How to Change the World

Change the world a day at a time. Buy an album or tshirt from a band. Text someone a song you like. Don’t let social media get you down, because it’s designed that way to keep you clicking and commenting. They make $$$ from misery because “misery loves company” is fucking true.

I say “text” someone deliberately. Social media companies aren’t in the biz of sending you clicks. They wanna charge bands, labels, and small biz (big biz, too) lots of money to reach their own audience.

So while you CAN tweet about a band you like, chances are it’s only being seeing by 10% of your followers anyways. Better to start an email list (which usually have 20%+ open rates). Or text a few pals. Make a zine or a podcast and send it around.

Your world was changed years ago before the internet, right? Well, we can still do that.

Sticking With It

I’m often asked how I just keep at things. How’d I stick with Buzzgrinder, or posting metal trivia questions since 2011? Sending out over 1,200 nerdy metal newsletters since 2012?

We all get 24 hours in a day. If I choose to spend 15 minutes scrolling through Instagram, that’s 15 minutes not doing something else.

In fact, this post was written a few days ago, but then I came back and deleted the whole thing and wrote it from scratch. Was that previous effort wasted? Nope. It was a foundation to build on, that’s it.

Objects in motion stay in motion.

Hang Out With Dreamers

Wise words from Thor Harris on The Creative Independent.

The company you keep will make or break you. Find the most honest, smartest, kindest, most creative people who will tolerate you.”

Yes, this. You have to find people who have the audacity to dream. You’ll meet plenty of people who will feed you reasons why your creative endeavours won’t work. But meeting people who “get” you? Oh, that’s the magic, right there. Seek these people out.

Swap email addresses, meet for coffee, work on projects together. Energy attracts energy, so do your best to find it.

 

Listen to Non-White Dude Podcasts

Oh my goodness, Trin here (from the Friendshipping podcast, below) is so right (link to the Tweet is here). As a cis-het white man I’ve been trying my best to listen to more varied voices, understanding that great ideas and concepts come from everyone, not just the loudest dude-bro in the room (or online).

I lived in Philadelphia for six months in 2013, and I’d bounce between a few coffee shops, but always had a spot in my heart for Menagerie and didn’t really know why – until I read this interview with the co-owners from 2014.

“And I think the space (Menagerie Coffee) is kind of feminine in a subtle way. I don’t think it’s obvious, but if you spent some time here and then walked over to Elixr, you’d be very overwhelmed. It’s gorgeous, beautiful, but it’s overwhelmingly masculine.”

Oh my goodness, Elixr is totally masculine. It’s weird – I’ve been there once, and it just wasn’t for me, but Menagerie coffee was for me. I’ve been thinking about this since 2014!

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Your Job Just Changed

Guess what? You’ve got something new to add to your job description.

There is a receptionist I know.

She works at a busy, busy practice. But when you’re in her waiting room, you feel like you’re in her living room.

She’s warm. She delights in seeing you (and “you” could be you, me, your mother’s friend, Carl). But what touches me the most is that she looks you in the eye and greets you by your name. And I am ennobled in her waiting room.

I’ve wondered if that’s part of her job description. And what a brilliant description! Part of your job is to see and celebrate people.

Don’t blame me, I found out from Caitie’s ‘The Lightning Notes.’

Yeah, the receptionist at my doctors office doesn’t do this at all, but you know what? I can be the patient who she looks forward to. Not for some narcissistic reason, expecting the red carpet to be rolled out for me when I arrive.

No, the opposite. We’re the ones doing the work.

When we leave any establishment we should leave a wake of good feelings. In a world where customer facing service is seen as a battle front we can be filling those “soldiers” with respect and care and kindness.

You’re hired.

Practice the Wake-Up Practices

I love this bit from ‘How we Handle the Stuff That Gets in the Way‘ from Caitie Whelan,

The most enlivening counter I’ve found to this are regular wake-up practices.

Walking, driving, making dinner without music, podcasts, phone calls. Meditation or contemplation, even if only for two minutes. Writing down any insights that arise in silence, no matter how minor they seem.

When I’m stuck, staring at my computer screen and shaking my fist, unable to focus, to finish, to create, I remember the wake-up practices. Usually I get on my shoes and go for a walk in the woods or a drive to nowhere in particular. Just something that requires a bit of focus on the present – don’t drive off the cliff, stay on the walk path – and that wakes my spirit. It clears some of the channels in my brain that got filled up with static and mush.

Be Your Own Algorithm

Your heartfelt posts and whimsical prose may only be seen by 10% of your actual audience. It’s not your fault, it’s just the way the system is rigged.

If Twitter shut down tomorrow, could you re-connect with the people you interact with everyday? That friend in another country that posts great photos from coffee shops? Or that friend two states away that’s always recommending great music?

Get an email. Get a phone number. No, you can’t keep in touch with everyone. That’s a full statement. You can’t keep in touch with everyone. Just as you can’t really be friends with 542 people on Twitter.

Then when you have phone numbers and email addresses you can speak directly. No one else is butting into your conversations. There are no ads. Your conversations are not being mined, a profile is not being built, your interactions are not being mapped by AI.

Yes, it’s a bit jarring at first. Your interactions with friends, no longer appearing next to explosive news reports, and tragic school shootings, but you’ll adjust. And you’ll get work done. And you’ll still have strong connections with friends.

It can happen, without a social media algorithm coming into play because you’re the one choosing, intentionally seeking who you want to reach. You are the algorithm.

 

Attracting Good People

If I ever needed to see these words, arranged in this specific order, it’s been right now.

“I guarantee you that the second you stop pretending that everything is fucking hunky-dory and start building the life you want instead of waiting around for someone to save you, you’re going to start attracting people everywhere you go.”

This quote from Ask Polly, the aptly titled ‘I’m Pretending I’m Happy Single, But I’m Not!’

I mean this from the strategic standpoint of hindsight, in which I’ve lived many years waiting to be saved. It was only after some wise words from a friend that I looked at things differently, and managed to walk a different sort of life.

Currently I believe I am attracting good people everywhere I go. Not in the romantic sense and no, my heart does not ache over my singledom, but I needed these words in some sort of odd, time-travel completion sequence array.

These are words that I see today as a mindset, a reality that I envisioned a few years ago for myself. Content, able to exhale and be at peace with who I am today, without any sort of external validation.

Just Get Started

One of my favorite podcasts is Friendshipping! In their latest episode (listen here on Overcast) they talk about starting creative projects, and wowzers, it’s gold.

I started Skull Toaster back in 2011, on Twitter. Here we are seven years later and Twitter is a bit different these days. So now I’m starting my second Skull Toaster podcast. It’s like an audiobooks version of the Skull Toaster metal trivia I post on Twitter, but without each question being surrounded by nazis and news of school shootings.

Depressing I know, but that’s Twitter these days.

The first Skull Toaster audio program was the Metal Minute podcast. We did 115 episodes, but I decided to end it. Is it a failure? Nah. I learned from the process; the week in and week out of recording, promoting, and publishing a quirky, regularly published podcast. But it wasn’t growing, so we brought it to a close.

So now in 2018 I’m starting a new podcast. I’m on episode #3 and I have no idea if it’ll be a success. I’ve been talking about doing a podcast like this for years (I remember a coffee shop conversation with a Dan Diemer about this, back in 2015 or so), and I could have waited to start it better, or buy a better microphone, or whatever… but nope. It’s out. Episode #10 is gonna be better than episode #1. At least I hope so.

This doesn’t even have to be about podcasts. They can be about your newsletter. Your first tour. A new painting. But you just have to make it, then keep making it.

Tiny Experts of Millions of Things

How many articles do you read in a day? The occasioanl click or two per hour, and maybe you don’t finish the whole piece, but just enough to get the point. Let’s say you do that a dozen times a day. Easy, right? And let’s say you maybe spend about two minutes each time per article. That’s quick.

But thats already 24 minutes of your day.

What about when you add video into the mix? We easily watch three videos per day, and maybe maybe 2 minutes each? I mean, on average. Cool?

That’s 6 minutes of video per day, and I bet that’s on the low end.

Can we agree that we spend at least 30 minutes per day reading / viewing / skimming things? And that these are mostly micro bursts of taking things in? I’m not talking that 15 minute documentary where you learn something, or the 1000 word article that leaves you in tears. Nope. Just the sort of “content marketing” and “re-written news” that we practicaly trip over and consume every day.

If we figure 30 minutes per day, that’s 3.5 hours a week. Which is 14 hours per month. Almost a full day of awake time in a typical day.

And at 14 hours per month, that’s 168 hours per year, or 7 days of reading and watching.

Seven full days per year we’re staring at our phones, scrolling, squinting, skipping ads / clicking Reader mode, thumbing. Chances are you’re reading this on your mobile device right now.

I KNOW it’s just a minute here, a minute there. Don’t be such a kill joy, Seth! But dammit, this ain’t natural. Multi-tasking is a myth, but multi-consuming can’t be real either.

Have you tried listening to a podcast while scrolling through Twitter, then clicking a story, and trying to read it. How – HOW – do we even think this is normal?

I understand when a friend I’m having lunch with has to reply to work email (GIG ECONOMY, YAY), but please don’t interuppt our catching up with your catching up with your Instagram feed.

I clicked Twitter just now, and was able to take in all this:

That’s just tonight. That’s the last 15 minutes, maybe. But it’s happening around the clock. There are important stories to read, articles that are informative, music being released in different time zones, funny videos being uploads (how many hours of content are posted every morning from the late night shows), it goes on, and on, and on, and on…

And right now I’m adding to it. But I’m hoping to be like some messenger from The Matrix or something, typing on your screen in the middle of the night. “Knock, knock, Neo…”

You don’t even need to delete social media and throw your computer down a well. You just need to do your online work and get the hell away. Your best ideas will come when you’re out on a walk or having a conversation with a friend, not scrolling endlessly through some design inspiration site.

I don’t mean that the internet is bad, but the continual flood of infomration that we keep ramming into our brain can’t be healthy.

While I’m sure ‘Jared Kushner’s many, many scandals, explained‘ is a well done article, does our survival rely upon that information? Will it give us information that we can use to debate the Trump supporters in our life?

Great.

What about the 20 other Trump topics that were brought up today? Can we read those 25 articles, three explainer videos, four wrap-up hot takes from the late-night hosts, and listen to the four daily political podcasts and get their take on everything?

Then we do it again tomorrow? Nay, do it again this evening? When some other bat-shit crazy thing hits the fan?

Breaking up our attention for these hundreds and thousands of tiny interruptions over the course of weeks and months and years might make us tiny experts at a million things, but I believe it’s keeping us from deeper thinking and  bigger conversations with important people already in our life.