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How To Handle Toxic Friendships

November 5, 2018


Don’t Need Video? Listen Now


Episode Summary

Friendships evolve throughout our lives and in this episode, we discuss how we’ve seen our friendships change as we’ve become adults.

We also share specific examples of dealing with toxic friendships. Like, what happens if you want to make a big change in your life but you feel like a close friend (or family member) won’t support you? And how do you know if your friends actually align with your values?

QUESTION FOR YOU: Are you more like Jason, where you have fewer friends or are you more like Caroline and you have multiple tight-knit groups of friends? (Feel free to comment with your answer on YouTube).


Episode “Sponsor”

Wandering Aimfully Memberships

Our show will remain sponsor/ad-free and you can support us by becoming a Wandering Aimfully Member. Our monthly membership program offers all the courses, workshops, and software you’ll need to run your online business and you get access to an amazing community of creative small business owners to help inspire, motivate and support you. Learn more about our membership here.

Should You Co-Mingle Finances In A Relationship?

October 22, 2018


Don’t Need Video? Listen Now


Episode Summary

Money is a tricky subject, especially in a relationship! How do you split bills? Who pays for what at certain times? When do you decide to combine bank accounts (or do you??)

These are the hard-hitting financial topics we discuss in this week’s episode. We share how we look at our income and expenses as a couple and when we merged everything together (and why). If you’re wondering if you and your partner should or shouldn’t co-mingle your finances, this episode is for you. Even if you don’t have a partner, you may still learn a nugget or two from our experiences managing money over the years.

Mentioned in this episode is our “Income Flow” and how we have our bank accounts set up. You can learn more about that in our debt freedom article here.


Episode “Sponsor”

Wandering Aimfully Memberships

Our show will remain sponsor/ad-free and you can support us by becoming a Wandering Aimfully Member. Our monthly membership program offers all the courses, workshops, and software you’ll need to run your online business and you get access to an amazing community of creative small business owners to help inspire, motivate and support you. Learn more about our membership here.

Why Creating a Shared Vocabulary Is Crucial To Effective Communication

September 19, 2016

Have you ever found yourself in a situation with another person where you felt completely incapable of communicating? Like nothing you were saying was getting through or being construed in the way you could see it in your head?

I know I have, and the situation that immediately comes to mind for me is my relationship with my partner, Jason.

Now most of you have heard me talk about Jason in these letters before, and rightfully so because he is 100% my other half. For six years now we’ve been living together, working together, co-parenting our fur-child Plaxico together, spending literally 95% off our days together, and it’s led us to develop a deep mutual respect and love for each other. We really are that “best friends” couple cliche.

AND YET, while the rainbows and butterflies of any relationship are nice to talk about, that’s never the full picture, is it (despite what the news feeds of the world might suggest…)?

Maintaining a healthy and happy relationship is NOT easy. We’re two separate humans with two separate perspectives (and two separate gender-specific biology) and all of that means we have to work hard to communicate our way through challenges and disagreements so that we emerge stronger and closer together, not weaker and further apart.

Over the years there have been so many hard conversations, one’s where it felt like we were two strangers in a foreign land, speaking separate languages AT one another without a word of understanding between us.

What I’ve learned over time is that in order to remedy this, in order to communicate in a way that will actually move a conversation forward, you have to begin by creating a shared vocabulary.

Let’s take the language most of us probably know if you’re reading this right now: English. The only way that I’m able to share my thoughts with you in an effective way every week and actually get my intention across is because I, the sender of this message, and you, the receiver of this message, agree on the basic definition and meaning of each word (aka the building blocks) of this message. Our shared vocabulary allows us to see this message from a fundamentally similar perspective so we’re able to connect.

But, when this isn’t the case, when two people are trying to communicate without a shared understanding of the building blocks of the message, that’s when the wires get crossed and everything turns to noise. The message can’t connect.

I think this is why a book like The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman has found itself on the bestseller list for YEARS. This book acts like a dictionary of physical and emotional cues between partners that creates that essential shared vocabulary. It gives two people in a relationship a way to define and bring shared meaning to certain behaviors which gives them a way to talk about their needs in a way that BOTH people can understand.

So what about expanding that beyond relationships? What about creating a shared vocabulary between you and your friends, or family members or even customers?

In Brene Brown’s book, Rising Strong, she proposes a simple tip for helping to create that shared vocabulary between two people that leads to understanding. When you find yourself feeling hurt (which we can all agree is the criteria for 99% of disagreements or conflict in relationships) you can say the phrase: “The story I’m telling myself is…” in order to voice those inner stories floating around in your head constructed from that hurt place.

In a conversation with a best friend who hasn’t called you back it might be “The story I’m telling myself is that I’m not important enough to make time for.” That adds honesty and context to the conversation which can open up the lines of communication between you and a friend that may just be going through a particularly tough time and needs space. That simple phrase helps bring shared meaning to the time between phone calls, a signal that could be interpreted way differently by both people trying to communicate.

In the case of Jason and myself, probably the most stark of our differences is the fact that I am an exceptionally sensitive person and he is an exceptionally stoic person. It’s something that brings balance to our partnership, but it also creates difficulties in communicating too. Over time though, we’ve been able to develop a shared understanding around each of our emotional biases to situations. When I feel hurt or down or particularly sensitive, I’m able to let him know it’s not because of something he did; and when he responds to a situation in a way that might feel unemotional, he’s able to let me know it’s actually not because he doesn’t care. This shared vocabulary has allowed us to add texture and awareness to each other’s perspectives so that we can talk through any challenges in a constructive and mature way.

Working through things this way may be harder than just reacting, but every day we inch just a little bit closer to the middle of the emotional spectrum so that we can understand each other better.

It might sound silly, but I believe this simple concept can even help you in business. By clearly defining a few simple ideas for your audience or customers first, you can create a clearer, more powerful line of connection between you. It’s why I always talk about what it means to live a VIBRANT life, or what it’s like to be a soulful creative. This is the shared vocabulary that brings an even richer, more nuanced level of understanding to our conversations.

So, whether it’s your partner, a family member, an employee or coworker, or your customers, if you want to get your message across, communicating with a shared vocabulary is essential in reaching a mutual understanding. 

“Communicating with a shared vocabulary is essential in reaching a mutual understanding. ”

My challenge to you is the next time you find yourself in a conflict, disagreement or a simple misunderstanding with someone, before moving forward ask yourself if you’re operating with a shared vocabulary.

See if you can dig in and first bring awareness to the building blocks of the message you’re trying to send. Are their assumptions at play that need to be verbalized? Are their emotional differences and perspectives that first need to be communicated?

Communicating is most effective when you’re on the same page, and that’s all a shared vocabulary does. I know it’s helped me have more meaningful conversations and interactions in my own life. So while I continue to learn and navigate my own interpersonal relationships, at least I know the ones I am able to cultivate are built on a foundation of effective communication.

Thanks for reading, as always, and check out the latest news and updates on all things Made Vibrant below!

The Keys To A Successful Business Partnership

May 1, 2016

When deciding to collaborate with someone on a project or start a new business partnership, there are a handful of important steps to take before moving forward.

Having worked with multiple partners on multiple projects over the years, I know that successful partnerships can be incredibly gratifying. But on the other end of the spectrum, a bad partnership can cause stress, have negative financial ramifications, and, worst of all, ruin a perfectly good relationship.

 


4 Steps To Creating Successful Business Partnerships

Step 1: Share expectations and big-picture goals

This is the most important place to start when trying to develop a successful partnership. If you aren’t on the same page with the fundamental parts of a collaborative business venture, you’re asking for trouble.

With every project I’ve had a partner or co-founder on, we’ve started the business relationship by having a clear conversation about what we expect of each other. These are good topics to discuss early on:

What role does each person have?

Is one person handling design and development while the other person handles operations and customer service? Have an honest discussion about what each partner should handle. It’s best to be 100% clear early on so you can outsource things if needed.

How much can each partner work on the project?

Is it just small side project where you work on things a few hours per week? Is it a full-blown new business with everyone working full-time? Things don’t need to be equal, as long as you’re both on the same page.

Is anyone putting up money? Who is paying for things?

I could dedicate an entire article to the topic of raising money and getting funding. For the sake of this article, we’re just talking about co-founders (or partners) putting up some money to get the basic operations running (business filing, website costs, etc).

During these discussions, it’s also good to decide who is paying for the upfront costs and how that’s being documented. It’s best to have one person pay for everything and keep track of expenses out in the open. Use a shared Google Spreadsheet or, if you want to get fancy, accounting software. Either way, just be transparent and over communicate (which you’ll read more about in a minute).

Where do each of you see the project/company going?

If one person wants to make $10,000,000 and the other person just wants some side income of $1,000 per month, there’s going to be trouble. Having shared long-term goals is an important part of a successful partnership because both people are working toward the same thing. If you find out that you want to build a company that you can enjoy and grow for 20 years, but your potential partner is just looking for a quick exit, you’re going to run into lots of problems very quickly.

How will you communicate and how often?

I’m going to sound like a broken record by the end of this article, but good partnerships thrive when the partners over communicate. Are you going to create a Slack channel for your project/company? Will you have weekly Skype calls? Will you create a separate email inbox or Basecamp account to keep track of all to-dos, tasks, and discussions? It’s imperative to be on the same page with how communication will be done—otherwise communication will break down quickly.

Step 2 to a successful business partnership: Get things in writing

It may seem premature, but I believe the earlier you can get a partnership or operating agreement in place, the better. This keeps everyone in check and also adds a bit of legitimacy to your partnership (and project/business).

Option #1—Write the agreement yourself

Listen, not all of us want to create companies that must have the option to get purchased or have funding injected into them. It’s perfectly okay to write an agreement on your own. I’d recommend working from an operating agreement template from a site like PandaDoc. This will give you a framework for a partnership agreement that’s quite a bit better and more legitimate than some notes on a napkin (or piece of printer paper).

Option #2—Hire a lawyer

Oooh, scary sounding, right? Well, it doesn’t have to be! Not all lawyers are blood-sucking vampires. Some are actually really nice people that go on road trips and own basset hounds. Think I’m kidding? I just described the lawyer I’ve used for many of my projects: Ruth Carter. Ruth has helped me with multiple legal documents and can easily and affordably help you get a legally-binding* partnership agreement in place.

*Not to say that Option #1 isn’t legally binding, I just know that some people prefer to have a more structured and “official” set of legal documents.

Step 3: Over-communicate, over-communicate, over-communicate

I’ve partnered with my good buddy Paul Jarvis on multiple projects since 2014. And what’s the one reason we both believe we’ve created a successful partnership? You might have guessed that it’s our love of animals, and that definitely helps—but no. It’s how much we over communicate.

Is Paul feeling like a project we’re working on is heading in a different direction than planned? He’ll ask me to hop on a Skype call to discuss it.

Are we building a website? We’ll discuss every decision that’s being made and hear each person’s perspective on all decisions. Even though I always defer to Paul’s judgment on all things design when we work together, he still respects our partnership enough to show me early mock-ups and walk through all his decisions to make sure we’re in agreement.

If one of us messes up, do we allow passive aggression to rear its ugly head? Hell no! We all make mistakes. Every person in every partnership is going to screw something up now and again. We quickly admit to things we did wrong and try to support the other person to set things right again.

Slack to the rescue

I mentioned it earlier and wanted to bring it up again because of Slack’s incredible usefulness. Paul and I have our own dedicated Slack channel where we communicate daily. Whether we’re in the throes of working on a project or we’re just coasting along in between, we’re in constant communication. Slack has helped us prevent issues from happening by keeping us connected*.

*We discussed starting a Slack channel together and agreed that it would be something we paid attention to on a daily basis. We don’t expect each other to answer every message at every moment of every day, but we’re on the same page with keeping an eye on things as often as possible.

You need face-to-face time (or at least ear-to-mouth time)

I find it incredibly helpful to take conversations from words typed on a screen to actually talking to each other. There’s a lot of emotion and tone that gets lost in digital communication, and partnerships only get better when you can understand someone with 100% clarity.

My co-founder of Teachery, Gerlando, and I also use Slack to communicate. Unlike Paul, we find ourselves often working at different hours of the day. Weeks can go by before we realize we haven’t had an actual conversation. On a recent call, we realized it had been over a month since we’d heard each other’s voices. That call was a great way to reconnect on our goals for Teachery, and also to re-establish our excitement for our project.

No matter how many emojis you use, it’s not the same as hearing someone’s voice or seeing their face.

When something goes wrong, attack it with vigor

Do not let errors and issues fester. From years of experience, I can tell you that getting on Skype to hash out a problem can save hours/days of back and forth (plus the angst and stress that go along with it).

Things will go wrong. You will mess up. Your partner will do something you don’t like. Have an immediate conversation (preferably by phone/Skype), and fix the issue immediately.

Step 4: Have honest reviews

Just like you’d do with an employer or employee, set times to have performance reviews with your partner. Performance shouldn’t pertain to just financial stuff. These reviews should also be a time when you can speak openly and honestly (even though you should be doing that often already).

Monthly reviews are a great way to check in on each other from a high level. Working with someone on a project can easily turn into talking only about tasks and to-dos. It’s important to revisit the big picture goals and ensure everyone is still in alignment. Did your goals for your project change? That’s totally fine and will probably happen. Try to stay in sync with changes.

Reviews are a great time to reflect on the previous parts of a project. They can also be a powerful motivator.

 


How Do You Improve Existing Business Partnerships?

You may be reading this article and already have a partnership intact. Things may be going smoothly, but you may not have an agreement in place, and you may not have even had expectations or long-term goal discussions.

Start now!

Don’t wait. Don’t put these important foundational discussions on the back burner. You want to have them as soon as you can, no matter how far along you are in a project.

If you feel like you’re in a partnership that isn’t going as well as you’d planned, have your partner/co-founder get on a call immediately. Bring everything to the table that needs to be discussed, and put everything out in the open. If you don’t think this is a possibility, your partnership may already be doomed to fail. I don’t say that to scare you. I say it because it should be a red flag you take immediate notice of.

Partnerships are a great way to tackle new projects and stretch yourself to try new things. By approaching them intentionally, you can have a much better chance of success.

How To Fire Your Bad Clients and Bad Customers

November 1, 2015

In 2009, I ran into my first bad client. If you’re reading this article, I’m guessing you’ve had a bad client or customer too.

While running my IWearYourShirt (IWYS) business, I encountered clients of all shapes and sizes, but up to that point (and a count of 161 previous clients) I’d never dealt with a bad client or bad customer.

On that fateful day in 2009, I had just finished a 1-hour live video stream on Ustream.tv where I consumed nearly 10lbs of beef jerky (sorry to all my vegan friends, funny enough I’m now 100% vegan). After turning off my video camera, I popped open my email inbox and saw a message from the jerky company’s owner waiting for me.

The owner of the jerky company was unhappy with how I talked about his product, saying I didn’t ‘sell’ it enough and was disappointed overall with how the live event went. My (tired) jaw dropped.

Now, I love(d) meat. When it comes to jerky I used to eat it by the package, not the handful. Working with this client was a dream come true as I knew there’d be no need for forced enthusiasm.

Even during the live video stream, which included the owner chatting with viewers, people were saying they were going to or had already bought his jerky. I felt the event was a success, so when the client came down on me I was befuddled. In the email correspondence that followed I found myself questioning all of my choices. It seemed like all my effort was for not. But then I realized something: This was my first bad client.

I learned a bunch of valuable lessons from that experience and have gone on to work with over 2,000 different (happy) clients since then. Here are the lessons I’ve learned and how I’ve applied them to avoid dealing with potential bad clients…

Be clear with your deliverables and stand by your processes to avoid bad clients

Whether you wear t-shirts and film videos talking about beef jerky, or you’re a designer, developer, writer, etc… you have to create processes that allow you to do your best work. It’s easy to let your processes slip when a big client shows up on your doorstep (or email inbox), but the outcome of doing this is usually disastrous.

There’s a well-known story about Steve Jobs and the famous designer Paul Rand. Jobs approached Rand when he needed a logo for his company NeXT, and in typical fashion asked for multiple options to choose from. But Rand refused, saying: “No, I will solve your problem for you. And you will pay me. If you want options go talk to other people. But I will solve the problem the best way I know how. And you use it or not. That’s up to you.”

Jobs was later quoted saying of Rand, “He is one of the most professional people I have ever worked with: in the sense that he had thought through all of the formal relationship between a client and a professional such as himself.”

Now, you and I are not Paul Rand. And we are not being approached by the Steve Jobs(es?) of the world. But we are people. We do have talents. And we should absolutely create a set of values and processes that we stand by when it comes to our work. If a prospective client is not okay with those things, then that client is not the right fit for you.

If you don’t have a process in place to help you weed out bad clients, you should think about creating one. This doesn’t have to be an exhaustive 10-page document. A simple one-pager will do.

Here’s an example of some of the first questions I ask a new client:

  • What are your goals with this project?
  • What is the timeline for the project?
  • What are the specific deliverables for the project?
  • Are you okay with knock knock jokes over email?

Right away, I have all of the information I need to get started working.

You’ll have to find the questions that best represent your work and your style. For me, a question like #4 (knock knock jokes) is one of the most important ones as I want to make sure the people I work with have personality, enjoy having fun, and don’t take everything too seriously.

Look for red flags from the beginning (or, how to spot a bad client or bad customer from a mile away)

If a potential client shows resistance to filling out your one-page process document, that’s an immediate red flag.

If they do fill out your one-page process document and you still get a weird feeling in your gut about their answers, that’s a red flag. We don’t listen to our initial reactions enough and if something seems off it almost always is.

It may sound weird, but do some Internet stalking:

  1. Google the client’s name. Does anything negative come up in the first few pages of results? Search their @name via Twitter and see if there are any conversations that might concern you.
  2. You can also read some of their tweets and see if they’re the type of person who publicly complains and could cause your business harm. If they aren’t on Twitter, try to find them on other platforms (like Facebook or LinkedIn).

Another way to find out if a client is going to cause you a raging inferno of stress is to ask them for references. This sounds old school, but old school works.

Your client should be ready and willing to provide you with people who will sing their praises. Those who aren’t willing to do that fall into two categories:

  1. They’ve pissed everyone off and no one will vouch for them
  2. They aren’t willing to follow your processes, in which case that’s a huge red flag

You should also try to get a gauge of their expectations and goals of their project. If their goals don’t align with your values, it’s a red flag.

For example, let’s say you’re a designer and a farm-to-table restaurant reaches out to you to redo their website. They seem cool and they pass the test of filling out your one-page process document but on the first phone call with them they off-handedly mention they don’t really care about sustainable food and are just jumping on a trend. If sustainable food and running a business with ethical values matters to you (the designer), then this might be a red flag and a client you want to avoid.

I’m not saying you have to share all the same values as your clients, but it certainly doesn’t hurt.

Remember that your latest client didn’t exist a week ago

Too often a new client gives us shiny-object-syndrome. We get so enamored with the possibility of income, a new project, and the accolades that come along with the relationship that we neglect one simple thing:

Your next client is not your last client. They didn’t exist a few days ago and they won’t be the last person on Earth to contact you for work.

I’ve been guilty of this MANY times.

A notable company, someone I look up to, or just a cool opportunity falls in my lap. Then, for whatever reason, the project falls through. After that happens I find myself in a short-term state of unhappiness where I consider editing my values and processes to make the relationship work.

You must not edit your values or processes for clients. If you do, you’ll only end up with even more bad clients.

Those decisions will only lead to trouble down the road. Instead, I’ve learned to take a deep breath and understand that potential client didn’t ever exist on my radar before. Yes, it’s a bit of a bummer that things didn’t work out with them, but there are plenty of other client-fish swimming in the sea.

 


How To Fire Your Existing Bad Clients

I’m not going to sugarcoat it: Firing existing clients is not easy. But what I will tell you is that once you rip the bandaid off you’ll feel like you’ve lifted a 900-pound gorilla from your shoulders.

There are a few things to consider when going about firing a bad client:

  1. Don’t leave clients out to dry: You should do everything in your power to get the project you’re working on to a state of transition. That won’t mean finishing the website or app (for example), but rather reaching a specific milestone and creating transition documentation.
  2. Refund any money that’s been paid for future work: You shouldn’t keep a bad client’s money if it’s for work that hasn’t been done yet (no matter how badly you want to charge them an ‘a-hole client tax’).
  3. Have an honest, verbal conversation but don’t leave the door open: Too many times we’ll acquiesce when we start to feel bad for someone. Be firm and honest with your communication. Set a date of transition and make sure they have enough advance notice to start making changes.
  4. Make absolutely sure you aren’t violating any agreed-upon terms: If you signed a contract of any kind, look it over thoroughly before you attempt to end a client relationship.

Clients shouldn’t be seen as transactional, they should be seen as partnerships

Take care of your clients and they will take care of you. If you create great working relationships with people, they should want to do all your marketing for you.

Seek to solve problems for your clients and over-deliver on their goals if you can. I don’t mean work 10x more hours, but rather go out of your way to make their life easier and give them the right tools for success (however that’s determined for your business offerings).

If you can change your mindset from clients to partnerships it will make the entire working relationship easier. Instead of thinking you owe someone a certain amount of hours of work, you can shift your thinking to investing hours to help someone reach their goals. That’s where real success happens.

Happy clients pay their bills and are more likely to pay you again

Successful partnerships have the same benefits as happy clients, but also lead to referrals, additional projects, and long-term relationships.

Some of the clients from the first year of my IWearYourShirt business (2009) continue to support my new projects to this day. We respect each other and have built a solid foundation together, one that continues to be mutually beneficial year after year.

Why Is It So Hard For Us To Ask For Help When We Need It?

September 23, 2015

I have all kinds of excitement to share with you today!

We’ve got a new product in the shop; my husband, Jason, launches his biggest project to date tomorrow(!!) which will include a special offer for Self-Made Society members; and in completely unrelated but still awesome news, the great Liz Gilbert releases her latest book Big Magic tomorrow (which you should definitely go grab right now!)

Phew! Holy cow, fall is coming in HOT! (But, like, literally hot… we’ve had some scorchers here in California. I’m ready for it to cool down!)

Perhaps the biggest news from the past week though is that Made Vibrant is no longer just a one-woman shop!

Last week I welcomed the ah-mazing Laura to the Made Vibrant team (what? There’s a team now? This is crazy!). She’ll be acting as my creative assistant to help manage the day-to-day operations of the business and continue to keep the fun products/programming we have planned running smoothly. (Thank you to everyone in the community that reached out about the position! I was blown away by the caliber of responses.)

I’m planning to post a more formal introduction of Laura on the blog soon so you all can get to know her better but If you see any email responses or social media commenting from her, just know that she’s a soulful creative through and through and please welcome her with open arms!

This past week has been an amazing process for me as I’m learning how to let go of some of the tasks/projects that have been solely mine for…well… ever. Since the beginning of Made Vibrant! It’s this crazy combination of freedom and apprehension. But DEFINITELY more freedom than anything else.

In fact, after just two days of having Laura on board, I found myself wondering in my head over and over “Why didn’t I do this SOONER?!”

Which brings me to today’s topic at hand: asking for help.

And I’m not just referring to hiring someone for your business. I mean asking for help in all the various facets in our life.

Help with raising your kids. Help with learning a new skill. Help with navigating the inevitable emotional twists and turns of our journeys. 

Asking for help is something I’ve struggled with in the past A LOT.

I’ve been fiercely independent since I was a kid, and I’ve always hated that feeling of being incapable or ill-equipped. Whether it was a simple school project or even a task I didn’t know how to do when I got into the working world, I would do everything in my power to avoid reaching out for help at all costs.

When it came time to start my business, I wanted to prove (to myself or to others, who knows which mattered more) that I was smart enough or savvy enough or strong enough to figure out this whole entrepreneurship thing myself. I was so careful not to ask fellow peers how they did something for fear that I would look a) like a complete NEWB and b) like I just wanted to stand on their shoulders instead of logging the hours myself.

If I’m being honest, I think a part of me felt like if I reached my goals by way of asking others for help, that somehow my success would be diminished. That it would feel less mine.

Now I’ve realized that couldn’t be further from the truth.

I’ve found that by and large other people want to be included in your journey. They wantto help you accomplish your goals. And if you reach a personal goal by way of some talented co-conspirators, well then hey a victory party is way more fun when you’re not dancing alone!

Yes, we all want to feel strong. We all want to feel capable.

But there is nothing weak about using the collective knowledge and skills of the people around you.

Not a single one of us has every positive attribute on the planet. We all have this careful mix of strengths and weaknesses, of virtues and flaws, and when we team up, we have the ability to become a stronger, more well-rounded force to be reckoned with.

I mean, what’s the point of being on a planet with 7 billion other people if you can’t phone a friend every once in a while? 

I guess my point today is this:

“Don’t let your pride get in the way of your progress.”

“Don’t let your pride get in the way of your progress.”

Reach out and utilize the people around you.

Your challenge this week is to identify one area of your life that you’re struggling to navigate alone and to ask one person for help.

I can’t believe I tried to juggle all the various aspects of my business by myself for as long as I did. Not only do I feel a huge sense of relief that I now have an extra pair of hands in Laura, but surprisingly I’ve also found that I have someone to reflect my values back to me and keep me (and the business) anchored to my mission.

Thanks to all of you that have helped me in the past, with your encouragement, your ideas and your support. I hope I can continue to be a helpful force in your life as well!

Wishing you all a happy and helpful week!

Bad Friends Are Toxic, Here’s Why You Should Reevaluate Friendships

June 20, 2013

My life has been an interesting one when it comes to friendships. Having moved around a bunch as a kid, I barely have any friends from childhood, and I’m totally okay with that. I strongly believe that all the change and geographic movement in my life has shaped me into the person I am today.

That being said, it’s given me a very interesting perspective on friendships.


Our friends need to evolve with us

Our good friends should evolve with us, our bad friends should get kicked to the curb.

When we’re little, we need a friend to climb with on the jungle gym or eat piles of sand with at the beach. As we get a little older, we need friends to sit with on the bus, to eat with in the cafeteria, to run around our yards with after school. In high school our friends are probably the most important thing in our lives, and we try to spend every waking minute with them. We go off to college (or not) and our amazingly close high school friends tend to drift away, we build new friendships, and align ourselves with like-minded people. But after college, everything changes. Some people mature quicker than others, and I was definitely one of those people.

Like the majority of people who went to college, I drank copious amounts of alcohol, went to lots of parties, did stupid things, and all to fit in. The young entrepreneurial movement that’s really picked up steam in the past few years didn’t exist back in 2000 (probably because the Internet was so new). So, I did what any normal young adult does, I found people that I genuinely enjoyed being around, and those were my friends. Let’s be honest, peer pressure is everywhere in college, and it sucks.

As we fast-forward a few years through my first real 9-5 job, through my first company, through creating and building IWearYourShirt, I’ve found myself distanced from most of my old friends and I’m okay with that.

I made the choice a few years ago that I cared more about being a happy person (in life and in my career) and I wasn’t going to keep doing things just because it was the social norm.

Yeah, it’s not “cool” to sit at home on a Friday and Saturday night and work on your business, but I think it’s way less cool to sit at a job you hate every day, with your only escape being going out at night to get your mind off your job.

If you want to work at a dead-end job that you hate, that’s fine by me, I’m just not going to let myself be surrounded by people like that anymore. I’m not going to let other people’s negativity bring me down, when they have the ability to change their situations but do not.

Most of us have heard Jim Rohn’s quote, but I think it’s worth sharing again…

“You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.”

On the flip side, I’ve met some really amazing and inspiring people over the past few years. People who have similar core values and people who want more for themselves (and are willing to fight to get it).

It’s hard to explain how great it feels to sit down with someone for coffee, have an incredible conversation, feel a connection, feel inspired, and feel like we’re helping each other.

Our society puts pressure on us to have lots of friends and do the things that seem we should be doing. But that’s bullshit. Do the things you want, with people who actually care about you and who you have things in common with. You owe it to yourself to start reevaluating your current friendships and ask yourself if it’s actually a relationship that matters, or one that’s being kept going because it’s all you think you have to.

Friendships should be looked at just like romantic relationships.

Is your friend in question making you a better person? Do they have the same core values? Do they support your life goals? And on the flip side, do you do the same things for them?

Listen, I’m no life coach, and I’m certainly not telling you to unfriend all your bad friends on Facebook. I just want to challenge you to take a look at the people you surround yourself with. Are these people actually helping you become a better person or are you just drinking buddies? Don’t get me wrong, drinking buddies are awesome if that’s what you want in life. Just give yourself a chance to have more in life, especially when it comes to your friendships.

Surround yourself with amazing people and make sure you’re doing everything you can to be a great friend for them.

To all my past friends I’ve drifted away from, I’m sorry I wasn’t more honest with you. As your friend, I should have stepped up and said I didn’t want to do the things we were doing.

To those of you who might read this and feel like we’ve drifted apart, it’s really okay that we did. You have your life, where I hope you’re extremely happy, and I have my life where right now I am extremely happy.

Stop wasting valuable time and energy on your bad friends. Start investing more time with friends that align with the person you’re becoming.