I liked my job.
What wasn't to like? As an Account Executive at a popular Seattle radio station, there were a lot of perks. Tickets to sports games, concerts, happy-hour meetings, flexible hours. It was fun too, I got to write radio commercials, meet rock stars and sports stars and be on the media scene. I generally like the people I worked with too. It was sort of the perfect job for a busy-body like me, who loved to socialize and go out. It felt a little like show-biz and it payed well. It was commission based, but that worked for me - because I was self-motivated, and a good salesperson.
It was pretty ideal gig for a guy like me who could sell gracefully, make fast friends while being self-motivated to make a lot of money.
And I was very good at it.
But it didn't fill my cup. It didn't feel authentic for me.
About the time I turned 27, I began to realize that this was not going to be MY life-path. Something wasn't quite right. I found myself resenting the day-to-day: Getting up and putting on slacks, a shirt and tie, shiny shoes and heading out the door to work hard to increase the profits of some faceless group of investors.
I fought the consistent feeling of futility at work. I justified my uninspired daily schedule in various ways.
"It's a fun job, lots of people would love this opportunity."
"I'm making great money, my family would think I'm crazy to leave this job."
"It's a recession, and I have income and benefits that make it too good to leave."
"What the heck am I gonna do instead? I'm good at this & change would be tough."
These were stories I told myself to keep me in place. I constantly was justifying my place in the world, to keep things familiar.
We often cling to the jobs, relationships, hobbies, foods, even ways of dress that we associate with our identity...just because. They feed one of our 6 needs as illustrated by Tony Robbins. I was the perfect example. My job filled several of these needs, and therefore, it was a challenge to let go of....or even think about letting go of.
Change never comes easily, and for me, I was doing something that I was good at, so why was I so uncomfortable and unfulfilled? I was slowly losing touch with the best parts of myself. I was drinking more, as part of the gig, and also as a coping mechanism for dealing with the stressors of a job that was 100% commission.
Any of this sound familiar?
Are you possibly in a job that doesn't quite seem authentic? Embodied? Serving your highest purpose? Do you sometimes picture yourself in another city? Doing something else entirely? Living the sort of life that you envisioned when you were a kid?
Do you get the sense that you were meant to be DOING SOMETHING ELSE?
I began to daydream about what my life might be like without being Seany Mac the radio sales guy. I began to brainstorm alternative occupations that pushed the boundaries of my reality. My partner and I came up with a list of things that we could do, that didn't involve working at a desk job that didn't fulfill us on every level.
NOTE: We need people to work at desks. It's not my aim to demean folks working desk jobs. Within our current reality, there is a need for people to work in offices - it's the backbone of commerce - sales jobs, accounting jobs, transport, HR. But if you're currently working at a job that you're unhappy with, only you have the power to change your own reality.
We came up with a large list of alternative careers: teaching english in Thailand, alcohol distribution in Chicago (I knew a guy), peace corp. (we new a gal), a juice bar in Hawaii, vagabonding through Europe... and ultimately came back to, what would be my step into entrepreneurship and living a life more in line with my strengths and my authentic self.
The fact of the matter is, just the process of thinking outside the box changed my perspective. I was in a place in my life where I had the flexibility of a well-paying job, with plenty of free time to explore other passions. I know this is true for you. If you're making ends meet, have insurance coverage and work a 9-5, you're in the exact situation I was in.
DO THIS EXERCISE: Take a moment to make a list of the things that you're drawn to. What sorts of art, businesses, activities, podcasts, books to you consistently find yourself drawn to. LIST THEM. Bring those passion points up to the surface, get them written down on paper. Acknowledge the things in your life that bring you joy. Read my previous blog post and get your gears turning.
• • •
It was at this point in my life that my world-view changed, and I opened up to alternative possibilities for my future. I also knew full well, that I had the flexibility to "Moonlight" in researching what would be my new path:
During the nightly conversations I had with Leila, trying to brainstorm possible options - I kept returning to an experience I had during my first sensory deprivation experience 2 years prior. My first float...in the basement of a local yoga instructor...WHOM I FOUND ON CRAIGSLIST! At that time, it was deep in the back of my mind - could actually attempt to open a float tank center? I didn't bring it up with her...not yet. But I continued to read about other float centers around the world.
Floating and owning a float center was an ideal trajectory for me and my interests. I was into meditation, I enjoyed using cannabis and the occasional psychedelic to reach altered states and it was plenty weird enough for me to find real passion in it.
I knew then, and I keep it in the front of my mind that I was meant to help people in this life. I was meant to heal people and provide value in their life. I want to effect the world in a positive way. But, first I had to convince my partner. It was going to be a hard sell to Leila for several reasons:
1. I had zero business experience/education. Not a class in college, or a pamphlet read.
2. Floating at the time was pretty uncommon. Around 30 float centers nationwide.
3. She had never floated, so, how would I get her excited about it?
4. This was definitely fringe. Leila is a Taurus, and likes a sure thing...this was not.
5. This did not play to my strengths, as a communicator, leader or sales person.
But, despite these fairly obvious reasons why it would never work - one day, I decided to throw it out to her. I remember the conversation like it was yesterday. I was truly the largest turning point in my life.
I picked her up from work one winter evening. It was 5, and dark, and raining. And I simply said:
"Ya know, we've been talking about what ELSE we could do in our lives, and moving or teaching or travelling...all that stuff."
"Well, I've been thinking a lot about it, and I think we should open a float center."
"Sensory Deprivation stuff?"
"Ok, lets do it."
"Ok? You really on-board?"
"Sure, it's all about chillin, and it's weird, and you really liked your experience."
"Ok, that's settled."
That was it. The door had crept open.
That was all I needed to charge forward. Immediately my mind started to spin thinking about all the details of what it would take to pull it off. Again, with ZERO EXPERIENCE.
• • •
The next steps were both pivotal and relatively organic.
To be clear - this is where I think a lot of people get hung up. We all have great ideas: products, inventions, business ideas etc. but the thing that differentiates between wantrepreneurs and entrepreneurs is the full commitment. That shift in mentality from a day-dream to an actual execution. To start on the path toward the life that you want.
You have to start somewhere. How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. Since I didn't have the experience or resources at the time, I had to throw myself at it completely and the path emerged.
It was total immersion. I spent every night and hours upon hours on the weekends to learn all there was to know about floating. Before I dug into the ins and outs of running a business (perhaps I was delaying the hard stuff) I wanted to know about the science of floating. I read books like "The Book of Floating." by Michael Hutchinson. "The Quiet Center" and "The Center of the Cyclone" by the father of floating John C. Lilly. I also had heard a lot about sensory deprivation by listening to the Joe Rogan Podcast. I wanted to be sure that I knew the WHAT of the thing before proceeding into the HOW of pulling it off in a logistical business.
We live in a time of unprecedented access to information. You have the ability....in an instant to begin learning about how to fix a broken pool pump, or kung fu, or how to make crab cakes. There are tons and tons of resources online to learn about how to open a business, but until you make that decision to dive in, your dream will stay just that.
While I learned everything I could learn about the origin of floating - Why it's a good thing, what it's used for, who can benefit - I also began researching other float centers around the world. At that time in 2010 there were really 4 or 5 that stood out in the world. At first it was alarming, because, why weren't there more float centers? (There were a few explanations). But I wasn't deterred. I saw the lack of legitimate float centers as a good sign - an opportunity for growth. Google ad words was an excellent resource for my approach. I was finding that thousands of people were searching for float centers in Seattle on google. I began researching the process for getting small business loans, SBA support, angel investors - and ultimately decided I would want to bootstrap it, take out personal loans, personal lines of credit and find a partner.
My entire reality had shifted. My path forward was now inspired. I had pin-pointed the thing that I wanted my MY THING. And interestingly, it wasn't work, it was research. And as daunting as it was, I was so passionate about it, that the hundreds of hours I was devoting to it flew by. I was diving deeeeeep into a new world of alternative therapies, small business, branding, design, systems, cash flow, interest rates on loans, partnership agreements, equity splits, float tank technology and lots more.
I did hit a snag though. An out-of-the-blue opportunity.
• • •
Just as I started to throw most of my free time toward creating a float business, a wrinkle presented itself. Mind you, I was still selling radio, and working hard during work hours to excel as an Account Executive, I got a phone call and an offer for a coffee meeting. Always accept offers for coffee meetings, you never know where it'll go.
A new radio station has just launched in Seattle, and they were looking for young, energetic Account Executives to be added to the team. Apparently I had been identified as a good prospect. I had been reaching my budgets at my radio station but at the same time was having some conflict with one of the higher managers. I had already committed my future to opening a float center, when I met the manager from the new radio station. He wanted me to join their team. He also asked me to name my salary. I did. He said, that was likely do-able. Then we met again a week later with another manager and we hit it off. They formally asked me to join their team.
So it was.
I was given an opportunity to increase my salary (which was an opportunity to save a large chunk of coin), change radio stations and moonlight as a budding entrepreneur.
• • •
It was clear to me that the universe was rewarding me for following heart. Whether you believe in the Law of Attraction, The Secret or synchronicity, I honestly saw this opportunity as a direct reinforcement of my decision. It was a not-so subtle cue to keep going. Divine, Inspired, Coincidental, Opportune....maybe all of these.
When we make certain decisions, transformations and shifts in mentality - be aware of subtle external cues. In the midst of your change, do other opportunities present themselves that are aligned with that change? As you're learning something new about yourself, are you getting feedback from others - even though they have no idea whats going on? In The Art of Learning, Josh Waitzkin talks about subtle cues that can inform our process. Working with the external world, and shaping it to work for us is a Jedi move that entrepreneurs are familiar with. Also, when you shift your attention toward something that is aligned with you highest self/highest path, you'll notice things that previously were invisible.
• • •
The rest is history. I continued to work my butt off in my new job (which I was thankful for) while doing the work on weekends and evenings toward my first entrepreneurial exploit. Since then, I've opened two float centers - Float Seattle and Float Bellevue, written and sold an Ebook entitled "How to Start a Float Center" (which is currently being updated), and launched a path as a Life Coach, Speaker and Mentor. I've had two kids. I bought a house and now empowered in my life to continue with the same passion that was ignited in 2010.
I ditched the 9-5 because I wanted to live an inspired life. I want to continue to take risks, follow my gut and charge forward toward my highest self.
So I'll leave you with one question. And before I ask it, I have one request, please don't immediately think of excuses...
Are you doing what you were meant to do?