Jay's Journey

Chronicling my wisdom just for you. You're welcome.

Didn't see that coming! Image credit: Andrea Piacquadio at Pexels

This week I had a conversation with my manager, and it didn't go at all like I expected. But first, a little background.

Since late last year, I was promoted into a new role that I never applied for.

At first, I was kind of upset about it. And before you get mad at me and judge me for being some kind of a-hole for not being happy about a promotion, hear me out.

Prior to being moved into my new role, I was really happy where I was and with what I was doing for work. I was efficient, and frankly, had everything down to a system where I was working way less than 40 hours a week. I wasn't managing any other team members that directly reported to me, but I was leading other teams' efforts toward project and company objectives.

And, since I'm a salary worker, that meant I was being paid the same amount of money, and having a lot of time that I could use for things I wanted to do outside of just work.

And, if you've read my previous posts, you'd know that I value time more than money. And, so, I had a pretty sweet setup that was paying the bills AND giving me back a ton of time that I could use in any way I wanted. And, the icing on top was, I was killing it with my then-manager, and getting all kinds of accolades for the quality of my results.

Notice I said “results”, and not work. That's because I'm truly blessed enough to work for an employer that values results more than how many hours my butt is in a seat. My employer believes in flexible work, and it's the foundation of the work culture there, and I love it.

As a guy who loves efficiency, this is great for me because I don't like wasting too much time on non-productive activities while working – as well, when I'm done with my work for the day, I want the freedom to go do something else, and not be held captive until the clock strikes a certain time of day so I can yabba-dabba-do my way out of the office.

And, since I work from home, I no longer have to deal with time-wasters sidling up to my desk to talk away the next hour babbling about literally nothing while keeping me from getting my work done.

So, yeah, I totally love that I work from home full time, and I work for a company that measures actual results and value instead of how much time you wasted sitting in your chair, even if you finished all your work for the day. I used to work for a company like that, and it used to really frustrate me.

Ok, so back to the story, I had a sweet setup, didn't have to work a full 40 hours ever because I'm efficient, effective, and focused... you with me so far?

Now, this sweet setup got interrupted when my manager's manager's manager saw I was doing a really good job in my current role. There's another division elsewhere in the company that needed a guy... not just any guy, but a guy they can trust to do a good job.

And out of nowhere I get asked to [virtually] meet the head of the department within the division where they need the guy that can do a good job. I was told initially that I would be “helping out”, so I'm thinking I'm being asked to help them out for a few weeks, but not leaving my current role or management structure.

So, I meet with the department head, and we hit it off. He says I'm hired, and that I'll be leading a team that will start small, but will be growing to several team members within the next year. I was a little confused as to why they'd want a temporary person to grow a team, so I asked about that... if I'm only helping out, are you sure you want to build a team under me if I won't be sticking around?

Turns out, I was mistaken (by not being told the whole story). When I hit it off with the department head, it turns out they wanted me to join them permanently, and yes, they want me to build my own team.

Hence me getting a little upset. Building a team means more work. I was liking the work I was doing, and killing it, but not having to work any harder than necessary to get all that done. Growing a team means more work. Dammit, my little setup is no more!

So when I first joined the new division, my new manager, who I interviewed with and hit it off with was throwing a bunch of stuff at me. Mostly because he has to grow his department due to lots of funding and it being a priority for the company that his department and the division as a whole to grow to meet demand.

And, since there's lots to do, and he doesn't have his full team to do it all, I was having to jump in and help out wherever I could. As a result, I'm not just leading one team, I'm leading two. To be fair, the second team is just temporary (for real temporary this time), so not a forever thing.

Well, it also turns out that the work we're doing is work I'm actually enjoying. It's been a long while since I was doing hard(er) work that I was feeling both challenged AND fulfilled at, so this was kind of cool. And even though I just joined a few months ago, I've already got some quick wins that have been making their way up the senior management chain.

And yet, still no full 40 hour weeks required so far. Again, my knack for efficiency is keeping the overtime monster at bay.

Then, earlier this week I have the unexpected conversation with my new manager. We go over the staffing for both teams I'm leading, and then he says that by late spring, he'll have found a permanent lead for the second team I'm helping out with.

I told him that so far, it hasn't been a huge time commitment, so if he needed me to stay on longer for that second team, I was happy to do it. Then, he says this, “You're totally doing a great job, and you're crushing it on both teams, but I don't want to burn you out. I need you for the long term, and overloading you with two full time teams is not a good way to keep you for the long term.”

Now, you might be thinking he's just being nice and trying not to hurt my feelings, but he'd been directed to put me in for a title promotion by his boss's boss, which also means a higher pay raise to go with it. That wouldn't be in the works if they were just letting me down gently.

They're actually concerned that if they give me too much, I'll either flame out, or want to leave. And they're willing to take active steps to prevent that from happening.

Imagine... how many times has it been the opposite? Like, “we really appreciate all the extra hard work you've been doing, and we realize you haven't gotten a raise and are so tired you can't see straight, but we need you to hang in there just a little while longer (with no real end date in sight) and we promise we'll make it worth your while”... and then proceed to do absolutely nothing but continue to crush your soul and work you to near-death.

This was the opposite, and my work is getting noticed in a positive way many levels above. Now, they want to be sure I'm not being overwhelmed and am in the Goldilocks zone at work. Amazing.

So, it's not that I'm lazy at work, it's that I value time to an extreme degree and even have to take steps to protect it from professional time-wasters. I don't like to waste it, I like to maximize it, while also enjoying the dividends that being efficient and effective with time management pays back by not having to bust my butt a full 40+ hours every week.

And the other side effect is that it helps produce results that bring value to the company and get noticed by my manager and several executives above him. Everybody wins, and when that happens, life is good.

tags: #reflections #productivity

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Wasting time, big time Image credit: Lukas Blazek on Unsplash

I don't know why I keep thinking that anything I do to try to save time, that involves other people, is actually going to work. I've written about this before in my post We Really Are Our Own Worst Enemies, and even recently, I've experienced even more evidence that this is the case.

And, as I get older and more jaded, I'm also pretty sure it doesn't have to do with people intentionally being time wasters, it's that most people simply lack the ability to think in such a manner that will actually save them (or others) time.

Now, this has nothing to do with an unrealistic expectation on my part that everyone be perfect just to please me. However, it makes me sad to think that so few people are capable of saving themselves or others any time at all by doing something, anything, more efficiently.

Every now and then I do come across someone that maybe will say, “how about if we save ourselves a bit of time and do it this way?”, to which I metaphorically fall to my knees in gratitude, ready to cry tears of joy. That's how rare it is.

And perhaps it's not a matter of competence at all. Perhaps the people doing these jobs that require me to interact with them are simply miserable. So miserable that they have no incentive, inclination, or desire to want to do anything to make someone else's life easier. So miserable and mundane that they're just simply aloof, if not completely apathetic.

So, whenever I make any extra effort to try to answer questions before they're asked, instead of someone simply reading the answer right in front of them, they'll just ask it anyway. Whenever I try to “get ahead of the game” by adding extra information to an email, instead of reading the email, I'll get asked about the very thing I already wrote.

When someone says they'll do something by a certain date, instead of actually doing it ON or BEFORE that date, I have to be the one to chase them down to ask where the thing they promised is... or schedule the meeting/appointment because, even though they promised to call me back to do it, it's now my problem to have to solve by dropping what I'm doing to have to call them instead.

I just wish that dealing with people and the systems (business or service workflows) under which they're forced to operate were not such a huge waste of time. Just because most people don't value their time doesn't mean I should have to waste mine to pull them along to where they should already be as grown-ass adults.

tags: #rants #opinion

If you like my work and you received value from this post, please consider buying me a coffee: Like my work? Please consider buying me a coffee.

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This post was originally posted on my previous blog site called Jay's Journal on April 5th, 2018.

Looking at you, Medium!

A fellow blogger here at Listed has hit the nail right on the head with their latest post regarding Medium.

I'm a fan of Medium, and I find myself reading tons of articles from there. Heck, I've even posted a few myself. But over at Catch and Release, the poster really nails it.

The name of the post is My Favorite Medium Articles, and it's just fantastic. It's a humorous posting (I think), but as with all comedy, the laughs are usually wrapped in a fair amount of truth.

And, hey Medium... if you can't laugh at it, too, then...

SGT Hulka says...

tags: #opinion

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This post was originally posted on my previous blog site called Jay's Journal on April 3rd, 2018.

Simple is Good!

If you're somehow finding this post as a result of a search engine query (which I doubt, because I totally suck at SEO), you might not know what Standard Notes or Listed actually is.

For those of you that do know, you can skip ahead to why I love Listed. For those that don't, you're welcome to keep reading...

Standard Notes is in my opinion, the best note taking app I've ever come across. It's basic, yet can be as complex as you want it to be.

The free version is pretty no-frills. The paid version allows you to customize your note taking workspace to your liking. You can change the color of your writing screen, use markdown if you like, have split pane writing to see what your copy looks like as a real time preview, and tons of other goodies.

And really, what I like most is that because I can set up my SN workspace to my liking, I can write and annotate in a way that's very natural to me.

I use it now for my writing, as well as capturing thoughts and website URLs I want to remember for later. And, for me, the best part is that the Standard Notes team is focused on privacy.

They encrypt your notes right out of the gates, and you can set up multiple layers of security to get to your Notes. And, they have mobile apps, too, which is great for writing on my iPad.

The web version is the most functional at this point, as that's where you can use all the customizations you've set for yourself, but using the mobile app is great for outlining, writing a first draft, and just capturing what you don't want to forget.

The paid version doesn’t cost all that much, and not only do you get some great customization features, you'd also be supporting a great app with a cause. Privacy.

Apps like Evernote and OneNote are great, and really super functional, but they're just not private. Not only that, for me, as someone who likes to write, I found that both Evernote and OneNote are pretty clunky for writers.

Sure, they capture everything else, but for distraction-free writing, they're not the best tools for that. For me, Standard Notes hits a bullseye.

I've been looking forever for the perfect writing tool for me. A place that is natural to go to and use everyday, and easy for me to put thoughts into words without fussing about formatting or code.

And because it's so easy, and now so natural, I find myself blogging more than I ever have, and really enjoying it. Mostly because I don't feel like I'm actually “blogging”, because in a way I'm not.

I'm getting my thoughts down on Standard Notes, in the method I like to do so. Then, when I'm done, I can publish my post with one click to Listed, which is the blog companion to Standard Notes.

If you skipped ahead, you can land here:

All my published posts show up in Listed, under my handle.

And, because I'm so smitten with writing with Markdown, my posts are easy to format, because I can format as I write. That's what makes it no-fuss.

So, blogging is for me, what it was probably meant to be from the beginning when blogs were first created. A quick and easy way to get your thoughts out to the world.

But, with commercialization and monetization came complication. And yet, with Listed as my blogging platform, I can potentially monetize my posts or accept tips for my work... and without complicating the crap out of doing so.

Perhaps as I get older, I've really come to appreciate simple, easy, and uncomplicated. Maybe that's why I now use an iPhone and iPad after being an Android guy for many years. It checks all those boxes, too.

I still use a Windows laptop, but I've got my reasons for that. However, I've even gone to work on making that as simple and uncomplicated so that Windows feels comfortable, at least for me.

And, when I do want complicated, I have my Linux machines that I can tinker with and learn new stuff. And, when I'm done with complicated, I go back to Standard Notes, Listed, my iPhone, iPad, and optimized Windows laptop.

They all sync together, they all work together, and in the end, it enables me to enjoy the ritual of writing once again.

Thank you Standard Notes team!

tags: #opinion #technology

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Will write for coffee Image credit: Tyler Nix on Unsplash

When I first launched this blog, I wanted to use a donation service as a way to earn tips for my writing. In my research, I'd come across two well-established players in the donation space: BuyMeACoffee.com and Ko-Fi.com. Both have similar as well as different features between them.

In this post I'll highlight the similarities as well as differences, along with the reasons I chose Ko-Fi.com over BuyMeACoffee.com.

First up, let's talk about BuyMeACoffee.com. This platform is all about supporting creators, whether they're writers, artists, or musicians. They offer a variety of ways for creators to monetize their content, including a “buy me a coffee” button that can be added to websites and social media profiles, as well as a full-fledged storefront for selling digital products.

One of the biggest draws of BuyMeACoffee.com is its low fees. The platform only charges a 5% transaction fee, which means that creators keep 95% of the money they earn. Plus, they offer a variety of premium options, such as the ability to accept recurring payments, customize the look of your storefront, and even sell physical products.

One thing I didn't like too much was that in order to withdraw your money at any time, you'll need a Stripe account. Otherwise, you'll need to reach a minimum amount before you can withdraw.

It's not that I'd need the money instantly, but I don't really care to set up a Stripe account. I have PayPal and I'm pretty happy with it, for the most part, and don't really want to set up another similar service.

So, one of the reasons I prefer to use Ko-Fi.com is that they enable their users to connect their PayPal account to receive their payments.

So now, let's talk about Ko-fi.com. This platform is similar to BuyMeACoffee.com in that it's all about supporting creators, but it has a slightly different approach. Instead of a storefront, Ko-fi.com offers a simple “buy me a coffee” button that can be added to websites and social media profiles. The button is a simple call-to-action that allows fans to support creators with a one-time payment.

One of the biggest draws of Ko-fi.com is also its low fees, it only charges a 3% transaction fee, meaning creators keep 97% of the money they earn. They also offer a few premium options such as the ability to accept recurring payments, and the ability to offer digital downloads.

Both BuyMeACoffee.com and Ko-fi.com are great options for creators looking to monetize their content. While BuyMeACoffee.com offers a full-fledged storefront and more customization options, Ko-fi.com has a simpler approach and even lower fees.

So, whether you're a creator looking to monetize your content or a fan looking to support your favorite creators, both platforms are worth checking out.

And while I chose Ko-Fi.com for my donation and soon-to-be subscription service, you really can't go wrong with either one. I hope this helped you in some way.

tags: #thoughts #technology

If you like my work and you received value from this post, please consider buying me a coffee: Like my work? Please consider buying me a coffee.

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This post was originally posted on my previous blog site called Jay's Journal on March 31st, 2018.

Don't You See It?

When I look around, I see an unending amount of examples of people just simply getting in their own way. I’m sure I do this as well, but it’s easier to look outward rather than inward sometimes.

Mainly because I strive to be efficient and save time, without sacrificing quality, every chance I get.

For me, time is more valuable than money. For as long as I can remember, I’ve looked at time in this way. I value it, I hate to waste it, and I resent others who just piss it away freely and without a second thought.

Time is the probably the ONE thing you can’t get back, make more of, stop, or even slow down. And, so, for me, time is a precious unit that I can’t bear to waste.

But, aside from a few exceptions, most people just don’t care how much time they waste. It gets rather frustrating.

Sometimes I feel like I’m alone in a sea of people who all do things in the worst way possible, wasting so much time without giving it a thought, and I’m the one guy who really tries to get it done faster, easier, and with much less stress.

Today is a great example. A week ago, I sent an email to someone detailing exactly what I was needing from them and why. My thought was that if I explain this ONCE, I won’t have to answer questions piece-meal, one email question followed by one email answer at a time.

The alternative would be to drag out a simple 5 minute request to instead be spread across several days, with multiple emails for the one simple request (borrow 2 company laptops for testing software).

In other words, I was trying to be efficient by getting it all done in one shot. I know, silly me, what was I thinking?

My email goes a week unanswered. Sigh. So now, I have to send another email to follow up to the one I already sent, basically re-requesting what I already spent time requesting the first time.

The good news is, the second email worked. The question for me is: Why did it take TWO emails to get ONE response?

Ok, so, in this person’s reply, he adds another person to the CC, and says that he’s directing my request to her and that I can work with her to get what I’m requesting.

Great... another person to have to work through to possibly NOT get what could be given in 5 minutes.

And, so I send the obligatory reply, thanking Mr. One Week for his reply, and then have to acknowledge the new person on the email, offering to work with her and help her in any way necessary to complete my request. (It’s TWO laptops to test some software on, that’s it!)

Which in turn begins another loud-sigh moment. She replied, and adds YET ANOTHER person onto the email, saying that I’ll need to set up some time to discuss my “needs” with her and this new person.

All when the original request is typed out TWICE in the email thread below her message.

So, now I have to set up a meeting to request two laptops that were already requested twice before, so they can understand what I’m asking with at best a 50% chance that they can actually fulfill my request, or instead, and more likely, send me over to someone else.

And I know what you’re thinking, because it’s exactly what I’m thinking. Just write back and reference the other emails below and save the time in the meeting.

And you’re thinking that, and I’m thinking that, because it would be efficient, and the fastest, even easiest way to get things done.

HOWEVER, we’re dealing with people who just couldn’t care about doing anything the easy way. And so, my daily uphill battle in Corporate America continues, just as it always has, and always will... with no improvement in sight.


tags: #observations #rants #thoughts #opinion

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Gmail, not my computer Image credit: Stephen Phillips – Hostreviews.co.uk on Unsplash

Anyone who knows me also knows that I have a generally negative view of Google as an email provider, let alone a corporation. Back in the day, when I didn't know any better, I loved using Google's email, calendar, and docs.

The ease and simplicity of using their services was just too good to be true. And, it turns out, it actually was.

When news story after news story came out about Google's downright evil corporate surveillance of it's users, I stopped using Gmail and Docs many years ago. I also vowed never to use these services ever again.

And I get it. They're a business, and since I didn't pay a dime for these amazing services, they should be allowed to make money somehow from the services they offer. Which is why I chose not to use their services as I eventually learned, I was the product.

To be clear, I do have a Gmail account, but that's just to be able to create playlists, like videos, and comment on YouTube. I don't actually use the email or the docs.

So, I never thought I'd say it, but here we are, and I'm just as shocked as you are. I'm going to miss Google. And that means that at work, they're in the process of migrating us all off Google Workspace over to M365, which is Microsoft's attempt at email and collaboration.

More like Microsoft's email and convolution. Ugh. Thankfully, it'll take a while before I have to use M365.

I'm no stranger to M365 as I used it for my small side-business because I refuse to use Google products, let alone pay for them. So, I know what awaits me when my employer makes the switch, and I'm kind of dreading it.

Having had to use Google Workspace at work, I've become more and more impressed with Google Workspace's ability to actually get work done. The collaboration features are really solid. But what's been even more surprising to me was the individual tools that enable me to get work done.

Little things like the ability to click a button in your calendar entry to create a pre-formatted Meeting Notes document that fully references your meeting from the calendar entry itself. From there, you're asked if you want to share that same document with your attendees – where, because it's Google Docs, you can all view and edit simultaneously. What's more, when you create bullets, you also have the ability to assign bullets as tasks to any of the attendees.

Yeah, Microsoft let's you do that, kinda, with Teams, and Word and Sharepoint, and Outlook fat client, etc. Not as smooth or out-of-your-way easy like Google does it, and, you've got about 3 different tools to do the same thing. Thus, making it hard for a work team to know which tool to use for which task.

The result of this is that information your team needs is spread around several tools and storage locations. Sure, everything is really stored in Sharepoint, but it's disjointed and disparate.

Heck, OneNote doesn't even let you tag users STILL. After years of enterprise users begging Microsoft for the ability to @mention users in OneNote to be able to use OneNote in a task-collaborative manner, Microsoft still couldn't give a shit.

Google Meet is kinda meh, and it needs some updating in features, needing tighter integration with Google Drive, Keep, and Tasks. But from what I've seen with Google's ability to create a truly functional productivity suite, I'm sure it'll continue to get better over time.

Spaces in Google have really gotten pretty good. Spaces are virtual work rooms where chat, documents, and even tasks can be centralized and coordinated. Combined with the features that Google Drive and Docs offer, I'm just really impressed, and much more productive and efficient as an individual and as a member of work teams.

And, since my employer is footing the bill, I don't have to worry about betraying my principles. But, in secret, I really enjoy using Google Workspace as my project documents, emails, calendar, and the ability to stay organized and productive has never been better.

So, this is why I say, reluctantly, and albeit surprisingly, I'm going to really miss Google. Sigh.

tags: #technology #productivity #thoughts

If you like my work and you received value from this post, please consider buying me a coffee: Like my work? Please consider buying me a coffee.

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Look at me, I love to wake up early! Image credit: Zac Durant on Unsplash

Let's start off with the fact that I've had jobs in my life that required me to get up early. And, in several of those jobs I've had to pull all-nighters many times.

And, while in the military, I've pulled 36-hour shifts before. I really don't recommend that as the mind and body gets severely punished when that amount of a lack of sleep is forced upon your body. It physically hurts to move when you've gone that long without sleep and without the aid of some equally toxic or dangerous chemical stimulant.

Having done my time in the past when it comes to waking up before the sun, hitting the ground running, I really do prefer to not do that anymore. To be fair, I've been waking up before my alarm, most days, but not all.

I also find that with my weight loss, I'm requiring less sleep. But all of that doesn't matter for the purpose of this post. What I aim to rant about are these early risers that love to call meetings a full hour before I'm scheduled to start work for the day.

You have to know them. They're the ones that extoll the virtues of getting an early start to the day, how wonderful it is, and all that crap. Save it. I hate getting up early because my circadian rhythm has always been that of the opposite of most people.

Translation: I'm a night owl. I have been for as long as I can remember, and it still holds true to this day. So, while most people love waking up at 4am, 5am, 6am, I prefer to be going to bed at those times after being up all night.

So, these early risers, love scheduling calls first thing in the morning. Like, right at at a time that doesn't even allow you to log on, get settled, read your emails to address anything urgent. Nope. MEETING.

It's just stupid. And, by the way, what are you trying to prove to the world? That you're awesome because YOU like to wake up early, and get right to meetings? Trust me, you're not awesome, you're an idiot.

There's value in letting your team start work at a reasonable hour, letting them get their coffee, settle in, log on to see what landed in their inbox overnight that might need attention, THEN MEET.

Yeah, I know, I sound like an entitled Millennial, or a Gen Z. But, the difference is, I've paid my dues and done the whole waking up at zero-dark thirty for military and civilian jobs. I'm middle-aged now, and should have some say-so as to my schedule.

And actually, I do. Aside from the way-too-early meetings our directors like to have, most days and the schedules of me and my team are of my making.

I just can't stand the showy “look at me, I like to get an early start to my day, and everyone around me should, too!” types. The ones that do their early morning wakeup crap without trying to thrust it upon the rest of us are fine. You leave me alone, I'll leave you alone – you do you.

But for those of you that think the rest of us should conform to you. Well, fuck you. Fuck all y'all. I don't admire you, I don't envy you, and instead, I just loathe you. For the love of God, go take your early morning shit somewhere else.

tags: #rants

If you like my work and you received value from this post, please consider buying me a coffee: Like my work? Please consider buying me a coffee.

And, if you'd like to stay up to date with new blog posts, subscribe for free email delivery each time a new post is published. I hate SPAM just as much as you do, and your information will never, EVER, be shared or sold.

This post was originally posted on my previous blog site called Jay's Journal on March 9th, 2018.

It's Not Always Crystal Clear

Today turned out to be a great day. The week? Not so much. But today turned out great.

At work, the project team I'm on was able to submit our deliverables. There wasn't instant agreement on the content of those deliverables, but we eventually did reach common ground, and submitted in time for our deadline.

That felt really good, as I will say that I had a big hand in finding that common ground with all team members.

And while I don't necessarily enjoy making decisions by committee (I prefer a hierarchical structure, but that's just me), it's how things work here, and so I can adapt.

I've been doing really well here. Better than well, excellent, actually. My performance reviews and rewards have been top notch. Tangible indicators that my contributions here are both respected and appreciated.

All in all, that feels great. Now combine that with the fact that we were able to come together as a team and pull out our most recent win has me simply stoked.

And, as I touted the team's latest victory to my manager, his question to me was, “What do you have planned for next week's [win]?”

While I said, “Sitting around the pool sipping pina coladas” in a joking manner, I really wasn't. But, alas, it was only a joke because it wouldn't be true.

I did forecast the team's next set of tasks and future wins, and that I do know to be truth. And he did, too, so he was good with my answers.

But there's something else that gave me a little extra pep in my step today.

I gained a bit of clarity... about what's next.

Not what's next week, but what's next for me as a person. Now, to be fair, I've had a lot of ideas about what I'd like to be next, or what I think I would like to be next, but turns out a lot of them were pretty fleeting.

Fun? Sure! But doable as my next thing? Not really.

So, you might ask: If you're doing so great at work, why are you thinking about what's next?

The answer is: Because, it's what I do.

Maybe it was the military, or maybe lessons learned while growing up, or earlier on in my IT career, but I always need a fallback plan.

It's not an option for me. In my time, I've found myself suddenly laid off more than once. Somehow, I've always managed to stay employed, and land on my feet.

I could say I've been really lucky, but I'm not sure it's all luck. Some of it has to be either preparation, or the ability to seize opportunities that arise from a sudden change of circumstance.

Those opportunities may not be immediately beneficial, but the smaller ones certainly do lead to larger ones.

So, in the back of my mind, I always ask myself the question: What if you lost your job tomorrow?

When I don't have a good answer, I feel vulnerable. I feel like I need to have an answer to that so that a sudden change in circumstances doesn't mean a sudden change in lifestyle.

And, for the past couple of years, I thought I had my what's next solved. Turns out, the ideas I came up could be an eventual thing, but not my absolute next thing.

Well, an epiphany has been brewing. It started as a small seed, but it's blossomed. And has now turned into an undeniable need to take action to make it real.

And, as it turns out, my next can serve as the basis of everything else I've wanted to do, even the eventual stuff.

This time, though, my what's next isn't just one thing, it's two things, with the option to turn into three.

But, in order to quench this thirst, I have to start with one. The one that is the heart of all else. The one that will help facilitate all my other wants and desires for what I'd want to do next if I found myself without a job.

What's more, my absolute next will also help me be better at my current job, perhaps even prolonging my usefulness here. And, it will also help me to possibly make extra money on the side, which would fund my other ventures and passions.

Ok, so what is this next thing I want to do that's got me so excited?

I want to become a copywriter. And right after that, a career and relationship coach for men.

So why a copywriter? When I set out to really think this through, I realized a few things about myself.

First is, I love to write. I find it to be relaxing and therapeutic. And no, just because I can write lengthy posts doesn't mean I'm actually any good at it.

So, becoming a copywriter will challenge me to improve my skills. Maybe say more with less words, make a larger impact with fewer lines on a page. I'll bolster my love for writing with the knowledge of knowing how to write better.

Second is, I want to make extra money. Can never have enough saved for a rainy day, or eventual retirement. Copywriting will give me several avenues in which to do this:

  1. I can write professionally as a freelance writer.
  2. I can write personally to promote products I believe in, and earn affiliate commissions based on my words and feelings about those products.
  3. I can use these skills to write copy for my life coaching website with actual skill and knowledge on how to make the most impact and land clients that would be excited to work with me.

For me, these are very practical reasons for wanting to learn how to be a copywriter. It's applicable here and now, and in the future.

If I found myself suddenly unemployed, my copywriting skills, and all that I intend to do with them could (potentially) enable me to launch an entire business based around this set of skills alone, offering me flexibility of time, hours, and even work location.

Is it any wonder, I'm walking around with my head help up high, smiling, and not feeling as vulnerable as before?

I've finally figured out “What's Next”, and it feels fantastic!

tags: # thoughts #reflections

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You've Got Mail! Photo credit: Yannik Mika at Unsplash

I don't mean too many emails, I mean too many email accounts. With emails all up in them as well. I've just got too many email accounts.

Why? Well, I kind of collect email accounts like some people collect purses, or shoes, or salt and pepper shakers. And this past weekend, I finally realized that it's not good.

Why do I collect email accounts in the first place? Well, mostly because I like to try out new email services. Let's face it, since email as a service is kinda boring, most email providers have to market their service as being unique.

You know, the whole, “A Unique Approach to Email” is the headline. And, to some extent, each email provider does do email a bit different than the other. So, I like trying that unique thing. And, over the years, it's translated to like close to 12 different email accounts. <—– I already updated that number like 3 times while writing this post as I keep remembering more accounts I have laying around.

Some accounts I pay for, and some I don't. The ones I don't pay for are an issue because the old saying goes that if you're not paying for the product, you are the product.

But, with a provider like Zoho (yes, I have an account with them), they'll give you a free account and won't do evil shit with your info. But, for places like Yahoo and Google, and even Microsoft, yeah, they do.

I ditched Yahoo years ago after they had the biggest email breach in human history. It's true, look it up. And, I have Gmail out of necessity because, you know, YouTube, but would ditch them entirely if I could – damn those digital crack dealers!

And, with different email accounts come different email addresses. And with different email accounts and email addresses comes email sprawl – email on many different servers in many parts of the world. And because most email providers offer an email migration tool of some kind, I'm a propagator of my own email across different services.

Because it's just. So. Easy!

I've been on a quest to find the email service that won't be evil with my email by snooping on or selling my data. Then, it needs to have function and utility to enable me to manage my email in a way that's fun, or at least in a way I don't hate it.

A huge bonus if the email service is end to end encrypted with zero knowledge, meaning the staff or third party contractors or anybody but me can't read my email.

Each email service tends to have it's own value triangle: Features, Zero Knowledge Encryption, Fun to Use – You can only pick two.

As I'd like to get this post out relatively quickly, I won't go into which service meets each of the elements of the value triangle, but maybe in another post.

For the purposes of this post, I've come to the realization that I have way too many email accounts, and this past weekend I started to do something about it.

I started by first embracing the fact that I can't have all three elements in the value triangle. Then, based on that, I decided that in order to have all three elements, I'll need TWO email accounts. One that does what I want without zero knowledge encryption while being fun to use and fast, and then one with zero knowledge encryption that can at least do the basics without sucking too bad.

I settled on the two that will get the job done for me in the way I need to and want to:

  • Fastmail as my daily driver: It's way fast, feature packed, and at least private, but without the zero knowledge encryption.
  • Protonmail as my virtual safe deposit box: Stuff I'd only want my spouse, priest, attorney, or doctor to know go in there. I also have their VPN service, so it's kinda free and I get a stupid amount of storage, like 500GB.

And, by doing that, I feel relieved. Like I'm getting a handle on things.

Now, for all the email addresses that I have out there. I'd started using an email masking and forward service a couple of years ago called SimpleLogin.io. It's great because you can create an email alias, on the fly even, for every website you have to sign up for some kind of an online account.

It's also great for signing up for newsletters, basically, anything you have to give out your email address for. Instead of giving out your real email address that they can sell, give them an alias instead.

Then, when that alias email address is sold or compromised in some data breach (which happens daily now), you can easily disable that alias in the SimpleLogin dashboard.

So, just today I had to register for jury duty. On the county's website, I created an alias on the fly of the countyname@mydomain.com. And now that email alias forwards email to the actual mailbox of my choosing. SimpleLogin also allows you to specify multiple mailboxes to send that email to.

That doesn't really help me as I'm a recovering email account collector, but it's good to know I can do that if I want. So, with that service, I can also give people an email address that I can determine where it lands. It saves people from having to always update my email address, or even have to keep several of them in my addressbook entry.

I just give them one address, and whichever or how ever many email services I use on the back end, all they need be concerned with is the one email address I gave them.

So, the next step is to take the next week or two, and pull all my emails off these other services other than the two I've decided to use, and cancel the rest. Until I fall off the wagon again, that is.

tags: #technology #reflections #productivity

If you like my work and you received value from this post, please consider buying me a coffee: Like my work? Please consider buying me a coffee.

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