Work When You Work

There isn’t a magical formula for success that relates directly to when you do your best work.

Every roommate I’ve ever had goes to bed around 11, so for me, the night is really nice because everything gets really quiet. I’m a big believer in not going to bed before something’s done, so I usually get around two hours of work in somewhere between 10:30 p.m. and 1:30 a.m. 

Photographer Aundre Larrow at Megenta

I started waking up real early, and started creating at 7 a.m, like real full-on sessions, not just like I’m poking around. I’m in. What I started doing before that was the last move of the night I clean the whole studio. Fill up the water pitcher, when I wake up I have the teapot ready, there’s nothing to do except get started. And I realized there sun’s shining down, you’ve got that pure energy, you’re just up, and all of a sudden it was turning 11 a.m and I hadn’t even looked at my phone and I was like, oh I just learned how to do it. 

Producer Nick Hook at Abelton

If you’re not a morning person, it’s okay. If you’re a night owl, great.

Personally I get up early and get cracking at some work, then I have the rest of the morning and afternoon to tackle my biggest work. And honestly, I’ll let some tasks slide into the early evening, because by then I am motoring, and can buzz through whatever else is on my to-do list.

Hello, Clarice

The “Fansville” Dr. Pepper commercials are amazing. I can’t believe these companies have so much money they can afford to make TV-series quality footage just to sell sugar water, but hooooray, capitalism!

The premise here is someone stole a trophy, and the sheriff goes around town trying to find the culrpit. Note the last guy in this clip, and his delivery of, “hello, Sheriff.”

That has to be a nod to ‘The Silence of the Lambs,’ right?

Define Your Own Success in 2019

“Lately I’m feeling more successful than I have in a long time, just because you change the parameters for yourself about what that means.”

Jill Sobule at The Creative Independent

If success is only this one thing, then anyone else who doesn’t hit that mark is then… not successful? Like so many things in life, it’s not so black and white, and we need to find so much of that for ourselves.

Perhaps my current situation isn’t on par with other 40-somethings, but that’s okay, because I’m happy, the bills are paid, and well… yeah, that’s success for me. Sure, there’s countless other bullet points I could list, but why? They aren’t for you, or your life, you need to figure that out, too.

Eight years ago I was on a bike with no job and some money in the bank, and I look back, and I was having fun. That was fine for that moment, and informed who I am today, and that’s okay.

Would I have liked to “arrived” a little bit quicker than 2018? Sure, but as they say it’s the journey, not the destination. I know I wouldn’t be able to appreciate all of what I have now if it just sprang out of nowhere.

MUSIC MONDAY: Alice Ivy, ‘Charlie’

From ‘I’m Dreaming’ which came out this year.

I am an absolute sucker for the use of old-timey samples.

The horn lines of  ‘Charlie’ are a mixture of a sampled saxophone I played into Ableton and an instrumental I found online. What inspired me when beginning to produce this song is that opening radio sample. It was from the 1950s post-war America period; Stepford wives, brand new kitchen appliances, the “American dream”. Charlie is a tongue and cheek homage to that period. Those vocals are snippets of an out take recording I made of Georgia van Etten just hours before she was to board a plane to the UK to live indefinitely, the lyrics don’t actually make sense!

Alice Ivy

Not Fake

You know what’s not fake?

Coffee shops, record stores, and diners filled with wonderful people who know your name – that’s real.

Shows filled with people who paid for a ticket when they had a zillion other entertainment options at home on their couch – that’s real.

Long emails with old friends, message threads with friends far away, phone calls with best friends – those are real.

So much of our work is built on a foundation of for-real relationships, connections, and places. They’re hard to measure or quantify, but that doesn’t make them any less real.

Meanwhile, the promise of the internet and log files and Google Analytics promised us cold, hard metrics that would gauge and improve upon.

And here we are, years later, questioning if anything on the internet is real or not. Do we give up, throw away our Twitter handles, and cancel our internet service?


But maybe we count metrics that matter, like actual customers, instead of “eyeballs.”
Revenue, instead of (possibly fake) likes.
Profit, instead of (possible fake) comments.

100 plus

I finally passed 100 posts, and… here we are. I’ve been keeping up with this blog a bit more, and I’ve had a handful of great conversations as a result.

These posts take a bit longer to publish than a Tweet. Email replies come a bit slower. Scheduling calls takes some effort.

But anything worth doing requires some effort. That’s why it’s called effort, and not “sitting on the couch eating Cheetos.”

Work goes into something – practicing guitar, learning how to program, how to be a better partner – and someday (probably not tomorrow) you get better.

Running a few miles a day back in 2016 led to a half-marathon just two years later. If that’s not a metaphor, I don’t know what is.

Not Knowing is Okay

Maybe we all need to leave social media and start blogging again. Then we just need to follow everyone’s blogs in an RSS feeder, and then that will fix everything.

Just replace all these apps and social media outlets with an RSS feeder loaded with 100s (or 1000s) of sites that will display a notification of all the un-read blog posts we need to get through.

If the goal is to keep investing time in knowing what everyone else is doing, then I guess that’s a solution. But maybe we can save those 7+ hours and get back to reading, making music, taking photographs, or going on walks.

Working Not Waiting

Though 2018 has been hellfire in general, it’s been pretty damn good personally for me and a handful of friends. Not perfect, sure, but damn good.

For me it came down to subtraction.

The most successful people I know have a narrow focus, protect against time-wasters, say no to almost everything, and have let go of old limiting beliefs.

Derek Sivers

After seven years I ended my beloved Skull Toaster. Over 2,000 metal trivia questions, 1,000s of emails, videos, and images. It was also never ending, a perpetual extra thing on my to-do list everyday. Sure, I ramped down from three questions per day to one, and a nightly email newsletter to weekly (and back again), but it would never stop. There was always something to do. An album anniversary to honor, the passing of a legend to acknowledge, or another time stamp worth noting. And it would never end.

I wish I knew exactly how to know when to quit, when the payoff isn’t worth the effort anymore. I recall Seth Godin’s “The Dip,” which touches on this. About the effort needed to get to where you’re going.

Investing all the hours leads to what exactly? Perhaps money, oppurtunties, new gigs? I haven’t done something in a long time that didn’t see those things as the goal. Skull Toaster’s purpose was to get me a job doing social media for some unknown media outlet, doing audience growth and community management.

And then I learned I really didn’t want to do any of that.

Was it a waste? Not one bit. But I wouldn’t have learned any of the lessons had I just sat around and waited for a sign, looking skyward for some divine guidance.