What if this is your only chance? Would you take it?
This might just be the right time for you to change your life – to switch jobs or lose that weight. Now, during the worst pandemic and economic crisis in decades, you just might find your shining star. That’s because that star is not out there in the sky or in your next job, it is literally inside you.
Just like anyone else might, I decided to look for that star inside of myself. I get closer and closer one step at a time, and it feels good. It started like most oaths to exercise, with the idea that I should do more.
Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans
Last year was simultaneously a particularly good and awfully bad year. My podcast was alive and kicking with over 30 episodes. My agency was growing with an amazing staff and we launched new services focused on branding for small businesses. It was all set up to be an awesome year: working hard from 8a.m. till 8p.m. every day. From there I’d go home, eat, shower and go out for a beer… or two… or three. I loved finishing the day with a few beers, maybe a couple of cigarettes and some friends. The fact that I am a partner in two bars wasn’t helping my drinking habit, but it was so much fun.
The months have a tendency to pass quickly when you’re busy, so I would work hard, play hard and knew that whatever I didn’t get done could wait for tomorrow. Funny thing about tomorrow though, is that we always delay the most important things, right?
We postpone working on our dreams, spending time with our family or improving our lives by exercising, cooking, etc. Whatever it is, we are too tired to do it. “I will run tomorrow,” I said, “I will stop smoking after this weekend.” Writing? Maybe next week. I promised myself I would film a couple of YouTube videos as soon as I had a few hours. But time is tricky – it never comes back and it’s always elusive, giving us that feeling that it will never run out.
And as the days passed, I noticed I just wasn’t having fun anymore. I had become a CEO, but didn’t get to participate in any of the fun bits that come with running a business. I stopped doing the creative stuff like writing and focused instead on employee issues, taking care of financial things and working hard, but feeling stuck. I wasn’t entirely aware of it, but despite all my plans, life was telling me I needed a change.
It will take as much time as it takes
What I needed was a vacation, and the holiday season was just around the corner. I had always dreamed of seeing Japan; it was time. When I was there, I was overwhelmed by the difference in culture (I am from Israel, the opposite of Japan in every way imaginable).
It was mind blowing – like being in outer space. In my environment, everyone wants everything faster, focusing on quick tactics and results rather than strategy. Honestly, it had worn me out, and I wasn’t sure if this way of doing things had gotten me where I wanted to be. In Japan, time is based on patience. Things take time because they need to take time. How much time? As much as it takes. And after 3 weeks, I came back ready to make some changes to the business and my lifestyle.
But making changes and decisions is not easy, especially when my business has played such a big role in my life for almost a decade. When you have employees and clients, you can’t just drop it all and go traveling again (trust me, I thought about it every day). I prepared a plan and included everything I needed to change in my business: fewer employees, fewer clients, bigger clients, more focus on work and making an impact. Everything started to seem better. It definitely felt better. Our tasks weren’t easy, but step by step, I started down this new path. Going into 2020, I felt I was on the right track. Looking back at it now, I see that I was basically on the track to making the same mistakes I had made before.
I kept finding excuses not to write, vlog or push my brand. Something wasn’t right, I just couldn’t put my finger on it. I decided to exercise and start reading more. So, I sold my motorcycle and started walking 30 mins every day back and forth to the office. It was fun. Winter days here in Tel-Aviv are great and Audible books kept me company. A few months later, still feeling I could do more but unsure where to start, I was in Berlin for the weekend to have some meetings and see some friends. I made sure I kept walking while I was there. Right after I returned to Israel, the news hit us: we had to quarantine for 14 days.
We have all the time in the world…until something like this happens. Understanding that all hell was about to break loose, I did what most people would do: I hung on to what I knew instead of taking a huge breath and diving into the deep end. Back and forth, I walked in my apartment, worrying. How was I going to pay salaries? What might happen to me, my family, my company?
It was around 2a.m. when I decided I needed to let go. There was simply no point in feeling stressed. I couldn’t control most of what was happening. I needed to look at this situation from a different angle. “How much time do I have every day and how could I utilize it to make the most out of it?” I asked myself. What things I want to fill my days with? How would I like to feel at the end of every day when night comes?
Then I stopped. The panic stopped. The smoking at the window as if the weight of the world was on my shoulders was over. For the first time in about 10 days locked up at home, my mind felt clear. It would take me just a few hours to make a list of all the things I could control.
The next day, I spoke to my accountant. We made some important decisions together, and a few days later the whole country was ordered to stay home. Out of quarantine and into lockdown. I still couldn’t leave the house. Time, which everyone always complained was lacking, suddenly felt abundant again, but I knew better this time. Now it was time to move forward. I believe we can choose how we look at things. For me it was either fall into depression or make the best of a bad situation and start making my dreams my job again.
As time progressed, I figured things were not going back to normal and we might need to rethink the definition of normal altogether. If so, I knew I would have no option but to make the best of a bad situation. I made a to-do list and got to work. Ok, I didn’t actually make a physical list, but more like sat in front of my computer screen for about 17 hours a day and worked… or created work… or had fun… well, you get the point, I hope.
I have already been working on my personal brand for years. I have my own logo for my surname and a cool title on my card and E-mail signature: Chief of Happiness. For years, people meet me at events around the world and all they can remember is my title – I love it.
I felt it was time to take the next step. I scouted the net for cool sites of famous people, mainly speakers and marketing gurus. I wrote down all the things I loved and got a good friend to help me build a new website for my lectures, consulting and workshops. It took time, but writing and the little bit of design we did on WordPress wasn’t too difficult for us (ok, for him more than me).
It didn’t take long to start getting work and I am happy to say this entire situation has become a life-changing experience for me. I’m actually writing content about my work/hobby and being invited to teach about these things – it’s absolutely amazing. I have been planning to do this for over 2 years, but now, I had time, I did it and it’s working. Here’s what I’ve been doing:
I always loved writing. Hell, I wrote two books and I’ve been messing around with my third book about a marketing concept for a while now. Something about the idea of asking my students to read chapter 4 in my book for the next class always made me laugh. But sometime a few years ago, my writing went from novels and long social posts to tweets, short comments, quick blog posts, nothing to write home about. Now I’ve relaunched my Medium, started writing on my website and returned to pursuing long stories on my laptop – just writing. I am now at the point where I think I know how to continue my 3rd book and maybe even a new novel or a TV script.
In 2019 I decided I had to get better at interviews. I wasn’t even sure why, but I had to. Many people around me already liked my podcast concept, so I went with video interviews and fell in love. Being a creative person, the decision to improvise all my interviews seemed natural to me, and after the first 3 or 4, they got pretty good. Some episodes were excellent even. And I had a plan for 2020: to interview and speak in as many countries as possible. I even made a video about it. Now, at home, I wrote some people and started the 100 interviews project, where I interview people from different countries. If I am not mistaken, episode 10 should be just around the corner. The concept of conducting interviews gives me the opportunity to just randomly introduce myself and ask someone to join me for a quick session. If you or someone you know might be interested, mail me. I need more countries and good people.
When I was younger, I think there were about 12 years when I barely had any pictures taken of me. Things were different when film was used and it was easy to avoid being photographed. Now I run two YouTube channels, go live, teach in 2 colleges and I love it. But to this day, I change the moment I see the red record icon and it takes me some time to warm up to the camera. But as a marketeer and someone looking to build a personal brand, I needed to face this fear.
I ordered a Canon M50 and started filming myself every day during quarantine to get used to the camera. It was the only way to get over that fear and embrace it.
I now film somewhere between 2-4 videos a week for my YouTube channels and Patreon.com supporters. I need to keep practicing and remember I will never get over that fear completely, it will only keep getting smaller. Embrace your fears.
I do not want to feed the negative feelings I have about editing so let’s just say I don’t feel I’m very good at it. For years, I had help – some of the best! But now at home, I decided again that I need to own it. Even though I found out I was better at doing one shot to save time, I had to learn some editing. Now, I spend about 10 hours a week and during the weekends improving my techniques.
For me, it is crucial these days to go back to doing everything by myself. I believe that amazing all-around players will be the ones who thrive and survive. If you can afford an editor, great. If you can’t, learn. When you have the money, you will remember the early days and know the jargon so you can communicate better with your editor. Don’t give up because you do not know how to edit.
- Live sessions
I can’t sing or act and I don’t think I have ever been good looking enough to be a model, even when I was young. So, teaching is my way of being a rock star, standing on stage, giving that show and holding the room. When I first started teaching at college, people told me kids are terrible and college students even worse. They won’t listen, and don’t care. But I believe if my talk is interesting, people will stay, listen and engage.
I owe a lot to my students for helping me improve, and sitting at home, anything suddenly became a great excuse to take action, so I jumped on the idea and started offering free live sessions on Zoom anywhere possible. Thanks to the time differences, I could always find another accelerator or hub to engage with somewhere.
This became a great way to test new material, meet 25-30 people at once and even get leads, paid gigs and consulting work. Giving my time for free paid off in so many ways. So, to everyone who asked why I do this for free, I say it makes me feel good and reminds me we can impact someone on the other side of the world with words. It is a long game and I never know who these people might become in a few years or if they will remember me at all, but it actually pays the bills if you are patient.
I LOVE MARKETING!!! My passion has never run out. To this day I keep reading, learning and meeting new people. Quarantine was an awesome chance to revisit all the things we did over the past couple of years and improve them. We went back to content strategy and produced more videos and articles, refined our messages and made changes to our target audience. All this is based on our core values and it has been fun. It’s also producing results faster than ever.
I found a few clients who get what I’m doing. We can work on long term strategies, gamification and YouTube content together. Creating more, learning more – feels like I am just starting again.
Well, to be honest, why not? The online version has some bugs, but I was willing to overlook those and have fun with my friends over zoom. I always had a thing for strategy games but Catan takes the cake and most of the time, so do I. This game reminded me that the hand you currently hold says nothing about the larger game. Even if you roll a 7 and have to let go of half of it, this means nothing, you can still win. When your opponents are doing well, remember, they can still lose if you focus on playing smart, negotiating hard and having fun.
During quarantine I did not run, just walked back and forth in my small apartment. Now, I run almost every day. That feeling you get that you can’t possibly run anymore, but stretch it just a little more anyway is key to me working now, at 1a.m. writing this. Keep moving no matter what, no matter where you are or how small (or bad) each step feels – just keep moving. Great things will come of your suffering.
It is up to you, always
I truly believe life is random and we can only control our decisions based on the knowledge we have in that particular moment and our gut feeling. Take these two, do the best you can and be happy you are where you are. Tomorrow, you might be on top of the world, but there is always a chance you might fall down. Be happy with what you have and keep moving forward.
When you look at things, try and be as positive as you can because it is the right thing to do. I love complaining in a cynical way, myself. It’s always funny and I find laughter makes everyone feel better. But sometimes, I too dwell on things and feel down, alone or miserable. It is totally ok in my mind to feel these things, but, and this is a big but, we are judged on what we do after those feeling take over.
You might have skimmed this article quickly, or maybe you scrolled straight to the conclusion. So, TLDR, here it goes: it’s up to you to make a change and stop looking at the past, my friends. What could have been is not relevant; it will never happen.
Time will pass, things will probably get worse before they get better and this might be a final call – an unmissable last chance to prepare and make sure your better is awesome.
It is time for each of us to take action and ensure we are doing our best in this new evolution. This might mean putting your head down and working more, following a dream, moving cities, starting a running routine or anything else that might help you get through these next 12-24 months.
For me, it was following my dreams.