While I Was 37

This post is best read while listening to my theme song for last year:
Traveller by Chris Stapleton

I couldn’t tell you honey, I don’t know
Where I’m going but I’ve got to go
‘Cause every turn reveals some other road
And I’m a traveler, oh, I’m a traveler

While I was 37, I had so much to be thankful for, and also plenty about which to be scared out of my mind. It’s an undesirable mix, but one I must deal with, as do all of you. In some ways, we are so much better than what we have shown of ourselves in this past year. In other ways, we have shined brighter than ever and been the people we need to be in order to resist the normalization of oppression and bigotry and hatred.

A few things I learned this year:

  • Inaction is unacceptable. That person you think you can help? That idea you have? That thing you think someone else will take care of? That vote you don’t need to cast? That piece of trash someone else will pick up? No more. That’s your responsibility. Just fucking do it.
  • Change is hard; and harder to explain. We go through life fearing change. We are taught that change is bad. But change is inevitable, and we need to learn how to adjust and be more flexible and prepared for change. We need to practice writing and speaking and talking to people, so when change happens, or needs to happen, we know how to communicate.
  • Permission is something you can give yourself. You do not need approval from anyone but yourself. Love yourself. Trust yourself. Do the thing you want to do. Learn. Adjust. Keep moving forward. And, tell your story.
  • Travel is so important. Get out of your bubbles. Explore the world. Meet people who live differently from you. Learn from them. Share with them. Be kind to them. Be a bright light in an often dark world.
  • Share your stories. We can’t learn from stories that are never told. We should all share more. In work and life.
  • Focus is the only way to achieve goals. I spent too much time scattered over recent years. I’m still proud of the work I’ve done, but I look back at time wasted because I said yes to too many things and people, and never found a method for focus and prioritizing.
  • Life is short. The boxes you have left with people you care about are finite. Choose wisely.
  • Music. Such a powerful thing.

I’m making some changes. I’m being more direct and honest with everyone. I’m learning how to communicate better and be a better father and a better friend. I’m learning how to focus and be more generous to myself. I give myself permission to explore and learn and make an impact. I hope to hear similar stories from some of you.

Also, more music and dancing and laughing. That’s an order!

Be well.

While I Was 34…

You should listen to my 2013 theme song while you read this: Prizefighter by the Eels.

  • I became an adventurer.
    Thanks in large part to two unconferences, Up To All Of Us and World Domination Summit, I am more determined than ever to make everything an experience worth having.
  • I became a caregiver.
    This was an experience I wish could have been avoided, but I have learned a lot. We have to find a way for things like this to be avoided. We have to allow people the opportunity to leave this world on their own terms. Also, fuck cancer.
  • I began to learn how to overcome rejection.
    WDS was huge for me if only for Jia Jiang’s presentation on embracing rejection. I’ve done things this year I never would have thought of doing, simply by not worrying if someone said “no.” I’m definitely still a work in progress, but I’ve found most of the time the answer is “yes.”
  • I began to find my niche.
    I have many friends and colleagues who are freelancers on the side, and some full time. I have a true passion for helping them succeed. Some people might call it coaching. Some people call it consulting. I’m not sure what I’m calling it yet, but I’m still the guy you should call first. 😉
  • I again realized that I need a product.
    Is 2014 the year of the product for me? I hope so, in some form or another.
  • I confirmed that travel is my passion.
    I want to explore everything and bring as many people along for the ride as I can. I look for opportunities to explore every chance I get. And now I’m buying a hippie van mobile office so I can do it more often and for longer periods of time.
  • I started coaching high school rugby.
    Go Mustangs.
  • I camped more.
    Outside. Campfires. Bike rides. Hiking. Cool, fresh air. Exploration. Get out there, people. So much to see and do.
  • I found new people, and deepened relationships with other people, who are all awesome.
    Overused word? You bet. But it can be true. From new people I just met this year to acquaintances turning to friends to friends turning to best friends, it’s been wonderful to find support, laugh and cry with humans that truly care. People who just want to make things better for everyone.
  • Once again, I realized we live in the future.
    I love the future. The technology. The progress. The openness. The opportunity. Don’t let the media fool you, this is a great time to be alive.
  • I fell back in love with games.
    Cards Against Humanity. Relic Expedition. Magic The Gathering. Geeksboro Cafe. All wonderful.
  • I received more confirmation that life is short. Vita brevis!
    All you people saving all your money for a rainy day or retirement, think again. Do you really want to limit your adventures to a time when you can’t walk or talk or do anything else very well?

Live now. Travel, explore and have fun for as long as you can. Enjoy the ride.

Links For This Post

Utopia Sounds Great…

I came across this short film while looking at #vanlife tweets and following some links. I also found Cobra Rock Boot Company, which I plan to visit on a road trip next June.

“Tokyo Texas” Levis Concept Design Film. from Dana Shaw on Vimeo.

My favorite quotes from this short film:

Utopia sounds great, but I would fucking hate it.

I do not tether my boat.

Things that don’t change, die. That’s just a part of life.

while I tend to agree with the cowboy in this film, about utopia, I do think the intersection of technology and freedom is amazing. But I don’t seek utopia. I seek freedom, and all that comes with it.

I hope to be taking part in the van life very soon. Stay tuned!

A Better Brian

This might be narcissistic, but I’m excited about this new goal. I’ve had a busy year, but I’ve let “busy” be an excuse. Busy is a relative term. Was I busy for 45 minutes this afternoon when I sat on my ass watching a replay of a bad soccer match? No. I was unmotivated. Undisciplined. This post is an experiment in changing that.

I have problems staying focused, staying motivated, and completing things I start. This is not news to many of you. I’m hoping to change that. I’ve got it pretty good, but I think I can have it better. I think I can have and do more, and I think it’s going to take a better version of me to get there. So this is my kick off; my pledge; my accountability post.

Here are my goals:


It starts with writing. I’ve always enjoyed writing. I’ve recently found some old elementary school stories and will probably publish a few for fun, but it reminded me how much I just loved to write. As I got older, I had to write. For school. For work. I hated it. Then I started blogging and enjoyed it, but never committed to it. Never took it seriously. So then I just stopped. I still wrote a few things here and there – mostly recaps of experiences I’d had, and a few publications – but I wasn’t writing regularly or the way I wanted to. Now’s as good a time as any to start. To make the time for it. To enjoy the process. To reach into the drafts folder in Dropbox and the Drafts app on my phone and finish those thoughts and share them with you.

Doing daily and weekly writing exercises will help me accomplish this goal.


I’m not a perfect model of health. I’m also not terribly unhealthy. I have cholesterol level that should be 30% lower, a little too much around my waist and a tendency to binge eat when I’m bored or depressed. But I’m pretty active. I have two active kids and I enjoy time with them. I play soccer and some occasional rugby. I bike to the mail room and the bank when I am motivated enough to do so. I enjoy my stand-up paddleboard, again when I’m motivated enough to lug it to the lake. But I am often unmotivated, and undisciplined with workouts, training, eating, etc. That can and will change.

Logging my food intake and exercise, and doing at least one active thing each day, will help me accomplish this goal.


I quit my job almost exactly one year ago to continue to grow Duce Enterprises and to launch Learning Ninjas. I’m thrilled with the results. But I could have done more this past year. I could have been more focused, delivered things ahead of schedule, sought out some bigger projects and set some bigger goals. But I coasted more than I’d like. I want to do better. Notice I didn’t say I want to do more. I was happy with my work/life balance over this last year. I want to do better. Better projects. Better decisions. Better management. Better risks. Better pricing. I want to enable more adventures and more experiences, not only for me, but for my family and my friends.

Doing better work and saying “no” more often will help me accomplish this goal.


I’ve got a good life. I know this. I need to recognize it in key moments, though, and really enjoy life even more. I post about and share a lot of inspirational quotes and videos because I believe in the messages they hold. Life is full of sacrifice and bad decisions and consequences, but it’s also filled with unexpected joys and good decisions and amazing results. I can do better to focus on the positives and embrace the negatives and hold on to them, and learn from them and use them to teach others.

Volunteering, coaching and taking adventures with my kids will help me accomplish this goal.

I’ll be posting results, but if you want to know how things are going, get in touch.