I would be bored to death with myself if I were still the same person I was in my 20s.
I can divide my adult life in a number of different ways, but the easiest is according to how I’ve earned a living. Some people do the same thing all their lives. Many have two or three careers. I’ve had at least seven distinct periods — none of which I expected when I was 25.
I’ve changed radically over the years, so my needs have changed. The opportunities presented to me have been all over the chart. All of that has meant I’ve needed to reinvent myself time after time. It’s taught me a lot. It’s kept me from getting bored. But it’s also brought me to a place I never expected.
The last 10 years of my life have mostly been spent in places I didn’t want to be. For the first time in my life, I’ve felt stuck. Trapped. I somehow felt as though I had lost control. The old magic which had given me success and excitement had deserted me.
And now the time has come for me to reinvent myself one more time — and to write a story that might be very different from what I once expected.
I almost struck out in a new direction last year. I had planned to move into filmmaking last summer, but the arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic created too much economic uncertainty for me to do that. The independent film industry is a tough place to make a living anyway, but it’s gotten far tougher over the last year. It’s not a prudent choice for me at the moment.
Let me outline how I got to this place.
When I became a newspaper journalist, it was by accident. I was offered a part-time job as a reporter/photographer by the small daily newspaper in the city where I graduated from high school. Working during college — weekends, summers, whenever I had any time — I learned how to be a journalist. Over the next few years, I held every position in that newsroom, eventually becoming managing editor when I was still just 21.
After working for three newspapers as an editor, I went into business for myself. I started a graphic arts company that quickly launched a couple of small publications. I learned a lot on my own but eventually shut the company down for painful reasons I’ve explained before.
I then spent a couple of years working as a general manager and publisher — on the management side of newspapers — for a large company which I grew to hate. It was a profitable company which taught me a lot, but they did business in ways that didn’t mesh with what I wanted to be. I left just one step ahead of a final confrontation with a regional vice president who couldn’t stand me any more than I could stand him.
After that, I worked in advertising for a short time. I learned the direct mail business, starting with the basics of tight deadlines for grocery store ads. It didn’t pay well but I learned a lot — and it set me up for the most lucrative period of my life.
For 20 years, I was a political consultant. (It was an accident. Nobody sane gets into politics on purpose.) By the height of that career, I was making $100,000 to $150,000 a year — depending on the election cycle — and I had more business than I could handle. I came to deeply dislike the ethics of the political business. (And, yes, it’s a business.) The better I knew the people I worked for (and their opponents), the more I lost all confidence in the political system. (I also turned against the political system for philosophical reasons, but that’s a longer story.)
After I left politics, I floundered for several years. At first, I had plenty of money set aside and I thought I’d quickly figure out which way to go next, but it became a nightmare as I ran out of money without a new plan for myself. I was going through a difficult period personally at the same time, so I got depressed and turned inward. I was basically treading water.
In some respects, my time in real estate have been a further extension of treading water. Almost seven years ago, I fell in love with a woman and then something unexpected happened with that relationship. I spent quite awhile after that being unwilling to make any decisions, simply because I kept hoping that relationship would resolve itself. I was unwilling to commit myself to anything, because I knew everything in my life could change — depending on what someone else ultimately decided.
For the past six or seven years, everything I’ve published online has been an extension of my private thoughts. I haven’t had a target audience. I haven’t tried to win readers or listeners. It’s been more like a very public diary of my thoughts and observations. A small group of people — fewer than a thousand each day by now — have found something about it worthwhile, but it hasn’t been designed for a bigger audience.
(In reading the results from my audience survey in the last week or so, I find that my audience is split. Of the nearly 800 people who have responded so far, about half seem to understand what I’ve been doing, but the other half — mostly those who used to read my more political material — seem to misunderstand what I’m doing. That actually surprised me. And if you haven’t filled out the anonymous survey, I’d still like your thoughts.)
Soon, the focus of my publishing is going to change in some respects. I haven’t settled all the details, but I can tell you a little bit.
Everything I’ve been doing for the last half dozen years or so has been very “me centric.” If what I’ve been talking about is relevant to you, that’s great, but I was publishing because I needed to say things — not because I was trying to build an audience around a subject or a question or a need.
That’s about to change in some ways. On here, I’ll almost certainly still write some of the more personal things that I write today, but at least part of my online presence is going to be focused entirely on developing an audience built around the shared need to prepare for a very different kind of future.
This country is entering into a period of profound change right now. A lot of people are nervous and uneasy about that. There are a lot of people who are searching for reliable and rational information about how they can make decisions about their future.
The new portion of what I publish — maybe more on YouTube than here — will deal with the questions of what’s going on and how different ones of us can come to different decisions about how to handle the coming changes.
Although I’m going to avoid partisan politics — the nasty Red vs. Blue kind — I’ll have to talk quite a bit about how politics, culture and economics are shaping the changes that lie ahead. I’m going to try to make sense of what’s coming and I’m going to try to help lay out the questions that different people might want to ask themselves in order to be ready for the changes which I see coming.
I believe that most of us are prisoners of the programming that we got as children. We were taught to believe certain things about our country and our culture and ourselves. Much of what we were taught is no longer true — if it ever really was true — and that outdated thinking keeps us trapped and unwilling to make changes that we need to make today.
There are large numbers of people who are looking for information online about how to survive such coming changes — and I hope to publish information which is useful in helping people break free of their self-imposed prisons.
I don’t have the details worked out, but I suspect most of that information will be published on YouTube. Some of that material will end up here as well, but much of what I write here will remain more personal than what I produce for that audience.
I expect to be making changes in my own life as I lay out the possibilities for others. I hope to find a woman to be my partner who’s eager to deal with the same issues — and understands why it’s time to escape her own programming — and I suspect the entire process will lead me to make radical changes in my life which I can’t even anticipate right now.
Before I launch this publicly, I will be clarifying the language I use to explain it and I’ll come up with simpler labels with which to position what I’m doing. What I’ve been doing for years online has been just a personal exercise — but what lies ahead is going to be a serious effort to attract a commercial audience.
If I can’t reach enough people to make a living with it, the idea might fail, but it’s going to be my first attempt to build an actual media business — with advertising and income — for many years.
There’s a lot still to work out, but if you’ve been with me for a long time, I wanted to give you an idea about where I’m heading.
This site will celebrate its 10th anniversary in two and a half weeks. That would be an ideal time to launch the change, but I don’t know whether I’ll be ready for then. In the meantime, I’m working out my new narrative, starting with explaining it to myself. I have to sell myself before anybody else will be willing to buy in.
I’ve reinvented myself time after time. This is a big one for me, but it’s time to take a big chance. I’ll share more when there’s more to say.
Whether you’ve been with me for the entire 10 years or just for part of the experience, thank you for being here. I appreciate every one of you. I really do.