Every stage of life has a beginning and an end.
Live With Authority began as a side project with a simple goal – host the Real World MBA project between myself and Donny Kimball. We started the project with great momentum, but without a clear end goal, it fizzled in its own way and the updates were too inconsistent. I can say with all honesty that I wanted to update everything I was studying and experiencing small-scale online marketing, but I did not create an effective way to capture the amount of input and media I was consuming each day. A few minutes of podcast on the train here, an hour of reading after work, etc., soon led to an overwhelming amount of undocumented learning. And so it continued.
I failed to capture each individual stage, and soon I felt I had failed the project. I quit updating altogether, and yet I continued to study and to work on my personal goals. If I had to guess at this point, I would say I have invested well over 600 hours in the past 7 months in learning and trying out various online marketing tools outside my day job. From 8 to 5, I am an account manager in Tokyo, working with the CRM division of a major tobacco manufacturer. Before I leave in the morning and when I get home from work, I am learning website design best practices and how to install, interpret, and leverage various conversion and analytics tools. I love my before and after work hours, which brings us to the significant shift for LWA.
I suppose, if I look back to the reasons I began the RWMBA in the first place, this is a success. While I tinkered with monetizing various “sandbox” projects, I was learning the tools and techniques necessary to build full-fledged SEO and conversion optimized websites backed by UX strategy. Outside of my day job, I realized this is the type of work I can feel excited about – I happily wake up hours earlier than I need to so I can learn a new skill and implement it on one of my websites, and then I spend the day at work reimagining how I could improve it in the evening. It became clear to me that I want to earn my living by doing this type of work, and not account management.
I spent many evenings trying to have an honest conversation with myself about what I wanted and how I wanted to achieve it. If you have never tried to do this, it is a difficult process. I found myself being brutally honest about what I wanted from life, what I would and would not accept, and how I planned to move forward on my goals. It began with a list of my likes and dislikes about my current life and career, which made it clear to me where I was compromising some of my values in order to maintain a certain lifestyle. After a few weeks of this process, and some conversations with wife and family, I understood what I needed to do. I needed to begin working for myself.
Working for a company has its perks. You get a regular paycheck, insurance, sometimes a bonus, and an office of coworkers to chat and collaborate with 5 days a week. It really can be the right environment for some people, but I realized it wasn’t for me. I prefer high risk high reward, and I thrive when I have constant threats and challenges that directly affect me. I have to be out on my own and prove that I am cut out to succeed.
I have started a company providing web development, ecommerce, strategy, and sales solutions for small businesses, and have successfully signed my first deal, which actually allows me to become location independent for a short while.
Like I mentioned, I live in Tokyo. I have been in Japan since March 2015, and it has been a great life experience. I have learned Japanese, met executives from huge companies, switched industry and career, and generally created a great network of people around me who I consider lifelong friends. Life in Tokyo has been a great experience, and I feel I am more than the young man I was when I first arrived.
At the beginning of this post, I mentioned that every stage of life has a beginning and an end. With my new company and direction, I will be moving with my wife back to Alberta, Canada this autumn.
There are many reasons, but 2 big ones stand out to me as they pertain to the future of this website:
As I grow my company and work on building platforms for clients, what do I do with this platform, LWA, where everything began? To be blunt, the website has been neglected. I have very little traffic, and I don’t blame anyone for not checking the site. However, there is some opportunity in this. I see LWA as being more than just a host for the Real World MBA project. I see it as being the platform where I can host my thoughts and actions as they relate to taking charge of your life in other ways as well.
I want to build and grow things.
Tokyo has many things, but open space is not one of them. I often find myself wishing I had a backyard, or an oven, or a place where I could use tools and work with wood. Moving to Canada will be a major life change for me because I will suddenly have these things at my disposal. My goal is to take charge of my happiness and build, grow, cook, and ferment everything I have thought about while living in Tokyo. I will begin documenting in earnest and hopefully find a community of people who are interested in the same way of life.
We all have parts of our lives that fall outside of our careers – friends, family, hobbies, projects, etc. I want to make LWA into a platform focused on my non-work time, because I believe it is important to build and support the type of community you want to be a part of. Life is too short and the opportunities too numerous to do just one thing. While there is a tendency to define oneself by one’s profession (“I am a baker, I am a photographer,” etc.), we all have other parts of our identity that make us interesting and unique. I hope to build LWA into a place where I can share the part of my life that happens before and after work.
Please feel free to reach out if you see what I am doing and you have suggestions, questions, or you want to connect in some way. I hope, given enough time and attention, that this can grow into something of value for others who want to take charge of their happiness, of their satisfaction with the life they choose to live. This has been a very formal post, but I feel it brings closure to the past year of undecidedness regarding what LWA can and should be about. From here on out, let’s make a mission to live with authority and get the most out of life that we can.
August 27, 2018. Tokyo.
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