Sunday December 3, 2017
I’ve decided to start a series called (self-aggrandizingly) “Mike’s Life” because, well, I miss writing just to share my life.
Yes, I know making my life the center of a blog series goes against everything Donald Miller teaches on marketing, namely that I should just be a guide who helps you, the hero, on his or her journey forward…
But a weird thing happened in the years since I started this blog: my blog became a business. Then I stopped blogging. Instead I grew an audience, landed clients, started a podcast, and created courses. There isn’t anything wrong with that, but I’ve lost a bit of myself on a website that is named after, well, me.
I wanted to carve out a corner on this site to just share what I’m up to, what I’m learning, what I’m going through, and create a place for dialogue with you, if you so choose.
This will be the most “organic” thing I create. So, here goes:
The Beautiful Chaos That Is Thanksgiving:
Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. We didn’t have much family tradition when I was growing up, but because Thanksgiving is such a ritualized holiday (Turkey! Football! Food comas! Drunk people!) it’s become somewhat of an anchor in my life.
I spent this Thanksgiving with my family in northern Virginia: my mom Yeoun, her husband Charles (or as he prefers, “Chick”), my younger sister Esther, her husband Sawyer, and their two sons whose names I’ll withhold because it’s weird to post infant’s names on public websites.
(God, they are so cute.)
About a week before Thanksgiving, we celebrated Nephew 2’s 100th day. Fun fact: Koreans celebrate the 100th day a baby is alive because (sadly) not many babies in prior generations lived that long.
This photo is from my Instagram and sums up what real life actually looks like:
Beautiful chaos, indeed. 🙂
While we’re on the topic of Thanksgiving, I want to say “thank you” to YOU. It means a lot to me that you would read this blog, listen to my podcast, or engage with other content I create.
Here are some other things that are going on both professionally and personally…
I have committed to living everyday in my Zone of Genius.
Actually, the Zone of Genius is a concept penned by one Gay Hendricks in a book titled, The Big Leap. It’s a good read (despite the fact that his publisher used the infamous goldfish stock photo for the cover art).
Hendricks — which is also the name of my favorite gin! — contends that all of our problems in life stem from one BIG problem: The Upper Limit Problem.
The Upper Limit Problem prevents us from sustained enjoyment of our success … because we don’t feel we deserve it. Thus, we end up sabotaging ourselves so that we somehow fall back into our lesser selves.
There are 4 false beliefs that prevent us from living in our Zone of Genius:
- The false belief that we are fundamentally flawed in some way
- The false belief that by succeeding, we’re being disloyal or leaving people in our past behind
- The false belief that we are a burden to the world
- The false belief that we must dim the bright lights of our brilliance so we don’t outshine someone in our past
Hendricks claims people usually suffer from 2 of the 4. I am a dead ringer for #1 (fundamentally flawed) and #4 (dim myself so I don’t outshine others).
(I wonder what yours are. If you’d like to discuss, leave a comment below.)
The zone ABOVE the Upper Limit Problem is what he calls the Zone of Genius. The Zone of Genius is where we truly thrive, where our very best talents and abilities allow us to expand everyday in success, love and abundance – and by doing so, inspire others to do the same.
Mike, you are getting woo-woo. Yes, but I’ve always been a bit woo-woo, and you know this. So, on a practical level, here’s what I’m doing:
Saying “no” to things that are in my Zone of Excellence. I’m excellent at several things. So are you. But that doesn’t mean they are “genius” things. So, I’ve made a few decisions:
- No More Copywriting Clients. I think I’m an excellent copywriter. I don’t think that it falls into my Zone of Genius, at least in writing for others. So, I decided to stop taking copywriting clients and actually had a private mantra the past few months: “Client-free by November three” — and as of that date I no longer take copywriting clients.
- No More Coaching Clients. I think I’m an okay coach, but I struggle when people delay in taking action. Many people seek a coach looking for encouragement or clarity, and while I love helping people, this isn’t in my Zone of Genius (at least with slower movers). In other words, I’m a nice guy before you know me, but if you work with me and don’t actually do anything, I’ll go nuts. My StrengthsFinder proves it:
- Much More Writing … For Myself. When inspiration hits me, the words flow. Unfortunately, Inspiration has to wade through thickets of distraction and noise to even get a shot at knocking on my door. I feel that by shutting down a lot of my other creative commitments, I’ll be able to channel more of it through what got me into this line of work in the first place: writing.
How I Raised $15,000 For A Charity Using Some Words
We all know what comes after Thanksgiving: overeater’s shame, hangovers, and Black Friday. This year, I tried to do something different and support a charity I cared about called Love146. For all you marketers out there, here’s what I did:
- Crafted a story to share on Facebook (you can read it here)
- Offered 3 packages of products at a big discount (which means the products were pricey to begin with)
- Send emails to my list with the same story
- Post a video with a second story two days later (see below)
- Send 3 emails to my list on the last day of the offer
Here’s the video I posted on Facebook from point #4 above:
We raised a good deal of money thanks to some generous people and one guy who was willing to match donations. A number of my friends just gave straight to the charity, so I think the number was even higher.
Whether you’re a marketer or not, I can’t overemphasize the importance of a story. I don’t think people gave because they cared about these kids, or even knew what country they were from.
They cared because I cared, and they were able to care because I told a story.
Isn’t that what friends do? They care because you care. They care because they care about your story. Yeah, some marketing chops were needed to setup the tech and the transaction checkouts, but at the core all I did was tell a story to my friends using the internet. They responded.
“Without self awareness we are as babies in the cradles.” – Virginia Woolf
I don’t have kids, and don’t know that I ever will. But I’m realizing there is a thread that ties these seemingly disparate parts of my life together, and it’s not just because of the biological clock Marisa Tomei rants about in My Cousin Vinny.
I’ve been doing a lot of personal growth work lately and thought about my nephews, the charity that helps kids who have been rescued from the sex trade, and seeing how this all ties into my own childhood.
No wonder I spent over $400 on old Transformers toys from the ’80s. I never had these, so I’m trying to make up for what was missing back then.
I had a lot of abandonment issues as a kid and spent a lot of time alone. That really shaped who I am, and it still is.
I won’t comment on all the things I’ve been learning yet, but I am aware that my nephews, the kids from this charity, and the Transformers are all tied together, probably in some subconscious attempt of mine to right some wrongs from my childhood years.
All hail Self-Awareness!
The journey continues because this week, I’ll be fully immersed in a Tony Robbins conference. I have no idea what I’m getting myself into. Interestingly enough, Tony once said:
“Self awareness is one of the rarest of human commodities. I don’t mean self consciousness where you’re limiting and evaluating yourself. I mean being aware of your own patterns.”
I guess we’ll see what happens next on the journey — sometimes we just have to let it the river run and go along for the ride.
Thanks for reading. Onward!