The 5 Top Things That Practically Guarantee Relationship Success

1I interrupt the usually scheduled program of social media and technology posts with this little relationship post I felt compelled to write. My blogging has always been inspired by helping others in any way I can. Sometimes that strays from my professional world. This time around it’s about relationships. Over the past few years, I’ve been through some tremendous life challenges and changes and have learned so much that I feel compelled to share what I feel I’ve learned. One of the biggest things I’ve experienced is meeting and being with someone that works on every level. And honestly, I’m not so sure I could have figured it out without going through what I have.

It goes without saying that being attracted to someone, sexual chemistry, etc etc, certainly needs to be there, but those are surface things that you should know pretty quickly and should be a given with anyone you’re with for a short period of time. So without further ado, here are the top 5 things I think can contribute to relationship success. If you have these 5 things nailed down, lock that person down!

  1. Being Best Friends – A lot of couples probably think that they are, or pretend that they are, but this is actually pretty rare. So how do you know if you truly are best friends with your significant other? Well, I don’t know if there is an exact science, but I think it comes down to a few things I’ve noticed now that I’ve found someone where I authentically feel this way. First off, I ALWAYS want to be with her. Not in a creepy, pathetic way, but I honestly never get tired of being with her. In every relationship I’ve been in, I’ve reached a point where I’d definitely long for some me time in some way, but this time around, not so much. Of course it’s healthy to have other friends, and do other things, and we certainly do, but even when I do, I miss her, and prefer her to just be along for the ride every time. She’s the first person I want to tell about anything, the first person I go to for advice and to bounce things off of, and there isn’t anything I wouldn’t tell or share with her. She’s the first mate I’ve had that can honestly say is my best friend and it is certainly the #1 reason we work.
  2. Common Interests – Too many times this is an area that can get overlooked early in relationships. You meet someone, you have the hots for them…everything is new, and not having too many (if any) common interests isn’t that big of a deal, because you guys just like being with each other. Fast forward a few years, and a lack of common interests rears its ugly head. Because that honeymoon period won’t last forever, and you’re going to need to have some things that you both love to do together. Without it, it’s a recipe for disaster. You don’t have to have everything in common, but something…anything is going to go a long way towards maintaining a long term relationship.
  3. Emotional IntelligenceHere’s a good article to begin to understand the concept of emotional intelligence and assess your own. I love this mode of thinking and I’ve come to really appreciate being with someone that shares this with me. A few years ago, I just wouldn’t have gotten this, but having been through a failed relationship, and now meeting someone who matches me in this area, it’s just huge. It contributes to us practically never getting into fights, dealing with disagreements and personality differences with ease, and just overall, making our relationship effortless.
  4. You’ve Both Dealt With Lots of Adversity – I have found over the years that the people that I have gotten along with the best, and have built the deepest relationships with are those that have experienced their fair share of adversity in their life. The bottom line is, if you are a person that has had to deal with some significant life experiences and rebound from them, chances are, you don’t sweat the small stuff. You don’t fight about the dishes, dirty laundry, argue about silly things. It’s not worth it. You’ve been through much deeper shit, so why waste any anger or stress over the little things? Typically people that that have been through a lot have learned to do just that. It only makes sense that being in a relationship with someone that shares a similar life path will lessen the amount of things you bicker about.
  5. Shared Sense of Humor – We laugh all the time. ALL the time. I make her laugh, she makes me laugh, we laugh at the same stuff. There are few days that go by that we don’t. It feels amazing. I mean…outside of sex, does anything really feel as good as laughing? No. And it’s good for you.

Those are the 5 things that I’ve learned. Everything else is icing on the cake. And I’ve got a pretty amazing cake going. I’d love to hear from any of you reading this your thoughts and any additional ones you’d add to the list.

You Don’t Have Any Competition

raceI remember attending a networking event and a talented speaker was up talking about how to grow your business. One of the things he said has always resonated with me, and it was the idea that you have to operate your business with the attitude that you have no competition. At first I kind of shrugged off the idea, but as he spoke more about it, I loved it.

Being a business owner (and incredibly competitive), I’ve always found that I would often peruse the web to do recon on other companies that did the same thing as me, and in many cases be irritated or jealous of how well they presented themselves, the client portfolios they possessed, or the talent they had on staff. While it can certainly be healthy and useful to see what others are doing in your space, it can also derail your focus on what’s truly important…what makes you unique and different.

The reality is, no matter what business you own or get into, there are going to be plenty others that already do it, and do it well. But here’s the awesome thing…there’s plenty of business to go around. As long as you do your thing, and do it well, you’ll get your piece of the pie. The key is to find that one thing that makes you different. The one thing that is unique to your business that no one else can touch. And when you can figure that out, and position yourself effectively, in essence, you don’t compete with anyone else.

Stop thinking of others in your same industry as competitors, but more as colleagues. You’d be amazed that by establishing relationships with those that are in the same industry, how much more you have to gain by working together vs. not.

The True Story Of The Ugly Christmas Sweater Guy

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For the past 6 years, every time the holidays rolls around, a new tradition has come upon me; an outpouring of emails and Facebook messages asking me if I know that my picture comes up on Google for ugly Christmas sweater. Or that my picture was used on a flyer for an Ugly Christmas Sweater party. Or recently, that my picture is on the cover of an Ugly Christmas Sweater book. And of course my response is always something of the…”here we go again”. But deep down, I kind of like it.

There’s actually much more to the story then most people think. I never anticipated what happened would. In fact, the pose that has won me all this attention was really just a last minute, spur of the moment thing. After all this time, I thought it be fitting for there to be a place that tells that story. And at the very least, celebrate not just my photo, but all the amazing ones that went along with it.

The year was 2007, and it was a cool, brisk Autumn day like many others. But this day was different. I was a few years into my tenure at Microsoft Advertising, and had fallen into an amazing group of dudes at work…The COT…or circle of trust if you will. A group of fellas that entrusted each other with information that would never be shared outside of the group. It really wasn’t that top secret. Mostly a lot of jokes about the bathrooms at Microsoft. Don’t even get me started.

I can’t take credit for the greatest idea of all time. That falls on my friend Matt. Matt was the elder statesman of the group back then. He was older than dirt..so these days I can’t imagine he even knows what planet he’s on, but bless his heart for the gift he gave The COT. His brilliant idea of hitting up Value Village for some hideous sweaters, then heading to Sears for a photo shoot was ballsy..but we were in. We just wanted to create a funny poster to hang up for our team at work. It ended up becoming so much more.

You see, Ugly Christmas Sweaters were not as big in 2007 as they’ve become today. Shit…you can actually buy a kit to make one these days they’ve gotten so popular. I’ve been offered  3 figures for mine repeatedly (holding out for 4). When we got to the store, I literally just wanted to find the most ridiculous one I could find. I figured if I was going to do this, I might as well go all in. You should have seen the look on some of the older ladies faces as I proudly found my winning vest/turtleneck combo.

I don’t think I ever laughed as hard as I did in that photo shoot. It was so incredibly random, and the gal taking the pictures…bless her heart, she had no idea what she was in for. Ridiculous pose after pose, and then someone pushed me into frame and without even thinking I just did what I thought might be funny and whalla…history.

A week or so after our shoot and tremendous praise at work for our efforts, our photos were submitted to The Seattle Times for their then annual Ugly Christmas Sweater contest. I was in Chicago and got a barrage of texts and calls. I remember them vividly.

“Your picture is on the paper!” they said

“Oh…cool…like in some special section?” I asked

“Um, no…your picture is ON the paper…the front page!” they said

And thus begun the ascent to all things Ugly Christmas Sweater. It worked it’s way up to the top of search results, on the front cover of a book, and ever since then, it’s become more recognized more than I ever would have thought. To this day, people will bring it up in conversation and they’ll say “Holy Shit, you’re the Ugly Christmas Sweater Guy?!?!”  I’ve learned to embrace it.

I still look at these pics every year and laugh my ass off. Unfortunately, most of the guys have moved on to other things, and we don’t get to see or hang out as much as I would like. But I still hold on hope for a reunion shoot. Perhaps Easter?????

 

10 Reasons Why Being Your Own Boss Is The Cat’s Meow

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Yea that’s right. I made a list of 10 reasons why being self-employed rules to get you to come read my stuff. Because lists are cool like that. People don’t have time to read paragraphs. That’s so 2012. I wrestled a bit with posting this as by doing so, I possibly alienate myself to any “offers you can’t refuse” for a traditional 9 to 5er. But I’ve learned these past few weeks as I’ve gotten a nice taste of success that if I’m ever going to truly make it big on my own, I have to be all in. Logistically and mentally. Besides, if someone really wanted me that bad and made me an offer I couldn’t refuse, I would hope my commitment to what I’m currently doing would be viewed as a plus.

So enjoy this digestible bloggy goodness and share mmmmkayyy? I’m trying to make a living here.

  1. You can wear whatever you want. Jean shorts? Crocs? Ass-less chaps? Do it. You’re the boss. Save the good stuff for when you meet with clients. Otherwise, get comfy.
  2. No more sitting in mind numbing traffic. Every time I drive by the freeway and see a parking lot I feel tickly all over now. I do not miss that. Avoiding being in the car 2 hours a day is motivation enough to try and make it work on your own.
  3. You actually get work done. So many companies I’ve worked for that get in their own way. Too many layers of management…process. I get more done in one day then I was ever able to try and get done in a week at bloated companies.
  4. You can show up late and leave early. Hell, when you’re saving 2+ hours of commute time, it changes everything. Sure is nice to sleep in or have a big breakfast every once in awhile. And by big breakfast I mean 2 bowls of Cookie Crisp. Huge.
  5. You can design your office any way you want. Mini fridge…check. Triple monitor action? Check. Hot Tub? Soon.
  6. You can write stuff off. These days it feels like I’m being taxed on air. At least now I can write off purchases that my business utilizes.
  7. You can’t be fired, laid off, demoted, etc. In fact, this blog post is so friggin good, I just gave myself a raise. Yea self employment!
  8. You choose who you work with. And I choose Kate Beckinsale & Scarlett Johansson for my sales team. As soon as they return my calls.
  9. Unlimited vacation & sick days!! Hmmm, my tummy hurts. Millionaire Matchmaker marathon!
  10. My Boys Stuff. I never have to miss any of my boys’ baseball games, school events, etc. My time is controlled by me, and not having the stress of having to worry about missing anything is priceless. Worth the price of admission in and of itself.

What say you my fellow entrepreneurs? What would you add to the list???