Tag: motivation

Motivation, Money and Freedom

Some of you may recall that my personal mantra for 2015 was “Create selfless value,” and it worked out wonderfully.

I made some pretty cool stuff, I got to know a lot of people I wouldn’t have otherwise, and I think I really made a difference for a lot of folks – mostly at very little cost, but without the nagging question in my mind, ‘How will this come back to me?’

Rejecting that thread has been surprisingly freeing, and it has fundamentally changed the way I think about social capital (a topic I’ve been pretty interested in for a little while) and the way that small nudges or introductions can end up creating a lot of value.

We’re near the end of January of 2016, and I still don’t have a solid idea as to what my mantra will be for 2016, but I think part of it will be about gaining or retaining or maybe generating freedom in my own life.

That’s still a big bite. A huge topic. It’s not enough structure, but I’ll work on it. One thing I’m certainly trying to be better about is being transparent about things that are important to me – as illustrated here.

A surprising piece of feedback I’ve gotten regarding my goals for 2016 is about my goal around producing side income.

I’ve been a  fan and vocal supporter of both company creeds in general and Automattic’s creed in particular. Matt writes a little about the creed (along with its full text) here, but the relevant part is:

I am more motivated by impact than money, and I know that Open Source is one of the most powerful ideas of our generation.

The feedback I’ve received is about the apparent tension between my own goal (to produce side hustle revenue equal to 50% of my take home pay) and the above line.

I would hate to give the perception to any of you, dear readers, that my motivation to increase my income has anything to do with the money itself. Money itself is not worth anything to me – but the fact is, my family and I (like you and your family I would expect) are restrained by money in many ways.

Like a lot of young folks of my generation, I have a pretty significant student loan burden – I pay more for student loans each month than I do toward our mortgage. These two chunks of debt, student loan and home loan, represent a weight on our ability to flourish, to save for Mango’s future – Mango being the toddler that lives with the Doctor and I – to give to charities or politicians we believe in, to even pursue our interests.

In fact, I would turn this argument around – my desire to work more, to build more value and to really delight folks outside of my (awesome) job – is motivated by a desire to avoid being driven by money.

With heaps of debt, all financial decisions come with that looming burden – it becomes a weight, mentally, emotionally, creatively. It’s a problem!

I want to escape having money be a part of my motivations altogether; I want to be able to live without that concern. That there is a certain twisted irony to the fact that the pursuit of this dream involves additional money is not lost on me.

Sometimes in the chase for freedom we’re taken on paths we don’t expect. Like Walt, I contain multitudes.


New York State Hop Farmers and Thinking Like a Founder


Like many avid gardeners, I harbor a secret belief that I can someday make money on gardening’s big brother, farming. Since The Doctor and I have somewhat recently come into some acreage in Madison County, NY, my fantasy of someday becoming a gentleman farmer, growing hops (barley’s bitter buddy in brewing beers) is starting to become even more realistic – or at least in the realm of reality.

So, in an effort to educate myself a bit on the process and atmosphere of hop farming in the Northeast, I shelled out to be a remote webinar attendee for this year’s conference of the Northeast Hop Alliance. I learned a lot, and you can look for future blog posts on this topic, and I think there’s a disruption opportunity in boutique aroma hops, but that’s for another day.

One of the speakers, Rick Pedersen of Pedersen Farms, had a lot of great, practical advice about how to plant posts and burn crowns, but his mindset, especially when advising younger farmers, struck me as equally valuable for today’s entrepreneurs, wantrepreneurs, and future founders. That advice was this:

Plan to be big enough to be relevant. 

This really resonated with me – if you’re going to build a business, whether it’s agricultural or technology or distribution, plan to be big enough that people will care. Make your plans too big to ignore. With size comes efficiency and a certain practical inability to be ignored. If you want to make a difference in your industry and in your community, don’t plan for small things. Demand this of yourself.