Two Songs for Veterans Day (Video Tribute)

It’s Veterans Day! I tip my hat to you vets of all ages out there! Also, yesterday was the 240th birthday of the Marine Corps.

I was honored last year to sing my song, “Ballad of an Old Soldier,” for the Indy Honor Flight WW2 vets. The song was inspired by veterans in my family and WW2 vets that I used to have on my oxygen route when I was in the home healthcare industry during my early twenties. Several of them would share their memories of the war with me unprompted and I was glad to listen. I even had two men who lived less than a mile from one another who had been in the same battle. One served in the Navy and the other in the Marines. They did not know one another, and due to HIPAA regulations, I could not tell them about one another. Yet, their experiences from WW2 and attitudes toward them were very similar.

I wrote, “Afghanistan,”  for younger veterans about seven years ago. I was a driver for a moving company at the time and delivered an international shipment to a Marine who was fresh back from the war. As he shared some of his experiences with me, I said, “You know, you really don’t see a hell of a lot about Afghanistan on TV anymore. It’s all about Iraq.” He replied, “Nope. Afghanistan just isn’t sexy enough for TV.” That conversation inspired me to write this song.

Both songs are available for download on Cdbaby and iTunes:

Ballad of an Old Soldier:

CDbaby link

iTunes link

Afghanistan:

CDbaby link

iTunes link

Also, to any of my fellow Americans who strive to maintain freedom and liberty, help others in this life, and make things a little better for all of us in general, thanks to you as well! Just being a kind person, a good mom or dad, purposing to keep growing as an individual, setting a good example for others, and encouraging others in this life is admirable. Many fight for the cause of freedom and liberty from within our own borders with songs, pens, one-on-one conversations, street actions, and social media. Regardless of how you go about it, keep up the good work! -Luke

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One Scribble From Gov. Pence and Indiana Takes a Huge Step Back

Mike Pence- Indiana Religious Freedom Bill

Mike Pence- Indiana Religious Freedom Bill

Well, the Indiana Religious Freedom Bill is headed to Gov. Pence’s desk and he is likely to sign it. One scribble from his pen and Indiana takes a huge step back in our progress toward equal rights for all Indiana citizens.

This Bill isn’t only about LGBT rights in Indiana. But, I think that it mostly is for many fundamentalist style believers. Listen my fellow Hoosier business owners, if you offer a service to the public, it should be offered to the whole public. You are, of course, free NOT to offer a particular service to everyone. Like, if you are a pizza joint, you don’t have to serve clam chowder. Yet, if you serve pizza, don’t serve pizza to a straight patron and tell a gay customer to hit the bricks. If you bake wedding cakes, you can refuse to make provocative style cakes to all patrons. But, you should not deny a cake that you DO bake to a gay couple. A business, which is open to the public, should not deny services that they provide to paying customers only because they are gay, black, atheist, Jewish, Christian, Hindu, Muslim, whatever…

We all have the right to our personal religious views. The First Amendment already guarantees that. You can believe what you want, teach what you want, go to fellowship wherever you want OR not. No one will come to your house of worship or home and force you what to believe or how to worship your god. Yet, if you choose to open a business to serve the public in Indiana, serve the public at large. If you want an exclusive private club, then charge membership fees and put “Private Club” on the front door.

Fellow Hoosier (or really anyone) if you find yourself today to be a person who has a downcast gaze upon the LGBT community, please read this blog that I wrote some time back.

Confessions of a Former Homophobe

Years ago, I used to be where you are now and was probably worse. Still, if you won’t change your mind and have a business that will be denying services to a portion of the population, have the balls to put a sign on the door saying so. If you get your morals from Jesus and he said not to be ashamed of him, display his alleged morals on the door for all to see. You wouldn’t want to be refused from heaven over your shame to have a public witness.

If this blog or the blog in the link resonate with you, please take a moment to hit the share buttons below. Thanks! -Luke

2 Songs for Veterans Day and Happy Birthday to the Marines! (Video)

It’s Veterans Day! I tip my hat to you vets of all ages out there! Also, yesterday was the 239th birthday of the Marine Corps.

I was honored earlier this year to sing my song, “Ballad of an Old Soldier,” for the Indy Honor Flight WW2 vets. It was inspired by veterans in my family and WW2 vets that I used to have on my oxygen route when I was in the home healthcare industry during my early twenties. Several of them would share their memories of the war with me unprompted and I was glad to listen. I even had two men who lived less than a mile from one another who had been in the same battle. One served in the Navy and the other in the Marines. They did not know one another, and due to HIPAA regulations, I could not tell them about one another. Yet, their experiences from WW2 and attitudes toward them were very similar.

I wrote, “Afghanistan,”  for younger veterans about seven years ago. I was a driver for a moving company at the time and delivered an international shipment to a Marine who was fresh back from the war. As he shared some of his experiences with me, I said, “You know, you really don’t see a hell of a lot about Afghanistan on TV anymore. It’s all about Iraq.” He replied, “Nope. Afghanistan just isn’t sexy enough for TV.” That conversation inspired me to write this song.

Both songs are available for download on Cdbaby and iTunes:

Ballad of an Old Soldier:

CDbaby link

iTunes link

Afghanistan:

CDbaby link

iTunes link

Also, to any of my fellow Americans who strive to maintain freedom and liberty, help others in this life, and make things a little better for all of us in general, thanks to you as well! Just being a kind person, a good mom or dad, purposing to keep growing as an individual, setting a good example for others, and encouraging others in this life is admirable. Many fight for the cause of freedom and liberty from within our own borders with songs, pens, one-on-one conversations, street actions, and social media. Regardless of how you go about it, keep up the good work! -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

LAD Online Tip Jar