Tuesday, November 24, 2015

The Secret to Avoiding Failure...

broadstone balboa park
Leaving our new apartment building in San Diego
My first overnight motorcycle ride since ending our 2 1/2 year long Road Pickle motorcycle tour was a short two-nighter between San Diego to Phoenix and back. One of my clients, a gourmet beef jerky company known as Lawless Jerky, has its manufacturer facility in the Valley of the Sun, and its CEO was in town, visiting from New York.

And because I've been moonlighting the past several years as a beef jerky reviewer, I like meeting the players in the meat snacks industry.

The good news is that the weather in Phoenix is mild. It's sunny, but a comfy mid-70s to low-80s. This would be a solo trip for me, with Sash staying in San Diego.

By this time, however, I've become bored with the ride between San Diego and Phoenix. It's pretty much always Interstate 8. Yes, there are alternative routes in California, but not in Arizona. But even the alternative routes in California have become boring. I've ridden them all dozens and dozens of times over. I find myself falling into the attitude of just wanting to get there as fast as I can, and sacrificing any opportunity of new tales and chance meetings.

But I can honestly say, that I really have looked at Google Maps, and zoomed in to search for that lonely road that keeps getting ignored. But alas, there's no such road heading into the Grand Canyon State, at least none that I haven't ridden a few times already.

If anything, I did get a little bit of a fright when I discovered I was 60 minutes late to my meeting with Lawless Jerky. It seems this time of year, Arizona is one hour ahead of California. I panicked in my hotel room realizing my laptop's clock still showed Pacific Time. I texted my client, but was assured there wasn't a problem. I guess this sort of thing happens all the time when Californians visit Arizona.

"I think these are still smoking", Matt Tolnick, the CEO of Lawless Jerky pointed out to me, as he struggled to unlatch the massive, industrial sized smokers. The door cracked open a few inches, sending clouds of hickory smoke mixed with teriyaki marinade billowing out. My salivary glands stimulated into action. "Yeah, these still have a long ways to go", he said.

What amazed me is that I remember when Matt first started his business. He had just quit working as an attorney for a sports agency, determined to build a business from his jerky-making hobby. He was just like thousands of guys across the country trying to make a buck selling homemade jerky. Yet here he was, only three years later, standing inside his own USDA-inspected jerky factory. Trust me, after writing jerky reviews for 7 years now, I've seen a lot of entrepreneurs come and go.

The difference between success and failure, it seems, is simply avoiding failure.

"I think you have to fully invest yourself into what you're doing in order to succeed...", Matt explained over a capacola sandwich. "...so that you're in a sink or swim situation, so that you have no other option but to succeed."

matt tolnick lawless jerky
Matt Tolnick, CEO of Lawless Jerky, standing by a rack of marinated beef  ready to be smoked.
I nodded my head in approval.

It reminded me of a documentary called, "The Secret", which discusses the Law of Attraction. In short, it simply says that when you genuinely believe in something, you start to see those opportunities around you. Most of us instead hope and pray for a miracle, and rarely does that miracle come. Yet, if we tune our focus into believing success, we start seeing solutions. It then becomes a matter of just acting on them.

And I think Sash and I are starting to put ourselves in a similar boat as Matt. Having just signed a one-year lease on a fancy new apartment, we're determined to stay there for the full term, despite the challenge of finding new clients for our marketing business.

"We're going to make a lot of money in 2016", Sash keeps saying to me.

I know she's determined. It's time for me to put on my determination hat too.

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Monday, November 23, 2015

Confirmation Bias Under Temporary Permanence

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Me (left) with Tom Rogers, Old Town Cemetery, San Diego, CA
This morning I woke up to realize that Sash and I are no longer motorcycle vagabonds, at least for the time being. The lifestyle of moving across the country whenever, and wherever it pleased us, has dropped us with a solid "thump" in downtown San Diego, CA.

I know this because a few weeks ago we signed a one-year lease on an apartment.

But it wasn't until this morning, when I rode my motorcycle to Phoenix, that it felt different. That is, riding my motorcycle across state lines doesn't feel like running away when I have a landlord and a contract waiting for me.

A few days ago, however, we were visited by Tom Rogers. Tom is a motorcycle vagabond. He doesn't have a blog however, and he doesn't post much about it on his Facebook. There's something kinda cool about being so humble. Not needing the approval or confirmation from others is a sign of strength. I don't normally tell strangers that I ride a motorcycle, nor even tell them about my tales of riding across the country, although obviously I do write about it here.

The fact that Tom would seek us out in our new confines is interesting to me. It comes just as when Sash and I have hung up our wandering boots for the cyclical routines of domiciliary motion. It makes me wonder, however, if a vagabond is always a vagabond. Did I spend my younger years as a wanderer in domestic's clothing? Is it possible to be temporarily permanent? His visiting us is like a confirmation for me.

Philosophers have insisted that "we see what we want to see", or that, "we attract what we are".

In science, they call this confirmation bias.

That is, we tend to search for, interpret, favor, and recall information that confirms our beliefs, while at the same time shutting out alternative ideas. It's why someone who believes in ghosts ends up seeing one, why someone who believes in aliens ends up abducted by them, and even why a woman born to white parents ends up identifying as black.

I guess it's because Sash and I had identified ourselves as motorcycle gypsies that we saw many of them and hung out with them. Some are still wandering on the road, Stephanie Yue, Joe Sparrow, Kevin Bean're. But some are also on temporary permanence like Tad and Gaila. There are also those who I have yet to meet like Ara Gureghian and Scooter Tramp Scotty. There are others that Sash have met that I haven't.

Perhaps the same is true with Tom Rogers; he stopped to see us along his interstate meander because his mind wants to see the same severance from everyday convention as ours. He likes being with people who follow the same path.

Or maybe he just identifies with people who have boring names like mine.

Confirmation bias keeps us from losing our sanity. There's just too much going on around us, and too many ways of looking at something, that we have to pick a path and follow it. Like-minded people such as Tom, Stephanie, Joe, et al, are like guide posts that keep me in my lane, even when I'm temporarily out of it.

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About Steve

A vagabond who hauls a motorcycle around the country in a toy hauler, earning a living as a website developer. Can often be found where there's free Wi-Fi, craft beer, and/or public nudity. (Read more...)