I enjoyed a good half hour of stand up sparring again yesterday. Every time I do that I fall back in love with Muay Thai. It’s only when I take a break that I feel like sitting on the couch for the rest of my life.
It’s true, I’ve had visions of taking some time off from Muay Thai. I’ve been going strong for about a year and a half and have gotten pretty good at it. The only problem is that Jiu Jitsu is my first true love and eventually I am going to have to pick one or the other. It’s expensive paying for both schools each month. Also, the Muay Thai class that works for me is in the morning. More often than not, I work until one or two in the a.m. and rolling out of bed to exercise just a few hours later is the last thing on my mind.
Then, I stay after class to spar. There’s nothing like it. The professional coaching and technique I get are priceless. It’s really worth it. I ride the high for a few days after and think about it often. Then I come back to reality and remember that it’s expensive. Then I spar again. You get the picture.
My Jiu Jitsu instructor is a black belt in Chun Kuk Do Karate. I asked him a while back if it would be a good idea to show our Jiu Jitsu class some basic stand up self defense techniques and he agreed. This past Monday was our first instruction of stand up and I must say that I am enjoying it. I’m not sure if it’s the extra time I get to hit things or if it’s taking what I have learned in my Muay Thai class and passing it on. Either way, I think the guys are taking to it and hopefully we’ll make it a permanent thing. My goal is to find some sparring partners up there so I can get even more practice.
Work – I was going to write a long post on work. I’m not sure I have the energy for it though. It just seems like I’m always tired…too tired to write. It could be because of the bad habit I have staying up late or both martial arts classes I take, but those are facts I can’t avoid. I enjoy the classes and I’m a night kind of guy. I don’t see it changing any time soon. I’ll deal with the effects I suppose.
I get teased a lot by the guys for being self employed. They say things like, “Must be hard watching TV all day” and “What did you do today, go to the park?” It’s not terrible because soon after someone says something like that to me, I sit on their chest and emulate breaking their arm or I make contact with their head with my boxing glove. It really doesn’t happen that often and they’re joking. But it’s tough because for the past few years I feel like there’s been a lack of appreciation for what I do. Not that I’m looking for appreciation of course.
And I’ll tell you what I do without getting into specifics. If I could explain this to people without the blank stares, I would be a happier person…
I monetize things. I think, create and monetize. That’s what I do. Now, of course you have no idea what I’m talking about because it took five years of working with scrappy radio sales people for me to understand what I’m talking about. It took that long to drill into my head that you can actually make money if you want to. When I first took the job at the radio stations, I argued against their ideas and I thought I was above them.
Let’s talk about that.
About nine years ago, I accepted a job as the Creative Marketing Directer at a cluster of local radio stations. The pay was terrible and the environment was at times frustrating. Many of the folks I worked alongside were charged with coming up with ideas to make money. I was always on the butt end of their ideas and as I said earlier, I thought I was above it. It wasn’t until a few years in that I realized the valuable experience I was living through.
I went to college. I went to grad school. When I get into conversations of where I learned my most important life lessons, I tell them that I learned English from studying for the GMAT (Graduate Management Admission Test) and I learned how to make money from working at the radio stations.
Now, I’m not going to get into the whole thing about how to work, who to work for and what to do, but I will tell you that no one else is going to make money for you. They want their own money and you are one of their tools they use to get it. Nuff said.
I remember my old manager approaching me and telling me that we were going to create a web page that had advertising banners on it. These banners were going to be supplied by local colleges. We were going to give the web page a fancy name and promote it on air. I thought it was the stupidest idea I ever heard. This was my job? For the love of the lord, I had an MBA. I was under the impression I was going to be handling more critical areas of the company. Guess not.
I started working on the page and the banners started floating in. My manager had the sales guys out on the floor contact their college clients to see if they would be interested in the program. I kept shaking my head in disgust. I would ask myself what self respecting college would want to pay money to have a lousy banner on a lousy web page. Then I starting seeing the figures. The cost of each banner was in the thousands. The web page was promoted on air and millions of people heard about it (one station reached the entire island of Manhattan). The page had larger sponsors and they paid thousands more than everyone else. The project, which only lasted a month or so probably made over $30,000. It was then I started putting the pieces together. The business model if you will.
Over the years, I worked under a few different managers. Radio has a bit of turnover and each new person who walks through the door can offer something of value. I remember a different manager than the last asking me to work on a project with him. It was supposed to be the best thing since sliced bread. I hated it. I thought it was petty and that we should be focusing on bigger and better things. I helped him anyway because that was, well, my job. The project came and went and at the end of the quarter I was handed a bonus check for over $8,000. He looked at me and smiled. He should have just smacked me because that’s what I deserved.
At some point between my first day and last day working at the radio stations I learned to get over myself and I grew up a bit. I started understanding how business worked and really appreciated entrepreneurism. Many industries are set up like radio – where each department is left to fend for itself to create money for not only themselves, but for the company as a whole. There are monthly meetings where you have to sit in a big room while people look at you. They say, “How much?” and if you say, “Not much.” you are asked to leave. If you are as good as the lies you placed on your resume, you’ll say, “A lot.” and will be asked to remain another day. It was during these experiences I began to question what my professors had filled my mind with throughout my college years. College has its purposes, but learning “how” to make money isn’t one of them. But that’s a horse of a different color.
So back to what I do and why I get annoyed when people don’t appreciate it. And really, it’s a self-inflicted annoyance because I don’t take the time to explain much. So many people have such a limited view (or no view at all) of business that it doesn’t matter how many different ways I try to tell them, they’ll never get it. So now when people ask me what I do for a living, I tell them that I either trade commodities on the Shanghai Stock Exchange after hours or that I’m retired. It doesn’t matter what I say, I get the same look every time.
What I actually spend most of my time on is sitting, thinking and coming up with various ideas. I try to analyze the challenges and outcome of each thing I think of. I go down the line and consider the possibilities for money making and then think about the barriers to entry and what type of success rate other ventures have enjoyed. Much of what I come up with gets dumped out with the trash, but others have been very rewarding.
I have been working on “investments” this year. Not investments in the typical sense, but investments in my mind. Examples – I bought the camera. That wasn’t to take pictures of mushrooms and beaver huts. That was to learn how to operate the camera to use for a few ideas I have for the future. It was also to get used to the feeling of having a camera hanging around my neck during different situations – how people react to it. I am also learning video production. This isn’t to create videos of driving through roads in Connecticut. It’s to learn for some ideas I have…again for the future. It’s also not for me to create videos, it’s for me to know the capabilities of production software in general, so when I say, “I want this done,” whoever is doing it for me gets it done correctly. I have been writing different types of blog posts…posts that aren’t the usual “this is what I did today” types of posts. I am trying to develop a writing style for a few ideas I have…for the future.
I know I kind of picked on college a few paragraphs up and that might not have been fair. When asked what I learned during my college days, I tell people of some valuable lessons. I learned how to stay on schedule, how to work with an array of characters and how to deal with things when trouble arises. I also learned that the train keeps on rolling, even if you want it to stop, ask it nicely to stop or scream at it and demand it to stop. Time doesn’t stop and college is really good at teaching you to deal with that. Perhaps I used some of those lessons in this particular flight lesson (you’ll want to read that).
Looking back, I do remember a few things I learned in one of my community college business courses. They are called the business life cycle and the SWOT analysis. These are two areas I think of daily, whether I realize it or not.
The business life cycle shows me that one of my primary businesses won’t last forever and the SWOT analysis tells me why. This is why I am in the investment stage and why I can never sit still when it comes to working or thinking. This is why I choose to exercise. It’s a release and it helps my blood flow. This is another reason I like to write – because it helps the mind.
I am going to end this train of thought here because I have a post waiting in the wings that has to do with just this topic.
I enjoy writing these types of posts…posts that allow me to articulate some thoughts that I have had during the week. For some reason, they are starting to fall on Fridays. Perhaps that’s because Friday is my day off or perhaps I subconsciously equate Friday with a kind of “wrap up” or something like that.
Anyway, I think I am going to stop there. One thing though – even though I write about my own experiences a lot, I sure would like to hear what you have to say about things that happen in your lives. Whether you agree, disagree or just flat out roll your eyes at what I write, I appreciate every comment that comes my way. I know there is no shortage of opinion out there and if you saw the smile on my face when I see a comment waiting for me on this blog, you would start writing one right now. That is of course, if you like smiles.
Here are some pretty low quality camera stills I managed to pull off an old video I had of rolling about six months ago.