The Most Important Thing to Have at Work

I’ve been asked to pitch some ideas for an intracompany newsletter at my job today. The point of it being two-fold:

  1. To increase better communication between colleagues and management
  2. To make work fun

They don’t know it, but I’ve gone over and beyond with a Power Point presentation all set up and everything. In honor of Michael Scott, I even thought about throwing out candy bars during the pitch.

But it got me thinking a lot about having fun at work.

Why is that such a big deal and is it that important?

Speaking to a buddy of mine, I asked him the question I ask almost everyone I come in contact with: “What do you want out of life?” His answer: “I want to have fun at work. I want to sit back and laugh with my friends while we get work done.”

When we’re kids we naturally gravitate toward anything that’s bright, colorful, or even has the potential to be fun or funny.  Then we go through a phase where we back off from that sort of stuff for appearance’s sake. But once we’ve been in the dark long enough, as adults we crave what we fought so hard to obtain as kids.

We want the fun back.

We browse YouTube for hours looking for the next big laugh.

Fun and humor stimulate us. Back when I was the director of some after school programs, our best and most successful ideas came out of just gabbing and cracking jokes. Ed Catmull, in his brilliant and flawless book, Creativity, Inc. says the same thing about his team of power brains making all those Pixar movies.

Fun begets passion. When there’s no fun, there’s no passion. Passion drives ideas. Passion almost always benefits the bottom line. 

If you’re the owner of a company, imagine if all of your employees had passion on the clock. How much better would your customers be treated? How much could your business grow because of that?

I love the movie The Wolf of Wall Street. Like, even though we can’t own it since there’s kids in the house, that movie is on my list of top five favorites. Why? Because those dudes be havin’ FUN! Sure, they broke the law and got busted, but I don’t think they ever looked back and regretted the fun they had.

wows-dwarfI also don’t think it’s a coincidence that my favorite band is Fun..

So, I challenge you to put together a list of ideas for your team at work, or for your manager, and present this simple yet beautiful idea of fun. If you can’t do that, start cracking jokes at company meetings, shake things up. Wear a funny hat to work or pull some pranks. Some work environments might not like it, so know the rules and don’t get yourself fired (and if you’re in that sort of situation, get out of there already), but find little things you can do to brighten up your day. Because when you’re happy, others will be happy, too. Happiness is contagious.

Here’s a little something I did at work not too long ago. My little addition to the janitor’s sign was taken down after like, a minute, but I did see the guy after me walk out smiling.

Now, start aiming for a good time. Life is short (and it’s even shorter if you die of a heart attack because work is so stressful and boring).

A Third Party Presidency Can Happen!

If you’re like me and most of Americans I talk to, you’re disgusted by the candidates for this upcoming election. Clowns. Losers. A pathetic and embarrassing waste. And that’s putting it nicely.

Capitol Hill has almost always been more concerned about their little squabbles and rivalries than about the interests of the American people.

Hillary supports organizations I’m disgusted by, she will disarm our military, and reduce our police force to hall monitors. And also, by a rule of thumb, any vote for a democratic party is a vote in favor of bigger government and higher taxes, both of which I am stoutly and adamantly against.

On the other hand, we have Donald. He represents the party that I’m registered with. And he’s an absolute disgrace. But for a while I was going to vote for him because he wants to rebuild our military, and it’s only likely that he’ll raise our taxes (not guaranteed like it is with Hillary), and he wants to do away with Obamacare, because we lost our freedom with that. He’s a “lesser evil,” in my opinion.

But a vote for Trump almost guarantees four years of scandal and finger-pointing and more turbulence with racial issues (which infuriates me because those issues should be nonexistent by this point. I mean, seriously, what the hell is wrong with us? Are we all still in grade school and we can’t get over our differences?).

But voting for Trump (or against Hillary) means voting for a racist, sexist pig, who might take the defense of our country so far as to annihilate any possible threat even before it becomes a threat, which I’m not okay with (but I’m more in favor of that than laying down our arms, as Hillary would propose). Basically this is what I call a grey election. There are black and whites between the candidates, but our convictions as a country are still grey. These candidates are asking us to vote for all or nothing on every issue.

My wife convinced me that a vote against a candidate is a waste, because it’s still a vote in favor of an evil. I think we can all agree that both are an evil in some ways or others.

You’re either voting for a racist, sexist fear monger whose primary interest has always been increasing his own bottom line…

Or you’re voting for a pathological liar, whose primary interest is control and power at every cost, no matter who gets hurt. She said it herself that she believes in systems and rules over the power of changed person. People in favor of more systems, rules, and regulations are defeatists.

BUT, like the brilliant film Finding Dory reminds us, there’s always a way out. DON’T VOTE FOR THE LESSER OF EVILS like I came close to doing. If you’re honest to goodness choice is either of the primary candidates, then by all means, go for it. But if you’re like me, and neither is acceptable for you, then send the government a message and demand a third party, another option.

I always fall into the mindset that my vote doesn’t matter. Trust me. I get that. I’m a total victim to that ideology. But if I truly believe in and hope for a changed government, then I must act on that with my vote. Because maybe there are millions of others just like me. And what if none of us go out and vote for a third party?

Abraham Lincoln was a third party.

If you’re undecided, seriously watch this 90-second video below. It makes perfect sense that a third party is possible.

The Pixar Challenge

EdCatmull_lores“Good artists borrow, great artists steal,” is a motto Steve Jobs lived by.

As a business owner, I see myself as an artist because I’m creating something from nearly nothing.

But artists still need inspiration. Filmmakers need a camera. Animators need a pencil or a computer. Sculptors need clay. And painters need landscapes or models.

But all artists need inspiration. Without it, nothing could be created.

My inspiration as the founder of a publishing studio is an animation studio located 2,307 miles away. My inspiration comes from Pixar Animation Studios, namely the founder and owner Ed Catmull.

Millions of people watch Pixar movies every year and even study the studio from a business standpoint and ask, “How do they do it?”

It’s no secret. Mr. Catmull was gracious enough to provide many answers to both artists and businesspeople through his ingenious book, Creativity, Inc.

71azko7m6+L._SL1500_

In the book, Catmul is open and honest about his and Pixar’s mistakes along the way to success and even after. His thesis is that creativity is found in people, not just ideas—a revelation I’m still trying to wrap my mind around.

So how, as a fledgling company, can Endever Publishing Studios mimic a multi-million-Screen Shot 2016-07-03 at 10.58.49 AMdollar animation studio?

By their principles, for one. Pixar Animation gives their employees the freedom to express themselves and their ideas. They’re not hammered down by corporate policies and suits and ties. There are channels set in place for them to go through, but the channels are designed within the studio to be an asset to success, not a barrier, as most companies have it.

Their work ethic for another. I don’t mean just following the rules, but I mean going abovePresto_poster and beyond to win the trust and approval of their audiences (or customers). One example of this is by their short films they release along with every feature film they produce. Prior to (and excluding) the DVR releases of Pixar’s short films, they make virtually no money on their short films. They’re also in production to help aspiring artists and directors spread their wings in preparation for full-length features.

And lastly, but not conclusively, Endever Publishing Studios attempts to mimic Pixar’s storytelling techniques. This is critical seeing that Endever is in the business of storytelling. We are a studio that refuses to release ordinary material. I’m sure we’ll make mistakes in this regard, but we have a system that we are building from within to make the storytelling process as airtight and flawless as possible.

Catmull, in his book, even takes the liberty to give the readers a sneak-peak inside one of Pixar’s “Braintrust” sessions where the storytellers argue and analyze and hash out idea after idea after idea to extract exactly the feelings and thoughts they’re trying to convey to the audience. The process is rigorous, and even draining. But it’s a worthy expedition as Pixar makes films that not only entertain but that enlighten, affect, and even change lives.

It’s a wonder to me that no other businesses that I know of is following Pixar’s model. The leader of one of the greatest companies in the world has literally given us the answer sheet on how to run a successful business, how to begin the process of creating paramount and original stories, yet Dreamworks isn’t pulling the brakes on their mediocre creative factory to regroup, managers aren’t saying, “How can I make my employees feel enabled and motivated?”

If that’s happening, I don’t know about it.

I take Ed Catmull’s book as a challenge to the rest of us. A challenge to step up our game in both the creative and the business worlds. I want to be like Ed. I want my company to be like Pixar. I vow to keep my employees happy and make them feel enabled and that they have much to contribute to the company. I vow to not release a book or any published material produced by Endever until it is something that we believe will not only satisfy immediate readers but will withstand the test of time.

Consider me the first to accept the Pixar Challenge. Will you, as an artist or a business owner or manager, join me?

quote-your-work-is-going-to-fill-a-large-part-of-your-life-and-the-only-way-to-be-truly-satisfied-is-to-steve-jobs-94903

Climbing Up the Corporate Christmas Tree

keep_calm_and_climb_a_tree_round_ceramic_decoration-rfb33ecaa15d7445c81cf0e26aeaa3fcf_x7s2y_8byvr_324You’ve likely worked for bosses or managers who just don’t understand. I’m not talking about the inability to sympathize. I’m talking about a literal inability to understand the job they hired you to do because they haven’t done it themselves.

Mostly that’s due to someone inheriting their position through a variety of different means.

There are very few situations where I find this acceptable. Let me explain why.

My wife and I have differing Christmas tree styles we prefer in our living room each year. She thinks the bigger and fuller the tree the better. I prefer the smaller ones because there’s less mess and less decorating. She likes it to be chuck-full and overflowing with white lights and ornaments that date back to 30+ years. With her style, you have to wonder if there’s a tree anywhere underneath the decorations. As far me, bring out a strand of those big, bulky colored lights recycled from the 90’s, wrap them around once, plug ’em in, and wash the sap off your hands before you pour yourself some egg nog.

Everyone has different Christmas tree styles.

So let’s say companies are like Christmas trees. Someone who starts at the bottom and works their way up to the top is going to have a pretty good idea about what kind of Christmas tree they’re on. They’ll figure out that the red globes go on every third branch, the faded framed family portraits are hidden toward the back of the tree, and the higher up they climb they’ll find the ornaments becoming a little more fragile to remain out of reach of kids and dogs.

But someone who’s just thrown in at the top is not going to have as clear of an idea as to what kind of tree he or she is working with, because we’re all fixated on the star at the top. People don’t look down from the branch they’re on. We all only look up.

Bosses and managers need experience and an intimate knowledge of the company they’re managing. If you’re the manager or director of a call center and you’ve never been put through the fire of call after call of angry customers, you have no business managing people that go through it day after day.

If you’ve never struggled as a middle-class working American, I wish you’d think twice before running for president. Because how can you have a clear understanding of the plight of the common American people?

You see, as you climb the tree, you’re collecting broken ornaments, finding burnt lightbulbs, and noting bare branches. You’re building up a knowledge base of issues within the company that need to be resolved in order for synergy to exist.

My father owns a framing company out in California. Even though he owns the company, I’ve always admired that he himself can pick up a hammer and put in a day’s worth of hard work under the blistering sun.

It’s for this exact reason that as I build my publishing company from the ground up, I am putting myself through the fire. I have two manuscripts written that I’ve submitted to my partner Lynn. Through the editing structure we’re building, I’ve had to revise one and put the other on the back burner to be completely redone.Endever Arch

That way, when I come to one of our authors and point out problems in their manuscript, I can sincerely say, “I understand how frustrating this is … but trust me, it’s going to be a better book in the end.”

There are a myriad of reasons why it’s important for owners and managers to climb up the Christmas tree from the ground up. And to be honest, if Endever succeeds, I’m not going to just hang out at the top becoming best buds with the angel and hibernate in the safety of my secluded office. I’ll keep writing and pushing myself.

That way, if the style of the tree changes from white lights to colored lights, I’ll be ready to get my hands dirty and pitch in. After all, it’s my company, right? A guy should take pride in his possessions.

What I’m Learning So Far As a Business Owner

28751_10151294434995480_1557171638_n

The most common emotion I have as a brand new business owner is uncertainty. The next two emotions are fear and optimism. Somehow they go hand-in-hand.

I’m beginning to think it’s going to be a long while before I know what I’m really doing. Until then I must be content flying by the seat of my pants, believing in my ideas and my team, and play the role of the good news prophet.

There’s a difference between being a prophet who bears good news and a manager who wants to their ears to be tickled. We’ve all worked for bosses who only want to hear the good news. To me, that’s problem avoidance. One of the first things I told my partners when I selected them was that I want to hear the bad news. It’s my job as the founder and owner of Endever Publishing Studios to figure our how to clean up the mess. And if I can’t come up with a solution, then I ask for help. I wouldn’t have invited my teammates to be apart of Endever if I couldn’t rely on them for help.

After all, I’m just a business owner. I’m not perfect.

So what do I mean by being a good news prophet? While fear an optimism go hand-in-hand, I must not let my fear show. It’s imperative that I keep that part inside and display my optimism as much as I can. I must forecast good news so that my team and my writers will continue to believe in Endever.

Screen Shot 2016-01-25 at 6.48.43 AM

Does that mean I make stuff up just to lead them over a cliff?

Absolutely not! I’m busy working and reworking my business foundations until I feel I get something right. Pioneering a new publishing company means plotting out a succinct process for our book productions, routing book sales to benefit all parties involved and help the company grow, deciding what roles are most needed and what jobs those roles will consist of, and so on.

That’s where I’m at now as of the writing of this post. That way, when I get all the wheels greased and spinning in the right direction, I can forecast good news. I can be sure of myself because I will have sought out advise from key people, and in the end I will believe that I’ve made the right decisions for Endever and everyone involved.

That’s handling and cleaning up problems and prophesying good news. That’s freeing my teammates to do what I’ve instructed them to do within their area of expertise. And to me, that’s creating a safe and healthy environment for authors and other key players to join in the future.

I’ve got a long way to go, but like hopscotch, I’m doing my best to land straight in all the right spots.

Endever Updates – Six Months Later

Screen Shot 2016-01-25 at 6.48.43 AM

Wonderful news is happening over at Endever Publishing Studios! In case you’re unfamiliar with my publishing company, I founded it early this year because I was tired of the way traditional publishing companies operated.

  • They recycle the same famous authors in their rotation rarely giving new authors a chance.
  • Traditional publishers put more effort in promoting their own books than exploring the unknown future of the book industry itself.
  • It’s a corporate world where there is a thick black line separating the authors from the corporate bigwigs who are more concerned with the money in their pockets than the art driving the paychecks. There is no reason for the two to be separate.

This is the short version of why I began my own publishing company. I named it Endever Publishing Studios because we are more than a company, we are studio, and by definition a studio is a place where art is created and experimented with.

 

Six months later my co-owner Lynn Galloway and I have just signed our fifth author, and have seven books in production. We have received help from all corners of the industry from lawyers to cover design artists to editors all offering support and help in any way they can.

I’m impressed with how far we’ve come in just a short amount of time. I’m also very excited to share what Endever has in store for you all in just a few short weeks. We’ve come far, but we have much further to go. And somehow, in our ridiculously busy lives of demanding jobs, kids, and spouses, we are making the dream come true and we cannot thank all of you enough who have pitched in and submitted. Even your words of support and encouragement go a long way to get us through the tough days where it would just be much easier to pretend Endever never existed.

So stay tuned, because we might call upon your area of expertise to contribute to our company. But you’ll also want to be involved so that you can know about our upcoming book releases. More details on that soon!

Cable Company Games

charter-twc2-600

I just finished up a stint working for Time Warner Cable. Pretty soon, you’ll know them as Spectrum.

Here’s a little background on that merger, and if you have Time Warner, the pieces will fall together, explaining why your bills have taken such drastic jumps, why your cable keeps cutting out for no logical reason, your internet is slower than racing amoeba, and why your cable boxes still have fifteen cords sticking out of the back of them.

When Rob Marcus inherited Time Warner from his late predecessor a couple of years ago it was no more than a couple of short weeks before he issued out a statement saying that Time Waner was being bought out by Comcast.

Yes, as a newly appointed CEO, he didn’t get to work on furthering the company’s bottom line, or advancing its services to enhance customer experience. Markus jumped head-first into a long line of corporate negations to woo a competitive company for a major buy-out (and a quick and fat paycheck).

Government laws eventually dictated that the buy-out would create a monopoly and therefore was not given the green-light. Well, just days after this “mutual agreement” as Marcus deceivingly put it, it was announced that Charter Communications was going to take Comcast’s place and buy out Time Waner Cable. (The new name will be Spectrum.)

The corporate games continued without skipping a beat.

All the while Time Warner’s venders kept raising their prices, forcing customers to foot the bill, the already-old equipment was growing older, there were few advancements in the services (and even those bright spots came with major hiccups and laughable faults).

The corporate games continued and the millions of cable, internet, and phone customers were the dispensable pawns.

I always described Time Warner as a rock sitting beside a rapidly flowing stream. While the future and innovation swept past us into a world of wireless cable boxes, advanced cell phones, and fiber optics, Time Waner Cable sat idly by placing more emphasis in a bigger paycheck for corporate leaders once a buy-out took place.

To be sure, there are some happy Time Waner Cable customers out there. Somewhere… I’m sure. But a majority of people are disgusted by their services. And honestly, it’s not just Time Warner Cable. The cable industry as a whole is corrupted in the sense that we as a people have let them get away with increasing our bills every few months.

They play this game where they’re all in on it. Time Warner Cable knows that they’re going to lose customers to ATT, but after their bills go up after two years, they’ll come back. It’s a giant game of catch, and the customers are the balls. Except, they don’t have any.

You’ve heard the expression, “Your promotion has ended, so your bill is set at the new rate of [$30, $40, $60 more than you were paying].” And yet, people still keep cable! When it’s more than obvious that the next step in TV is online streaming, anyway.

People don’t seem to understand that if enough customers cancel their cable, cause the cable companies to shake in their boots a little, lose some revenue, they’ll rethink their unethical campaign games. Every single person would agree that cable bills should be a set price for life. End  of discussion.

But no one wants to cancel because they’ll miss the next episode of Walking Dead or the next big game. Even though that episode will be available to view on most online streaming outlets in just a few weeks, or that game will be on Youtube shortly. Yet, because you wanted to watch your show, you’re having to call in to your cable company again to put up a big fight about how your bill should not have raised.

But, at least you got to watch your show. Hope it was worth the $40 a month increase in your already-overpriced cable bill.

“But they make it so hard to cancel,” you say. Put your foot down. Don’t accept the bribes of $200 gift cards which, deep down you know you won’t qualify for due to some minor technicality. Stop giving in to the gimmicks.

I’m interested to know where my readers stand with all this. I know it’s way off topic from writing and adoption, but I’m seriously curious to know if you’ve all had a bad experience with your cable company, what you use it for, and what’s your preferred source of entertainment when it comes to TV? Leave your comments below and let us all know your thoughts!