Tag Archives: do the work

How I Fell In Love. For the First Time. For Forever, I Hope.

Love is in the air ! Literally !!

Something changed in me this year. I know, because I was on the phone with a friend a few weeks ago. I was telling her about all the work I’m putting in with Stry and Very Quotatious and the fellowship, and she didn’t say anything.

And then I saw her a few days later, and I told her that I was speaking at TEDxMU, and I mentioned that I’d started working out with a trainer for the Belly Challenge, and she just stared at me. It looked like she was trying to X-ray me, to look straight through me, to figure out whether or not she was talking to the Dan she used to know.

She knew something had changed. She knew that I’d started to find a new center.

I started to realize it, too. And I started to think about what had changed. And then it hit me. It feels like just a moment ago that I figured it out:

I fell in love.

And here I am writing it, and not caring how cheesy it sounds:

I fell in love.

And again, and again, because it is too wonderful not to say:

I fell in love.

I fell in love with the waking up in the morning absolutely full of awesome. With the feeling that I have when I’m absolutely exhausted after a workout. With the smile I have on my face when I cross something else off my TeuxDeux.

I fell in love with doing. I fell in love with building things. I fell in love with the work.

And then I started to notice a whole world full of fellow builders. Turns out I’d lived in this world the whole time, and I’d barely noticed.

I know now: We live in a world where amazing things happen. We live in a world where there are so many people putting the tiniest dents in the universe. We live in a world overstretched with awesome.

I used to be stressed, and I still am. But now, stress is good stress. Excited stress! The “We’ve got a deadline to make because we’ve got shit to do!” kind of stress.

I find myself smiling a lot. I find myself in front of journalism classes, running around and jumping on chairs and yelling about building things and being awesome, and the students look at me wondering how much Starbucks it takes to make me this loud at NINE FUCKING O’CLOCK IN THE MORNING ON A TUESDAY, and then I tell them that I don’t drink coffee, and they look at me like I am absolutely mad.

And I am. You have to as mad as I am to do the things that I want to do.

There is so much to do, and there is not enough time, but that’s okay. The truth is, there is enough time for now.

And the truth is: When you are as in love as I am, it feels like I have all the time I will ever need.

And the truth is: When you are as in love as I am, time hardly matters at all.

What we build is what matters, and time is only there to show how long it can last.

The Crescendo Rises Again.


The crescendo, we called it.

My buddy, Ryan, and I came up with the title during our senior year. Amazing things had started to happen. Our school’s basketball team was experiencing massive success. We were dating women we liked. We were applying for jobs. We were really enjoying the last few months of college. (Maybe too much.)

We looked at our four years of school, at all the highs and lows. The almosts. The maybes. We looked at it all, and then we looked at senior year, as everything seemed to be coming together. We envisioned it all merging together in one glorious semester, our final semester, and eventually building into this one spectacular climax — the moment in which we would have it all.

The crescendo, we called it.

It didn’t work out quite like we’d hoped. Our basketball team came up one win short of the Final Four. Graduation didn’t greet us with the employment prospects we’d hoped for. The economy turned three shades south of sour.

But still, the hope for the crescendo lived on: One perfect year, of work, of effort, of hope, culminating in that singular point when we could look out and say, Yes, right here, we have it all.

Dare I say, though: Right now, I think I may be upon the rise of a new crescendo. The work I’m putting in with Stry, the work I’m putting into my personal life, my side projects — it’s coming together in a beautiful way.

Except that I’ve changed one thing about the crescendo. Back in college, I couldn’t envision anything beyond that climax. It would happen, and then…. well, I don’t know what I thought would happen. But the crescendo was the end.

Now I see things beyond that crescendo. And it’s not just a singular point. Everything I’m doing now is building towards dual goals — one professional, one personal — but they’re just a start. Once I get there, the cycle begins anew. New goals, new hopes. New crescendos to build towards.

I feel myself on the verge of something amazing, something I am building for the future. It is just the start.

The crescendo — the first of many — is upon us.

Let it ring loudly.

Do the Work. Always Do The Work.

Finish Line

I read this story last summer, and I didn’t fully understand it. I loved it, and I bookmarked it, and I read it a half-dozen times, but I didn’t really get it.

It was about Bob Bradley, the former coach of the U.S. men’s soccer team. The story was by Luis Bueno, who used to cover Bradley when he was the coach of Chivas USA. And the reporter remembers one thing about Bradley:

The work.

No matter the results on game day, at practice, all Bradley wanted to talk about was the work. Writes Bueno:

It seemed like every time I caught Bob Bradley after a training session, he brought up the work. The work was good, the work was getting better, the work, the work, the work… It was hardly ever about wins and losses, mostly always the work.

And when I read that story for the first time, it only kind of clicked. It had been a long time since I had worked really, really hard. I had gotten lazy. The passion wasn’t really there. I’d become one of those guys that Todd Snider was thinking of when he sang, “Everybody wants the most they can possibly get / For the least they can possibly do.”

And that story about Bob Bradley was one of the ones that got me moving again. I had to wake up in the morning and do the work. To miss a work day? Unacceptable.

But I still didn’t really understand what all that meant. It wasn’t until recently when it fully clicked. I’ve been on a heavy work binge — on Stry, on side projects, on the Belly Challenge, on my personal life. I’ve been putting in the work, and I’ve been filling up my TeuxDeux and crossing it off and filling it up again. Damn if I’m not as happy as I’ve ever been — even though I’m working as hard as I’ve ever worked.

Then I saw this quote by Jay Bilas, the former Duke basketball star and current ESPN commentator. He wrote a fantastic piece on toughness, and this quote absolutely floored me:

“I was a really hard worker in high school and college. But I worked and trained exceptionally hard to make playing easier. I was wrong. I once read that Bob Knight had criticized a player of his by saying, “You just want to be comfortable out there!” Well, that was me, and when I read that, it clicked with me. I needed to work to increase my capacity for work, not to make it easier to play. I needed to work in order to be more productive in my time on the floor. Tough players play so hard that their coaches have to take them out to get rest so they can put them back in. The toughest players don’t pace themselves.”

And there it was: Work begets more work. Until you put in the work, you don’t know how hard you can really go. Only with work can you understand.

So today is a work day. Today, I will do the work.

Will you?

Words Of Advice From an “Overnight Success.”

My startup songwriter-in-residence, Todd Snider, has a line that I find myself quoting a lot. It’s from a brilliant little song, titled “Easy Money.” He sings:

Everyone wants the most they can possibly get
For the least they can possibly do

And he couldn’t be more spot on. I meet a lot of people who want to be an overnight success. Problem is, for most of us in the creative/entreprenurial spheres, there’s no such thing.

Don’t believe me? Listen to the Twitter guys.

And here’s more proof. Meet Dave McClure. Out there in Silicon Valley, he’s what Ron Burgundy would call kind of a big deal. He’s worked with startups, invested in startups, immersed himself in startups. His latest extravaganza is called 500 Startups, and they’re a startup accelerator. They bring in a ton of startups — this year, they’ve worked with north of 50 startups. They mentor them, they groom them, they fund them — and then they send them out into the world.

Naturally, people thought this was crazy.

But then I saw this Twitter exchange tonight between McClure and Jason Cohen, an entrepreneur and investor who runs a popular startup blog:

Amen, guys. They speak to a simple truth: Want to make change? It can happen — one day at a time, one relationship at a time.

Things happen slowly. Success has to be earned. Trust has to be earned.

It happens: One day at a time. One relationship at a time.

Start there.

Life Lessons Learned From Three Chicks in an RV.

Every once in a while, I get to meet someone who just knocks me over. Someone doing something inspiring and risky and ambitious and epic. Someone who’s doing something incredible.

And last night, I met three ladies who are traveling America in an RV, doing good deeds and inspiring others to chase big dreams. I couldn’t help but be bowled over by the Girls Gone Moto. They started talking about their stories — how they embraced the fear, how they found a dream to chase — and I started thinking of my own story.

See, I remember when I was leaving San Antonio and headed to Biloxi to start Stry. I remember how terrified I was. I remember thinking that there were a million steps ahead of me. I remember thinking, What if it all works? What if it succeeds? What if it turns into a real business? What if I hire employees? What if people start depending on me? What then?

I’d never done any of that, and it all seemed overwhelming. The thought of success seemed overwhelming. So I let the fear in a little bit, and then the questions started changing. I stopped thinking about all the baby steps ahead of me, and started thinking, Well, what if I can’t do this? What if I shouldn’t?

But I know now: There’s a part of the brain that loves to sabotage dreams. It’s the naysayer within your subconscious. And I know now: Sometimes, you have to embrace that fear and blow right past it.

I did, and I can’t begin to describe the sensation of knocking fear back on its ass. It’s an amazing feeling.

And no, the fear doesn’t ever just go away. But once you’ve conquered it once, you’ll always know that you can conquer it again.