Are You Sacrificing Your Vision for That Big Name?

Are You Sacrificing Your Vision for That Big Name?

Most projects begin with the best of intentions.

“Let’s serve independent musicians.”

“Let’s help independent course creators and coaches.”

“I want to help independent filmmakers get the money they need to make their projects a reality.”

Some of us follow through on these intentions, creating products and services that may not reach the mainstream but are valuable to the hundreds and thousands of people looking to get their creative ventures off the ground.

Many entrepreneurs, however, cannot resist the allure of the big name. One big name client, one big name interview, one big name testimonial, whatever it may be.

And it shifts the trajectory of the venture forever.

No longer satisfied with the five views here, 20 views there, the entrepreneur begins catering only to the big names. Some of these big names do not offer superior quality coaching or products, some aren’t even experienced, skilled, credentialed, or legitimate. No matter, they bring more views.

Just because someone has more reach doesn’t mean they are better. Just ask Stevie T.

Just because someone has more reach doesn’t mean they are better at what they do. Click To Tweet

One big name doesn’t have to sacrifice the purity of what you’re doing. I’ve had the likes of James Schramko, Richard “Younglord” Frierson, Andy Seth, and Miles Copeland on my podcast. They may not be A-list celebs, but their names mean something to a lot of people. Make no mistake, though. I could have bigger names on my podcast. I’m just not one to hang my hat on one big name for the rest of my career.

If this sounds judgmental, it’s not. It’s about optics. What do you want to create and for whom is foundational to the structure that goes on top. The occasional, well-timed pivot may be par for the course. But switching from independent to influencer is a seismic shift. It should not be done carelessly. Don’t be surprised if it raises the ire with the people who’ve been following and supporting you.

Before you know it, network marketing structures are being layered in, altering the business beyond recognition.

The pastures may appear greener on the other side, but rest assured there will be problems to solve on either side.

Stand for something. Or you’ll fall for anything.

Meditation & Productivity

Meditation & Productivity

“All successful entrepreneurs do this…”

No, they don’t. Don’t be hoodwinked by catchy headlines.

That said, many entrepreneurs do this. And by this, I mean meditation.

I’ve interviewed over 300 musicians, executives, entrepreneurs, and marketers, and have found this to be a surprising commonality among many. Admittedly, I didn’t have the opportunity to ask all of them about meditation.

But is there a cause-and-effect relationship between meditation and success?

Some people I’ve interviewed, like serial entrepreneur Andy Seth, seem to think so. But not necessarily in the way you might think. Meditation doesn’t magnetically and automagically attract to you everything you want. It may have benefits beyond what we can see with the eyes, but I don’t have enough evidence to suggest that it’s a miracle worker of any sort.

What’s important to know is that success in one’s endeavors, especially in business dealings, often requires level headedness. Decisions must be made in the face of trying, urgent circumstances. Meditation is known to calm the mind and make you less reactive to outside circumstances. Which is, admittedly, a superpower in business.

While there are different types of meditation out there – and it’s well worth experimenting until you find practices that work for you – I have found that almost all meditations have this in common, that they revolve around sitting quietly and focusing on your breathing or a mantra. Most practices also involve closing your eyes, but not all. Assuming your practice fits this definition, you can leave the finer details until after meditation has become ingrained habit.

My observation is that many people think they are supposed to have an awakening or transcendent spiritual experience after each meditation session. Sure, these things can and have happened. Just ask Dr. Joe Dispenza. For most, though, it’s a gradual process. Years and decades of meditation lead to compounding benefits. You can’t enjoy these benefits without first making it your practice.

So, unless your practice is spiritually focused, you are better off concentrating on the nuts and bolts of meditation than trying to work out the perfect practice to trigger a euphoric mental state or kundalini experience[1]. I know people who’ve had kundalini awakenings, and I believe I’ve come awful close myself. But as I understand it, it’s not something to mess with.

There is no such thing as a perfect routine. As with anything, it’s about what works for you. Some people meditate for five minutes multiple times throughout the day. Others meditate for 20 minutes at the start and end of their workday. If I get around to meditating 15 to 20 minutes once per day, I consider it a win.

More to the point, meditation boasts dozens if not hundreds of benefits.

Mayo Clinic says meditation can:

  • Increase self-awareness.
  • Help you gain a new perspective on stressful situations.
  • Build skills to manage your stress.
  • Help you focus on the present.
  • Reduce negative emotions.
  • Increase imagination and creativity.
  • Increase patience and tolerance.
  • Lower resting heart rate.
  • Lower resting blood pressure.
  • Improve sleep quality.
  • Help you manage symptoms of a variety of conditions, including sleep problems, anxiety, depression, heart disease, and more.

Mayo Clinic obviously aren’t believers in magic, and neither am I, but let me emphasize – I know for a fact that meditation can offer so much more.

So, what’s the connection between meditation and productivity (you almost thought I was going to skate on by the topic entirely, didn’t you)?

Headspace (a popular meditation app) sums it up nicely in an article titled Meditation for Productivity:

  • Meditation can improve cognitive and emotional processing, working memory, and skilled decision making.
  • Meditation can declutter your thoughts and sharpen your concentration, which can help you stay on task for longer.
  • Meditation reduces stress, which prevents us from performing at our best.
  • Meditation results in a calm and serene state that’s conducive to focus.

Try it for yourself and see what happens.

[1] A powerful spiritual experience avid meditation practitioners and yogis generally spend years preparing for. Well understood in spiritual circles, lesser known to the Western world.

Disclaimer: This post does not constitute health advice.

There’s more available in the Productivity, Performance & Profits Blackbook.

Meditation – What Works for Me

Meditation – What Works for Me

I could feel my heart wake up. And it had a message for me. Something I always knew deep down but hadn’t been present to for years – probably since I was a child.

I spent the rest of the day in a state of bliss and love. My mind was present, but so was my heart. And I never knew that was possible.

Meditation had brought this moment to me. And I knew it could bring more.

How I Used to Think About Meditation

I used to think there were only two things you could accomplish with meditation:

  1. Come away feeling refreshed
  2. Get an answer to a question

When I sought to feel refreshed, although I’d often feel a bit better after 10 to 20 minutes of meditation, I would often be disappointed that it did not seem to work as a cure-all for exhaustion and tiredness. It was worth the effort, but the results were not phenomenal in my eyes.

And so far as getting answers was concerned, this often happened involuntarily, kind of like how when you go for a walk or a drive or a shower after a long day of work and suddenly new ideas come to you.

As you can tell from my attitude towards meditation at the time, I often had an on again off again relationship with it.

How I Was Introduced to Meditation

Meditation came into my awareness after I experienced an anxiety attack in 2008.

I started reading everything I could find on anxiety, and that’s when I came across meditation.

At the time, it probably would not have amounted to more than a to-do item. In the long list of things to do and not to do in coping with anxiety, meditation was just one item.

But the long-term benefits were there, and they seemed to stack over weeks and months.

How I Used to Meditate

As I was recovering from anxiety, I used to sit down, close my eyes, and focus on my breathing.

Anxious thoughts would sometimes interrupt, causing me to twitch or open my eyes momentarily, but I would give myself grace for “not doing it perfectly,” close my eyes, and start over. I was also assured that this was a normal part of the process.

Eventually, I figured out that you could meditate while listening to calming music, and that became my preferred way.

What I’ve Been Coming to Discover About Meditation

I’ve made many personal discoveries about meditation in the last year, all of which came through talking with others and finding new resources online.

Some of this is going to sound woo-woo, weird, or out there for some. Fair warning.

Energy Centers

First, I began to learn more about chakras. Now, that term alone is controversial and depending on your religious or spiritual leanings, it’s going to prove impossible to accept.

What I can say is this – science is now catching up with what we have long known about the seven energy centers that run along our spine. And perhaps that term (energy centers) is a little easier to digest, even for those who experience some discomfort near it.

To bottom line it, I discovered that it’s possible to awaken and energize these energy centers through meditation. And much of energy healing work (like Reiki) also revolves around energy centers.

Spirit Animals

One of my friends brought up spirit animals in conversation, and while I’d heard the term before, I didn’t know much about it. I still don’t.

But intuitively I recognized that there were probably spirit animal meditations out there, and sure I enough, I found some on YouTube.

Using the guided meditation, I discovered that my spirit animal was a panther.

Meditation is a Catch-All Term for Something That Has Many Branches to it

Author, entrepreneur, and musician Andy Seth was on episode 200 of my podcast. He shared that meditation is a very general umbrella term, as there are many types of meditation.

He shared that asking someone whether they meditate is a lot like asking them whether they play sports. You’d need to drill down a little further to get a sense of what type of athlete they are.

“Oh, you’re a soccer player? What position do you play?”

You’d need to get at least that specific to know what type of meditation they’re engaged in.

I did not know any of this as I was getting started in meditation. But over time I learned about transcendental meditation, Kundalini meditation, Zen meditation, mindfulness meditation, and so on. And I honestly thought there were just a few different types.

But the truth of the matter is some of the meditations just mentioned are subcategories, while others are parent categories. And there are many more besides.

Yeah. It gets confusing if you let it.

Heart-Brain Coherence Can be Achieved Through Meditation

Earlier this year, I came across Dr. Joe Dispenza’s work, and that’s where things started to get especially interesting to me.

Dr. Dispenza’s studies and discoveries on meditation go deep. Not surprising since he’s dedicated his life to understanding it.

Many of his findings are compelling. The one that I somewhat took for granted, and didn’t entirely understand when presented with it, was that you can achieve heart-brain coherence through meditation.

When this state is achieved, you will experience life in an entirely new way. Because you will become more present to your purpose and reason for being here.

Many of Dr. Dipsenza’s guided meditations can be found on YouTube, and they are my go-to.

Sitting with Yourself Dissolves Emotional Pain

This year, one open door quickly opened to another. After I engaged in Dr. Dispenza’s content for a while, I came to discover Kyle Cease, whose work is also fascinating to say the least. Especially since he’s a comedian turned transformational comedian.

Cease does not advocate any type of meditation specifically. But he talks a lot about sitting with yourself and its benefits.

He shared that through the process of meditation, things arise within us – painful emotions, anxious thoughts, and so on. But they arise to be dissolved, and if we can sit with them, acknowledge them, and even love them, they will release.

What Works for Me

So, depending on your intent, what you’re looking to achieve, and what works best for you, there are many types of meditation you can engage in.

But at least for me, there is no right or wrong way. Only what works for you.

Because I’ve been asked before if meditation is about silencing the mind. And surely there are gurus or monks that will tell you that this is the case.

I’ve never thought of it that way, and it’s not the way I’ve been taught to meditate.

So, here’s an overview of what works for me:

  • Go into a quiet room
  • Put on some relaxing meditation music or a guided meditation
  • Sit or lie down in a comfortable position – these days, typically, I will meditate lying down
  • Close your eyes
  • Focus on breathing in slowly through your nose and out through your mouth
  • Thoughts and feelings will arise – there is nothing to fix, and most things only arise to be released
  • Do not add resistance to emotions or thoughts – just be present with them
  • Distractions and noises are common – these are also perfect, so do not add resistance to them
  • Stay with the meditation until the music ends or the guide asks you to open your eyes (I like my meditations to be at least 20 minutes, but at longest I have gone for 85 minutes)

It’s as simple as that!

And the benefits of meditation are far beyond what you might expect, with most articles on the topic extending well beyond 2,000 words in length. There’s even an article discussing 76 benefits of meditation!

“Meditation Feels Like a Waste of Time”

This is where things get even more interesting.

Because you might assume that spending so much time in meditation would be a waste. But there’s got to be a reason why gurus, monks, entrepreneurs, and those acquainted with ancient medicine and healing modalities spend so much time in meditation, right?

Think of all the things you would be doing otherwise. Most of them fall under the category of addiction:

  • Surfing the web
  • Social media
  • Watching TV
  • Netflix or YouTube
  • Video games

Meditation is one of the best things you can do for yourself because it allows you to remove yourself from addiction cycles. Further, it creates flow in your life.

Because if we were honest with ourselves, we’d see that most of our thoughts and goals and ambitions are trying to lead us upstream on the river of life, where we’ve already been. The things we desire to experience are all downstream.

When we go to sleep, we create flow. When we meditate, we create flow. When we focus on our heart and our personal development, we create flow.

When we get out of balance, work too hard, spend too much time in our addictions, and so on, we create resistance, and the universe has no choice but to restore balance and order. Which is why shrinking at the first sign of difficulty or challenge has a way of sending us back to square one in the game of achievement.

Shrinking at the first sign of difficulty or challenge has a way of sending us back to square one in the game of achievement. Click To Tweet

It’s counter-intuitive, to be sure. But meditation is often one of the best things we can do for ourselves.

Final Thoughts

Again, I understand that there will be those who say meditation is to be done a certain way, and anything outside of their instructions is not meditation.

That’s fine. That’s perfect to me.

Because they’ve gotten what they’ve gotten, and I’ve gotten what I’ve gotten. And you will get what you get.

If one method doesn’t work for you, though, recognize that there are many ways of meditating. And understanding the benefits and experiencing them for yourself will help you create a habit long term.

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Part 1: Surprise, Uplift

It’s time to rewind. All the way back to when I was born.

Because as my mom always says, I was creative from birth.

I can still remember watching Mr. Dressup on TV, following along with his drawings and crafts. Even if I didn’t have all the materials, I did the best I could with what I had around.

Something about putting things on paper just fascinated me, and it didn’t matter whether it was journaling, sketching, doodling, drawing, painting, charcoal, origami (I suck at origami) or otherwise, if it was creative, I was there.

When I was five turning six, my dad, my mom, my sister, and I moved from Canada to Japan.

I can still recall weekly Bible study meetings and church services. Not the details of the studies or services themselves. No. I remember doodling, making satirical newsletters, writing lyrics, drawing mazes, bringing my graphic novels to life, and even conceptualizing video games as these gatherings were happening around me.

That was my world. And not much changed in grade school, where I went through class much the same way, writing my own curriculum and following my impulses.

To that extent, creating is my identity. It always has been. I never had to go looking for art. It basically found me.


People often ask me what it was like growing up in Japan.

The quick answer is that I have nothing to compare it to.

The longer answer is that I transitioned from Jr. High to High School when my family returned to Canada, and because I got to see a little bit of what Jr. High in Japan and Canada were like, I have some frame of reference.

There are many things I could relay about Japan, but for all intents and purposes, this is what I’ll share (also reference Dave Barry Does Japan – you’ll thank me later).

Culturally, Japan is different. The people are more community minded. They are less individualistic.

In Japan, I always had a diverse group of friends with different interests around me. It didn’t matter whether it was video games, sports, fishing, or even putting things on paper – I could always find people to do things with.

And that made for an amazing experience. Life was beautiful. I felt needed. Wanted. Cared for. Supported. Something I would not feel – for the most part – since.

Education was different. I think it was better in some ways.

Everything I learned in school was basically miles ahead of what I learned in Canada. As I returned to the Canadian school system, I noticed that the lessons were all vaguely familiar – because I had already sat through them years ago!

(Remember – I’ve basically never taken a class in my life. I was busy doodling or writing!)

The school system was loosely militaristic, though, and that struck my parents as weird (again, I didn’t know any different). I can still recall marching in rows in the mornings and the calls of “stand at attention” and “at ease.”

I guess the equivalent in Canada would be orientation day or pep rallies, but this morning march happened at least once per week in Japan, where the faculty relayed needless information.

I suppose this was supposed to prepare me for what was to come in Jr. High, High School, University, and eventually employment. I’m glad I didn’t stick around for all that because elementary school could never have prepared me for what was to come!


My last visit to Japan was in 2017, and I savored every moment.

It felt like my friends rolled out the red carpet for me. My uncle, who lived in Malaysia for many years, calls it “Rockstar treatment.” Not to perpetuate stereotypes, but Asians often do have a gift for hospitality.

I had a list of things I wanted to do while I was visiting, and thanks to my friends, I was able to fulfill on all but one or two (and I wasn’t too sad about those).

I would not have changed a thing about the trip, except for maybe catching a cold as I was heading into Tokyo from Hyogo, and spending my last day alone in a concrete jungle hotel room (to be fair, I probably needed a break from all the drinking).

I would later come to reflect on the trip as a “perfect” experience. Nothing like my childhood in Japan, where so many things seemed to go wrong.

Same country. Different experience.

But something always goes wrong in childhood. It doesn’t matter who you are. And that becomes the unresolved – the baggage you carry with you for the rest of your life. It takes over and becomes your master if you let it.


I had author, entrepreneur, and musician Andy Seth on my podcast in July.

We had a strange connection from the get-go, because we are both rare individuals who identify as authors, entrepreneurs, and musicians. Plenty of people are authors. Or entrepreneurs. Or musicians. But a combination of all three is less common.

I shared the story of my childhood with him, much as I’ve shared with you here.

He responded by saying (summarized):

Wouldn’t it have been great if someone recognized those talents in you? If they had nurtured and supported that within you? If they had found a job or role for you?


But my parents, my family, my teachers, my coaches… They all did the best they could. They had their own life to live. Their own worries, concerns, and anxieties. Their own goals, dreams, and agendas.

So, I don’t blame them, though I do wish I had that type of support.

But perhaps, by sharing my story with you here, you’ll recognize the creative child. Maybe you’ll take notice of them and nurture their talent. Maybe you’ll ask them what they want to do in life. And maybe you’ll be a part of their journey and be there when things get tough.

Hopefully, I’ll do the same.


For the first 13 years of my life, creating is just about all there was. I was always creating.

Music and video games would stimulate my young imagination. And they would begin to influence and impact the direction of my creativity and even life.

I may not have chosen art or creativity. But I would go onto choose new things in the years to follow.

And I would also continue to create in the times to come, but it was different. Different because of what happened to my dad.

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