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Thursday, January 29, 2009

Personal and Professional Health

I want to follow up on Steph's post on my last post Managing Time at Work. She made an excellent point about staying on top of one's health, both mental and physical while pushing the limits on what you can get done every day over a sustained period of time.

I get rather busy during certain times of the year and very rarely, if ever do I take vacations. The "balance" that Steph talks about is what I cling to. Not ever having much money for travel, I take advantage of any hospitality that is offered my way and also take the spontaneous PTO day or two when I feel I cannot face another day of work.

I eat pretty well too. Although I'm not always going to the gym on a regular basis, I do keep myself strong with lots of push ups and crunches and I'm always seeking a balanced diet. My friends always turn their nose at my picky organic filled pantry and refrigerator, but they always show up when I'm cooking and invite them.

It's strange, I'm never really "ahead" financially, but as I take small, tangible steps to get ahead professionally, physically and mentally, it all adds up to a better holistic life. I think everyone is a little bit of a control freak. Having a 9 to 5 you ultimately surrender control to a great amount of your life, so taking back the other hours of your life and using them well is a good way to build up towards something better.

Every little bit counts. What are you doing to get somewhere?

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Managing Time At Work

I am relatively good at managing time at work. I manage myself pretty effectively and therefor do well in jobs with minimal supervision. I do, however like to have knowledgeable and helpful supervisors and managers who are there as a resource too, but as far as micro-managing goes, I don't need it.

The past two weeks have been truly an exercise of endurance. With a massively complicated deliverable going out and perfection being our only option in execution, it's been a non-stop deluge of work both on work hours and well outside my regular work hours. Despite a hectic pace and short-deadline, I have still managed my time very well.

I am just wondering what I can do to manage my time better with such a heavy workload compared to the more "regular" hours that I worked in previous months? I don't think that things will slow down or get less crazy and I still need to keep developing my writing and trying to get a client base. I'm truly drained lately when I come home I have almost no creative energy left at night.

More "to-do" lists? More caffeine? Less sleep? More weekend hours? All of the above?

Any full-time freelancers or part-timers have any advice for time management under hectic full-time job conditions?

Monday, January 26, 2009

The "Plight" of the White Male

This past weekend I overheard, but did not participate in, conversations by white males about how hard it is for white males in America and how President Obama is going to make it worse by giving all the jobs to blacks and other minorities.

Growing up in a very blue collar family in a relatively blue collar city, I've heard this argument countless times. Some whites feel slighted and discriminated against because of affirmative action. A lot of them feel that AA is outdated and not relevant anymore because racism doesn't matter these days.

This is a very complicated issue, one which I'm not 100% sure about where I stand on it, but I am positive that when I hear a bunch of employed, white males sitting around talking about how hard they have it because of their skin color, I want to laugh and shake them violently.

I think back to when I grew up in Worcester and went to school in the inner city at a private, albeit extremely diverse catholic school; I worked my ass off and never felt slighted when a person of color got something over me. I think about how some of the kids I knew growing up lived, whether white, black, hispanic, mixed race, asian or whatever... some of us had it harder than others. I'm happy as hell if one of my friends ever got called up for a special program because of their story.

So many "conservatives" talk about pulling yourself up by the boot-straps and making your way no matter what your circumstances. So, I simply pose to them; why didn't you over-perform and get whatever you were going after? Was it impossible? Could you not overcome your circumstances?

Sunday, January 25, 2009

My New Cat, Ella Fitzgerald

I went back to the shelter yesterday to finally get a new cat after I had to return my last one. Her name is Ella Fitzgerald and she is 5 years old. She is by far the nicest cat I've ever met. She headbutts and purrs constantly. I'm a big fan, although I'm going to change the locks to my apartment because my mother and sister are plotting to steal her and swap out their weird but lovable cat "Baby Bailey".

Here are some pics for those of you who asked before!

Saturday, January 24, 2009

A Heads Up To My Followers

I followed a bunch of people in both the "Blogs I'm Following" feature in the blogger dashboard as well in my RSS Feed. The double feed was getting a bit much so I nixed my blog feed on Blogger. So, just an FYI, I am still following everyone who I have always followed, I'm just using a different reader.

Life Coaching the Un-Coachable

Last night a friend told me I should be a life coach because I seem good at inspiring people to take risks in life and chase their dreams. I took this as a compliment, but realized that I couldn't be a life coach for a lot of the same reasons why I probably can't ever be a teacher.

At this point in my life, I have a lot of emotional energy riding on my success as a professional and as a person. I work tirelessly to get what I want and get very angry, nervous anxious and resentful of people, places and things that get in my way. I always acknowledge these emotions and then churn them into some sort of positive energy towards the universe. I'm becoming more centered and fragmented at the same time!

One of the things that would make me unsuccessful at life-coaching and/or teaching is the fact that I cannot deal with people who don't follow up on what they want. I am a pretty good listener and I will listen to, empathize with and comfort someone who is having a tough time in their life. I have to be careful not to be too forceful with what I think they should do, because I know that I hate when people automatically assume they know what I need. Instead, I just ask lots of questions revolving around what someone wants from their life. That's how I figured a lot of things out in my own existence. When you acknowledge obstacles and start focusing on how to get over or around them, you're at least using your mental energy for forward progress instead of just aimless worrying.

I'm pretty sure I'd take it very personally if I invested a lot of professional and emotional energy into giving someone advice and helping them take their first steps and seeing them not follow through. It is something I despise so much in myself when I do it, I wouldn't want to project those feelings onto someone else. I'm always willing to have a good, long talk over coffee or wine and wax philosophic about life, but I definitely try to leave my hopes and investments in whichever person I'm talking to at the table.

I feel like if you just put the positive energy that you've got into the world and don't expect anything back, you'll often not get anything back, which is fine. But every so often, someone or something comes along and surprises you by turning into an amazing butterfly from a cocooned ball of angst and worry. That is probably one of the best feelings in life; seeing someone succeed and get what they truly want.

Seeing people genuinely happy makes me happy. I love to feed off it and put my good vibes out. I just don't know if I could put myself out there for a living and take people by the hand and repeatedly see so many not change their lives. Or maybe the few people that do change make it all worth it? Seems similar to drug rehab or AA. To be honest, a lot of these thoughts are based from those sorts of experiences and people. Hmm....

Friday, January 23, 2009

Books about Career Development (and everything else)

Through my foray into social media about 2 years ago I've met a lot of interesting people with great ideas about career development, personal branding and other nu-age ideas that are relatively cutting edge. I can't believe how many influential business books I've found through recommendations and even directly from authors I've met through social media sites such as and Linkdin.

It is interesting to think about who these books are targeted towards and why. Books such as "The Dip" by Seth Godin or "Me 2.0" by Dan Schawbel don't seem to me like they are targeted towards high school seniors or individuals about to graduate from college. Actually, these books seem best geared towards people who are currently working jobs that they don't find particularly fulfilling and might need a self re-invention. Am I amongst those ranks? Sure am! I love both of these books and many others like them.

I guess you can't really target young people and tell them what's up with the real world. You sort of need to just encourage them to experiment and not be afraid to take chances while they're young and have less on the table to lose.

Developing a persona brand isn't easy for anyone of any age because even though we live in a society of "individuals" (especially Generation Y!), there is still a relative hesitancy to step out into the crowd and be critiqued for who you really are, rather than being associated with a larger group. This is why personal branding is so confusing; what identity should any given individual cling to? Do you make something up that benefits you, or do you explore yourself and cultivate an image that expressed who you really are? Are the two concepts mutually exclusive?

I'm glad that I'm playing to my strengths as so many people, both famous and locally influential, have told me. I think that's the key. Not sure what the full payoff is yet, but I'm already seeing dividends and that's a great motivation to keep going. The soul searching part is tough though.

It's almost like all of these great books are written for people who are too busy to read them. But we do find time to read them. We must!

Do any of you struggle with your personal branding? Have any of you given up on the idea? If so, what alternatives are there? Just letting the chips fall where they may?

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Pow! Free Book?!?! DOUBLE POW POW!!!

So I read a post on Twitter from Saul Colt that a free business book was being given away by Andy Nulman at

As someone who is starting a business, I feel I could use every bit of relevant advice I can find and being strapped for cash, the cost effective and/or free advice is often the best kind. I'd love to get a free copy of 'POW! Right Between The Eyes."

My address is

James R. Moreau
16 Whipple Street, Unit 3
Worcester, MA 01607

Thanks Andy Nulman!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Speechless After President Obama's Inauguration

As I suspected, I am rather speechless after President Obama's Inauguration speech. I got chills throughout the entire program and was left less of a sentimental feeling that I expected. I felt more determined and hopeful than before. I guess these are the types of feelings that a good leader is supposed to bring out. I am happy to get to work for President Obama and for the rest of America. I'm ready to work with my neighbors and everyone else across the country to wants to see better days ahead for when we are old and into our children's lives.

President Barack Obama has a huge task ahead of him, but today showed overwhelmingly that he was an army of motivated individuals, inspired Americans who are behind him in his vision for a better United States of America.

I suppose I should finally get around to reading his books. I think I'll start with this one.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Co-Working Outside of the Box

Co-Working Outside the Box
by-JR Moreau

What is a business idea that could spread so rapidly in this fading and transitioning economy? Co-Working! Co-working is an idea that is attractive in virtually any part of the world. The ingredients and ideas are simple. You take self-employed entrepreneurs and you take under-utilized commercial space. Bam. That's it.

Sitting at you home office as a freelancer can be productive, but can also be lonely and stifling. The lack of human interaction really gets some people down. These people thrive off of other people's ideas and motivation. They're not looking to chat it up all day and be unproductive, they want to work among their peers and have the ability to collaborate if the opportunity arises.

There's always the coffee shop that you could sit at too. Sometimes the atmosphere can be cool and the coffee is usually good (and expensive), but the crowd and vibes can change quickly. Meeting friends at a coffee shop for conversation is one thing, but bringing a client there unless they specifically ask for that type of setting? Hell no! Especially if there are little kids there.

Co-working is an outlet that is truly ideal for the independent professional who wants all of the benefits of a social setting without the drawback's of a public space. It also provides a more-than-adequate work space with full internet connectivity and basic office supplies and amenities.

Another benefit: COST! The shared cost of renting an existing, under-utilized space is the ability to share the cost with a group of people. This leads to far lower overhead than anyone could ever manage to find in renting their own space. Plus you're given a set, professional atmosphere to bring clients, rather than having to scramble to make sure your home is clean or grabbing a corner at the local coffee house.

The catch? Well, I suppose co-working lacks a corporate culture, a strict dress code and doesn't encourage being punctual, but most self-employed people, in some ways, chose to become entrepreneurs to get away from all of that anyways. The next generation of entrepreneurs will not be suited unless absolutely necessary and will not be bound by a-typical office jobs due to projected responsibility or guilt.

Whether you live in a large city like Chicago or New York, an outlying suburban area or even a rural town, there is a good chance that freelancers and entrepreneurs exist and are looking for a solution to their workspace issues just like you are. You're building community and building your business at the same time.

If you like the idea of this, check out this book based on the concept of the "third place." A very interesting book and theory on community and a general sense of how we can get it back.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Smiling At A Rejection Letter

A month ago I applied for a "professional" blogging position at a local renewable energy corporation. I have a relatively good amount of knowledge regarding renewable energy and sustainable development and felt I was a strong candidate. But, I knew this would be a hot job that a lot of people would compete for. I expected that if I didn't get an interested email back in a short time span, I'd never hear back at all.

But, I am happy to say I got an email back. I wasn't given the position, but it makes me happy that the human resources rep took the time to send this. It shows real quality in a company that treats it's applicants well along with it's employees.

Can anyone else relate to being semi-grateful for a rejection letter?

Here is the email. I debated on posting it, but I think this company and this founder deserve some recognition.

Thank you for applying for the Professional Blogger position. We were overwhelmed with the number of responses and pleased to read through the qualifications of so many talented people. Unfortunately, we could choose only two to be our chief editors and have selected two outstanding candidates to fill the positions. The new blog is now live at URL. As a professional blogger and supporter of renewable energy we hope that you will help make #### #### #### a success by visiting the site, contributing comments, and sharing the blog with your friends. As the blog matures we will be looking for contributing writers so we hope that you will also join the #### #### #### network and become a frequent contributor. Together we will achieve energy independence, one community at a time.

Thank you again for applying for this position and best of luck with your future endeavors.


### ####

Using Social Media For Life

A great article about local small biz social media strategy and success.

I get so excited when I hear people asking questions about how they can use social media to grow their business. Talking to family members about social media and how it relates to growing their business, I've gotten less than enthusiastic responses to how it could help their specific cause, but they see potential in it for others. We're witnessing the democratization of social media in how people are advertised, marketed and related to by corporations and small businesses. Social media can help just about anyone further their cause and get a message out to a lot of people at little monetary cost.

I'm setting a personal goal for myself that I will get my family's sheet mental fabrication and restaurant kitchen hood business to use social media to get their products and services out there. My grandfather and uncle are convinced that what I'm doing isn't a "blue collar" this; whatever that means. Banking, advertising, technology and most other sectors have been around for hundreds or even thousands of years. They are always evolving. Those who are hesitant to change and grow will miss out on major benefits of social media eventually.

As for those who know the power of social media and are aware of how it can affect their business in a positive way, I can help you develop strategies and help you utilize where your particular product and service sits in the industry.

If you're passionate about something to build a business, take risk and put yourself out there, you need your efforts and qualifications articulated accurately and you need that message to be targeted. That's what I'm all about. I get it straight, then I get it out there!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Happy Thursday, Tomorrow is Friday

My apologies for not posting since Monday! No excuses except for the usual schedule of working late and little energy after 9:00pm. Well maybe I do have an excuse...but I'm not ready to share on here, yet.

What to do about it? Not sure. Don't want to start getting into un-natural sleeping patterns again and I definitely don't want to get back into stimulants to stay awake longer (coffee and occasionally nicotine are my vices, kicking alcohol (for the most part) was hard enough)).

I just matched parenthesis. Can you tell I've been staring at Boolean string searches lately? Imagine if I actually became a techie dude and lost all desire to be "creative" as a writer? I think it'd be time to get checked-in somewhere for a long vacation with Nurse Ratchet.

I'm getting a new cat today at lunch time. I'm also half done with the first time homebuyer program in Worcester. With my lowered interest rates on my loans I'm looking forward to packing some money way and paying down a few of my credit cards so my credit doesn't look so bad when I go to sign an offer.

That's all I've got for now. Just wanted to break the silence and let you all know I'm still typing with my fingers and NOT with my toes.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Generation Y's Student Loans

Today I got a letter in the main stating that my student loans were being altered. Not in a bad way though! My interest rate was reduced! I am so pumped that I'll be paying drastically less for as long as this lasts.

Basically the letter states that I understood my interest rate on my private student loan as well as my federal student loan were variable but had a ceiling. I've been seeing my interest rates move higher as the years progressed. As the interest rates reached their ceiling, I get this letter stating they were dropping over 2 percentage points.

Thanks President Obama. I owe you one. Also, thanks Graduate Leverage. Not sure why you've done this, but keep it coming, PLEASE!

Persistance Has An Annual Dividend

Everyone's time is worth money. My grandfather taught me this. We need to spend our time, which equals money, at a job that pays us money. We hope that the net gain will be greater than the time and energy we put into our jobs. Often times, especially early in a career, this is not the case.

Where were you a year ago today? I was frantic, miserable in my jobs and felt like I was without options to improve my situation. I had my nose so close to the grindstone that everything else was a blur and indistinguishable.

Where are you now? I met lots of people in 2008 that helped me tremendously. I discovered and learned how to use Twitter. I also because a born-again writer. More importantly, I feel I have options.

The one thing that hasn't changed from last year to this year, or from any point in my life; persistence. If you put the time in and you continually reassess your goals and see what you could be doing better, then you'll get where you're going. If you never set goals, yet you work your ass of for someone, it's your loss.

Living purposefully is too important. You only live once. Figure out what you want to do, start looking into how it's done and how you can do it and get to work and make it happen. Nothing worthwhile happens overnight.

You can write a response to this in one year, exactly ;-)

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Convince Me

I am not a salesperson. I have never held, nor desired a career in any type of sales. However, I am a marketer and a bright one at that.

This morning I pondered on why I'm not so good at verbally convincing others of why something might be a good idea. Granted, people who know me and trust me usually always take me seriously when I start a sentence with "seriously, you need to check this out." Otherwise, to a complete stranger it takes a lot of careful studying and analysis to come up with coherent examples of why something is a good idea and then speak those examples eloquently and confidently enough to elicit a positive reaction.

I've felt damned having an overactive brain and a stammering, stu-stuh, stuttering verbal delivery that gets sidetracked by a well-constructed retort.

But, maybe that's not a bad thing? A Futurist friend of mine explained to me how things that are always on the cusp and not yet mainstream are what excite him the most. That is where all of the meaningful action is. Once an idea is commoditized and pimped, it loses it's real value for thinkers and innovators unless they are deconstructing it to create something better and different.

Standing on the sidelines, I may miss out on some things, but I am also able to observe the status quo and think and build un-obstructedly. Without having to worry too much about how my ideas are percieved by others (at first, at least), I can use free-flowing thought, objective criticism and continually build and innovate, rather than mold my creative process to what is currently popular.

All it takes is that spark. The person obsessed with an idea who focuses and develops it regardless of criticism and disbelief. He or she wanders through the myriad of disheartening comments, but one day an open ear leads to widen eyes and a faster pulse and great interest.

That's the spark, baby.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Are eBooks Just Essays in PDF Format?

This is by no means a post where I try to downplay prolific eBook authors. I personally want to write one and feel it is a good project of lesser scale than a novel to take on during busy times. I look some eBooks, and see a lot of cool designs in the actual file, which grab my attention and make me save it to my desktop for later reading.

But, I usually don't wind up going back to my desk to read an eBook on my desktop. Although I hate newspapers because of their cumbersom handling and small print, I am an old fashioned dude when it comes to books. They're easy to hold for long periods of time and you don't neccesarily need to be in any one place to read them.

Maybe this is an idea shift I have yet to make? eBooks are becoming more popular. I feel I could easily publish more of my shorter fiction and non-fiction in this medium, which actually gives me more mental incentive to write them. As for financial incentive, that's a whole other post I need to write.

I don't want to be a hypocrit. If I'm going to start reading eBooks, how should I start? Should I set asside time to sit down at my home office and read a few pages every day? I already do that on my Google reader! The only difference is there is no refreshing of the page... OR, I could get an Amazon eBook reader The Kindle.

Do any of you like to read eBooks? What about writing them? What are the pro's and cons?

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Budgets All Around

I told you all I wasn't going to get too heavy into this resolution stuff in the new year because I don't want to take focus on my day to day operations that are already getting me somewhere. If I need to stop and re-assess, I shall do so as needed, not on January 1st ever year.

Well, I may be breaking my promise a little too early. I'm doing a budget. I've lived on budgets before and they've gotten me out of credit card debt and allowed me to live in Boston on $10.00 an hour as a temp (worst/best days of my life). Since getting and maintaining a full time job for the past 2 years or so, I've stopped budgeting myself and spending/saving off the cuff.

My improv financial life hasn't worked well. I spend too much and save way too little. I have some automatic accounts that collect money each paycheck, but I don't count my 401k as a true reflection of how smart I am financially at age 24.

I want to buy a house or a condo this year. I actually am planning on doing so by the end of the summer barring any life altering events. So, in order to prepare myself and make this happen, I am going to do a budget for myself like I did when I was below the poverty line. We'll see how this works. It may completely warp my view of what kind of life I am leading and how I should live and spend. It may convince me not to buy a home (I sure hope not). But, no matter what happens and what my conclusions are, I need to be honest with myself in 2009 and moving forward. I let the comfort of a steady paycheck make me lazy and sloppy.

Does anyone have any advice for budgeting? I'm going to try and sit down and do it for a couple hours tonight.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

3 Blogs That Make Me Laugh Obnoxiously

I'm serious about my career and my life. Too serious at times. Below is a list of blogs that get a solid, snarky laugh out of me every single time I visit them.

Hipster Runoff:
  • My favorite social commentary on the young, hip and completely fucking clueless. A true ode to ALT-Culture. I've laughed out loud to every post so far. Beware: some nudity and pretty much everything will offend some segment of society.
Queen B Mommy:
  • Picture what one of the pea-brained women from the hills would blog about if suddenly knocked up and married to a wealthy man. This blog doesn't come off as satire at first, which is why it's so good... and scary!
The Economy Isn't Happening:
  • If you come to this page, realize the author has a book and he wants you to buy it. You will be reminded repeatedly. Thank god almost everything he writes is witty, on point and warped. The free download is cool, but if you get a chance, pick up the book with the pooch on the cover, it's worth the $15 bucks.
Please let me know in the comments what low-brow or high-brow humor gets you giggling on a regular basis.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Co-Working, Tweet-Ups and Team-Blogging

Excuse all of the hyphens, but I'm quite interested in what people's opinions of co-working, tweet-ups and team-blogging are. They are all relatively unique concepts, but they also all have similar traits which make them relevant to each other.

  • In any given urban region, I suspect there is a need and desire for co-working spaces where freelancing professionals can go and work will full office anemities without having to pay the crippling overhead costs of their own exclusive office space. A myriad of other positive side-effects would arise from having groups of creative and driven people working independently, but in close social proximity to one another.
  • I am a slave to Twitter, and a glad one at that. I want to host a Tweet-Up in January. I'd love for some input on organizing a Tweet-Up with themes, ideal locations, techniques of promoting it and being a good overall host.
  • I've applied to several websites for blogging jobs recently and haven't gotten offers yet. I'm not sure in what way I've hit the wall, but I feel as a writer I need to work on my packaging, concepts and sense of relevance. I'd like to co-Author a blog with someone. Team-blogging is my idea of coercing myself into a loosely bonded agreement that I'll contribute and push ideas to their limit with another like minded person. I currently don't have any idea who I'd ask, or what the blog topic would be, but I'm quite open to ideas on that as well.
This is my passive-aggressive (or loveable) way of saying that I want to be down. All of these things interest me greatly.

"Community" will be 2009's new "Green." "Smart-Grid" is going to be bit too, but even the damn scientists don't know what the hell it means yet!

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Deliberate Living

I was going to write another nostalgic post about the meaning of a new year ahead, but I decided against it. How is this different? Well, I honestly have been pushing these ideas for most of 2008, so I've got a little more momentum behind me than if I broke out new years resolutions starting on January 1st.

Instead, I want to ask you, what is on your plate right now? The family gatherings and obligatory traveling is done with, so what are you getting busy with at the moment?

As of now, I'm focusing on:
  • building my brand
  • learning some new things at my day job
  • writing book reviews
  • building relationships
  • continuing my fitness goals
  • sharpening and focusing my skills
  • pitching & writing freelance articles
  • buying my first home
Please feel free to gloat in the comment section, or share how nervous you are about this coming year. I think we've all got some mixed feelings. But as long as we're doing instead of hoping, I think good stuff will happen.