When you are in the early stages of brainstorming an idea for a brand, product or business start by studying consumers & civilization as a whole. What do people need right now, in this day & age? No only what do they need, but what do they want? Take Uber for an example. What a great example of something that was needed. The general public probably didn’t know it, but a cheap, convenient, way to travel from point A to B was obviously needed & wanted highly by consumers. The creators were able to look deep into what was going on within our culture and see a gap of something that was needed. Before you start anything make sure that it is needed. Taking the time to think about & create something that is needed & wanted is going to save you a ton of energy and time in the long run.
Below are a few things I have learned along the windy path of life, thus far. In no means do I think I have learned it all as I am learning & growing everyday. These points revolve around starting/growing a business, working in television, working with people, overcoming creative blocks & really just living in general. I hope you enjoy!
1. CREATE SOMETHING THAT PEOPLE WILL WANT/NEED
2. PERSISTENCE/RESISTANCEThere is a great book that I suggest every single person read called “The War of Art” by Steven Pressfield. Steven speaks to resistance faced by artists, entrepreneurs, athletes, and pretty much every one who has ever tried to succeed at something. Throughout the book he gives you the tools to break through the barriers that resistance creates. One should look at resistance as not a word, but an actual living thing. Resistance will always be there: giving you excuses as to why you shouldn’t sit down and write that blog, go to the gym, practice your slap shot, start that company you’ve always dreamed of… the list goes on & on. There will always be an excuse and resistance knows that, he thrives on that. Resistance’s worst enemies are persistence, discipline & routine. Let’s take writing as an example. If you get yourself in a routine of being disciplined to sit down and write for an hour every day you are slapping resistance in the face. It doesn’t matter if you are writing pure crap for the first month, at least you are there & you are getting the work done, you are mining for that gold. Here is a great quote from Pressfield, “The most important thing about art is to work. Nothing else matters except sitting down every day and trying”. If you are able to recognize resistance as a living breathing being, than you will be able to conquer it. I can’t count the numerous times I have been at my desk as the end of the day approaches & I think, “You know what, I don’t need to go the gym, I went yesterday, I think I’ll just go home and lay on the couch”. That right there is the bitch resistance in his purest form. Right at that exact moment I realize this, I realize resistance is playing dirty tricks on me once again. So I kill him with persistence, discipline & routine. I want to end this section on 1 last point. Fear & resistance are friends. I have learned that the more I fear something it usually means it is the one thing I should actually be doing. Have a real hard think about it, what’s on the other side of fear? Nothing. It’s all in your head. Fear is something that resistance creates to stop you in your tracks.
3. CREATE A RELATIONSHIP WITH YOUR PARTNERSOne of the first decisions one has to make when beginning a venture is if they will take on the task alone or decide to do it with partners. Here I will focus on the latter. Working with partners on a business or venture is like gaining a couple more life partners. Your relationship literally turns into a marriage and your project is your kid. So as you should when choosing a life partner, make sure you and your business partners get along well can constructively work towards the same goal. Obviously, as in every marriage, there will be fights, squabbles & disagreements but in the end you have to make sure that you can put things behind you and all remain focused on the same goals for the project. Learn to respect, listen and learn from your partners. Times can get stressful but just remember why you started this project in the first place. I know personally I try not to involve myself in a project unless I feel very passionate in it and I see that there will be elements of fun involved in the process. Furthermore, I have learned to distance myself from people who are prone to confrontation and negativity. I’ve been asked before, “How do you deal with confrontation?” My answer, I try to distance myself from it as much as possible. Negativity will never get you anywhere and has no relation to progress. So to end, make sure you have a long, hard think about who you are going to start your venture with because you’re about to start a, hopefully, long lasting marriage.
4. HEALTHY BODY, HEALTHY MINDThis is a classic saying, but I honestly believe in it more than anything. Almost every successful, happy or progressive person I know follows this rule to some extent. Whether it’s running, yoga, weights, hockey, football etc. the act of keeping your body moving & fit is of the utmost importance. Engaging in daily exercise will boost energy levels, improve mood, promote better sleep & even put a bit more spark into your sex life… just to name a few. I know many people that don’t enjoy the gym or weight lifting at all and this is totally understandable. If this is the case for you maybe think about running outdoors, joining a sports team or even getting your workouts done in the privacy of your own home. The more life progresses itself the less time we have for us. For me, I find the gym is the one part of the day that is for me. That 30-90 minutes is a time for me & me only. I only have to focus on one thing in that allotted time frame and my brain & body enjoy and give me many thanks for this. Physical activity is a great time to clear your mind of all stresses and worries. Afterwards you feel refreshed, energized and ready to take on the world. If you don’t believe me, go ahead and try for yourself & get back at me in a month. If you don’t feel overly better about almost everything in your life I will buy you a KitKat.
“If your lips are moving, you probably aren’t learning much.”
This is one of my favourite quotes and it speaks a world of truth. One of the main ways we learn as humans is by listening. It took me a while to understand how to actually REALLY listen. It’s very easy to say, “Yaya, I’m listening”, but are you actually? A good percentage of the time you aren’t listening, things are going in one ear & out the other. To be honest I lived that way for a long time throughout my youth until an older man I worked with repetitively told me I needed to actually listen more and that this was the key to success. After about the 100th time he preached this to me I thought, fuck it, lets give this a try and I vowed to focus on listening very attentively to everything going on around me every minute that I was conscious. To this day, I have kept this habit up & found much success in it. Before I go any further, I do want to say that there are some situations where I do turn off my attentive listening as not every single situation requires it, example: I don’t need to attentively listen to someone talk about how they can’t wait to go to Home Sense to buy new sheets that match their lamp shades in their new apartment… I don’t care. But the majority of the time I try my best to be attentive in all situations. Listening is the process by which we make sense of, assess, and respond to what we hear and in turn one of the most important ways that we learn and progress as people. I can’t count the amount of times I have been in a group conversation and I can tell people aren’t listening to what the others are saying, we have a habit of just wanting to say our piece or opinion on the topic. This urge to be heard or voice our opinion blocks you from being an active listener as all you are thinking about is wanting to get your voice in… you aren’t listening at all. So chill out, you’ll get a chance to speak your mind but in the meantime, listen & assess. Some of the smartest, most bad ass people I know are the best listeners. They are true ninjas.
6. ALWAYS LEARNINGRecently this has been something I have really tried to ingest into my life more. It is very easy to get comfortable in a certain stage of your life and just slide through the days. As of late I have really been trying to learn & take in as much new knowledge as I can. To be honest, I am in a position in my career that I am really learning every single day, but I wanted more. This is where podcasts came into my life. My brother Chris used to always preach to on how great podcasts are and he would always be listing off all this random knowledge he was gaining from them, but I didn’t buy in at that point. Funny enough I didn’t really start getting into podcasts until he moved away to Vancouver; maybe it started as a way to help remember him when I missed him. Anyway, I went in hard on the podcasts and haven’t stopped since. For me, this is one of the greatest ways to ingest knowledge. Whether I am at the gym or in the car a podcast is usually playing. Listening to them at the gym was a huge WOW moment for me. At times I get bored while at the gym and I need something to distract/ stimulate my mind while working out… podcasts were the solution, it is a true win, win situation. So whether it’s podcasts, books, audio books or just overall research make sure you never stop ingesting knowledge and keep learning. Never be ignorant in thinking you know it all, cause you definitely don’t fool.
7. YOU WILL FAIL MORE THAN YOU WILL SUCCEED. EMBRACE IT.Failure is part of life folks and the sooner you can embrace that the better. One of the biggest morals we preach at HALFWITS is not being scared of failure or embarrassment. Don’t be scared to make mistakes, trip over yourself, mess things up… this is how we learn some of the best lessons in life. I’ve failed just as many times as the next guy & I hope I keep failing throughout my life, as I want to succeed. When you do fail or make a mistake, own it. The worst thing you can do is make a mistake and try and push it off on someone else. Own your mistakes & failures and learn from them. You can fail as many times as you want, just don’t stop trying. No great success comes without a graveyard of failures.
8. BE MEMORABLENo matter what you are pursuing, I can promise you that there are thousands of other people trying to do the same thing; you are 1 fish in a huge sea. Here lies what I have learned about being memorable. You can be memorable in many different ways. You don’t have to have spikey highlighter pink hair with tattoos all over your body (although that may work in some situations) to be “memorable”. Being memorable can be as easy as just doing a REALLY good job at whatever the task is that you are taking on. People always remember individuals who put in that little extra effort, who push just a little bit harder. Being memorable can also just be based around your personality & how it may stick out more when compared to others. I am not saying go out there and create the most crazy in your face personality, but more so I think this really lies in being true to yourself and who you are. Be you and own it. Don’t be ashamed of who you are, what you do or what you believe in. Be confident in yourself and I promise you will be memorable to all. The most memorable people that pop into my mind have always be the most genuine and true to themselves. A little example I always love to think about is when I used to play hockey as a child. My dad would always tell me: “Always be the first one in line for a drill, make sure you are always in the front row when the coach is having a meeting etc etc”. Put yourself out there, in the front row and make yourself visible, memorable & stay consistent with it.
Till next time, Jesse.
These are just a few things I have learned through the years and you can take them or leave them. Some of them might help ya or you might think I’m bat shit crazy & have no idea what I am talking about. Regardless, I hope I sparked something in you or at the very least made you FEEL something.
Family, Friends, & Honorable Mentions:
Steve Pressfield (The War of Art)