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Emerson on Quit Bitching & Be Yourself

“There is a time in every man’s education when he arrives at the conviction that envy is ignorance, that imitation is suicide, that he must take himself for better, for worse, as his portion—that though the wide universe is full of good, no kernel of nourishing corn can come to him but through his toil bestowed on that plot of ground which is given to him to till. The power which resides in him is new in nature, and none but he knows what that is which he can do, nor does he know until he has tried.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson

More from this:

“Ah, that he could pass again into his neutral, godlike independence! Who can thus lose all pledge and, having observed, observe again from the same unaffected, unbiased, unbribable, unaffrighted innocence, must always be formidable, must always engage the poet’s and the man’s regards. Of such an immortal youth the force would be felt. He would utter opinions on all passing affairs, which being seen to be not private but necessary, would sink like darts into the ear of men, and put them in fear.”

“The Master said, ‘There is nothing I can do with a man who is not constantly saying, “What am I to do? What am I to do?”‘”


How to Notice Your Own Evolution

“You can’t get rid of the fog, and you can’t always keep it thin, but you can get better at noticing when it’s thick and develop effective strategies for thinning it out whenever you consciously focus on it. If you’re evolving successfully, as you get older, you should be spending more and more time on Step 2 and less and less on Step 1.”

Tim Urban

From a really wonderful read about religion for the non religious.

Do you have to hate yourself to make something good?

Of course the writer and creative and “man on hunt to be celebrated posthumously” part of me immediately shouts: Hey fucker — you do that and we’re not going to make any really great stuff anymore! This is where our power comes from, not feeling like you’re enough is the explosion at the heart of the star keeping the lights on.

That guy sounds desperate. Also, sounds like another one for the “stupid shit I find myself believing” category:

“I have to feel unloved to make good things.”

Chase Reeves

Joie de vivre: a cheerful enjoyment of life; an exultation of spirit. […] may be seen as a joy of everything, a comprehensive joy, a philosophy of life.”


And more from an excerpt in Carl Rogers’ book On Becoming a Person:

Mrs. Oak illustrates this trend rather nicely in her thirty-third interview. Is it significant that this follows by ten days the interview where she could for the first time admit to herself that the therapist cared? Whatever our speculations on this point, this fragment in-dicates very well the quiet joy in being one’s self, together with the apologetic attitude which, in our culture, one feels it is necessary to take toward such an experience. In the last few minutes of the inter-view, knowing her time is nearly up she says:

C: One thing worries me and I’ll hurry because I can always go back to it – a feeling that occasionally I can’t turn out. A feeling of being quite pleased with myself. Again the Q technique, I walked out of here one time, and impulsively I threw my first card, “I am an attractive personality”; looked at it sort of aghast but left it there, I mean, because honestly, I mean, that is exactly how it felt – a well, that bothered me and I catch that now.

Carl Rogers in On Becoming a Person, emphasis mine

Maya Angelou on Anger + Bitterness

“You should be angry. But you must not be bitter. Bitterness is like cancer. It eats upon the host. It doesn’t do anything to the object of its displeasure. So use that anger. You write it. You paint it. You dance it. You march it. You vote it. You do everything about it. You talk it. Never stop talking it.”

Maya Angelou (to Dave Chappell)

If you haven’t seen the Maya Angelou and Dave Chappell episode of Iconoclasts, schedule time for it. A light cocktail and 3-4pm tomorrow would be perfect for you. It’s wonderful.

Here’s another couple quotes I liked:

This is why it’s dangerous to make any person seem larger than life. Because a young person coming up sees this larger than life figure, this outrageously gigantic personality, and has to say, “I can never do that. I can never be that.” You see? When the truth is those men and those women were in the right place at the right time and got hold of something and something caught hold of them.

It’s important if not, in fact, imperative that each knows that there is a line beyond which you will not go. When lots of money is dangled in front of people’s eyes, many times they will tell you ‘yes’ when they mean ‘no!’ Because it’s dangling before their eyes. And they will say, ‘Damn, jack, I’m giving this up? I’m not making this money now because you aren’t.’

But the thing is that you have some place that nobody, kith nor kin, can take you beyond. Somewhere in the bend of your elbow. Nobody.

Shawn Coyle on The Known & Unknown Motivators

So stories of depth and meaning are those that progress to this ultimate mystery, this ultimate need. The lead character may consciously desire a want, but it is his unconscious need for self-actualization that pushes him to the limits of human experience. […]

But remember, like their human counterparts, your fictional protagonists will distract themselves in innumerable ways from contending directly with them. They chase wants not needs. And in most instances, they will not consciously understand or reconcile the need to know themselves (who they really are) until the very end of the story.”

Shawn Coyle

I love studying story so much because it a) helps me understand my own motivations, needs, and wants, b) helps me understand people in general better, and c) helps me make things and communicate about those things in better ways, ways that resonate harder.

Transforming Ourselves

In jazz You can spend 8 hours a day blowin through a copper tube and I promise you, after 10 years, that tube will not change but you will be totally transformed. We’re transforming ourselves here. And you can’t do it if you’re not in public. If you can’t make your mistakes in front of people it doesn’t matter.”

Ben Sidran

This was a phenomenal episode of the WTF Podcast.

Listener emails Marc, “hey, you should interview my dad.” Marc says, “I don’t know your dad.” Kid says some more stuff. Marc says, “fine.” And it ends up being a phenomenal conversation (Marc calls it one of the best he’s ever had).

I loved this quote. I’ve fallen in love with “business” because of how much it’s taught me about myself.

(I think I fell in love with Jesus for the same reason… I guess it’s all about me. Maybe why we broke up?)

I said in a recent interview my favorite ever game to play is “build a business with Chase Reeves.” Making something with the goal of earning a living through it engages so much of my stuff… the bits I’m good at, the bits I want to get better at, the bits that are unabashedly me.

And the carrot on the end of the stick is finding out more about me and the people I serve through the things I make.

Now, I can hear how selfish this is. Count the me’s and I’s i’ve written so far. Sense the inward “all about me” gravity.

First of all, I realize I’m extremely prone to an unbalance, an overly “me” orientation. We all are, but maybe me more so than others… my wife will confirm.

Secondly, we gotta become ourselves, get comfortable in our own skin, get to a place where we’re confident about who we are, proud and grateful about the accomplishments and experiences that make up our DNA… we can’t love or serve or make sustainably without stepping into some kind of coherent sense of self.

I’m grateful that business has been both the canvas and the anvil. I express myself on it. It expresses itself on me.

Anyways, I loved this interview and this quote is the lil’ sliver I show you to get into it.

What is perfect? Perfect is just your pathetic attempt to hide inside technology.”

Ben Sidran

If the path before you is clear, you’re probably on someone else’s.”

Joseph Campbell

Of course you’re uncertain.

Of course you don’t know which is best of two possible goods.

Of course you’re not sure how to best spend your time.

Can you accept this as a necessary part of the whole thing, of your life and all of our lives, and have a little more fun in the deciding?

Maybe even collect a sense of adventure about it?

Because if you go looking around for the right answer all the time, if you need a sense of absoluteness, if you worship certainty, you’ll never know enough.

Self Portrait by David Whyte

It doesn’t interest me if there is one God
or many gods.
I want to know if you belong or feel
If you know despair or can see it in others.
I want to know
if you are prepared to live in the world
with its harsh need
to change you. If you can look back
with firm eyes
saying this is where I stand. I want to know
if you know
how to melt into that fierce heat of living
falling toward
the center of your longing. I want to know
if you are willing
to live, day by day, with the consequence of love
and the bitter
unwanted passion of your sure defeat.

I have heard, in that fierce embrace, even
the gods speak of God.

Self Portrait by David Whyte

How To Make Your Audience’s Favorite Podcast Episode

[Setting: two guys in a small room. Large headphones on their head. Pint glasses in their hands with small bits of ice left at the bottom, the remains of a redish drink. One of them doesn’t have pants on. He’s wearing white underwear (“tighty whiteys”) with a napkin over his lap]

“Ah fuck. There’s no way we’ll be OK publishing that,” the one in the napkin said, blotchy red bits on his face, wayward hair strands hanging in his eyes.

“You think?” the other one said, a bit giggly and out of breath.

[end scene]

Do you know what a negroni is? It’s a cocktail. I’ll leave it at that for now, but ask me about it sometime — I have negroni theories, not just recipes.

I run a podcast with two friends. We get together, turn on our mics and tackle some business issue our audience has asked us about.

It’s pretty successful at this point. Heading towards 9,000 listeners per week. (8,800 last week). We have a good deal of iTunes reviews, virtually all 5 stars (141 at the time of writing). These numbers are much bigger than the average podcast and much smaller than the biggest podcast.

What I’m saying is, we have an audience. It’s growing. They like us. And I like them.

I care about our audience. Many of them are brave, trying shit, attempting to work for themselves, looking to create a thing, hustling on the side, sweating towards earning an independent, engaged, fulfilling living.

And, so, I try to make good stuff for them. I try to be smart for them. I try to “curate” and “edit” and “narrative arc” and “climax and resolution” and “intelligent yet accessible” and “takeaway” for them. And by and large that’s what you’ll get out of the episodes of my podcast.

But there are 3 notable exceptions; all three of them involve negronis. (it’s a cocktail. I have theories. Ask me sometime.)

Several weeks ago we recorded at my house. I made negronis for Corbett and I (Caleb had a beer. He tuned in over skype). I made them in a pint glass because we usually sip a Fernet and coke in a pint glass throughout the hour long show. Gotta make it last. So I made it in a pint glass… to make it last.

Not only did it last, it put us on our asses. We recorded episode 16, what I wish I would have known before starting my business, with large cocktails in our hands getting progressively… how do you say?… looser.

“Ah shit,” I thought, “we’ll never get to publish that… i’m pretty sure I said something horrible in there.”

But we published it. And much to our surprise, it became the unanimous favorite of our listeners to date. They said things like this:

…you had me literally laughing out loud.

…I laughed harder at this episode than any other yet. Just as much if not more value than usual, so worth my hour.

…off to solve someones ass problem… [those are] words I’ve never written before.

I was blown away. I couldn’t believe how big the response was to this episode. Much smaller than it is for the big podcasts, but a big response for our little corner of the internet.

“Fuckin’ A, man. They really liked this stuff! I thought for sure it was going to be lame, self indulgent, people would hate it. But they ended up liking it more. Let’s try the negroni for our next one.”

So we did. Chaos ensued.

We poured our cocktails, grabbed our notes, pushed record. Within the first 15 minutes we were sidetracked. I was in control, felt good (felt great actually), and made the executive decision.

“[hand clap, queues the editor in on where edits should happen] BTW, boys, we’re totally turning this into two episodes. We’ll record them both now. Keep going on this thread, it’s good. Then we’ll weave it back into the original conversation.”

So executive. Such decision. That was about 1/4 of the way through the cocktail, the pint of negroni in my hands.

Interesting Fact: Unlike a rum+coke or a Fernet+coke or a gin+tonic or a whiskey+soda, the negroni is equal parts gin, Campari and sweet vermouth. All are boozes. It’s a 3x booze drink. This is an important fact when you are a). drinking one, b). drinking one from a pint glass, c). recording things to be published on the internet in perpetuity. End fact.

So we kept going. It went good. It got hot. I took off my pants. I stood up at one point. People were laughing. There were impressions. We actually cried at one point. This was some colorful shit, man.

And that’s where you found us at the beginning of this post: absolutely certain the two hours we just recorded were unpublishable.

But here’s an interesting caveat: we needed these episodes because Caleb was going out of town for a long-ish time. We absolutely needed these episodes, otherwise there’d be weeks without episodes. We weren’t willing to do that.

So we published. (part one, part 2). The second went out last week.

I was nervous. I was worried. I was afraid people would feel like there was very little signal and way too much noise.

But I was wrong, they loved it! They loved them both, especially the second one which goes way deep into wild and inside-jokey territory. I’m flabbergasted.

Here’s what I’m learning from this whole thing:

1. People follow people. Our audience is exceedingly interested in us as people. As one of our listeners puts it, “the most valuable element for me is just hearing from people who are a way ahead on the journey.”

Merlin Mann puts it like this: “people come for the topic, stay for the voice.”

That feels true to me from where I stand, embarassingly giggling at myself wearing a napkin (and also remembering how that felt like the right thing to do at the time).

Our audience seems to be digging us. Us. Not our tips and tricks. Not our “three P’s of personality” lessons. Not our resources and insights. They continually mention how much “value” they get from the show, but they seem to be sticking around because of our personalities, how we look at this stuff, our point of view… no matter how colorful it may be.

2. People like honesty. Between the three of us on the show we have a lot of experience. But we bring out a kind of honesty in one another, a sense of “we’re still developing, figuring out what we want and how to do it.”

Because we allow each other to be developing, to be in process, because we don’t require right answers, vulnerability and honesty have a place to grow. Rawness comes out, and rawness is interesting.

Be honest. Be yourself. Give up on comparing yourself to what the competition is doing. Blaze your own trail. Etc. Etc. Enter your bit here about not being a follower.

Yes, this is trite sounding, but discovering how to be you on a mic or a stage or a blog post or a camera or a canvas is where the fuckin’ juice is; it’s the most important part of your journey. (more on that: 1, 2).

enjoy yourself3. Enjoy yourself. When you get to be honest and vulnerable, when you gain a little confidence from an audience that’s responding well to what you’re doing, you get to have a bit more fun. And people like to watch people have fun.

Do they really? Yes. I don’t know. I think so. Maybe they like it because we’re heading somewhere they want to go too. I should change it to:

3. Have a worthwhile mission and enjoy yourself in the pursuing of it. Maybe the mission part is important. You want to provide what the people call “value.” You want to “help” them with something. Solve some problem. Close some gap. Teach some thing.

I love that in our show we are helping people close the gap between where they are now and where they want to be. I love that we get to teach from our experiences and that we’re in an industry that’s still very much developing.

But I mostly love that there’s so many people thinking about how they could build their thing and work for themselves. It’s a goddam hard thing to do. And I get to sit in my undies and talk with my friends about it and listeners write me emails to silly addresses we mention only on the show and they quote back inside jokes i’ve made in the context of them winning their first client. I love that so much, you guys.

So, listen, I’m the dumbest guy in the room, but if you get a chance to be yourself out loud, to have fun, to be vulnerable and honest, please, for the love of G-d™ rip into it and be generous and grateful and take risks and see how people respond. Life’s too short and it’s too common to regret not speaking your mind.

I have been Chase Wardman Reeves…

(You can find episodes 20 and 21 along with all other episodes of the Fizzle Show and instructions on how to subscribe at »)

The Third Tier

I was in Portland, OR this weekend for XOXO Fest 2013. I stayed with Myke and Matt. I say “stayed” but the proper term is “crashed like a goddam animal.” I mostly just assumed it would be ok and showed up to snuggle between two queen size beds. They were cool. It was damp.

We had a crew there in Portland. Dan, Tom and their gorgeous wives (these guys know how to pick ’em), along with Jon and occasional dancing outbursts from my new favorite person ever Liam.

We really invested in one another. “Invested” sounds cute. It’s the kind of word that would be printed on something and then you’d click to Pinterest it. But it’s the right word. We devoted our time and effort to each other.

The word (and our efforts in that direction) means something to me because I’ve left too many social situations and conferences and such regretful, feeling like I made poor choices, like I missed the point or missed my chance or missed my wife or something.

I have a theory, a tier theory. There’s people at the top. They’re celebrities. People people know. They walk in and the room changes, everyone’s looking at them out of the corners of their eyes, some are full on staring.

These first-tier folks got there due to work they did, or jokes they made, or something like that. These are the people we look up to and admire… like, a lot.

And we all want them to like us. I, for one, have spent a lot of time and effort trying to get my fav’s like Merlin Mann to like me. I’ve wasted a lot of emotional energy, extended my resources in unnatural ways to try to stand out and be someone who’s easily cool… this never works. This leaves me feeling that “missed the point/missed the chance/miss my wife” kind of feeling.

And then I met Brad and Patrick and Matt and Maja and others who had relationships with all the 1st tier people, but seemed to always be hanging with each other. They wouldn’t line the edges of a crowd around John Gruber. They’d be standing somewhere else, with each other, making each other laugh, buying each other drinks.

Also, they were real welcoming. So light and fun and enjoyable. I felt more like myself when I was around them (as opposed to whatever else I was trying to be with 1st tier folks).

By the way, I totally think this is silly and sorta dumb; putting people into tiers and classes… but I’m going to keep going. It’ll come around. Promise.

Brad and Patrick, et. al., defined a new tier for me. I saw these lovely, kind, funny, welcoming people, I saw how wildly talented they all were, how they were doing work they were proud of, how they’ve been around for a while, long enough to know the first tier people and the fact that first tier people are just regular fucking people who now get approached more than they’d like to be…

And the thing I saw the most was how they invested in one another. They seemed to realize they really liked each other. They turned towards each other and said, “let’s start a club there.” They were for one another and acted accordingly.

Then I saw myself and these guys and gals I was getting close with. We were the 3rd tier. Unknown-ish. A little younger. Just kind of coming of age in our careers. High hopes. Sensitive to the whimsy of our 1st tier swooning. We have heroes. We’re idealistic. We’re adorable and hopeful and earnest and would really like Merlin Mann to listen to our podcasts… like, so much.

And the danger is we could miss out on all the goodness in one another — the birth of each others’ first born kids, the big project launches, the arduous bug fixing nights, the giggles at breakfast as we recited lines from the previous night’s events, the awkward bathroom bonding moments, snuggles — we could miss out on all this due to spending too mcuh emotional energy trying to get Marco Arment to like us… by investing too much in the idea of someone liking us just cuz they’re important. We’d miss out on real love and relationships with one another because we were trying to be somebody to someone who was something.

Now, here’s the thing about the tiers: there are no fucking tiers. The reason why those second tier folks looked so awesome to me is not due to their proximity to the 1st tiers. It might be a by product of that. They spent enough time with the Merlins and Grubers to realize there are no fucking tiers. Just people and desire. Some people a lot of people desire. Some people not many people desire. It’s just people and desire. “So,” they said to themselves, “fuck desire. Let’s find the people we enjoy.”

They didn’t care about the tiers. But saying to myself, “don’t care about the tiers” doesn’t help me very well. It always creeps in.

So what I say instead is, “go all in on the 3rd tier.” Find the people you enjoy. Invest in them. Plan every dinner, lunch, walk, conference, breakfast and hotel choice you can with them.

And welcome others. Delight in the stories of fabulous nerds and hackers and help everyone you rub up against realize we’re all in this together, we’re all lonely humans, we all want to be seen and to be told we don’t look that fat with our shirt off and that the thing we’re making is OK or “pretty cool” and we all want to have someone to go to lunch with and to try a new beer with and to show our super embarrassing sword tattoo to and to sit next to and to wave at us and point to a saved seat when we walk in late. We all want the same shit: we just want to feel comfortable in our own skin.

This is the good stuff. We all have stinky bits, we all need undies, we’re all uncomfortable and worried, so lets make a club there.

The Reeves Tier Theory™ reminds me to dig in, think more human and ask if anyone needs another drink before I go get mine.