Dropkick those Obstacles (My First 5 to 1)

…and the meme multiplies: Curt writes this yesterday. He’s obviously sneaking into my brain and doing his best to talk me into doing what I know I should. I’ll try his exercise even (think of 5 possibilities to get around each obstacle): First Obstacle: No one is going to pay me to play, write, teach, or record music.
Five Possibilities to overcome (This ought to be a real treat):

  • I could spread my time capital among all aspects to diversify my investment, capitalizing on playing out in venues that pay well, writing lots of quality music for publication and reuse, teaching lessons and making commissioned recordings
  • I could look for an institution that would provide a salary for me to provide their musical needs (school, church… and those are the only two I can think of right now).
  • I could seek employment at a music store. This strays from my passion and puts me into sales a bit, but I have sales experience.
  • I can focus on a business idea I have which is almost to form a sort of ‘school of rock’ which (in short) will be a zen-and-the-art-of-modern-ensemble to apply what I’ve learned from many years in large organized ensembles to my experience with small modern ensembles. Think of it as band class for rock.
  • I can work freelance for a more flexible schedule that gives me more time to pursue the music. This is sort of the middle ground.

That was easier than I thought, thanks Curt. I think I’ll do this for every obstacle I can think of. That’s all for now.

Fred’s ‘Finding Your Calling’ Exercise and Invitations

Recently, Fred Gratzon over at The Lazy Way to Success posted a very interesting article outlining a method for “finding your calling.” Seeing as how this seems to be the meme of the year and I mentioned it in my last post, I figured it would be a good idea to actually exercise this method.

My ‘intersections of passion’ (on pass #1) are listed below. Some may have a commercial component, some I can’t even imagine being existing jobs. Does that discount anything? Probably not. I’m inviting feedback on these intersections (invite #1).

  • Music Technology Instruction – Teaching people (kids?) the correlation, history, and future possibilities of music with computers, computer based instruments, etc..
  • Musical Resource Development – I write a lot of liturgical music, most of which could be used even worldwide and receive modest payment for it.
  • Musical Performance – I could always gig but this is an obvious one I’ve intentionally stayed away from as a career choice since I left for college – why?
  • Technology Instruction – I’ve actually done this before with much success, but never in my current market so it might be worth testing the waters of SC.
  • Leadership Instruction – I’m an effective leader of young people but this market might be slim.
  • Productivity Instruction – I think I’d get a big kick out of doing GTD-style training to executives and watching the results as they become more productive, but this is an odd market to break into, and the local market is probably intensely slim.
  • Buzz Consulting – How is this even on the list, huh? I don’t even know where this could go but with my ability to get a good overview-like knowledge of emerging technology very quickly, I’m a good box drawer. I’m good at coming up with systems (at a high level) that will work once the boxes are connected by the right programmers and designers.

Ok, that’s pass #1.

I’d like to nearly shift the focus of space-age wasteland to this sort of passion/goal-seeking mentality. It’s not a big stretch considering what I’ve written about in the past. I’m going to post updates on these sorts of exercises and goals in my life. Invitation #2 is for you to come along. In the comments of this post, it’d be rad (yeah, I said ‘rad’) to see feedback of my ‘intersections of passions,’ the results of your calling exercises and some discussion of the results of each.

My next post could be an announcement of steps I’ve taken to advance one of these ideas, maybe it’ll be motivation for you to follow. It could also be another pass at this exercise because I found that the results were lousy. I hope to hear from you. We’ve got a lot of work to do.

Wachovia’s Brilliant Customer Disservice

I’ve a new Evil Empire for the list: Wachovia. I know that they’ve always been evil, but I wasn’t a customer of theirs until a few weeks ago when they finally completed their acquisition of Southtrust Bank.

The first shameful act of Wachovia is that they purchased and squished one of the best financial institutions I’ve ever done business with. Southtrust employees were courteous, their service was excellent, their product offering was wonderful, and my experience with them was just wonderful as a whole.

The second shameful act of Wachovia requires a bit of backstory…

To prevent little cash flow hiccups, my wife and I set up a line of credit on our Southtrust checking account and paid a small enrollment fee to eliminate a per-transfer charge for automatic transfers from our line of credit. This service was wonderful because we have a number of auto-draft bills that get paid all at once during the month rather than being evenly split between paychecks. Sometimes we’d drop to the red the day before payday and this would prevent NSFs (for free) and we’d pay the debt back in a day or two.

Wachovia doesn’t care. It has been my understanding that when you buy a business, you buy their liabilities as well. Southtrust offered this service to us on a per-year basis. We’ve paid for our year, which doesn’t end for several more months. Wachovia doesn’t care. I talked to a “Wachovia Representative” on the phone who was able to give my $5 back and then reiterate (in her own words) the aforementioned mantra of this fine bank (read: Evil Empire): “Wachovia doesn’t care.”

In the end, what they do is what they do. The minute I heard that my wonderfully customer service oriented bank was being bought by this giant, I started my search for a new financial institution for my day-to-day banking. This transition is nearly complete, so I need not worry about my $5 a pop transfer fee again.

So, to Wachovia: You had your chance and you blew it. Now, Bryan doesn’t care.

Public Transportation

Columbia has grown up a little. We have this trolley (made over bus) system that can get you from the one area of town where all of the employers are to the one area of town where the food, entertainment and shopping is. It’s kind of cool, and it almost works. Almost. For starters, there aren’t well marked stops. For this reason (and probably some others) you’ll often see a trolley off route in order to bring someone to a destination without a stop. Generally, there seems to be about one person aboard a trolley at any given time besides the driver. Can you still get on a trolley off of its route? Probably: it’s starting to look a lot like a really cheap, really large taxi service. The drivers don’t seem overly concerned about following any specific pattern or rules.

Unfortunately, because of the lack of “programmed use” it’s actually very hard to tell when you’ll be able to catch a ride. In fact, I originally drafted this post in my moleskine at the CVB convention center while waiting for the driver of a trolley. She’s the one (so I’ve been told) who can take me where I need to go, but she’s on a break. Eventually, she comes back and I get back to work, but this is oddly discouraging and confusing (especially to someone with less patience than me).

Is there anyone from other cities where a small subset of the public transportation system seems to cater to a specific group of people in a specific area of your city? What works well in those situations? I’m tempted to do some research and give some feedback to our RTA because I think the system isn’t utilized to its potential. Let me know what you think.


I often tell people that I do not easily relocate. Immediately after finishing my degree I moved an exiguous four hours away from here and only lasted fifteen months. There were several details that influenced the decision (Cindy and I made this joint decision) but the overpowering one was “we aren’t happy here, and we were much happier back home.” That was probably a compelling enough reason to return on its own.

So what does make it so great here? I’m still not even sure – but I know there are a few things that I’m a fan of:

  • Cost of Living. Our quality-of-life to cost-of-living ratio is relatively high here. Nice property can be had for seventy-five to one-hundred dollars per square foot.
  • Weather. Our summers can be intensely warm and humid, but our winters are generally mild; autumn and spring are beautiful.
  • Friendly People. People talk to you on the street, we wave at neighbors we don’t even know and if you’re a good conversationalist you can strike up a witty dialogue with someone in the grocery line without getting odd stares.

There are more, but I’m pressed for time today. What do you like about where you live? Why do you live there?

Rally Troops for Your Cause

Wow it’s a beautiful day in the CMA today. I should take as many non-smoker-smoke-breaks as possible. But before I walk out for some fresh air, I’ve got a thought for us all.

We (presumably you’re included in this lot since you’re reading my blog) do a lot to make our living environment conducive to productivity, the hacks that we use to survive, and doing what makes us happy. One of our biggest obstacles to success in this caption has to be allowing exceptions for people who are ‘uninitiated’ or just ignorant to what we’re trying to accomplish. If your colleagues, family, and friends aren’t embracing your vision for a blissful and productive lifestyle it isn’t because they want to see you fail. You just haven’t properly evangelized.

I’m quite keen on the red-yellow-green desk notification system to let people know when you’re really too busy for a non-critical interruption, only busy enough to handle semi-important inquiries, or ready for anything. As cool as this system can be – it isn’t going to work if I’m the only person in the office that understands what I’m trying to accomplish. Start small, and find a like-minded colleague to start a collaborative effort to become more productive. You already know who can most appreciate this scheme at work. When people see a small bit of cooperation that works, they’ll want to take part.

If you’re trying to make third-party information requests and action items link into your GTD implementation more smoothly, suggest to a colleague that they hand you an index card, or send you an email with a formatted subject to ease into your email-based GTD (we all should have promises, requests, and information in writing anyway). It’s not like you’re asking them to go find you a closer parking space.

These methodologies we practice aren’t witchcraft – we’ve gotten this far because the ideas are excellent, and if other people are educated on them, they’ll embrace them. Let people know that it’s not a selfish request. You’d like for them to increase their ability to succeed as well and by helping your cause, they’re increasing their own productivity.

Go take a walk, and think about how you can create a productivity network (and of course share your ideas – we’ll all be part of the same productivity network).