Document Your Journey.

Here's an empty white spiral notebook on a brown desk.

I’m lucky to be in a place where I’ve got a career I love and a business that’s growing.

But to anyone thinking that this all happened overnight: It most certainly did not.

That’s why I’m so grateful that I’ve been documenting my journey over the years. And every time I look back upon certain entries — from a year ago, or five, or ten — I’m reminded of what I went through on the road to today.

I can look back and remember the moment when I was sleeping on a floor in Springfield, Missouri — and excited about it!

I can look back at the days when I wondered if my work would bring in any money.

I can read back through an old edition of “The Things I Believe” and remember the person I once was.

These stories are humbling. They’re a reminder of what I went through to get here.

And they’re why I’ll keep documenting my story, one day at a time. I know I’ll look back on this time, too, remembering the person I once was — and the person I’ve since become.


That photo of a spiral notebook comes via Justin Morgan and Unsplash.

What’s Not To Like?

This is a silver wall, with graffiti of the Facebook reactions — a like, a heart, and a smiley face — drawn on it.

There was a guy I knew growing up who used to like everything on Facebook.

That photo of your big vacation. A random status update. A comment you left on someone’s post. He left a “like” on all of it.

It was a strange thing, seeing his name show up at the bottom of every single post you left on Facebook. So one day, I finally asked him why he did it.

“What’s not to like?” he told me.

I’ve been thinking about him lately, particularly as I spend a bit more time on channels like LinkedIn. Often, I’ve been a bit of a lurker on social media — I see the things others post, but don’t always say something.

Shouldn’t I have more of my friend’s spirit?

I want to be a cheerleader for others. I want to be that person who re-shares, who celebrates, who likes.

I know that little things get noticed. And all these years later, I still think about all those likes my friend left on my post.

Turns out there was a lot to like about his social media habit. The little things make a bigger impact than you think.


That photo comes via George Pagan III and Unsplash.

Enjoy It While It Lasts.

Sally and I pose for a photo after Mizzou beat UCF on a buzzer-beating 3-pointer.

Sally and I went to a Mizzou basketball game earlier this year. At the time, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect from this team. They had a new coach and nine new players on the roster. I was hoping they’d be competitive; I wasn’t sure if they’d be any good.

And that day, we watched them bank in a 35-footer at the buzzer for the win.

As we walked out of the arena, I told Sally: That’s the kind of win that might make a team believe they could do something special this year.

And then they went out and did just that. They crushed rival Illinois. They beat Kentucky and Iowa State. Had another buzzer-beating win at Tennessee. As of today, they’re ranked in the Top 25 and headed to the NCAA Tournament.

But the thing is: A season like this goes by fast. A quarter of this team will graduate in the spring, and others might transfer. Next year’s team will probably have a half-dozen new players. This isn’t the pros, where you can root for one player for years and years — in college, players graduate or move on.

So I’ve been watching every game I can down the stretch. I’ve been trying to enjoy it all. I know it’ll be over soon. The NCAA Tournament is a win-or-go-home proposition. If they exceed every expectation, their season will still be over in the next two weeks.

I’m trying to enjoy it while it lasts, and share these moments with friends while it’s all still happening in the present. It’s not over yet.


That’s us after that buzzer beater vs. UCF. I’m a pretty optimistic sports fan, but there’s no way I would’ve predicted the season Mizzou would go on to have.

Even If You’re Working Solo, You Still Need a Team.

I had a few candidates take editing tests this week for a part-time editor role with Inbox Collective. (I paid them for their work — it’s only fair that they should be compensated for their time and talent.) And reading through their notes, I kept thinking: These edits are going to make these stories so much better! They pointed out all sorts of edits and structural changes I hadn’t thought of.

To put together a really great website, I know I need editors to help make my work better. My ideas are pretty good, but they’ll be sharpened by a smart editor.

I operate as a one-man operation, but I still need a team around me. I need part-time editors to help out with stories. I need freelance writers I can turn to. I need friends in the industry who I can talk to for advice. I need people I trust who I can bounce ideas off of. I need to do surveys and have lots of conversations with readers to get their feedback.

I need all this extra input and help. It’s hard to do this work alone. And recognizing that means that I can look for ways to add support around me to make sure I do the best work I can do.

I’m doing this solo, but that doesn’t mean I have to go it alone.


That photo was taken by Hannah Busing for Unsplash.

But Why Would I Want To?

I took that photo from my window seat at JFK International Airport in New York City. The sun is setting as I headed out to Paris for work.

I was talking recently with a friend about red-eye flights. When I was younger, a red-eye didn’t really bother me. I’d fly back from the West Coast at midnight, land at 6 a.m., and go to work at 9. Not a big deal!

But I’m in my mid-30s now. My body doesn’t handle red-eye flights anymore. I like being in a bed; I need sleep.

So my travel rules have changed. I’d much rather fly back early in the day and lose a day than suffer through a red-eye. Could I save a few bucks on a red-eye? Yes, but with what I know about my body, why would I want to?

And the same applies to most things that I do. Could I take on that one extra project, work until midnight most nights, and make a little extra money? Sure, but why would I want to? (The business makes enough money, and part of going independent was about getting the flexibility to work the hours I wanted.)

Could I say “yes” to that meeting across town, even though it’ll take a normally busy day and make it extra busy? I suppose, by why would I want to? (I can always hop on a call or Zoom instead.)

Could I agree to write that blog post for someone else’s site? Yeah, but what would I want to? (I have my own website! And that piece of writing is more valuable to me if I publish it on my own site.)

Could I? The answer is often yes. But there’s the second question you need to ask yourself: Why would you want to? If there’s not a resounding answer to that question, it might be the moment to say “no.”


I took that photo a few years ago while on an evening flight from New York to Paris. (With those flights, you have to fly overnight, sadly.)

Learn From Others — But Find Your Own Way, Too.

That's a photo of someone writing down ideas on Post-It notes (and crumpling up the bad ideas)

We live in an age of copycats. When someone has success in a particular way, there’s a rush for others to copy that model.

There’s nothing wrong with learning from others. There’s no reason to make the same mistakes that others have already made. Ask good questions, listen, and learn from others. Use existing examples to make the work you do better.

But you have to find your own way, too. You have to find ways to take what you’re doing and put your own spin on it.

Only you can do what you can do. So don’t be content to copy and paste — learn from others, and find a way to make things your own.


That image comes via Kelly Sikkema and Unsplash.

It’s Not About the Name. It’s About What You Do With It.

Heres's Munch, wearing their signature brown bag over their head

In the 1990s and early 2000s, the most trusted name in dining in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, was someone named… Munch.

Munch was the food critic for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Munch’s true identify was unknown — they appeared in the paper as a photo of someone with a paper bag over their head. They wrote in third person. (Here’s one line from a review of a local brunch spot: “Munch knew the French toast should’ve been Munch’s choice.”)

Lots of cities had anonymous food critics — not many had a byline like “Munch.” But talk to anyone from Pittsburgh and they’ll tell you what an influential critic Munch was. Their reviews were widely read and respected in western Pennsylvania. Munch stood for excellence in dining — if Munch said the food was good, you could trust it.

And it’s a reminder for me: You don’t need the most sophisticated branding. A name is just a name. What matters is what you do with it.


That’s the photo of Munch that appeared in reviews in print.

Thanks, Dad.

That's me and my dad, out skiing this week in Utah.

I was talking with my dad this week. I’ve got Inbox Collective — four years in and going strong — and my sister has a little side business of her own that she’s thinking about expanding.

My dad wanted to know one thing: “This is my fault, isn’t it?”

In the best way, dad, it is.

See, some three decades ago, my dad left the corporate law world to go out on his own. He built a great solo law practice for himself. Was it as lucrative as working at a big law firm? No, but he gave my siblings and I an amazing life. And in the past decade, long before the pandemic, operating solo allowed him to work remotely — working some days, volunteering some days, and taking some days off.

Having a dad like that as a role model made launching Inbox Collective a whole lot easier. I’d already seen that it was possible to go solo and make it work — I’d been watching my dad do that for years.

And I’ve been incredibly lucky to have his support over the years. Launching a solo thing — especially a business like mine — requires a lot of contracts. I’ve been lucky to have a lawyer happy to work pro bono to support my business.

Not everyone gets so lucky to have a fine example, pro bono lawyer, and enthusiastic cheerleader in their corner.

Anyway, I just wanted to say: Thanks, dad.


That’s us, skiing this week out in Utah.

You’re Allowed to Delegate.

Here's a photo of a laundry basket. Ours is white, not blue, but you get the idea.

Sally and I are on vacation this week, but I’m thinking back to the days before we left.

I had a busy week last week: A big presentation, a dozen calls, work on a few new articles for the site, and a lot of emails to deal with. I’m often busy, but this was more than usual.

And in the 48 hours before we left, with Sally working back-to-back days, I was trying to do everything: All of the work, plus all of the packing, laundry, and cleaning. I don’t get visibly stressed too often, but I was last week. (Just re-writing this, I’m feeling the stress levels rise again!)

So Sally reminded me: It’s OK to delegate. No, she can’t take on my work, but she’ll always have the time to help with errands or tasks around the house. Yes, she’s also busy, but no, that doesn’t mean I have to do everything.

It was a reminder I needed to hear. I don’t have to be Superman — I can share the load with her. There’s no award for doing it all; there are just consequences.

The next time the work piles up, see if you can find a way to share the responsibility and take a little off your plate. You don’t need to do 120 percent of the work. In the long run, you can’t.


That photo of a laundry basket comes via Annie Spratt and Unsplash.

I’ve Been So Lucky.

I’ve been exceptionally lucky in my life in so many ways. I was thinking about this yesterday after hearing the news that David Crosby had died, at age 81.

I spent the morning listening to some of Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young’s biggest hits: “Carry On,” “Woodstock,” “Teach Your Children,” “Suite: Judy Blue Eyes,” “Ohio.” I was thinking about how amazing it would’ve been to have seen them live.

And that’s when I remembered: Two decades ago, I had.

It was my sophomore year of college. CSNY had reunited and was doing a tour full of protest songs about the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. St. Louis was the second-to-last stop on the tour, and since I was just two hours down the road in Columbia, MO, my roommate and I drove out to see them.

I remember they did two sets — the first full of newer protest songs (“Let’s Impeach the President,” “Military Madness”), and the second full of hits (“Southern Cross,” “Rockin’ in the Free World”). They were men of the ‘60s who also happened to be, at that moment, in their 60s. I remember talking through the first set, and loving the second one. I remember that it was a beautiful fall night in St. Louis.

It was a great night of music, but there have been a lot of those over the last twenty years: Springsteen, McCartney, U2, Paul Simon, Joni Mitchell.

I know how lucky I’ve been. I’ve gotten the chance to see great artists, to go amazing places, to meet incredible people.

Is there more out there? Sure, I hope so.

But I’ve been lucky, a thousand times over. I don’t think I could ask for more.


At top, that’s a video of David Crosby performing “Ohio” at Newport Folk Festival in 2018. I wasn’t there that year, but true to the title of this post, I’m a lucky guy — I got to go in 2022.