,000,000. You get the idea.

Thoreau’s key insight is that the things we buy don’t just cost money, they cost us time, effort, and sacrifice. They cost us our life.

Example. Let’s say you decide to buy a million dollar house. Thoreau would say that the real cost of the house isn’t one million dollars. The real cost is the number of years of work required to pay it off. So if it takes you 40 years of long hours working a job you hate to pay off that house, then it’s real cost is not one million dollars, it’s 40-years of life.

This is an excerpt of a blog by Nate Klemp.  The entire blog can be read at Thoreau’s Guide to Living More by Spending Less

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How VRBO and Airbnb Changed my Life, and Can Change Yours

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A short while back I inherited a lake house as a result of a divorce.  Ironically, the house was a contributing factor to the demise of our marriage.  The house had sucked the life out of me for years, foisting into juggling multiple jobs in order to subsidize the mortgage, utilities, taxes and upkeep while supporting a primary residence as well.  I had a great amount of resentment towards that house and stressed over what I would do with it.  The numbers on paper made it virtually impossible to sell it and living there would mean commuting multiple hours every day to get to my job in order to pay for it all.  Having endured so many long commutes for most of my career, I couldn’t bear the thought of being trapped in a car day in and day out for so long.  I felt like a rat on a wheel.   I would stay awake at night dreaming of how I could get away with burning that malevolent house to the ground.

And then, I discovered – Vacation Rental by Owner, where travelers can rent an entire house or condo rather than utilize a traditional hotel room.  With nothing to lose, I created an ad and waited.  I didn’t have to wait long.  Three days later a young couple contacted me about renting the house for a weekend so celebrate their anniversary.  Since then, I have had half a dozen anniversaries, two family reunions and a wedding hosted at my home.   What was once a hotbed of anguish and anxiety has become an epicenter of joy and celebration.

The house is now continually rented year round and it completely pays for itself today.  I even make a small profit that allows me to do renovations and upgrades to the house.  I take care of it, and it takes care of my wonderful guests.  VRBO dramatically changed my life, both financially and emotionally.

In the meantime, came the issue of where I would live?  Uncertain of what I wanted to do with my life at this point, becoming burdened with another house was the last thing I wanted to do.  I needed flexibility in my life now.  I considered an apartment but there were few choices near my employer and since all of my current furnishings had to remain at my lake house for my guests, the thought of furnishing a residence I might only be at for a year or so seemed illogical and daunting.  Both my mom and my girlfriend gave me open invitations to reside with them but both of their residences meant even longer commutes.

And then I discovered Airbnb, a truly amazing sight where people rent out their spare bedrooms to potential guests needing to a place to stay a few nights.  There was a lady named Emily who had an apartment ten minutes from my work with a furnished bedroom and private bath in a separate wing of her apartment.  She was unemployed and wanted to bring in some needed revenue.  For one year I stayed three nights a week with her.  Six months into our arrangement she obtained a job which prevented her from getting home until late in the evening due to a horrible commute.  As a result, I agreed to walk her dog when I would get there after work.  I miss walking that dog because Emily moved in order to be closer to her work.

Since Emily’s departure, I have begun staying at a variety of Airbnb’s.  I stay with a host name Kendall, an Uber driver, half the time who lives the closest to my work.  I also reside with over half a dozen other hosts as well.  I will stay just about anywhere that is within 25 minutes of my work and charges between 20 and 35 bucks a night.  I haven’t met a bed yet I didn’t like.  As a result, I have met some interesting hosts and been able to explore parts of the city that I never exposed myself to before.

On the weekends I usually stay with my girlfriend which manages to ground me just enough so I don’t feel like a wandering gypsy.  I have no power bill, no cable bill, no water bill.  I only have one bill – Airbnb.  In three weeks I am taking advantage of a rare opportunity to go to Ireland for a week, and yes, I am staying at Airbnb’s every night I am there.  In a way, I am simply moving my residency to Ireland for a week and since I won’t be paying rent back in the U.S., it will make the trip a whole lot cheaper.

Airbnb allows me to be close to work, save money and remain highly malleable at a critical junction in my life.  It is truly an interesting time to be alive.

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The New Employment Paradigm

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A couple years ago, the owner of a software company and dear client of mine proudly emailed me a picture of what he referred to as his “command and control center.”  It was an impressive array of servers, dual monitors, printers and laptops all congregated on a large table in his dining room with Ethernet cables and a multiport router.  Two weeks later I emailed him a photo of me on the beach sitting in a lounge chair, my laptop opened up in my lap and my cell phone sitting beside a cold beverage.  “This is my command and control center,” I wrote. 

When you work in the cloud, your office or command and control center is simply where you are at the time.  Geographical location and distance are irrelevant.  The cloud is where entrepreneurism, mobility and specialization combine to form an emerging new employment paradigm.  Just as the cloud is liberating organizations from the confines of the physical datacenter, it is slowly unshackling knowledge workers from the cubicle forever.

In 2009, renowned MIT Management Professor, Thomas Malone, authored a book called “The Future of Work,” in which he described the labor market of the coming decade:

“Imagine organizations where bosses give employees huge freedom to decide what to do and when to do it. Imagine electing your own bosses and voting directly on important company decisions. Imagine organizations where most workers aren’t employees at all, but electronically connected freelancers living wherever they want to. And imagine that all this freedom in business lets people get more of whatever they really want in life—money, interesting work, helping other people, or time with their families.”

This new future goes by more than one name.  Some call fractional employment, others call it hyperspecialization.  Whichever term you prefer; the prevailing concept is that the unit of work is no longer a whole job.  A unit of work today can be a project in which one person or a team of highly specialized workers operate together to see a project to its fruition. In this new fractional paradigm, employees will not work for a single employer, but will work for multiple employers, juggling a variety of projects and tasks, offering their skills on an as-needed basis.  A job done by one generalist is now being dispersed across whole networks of very narrow experts, a process which has usually resulted in improvements regarding quality, speed and cost. 

Of course, there is nothing new about this concept.  Business has always increased productivity by breaking work down into smaller units, the classic example being Henry Ford’s implementation of the first automobile.  By breaking down the assembly process into hundreds of small tasks, he was able to make a car that the masses could afford.  This constant division of work has traditionally benefitted society as a whole, resulting in periods of lifestyle and prosperity on a scale unimaginable two-hundred years ago.

So how did we get to this idea of fractionalizing jobs through the cloud?  Just like the computer virtualization paradigm, the initial appeal of utilizing the cloud to outsource work was simply cost savings.    The fiber optic cable that was placed under the oceans gave way to the idea of outsourcing call centers to India to the point that Bangalore, India is the highest concentration of call centers in the world.  And then, just like computer virtualization, organizations soon recognized that the value of cloud outsourcing went far beyond mere cost savings.  

“Technology shapes styles of work,” says Ed Lazowska, who holds a chair in computer science and engineering at the University of Washington. “One critical advantage of the cloud is that sharing becomes dramatically easier.”  It’s easier because it makes global communication so cheap that organizations can communicate with anyone in the developed world at virtually no cost.  This allows them to the ability to locate new talent that can not only contribute specialized tasks and knowledge, but innovation, new ideas and perspectives as well.  In the constant race to value that organizations find themselves in today, businesses must constantly pursue new means of creation and innovation.  They must achieve levels of unprecedented agility in order to respond to ever diminishing product life cycles.  With product margins continually growing smaller, businesses must turn to flexible adaptable work forces that can be created and terminated at break neck speed just like virtualized computers.

The 80’s brought us just-in-time manufacturing, which led to just-in-time product delivery for chains such as Wal-Mart.  It was only a matter of time until just-in-time employment naturally came to fruition as well.  It is cloud technology which has provided business the tools to create this new delivery system of work. 

So what type of value do cloud workers receive in this seemingly frightening model of temporary virtual teaming in a highly competitive global environment.  Well how about having more control over their careers and the types of projects they choose to become involved with?   Imagine a work life in which every day is truly a new day, bringing with it new tasks, new opportunities and new relationships?  Both workers and companies will also benefit from the elimination of the commute which wastes time, energy and brainpower.   It is an environment that will provide unlimited opportunity for specialists that are good at what they do and know how to market themselves.  Traditionally, one was limited to the geographical area as their market for their services.  Today, the world is their market.  This also means that mediocrity will have nowhere to hide as markets which lacked superior talent in the past will no longer have be restricted to the local talent pool

So how does one take part in this movement?  Well, for starters, there are sites such as,, and are all sites which match employers and specialists together.  In the end though, it’s about marketing yourself through resources such as and other network building resources.  The catch phrase, think global act local is as trued as ever.

Some employers may require a confidentially agreement.  Some may provide or even require an email account with their organization for intercompany communication.   Virtual teams can share access to resources through cloud services such as Dropbox or OneDrive for Business, allowing file editing.  Employers can then provide access to needed resources through cloud drive services such as OneDrive and Dropbox.  Team members can communicate with each other using services such as Skype of Lync and hold weekly meetings utilizing cloud conference services such as

Just like my earlier reference to open up this article, life can be a beach working in the cloud.  Early adapters and entrepreneurs are embracing this new paradigm of agility and mobility.  The cloud has brought with it an era in which an app such as Uber can dramatically change the business landscape of an industry.  Think of yourself as an app and get it distributed to as many phones (employers) as possible.  That today, is the recipe for success. 

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A Long Heritage of Optimism

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“The American, by nature, is optimistic. He is experimental, an inventor and a builder who builds best when called upon to build greatly.” 

–        John F. Kennedy 

While blind optimism doesn’t necessarily do us any good, a healthy dose of optimism is essential to keep us marching towards our Someday.  In fact, America is one of the most optimistic nations on earth.  It seems to be a part of our very nature.  Why is it that we as Americans are so inheritably optimistic is a subject of debate but a great explanation as to why comes from historian, Frederick Jackson Turner, who in 1893, published his hypothesis entitled the “Frontier Theory.”

Turner believed that many of the characteristics associated with the American people were traceable to their experience during the three centuries our nation spent settling the continent. The constant willingness of Americans during this 300-year period to head to the next frontier and “begin a new life” was fueled by heavy doses of optimism, inventiveness and a willingness to accept innovation.  Their tendency to view the world through rose-colored glasses gave them the will and alacrity to make repeated trips out west despite the hardships and challenges that were constantly foisted on them.  They were dreamers.  For them, the frontier was a horizon of hope.  The frontier represented a second chance, to erase the mistakes of their past and start fresh with a clean slate and a new attitude.  It was an opportunity to take the wisdom from the lessons they had learned from their past and apply it in a new environment in order to attain their dreams and aspirations of a better life.

Let’s say that you lived in Boston at around the turn of the 19th century and life wasn’t that great for you.  You were short on opportunities and even shorter on cash.  You couldn’t seem to find your rightful place in such a big established city.  You felt like you needed someplace that wasn’t established as of yet, a place that you could get in at the very beginning and build something.  With its virgin land that remained unscarred from man, the Ohio Territories seemed like the perfect place to do just that.

So you sold what belongings you deemed unessential for your pilgrimage, hitched your wagon and slowly trekked westward.  You arrived in the Ohio Territories and made a new start for yourself.  With the wisdom generated from your prior experiences, you made more judicious decisions and approached things a little differently the second go-around.  Still, despite your best efforts, life still wasn’t what you imagined it to be.

And then you heard the news, there’s Gold in them hills, in the hills of California.  The Gold Rush was on and you knew that this was your one opportunity to cash in on this while the door was still open and the iron was hot.  You imagined yourself striking it rich and then cashing it out so that you could live it up and relax for the rest of your life in comfort and style.  Again, you packed up, loaded the cart and led the family westward once more in search of fortune that this time around you were sure would be yours.

You arrived in California and soon discovered that panning for gold was a lot of back breaking work that required a great deal of skill, energy and a large dose of luck.  You did manage to find a few nuggets during that time but the mother lode you romanticized about discovering continually eluded you.

And then you heard that they were offering two million acres of cheap land in Oklahoma to whoever wanted to lay claim to it.   You knew this could be your last chance to be the established land owner you always envisioned as the vast majority of the country had been settled by now.  Yet again, you rushed your family, eastward this time, to the Promised Land where you would stake out a few acres of heaven for you and your family.  Maybe you stayed in Oklahoma for the remainder of your life, maybe you didn’t.

Thus a habitual pattern was established in America that continues to this day.  Look at the fluidness of our country as people who grew up in Ohio head to Georgia, while people in Georgia head to Washington State and people in Washington State head to North Dakota.  This is who we are as Americans.  We are a nation of dreamers and builders.  We are a nation of people who believe that tomorrow will be a better day simply because we dream it.

Thanks to those brave settlers and frontiersmen, we as Americans continue their heritage of hope and optimism, asserting that life in the future will definitely be better Someday when I move to . . . 

This blog is an excerpt from my book, Someday I’m Going To. . . Available on Amazon.

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How I Wasted 15,336,000 heart beats Commuting

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Iback road country

t was a year ago that I looked down at my odometer in my truck today while I was driving today and stared at an unbelievable number – 177, 529.  That is how many miles I have driven in only five years.  I racked up 222,439 miles on my previous truck before selling it to my daughter’s boyfriend.  Last I heard he had put another 6,000 miles on it before selling it to one of his buddies.  I drive trucks because they tend to hold their value they’re dependable and they have a lot of room to stretch out when my body starts getting fatigued by too much driving. 

I drive a lot of miles.  I wish I could say I accumulated those miles for something worthwhile such as driving cross country to see all fifty states, to see a baseball game in every stadium in the U.S. or to visit family members that I’hearve never met or tracking down lost loves that I let get away earlier in my life.   Unfortunately, I drove all of those miles for nothing more than a nine to five job. 

It’s not the miles though.  If I assume I drove an average of 50 miles an hour over the course of those miles, it means that I spent 3,550 hours in my truck in five years.  I had a total allotment of 43,800 hours of life given unto me these past five years. Assuming I got an average of eight hours of sleep every night, I spent 14,600 hours in bed in a restful state.  That leaves 29,200 hours to dole out as I saw fit, meaning that I spent 12% of my time spent in a confined compartment traveling the same boring routes to get to my employment.

And why did I drive so far to get to work?  Well to get to a better paying job of course, or actually more like jobs since I always seem to have more than just one.  Why did I need to make extra money above what I could have made just working locally where I live?  Well for one thing I needed extra money to pay for all of the gas I used driving those 177,529 miles and I needed to the money to purchase new vehicles at an accelerated rate as I drove every vehicle I owned for the past 22 years into the ground with all of the miles I put on them.

Ten years ago I spent six months driving two hours and twenty minutes each way to work twice a week.  That is four hours and forty minutes round trip.  I only worked three hours and twenty minutes more than I spent commuting to my job.  How insane is that?  I have another instance ten years ago where I drove six hours’ round trip to teach an eight-hour course at a technical college located on the other side of the state I lived in. 

We only get so much time on this earth, and the reason is because we only get so many heartbeats.  Once we use up our allocated number of heartbeats, our time is up.  Assuming my heart beats at an average of 72 beats per minute, I used up 25,920 of my precious heart beats, strapped into a chair in which I couldn’t freely move every day I drove to and from that school.  Looking at an even bigger picture, I expended 15,336,000 heart beats driving my current vehicle over the course of those 177,529 miles.

And it was that day a year ago, that I began to change my life.  Last month, I put roughly 1,500 miles on my vehicle.  Less miles, less fuel costs, less future maintenance, less fatigue, less back strain, and more importantly. . .

back road countrymore heartbeats for the things I truly love.

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