My 2014 Blog in Review- Thanks to My Readers for a Great 1st Year!

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

After deciding to start my blog at the beginning of 2014, I have been diligent to post regularly on a variety of topics. I am very excited to have had readers in 94 countries! Thank you for reading, enjoying, and sharing my posts. Please continue to in 2015! I also mirror some articles on my blogspot site, http://lukeaustindaugherty.blogspot.com/ and Google+.

For all of my articles, poetry, essays, and updates, follow this blog on WordPress AND follow me on all the primary social media sites!

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/lukeaustindaugherty

Twitter: https://twitter.com/LukraticMethod

Tumblr: http://lukeaustindaugherty.tumblr.com/

2015 will be a big year for me and my readers! I will be publishing my new book, “Love is the Middle,” in the spring. So, be looking for updates.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 12,000 times in 2014. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 4 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

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My New Book “Love is the Middle”- Thoughts on Finishing Draft One

A picture my daughter, Lydia, took of me before I left to write this morning.

A picture my daughter, Lydia, took of me before I left to write this morning.

It was a very strange feeling that I had just minutes ago…

I have been working on the first draft of my new book, “Love is the Middle,” since January. It is the story of how my deceased father and I grew far apart during my teens and then restored our wanting relationship during my twenties. I also cover the few years after when we were very close, his battle with cancer before dying, and how I adjusted to life after his passing.

As my custom is for writing this book, I go to Steak ‘n Shake where Dad and I spent untold hours bullshitting over coffee after we became close again. 100% of my writing of this book has been done at various Steak ‘n Shake restaurants, spread out between two states. I have been writing the first draft since January of this year. Since I am not a full time writer, I work in writing sessions between running my own small business, being a husband, father, and singer/songwriter. The flexibility I have has lent itself well to being consistent with writing the new book over the course of the year. Other than during a much needed emotional hiatus  from writing the book for a bit over the late summer, I have worked on it between one and three times per week all year.

It may seem strange to write such a personal book in public. I chose to do so for two reasons: 1. Being in the atmosphere of a place that my father and I spent so much time together has been crucial to facilitate the mood I need to tackle this book now that my dad has been dead for over five years 2. Since I am writing so many difficult and personal things for others to read (and hopefully learn and be encouraged from), I figured that it would be appropriate to do so in the company of my fellow humans.

Writing this book in public has not been without its difficulties. Nearly every writing session, I tackle something that makes me want to cry. I can never anticipate or predict what specifically will cause that. It just happens. As my face sometimes leaks a bit and I become visibly emotional, I trust that my fellow humans around will not judge me as too much of a weirdo.

When I left the house this morning, I was fully purposed. I knew that I was within perhaps only hundreds of words left to write to complete the first draft of the book. With my Harris Tweed overcoat on to protect me from the cold, November morning weather in Indiana and my fully-charged laptop in tow, I lit out from the house for a writing session. After arriving at Steak ‘n Shake, I popped up the book file in Word and started to review a bit of the last sessions text before jumping into a fresh writing session. As I did that this morning, I had a strange realization; other than some “afterword” type stuff that I will not write until the book is completely edited and proofed, the book is finished. Well, the first draft anyway.

And then it started to sink in. The book that I anticipated writing for five years, felt that I NEEDED to write, decided to tackle this year, and have now been working on for ten months… is finished. That took a moment to absorb.

I have cooked since I was very young. I love working on a tasty dish: adding the primary ingredients, adding a pinch of this, a dash of that, and tasting for flavor development as it goes. Then, at a certain point, you realize that the dish just tastes “right.” Everything that needs to be in it is in it. Adding anything else would mess it up. It takes maturity and experience as a cook to know when your dish is at that point. All you have to do then is let it finish simmering and serve it up for all to enjoy.

After I re-read the last half of what I wrote during my previous writing session, it hit me like a brick that this book is done. The bitter-sweet recipe is complete.

Not to be “all dressed up with nowhere to go” so to speak, I just decided to write a blog about finishing the book as I sip my hot coffee with one cream and one sugar 🙂

Writing, “Love is the Middle,” has been one of the most difficult and rewarding creative tasks that I have ever engaged in. Actually, it has been THE most difficult and rewarding creative task that I have ever engaged in. Now that draft one is finished, I look forward to the editing/proofing process that comes next, as well as formatting and graphics. Self-publishing is an adventure! I truly hope that when finished and published in print and online next year, “Love is the Middle,” will “grow legs” and walk around this world a bit. That would make me very happy.

All that said, for the last time reporting from Steak ‘n Shake- Luke

 

 

“Cha-Ching!” Goes the Cell Phone: Year 6 for an Entrepreneur and Lessons Learned

On this day in 2008, at 30 years old, I made a big decision. After months of back and forth, I decided to start a business. I was a husband, father of five, and part-time professional singer/songwriter. But, my main gig was being a regional driver for a household goods moving company. Damn hard work.

At that time, I was working the same job I had in my early twenties. After leaving the moving business the first time, I said I’d never go back. But, after several years of busy concert schedules and limited flex time at my previous job, I made a deal with my old company; give me any time off that I ask for with thirty days’ notice and you can work me like a rented mule the rest of the time. They knew how I worked and my level of customer service, so they agreed. And to no surprise, they held up their end of the bargain, especially the second part.

I stayed there about three years before getting fed up with the road, illegal hours for a driver, some of the fools I had to manage on jobs, and my ever tiring back. Not that there weren’t perks. Most of my songs came from experiences I had travelling and two of my co-workers became my good friends. But, in the ending months of 2007, the fear of another year to come like the one before became scarier than the proposition of starting a business and failing. That was the key…being pushed passed the point of contempt for the “status quo” in my work life and the fallout it had on my family life. I was missing too much and was just too damn worn out when I was home. But, that’s what working 120 plus hours some weeks will do to you, even when you’re young and strong.

So, beginning 1/1/08, I started scheming on a way to make a big change. I didn’t have much money or many foreseeable options. I decided to start a “near industry” business to capitalize on my current contacts and skills. I gave myself 4 months to plan and execute the launch of my business.

I realized that what I would do at first may only be a stepping stone to anther venture, but it was a necessary one. I had to just create some space to live, think, and wait for and create other opportunities. It was a lot like “pulling guard” in Jiu Jitsu… I was creating a “safe place” from which to defend or attack in due time. A position I could potentially loose from, but hoped to just do work and catch my breath for the time being.

My business officially began April 1, 2008, a month early. I started a “3rd party company” that assisted moving companies with what was out of their scope. I did custom crating, pool table and grand piano servicing, appliances, and more. I created a turn-key business with zero debt and produced a living wage right out of the gate on a $3,000 start-up budget. Not bad if I say so myself.

But, actually doing it was scary as hell. I almost changed my mind a couple times in February ’08. I nearly scrapped the whole idea for the safety of the time clock boat anchor. Sure glad I didn’t.

Then, in the late summer of ’08, the economy crashed. The good thing was, since I worked for myself, I had a lot of options to adapt. When contracting work was slow from moving businesses, I hustled side work on Craigslist and by word of mouth. I did interior painting, drywall work, bought and sold, and scrapped tons of metal over the next couple years. Unfortunately, with the moving business hit hard, my 3rd party work got slower every year, so I had to hustle harder. Always hunting for side jobs got old and since people were getting broker, they did less home improvement…that meant less side jobs to go around.

The great thing was I still made a livable income in about half the hours that I used to work as an employee. Some weeks I’d have a few days off through the week then be really busy the next. But overall, I saw my family every day and was pretty energized to enjoy them. I got to spend lots of time with my wife, who is my best friend, for the first time in our marriage.

That said, in the spring of 2011 I desired to have a more stable type of business. My wife and I discussed options and came up with a new plan. I would escalate my part time hustle, buying and selling, to my main gig. The plan was to replace half our income in six months, before the slow season for my current business. The next phase was to completely replace our income with buying and selling in twelve months. We achieved the first phase in five months and completely replaced our income in nine months. The initial capital I had to invest at my first auction on May 15, 2011…$200. I bought five things that sold within a month for over $1,100 and we were off.

For the first four months, I only sold on Craigslist. Then in late August, I purchased a rare knife at an auction for $9. I knew I’d need greater exposure to get what it was worth. I listed it on ebay and a week later it sold for $490. I fell in love with ebay and within three months, it became my primary selling format.

It still is on 1/1/14 and we’ve come a long way. We now have three “Power Seller” and “Top Rated” ebay stores. I work less hours than ever, spend stupid amounts of time with my family, and basically do whatever the hell I want every day. I’m not rich in dollars, but if freedom is your currency, I’m a millionaire.

So at 12:54 a.m. today, I got my first sale of 2014. “Cha-Ching” went my ebay cell phone app. Not a big sale, just a $39 vintage coffee percolator that I bought for $3. I’ll have shipping, ebay, and paypal fees out of that, but will still net about $25ish. That “Cha-Ching” is less an audible symbol for money and more of freedom for me. Good job ebay on creating that Pavlovian response via your app by the way!

One thousand words later, I’ll briefly share some of the most important lessons I’ve learned in my business. I hope some of you might be able to get some use out of them if you’re interested in starting your own company or service as well.

  1. “Pulling the trigger” is the hardest thing– It is one thing to desire change, another to plan, but to execute a plan is the tipping point. That not only applies to business, but life in general. Most people are ruled by fear. They let the fear of “what if” bully them into settling for something they are dissatisfied with in life. You MUST master that fear and kick that bully’s ass in order to flip the script in your life.
  2. Bet on yourself- Every change has varying degrees of risk. But, do you know what people don’t think about? The risk that leaving everything the same has. Don’t be afraid to bet all your “chips” on yourself. Then, rise to the occasion and be your own hero.
  3. With a great plan and the right tools, you are more likely to succeed than to fail– I did not have a mentor when I started my business or anyone pushing me to do it. I did have people that supported me and that was invaluable. I also had the experiences of being exposed to business in my younger years by my mom, dad, and grandparents in different ways. Yet, I still needed other knowledge and information. I got that from the Internet and books. Some things (actually a lot of things) I had to figure out on the fly. But, you handle things as they come. I know the stats on start-up businesses failing. The thing is, many of the failures have distinct features in common. Poor planning is #1. Lack of understanding of the business being started is another vice. There is NOTHING you need to learn that you can’t find out. Do your due diligence and then make things happen.
  4. Sometimes, “You can’t get there from here.”– I’ve heard old timers from the mountains use that phrase jokingly to describe where they are from. But, it can be true situationally. You may not be able to jump right from your current “A” to your perfect world “B.” You might have to make some incremental changes toward your ultimate goal. Don’t be discouraged from the journey toward your goal just because it won’t be an instantaneous teleportation. Usually, the “good stuff” in life can take a lot of hard work. Sweat equity can be more important than investment capital. If you have less of one, you’ll probably need more of the other
  5. It’s worth it- There’s nothing like being able to thank your own former self for the good decisions he or she made that led you to where you wanted to be. There’s always more work to do and need to reinvent things. Start your journey off well and in time, if you stay the course, you’ll be glad you did.

As always, thank you for reading and sharing my blog! I am an independent poet, author, and singer/songwriter and I have my own ebay business to keep me as flexible as possible. But, writing takes time and if you appreciate what I do, if you have been moved or made to think by my writing, OR have just enjoyed something on my blog, please throw a buck or two in my tip jar!:) Your kind contribution may buy me a cup of coffee out at my next writing session. Click my easy paypal “tip jar” link that follows and THANKS! -Luke

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