This Matters.

I don't know how to think right now. I don't know what to say. I just know how to feel. I feel sad. I feel disappointed. I feel disillusioned. I feel angry. Above all, I feel hurt. I feel deeply, passionately, hurt.

I feel hurt because I see hurt all around me, hurt of all types. And instead of that hurt being cared for, instead of it being soothed, instead of it being simply recognized in some cases, it's pushed aside or deepened by an environment of hostility, an asinine series of soundbites and "talking points", by aggression, and by more hurt.

I care for those I know who are hurting. I hurt for you, I hurt with you. But that's not enough. My "thoughts and prayers" and my "heart going out" and my hashtags and my Facebook photo filters and even my writing and posting these words right now are simply not enough to bring about any real change, any real positive impact to my surroundings, to the wider world.

I will not become involved in short sighted, or barely-informed back and forth "debates" using whatever stats were flashed across the screen when I heard about what's going on, or whatever quotes I found in an article from a publication that already shares my viewpoints and biases. I will not be caught in that spiral of negativity and bitterness. I will not do that.

Do not take these remarks as those of an idle man, however.

Just because I will not confront others in this manner, that does not mean I have disengaged. I will not ignore. I will not opt out. I am not neutral.

I must confront myself first.

I must dig deep inside myself to understand what part I play in the world around me, how I have misunderstood my own privilege, how I have added to prejudice in my own way. How I have let my own biases close me off to others? What have I thought? What have I done? What is it that I need to learn, to work at, to fight for?

I will ask myself these questions. And then, I will listen. And then, I will act.

My Plant-Based and Sober-Faced Month: A Retrospective

Welp, I did it. For those who haven’t been following along with bated breath (which should be all of you), I gave up meat and alcohol for the month of April.

See: No Burgers and No Beer Make Coate...Something Something

It’s not really much of an accomplishment in the grand scheme of things, since I know plenty of people that haven’t consumed one or both of these substances for longer periods of time, or, well, ever. But that’s okay, because I didn’t do this to receive any pats on the back. I didn’t do this to feel superior to anyone. I did this to try to feel healthier.

And I do feel healthier! I lost 7 or 8 pounds, was more productive, had better focus (maybe too much focus if you ask some of my co-workers), and felt good overall about my self control.


I don’t feel completely healthy

. My energy levels were all over the place, my gut still bothered me, my head still hurt pretty regularly, and my sleep was still awful.

My goal of feeling “less fuzzy” was not achieved. But I did learn a bunch of stuff, some of which has helped me figure out what steps to take next to sort things out (doctor appointments and other adulting stuff).

For prior learndings check out:

No Beef & No Booze: Week 1

No Alcohol or Meat At All: Week 2

Now, what do I have to show for my teetotaling, green-eating ways?

I don’t miss things.

I was fine without meat. For most of the past 6 or 7 years prior to moving to Texas, my diet more closely represented


anyway. Burgers, fish, or eggs only occasionally broke up my plant-first eating habits. This past month has reset me to that level. I mean, brisket tacos are amazing here, but I don’t feel the need to consume them regularly.

Similarly, I never craved beer this past month. And I didn’t shut myself away from the world in order to “survive” sobriety either. My wife

Jilliann Marie

and I have a well-stocked bar at home. I saw it every day. I didn’t skip a single social activity because I wasn’t drinking, either. I went to multiple parties and hung out at multiple bars and breweries with Jill and friends as I normally would. Yeah, some of the beer I wasn’t drinking smelled really good to me. But I didn’t feel worse off because I wasn’t tasting it.

I didn’t miss those things in my life.

That said...

I miss appreciating things with others.

I want to drink. I want to eat meat. Those are things I want to do. Not needs. And not wants because of the substances themselves, however. I want eat to and drink when the moment calls, because of what the communal act of eating and drinking with people means to me.

I actually understand a lot of what Anthony Bourdain rants about when he express distaste (sorry) for vegetarians and vegans because of they often cut themselves off from wondrous life experiences and demean others for not doing the same. I also understand the quotes out there that say things like “I don’t trust a man who doesn’t trust himself enough to drink.” I don’t subscribe to that viewpoint, but I get it.

Evils of drinking

In talking to Jill during my final day of my dumb little whatever this was, she pointed out how although I was still physically present when we were hanging out, I was never fully present. “You like the experiences, the participation,” she told me. And she’s right.

I enjoy food and beverages for the experiences that go into making them and consuming them - preferably with other people. I love the process of blending many isolated ingredients into a whole and I’m fascinated by the stories behind the final products. I’m also fascinated by the interactions we as people have around food and drinks specifically. But this is starting to veer into another post altogether, so get to some semblance of a point, Coate.




Crap. I dunno. Maybe I should stay a sober vegetarian to be my most productive self, but not if I want to be my best self.

Let’s get a beer and talk about that, or something.

Cheers, jerks

Direct quote: "Yeah! Andrew's having a beer again because...his stupid thing is over!!!! Woooo!!!" Thanks, darling. Also, sweet bottle opener.

No Burgers and No Beer Make Coate...Something Something
No Beef & No Booze: Week 1
No Alcohol or Meat At All: Week 2

No Alcohol or Meat At All: Week 2

Well, hey. I made it to halfway through my whatever this is where I don’t eat meat and don’t drink alcohol and write about it, because what else am I supposed to do with the time not spent devouring burgers and beer?

Well, about that...

When I cut things out, I filled the space something.

This might be a “yeah, duh” statement, but allow me to elaborate a bit. I’m not so much referring directly to substances. I haven’t found myself replacing meat with a specific food item or a new vice, and I haven’t subbed alcohol for pop or something like that. What I mean here, is that aside from the actual consumption of those items there’s time and energy that’s tied to them.

Once I “accepted my fate” if you will, I found energy for other things. Instead of focusing on or even craving a burger or beer...I just...don’t. And that energy that was previously dedicated to those things has been redistributed into other things. Like what? Um, self reflection maybe. Sure, we’ll go with that.

I’ve been pretty self aware these past few weeks.

This isn’t a new thing - I tend to be pretty on top of how I act and am around people, what I excel at, what I could improve, and so on. However, in the past few weeks, this awareness has deepened. Here’s why.

I started this whole thingy because I felt generally fuzzy in life. I decided meat and alcohol were things that, while perhaps not the sole culprits, were contributing to that feeling. But what I’ve learned here, is that after cutting those things, some of the symptoms I originally had are still present. I woke up with headaches that weren’t hangovers from wine. I felt uncomfortable in my gut area, but it wasn’t because that bacon cheeseburger with grilled onions is sitting in my stomach as if I didn’t even chew it.

Better get a bucket...

Better get a bucket...

So, what is it then? I dunno yet, but by removing those likely causes or excuses I’ve been forced to dig deeper and look at other elements that might be contributing. And that’s not to say meat and alcohol are innocent, it’s just to say those things were only a part of the overall equation. Or, correlation, not causation (that one’s for you, fellow Facebookers).

I have a lot more energy. Like, a lot more. Like, too much more.

One of the stated benefits of removing meat or alcohol from your diet in nearly every article out there is that you’ll feel more energetic, have better concentration, improve in the workplace, blah blah blah.

Well, I can’t say much for the last item (I’ll let others tell me if that’s true), but numbers 1 and 2 in that list are true, reluctant as I am to admit it. Look, I don’t want to admit that not drinking improves my thinking, but it does, this terrible sentence notwithstanding.

But also, I’ve struggled in that I’m not sure how to “take the edge” off my days, or how to slow down now. I need to do more research, because I haven’t felt just energetic, I’ve felt hyperactive. It’s like that movie where Bradley Cooper takes that drug and then does all that stuff awesome and then dances with Jennifer Aniston in Pittsburgh but is also a war hero because America....

You know. This one?

You know. This one?

The problem here is I don’t know what slows me down, what shuts my brain up. Maybe I shouldn’t be dependent on alcohol to do that since um...

But, you know. Maybe I don’t need ALL of this energy and brain thinking stuff.

But, you know. Maybe I don’t need ALL of this energy and brain thinking stuff.

One thing my newfound concentration hasn’t done is made me better at wrapping up blog posts. So I’m literally just going to end this one when this sentence ends.

No Burgers and No Beer Make Coate...Something Something
No Beef & No Booze: Week 1
My Plant-Based and Sober-Faced Month: A Retrospective


No Beef & No Booze: Week 1

Rolling into April this year, I decided not to eat meat or drink alcohol for an entire month. I wrote about why in a post called No Burgers and No Beer Make Coate...Something Something with a promise to talk about what that “Something Something” would become. So here’s what I learned after 1 week (or 10 days) of this life change.

This is pretty boring.

About five days in, a co-worker asked me how I was feeling. Without thinking I said “bored.” It was my gut reaction at the moment. It’s true. I find meat burgers more fun than veggie burgers and wine more fun than water. Turns out, consistently-clear-headed-Coate might not be as fun to other people either.

why I'm crabby

ut it’s not that bad.

Look, I’m not really suffering here, though the way people have treated me the over the past few days you’d think I was (“awww you can’t have ____! I’m sorry I forgot! Are you doing ok?”). It’s funny that by choosing to exclude yourself from something in life, you can garner sympathy of others. While I appreciate the thoughts and interest, this isn’t really something worth that type of attention.

This isn’t that hard. I don’t crave either meat or alcohol, and the mild boredom hasn’t been too distracting. It’s like, my body adjusted after a few days and was like, “Oh, so we’re not doing that anymore? Got it. Carry on.” Our bodies are pretty amazing like that.

It's Science

In fact, it’s not really anything.

I found myself a bit more lethargic than normal over the course of this past week, but I can’t say I’ve felt any other repercussions of this decision. That lethargy could have been related to crappy weather or high stress this week, anyway.

While there are hundreds of articles that talk out the health benefits of giving up one or both of these things (and I’ve personally experienced them a number of times before), none of that has really come along in a clear cut way this time.


I’m only a week in. Generally, positive changes to physical and mental health take time. I’d also add that I didn’t quit these things out of necessity. I did pretty much “just because”.

Yes, I did say in my previous post “a reduction in one or both of those, even for a short period of time like a few days, has had noticeable effects on my clarity, and helped me regain some semblance of a center.” but I haven’t identified excess meat and alcohol in my diet as the root cause for feeling off-center. Maybe they aren’t, maybe they are. That will play itself out over the course of the month.

While I don’t really have much depth to talk about here, I’m glad I’m doing this. I’m sure I’m going to see something positive come out of it in the end, even if only the reassurance that I had the self control to do something like this.

No Burgers and No Beer Make Coate...Something Something
No Alcohol or Meat At All: Week 2
My Plant-Based and Sober-Faced Month: A Retrospective

No Burgers and No Beer Make Coate...Something Something

We just wrapped the first quarter of 2016 and it’s been a tough one for those around me. January through March brought death, divorce, financial woes, health concerns, and more for many people I know.

The difficulties found their way into my own home as well. While January brought my wife back to living in the same state as me, we have both since struggled more than expected with missing our home in Colorado and attempts to find our identities in our new city, jobs, and careers. Jill’s gotten sick for extended periods of time, and I’ve battled a few painful injuries and the return of severe migraines.

To put it mildly, 2016 came out swinging and it landed quite a few of its punches.

Okay, well it hasn't been THIS bad.

Okay, well it hasn't been THIS bad.

All of this has lead me to feel generally “fuzzy”. I haven’t felt the same at work or in life in a way that extends beyond the obviously attributable factors of massive amounts of change. This is something that’s more about feeling like I’ve lost my “core” self, or at least gone away from it in some way. All of the various adjustments I’ve tried so far simply haven’t gotten me to where I feel I want to be.

So I’m going sober and giving up meat.

Well, for the month of April, anyway. And I still *might* eat fish.

Well, for the month of April, anyway. And I still *might* eat fish.

Now, this isn’t because I blame alcohol and/or meat as the main reasons for my fuzziness. And it’s not because I believe vegetarians or vegans are superior to carnivores (Nope). Nor do I believe teetotalers are better people either (Definitely nope). In fact, after reading Last Call: The Rise and Fall of Prohibition by Daniel Okrent, I definitely side firmly with the Wets.

But I will say over the years a reduction in one or both of those, even for a short period of time like a few days, has had noticeable effects on my clarity, and helped me regain some semblance of a “center”.

It’s like the nuclear option for my health. Like putting Toews and Kane on a line together in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Or for those non-Chicago Blackhawks hockey fans reading, it’s like a reset button, that helps get things “back on course”. So I’m going to try to reset.

Why a month? I dunno. It’s an arbitrary time frame. I just want to see what happens. And in case you do too, I’m going to write about what I learn each week.

No Beef & No Booze: Week 1
No Alcohol or Meat At All: Week 2
My Plant-Based and Sober-Faced Month: A Retrospective

Taking Steps To Help Ourselves

I’m running on a trail in the forest preserves southwest of the city of Chicago. It’s early, the weather is cold and dreary, and I ache pretty much everywhere. I’m probably frowning. No, I’m definitely frowning.

I hit mile one. A robotic voice calls out to me.

“Distance. One point zero miles. Average pace. Seven minutes, fifty-five seconds per mile.”

My frown quickly dissipates into a big smile.

It dawns on me that 6 years or so ago I would have stepped in that exact spot, and heard a similar robotic voice call out to me. Only then, it would have said, “Average pace. Thirteen minutes...” - that’s if I had managed to make it to that point without stopping a few times.

During that era I was very overweight, broke, in a failing relationship, shattered by the deaths of some loved ones, and generally uninspired & miserable. With each new day I felt the weight of life and the weight of my body grow heavier.

Then one day I decided I was tired of being this person, that I needed to be a different, better me. I ended the relationship, quit drinking, stopped eating meat, and started running.

Cut to the part where things are great now, right? It’s not quite that simple.

This growth or revival or whatever it was sucked. It really did. I missed beer. I craved burgers. I hated running. It was hard, it was painful, it was boring. I wanted to give up literally 3 minutes in to every single run.

ut I didn’t.

Each step I took, painful as they were, put me one step closer to becoming something I wanted to be. I was running toward a better version of me, and hopefully a better life.

And eventually, that happened. Eventually 230 pounds became 215 pounds became 190 pounds became 165. Eventually 13 minutes per mile became 11:45 per mile, became 10:00 per mile, became 8:00. Eventually I found a job, eventually things began to fall into place.

What I learned from this experience was that no one could help me - I had to do this by myself, for myself. Now, sure, people cheered me on during races I would run, or told me how much better I looked, or encouraged my newfound passion for life. But other people could not make things better for me until I took those steps to make things better for myself.

Back in the present day I find myself running for a reason again. While life is better than it’s ever been, I still have more to strive for. I still see a better version of myself a bit ahead. I still see reasons to take these steps, to push forward.

The robotic voice calls out to me again. “Distance. Six point zero miles. Average pace. Eight minutes, twenty-two seconds per mile.”

A big smile crosses my face.


Flipping Life the Bird

What a Strange Love or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Run

Focus on Impact

Seeing Things In Black and White

The sunrises have been pretty in Austin lately - especially as they rise over the lake or river or whatever it is that the path I run goes around. But while I’ve long been fond of posting “good morning” pics (see: Why My Mornings are “Good”), I’ve been less apt to post these ones to them social medias and whatnot.

They’re just...too colorful.

I’ve preferred to look at things in black and white (and gray) lately. Color can be distracting. It’s sometimes even a crutch, creatively speaking.

Sunsets are beautiful, yes. But they’re beautiful anyway, even without the perfect Instagram filter (Nashville, of course). Add mountains or the ocean and it’s an instant hit on social media

Good Evening.

Good Evening.

There’s nothing wrong with all of that, but it’s all too easy to let the pretty colors of nature distract from whether or not it’s even a good picture being taken.

It is a greater challenge to find the beauty in things when color is taken away. It’s a challenge I appreciate these days, both in photography, and in life in general.

Take the color away and you have to focus more on the core elements of the image - center of interest, subject placement, angle, balance, shapes, lines, pattern, volume, lighting, texture, tone, contrast, framing, foreground, background, perspective, and so on.

Pretty Girl Black and White Stairs

It becomes an experiment in delicately balancing those elements, being hyper aware of how they all play together. You end up relying less on things like technology, and more on intangibles - like feeling and “an eye” for things.

Black and White Garnish Island Ireland

When looking at things in black and white (and grey) I feel more in touch with those various core elements.

Jill Poncho Colorado

I look more closely at the subject matter - the contents of the frame. It’s an exercise in noticing details I might not notice if I was had beautiful blues or greens or reds to play with.

As I Focus on Impact, I look at my life and projects this way too - that is, finding beauty or ways to be creative, without distractions or comforts.

Making the final picture turn out the way I want isn’t always as easy as “point, shoot, add filter, post” (literally and metaphorically speaking), so I’m not letting myself rely on that.

Texas Windmills
Ireland Church
On the road in Texas
Evergreen Lake House

Be Better at "Grabbing a Cup of Coffee"

"Hey Andrew! Want to grab a cup of coffee next week?"

So often I've seen this message pop up in my inbox, knowing it was code. So often I have personally used a version of this message - quite often replacing coffee with beer - as code. This has become the go-to phrase to disguise "I have something for you" (a job perhaps) or "I want something from you" (an introduction to a potential business contact perhaps).

Now, I'm not sure there's anything wrong with this - so long as there's mutual benefit for both parties. "Networking" became an icky word because so many people are bad at it. I've been approached so many times when "can I pick your brain?" translates to "can you do a bunch of work for me for free?" or "I want to sell you something you don't want or need" or "can you get me special access to ____?" or "can you get me a job at Facebook?"

Somewhere in our rush to sell things, market things, and build or grow businesses we forgot that human interaction can and should be more than purely transactional.

Meetups - even the business kind - shouldn't be all about "scratch my back, I'll scratch yours" and they certainly shouldn't be all about "scratch my back, the end".

Sometimes the best interactions begin with simply grabbing a drink and having conversation, with no ulterior motives. It's possible to see people without the blinders of objective or purpose clouding our vision of them.

So, when do we grab a drink?

Focus On Impact

I'm out on a 7-mile run. 2.5 miles in it hits me - this is not going well. My hamstring and knee are on fire. My strides have no oomph. I feel drained. My mind is all over the place. I have to pee a little bit. Yeah. I'm struggling.

I gut out another mile to reach the halfway point. I'm starting to slip way off my typical pace, and I don't see how I'm going to be able to keep it up. I have a decision to make.

Am I going to finish what I started? If so, how?

It's at this point where the phrase "Focus on Impact" finds its way into my head. It's one of the core values of Facebook, and a saying I see on a poster on a wall each and every day. In this moment that meaning is clear. There are many things you can do right now. What is going to have the greatest influence toward the result you want, Coate?

I want to finish 7 miles.

That's the result I want. Of all the things I could do I decide in this particular situation the best thing to focus on is simply putting one foot in front of the other until I'm done, pace be damned. The phrase that takes over is one I used a lot during my competitive swim days: Put your head down and grind. 

So I do, and I finish.

I once again see a parallel between my running exploits and my greater life. Right now I'm in a place where I have a lot to achieve ahead of me. My next six months are BIG, they're stretching. It's easy for me to ask that same question a few times a day. Am I going to finish what I started? If so, how?

It's in these moments where I immediately answer "yes" and "I have no idea, but I'm going to."
And really, I don't have any idea. Some of the things I want to do, and some of the things I'm signed up to do are crazy difficult.

But I am learning how to live this phrase - Focus on Impact. I'm becoming ruthless with the time and energy I'm spending on certain activities because while they're valuable, they're not as valuable as others I could spend more time and energy working on.

At work, that looks like reducing the time I spend researching before beginning something. Now, it's important to be well informed and have prior examples to learn from. But I've trended in the recent past toward having a lot of evidence to back up a line of thought I have, which can stall progress toward following that line of thought.

At home, I'm reducing the amount of beer I drink (gasp) and meat I eat (less of a gasp). I love burgers and I LOVE drinking, but I feel better and act better (in runs, at work, in my relationships) in times when these things make up less of what's inside of me.

These are not the only things I'm doing and they're certainly not the only things I can do, but they are examples of knowing that making these changes can have a noticeable impact, so I'm focusing on them.

How about you? What does it mean to Focus on Impact? What adjustments might you be able to make and what would that do for you? I'd love to hear about it. - Coate

Maybe I'll Sleep When September Ends

Bleak Fall

Earlier this month I woke up at 3 am unable to breathe. It felt like someone had placed some type of screen over my throat and clogged up my nose. I was desperately trying to suck in air, and it just wouldn't go in. 

Imagine a scene of a fish flopping when it is dropped on a dock out of water. Like that, just replace the dock with the hardwood floor of my empty apartment.

An immediate care visit would later explain that I had experienced a laryngospasm, described in a medical dictionary thusly:

"....a rare but frightening experience. When it happens, the vocal cords suddenly seize up or close when taking in a breath, blocking the flow of air into the lungs. People with this condition may be awakened from a sound sleep and find themselves momentarily unable to speak or breathe. Though it can be scary while it's happening, laryngospasm typically goes away within a couple of minutes."

So yeah. It did go away in a couple minutes... a couple minutes spent wondering what was happening to me. Wondering if I was going to die alone on the cold floor of this empty apartment. Wondering how many days until they'd find me. Wondering if Jill or my family could ever recover from the news. It sounds overly dramatic now, but this is the state I was in. I could not breathe, could not call out for help.

The best guess at a cause by my doctor was acid reflux had decided to get stuck in my esophagus. This was the best guess because I had explained that I have issues with acid reflux every year in September.

Late August/early September has been a traumatic month for my family and friends and I just haven't figured out the right way to deal with it, as much as I've written about finding the right way to deal with it.

Which I've done.

A lot.

Like, a lot.

So my body instead says "Hey. Jackass. Deal with me. Now."

I haven't recovered from that experience. I'm not actively avoiding going to sleep, but there's obviously some subconscious terror that's not allowing my mind or body to settle down - regardless of the various anti-insomnia routines I've tried. It shook me up pretty good.

It doesn't help that I'm alone in that apartment until Jill joins me in Texas in December. While I'm a decently fit and generally healthy person, I can't help but feel frail and helpless like one of those really old ladies from those LifeCall commercials of the early 90s

The GIFs from the actual commercial are too depressing, so here's a puppy version instead:

It probably also doesn't help that I'm still adjusting to the newness to a new city and new job too. Though I have nothing but excitement about those, I'm sure there's some anxiety buried deep within the Walls of Coate.

I'm not sure what it is about this month in particular, though, that makes it seem to just pile on every year - death, loss, floods, you name it. In my life, September is a month that takes - from me, and from those I care about. Just this week I learned that September has taken the life of a friend's mother - a person who was nothing but bubbly and fun to the world around her.

Fortunately, at the time of this writing October is mere days away. October has historically been my favorite month because it's the exact opposite. It's been a month of gifts, excitement, and general refreshment.

I get to see Jill beginning Friday, October 2. And then we will spend 3 of the next 4 weekends together, one of them being at the marriage of one of my closest friends, which is also our 1 year anniversary as husband and wife.

I don't know why life has these strange patterns or cycles, or why it seems like I get a year's worth of emotional strife and damage to wade through 1 year each month, but I do know I and the others I've referenced who have similarly had to deal with this crap, have found a way to keep moving.

So, that.

September. GFY. Seriously.
October. See you soon, buddy.  

What Jazz, Podcasts and Beer Have in Common

Some time ago I was interviewed for an article on CMX Hub entitled "How Creative Outlets Make You a Better Community Builder". In it, I described how studying music growing up - specifically jazz and improv - prepped me to operate in the business world of social media, community management, and digital marketing.

I learned not only how to rapidly translate the information from the sheet music into creative output, but also fill in gaps that existed (the improv part) while staying within certain boundaries or constraints. The experience sharpened my mental reflexes and I now utilize these skills often as I process massive amounts of new information, make connections and return a creative output every day.

"Wait, what's the squiggly one mean again?"

"Wait, what's the squiggly one mean again?"

While I no longer play jazz, I do listen to it frequently. It's simultaneously relaxing and stimulating for me. I do my best thinking with it my ears, and it seems to be the perfect trigger for me when I'm stuck while working on a complex issue, or diving deep into analysis or something.

I've been thinking a lot lately about what gets me...well, thinking. About where my ideas come from.

In a previous post called What a Strange Love or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Run I talked about my love of running for personal wellness and creative inspiration. Long runs certainly help me sort through the daily jumble of thoughts in my head. Listening to jazz also contributes toward those things. More recently, however, I've discovered a few different sources for inspiration.

While running and listening to jazz seem to serve more of a purpose of helping me gain resolution, these two things simply get me amped up. As you may have guessed from the title of this post, I'm talking about podcasts and beer.

Now, I know what you were probably thinking when you read "podcasts":

That might be fair. Podcasts on the surface can seem a bit silly. Ben Roy brilliantly rips them in  The Nix Brothers-directed Funny or Die parody called "The Eradiscater" when he says, "It's the new thing to do. Everybody's got a podcast now. It's like shock radio for hipsters..."

Now, that's a line from a comedy sketch but it has some heart to it. There are SO many podcasts out there and it really does feel like everybody has one. I mean... I do.

But hidden in between all the nerds out there complaining about the costume choices in the leaked footage from the upcoming X-Men movie (yeah, that's a real thing happening)...

...there are some that harken back to the days when storytelling and spoken word were more widely recognized as works of art. 

My favorites at the moment are "Put Your Hands Together" with Cameron Esposito,  "The Pivot: Marketing Backstories" with Todd Wheatland, and "99 Percent Invisible" with Roman Mars.

I just spent sixteen hours driving across the country listening to the last one on that list. What I like so much about these three podcasts in particular is how well they bring new ideas to light. In fact, all three of them are living breathing examples of new ideas. They're each doing something no one has done before.

PYHT is the first comedy podcast to feature live standup, 99 Percent Invisible is the first to prove the viability of independent public radio (even forming a sort of indie record label of podcasts, Radiotopia), and Todd Wheatland has gathered a group of well known digital marketers and gotten them away from talking solely about digital marketing for once.

When I listen to each of these podcasts (and related ones they recommend) I'm at once engaged and inspired by the creativity and artistry of everyone involved - the hosts and the interviewees or subject matter of the episodes. I am more aware of the world around me and more excited to be a part of it, to create something of my own to share with it.

We weren't meant to be islands - to limit ourselves to one set of thoughts our whole lives, and this is my current method of discovering more about my surroundings, and new people, places and things to be excited about.

Of course that excitement is best amplified in a slightly altered state. I'm not talking about being drunk or high per se. I do however find that the wonderful buzz that a strong craft beer can bring is typically accompanied by worthwhile conversation and company. It's over a good beer that I best share all of the fun things I'm learning or wanting to create, and a it's over a good beer than I learn so much about those around me.

I'm so interested in the environments of craft breweries or ale houses - as they are so conducive to genuine interaction and camaraderie (regardless of what Budweiser will try to tell you). I'm inspired with a brew in my hand and a new person to talk to.

Okay, it's time to end this post, but I'm really terrible at intros/outros. So how about wI just call it and go for a run, listen to jazz or one of those podcasts above, then drink a beer, yeah? Yeah.

Where Do My Ideas Come From?

It's 2:30 AM on a Saturday night. I'm sitting in a hotel room in Lubbock, Texas combing through Content Ideas: The First (Ever) Research to Look at B2B Marketers' Opinions on Ideas and Ideation for probably the 3rd or 4th time. Because I'm a nerd and this is what I do late at night.

It's an eBook by two talented former coworkers Jean Spencer and Matt Gainan. Jean painstakingly gathered and interpreted the data while Matt made page after page of numbers and quotes look beautiful and share-worthy. It's an impressive body of work, even for two people who regularly crank out impressive bodies of work.

Marketing Content Ideas
Marketing Content Ideas

But this post isn't about B2B marketers or eBooks.

It's about ideas.

As I read through all this content, I can't help but feel inspired and also overwhelmed. There's not only a bunch of information to absorb, but there's suddenly a bunch of extra sparks of activity in my weary mind. The piece has me thinking about not only how I generate ideas as a marketer, but how I generate ideas in general.

I took a look at my "idea" notebook which looks like this:

It's seen better days.
It's seen better days.

It's full of random and diverse scribblings - drawings, short film scripts, poems, to-do lists, things I definitely didn't write sober, and so on. 

I've had this exact notebook since 2002 so it's quite the time capsule. It's pretty amazing to have this object that, probably better than anything else, could describe who I am and who I've been over more than a decade.

Over the years I've gone back to it here and there, mostly to add something weird from my brain and then move on. This time I'm actually looking for something within it - I'm looking for trends.

And I've found some. But I'm exhausted, and I have another day of travel ahead of me, so I'll share this later in a post called "What Podcasts, Jazz and Beer Have in Common".

The Best Gift

My wife Jill made this for me. It's the best gift I've ever received.

While on the surface this is an obviously adorable and thoughtful gift, Jill has no idea the layers of meaning I've attached to it.

The three places represented in the heart are not simply places we've both lived and shared part of our lives together, but they are three places that housed very distinct phases of my life. 

I look at this and see me as a whole, but also see the very clear divides between who I've been and the life I've lived in each of these places. I see that who am I is not who I always was.

Another reason this is so significant has to do with the nature of having a relationship with me. I generally make friends quick, but I'm not easy to get to know on a deeper level. I have a very wide group of people I consider friends - people I'd gladly get a drink with, etc. But my inner circle is very small (short joke, Corey). I've gotten better at this over the years, but it's safe to say I don't really form a whole lot of "deep" relationships. This picture serves as a reminder of the deepest one I'll ever have, and that it will not be held down by any boundaries.

This applies to people but it also applies to places. I've spent most of my life feeling like I should be somewhere else, only to get there and feel it again. It could be angst. It could be wanderlust. It could just be how I am.

That started to shift in the past few years. Colorado became a place I called home. I beamed with pride, love and gratefulness for the place I woke up everyday. That only strengthened when I had a person I loved to wake up with every day. My current team in Austin, Texas knows how big of a struggle it actually was for me to leave Colorado, and that it's still a struggle I deal with daily.

Yet, this picture she gave me suddenly made it okay for me to be somewhere else. And to continue to go. Because I get to go with her. 

Ship Love

Before announcing I was leaving Colorado for Austin, Texas to work for Facebook, I expressed to my wife Jill some concern over how people would react. 

It was a tough time to leave my company, as I was working on so many things and our team was already stretched thin. I had been one of the most vocal advocates for Kapost since my hire, and especially so during a series of recent departures. I feared I would be seen a hypocrite for making my own, or that my motivation & inspiration would be lost.

Plus, over 2 and a half years later I still have a chip on my shoulder about the way a prior company poorly handled a different move onward and upward. I simply couldn't stomach the idea of leaving this place and these people on a sour note. It would break my heart.

I wondered what others in my life would think. It's no shock to anyone meeting me or following me on them internets that I ooze passion for Colorado - Boulder especially.

It's my favorite place. It's first place that truly gave me a shot at a career; the place that helped me get my head straight, the place I fell in love. I beam about it daily. Why would I leave it behind?

Nature or something.

Jill can attest that this really weighed on me. It took a toll.

And then the time came to tell people. And this happened:

And this:

Feeling Loved 2

And this:

My news was met with...excitement? Joy? Support? Celebration?  I was floored.

40 people - all about to be former workers - showed up to my going away happy hour, usually much more reserved affairs for smaller teams. Many expressed detailed gratitude for specific things I had done. Many stayed with me all night. How could this be?

There's a song by John Mayer called Wheel. The final verse features these lyrics: "I believe that my life's gonna see the love I give return to me." It's a somber song and I used to listen to it in more somber times - times where I struggled to understand why I should continue to give out even a small part of myself only to feel continually abused and broken. At the core though I believed those words.

And here I am, feeling the full force of care from others. I really struggled to wrap my head around it for a few days. That could have been because I was hungover for a few days, but still.


And then I started at Facebook. And we talked about core values. And unlike many onboardings I've had in the past, we didn't just get a list of stuff to read, some confusing insurance benefits documentation, and maybe a branded coozy or something.

We talked about impact. We talked about mission. We talked about making dreams reality. We talked about Shipping Love.

Ship Love

And it hit me. That's why I'm here. I have impacted and loved. And now I have the opportunity - no, the obligation - to make that a core part, if not the core part of my work. I'll have revenue goals and blah blah blah to meet, but if I'm just focused on the to-do list and I forget that mission professionally and personally then I'm wasting my time going forward.

So Colorado, thank you for all that you gave me.

And Austin/Menlo Park/world you better get ready for some love. Cause I'll be shipping it.

                                                                                  Yeah, sorry.

                                                                                  Yeah, sorry.

Oh, and tee shirts. I'm totally shipping some of you tee shirts.

Now, THIS is Ireland

From June 27, 2015 through July 10, 2015 my wife Jill and I honeymooned all across Ireland. I took a "digital sabbatical", deleting social and work apps from my phone and preferring to use my real eyes over a screen to view things. I also wrote. A lot. Like, pages upon pages. A few of the things I wrote will appear here. Here's the first in that series.

Somewhere outside Ballycullane, Wexford County, Ireland

This is what I came to Ireland looking for. I'm somewhere where I don't know where I am, stopped on a small side road, off some other unnamed road staring across a deep, rolling, green valley with endless skies.

Cows graze off in the distance, while an old man rides a tractor. It sputters along, stopping here and there so the man can get out, tinker with something, kick it once or twice, then climb back on.

I pause for a good 20 minutes, feeling the breeze, smelling, absorbing. By now, the old man has made his way up to me. He hops down and asks in a wonderful, deep native accent if I'm looking for something. I tell him no, I had just stopped to admire and write about it.

"You're joking," he says. 

I show him some of what I've written so far and a sketch I've drawn of his land. His eyes, already smiling when we met, beam brighter still. He knows his land is beautiful, but knowing I appreciate it so much gives him even more to admire in it.

He tells me his names is Symes. He points out some landmarks in the distance. He tells me about a haunted house somewhere nearby, where to get the best pint, and then decides to move on. I stay.

About 15 minutes later he returns in a small truck, with a dog sitting on the back.

"I've got to move me cows!" he belts out to me. 

Not sure precisely what he meant, I decide to stay put, waiting to see if my gut reaction is correct. Symes closes the gate I came in through, reassuring me that I'm fine standing where I am, then buzzes off down the road a bit out of sight.

About 5 minutes later and I'm treated to a road full of cows heading my way.


"I'm not sure what I thought was going to happen," I say out loud.

The cows amble past. A few stop to stare at me. Surely I'm a disruption to their daily routine, as they are mine. Across the road they go, with the farmer pulling up the rear.

Suddenly the "animal crossing" sign I saw on my way is put to incredible use. As he pulls to a stop to open the gate for me, he smiles again and shouts, "Now you've seen everything!"

Maybe not, but getting closer for sure. I love this.

Austin, Texas

I'm sitting in a cozy little pub in the middle of nowhere Ireland, sipping a pint of Murphy's, reading an Irish newspaper. I look up. "Jill."

I grab my wife's attention.

"Look. There are thousands of colleges in America. In the world, who knows? Of all the hats that could be hanging above the bar there - that's the one?"

Jill makes the "hook 'em horns" sign with her hands. Then the "rock on" sign. Then hook 'em again. She'll get it. The hat is a bright orange University of Texas Longhorns hat.

"Austin is stalking me."

And indeed that's how it feels. It's not just the hat. Earlier in the week we stopped in for a final drink in the crowded bar of our hotel in Cork. It's packed and loud, with diverse accents from all over the world shouting over one another.

We wiggle up to the bar to order, and strike up a conversation with a guy who looks like he's been camped out for a while. He's American. Here on business from...Austin, Texas.

A few days before that, Jill and I found ourselves in a restaurant in Dublin. Our next table over neighbors start to chat with us. They're Americans. From Austin, Texas.

Even John, our Fourth of July benefactor (he gets a future post of his own) met in yet another part of Ireland spent a bunch of time there and told of us the similarities of our current beloved hometown of Boulder, Colorado.

Let's step back a few more days. I've just cleared security at Denver International Airport and am walking toward my gate with Jon Clifford. I'm on my last business trip for Kapost before heading to Ireland for my two week honeymoon.

As we walk, a single announcement interrupts the serene Native American flute music playing through speakers.

"This is a final boarding call for Flight 432..." To Austin.

Okay, it's time.

"Jon, I was going to wait to tell you this, but now seems like the right moment instead."

"What's up?"

"Remember how we met? We were walking through an airport together about two [work] weeks before I started at Kapost?"

"Oh yeah! I remember."

"Well, maybe it's fitting then that you're the person I'm walking through an airport with, two [work] weeks before I leave Kapost. Facebook recruited me. The job's in Austin. I'm going."

You can stop stalking me now, Austin. You got me. I'm coming.

Colorado to Austin
Colorado to Austin

On July 25th, 2015, a new adventure begins. I'll be moving to Austin, Texas to work for Facebook. This blog post title becomes even better now, huh? I'll have more on this in the coming days. I wrote a lot in Ireland, and if you care to follow along you'll get a glimpse into what's been bobbling around in my head for the past month.

What Happens Next?

I woke up in the third city in three days. That's not a complaint. It's actually invigorating. It's been a few years since I last wandered parts of America with Model Stranger.

In fact, three years ago today I was in Sioux Falls, South Dakota en route to...well, somewhere else.

I've missed the constant upheaval that life on the road brings. I'm most comfortable when I'm uncomfortable. I like words like "different" and "up" over "same" or "grounded". I'm at my best when I'm constantly bombarded by new challenges, when decisions need to be made, when all of my possible attention is demanded from many directions. I'm kind of a masochist in that way.

What I like the most is the idea of "new". Now, believe me when I say I have a deep respect for history. I'm well aware and interested in all the past event and experiences that lead up to "now". But I'm also acutely aware that time doesn't stop moving forward. So I'm in no position to hang too dearly on to what was. I can't impact what happened  but I can impact what happens.

And with that, it's time to go make something happen.


L.A. You’re OK

…well, parts of you are. Ok look. I’ve badmouthed L.A. quite a bit. It’s something you grow up doing in Chicago. Some of it’s pure pride in the best city on the planet. Some of it might be a blue collar thing. “L.A. is full of fake people who care about how their faces look, now how hard they work like us” or something like that. Cameron Esposito recently framed it like this:

"I grew up hating L.A. too. It’s such a dismissive city. So segmented and cutthroat. There’s no sense of community and no culture and the people are vain and vapid and made of cars and Botox. Unless you’re a movie star or a Kardashian, find a different place to live. Because in L.A., if you’re a normal person, you ain’t shit.”
She’s from a different part of Chicago than I am - a part my side of the city also has strong opinions about - but it’s a perfect summary of the overall sentiment of the city. I’d add how I thought it's muggy, smoggy, and the traffic sucks. Oh, man. THE TRAFFIC.

When I first visited L.A. back in 2005 I had a preconceived hatred. And honestly, my experience actually validated my distaste. It was muggy, smoggy, the traffic sucked. Oh, man. THE TRAFFIC.

Even my opinion that everyone lived in some fantasy world was validated, when the band I was there with took me up into the hills to a friend of theirs house. I mean, mansion. It was a mansion.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I got to swim in a ridiculous resort-like pool and eat amazing food, all while absorbing various tour stories from Grammy-winning band and their Grammy-winning friends. I held actual Grammy statues. It was awesome.

But it wasn’t reality. This is not how people live. This was not like any backyard barbecue I’ve every attended and likely not like one I’ll ever attend again. These people live in some fantasy. I would stop through L.A. 2-3 more times over the next few years. Some people showed me around. I did some touristy stuff. I ate some pretty solid fish tacos. I sat in traffic. Oh man. THE TRAFFIC.

I left, happy to do so.

So when I decided to go back to L.A. yet again to visit an old friend of mine, I told myself “Well, you’re going to hang out with Jeff. So, just focus on that.” Then I watched an episode of The Layover with Anthony Bourdain. He opens the episode with similar laments to those above. He’s a proud New Yorker. Of course he hates L.A.

But over the course of the episode, as often happens on his various shows, Bourdain starts to be reminded that there’s actually quite a bit that he likes there. He visits some cool places, with some cool people and in the end ponders if he actually could manage some semblance of a life there. I believe the final sentiment was still “yeah, probably not”, but watching him try to enjoy himself and thoroughly succeed in ways I like to enjoy myself with the kind of people I enjoy in the kind of places I enjoy, I decided “well okay. Let’s go in a bit more open minded this time. Plus, Jeff’s cool, so he probably does cool things with cool people in cool places.

And guess what. Jeff does cool things with cool people in cool places. I ate great hole-in-the wall Mexican food. I saw a place where TV is made. We hiked. There was drinking. All in all the way people live their lives in his neighborhood isn’t a whole lot different from where I live. Replace talk of who's working on what show now with who's at what tech startup now; and celebrity sightings with mountain lion sightings; organic food with organic food and it’s really damn close actually.

I thoroughly enjoyed my time. Now, that had a lot to do with my company. Jeff and I go way back and share some great memories of making films together in high school. Even if he lived in a ‘hood I couldn’t stand, odds are I would have loved catching up with him anyway.

But he, like the folks Bourdain spent time with on that episode, succeeded in reminding me that anywhere you go, you can find something to appreciate - and that people make a place. If you’re open to that idea, you can be pleasantly surprised and have some pretty great times.

All that to say - L.A., you’re ok. But you are muggy. And you are smoggy. And your traffic sucks.



Where were you when you first time you heard the earth shattering news? You know, the thing that would change everything. Where were you when you first heard Patrick Sharp can't keep it in his pants? Patrick Sharp is horny?

Wait, what?

This text came from a buddy of mine who typically goes back and forth with me about the state of Chicago Blackhawks hockey. It was apparently referencing a random tweet from some sportwriter guy about Blackhawks forward Patrick Sharp sleeping with teammates' wives or something.

That tweet was followed by an article on a site that has the word "Mockery" in the title that's 1,000 words which basically says "that sportwriter guy tweeted that thing and then some people said some stuff to us. We can't prove anything, but like, it's totally true guys, cause like, that sportswriter guy tweeted it and Jimmy and Sally said so. Also there was joke about a Blackhawks player sleeping with people on the television show Modern Family, so that pretty much makes this all fact."

That last part is seriously one of the arguments in the article for the rumors being true.

The article is terrible. Weak arguments, sketchy sources, non-existent facts. Whether or not the stuff might be true, this isn't investigative journalism at its finest.

Regardless, this spread like wildfire on my Facebook feed...

This is not journalism.

Because, well, that's what happens now. We read an article and our instinct is to click "share". Or, more likely, we read a headline and our instinct is to click share. NPR demonstrated that with a brilliant prank last year, but research backs that up too.

This all got me thinking about how we often craft our memories and experiences, and about the role of truth in what's said publicly these days. We're outraged when a journalist makes up details of a story, yet we have no issue adding to the spread of falsehoods or potential falsehoods.

Those things are related. We hear things. We believe them. We share them.

There are so many urban legends, and false statements over history. In fact, a bunch of what we learned growing up - even in school - is simply, well, wrong.

Look at this amazing infographic from Information is Beautiful. I guarantee you'll find something you previously thought was true on it:

Common MythConceptions

Some of this misinformation is non-vital. Am I worse off as a person that I thought mama birds abandoned their babies if they could smell humans? Probably not. But some misinformation can be quite destructive (SEE: JonBenet Ramsey's parents).

Sadly, in our currently impatient digital society, it's often what's read and shared first that holds the most weight.

I don't know if Patrick Sharp did the stuff that was being said about him. But I do know the statements he made to actually credible news outlets today, were not blowing up all over my Facebook feed. The other side of the story and perhaps the right side, even, isn't being widely told.

Even if this all blows over and it's actually proven that all the stuff written lately about him is false, there will still be people sharing what they first read or "heard".

What does this mean for us? When do we decide to slow down, and start "digging" again? Do we event care to?

I found a great about about it here. I think. Maybe. I dunno, I didn't read it.