No More Half-Measures

If you’re going to invest your time into something that you really want to do, do it with full force. No more half measures.

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Many people are guilty of this. Heck, I’m guilty of it. You want to pursue something but you’re so worried in the process of doing it that you don’t give it your all. You’re so caught up in hanging out with friends, looking busy, and focusing on menial things that you never get around to actually doing the thing you want to do.

Let’s say you want to keep a blog. You write a few posts but you never really promote it or comment on other blogs to build an audience. Writing a book may be on your bucket list. Although you never get around to doing it. The common excuse for putting it off is “Oh, I don’t have any time.”

Is there a reason for this? Why do people give an okay performance to something they’re passionate about doing? Why do people put off something they’re passionate about doing?

Example time. During NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) in November, a lot of people talk about writing a novel. They start, get 5,000 or 15,000 words, then stop. They don’t intentionally stop. It just sort of happens. They’re self critic is so loud, it drowns out the voice that got them starting in the first place.

I was guilty of this for so long as I wrote my novel. I would be writing, get a lot done, then think “Oh, this is crap, why am I doing this?” or “People have already written a book similar to this, so why am I even trying?”.

Last year I discovered a year-long project a recent college graduate was doing called A Year of Productivity. I loved the site because of how much he put into it. Productivity experiments have been doing countless times by people, yet the content he provided on his site was so refreshing. You know why? Because he was putting his perspective on it, looking at the subject from a new light, and most importantly, putting his own voice into the website.

This year I read a book called The Quarter Life Breakthough. It discusses the topic of millennials who might be having a quarter-life crisis and are on the search for meaningful work. The content of the book was thought-provoking and made me question the priorities I have in life. I loved the discussion points the author made and the exercises he gave.

In the book the author points out how he doubted writing the book because others told him “it’s already been written about a million times”. He didn’t give in to their opinions and continued writing. Since it’s release, the book has been pre-ordered in 38 countries and been featured on Fast Company, Huffington Post, Thought Catalog, Under 30 CEO, and The Washington Post. He’s been speaking on various college campuses and bookstores across the country.

If he had given into what people said about how the type of book had “already been written a million times” then none of the press and coverage would have happened. If you have something you’re really passionate about starting and doing, do it, and don’t give in to the noise of others. Don’t stop because of the outcome people might predict you will have.

Also, if you’re keen on doing something, then try to do it whenever you have free time. If you want to play guitar, learn how to do photography, knitting, riding a unicycle, or whatever, then invest as much time as you can into doing it. You see, many people that are crazy passionate about doing something don’t read a ton of productivity articles, or schedule exactly 30 minutes to their passion project. They work on it as much as they can.

Ksenia Anske, a self-published author, finished a draft of her new book Corners in 20 days (20 days!!). That’s dedication. Now you don’t need to do exactly what she did, but understand her work ethic.

breaking-branding-22-638If you’re going to start on something, do it with full force. If you only put a fraction of your dedication into it, people will notice. No more half-measures. Mike Ehrmantraut (from TV show Breaking Bad) would agree. Now go forth and invest large in what you want to do. A few things to get you going:

—Next time you procrastinate and put off what you’re thinking about doing, write a journal to yourself. In the journal, write about why you decided not to get started, what you can do better, and what you plan to do to improve.

—I’ve seen this is in a post by The Muse, ask yourself these six questions everyday:

  1. Did I work towards my goals today?
  2. What bad habits do I need to stop?
  3. What motivated me today?
  4. Have I been the kind of person I want to be?
  5. What mistakes did I make today, and what can I learn from them?
  6. What am I grateful for today? (three things)

Your answers to the questions doing have to be super long, they can just be two or three sentences. The point is to do it so you become more aware of yourself and the time you use. Now get started on the the think you want to do!



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Mark Duplass’ SXSW 2015 Keynote

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I really like mumblecore film (i.e. microbudget, no-budget film). If you go the archives from years past, you can see I’ve done some film reviews, usually of independent films. Of the independent films I watch, Mark Duplass is a stand out I like. He’s gotten sorta huge in the past few years. Currently he has a TV show he writes and produces on FX called The League, HBO show Togetherness that he writes and produces, and has a guest-starring role on Fox’s The Mindy Project, all while still managing to have a movie career outside of all of those other projects. Busy guy!

He wasn’t always this way.

He used to be just like the rest of us: working a day job, living in a crappy apartment in South Austin, TX, and wanting to have a career as a filmmaker but having no connections to the industry. This wasn’t the typical tale of some twenty-something guy who passionately wrote a screenplay, happened to know someone who worked in the Warner Brothers mail room, and the script ended up at the studio heads who loved it and immediately produced it. That usually only happens in lofty dreams/hollywood movies.

Duplass didn’t know anyone who worked in the mail room at a studio. He didn’t know anyone in connection with Hollywood film, for that matter. He just knew he wanted to be a filmmaker. So set out to do that by making a no-budget short film with his brother, Jay Duplass, that cost them only $3 bucks. According to him the film was poorly shot and not that good. Despite the production quality, the taste and vision was there.

He worked at his day job, diligently saving money, and continued to make short films almost every weekend. He and his brother started to build a community of people they collaborated with, acted with, wrote with, and edited with.

Big piece of advice? Don’t go to film school. He says to minor in film and major in something that can get you a good paying job (since you’ll need to save money). When a guy in the audience asked a question about if he should go even go to college and film school, Duplass told him to think hard about it and maybe even skip college due to how expensive it is.

Duplass had some incredibly great, fresh, advice on up and coming filmmakers trying to break into the industry further. He talked about his experiences going from a guy having no connections to honing in on his craft, building a community, and moving up in the industry. There were eight tips he touched on.

1. The $3 Short Film

When you’re just starting out, find out the resources and locations you can work with and build the short film around that. Duplass said he and his brother spent $65,000 on a film called “Vince Del Rio”, it was their first film and it turned out horribly bad and him and his brother got depressed and almost gave up. They didn’t. They persevered and made another low/no-budget film and submitted it to a bunch of festivals.

“It doesn’t matter what your film looks like as long as it has a distinct quality and unique aspect to it”

2. Make a Feature for Under $1,000

Again, figure out all the resources, locations, and people that can help you and make a super low-budget film. Go make the movie on your own, with your own team.

3. Show Your Movie to Notable Stars

Even better, notable stars who are frustrated by the lack of choice in roles they get. Let them see your $1,000 movie at a festival and tell them you will build a movie character based on what they want. A lot of them won’t respond, but some will.

4. Make Another Cheap Movie–But With Notable Star

The cheap movie with the notable star will have the power to get distribution to video on demand services (iTunes, Amazon, Google Play, etc).

5. VOD is the indie film’s savior

“This is where I think VOD is an amazing thing to have for independent film” Duplass says

The cheap movie made with notable star will get some attention on VOD, unlike it would if it played in just a few theaters, and agents and other people will start to notice you.

6. Next Stop: TV

At the beginning of the keynote, Duplass mentioned how much of middle class film is dead. There aren’t that many $5 million to $10 million dollar budget films that are produced unless they have a notable star in them. TV is the replacement. TV is the new age medium indie filmmakers can go to.

You pitch a show to a network, it will probably get denied, and so you independently produce a few episodes of the show and sell it to a network looking for fresh, inexpensive programming.

7. Raise Your Friends and Help Them Out

Now that you are in a better place, help out your lower level friends produce their projects. All about building a community of people.

8. Crossroads

People will be offering you directing, writing, and producing jobs. They will be tempting to take. A lot of the offers will fall through. It’s okay though. You have built yourself up. You won’t be rich but you’ll have a solid reputation, people will see you as a filmmaker. You will be able to show your kids your movies and say that was 100% no compromise, your movie. Some studio doesn’t own it, you do.


The speech ends at around the 25:00 minute mark. The floor is open for questions. One that stood out was about moving to Los Angeles. A person wondered about if, when they should move. Duplass answered by saying a filmmaker should keep making films where they are, where they know lots of people that can help them (with locations, props, crew,etc) and can get to know themselves. A filmmaker just starting out can’t do that kind of thing in LA.

Two pieces of great advice (don’t move to LA until you find your style/voice and don’t major in film) and eight tips on success in the film industry.

Watch the keynote for yourself. It’s a great viewing with lots of original and fresh bits of advice and anecdotes.

Coffee Shop Etiquette


It’s 2:33pm on a Sunday afternoon. I’ve been holed up all weekend and I want to get out. My brother asks to hang out. After going a few places, we stop at Starbucks. An afternoon caffeine pick me up, ya know? Anyways, the store doesn’t look to busy as we walk in, the line isn’t long and there seem to be some tables left.

Surprise. After getting our coffees, we try to find a good table and come up at a loss. The inside is packed and the only ones available are on the outside patio where the weather is currently a windy 55 degrees. Not too cold, but enough to not be comfortable.

Guess who’s occupying all of the tables inside? Wi-Fi Leeches. Eight of the nine tables have people sitting with laptops at them, browsing away. Maybe I shouldn’t be so harsh. A few of the people seem to be doing actual work. Although most are not. From what I can see, two people are watching videos (probably through Netflix or something), a couple more are on Facebook and Twitter. One girl is intensely staring at her laptop, looking at Pinterest and writing down some of what she sees.

Can these people be considered “Wi-Fi leeches” or are they just people who are using the complimentary service provided to them after purchasing a beverage/snack? Public Wi-Fi is mainstream. It’s everywhere now. Starbucks, McDonalds, Chick-Fil-A, Burger King, Panera Bread, and more offer free wifi (as long as you purchase something). Heck, even airplanes now have wifi (albeit with a price tag).

Why do people use it so much though? It seems normal to sit in a coffee shop for maybe 30 minutes or an hour and use the wifi, but three hours, four, five…? I remember going into Starbucks when I was younger and–get this–there were seats available to sit down at. People would sit down, read their newspaper, drink coffee and leave after 30 minutes or so. Times have changed.

Although skeptical at first, Starbucks began offering free, limited wifi in 2008 and then free, unlimited wifi in 2010. Other businesses began following suit and public wifi became commonplace and expected by consumers.

Is using public wifi for hours on end bad? Probably. If you order a coffee and sit down for hours, using your laptop, you’re taking away a table that new customers can use. Although I’m guilty of using free wifi at places like Starbucks to do work for a few hours. However you look at, there are a few rules people should follow for proper coffee shop etiquette.

1. Consolidate your stuff  

Don’t be that person that has all of your stuff scattered across the table and chairs. Do you really need to spread out all of your work over the table and have your power charger strewn across the walkway? No, you don’t.

Only bring what’s necessary and make sure your laptop has a full charge before coming to the coffee shop. Stop taking up unnecessary space with your jacket, backpack, purse, and so forth.

2. Don’t hog power outlets

I went to this one coffee shop where they had a big community style table among the other smaller tables. The big community table was big enough to sit about four people comfortably. It had a four plug wall outlet. When I walked by the table, there were three people sitting at it, two of them appearing a little disgruntled. The other guy at the table was occupying three of the four plugs. He had his phone plugged in, laptop plugged in, and some type of power pack or something plugged in. Seriously dude?

*Bon Qui Qui voice* “Rude!”

3. No Phone Calls

Unless you’re famous, no one wants to hear your phone calls to your business partner, co-worker, mom, dad, boyfriend, or girlfriend. Stop. It’s alright if it’s a quick one minute call but when you’re on the phone for minutes on end, for the whole coffee shop to hear, it gets annoying.

4. If you’re in an independent coffee shop, make sure to buy something every hour or so. 

Support your local coffee shops, be a good, non-freeloading customer. You could maybe apply this rule to Starbucks, but they seem to be doing fine considering they always seem to have a steady line of cars in the drive-through and a line inside.

5. Nobody wants to hear your music

Put in headphones and make sure the headphones volume is low enough so that the people around you can’t hear it blasting out.


All in all, practice courtesy at the coffee shop. Share power outlets, buy more coffee or food if your going to be there a few hours, and don’t hog space.