Locus Focus (vs. Hocus-Pocus)

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Browsing Locus Magazine’s (https://locusmag.com/) “The Data File” section, which is densely populated with industry related, often insider information – somebody was promoted to assistant editor or this or that business was sold to whomever – isn’t necessarily a very SFF type of experience but I nonetheless sometimes spend time examining the lists of award winners and conference agendas. It all seems to reveal and represent a fairly welcoming, very large tribe that I’m somehow failing to find my place within. Well, what do you expect? – someone might say; after all, you’ve just begun, you’re a new novelist, a beginner at the game. My brother refers to me as a young artist, obviously in terms of experience. I get it. Except that I’ve felt as if I’ve been an artist-craftsman forever, looking back. And in possession of a craft but, crazily, not naming and claiming it as such; as if the life’s work, the vocational destiny I’d been seeking my whole life was there under my nose all along and I was blind to it. It’s maddening. I find this schism, this vocational disconnect disappointing to say the least and if it had happened to somebody else in this way – the mid-life crisis surrender to one’s bliss and process of individuation – I would categorize it as bordering on tragic. For what a categorical waste of time it has been for me to have been riding a mostly miserable roller coaster of employment based careerism. So be it. What else is there except to forge ahead with the time and talent I have left?

Talent. None of this is to say that my writing can be categorized as anything but a personal talent, as it were in comparison to my lack of talent in other things; that is, in comparison to other writers, it may of course be argued that I am not talented. But the reader, I trust, will understand my point; namely, that writing, for better or worse in terms of my output, my product, my results, is the thing I do best in terms relative to my own abilities. Which isn’t saying much, I know, in terms of generating writerly success in the conventional sense. In short, that I’m doing what I’m best at despite not being the best at it outside of my own head is a victory in only a very limited sense. Because, again, we write to be read, and if I’m not good enough to be read then I’m back to the idea of remaining a private writer. DOP8, the entry from February 3, 2019, addresses some of this private writer stuff in detail.

It too often comes down, in my fraught mind, to the question of when to quit spending money on trying to professionalize my writing. Let it go, someone might say. Yes, and I’ve done that and damned if the writing doesn’t come back to me in those aspirational terms. Because that’s what still motivates me, for better or worse. I long for it to be for the better but…. Timelines. How many Amazon advertisement clicks before I make a sale? Is a sale inevitable in statistical terms? Probably but then again nothing is inevitable when it comes to a wannabe professional author. Yes, maybe one thousand clicks for an unknown, unreviewed title with a decent cover and description will generate, statistically, a sale? I don’t have the numbers. It remains speculation on my part. But I don’t feel as if I need the numbers, either. Rather, I just need to strategize with timelines. I’m going for a year’s worth of advertising on Amazon because it seems the only manageable, reasonable method in terms exposure versus cost. I’m getting clicks, people are looking at the book cover and at least browsing the description if not actually reading the “Look Inside” sample.

It’s so damn easy to panic, to just consider it all a waste and a doomed, foolish expenditure of energy, time and money. And the reader may be thinking, gosh, dude, when are you going to get on with your life and quit yammering about your little book not selling? I apologize for appearing neurotic but I warned everyone that I write my way through things, that journaling can be as much about autotherapy as communication in otherwise informative terms. The story is one but the day-to-day process can be an ugly thing to endure. It takes a certain kind of interested spectator, I know, perhaps, as I’ve said, perhaps only a priest or a shrink. Imagine living it, is all I can add, ugh. The Day of Pigs blog? My god, no, it’s nothing but a neurotic rant, nothing but flabby minded, effusive, wannabe writer whining – avoid it like the plague!Locus. “The Data File.” I stumbled across a blurb describing an annual “Older Writers Grant” offered by the Speculative Literature Foundation (SLF) “which gives $1,000 to writers ‘fifty years or older at the time of grant application, and is intended to assist such writers who are just starting to work at a professional level.’” While it struck me on the one hand as discouraging to realize I fit within the category of older writer, on the other hand, I couldn’t help seeing myself aptly reflected. So I whipped up the 500 word bio (with links to my website and the novel’s Amazon page), cut and pasted “Chapter 22 – Vault of Heaven” as the 5,000 word sample and sent it off. It’s awarded in June, we’ll see. Frankly, I can’t imagine anyone being a more fitting applicant. But heaven knows, given the burgeoning glut of new authors of all ages, I suppose the odds are once again not in my favor. The $1,000? Well, it’s no Bollingen Foundation Grant of old, to be sure, but money is money and any exposure whatsoever – any opportunity to somehow enhance the chances of winning a reader, let alone a readership and I’d be glad for it. A grant isn’t an award, as such, but it nonetheless helps legitimize one’s efforts so here’s to the SLF for the opportunity. And if nothing else, applying counts as one of the five things per day that we ought to try to accomplish towards attainment of our goals.

The Vintage Post that follows is full of hope and dreams, none of which turned out as planned, and a healthy dose of irony. I’ve actually considered writing on the theme of The Mythology of Irony because, well, we so often live it. Anyway, I go to great lengths to disparage the idea of blogging, and here I am, ten years later, doing just that. Perhaps I appear the fool. So be it. I promised to post this stuff regardless of whether it made me look good (a very rare occurrence) or bad.

DOP1 VINTAGE POST – Busy and In Demand…

Busy and In Demand

“Busy and in demand” is how Loudon Wainwright III once described the musicians he was collaborating with on one of his records so that he was “a little nervous” about not having enough time to finish it before they had to move on to other commitments. Sometimes I think this is all any of us are really looking for – to be busy and in demand. How many of us feel there’s something in us worth being in demand for? It’s a form of ambition that can be a curse, always wanting to attain the “stage” of public recognition in some fashion. To be legitimized. Why can’t we just pursue our personal myth and be satisfied with that? What is this need to “connect” with other people? It’s just being human I guess. Something about this topic strikes me as too salty to include in this miserable book. I should rename this thing “salty” – it’s a phrase I first heard a music critic use to disparage one of Merle Haggard’s later records.

But hell, I’m following the Brenda Ueland advice of just writing whatever I need to write. I’m also sick and tired already of trying to market this piece of crap. I know it’s a jumbled mess – no singular voice, little or no editing (god, the thought of rereading all this shit and tweaking it sounds truly like a fate worse than death). Apparently the book agent business is composed of folks who are simply looking for 15% of a sure bet. It reminds me how most of life is exactly the same – a maddening search for a quick buck; of trying to get something for nothing. Stay away from the financial cattle call, that’s your only hope if you’re trying to create something. To create for appeal is part of the creative process, I don’t think it’s to be necessarily avoided, but you also can’t strive towards it – it’s self-defeating. Write as honestly as you can, try to get your “hook” in, to borrow from Campbell, and see if what your heart is up to is interesting to anyone else. But you can’t sweat it, you can’t attach to that desire. As such, I feel for the folks who need to make a living from their creations. In some cases, I suppose it generates some good shit, overwhelming talent will “out” no matter what the circumstances, I believe that, but it’s the talent that isn’t overwhelming, the more delicate or tenuously structured talents that need some fuel, some “hook in” some support, feedback (positive) whatever – somebody to say it’s at least a worthy pursuit, even if we can’t seem to “sell” it. Hugh MacLeod talks about the fondness that anyone who’s ever had any creative success has for the early years of anonymity (and poverty). I suppose no matter how much success – money and fame – you attain, you can still question whether it’s enough; whether it’s commensurate with your abilities. It can even be too much – money and fame out of proportion to your own talents, which is another burden.

None of this applies to me. I’ve yet to effectively get any hook in that is connected to my biophycomythology. People might say that I’ve not worked long or hard enough, that I haven’t paid my dues; that a year of biophycomythological rehab isn’t enough – it’s a long way to the top if you want to rock and roll, blah, blah, blah. I’ve just reached the point of needing to get something back from the effort and maybe this is not a good thing and maybe I need to look at my mandala and refocus on what’s crucial; on what’s essential. I talk about letting the inessential go in Guiding & Abiding. The writing is essential to me because it has a therapeutic function – it’s a biophycomythological guide, and in that sense, it must be done. Whether it’s worth reading by someone else has to remain an entirely separate concern – the only reason I submit anything to anybody is to “check in” with the world and see if anybody gives a shit and would like to help me legitimize myself. I see other folks doing this – musicians, writers, painters, inventors, scientists, whatever – how else does anybody get a record deal or get in a movie? They throw it out there and see if it sticks – I hate that phrase but it’s appropriate. Movies, books, songs, sculptures, whatever. It’d be great to get noticed so I could make some money from this work. Because it is work – as legitimate as any other work; not everybody can do it. One minute the satisfaction I get from writing seems sufficient – letting the weeds grow around the gate (to borrow from Campbell again) is o.k. – but the next moment such a life seems like a miserable waste. The muse continues to sit in my lap and the only way to get her the fuck out of my lap (and my mind) is to write it out of me, so I can think normally again. Am I getting any joy out of this? Not yet.

Thankfully, my Mandala seems to work – looking at it, reviewing it, restores me; stabilizes me; guides me, which is its function. The year of hard-ass work I’ve put into this rehab is paying off. I get knocked off my path, I lose track of my guides, but now I know what they are, I’m not discovering them (which is different work) so I can find them again, more quickly, more easily.

So the joy isn’t coming just from the writing; it’s coming, as it should, from the adventure – the whole adventure – which includes the writing, but also the other shit I’m doing. Multiple streams of income, that concept from Jack Canfield, is apt for other things besides income – it can apply to the biophycomythological adventure – that there is more than one thing that makes up your Mandala, those things that are most important to you, and that giving all these things their “time” so to say is a key aspect to well being. And vigilance regarding what goes on and stays on that Mandala is important – the thing just can’t sit in a corner or a closet – you have to look at it, every day if you can, and adjust it. It’s like an energy machine, a joy machine, when I look at mine, it does bring the joy back – sometimes just a glance does it, other times, like lately (since I’ve been submitting “queries” to literary agents) I find that I need to spend a few minutes with it again, rereading the notes, and spending time looking at the pictures on it. It’s that simple. I keep hoping this biophycomythology thing will somehow get enough momentum to keep going of its own accord, so that I don’t have to pay so much attention to it. But I’m learning that it’s not wise and certainly not useful to think of it this way – just accept the vigilance required and try to enjoy it, which is always a challenge for me – try to enjoy the process.

This chapter was sparked by my flagging confidence. Learning what I could about how to professionally submit queries has put a dent in the already fragile belief in my own talent. It’s not a blazing talent – I’m not cranking out transcendent prose – but there’s something there. This book has ended up being the biggest writing exercise of my life and that’s probably its purpose in the adventure – to purge and test the urge. I don’t expect that much will come of this particular work – I don’t think it’s something that’s “ready” enough for literary agents or editors, who I thought were more interested in massaging things into shape than they apparently are. Frankly, I don’t think they know their job, which is to do some work beyond “pitching.” I can “pitch” myself directly to publishers and I don’t see what an agent is going to do for me if they can’t help me with the manuscript. If it’s got to arrive in their hands already “done” then they’re never going to get anything from anyone. In Writer’s Market, there’s an agent who proclaims not to want to look at anything “that hasn’t been read by at least five other people.” What a dick. Who the fuck does he think he is? And who are these five other people: critics or your brothers and sisters? Lazy asshole. And what I’ve learned is that anybody who would be a great help and mentor – another good writer for instance – doesn’t have time to read your three-hundred-page tome while he or she is trying to do their own shit – live their own life. That’s exactly what the fuck agents and editors are for aren’t they? Christ, it just demonstrates my theory that most folks are in the wrong jobs, even in the publishing business. Just because it’s a “creative” field full of sensitive and perceptive artist types, doesn’t spare us from the biophycomythologically-fucked-up people that are jacking up the rest of the work world.

Talent. What is it? I think it’s something you’re born with and I agree with those that say talent benefits from practicing it; that your talent becomes a strength through the use and practice of it, at least to a point. Too often, the first flush of expression remains the “best” demonstration of one’s talent – you see this in the music business. Maybe the second or third piece of work someone creates is even better or at least as good as the first, but after that, it’s never the same. There are career come-backs. There are “returns to form,” but it’s still the early efforts that shine the brightest. The exception that proves the rule I think is visual artists – painters – they seem to peak very late in life. Anyway, talent is your genetically-given “toolbox” to help you through your biophycomythological adventure or adventures. It’s the stuff you’re born with that comes naturally – talent is an expression of your natural tendencies and it’s not something that you can change. Trying to be what I’m not has been the worst mistake of my life, has “wasted” ten years of my life, and has been a topic that drives much of this book. I’m in agreement with the Strength-Finder series of books that differentiates “talent” from “strength” saying that a strength is a refined talent, refined through practice and attention to it. The advantage of developing strengths versus just depending on your talents seems clear enough – where talent can get you started, get you noticed, it is through the work of utilizing and practicing and becoming a slave to your talents that you make progress in life and ultimately make a life full of well-being and satisfaction.

The degree or level of one’s talent can be endlessly discussed and examined, at least in terms of how it compares with someone else’s talent who is engage in the same or similar endeavor. But all our phycomythologies will remain different. There is a “competence” component that is never absent from a talent – that a person is expressing a talent versus a skill is usually intuitively obvious to those that are in tune with such things. I think I know it when I see it. Of course in the end, it’s irrelevant whether the talent is perceived as such by the outside world – it will be essential to your biophycomythological adventure, regardless of public understanding, acceptance or praise.

Now what about being talented in something that is not a master passion? Or are the two always one-in-the-same? Or the reverse – can you be a slave to a master passion in which you have no talent? I think we need to be careful not to confuse “passion” with the “master passion” from Canfield – a “master passion” is referring to that which you must do because your heart is telling you so – it’s a genetic predisposition that is part of your core being, your biophycomythology. A master passion is not a hobby. But where a hobby allows for diversion and endorses a lack of talent, a lack of natural ability (observe the minions of no-talent golfers with a distinct passion for the sport), the master passion is the serious work of engaging your biophycomythology. Both should bring you joy. But engagement in a master passion will fulfill you beyond any hobby and it will define and legitimize your life.

Humble Beginnings

A Gastrofarm? Starting our own business? Buying land? Raising pigs? Selling food from our own farm? Where would the money come from? Where would the land be? Where and how would we live? Entertaining strangers with our own food and drink? What do we know about any of this? We’d blow all our savings. Another failed business in the world except it’d be our failed business. The chances of making a small business successful are slim. Besides the money, we might hate it. We’ve never been pig farmers. We’re not professionally-trained chefs. We don’t have any restaurant experience. We’re not business people. Besides, who the hell would want to drive or take a shuttle bus to the outskirts of a city just to see pigs, pig shit and drink a pint? Where’s the value-add? Where’s the appeal? Where’s the business plan that makes sense? Limits, limits, limits.

All good questions. All limits that justify not doing it. Except I still want to do it. Not in some dreamy, distorted, conquer-the-world and get rich way. Just a life-style way. My guides all seemed to just begin with a great vision, then let the strategic part catch up with the vision. I have a vision of greatness for Humble Hogs Gastrofarm. It’s spelled out on my website humblehogs.com (no longer active as of 2020). It’s going to be our E-team version of a great gathering place, a third-place like Ari describes, and it will fill our lives with all the things we love and we can share it with whoever else is interested. That’s how we want to live – engaging our master passions, busy and excited, amped, jazzed, charged-up and making our way as we see fit.

It’s the beginning of something, and it feels great just to have started. It all began when I got fired for the last time. I remember the morning after I got canned. I woke up a little later, and drank my coffee on the back patio. The sun was out, it was cool (January in the Gulf Coast of Texas) and I was tired. Bone-tired. Defeated. Again. But with a wisp of hope left; at least felt like the worst was over. That crappy job was over. It couldn’t take anything more from me. I only hoped this new mess would be better than the old mess. So I sat there looking out at the green grass and the blue sky, with the breeze blowing, and I didn’t have to worry about anything at work. No crappy meetings, no crappy bosses, no crappy customers, no jacked-up, fucked-up sprint towards the grave. We could begin again, at least. If we could just find our way.

The subtitle of the book intrigued me the most: How to Get From Where You Are to Where You Want to Be. If only I could believe that somebody could actually figure this out. But what else did I have to do?

There’s a passage from My Life in France, Julia Child’s memoir, that I remember reading with a certain fascination:

I had always been content to live a butterfly life of fun, with hardly a care in the world. But at the Cordon Bleu, and in the markets and restaurants of Paris, I suddenly discovered that cooking was a rich and layered and endlessly fascinating subject. The best way to describe it is to say that I fell in love with French food – the tastes, the processes, the history, the endless variations, the rigorous discipline, the creativity, the wonderful people, the equipment, the ritual.

“I had never taken anything so seriously in my life – husband and cat excepted – and I could hardly bear to be away from the kitchen.

“What fun! What a revelation! How terrible it would have been had Roo de Loo come with a good cook! How magnificent to find my life’s calling, at long last! [1]

That last line especially captured me. I envied the magnificence that Julia had discovered – I longed to galvanize my energies in the same way, and to feel the joy that she felt – such a passionate connection with something – a mission, a task, a purpose, a calling, an authentic connection to the world. Her passion stirred the passion in my own heart. I felt emboldened that she, at an age similar to mine, had experienced an “awakening of the senses,” especially with food, had leapt with her whole heart into cooking and that it had become for her a passionate purpose. I think I’d always recognized the passionate life in others and intuitively sought to attain this myself, believing that some calling indeed lie dormant in me. But I’d never felt it – never discovered it. I’d searched. Climbing, up hill. Stumbling through the forest, following false guides, or no guides at all. But still driven to find something important to do.

I recognized this only from a distance, I’d never felt it fully myself. I had the same earnestness and passion as Julia and just as Julia had seemed to do, I’d been putting those energies into a sort of pursuit of hedonism, always falling short even within that task because hedonism – the pursuit of pleasure – whether in drink, in food, in music, in people, parties and through the half-blind grasping at my domesticated adventures, so far from real daring and risk, will not fulfill the heart and mind. I’ve mistaken pleasures, escapes and distractions as purpose. And, like waking up on the couch with a hangover, there is always a gnawing emptiness, and the inkling of regret at having failed, again, to put your fingers on the toes of the god, your enlightened destiny. The party will only allow you the briefest respite from the angst, the nausea of your schism. So it has that purpose, but there’s more to be done to get where you need to be. How to do it? How to explain it? How to discover it? What indeed is it? For some, like Julia Child, it is often a vocation.

There are folks in the world who are especially attuned to these questions and ideas – they write about them and can act as guides to those of us struggling to “get there.” Ari Weinzweig, the co-owner of Zingerman’s Community of Businesses in Ann Arbor, is such a person, and he writes about this, saying:

Unlike the more common approach to work (“TGIF” and all that), a vocation is when we work at something that makes us feel truly fulfilled, and which we go at with great passion every day. And we do it, not for short-term material benefit, but because we feel positively wedded to the work, at peace with the processes at play and fulfilled for following them through to fruition.

“I’m hardly the world’s expert on why some people find a “calling” while others just have a “career,” and still others are barely able to wait for the weekend. And I’ve yet to see anyone put down a definitive theory on how to make a calling come to be. I have my own ideas on the subject, but we’ll save those for another book. In the moment, suffice it to say, I think there are many ways for each of us to increase the odds of getting there….”[2]

I can tell you now with confidence that I’ve found my calling, my vocation, my purpose, my personal legend, my personal myth, my vision, my sense of magnificence. It’s more than several things, and I’ve established them on my vision board, which is in the form now of a mandala, which I’ve discussed earlier in this book. Working on my vision board, committing to looking within and pulling things out and pasting them in words and pictures on a piece of black foam-core, adding things and removing things, and paying attention to patterns in my life, and to the things that seemed to always remain with each incarnation of the v-board, has shown me who I am, where I’m going, and what guides to follow to remain on my path. It doesn’t tell me the details of how to get there – that strategy is a work-in-progress – it’s called a “strategic plan” which I’ll discuss later.

My vehicle for magnificence is humblehogs.com, my website. I established the domain name sometime after midnight on October 20th, 2010. Yes, it’s the name of my own business too, but much more. It expresses, encapsulates, organizes, communicates and activates all the components of my v-board as I implement them into the world – it links my “here and now” with the transcendent. This is no hokey, flabby-minded bullshit. Not to me, anyway. Creating this website, the idea of which came to me one evening as I was toying with the idea of a Humble Hogs Gastrofarm, was revelatory for me. It has functioned as a surprisingly effective and dynamic activator. Previously, I’d come up with dozens of business names, almost all lousy, anemic, boring or in fact already taken. I’d practiced writing out the web domains, with the “www” and so forth just to see if it “popped” or otherwise jived with my vibe – to see if they looked “real” or if it could become “real” in some way. As such, none of my business ideas seemed to get legs and develop into something that connected to me, that seemed like the right thing, my calling. I kept aiming, shooting and missing.

I came up with the name Humble Hogs while training at our local gym, on a treadmill or an elliptical training machine, I don’t remember which, doing aerobics, where I often do a lot of thinking (and have to refocus myself on mindfully working out instead of daydreaming about my life’s purpose, my own business or becoming otherwise absorbed in a continuous stream of unrelated thoughts). Usually within a day or two, sometimes more, the name and the idea would lose its zip, fog over and otherwise fade away. But this name, although it didn’t, and still doesn’t as a matter of fact, strike me as a bolt- from-the-blue ingeniously original and catchy moniker, stuck with me. It held on to a credibility, however humble (sorry), and I began toying with a vision of what the business might be. I came up with the concept of a “Gastrofarm,” which borrowed from the gastropub and the farm, and from there the vision took shape, bit by bit. This occurred over the course of several hours, this churning of a vision, a name, a logo, and idea. I typed it out in a word document, included a “working” example of a logo – a cartoon hog flying in a hang glider, which seemed to capture the “mood,” and then I did the thing that I’ll never forget: I included, for kicks, the imaginary domain name as part of the logo, just to test the look and feel of it all. Done. No big deal, no fireworks, no parting of the sea, no transcendent flash of recognized destiny. I printed the vision page out – the unassuming and maybe too quaint logo at the top. I liked it. I didn’t love it. But I found myself staring at it for some time. My eyes focused on the fake domain name for whatever reason. Something inside me was turning, clicking, moving in some way. I just kept looking at this imaginary domain name humblehogs.com and I just thought “why isn’t this real?” I felt a sense of compelling urgency, and I “googled” something like “how to create a website.” Looking back, I think I was sort of outside of myself at the time. Stay with me, I’m not trying to be mystical or make this more than it is, but I think it is just these little things that generate big change. Again, not the big flash of light, the burning bush, the voice from beyond. Instead, the slight movement, the creeping realization, the inexplicable irritation, like a fly buzzing around your head.

A blog about how to do this caught my attention and as I read it seemed credible. I found myself burning through this whole blog, soaking up the info, then thinking I needed to digest the info, sleep on it and think about it – I was wary of leaping before I looked. It was getting late. But I felt a compulsion to keep going, to look at domain registering sites, which also happened to have packages to help set up your website. Anyway, here I was, getting out my debit card – issued by Texas unemployment of all ironic things – to plunk down the fee to establish my Humble Hogs domain. I just went ahead and did it – I was as close to being compelled to do something as I’d ever been. It all seemed crazy and maybe silly, but ultimately pretty harmless and inconsequential – it only cost me twenty bucks for the year and I could just let the domain name expire after I woke up the next day and found that I hated the fucking thing and wanted to dump it.

But clicking that mouse button and buying that name did something. It activated something in me. I felt joy, of a magnitude that initially seemed out of scale with such a simple effort. As soon as I clicked to purchase, my chakras whizzed, something big was suddenly legitimized for me – there was no going back now, and I actually pumped my fist with a satisfaction that surprised me. The experience and process had carried me along, my rational mind was unable to stop my heart, finally.

Creating a domain name and a website for a business that doesn’t even exist yet wouldn’t jazz anyone but it jazzed me. That night, going to bed after midnight, with my new domain name in my possession, I felt an incredible sense of validation and connection to something. I could hardly sleep – I sort of buzzed and churned inside with anticipation and excitement. I had grabbed onto something important to me. By following my bliss, listening to my heart, I had made this incredibly tiny, miniscule step forward, and I felt both a quiet satisfaction and a expansive joy at having done it. A sensation of having taken off was taking hold, and everything seemed to be expanding. I guess it’s the euphoria that some folks feel at starting a new business, or starting anything of value. I can remember feeling a similar joyful terror at taking a train to Grand Central Station in NYC almost exactly twenty years ago. That’s an adventure that turned into a “fiasco,” but that’s the risk involved in all of this – things may not work out the way you want them to.

I created the web site the next day from a simple template that Dotster provided – the only option available under the heading “agriculture.” So the domain is alive – it’s out there for the world to see, not that anyone’s looking. But I am. Every day. The site is not linked to google or any search engine other than internet explorer – I don’t think I need any web traffic for a business that doesn’t exist yet. Meanwhile, this domain just continues to jazz me and drive me to develop and refine my Humble Hogs Gastrofarm vision further, and it flows over into jazzing up my whole life, all the things that make up my mandala and my v-board. That’s why I can say it’s the vehicle for my vision, and really, I think it’s becoming me, at least the organized, collected me – the me with a vocation, a calling. I didn’t expect a website to actually drive the development of a vocation – it’s like putting the cart before the horse maybe, but it just feels right – my heart knows it’s right, and it’s working. When I get discouraged, or the anxiety tries to creep back in and derail me, all I have to do is look at my website. Re-jazzed! And then I know that it’s all going to happen and more.

Julia Child, photograph by Marc Riboud

VOG vs. Blog

I’m compelled to discuss “visioning,” which I think is a good thing, and “blogging,” which bugs the crap out of me. There’s a lot of good writing out there on visioning, and it’s justified to me because of the power of the concept to make your life work. I think we should all be doing some version of this. It works. It’s not hokey, self-help crap, it just works. And if you’re the kind of person who sees your life, and maybe enjoys it, as a swirling mystery; as the playing out of a largely uncontrollable fate; or if you just sort of take things as they come, kumbaya, “I’m o.k., you’re o.k.,” then this would be the chapter for you to skip. Because, as much as I think creating, refining and referencing your visions is an effective tool to help you through life, I think blogging is the exact opposite. Where a vision focuses the telescope,[3] to borrow a phrase from Guy Kawasaki’s The Art of the Start, I think blogging is the flabbiest form of communication I can think of. Where visioning generates and focuses the huge amount of energy within each of us, bringing the future closer,[4] and demanding action, blogging is simply writing down your thoughts, itself a valuable tool, even as part of visioning, but instead of demanding action a blog, being a public expression of your thoughts, dissipates it as an end in itself. My advice is to keep it to yourself.

I want to get the negative stuff out of the way, so here’s my take on the blog that’s so ubiquitous (at least at the time of this writing) – may it die a quick death. What is a “blog” anyway? Apparently, the term itself is a blend of the phrase “web log” and is a type of website or part of a website that is maintained by an individual with regular entries of commentary, descriptions of events, or other material, including pictures or graphics.[5] Blog entries are listed in reverse chronological order and are typically interactive – readers can leave “comments” – and it’s this interactivity that distinguishes blogs from other static web sites.[6] The appearance of blogging software in the late nineties gave less technically adept folks the ability to easily produce and maintain such sites and they’ve proliferated throughout the 2000’s, creating what is known as the “blogosphere,” another horribly ugly name, which is defined as the “collective community of all blogs.”[7] Different genres of blogs exist, from the ubiquitous “personal blog,” which is nothing but an ongoing diary or commentary by an individual, to fashion blogs and even blogs discussing home and family which are known as “mom blogs.”[8] Ugh. Corporations and organizations have blogs, and blogs can even be defined by the particular device used to compose it, for example, a blog written on a mobile phone could be called “moblog.”[9]

Some folks probably see blogging as a sort of freedom from traditional media – a way of “getting around the filter” as described on Wikipedia, and a way to communicate directly to the public. I think whatever advantage blogging had in allowing folks a public forum who otherwise wouldn’t have one, either because they couldn’t get “published” by mainstream media (books, magazines, newspapers, etc.) or didn’t want to try, quickly disappeared when the sheer volume of blogs saturated people’s capacity to read them all. And blogging will get you in as much trouble as any other form of free speech in places like Singapore, where two ethnic Chinese were imprisoned under the country’s anti-sedition law for posting anti-Muslim remarks in their blogs.[10]

The popularity of blogging, as one might expect, has had an effect on mainstream media. In 2009, according to Wikipedia, the American journalism industry had declined to the point that several newspaper corporations were filing for bankruptcy, although newspapers have suffered from a declining readership longer than the ten years that blogging has been around.[11] In any case, a discussion apparently emerged as to whether the newspaper industry would benefit from a stimulus package by the federal government, which prompted President Barrack Obama to acknowledge the influence of blogging upon society, saying “if the direction of the news is all blogosphere, all opinions, with no serious fact-checking, no serious attempts to put stories in context, then what you will end up getting is people shouting at each other across the void but not a lot of mutual understanding.”[12] Perfectly said as far as I’m concerned. Blogs, with their witless obsession with the personal, is nothing but vainglorious, misguided and ultimately ineffective attempts to get noticed. That bloggers and other contributors to user-generated content were behind Time magazine naming their 2006 person-of-the-year as “you” just goes to show you what blogging seems to really be about.[13]

Ultimately, to me, it represents much earnestness and precious little passion or talent. If you’re talented, you shouldn’t be blogging – why the hell would you? Let me qualify this because, for one thing, there’s a handful of writers that I really respect that blog. Thankfully they also publish. The kind of blogging that bugs me is just what it sounds like, which is akin to a digestive upset. Blogging is like expelling gas. It’s the posting of all the unedited, un-reviewed, un-criticized and unrefined thoughts that we all have – it’s a person thinking out loud or, in the best case, journaling. One may ask, legitimately, How is a journal any different from a blog? I think it depends on the journal. Someone else might argue that likewise, it depends on the blog. I counter with the aspect of dialoge invited by blogging: the comments, or the implication that comments are encouraged; that a dialogue (from any Tom, Dick or Harry) somehow adds to the value of the original thoughts. Do the authors think that comments function as a type of grass-roots editing? That the masses somehow know better than a professional editor what good writing is? Obviously not, because commentary on blogs never refers to writing quality – it’s nothing but impulsive “yays” or “nays” – “I like this,” or “I hate this,” or “I agree,” or “I don’t agree.” Who the hell cares what you think? Obviously not the author, because they blogged it, knowing full well that if you stumble across the piece, from some google search, you might try reading a little of it but otherwise, they don’t care if anyone’s actually interested in the stuff – otherwise they would’ve asked a publishing company, a literary agent, or their buddy whether the shit is worth reading.

What I’m referring to here is what I call the “pure” blog, the digestive upset, not the legitimate work of writers that are published perhaps on the websites of magazines – those pieces resemble the pure blog only in the spontaneity or off-the-cuff nature that they may engender, not that I think we need much of that, either. If they’re good thoughts, then they should indeed be written down and published in a format that acknowledges the value of the thoughts in the proper editorial context, maybe as part of a book, magazine, or journal for example – “publishing” on a website counts of course, as long as it’s not your website. At least there’s been some sort of objective review of the material prior to its existence outside of your own head, the material may still suck, but it won’t be as terrible as reading the half-baked, water-cooler, minute-by-minute small-talk that seems to comprise the “content” of most blogging.

There’s plenty of deadline-generated, fill-the-page, half-baked, unresearched, stream-of-consciousness, I’m-out-of-ideas-but-have-to-submit-(insert word count here)-words-by-tomorrow-morning bullshit, otherwise known as newspaper journalism. Technology continues to change the publishing world – who cares? -it’s always been that way, the same for the music publishing industry; just because a book or a song can now be “downloaded for free” doesn’t mean it should be, nor does it mean that the world needs to be subjected to every single thought, idea, book, poem, short story, song, symphony or other compositional doodling and noodling that we all come up with in moments of inspiration, desperation or boredom. Putting it on the web doesn’t mean it’s any good, and since we’ve long ago reached the blog-saturation point, I’m wiling to be very, very little of it is getting read. So why do so many folks keep blogging? First, I think it’s because it’s too easy. Secondly, it’s a way to see your “work” or at least your thoughts, out there somewhere in the world, versus only in your own head, or on a sticky note in the kitchen drawer – somebody, afterall, might just maybe, possibly, by accident, stumble across it. In the early days of internet websites, I think it also was a way for writers to get noticed by publishers, by first getting noticed by people surfing the web. But, now, since the concept is so ubiquitous, nobody’s reading any of it – it’s a case of “too-much-information.”

Who, after all, could possibly have enough minutes in the day, enough time in their life to read blogs, (let alone the comments associated with them) when there’s already more great, meaningful and helpful books, magazines, research papers and even online articles out there than one person can even hope to read in their lifetime, even if reading is all a person ever did? Being selective about what you read is already one of the major challenges in life if you ask me. So, I say stop the blog – stop burping and farting into cyberspace. If you won’t, or can’t get someone worthy to edit you, then edit yourself. If you’re already editing yourself, maybe on your website, and maybe you’re just fond of using the term “blog” because that seems what everybody’s calling online writing, then for the fine stuff you’re creating, just go back to calling it “writing.” For instance, you could say, “I’ve written something and it’s published on my website.” But don’t allow comments, as if you’d ever get any anyway. In this way, you’re not blogging, you’re communicating an idea; you’re a writer, not a blogger and by the way, making it a little tougher to get to you is a good thing. You’re better than a blogger, so don’t associate yourself with them. You’re focused. On the stars. Whew, enough bitching about blogging. Is that called blitching?

On to the concept of visioning, which has never been so passionately championed, so powerfully demonstrated, and so effectively described as by one my favorite guides, Ari Weinzweig, whom you must know by now (even if you’ve never been to Ann Arbor) as the Co-Owner of Zingerman’s, or the Zingerman’s Community of Businesses with the acronym of “ZCoB.” I call him a big-hearted, tree-of-knowledge-type guy because he’s doing an amazing job of combining his almost thirty years of experience helping to run a uniquely quirky, big-hearted, local business with his uniquely quirky, big-hearted personality, and then sharing, through his books, essays and training classes, all that he knows about life and work. As he says in his “Guide to Better Bacon:”

I’m pretty devoted to the work of the world of good food; I love learning about it and it’s incredibly rewarding to teach, taste and share what I know with others who are equally interested. Which is, I guess, what a vocation is all about.[14]

He might chaff at using the word “magnanimous” to describe his approach to life and work – if I know him at all, he’s probably not considering the things he does every day noble or high-minded – but I think those concepts are entirely applicable, even though folks like him so often just seem do what they do without the need for praise or labels of any kind. I think he coined the phrase “granular goodness” to refer to that singular, self-less focus and devotion to traditional concepts of flavor and quality, or even an idea or cause, that food producers demonstrate in the production of their cheeses, olive oils, cured meats, anchovies, bread, peppercorns, chocolate bars, etc. I think that “granular goodness” is what Ari himself is all about.

That said, I think I’ve justified, at least to myself, why I think Ari’s take on the practice of visioning is especially apt: he’s got rock-solid credibility. In his “Guide to Good Leading Part 1 – Building a Great Business,” he describes not only the process of visioning: “It’s the idea of beginning our work by first figuring out what we want success to look like at a particular point in the future, then working backward to the present” (96), but that such visioning should encompass the idea of “greatness.” Your vision, of whatever it is you want to see happen in the world or do in your life, should be a vision that, although specific, is so “wild,” so “out there,” so forward-thinking and exciting that, when you see it on the page, it seems at least a little scary (142).

Visioning (of greatness) can’t be underestimated – it’s utilized seemingly by everyone who’s had any worthy success of any type (personal or financial), even if they don’t know they’re doing it. Look at the ZCoB vogs for 2009 and 2020. See what you want to have, what you want to do, what it is you want to make real, do your best to act, as Jack Canfield so ably suggests, “as if” it’s already happened, document it (in writing, or with pictures) and keep rereading or looking at it, relentlessly re-exposing your mind and heart to the details. Your unconscious mind incorporates the commitment, and works on resolving the schism between the vision and the reality day and night – when you’re sleeping (bonus time!) and when you’re awake. This is a constant, invigorating boost to what your conscious mind, so often caught up in and distracted by the other realities of your daily life, can accomplish. For great examples of this stuff in action read Jack Canfield’s “Principles of Success” and Ari Weinzweig’s “Guide to Good Leading Part 1, Building a Great Business.”

Here’s a hilariously ambitious vog that I wrote before I really got serious about writing these things. It was a spontaneous act and as such things often are, they kind of get it right from the get-go and need no refining. When I wrote it, it referred to the very first incarnation of my as yet fictional company, which I called “Kick Ass Corp.” My logo? This horse (insert picture of horse chomping at beer can from Canadian Rockies trip).

Each time I read it, even with the intention of tossing it, I get jazzed by it, so I think it’s worth including here:

Internet News Wire

April 10, 2015 – Kick-Ass Corp. revenue exceeds $1 Billion U.S

Keith Ewing, the mid-life entrepreneurial miracle, is in the news once again as his company Kick-Ass Corp. continues to expand its global footprint. Five years from its inception as a forward-thinking intuitive company, Ewing has steered his vision to include interests in food marketing, music, publishing, adventure travel, and facility quality.

Kick-Ass Corp. has offices in Portland, OR, Ann Arbor, MI, NYC, London and Hong Kong and is expanding into the EU and India. This well-known financially successful company, an energetic, fast-moving brainchild of Keith Ewing, is also identified for its unbending ethical stance and contributions to global peace and sustainability. Its relentless pursuit of the best has earned it the global respect of many of the world’s most admired and successful companies, e.g. Rolex, Microsoft, etc. who now emulate Kick-Ass Corps’ employee development programs and globally-relevant intuitive pursuit of the best in everything. Kick-Ass Corp. has maintained a remarkable zero-turnover rate amongst its tight-knit and apparently indomitable core group of employees who have individually and as a group, publicly praised Ewing’s vision, compassion, loyalty and coaching as primary forces in their personal success – they have all routinely said “it’s the best place to work and the best job I’ve ever had, no doubt.”

The rapid rise of Kick-Ass Corp. to its now dominant position as a global juggernaut of financial power and influence in its core businesses can be explained, most simply, by the company’s well-earned reputation for reliability, quality, innovation, intelligence, and ground-breaking futuristic strategies – attributes that industry experts say are the direct result of the vision of its founder, owner, President and CEO, Keith Ewing, an admitted late-bloomer who vanquished all opposition to his dreams through a relentless dedication to them.

Look for the much-anticipated release of Kick-Ass Corps latest experiment in fun in the business world with their new Cold Iron Brewery, located in an undisclosed American city – this month will see American bistros, gastropubs and bars pulling the taps on “Whopping Hops Ale” – an imperial IPA-style micro-brew already achieving plaudits amongst the notoriously skeptical industry heavy-hitters like Bells in Kalamazoo, MI, and from two well-respected members of self-proclaimed “Beer-Town USA” (Portland, Oregon) – Deschutes and Bridgeport Brewery, both of whom have exclaimed “It’s the new standard, these guys are so good it’s SCARY!”

What’s next from Kick-Ass? Whatever it is, it will certainly be worth talking about.

 – A.P. 4/9/2015

I just need to insert HH here and it still works. Here’s two more vogs, active at the time of this writing, March 31, 2011:

VOG for 2012

“Prouds:”

  • We created our first-ever business plan for the H2G-Cart. Eight carts were selected and H2G is proud to have made the cut – we’re in!
  • We’ve decided that A2 is where we want to live and work.
  • We’ve expedited the sale or rent of our TX house.
  • We’ve continued to refine and focus our phycomythologies.
  • We’ve maintained mindful healthfulness.
  • We’ve had good times in Houston.

VOG:

We’re enjoying our unconventional life where the culture, urban nature areas, architecture, engaged people, and even the weather inspire us. We’ve just cooked a meal in our cool kitchen and we’re looking out the windows of our modest but super cozy, cute home while listening to awesome tunes. Our new dog loves it (and Cinder would too!) We have another urban trek planned to engage us in the space & place of our hometown, getting our feet on the ground, being adventurous and generating a big appetite and thirst for great food & drink. We’re making sure to plan at least one hiking trip a year to one of our “cool cities” or to a potential new “cool city.” We also make sure to take a break from the long cold winter by traveling somewhere warm where we can walk.

We’re feeling great from our mindful healthfulness. We go to the gym, practice yoga and go on long walks regularly. We have a small group of like-minded friends that we hang out with to share interests, walks, meals and good times.

We’ve used our spirit of generosity to connect with the city and provide volunteer work or other thing of value to an organization that can benefit from our help. We’ve used this VOG to stay focused on what we want to have, what we want to do, who we want to be and who we are (our phycomythologies). Our Mandalas (which we make sure to keep in plain site) keep us focused and in touch with our guides and everything that is important to us.

Angie is enjoying studying brain plasticity, cosmetics and other fields of interest to keep her mind engaged and gain more knowledge about topics that jazz her. She likes the freedom of working from home while still being able to do lunch with Keith or co-workers. She loves working part-time with Keith to establish the business of Humble Hogs (H2). Within the next ten years she plans to transition into a full-time H2 owner-operator. She’s also checking in with her family as needed to keep that vibe where she wants it. Her creative tendencies as well as her organizational, administrative, technical and managerial skills are helping her thrive in her career and our business.

Keith is likewise happily engaging his strengths and biophycomythology. The H2G-Cart is fully operational, we’ve developed a good system for cranking out our delicious and inspiring food, our menu is successful (it includes produce from our gardener friends), we’re at least breaking even financially, and we both enjoy spending time in the cart and the food court with customers, other vendors and Mark H. I spend the afternoons and weekends cooking, interacting with foodies, selling our menu items and our own fresh & frozen pork cuts. The cart has a sound system so I don’t go without my tunes. I display a “cart copy” of both the Farm Animal Welfare User’s Guide and Day of Pigs for the use of H2G-Cart guests. Interested customers browse through them while enjoying their meals in the food court seating, and several folks have asked to purchase a copy, which I price to move at $29.99 hardcopy or $19.99 as a pdf version. We love using Union Hall kitchen to cook, store our provisions, and learn more about commercial kitchens.

Our H2G-Farm concept is moving forward. We’ve identified a 3-5-acre property from a greenbelt landowner in A2 where we can set up a small-scale pastured heritage pig farming operation. I’m gaining experience raising 10-20 pastured pigs in a system that maintains the highest animal welfare standards for handling, transport and slaughter. I’m now marketing some of the best-tasting pork in the Ann Arbor area, currently through our H2G-Cart and humblehogs.com. The vog still includes the idea of a public house that presents food & drink events each month along with other events related to our phycomythologies. We’ve identified outbuildings on greenbelt farmland that are suitable and we’ve generated a business plan to help strategize the H2G-Pub vog into a sound idea, vs. “an idea that just sounds good.” (thanks to ari w. & paul s. for this quote).

The humblehogs.com website is processing orders and sales of our pork and my books – customers can purchase online and pick up product at the H2G-Cart – shipping is by special request for now to keep things simple. The website remains a great source of inspiration for me and other interested folks – it continues to help organize and develop my vocations that are contained within it.

My writing life involves creating essays, reading, emailing, and working on another book. I use humblehogs.com to “post” my writing (no “blogging!”) and the website continues to help engage my writing passions and generates interest from like-minded folks. Each of my six vocations plays a part in my writing projects.

In July, we had a blast participating in Camp Bacon II in A2, helping Ari and Pete Garner as camp counselors, and learning a lot about food and folks again. It amped us up and stoked our vision – we got to practice being who we are and it went better than we could have imagined – folks seemed to really enjoy what we had to offer. They loved the pigs and our story!

We have minimal stuff so our frugal life allows the $100,000/year we’re making to be more than enough to engage our phycomythologies. My six vocations: writing, cooking, urban trekking, audiophiling, phycomythologizing and gastrofarming are firing on all cylinders and helping to make our unconventional life a blast!

Technical Details for this VOG:

3409 Sells or Rents by June:

H2G Cost                           ($2200/month)

A2 Living Expenses          ($3000/month)

                                           ____________

                                           ($5200/month) Cost

Nothing Good Happens (NGH) Contingency Plan:

3409 mortgage+                 ($2400/month)

                                           _____________

                                           $7600/month

We can survive this through June. After which, still no 3409 sale/rent, we return to TX and begin again, with ALL THAT PRICELESS EXPERIENCE!!

Humble Hogs (H2)

Vision of Greatness 2015

Prouds:

We’ve created our first-ever business plan for H2.

Our application to Mark’s Carts was successful, we’re in!

Ann Arbor has won the competition to support this adventure (PDX a close second).

We’ve leased a house in A2.

We’ve worked hard to expedite the sale or lease of 3409.

We’ve continued to refine and focus our phycomythologies.

We’ve maintained mindful healthfulness.

We’ve had good times in Houston.

What are the most important products or services that H2 sells?

  • The H2-Gastrocart menu.
    • H2 pastured pork.
    • Keith’s writing.

What unique products or services does H2 offer to the market?

  • Home-cooking from a food cart for customers who are on-the-go or sticking around the food court.
    • The savoriness goes beyond what is expected because of the ingredient quality and the time spent cooking them – it’s scratch-cooking usually low & slow, which is not typically reproduced in a restaurant or a food cart.
    • The slow-cooked and traditional recipes, including desserts, are unpretentious, but out-of-the-ordinary because of the time it takes to make these items, even at home.
  • The value-add provided to each and every product or service will be a function of H2’s intuitive, comprehensive, practical and accurate understanding of the core function, purpose and advantage of that product or service over another.
    • The H2 customer will be capable of recognizing this product or service differentiation either immediately or through their willingness to be educated.
    • H2’s image will communicate inherent integrity. As a result, the H2 name alone, associated with a product or service, will establish a “baseline” differentiating value for the customer.
    • If H2 cannot add obvious value, a product or service will be discontinued.

What types of products or services are sold in the industry that H2 won’t offer?

  • H2 is not focused on developing or marketing scientific, technological or industrial products or services, and will not be engaged in research and design within these fields.
    • However, H2 will be scientifically and technologically astute as the business model dictates – the company will not be perceived as “behind the times.”

How does H2 sell our products or services?

  • Store-front, web, both?

Most important factors by which I will measure success:

  • Product or service quality.
  • Financial success for organization.
  • Personal financial success.

The H2 experience:

  • “Purchasing Pride:”
    • The satisfaction and proud sense of accomplishment engendered through the purchasing experience, from product/service discovery and research, to customer service (online or in-person).
    • It comes from thorough knowledge of the product/service’s quality and advantages in comparison to competitors, and the happy and rewarding communication that the customer takes away from KAC after purchase.
  • “Joy Exchange:”
    • The shared experience of engagement, connection, energy, pride, passion and enjoyment that occurs between a customer and H2 during shopping, purchase or enjoyment of a H2 product or service.
    • A customer will be naturally attracted to, and welcomed into, the “master passion” culture that projects from H2’s employees, storefronts, website or marketing literature.
    • Their purchases will be perceived as “right” for them, “in-line” with their own passions, and will naturally make their personal world a better place.
    • The back-and-forth communication between the customer and H2 will be a spontaneous and natural result of shared interests and curiosity about our products or services.
    • In short, however good or bad a customer’s day is going, just thinking about H2, being in our stores, or using our website, will create a burst of joy in their minds and refresh their passion for life.

What will NOT be part of the H2 experience?

  • A customer will not experience the following from any H2 employee or shopping environment:
    • Indifference, impatience, irritation, disrespect, intimidation, boredom, alienation, condescension, the “hard sell,” or lack of welcome.
    • In the rare case that a customer does not respond well to the H2 environment, and instead projects one or all of the above negative energy states, H2 employees will do their best to respectfully accommodate the individual.
      • However, in especially challenging situations within our stores, and in the presence of other customers, employees are encouraged to seek assistance from H2 supervision or management to diffuse tension or otherwise avoid confrontation.
        • For example, when productive communication has ceased between an employee and a customer, the employee should respond with the following, “I’d be glad to have you speak to my Supervisor/Manager, one moment please.”
        • Ultimately, I, as H2 owner, have the responsibility to resolve problems.

What sort of customers purchase from H2?

  • Forward-thinking, broad-minded perceivers of differences in quality, with an eye towards value, but with the understanding that the idea of value comes from the heart as well as the mind – their purchases should mean a lot to them, and bring them joy whenever possible. They have vitality and are fully engaged in their lives. Even a routine (resupply, repair) purchase is recognized, mindfully, as important to their overall success and happiness in life.
  • They are determined and resourceful learners and researchers who seek out the best.
  • They are open-minded and adventurous people of the world.
  • They are college-educated, 20+ years old, and cherish both the life-of-the-mind and the physical world, including food, music, travel, reading, pop culture, technology, and history.
  • They resist trends, preferring instead to cultivate the best of the old and the new; the past and the present, with an eye towards time-tested reliability and appeal.
  • They value substance and integrity over image, cache or exclusiveness.
    • Price, while not the most important factor in a purchase decision, will remain part of the “value-equation” (it will never serve, on its own, to add merit).
    • Price must be “fair.”
  • They have middle – upper middle class household incomes.

Where do they come from?

  • Forward-thinking, culturally vibrant environments within the United States.
  • Possibly other countries with a population that requires the unique experience of KAC (which should be culturally transferrable to a large extent).

If customers listed four things about H2 that were particularly noteworthy, what would they be?

  1. “Purchasing Pride.”
  2. “Joy Exchange.”
  3. Products that uniquely and memorably impact all five senses.
  4. Services performed with a unique comprehensiveness and professionalism.

How would you describe the management style in your business?

  • Providing a supportiveness that drives achievement of individuals towards personal and common goals in service of the H2 vision.
  • The management style is dynamic, i.e. will accommodate whatever “styles” are best suited to each individual and environment, but will likely, at least in the beginning stages of the business, be family-style.

What type of people do we hire as managers?

  • Selfless and fearless learners, organizers, coaches, and mentors who lead by example and set clear, attainable goals for each employee in service of the H2 vision.
  • Promote from within, unless training and experience are not available within.

How do H2 people relate to those around them?

  • In a transparent, respectful, supportive way that strives to stay-on-target with the H2 vision while fearlessly and joyfully expressing ideas and engaging change.

What do staff members say about their jobs?

  • “It’s the best place to work and the best job I’ve ever had, no doubt.”

What do I do?

  • Start-up: everything that Angie doesn’t do.
  • Maturity: Leadership, vision, marketing, R&D, coaching, mentoring, financial review, strategize.
  • Anything I want.

How much do I work?

  • Start-up: enough.
  • Maturity: as I see fit.

How much do I make?

  • Maturity: $500K/year minimum.

How does the community view H2?

  • A gem of which they are gushingly proud.

What do suppliers say about H2?

  • Rock solid integrity.
  • Pays on time.

What do industry experts say about H2?

  • They are the standard.

On a Personal Level:

What do I do every day?

  • Cook, hike, listen to music, eat, drink, learn, read, intellectualize, be a futurist, be strategic, receive input, etc.
  • ENGAGE MY BIOPHYCOMYTHOLOGY.

How do others feel about my work?

  • Energized.

What do I like best about it?

  • Using my talents and strengths.
  • Variety.
  • Succeeding and seeing others succeed.
  • Rewards commensurate with my efforts.

The above are, like I said, “active” and they actually appeared on the hh website for awhile, but I think they belong here, for posterity.


[1] Julia Child, My Life in France, (New York: Anchor Books, 2006), 68.

[2] Weinzweig, Ari, “Zingerman’s Guide to Better Bacon,” Zingerman’s Press, Ann Arbor, pp.143-144.

[3] Kawasaki, Guy, The Art of the Start: The Time-Tested, Battle-Hardened Guide for Anyone Starting Anything, Portfolio, New York: 2004, p.

[4] Ibid., p.xi.

[5] Wikipedia, “Blog,” November, 2, 2010.

[6] Ibid.

[7] Ibid.

[8] Ibid.

[9] Ibid.

[10] Ibid.

[11] Ibid.

[12] Ibid.

[13] Ibid.

[14] Weinzweig, Ari, “Zingerman’s Guide to Better Bacon,” Zingerman’s Press, Ann Arbor, p.143.