Writing Wisdom by Madeleine L'Engle

I have advice for people who want to write. I don’t care whether they’re 5 or 500. There are three things that are important: First, if you want to write, you need to keep an honest, unpublishable journal that nobody reads, nobody but you. Where you just put down what you think about life, what you think about things, what you think is fair and what you think is unfair. And second, you need to read. You can’t be a writer if you’re not a reader. It’s the great writers who teach us how to write. The third thing is to write. Just write a little bit every day. Even if it’s for only half an hour — write, write, write.

Writing is no different than waking up early morning before the sun has risen, taking that 20 minute drive to the gym to sweat and tear down your body, in the sense that you’re bound to exist in one of 2 states. It’s very binary - either you’re the person that commits to the process and respect its sanctity or you’re one that does not.

Often times we get mesmerized by the idea of doing something but if the process itself is not enjoyable then that’s an unequivocal sign that the commitment for us to follow through will never be there.

I love writing and I’ll admit I’ve fallen behind doing it a lot on it here on the site. I read a lot, I interact tremendously with people at work and there’s always conversations swirling in my head so in essence there’s never a lack of material but there is that feeling of whether any of it is worth sharing.

Also, I’ve identified that it’s the lack of me establishing a routine that’s kept me from writing which is why I’ve I’ve jumped on this bandwagon of keeping a physical journal not meant for anyone to read but more so to function as a mental exercise. As I write this, I’m still in the middle of reading Walter Isaacson's biography of Leonoardo Da Vinci and the daily practice of writing out our thoughts in this book and others always comes, so if there’s every a time to be “inspired” to write more it’s now.

Alex Silver-Fagan

The impetus behind even meeting in Dumbo, Brooklyn with Alex was to shoot a concept we had both gone over for a few days and it was very much predicated shooting in a studio setting which I had booked. As the saying goes, there’s a first time for everything, so unfortunately the studio we had booked was not at all what we were anticipating based on the photos we had seen, so to say the least, we ditched the place and made the best of a beautiful Fall sunset.

I’ve known of Alex through her informative, inspiring and entertaining Instagram account and I’ve met her in passing at a few fitness event’s I’ve covered here in New York but this truly was the first time our conversation exceeded 3 minutes. She’s a NIKE Trainer and model, she works regularly with publications such as SHAPE, SELF, Women’s Health, and Cosmo just to name a few. Quite honestly, it’s difficult to imagine what can’t she do, especially when she’s beyond driven in every single aspect of her career and life.

Leonardo da Vinci by Walter Isaacson

Leonardo’s relentless curiosity and experimentation should remind us of the importance of instilling, in both ourselves and our children, not just received knowledge but a willingness to question it—to be imaginative and, like talented misfits and rebels in any era, to think different.

I understand the premature nature of commenting on a book I’ve yet to even be half way through may not make sense, but it’s a piece of historical literature I’ve been deeply enjoying thus far hence the brief praise on it. The build up to it’s release was so substantial via 2 of my favorite podcast - On Point Radio and The Tim Ferris Show, that there was no question I would read it but the conflict was whether I would consume it the traditional way or via audiobook format. I’m serious note-taker when I read so I went with the latter.

As the author Walter Isaacson has said, “Leonardo da Vinci died a poor man but he left us a wealth of lessons,” 2 of which I’ve come to esteem because I also can’t help be inquisitive about the most random sh*t in life combined with the unhealthy obsession of keeping notes of those interest inside of overpriced notebooks.

This is my first time ever reading a biographical piece and I believe I just discoverd a new genre to further explore.

Be Deliberate with The Way You Invest Your Time

This topic comes up a lot in conversation with people I initially meet because it’s an area in my life that I’m always seeking to improve and hopefully in the process extract pointers from people who I feel have developed a good grasp around managing their time.

I’ll be honest. I don’t recall anything significant I did with my time prior to having kids, which is kinda sad. Yes, I traveled a lot with my then girlfriend now wife, but as far as those moments I had to myself where I could have worked on something on the side, honed a craft, or have had a deep enough interest in people far more knowledgable than I, as oppose to sitting back, relaxing thinking “free time” was the ideal time to do nothing. I did none of that.

Luckily becoming a parent has taught me the value of time and so when I see younger co-workers, or people complaining about not having the leisure to do simple things that matter in their life such as prepping their own lunches so they’re not spending $14 a day on junk food, or the inability for them to fulfill their commitment of getting back into shape because they lack the willpower or “time” to make it to the gym… I’m baffled by it all.

I’m no expert in this thing we call life but I can tell you that the underlying theme in all the books, articles and podcast I lend my attention to is that the one thing “successful” people do is treat their “free time” as such:

The trick to this advise is that it only works if you’ve already taken the time to become fully aware of what you want in life, or perhaps areas in your life you want to improve on. It’s no different than walking into a gym. There’s nothing more disorienting than walking into a space with life-changing equipment and not having a set of specific exercises you’re hoping to execute on that day. If you’re walking around wondering what to do, you’ve already defeated the purpose of this whole life-reflective moment…you’re wasting time.

As Nicolas Cole says, “be deliberate with the way you invest your time.”

The Podcast I Listen To

Radio shows have always existed. I may have never matured into a loyalist listener the way my grandfather did towards his evening shows, but for me the straight-forward equivalence of his commitment to audio enjoyment comes in the form of podcast. If well produced, there’s a timeless attribute to each episode, allowing your imagination to fill in the blanks and make you feel engaged. It really adds a new dimension to the content.

I hardly listen to music. In fact, up until now, I have no qualms about having cancelled my Spotify membership. I’m all about podcast and the reality is that regardless of what interest you may have in any topic, there’s a chance there’s a podcast for it and once that consistency ethic kicks in about listening to them, believe me you’ll be hooked.

When I'm not self-educating through books, I'm more than likely listening to a podcast.

When I'm not self-educating through books, I'm more than likely listening to a podcast.

I’m sure you’re familiar with the old adage that “you’re the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with” and so I would say that the same principle applies to the type of material you consume. Without question, podcast have had a major influence in who I am as a person and in shaping my life. I easily listen anywhere from 15-25 shows a week, all covering a variety of topics, including some unfamiliar ones which I never thought I would have an interest in until you subsequently come across the right people who make a topic like business and economics more palatable.

Podcast are like books in that just because you “subscribed” to one, it doesn’t mean you have to force yourself to stick to it in the event you happen to lose interest down the road. Ditch and discover new ones! With that said, as of now, these are podcast I’m listening to on a weekly basis like clockwork in no particular order:

As for when I have the chance to listen to these you ask…the majority of time during my commute to work and a few at the gym. As if I didn’t subscribe to enough, the one type of podcast I’ve yet to find is one fully in Spanish. The only one I’m familiar with is Radio Ambulante but I’m searching for more!

Michael Middleton

I'm an early bird. For me 8am is already late as I tend to religiously wake up at 6am regardless of whether it's a weekday or weekend and so one of the advantages of shooting with people in the fitness industry is that they would never have any qualms about an early wake-up call either. I met up with Michael in Dumbo, Brooklyn at 7am on a chilly Saturday morning.

SOLO NYC: Creative Freelancers

There’s not many creative freelancers who I’ve met in New York who are not ecstatic about the unique position they’re in but they’re also not shy to talk about the challenges that come with saying you work for yourself. There’s clients, their admin stuff, theirs banks, there’s branding, there’s marketing, there’s networking, there’s those chills of not knowing when your next gig will come, etc. It’s a lot and it’s something I haven’t fully experienced since I have a day job that covers my expenses and photography for me at the moment is a passionate hustle.

SOLO NYC is this very fascinating 6-minute documentary that takes “an intimate look at the trials and triumphs of New York’s rising class of creative freelancers. Beautifully done and it showcases people who I already feel a bond with simply because we can’t help create stuff we’re passionate about and we can’t envision ourselves doing anything else.

The Beauty of Self-Doubt as a Creative

When you are sitting alone in a dark room—as I often do—contemplating your value and self-worth, wondering if what you say matters, it does. Know that you are not just good, you are more than good. You are great.

Keep creating, and keep working through self-doubt. The world needs your art.

This may sound a bit disturbing to say but I’ve come to learn that in the creative field, as thrilled as you may be with seeing fellow peers succeed and receive accolades, it’s equally gratifying to uncover that they also have their own share of sh*t moments that comes with the package. The difference is that not many people are candid about those roadblocks. Do you have to be? Not really, but you’d be surprise to learn how a little glimpse of vulnerability in others can help boost your own self-esteem.

I struggle with this “self-doubt” a lot with my work and I’ve noticed it happens predominately when I overthink shoots as oppose to accepting that someone’s hire more for a reason and that I shouldn’t pretend to be someone else in order to meet their expectations. What we create matters and although it may not for other people, as long as we’re fulfilling our own creative itch, that’s all that matters and if people are willing to compensate your for it then of course that’s a bonus!

For little more inspiration on this topic, I highly recommend watching this TED Talk by Casey Brown entitled Know Your Worth, and Then Ask for It