The Liberating Power of the Cloud for Everyday People

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Businessman works with Virtual Cloud Computer – cloud computing

Adaptation is the evolutionary process whereby an organism becomes better able to live in its habitat or habitats.  Today, organizations and individuals alike are scrambling to learn how to thrive in this new paradigm we call “The Cloud.”  It is an ambiguous entity much like “the force” which Obi-Wan explained, surrounds us, penetrates us, and binds the world together.

The cloud is the great disruptor and the great equalizer.   It is a disruptor in the fact that it is accelerating the digital transformation of entire industries and organizations of all sizes, at a pace that is seemingly occurring overnight, forcing traditional enterprises to rethink how they do business.  It is also the great equalizer that empowers the individual.  Thanks to the cloud, the sky’s the limit for those who recognize its sovereignty and liberating freedom.

Across the globe, businesses are scrambling to migrate their resources and services from the rigid datacenter, saddled with intransigent hardware and legacy technology to the fluid cloud.  No longer does infrastructure and size guarantee success.  The spoils of victory today are awarded to those that can demonstrate the greatest degree of flexibility and adaptability in order to react quickly to both disruption and opportunity.  A business no longer needs a datacenter, just a laptop where an orchestrator can deploy and decommission servers and services at will.  Today’s business owner can just as easily be a wandering migrant as the suit that boasts the corner office and resides there ten hours a day.  For cloud entrepreneurs, the office is simply where they are at the time.

To the cat that sits perched on the sill of the bay window gazing outward through the windowpane, the visible horizon is the only world it can comprehend.  In similar fashion, my vision of opportunity at one time was restrained by my own limitations governed by geographical restraints.   Ten years ago I wrote a syndicated biweekly newspaper column that was carried by three newspapers in my local geographical area.  Today I am a technical writer with clients in Ireland, Australia, Bulgaria, Canada and both coasts of the U.S.  The cloud has not only augmented my opportunities, but my understanding of the world and the digital transformation that is transpiring throughout the globe.

Opportunity has not only materialized for me in monetary compensation, but in the form of self-actualization as well.  Last year I had the opportunity to meet one of my clients in Galway, Ireland, which allowed me to spend one glorious afternoon, witnessing the beauty of the Cliffs of Moore.  As I traversed the hiking trails crisscross along the pastures that border the rocky precipices that keep the waters of the Atlantic at bay, I felt truly blessed to be alive in such an extraordinary time.

The cloud augments the ability to compete on a global scale with the giants of the world.  My dear friend, Kendall, knows the power of the cloud, even if he can’t deliberate the concept of this emboldening paradigm.  In need of an additional income source, he put his house on Airbnb, hoping to attract an occasional traveler that might be journeying through his area.  Since then, he has attracted guests from as far away as Germany and Denmark.  In other words, Kendall was able to attract guests that ten years ago would have been exclusively served by corporate giants such as Marriot or Hilton.  His endeavor has proved so successful; he is preparing an additional room in his house to serve multiple guest parties.

Just as Brexit was about a country breaking free of an obstinate plutocracy, the cloud is allowing individuals to break free from the shackles of the cubicle and challenge their former corporate masters.   So fearful of the disrupting forces of cloud based competition, that businesses are now turning to lobbyists to attempt to stifle these new kids on the block such as Uber and Airbnb.   But what is Uber and Airbnb?  They are not companies.  They are the culmination of millions of entrepreneurs, pursuing individualistic opportunity, yet acting in tandem collectiveness.

In summary – The Cloud is freedom, and we are the cloud.

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We Have Human Limitations, and that is a Good Thing

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“Welcome my son, welcome to the machine.”  These are the opening lyrics to the classic Pink Floyd song, Welcome to the Machine, off the Wish You Were Here album.  It was also my theme song for many years.  Companies today are undergoing a process called the Digital Transformation.  The goal of this endeavor is to digitize as many services and assets as possible and migrate them to the cloud, that mysterious fabric we cannot conceptualize but that is everywhere and connected to everything.  By digitally transforming itself, companies hope to obtain greater access to global markets, drastically decrease the time to value (ttv) and become more agile and flexible in order to respond faster to both industry disruptions and opportunities.

I digitally transformed myself years ago.  I migrated myself to the cloud and in doing so was able to obtain access to unprecedented global opportunities.  Although many people may complain about limited local job opportunities, I can vouch first hand that globally; there is an infinite amount of work that can be attained, at least until the robots and AI take over in another ten years.  Within two years of beginning this process, I was managing servers in Canada and Australia.  I obtained writing clients in Australia, Russia, Bulgaria, Ireland, Canada and every time zone of the U.S.  Oh, and I had a full time job and was a church music director on the weekends.  I was a machine!

I needed to be a machine.  I had two houses that demanded three loan payments, a car payment and a daughter in college.  I was the primary breadwinner of the family.  The constant pressure to service a persistently demanding stream of kept me motivated.  I worked thirteen-hour days on top of commuting to my regular job.  I felt like a well-oiled machine.  I felt like there was nothing I could not do.  I felt like a one-man global corporation that would soon take over the world.

But I didn’t.  Instead, one day, I stood in front of an endcap at the grocery store for five minutes, trying desperately to figure out which box of gratin potatoes was the one on special two-for-one.  As I stood there, I began wondering how it was possible that an intelligent adult male with two degrees and a global presence could feel so stupid.  Once I realized I was not going to be able to discern which box of gratin potatoes to put in my cart, I did the only thing I could do.  I sat on the floor and sobbed.  It is a humbling experience to realize that you are only human.

A psychologist I went to, Dr. Davis, refers to this as overload, a point at which the brain is overwhelmed and essentially short circuits.  This is commonly demonstrated in high stake political races in which a political candidate freezes in front of the camera, unable to answer a question he or she has answered a thousand times before.  It is a not a sign of stupidity, it is a sign of humanness.  As humans, we have limitations.  We have those limitations because out of self-preservation.  We were not created to work like machines; instead, we were created to live as humans.  We were created to live a balanced lifestyle.  We were created knowing what enjoyment is along with the innate desire to experience it.

In the last two years, I have been undergoing the process of humanizing myself.  I have gone from supporting two houses to living now at Airbnb.  I used to have two houses with lots of stuff in them.  Today, I limit my stuff to what fits in my automobile.  By living a meager life today, I have been able to drastically cut my workloads.  By drastically cutting my overhead, I have obtained the freedom, flexibility and agility that I originally strived for by digitally transforming myself.  In the past eight months, I have been able to walk the Cliffs of Moor in Ireland and ski the slopes of Utah.  In three weeks, my toes will curl up in the sand along the beach, and as I feel the sensation of the sand softening the calluses on my feet – I will feel very, very human.  And I will smile in celebration.

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Forget Five Year Plans and Just Ski Down the Mountain of Life

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Two weeks ago, I was blessed with the opportunity to go skiing in Park City, Utah at the Deer Valley Resort.  As always, I stayed at an Airbnb, thus temporarily moving my Airbnb residence from Atlanta to Park City for four days.  When you live at Airbnb, home can be anywhere.  Whomever you send the rent to is your landlord that week.  I was in a perpetual state of reverent awe during my time in Utah and its winter paradise.  It snowed every night, putting a fresh blanket of purity on everything.  It is a like a white frosting that makes even a mediocre cake tasty.

I am by no means an avid skier having not been on a pair of skis in eight years.  After a couple of quick runs on the bunny slop I became acclimated to the ability to steer myself by adjusting my weight and pushing on the outside skis.  I soon took the series of chairlifts to get to the top of the top peaks of the resort.  Like my new approach to life, I made my way to the summit without a map or strategy concerning how to return.  My plan was simply to navigate my way back down to the base of the mountain, hoping that I would be able to traverse my way down slopes that were challenging but not beyond my abilities.  I did not fly across the country to be comfortable.  I came here for adventure, not knowing if I would ever have the opportunity to ski again.  Life is short.  Never travel to some place assuming you will ever get back there.  As I parted from the final chairlift, I looked for the first sign I could find advertising a blue intermediate slope and pointed my skis in the direction of uncertainty.

For two days, I followed this principle.  Most times, it worked perfectly.  On one occasion, I found myself at the backside of the mountain and had to take another lift to get my back on track.  Through the serendipity of it all, I ended up skiing the loveliest part of the resort, stopping every thousand feet to take what would be some of the most gorgeous pictures of my trip.  On my final run, I ended up on the edge of a dreaded advanced black slope.  With my pulse beating, I criss crossed my way down what seemed like a cliff, wiping out in NASCAR fashion twice.  But I made it and by pushing myself, I amplified my confidence level and earned some bragging rights as a result.  Despite having no plan to speak of, I made it safely down the slopes each day.

I used to be a believer in the five-year plan thing and hung out with people of the same mindset.  We would all huddle around the living year, elaborating on our beloved five year plans.  Looking back it was as if we were always enthralled with some future life rather than our current one.  The Soviet Union would continually announce five-year economic and agricultural plans going all the way back to 1946.  None of them ever came to fruition.

Five-year plans sound great until:

  • An IT bubble bursts and there are suddenly no jobs in your field
  • A housing bust extinguishes the equity in your home that you thought was so real
  • A disruptor comes along and takes out your industry
  • An unforeseen opportunity falls in your lap that changes everything
  • You or a loved one fall ill and your priorities in life completely change
  • Robots displace millions of jobs across the world

The world is in perpetual fluctuation today.  Anyone who says they know what the future is five years from now is lying or has no idea what they are talking about. The key to life today is to be as flexible as possible.  I’m not talking about being reckless.  We need a sense of purpose and an outline of what we want life to be for us.  Rather than mapping out a rigid course, we need to master the skills of mobility and agility that will allow us to adapt to the unforeseen events, opportunities and circumstances that will eradicate whatever plan it was we valued.

Just like skiing down the mountain, we are all going to arrive at the end of life.  The experience of getting there is the choice for us.

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Forget College, Go to Europe Instead

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paris, adventure in europeA couple of weeks ago I witnessed the arms race first hand. It isn’t a military arms race between the U.S. and China. It isn’t a political arms race between the democrats and republicans. It is the arms race occurring between Universities across the country, all vying to attract and retain students to their educational institutions. Like all arms races, it costs a lot of money. According to a Bloomberg Article, this arms race has created a $5 billion industry within the U.S.

So what is this arms race about?

Luxury Student Living

As a friend of mine drove me through the downtown of, Athens, GA, the college town host for the University of Georgia, I stared in disbelief at the immense structures being erected upwards, actually creating a skyline for the town. It seems that having an influential faculty and elite educational offerings is no longer enough to keep classrooms full. Today, students also demand granite counter tops, hardwood floors, crown molding and roof top pools, and all this luxury is costing someone a lot of money. I guess the days of the struggling college student are over.

All of this reminds me of the movie, The Big Short, in which the character played by Steve Carell is interviewing a pole dancer who owns five houses and a condominium. After the interview, Carell’s character begins shorting the housing industry, which after the bubble bursts in 2008, made him billions of dollars. According to a study by Dartmouth College, the 10 fastest growing job categories today require less than a college degree. Couple that with the fact that over 40% of the college graduates are now working in low-wage jobs. Obviously, luxury student living is not sustainable.

When looking at the luxury dorms and condos that students live in today, it is no wonder that college costs now total over $28 thousand a year on average according to Forbes Magazine. Considering that the average student takes five years to graduate now, that comes to $140,000. Now throw in the opportunity cost of foregoing the opportunity of working full time. Business owners must factor in opportunity costs all the time in order to make wise financial decisions. If Johnny or Susie made an average of $10 an hour over the course of those 5 years, that comes to $100 thousand they are turning away. Thus the real cost of college on average is $240,000.

How is college worth almost a quarter of a million dollars today? Think about the fact that with a simple web browser, one can access all the knowledge of the world on the Internet. Do we really need to keep congregating tens of thousands of young people in a college town to educate them?

Which is why today we are told it is all about the college experience! It will all be more than worth it because college is a rite of passage and is the best years of one’s life. Really? Our best years are at the front of our lives and its only downhill from there? I had fun playing beer pong in college but it was far from the best years of my life. I have had so many more substantive and wonderful moments and achievements in my life since college.

And is this experience really worth $240,000? I can think of a lot better ways to spend that much money.

How about this for an alternative? Have your parents give you the nest egg they were allotting you to go to some college town, get a student loan and go to Europe for five years instead. Hobnob all through Europe living in Airbnbs and hostiles (no granite counter tops and crown molding). Get part time jobs here and there to subsidize your budget. Learn the cultures and languages of all the countries that make up the European continent. While you are there, study on line with an accredited American college or university at a nominal cost and get your degree with that loan money. And guess what, at the end of five years you will return to the United States with more than just a degree. You will return with a cultural education and an understanding of the world that few if any of your peers will be able to match. You will also be primed for the new “gig economy” which requires independence, self-confidence, a self-starter attitude. And to top it all, you will have a Facebook timeline that no one can compete with.

Unlike the students huddled in their luxury condos playing beer pong, it will truly be the most magical five years of your life.

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Working Five Jobs at One Time is Never Worth It

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My lake house serenity

I used to live full time on a beautiful lake in middle Georgia.  The view from the house was simply gorgeous (that is the view from the upper deck above) and the sunsets were breath taking.  You would think that the first thought every morning was to look out the glass doors and gaze at the lake as the morning sun began to sheen across the water. 

But it wasn’t.

My first thought was, I have to get to work to pay the mortgage and that job was 65 minutes away.

You would think after a two plus hour commute, that my final thought at the end of each day would be contemplated as I sat on my dock, listening to the gentle lapping of the lake against the rock wall along the shore of my property and the sporadic splash of a fish that would interrupt the soft chorus of the woodland creatures and insects.   

But it wasn’t.  I rarely got down to my dock.

My final thoughts were expended within the darkness of the four walls of my master bedroom, as I lied awake in bed, wondering how I could make more money.  There was always that pressure, the pressure of finding new opportunities and the time to implement them.

Time was the real problem because opportunity is all around us.

Time was my biggest nemesis because I had four jobs.  I held an IT management job forty hours a week that also consumed another 15 hours of commuting time.  I served as the music director of a local church, which included playing the piano and organ for all the services as well as leading and conducting the choir.  If that were not enough, I taught an online IT class two nights a week.  That would not have been prohibitive other than the fact that the students were located in California and the studio I taught from was in Georgia.  Class did not end until after midnight my time.  And then, just for giggles, I worked for a well-known IT guru performing a multitude of tasks to make his life more efficient, probably so that the first and last thoughts of each and every day were not about making money.  Who knows, he may have emailed me my assignments as he sat on his own dock somewhere, listening to the lapping of the waters of his own lake.  Come to think of it, I also remoted in now and then to an IT server farm in Perth, Australia where I did maintenance on this company’s datacenter out there. 

So I guess I had five jobs.  I’m not sure.  They all seemed to run together after a while.

None of those jobs were overly strenuous.  They weren’t like nailing shingles to the roof of a two-story house in the hot Georgia sun as I did one summer in my mid-twenties.  I actually enjoyed each of the jobs, especially the music gig at the church.  It was just the consortium of all of them together, week after week, month after month.

And why did I work these four, scratch that, five jobs?

It wasn’t to retire early.  It wasn’t to start my own business.  It wasn’t to pay for the cancer treatments for a loved one.

It was to pay for stuff.  Stuff that if I died, I couldn’t take with me.  Much of the stuff consisted of things I didn’t want anyway.  During my marriage my wife and owned two houses simultaneously, well, we didn’t own them, the bank did.  The bank held the deeds; I just worked five jobs like a slave to pay for those deeds sitting in some bank vault in some far off city somewhere.  I did use those houses.  I used them to lay on my bed at night with my heart racing trying to figure out how to work a sixth job in order to pay for them. 

Some of that stuff included a fancy SUV.  I forget most of the other stuff; after all, it was just stuff.  Stuff is forgettable.  The kind of stuff you remember is special moments like when I took my daughter and her best friend bar hopping in their favorite college town one night, or one glorious afternoon I spent hiking the cliffs of Moore with my girlfriend, gazing out at the north Atlantic and watching the waves crash against the east Irish coast.

Those are the kinds of things that worth working for, maybe even working two jobs for at one time.

Just not five.

But today I am free of most of the stuff that consumed my life, and thus free of the burdening obligation to pay it all.

There are still times that my first or last thought on a given day concerns money.  Old habits are hard to break.  But I make a point for at least one of those moments each and every day to center around something beautiful about life.




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How Many Unproductive or Dead Assets do you have in your Personal Life?

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Few will debate that 2016 was the year of the disruptors.  Whether it was the proliferation of industry disruptors such as Uber and Airbnb or political disruptions such as Brexit and the Presidential elections, the past twelve months have brought unprecedented levels of change, confusion and at times, disorder.  To some degree, the fruition of the political disruptions taking place in the United States and Europe is attributed to the stagnation of wages and personal income across the western world.  According to research conducted by the McKinsey Global Institute, close to 70% of people in 25 advanced countries saw no increase in their earnings between 2005 and 2014.  This translates into roughly a half a billion people whose earnings have languished for a decade.  Whether political solutions can reverse this trend remains to be seen.  It may be in fact that the western world is only in the early innings of what will be an elongated quagmire of stagnation.  If that is the case, it is time for individuals to examine and streamline our lives in the same manner as a small business owner of corporate CEO.

How many unproductive or dead assets do you have in your personal life?  Logan Green, the CEO of the #2 car sharing company, Lyft, foretells an inspiring vision of the transportation revolution he sees taking place in the United States.  For most people, the automobile is the second most expensive asset they own and correspondingly entails their second largest debt expense.  Green points out that the average vehicle in the U.S. is only utilized 4% of the time.  This means that your most expensive asset is lying dormant 96% of the time.  Imagine if you were a business owner and your second most expensive asset was unproductive 96% of the day?  You would probably be out of business!  Yet, millions of people wake up every day to go to work in order to finance an asset that adds no value to their lives 96% of the time.

Which is why companies such as Uber and Lyft have experienced prolific growth rates over the past several years.  For some people in urban areas, Uber and Lyft have become their primary means of transportation.  For others, it allows them to put their automobiles to greater use and supplement their incomes in their free time.  Their dormant automobiles are now revenue generating resource.  Eliminating a dead asset from your personal life or increasing the productivity of that asset by even 15% can result in huge dividends.

Real estate is another example.  I know an empty nester couple that resides in a three-story house.  When asked why they continue to hold on to such an expensive house in the suburbs that is far from their work they explain that they need the extra room for when their kids come to visit.  The kids come to visit once a year during the holidays.  In other words, for 51 weeks out of the year, this couple continues to finance, clean, heat and cool rooms they do not need.  What’s more, there is an opportunity cost for holding on to a house with so much wasted space.  Instead of supporting empty rooms, they could be funding more vacations, paying off debts or even retiring early.  Now consider all the people with second homes?  They visit their beloved lake or beach homes 6 – 10 times a year and much of that time is spent cleaning, mowing the grass and doing everyday repairs.  For the same amount of money they allocate to twelve mortgage payments every year, they could be frolicking in Europe and taking an African Safari.  Like Uber, share economy websites such as VRBO and Airbnb are opening up new opportunities for homeowners on both sides of the business.

Two years ago brought in a turnaround specialist to examine my life.  That specialist was myself, and for months, I conducted an inventory life looking for ways to streamline my life and garner greater levels of efficiency and productivity.  After years of juggling multiple jobs to finance multiple mortgages, car payments, and a slew of other cinder blocks that were dragging me underwater, I can breathe again.  Like so many other Americans, my work generating income has remained stagnant, yet I have more discretionary income than I have had in twenty years.  With a new level of agility, I am able to take advantage of opportunities, rather than be inflicted with opportunity costs.  Just like the business world that is learning that flexibility and responsiveness are essential ingredients to sustainability, we as individuals must become nimble and agile in order to live the good life.

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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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