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Why I Hadn’t Funded My Work with Patreon

It's not just about a discomfort with money.

Why I Hadn’t Funded My Work with Patreon

For several years, my “day job” (the one paying my bills) has been performing comedy shows. Meanwhile, my hobby has been creating online resources, tools, and organizations for justice.

If you think that’s a weird combo, you’re not alone. I’m with you: it’s hard to wrap my mind around the truth that the way I make money is comedy, then I use that money to pay to do administrative-paperwork-email-non-profit-type stuff.

Usually, it’s the other way around.

What’s even weirder? Switching things up — and starting to fund my online advocacy work directly, not via comedy shows — seems less likely to succeed than continuing to be a working comedian.

And yes — I’ve heard of Patreon. People have told me about it hundreds of times, for years and years, every time I made that point.

A lot of the work I do is a great fit for Patreon. But I’ve been resistant to the idea of funding it that way. The reasons are a mix of ethics and personal discomforts, and are all tied directly to my work, and the change I hope it effects.

So why haven’t I done it?

Continue reading → “Why I Hadn’t Funded My Work with Patreon”
Better Humaning

You’re Not “Self-Employed”

What happens if you let go of the myth that you are?

You’re Not “Self-Employed”

For the past almost-decade, I’ve checked the “self-employed” box lots of times: when opening bank accounts, on lease applications for apartments, and it’s how the IRS sees me.

But it’s a lie. I’m not “self-employed.”

Nobody is.

Continue reading → “You’re Not “Self-Employed””
Work dot Com

After 7 Years Doing this Work, I’m [Re-] Branding. Here’s how I’m making decisions.

Are you considering creating a "brand" for yourself or a project? Maybe this will help.

After 7 Years Doing this Work, I’m [Re-] Branding. Here’s how I’m making decisions.

I got thrown into this. Two-fold.

I got thrown into the work I’ve been doing. And I got thrown into a situation that’s led me to question everything, rethink and restructure, and make decisions that feel like an overall “brand.”

While I’m happy I’m here, one of the strongest forces that’s guiding what I do next is precisely avoiding how I got here: no more being thrown into stuff. Seem easy? Maybe. Probably not.

I’ll get to that in a second, but first the back story.

Continue reading → “After 7 Years Doing this Work, I’m [Re-] Branding. Here’s how I’m making decisions.”

(Un)Happiness

The Road Away From Email

A long and winding path with a pot of gold at the end. If I can get there.

The Road Away From Email

I wish I never had to read another email.

This is something I’ve said thousands of times, aloud and in my head (mostly in my head). I’ve said it in anger after opening another death threat. I’ve said it in frustration when an email sent me down a rabbit hole that took me away from a project I had planned for the day. It’s been an underlying sentiment for years, but it wasn’t until recently that it turned into a concrete plan:

I am going to stop reading emails.

But how?

Continue reading → “The Road Away From Email”
Updates

2016, A Brief Review of Creativity

‚ÄúMost people overestimate what they can do in one year and underestimate what they can do in ten years.‚ÄĚ - Bill Gates

2016, A Brief Review of Creativity

2016 was, well, quite the year.

All in all, I side with what appears to be the consensus that it was, if given only one descriptor, a dumpster fire. That said, it was also more than a dumpster fire, and I want to take a moment to reflect on some of the things I made this year — something I basically never do.

So, with that said, following is what I finished, published, and/or created in 2016.

Continue reading → “2016, A Brief Review of Creativity”
Technolophizing

1 Simple Productivity Hack: Leave your charger at home

The first time it happened, like most beautiful things, it was a frantic, sloppy accident. Now it's usually only two of those things.

1 Simple Productivity Hack: Leave your charger at home

I’m going to keep this short, because I only have 56 minutes of battery left on my laptop and still have about 100 emails I want to write today.

If you want to get work done, and are having a hard time controlling your focus (Facebook), keeping yourself from being distracted (Twitter), or hurdling any of the other hurdles between you and what you need to do today (Taylor Swift’s instagram account), take your laptop to a coffee shop and leave your charger at home. Continue reading → “1 Simple Productivity Hack: Leave your charger at home”

Updates

InTolerance: Why I’m Writing A New Show About Prejudice, Faith, and Identity

Debuting in Chicago on Thursday, Oct. 23, I'm producing a very-new new show that's open to the public.

InTolerance: Why I’m Writing A New Show About Prejudice, Faith, and Identity

In a few short days, I’ll be debuting a new show. To those¬†who have followed my work, I understand that the topic (faith)¬†and setting (a church) feel like they are¬†coming¬†out of left field. And that feeling couldn’t be more right — that’s why I’m doing this show.

Granted, I’ve written about Christianity¬†a bit, both here and at It’s Pronounced Metrosexual,¬†but it would be accurate to say that Faith is not my usual go-to topic when I hop on stage. In fact, I’ve never talked about faith on stage, and, if I’m being completely honest, I feel palpably¬†uncomfortable in churches. But again, that¬†is, in essence, why I’m doing this show.

Christian/Religious people don’t often engage in dialogue with Atheist people. Straight/Cisgender people don’t often engage in dialogue with Queer people. Don’t get me wrong: there is a lot of talking¬†at¬†these different groups,¬†but that’s not the same.

There are a lot of “national conversations” led by members of all four of these groups, but so few actual conversations. And who’s leading those conversations? Who do we have speaking on behalf of us? Are we comfortable with everything those folks say on our behalf? Do we (whatever We you are) really feel that way about them? (whatever Them they might be).

There is this idea that there is no common ground, that we’re all at extremes, we’re against, at odds, “irreconcilably different,”¬†fundamentally opposed.¬†These are identities that are thought to have clear lines in the sand — party lines, political lines, permanent lines. Us. Them. And a big gap between the two.

But here’s the thing: I don’t buy it. Any of it. I think we’re getting duped, that an extremely vocal minority is misrepresenting the majority, and that we’re more alike than we are different — at least where it counts. From my perspective, it’s becoming more and more clear that’s the case. But I’m aware of how odd my perspective is at times. I’m hoping this show will help build a bigger Us and a smaller Them.

There’s this thing about me — about my identity — that mixes people’s signals

I’m not gay and I’m not Christian, and these are two things that people are surprised to find out (if this is news to you right now — surprise!). So many people¬†assume the opposite that I’ve become accustomed to correcting people, sometimes even before they say anything — an anticipatory strike. And when I do that, I never hear “Oh, I didn’t think you were,” but instead “Really?!” or “How did you know I thought that?” or (the most common) “Are you sure?”

I’m sure.

“But what you’re doing with your life is so Christian.” “But you smell so¬†good.” “But…” “But…” But…” The responses to both my not-gay-ness and not-Christian-ness are many and varied¬†and not worth getting into here (so many for the gay assumption that I wrote an entire show about it).

I’m hoping this show to¬†serve as this middle part of the venn diagram that brings these four distinctly different groups together

I’m an atheist who is¬†often¬†assumed to be a Christian, a straight, cisgender man who is often¬†assumed to be queer. ¬†As a result of that, or at least as a result of me engaging with those confusions, I’ve had a¬†ton¬†of conversations with people who fall somewhere into all four of these groups. And what I’ve found is there really aren’t four groups at all. Instead, there are a ton of individual people who align somewhere on, between, beside, or outside of each of those dimensions.

A lot of good can come from this conversation, if we do it in a healthy, non-threatening, safe way. It’s a conversation that’s already ringing in a lot of folks ears, but by no means the majority. I’m hoping InTolerance¬†will help folks feel more comfortable joining the conversation in their own lives, and nudging that seemingly-silent minority toward a¬†vocal majority.

Hell, or maybe it’ll just be fun to tell stories and laugh for an hour in a church. I know it’ll be a first for me. I hope to see you there.

Technolophizing

How I Keep Track of 50 Projects at Once (& Maintain Some Sanity)

A friend wrote me and asked how I make sense of everything. This is what I replied.

How I Keep Track of 50 Projects at Once (& Maintain Some Sanity)

I’m currently in the process of finishing¬†two books, starting¬†another, publishing¬†two new sexuality models, three new live social justice comedy shows, running half a dozen volunteer-based initiatives, building I’m-not-even-sure-how-many websites, and the list goes on. It’s a lot. And as I type that, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. But I’ve found a way to make sense of it all, to not lose any of my little ducklings, and to retain¬†a semblance of peace of mind.

It’s just a matter of coming up with a way of not losing track of ideas before they¬†develop into things.

I want to first say that I’m not very good at this — I’m just good enough. And if you’re a notebook/physical thing person, you’re not going to like this, because I’m all digital, baby (in the cloud! disruptive! innoventive!).¬†I keep track of ideas, actions, and¬†creation¬†using [mostly] Evernote, Wunderlist, and Google Drive. I also have a pile¬†of external hard drives. Below is how¬†I specifically use each.

All of these things are [or can be] free, other than the hard drives. They are great for collaborating. And they work on my phone, tablet, computer, and web browser.

To remember ideas, I use Evernote

Evernote is amazing, but it can easily get unmanageable. The trick is to effectively use tags and journals.

I have different journals for different ideations within Evernote (e.g., a comedy one, an IPM one, one for my forthcoming EP, one for each of my books, etc.) but use the same universal tag system for everything. That way, everything has its own place, but with the tags I can draw connections between otherwise unrelated projects.

For example, I originally wrote my gender TEDx talk to be a song, so I tagged it “lyrics” and while it changed from there, it still comes up when I’m looking at “lyrics” to see all the songs I’ve written, which I like (cuz it could be easily changed back).

To remember actions, I use Wunderlist

Wunderlist is almost as powerful as Evernote in its ability to organize, but it far surpasses Evernote’s ability to push me to get tasks done. You can have separate lists for different projects, assign tasks to people, or just have an inbox of incoming assignments (I use this feature a lot with my¬†manager & project coordinator, Chum and Bethany, where we assign tasks to one another on¬†share lists).

I have about 60 – 70 Wunderlists going at any given time. I have one for each of my live personal projects (things like IPM site, Jack and/or Jill, etc., which is about 30ish), one for each of my collaborations that are still ongoing (like the Safe Zone Project), for every freelance gig I have open, and then I have some general life ones (e.g., “Rainy Day in Austin,” “Things I Need to Buy”).

Some of the tasks have due dates, which makes it easy to know what I have to get done today, if anything (by browsing the due “Today” tab). But if that’s not absolutely necessary, they don’t. And I just open a list and work through it when I’m inspired to work on that project.

I also recently started doing “pre” and “post” lists for speaking/shows/trips, and I’ve really liked that idea. “Pre” is things to pack, print, buy, etc. “Post” is all follow-ups I accumulate while I’m there. And I have those forever until they’re complete, like the one from a trip I did back in January that is still not complete. Gotta get on that.

To get started on writing and creation, I use Google Drive

Google Drive is amazing because you can create, share, edit, and publish [limited, but not bad] all from one place. It’s as much a shared drive as it is a studio, and because of the universality of google accounts, it’s perfect for collaboration.

Right now, I have 22 top level folders in my Google Drive. As you’re starting to likely get the sense, I use these separations to help me stay organized. But for Google Drive, I don’t separate just by project, but also by collaborators. I give Chum and Bethany access to all of my personal projects, so there’s just a “CHUM & BETHANY & SAM” folder. I share access to that folder with them once, then they have everything inside, which includes everything from new articles I’m writing for a variety of sites, to bios, to show schedules, to contracts, to budgets.

Some of my other top level folders are more broad, but all with the same goal of making the sharing easy. The only reason I’m writing and making things on Google Drive instead of my laptop is because I can click a button and allow someone else access (to edit, provide feedback, take over, etc.). So it’s with that in mind that I choose how I will organize what goes where.

To finalize and publish, I use my laptop

Granted, I’m using my laptop for a lot of the things above as well, but here I mostly mean Adobe Creative Suite (for all the design and print stuff) and Sublime Text 2 (for programming web stuff). And I back up all of the finished products of everything on external hard drives.

To organize my computer, I created a new top level folder (on the same par as “Documents” and “Movies”) called “Projects.” In Projects, I have a subfolder for everything I’m currently actively working on. Everything finished or dormant stowed away on an external drive. The nice thing about the Projects folder is that now I can still use the Documents folder for what, I think, it was meant to be: a hodge-podge of personal things (like tax returns) and other files you’re not sure where to put (like resumes, animated .gifs of Ellen dancing, etc.).

As far as backing things up, I have separate external hard drives for three different divisions of my work: photo/video (all on one hard drive), design, and organizational. So I know that if I need the raw video clip of a testimonial from a keynote that I gave three years ago, I plug in my blue hard drive where it’ll be organized hierarchically by type and date, and I can find it in 2 minutes. Ditto with a poster I made four years ago and haven’t thought of since (just happened as I was redesigning Dear World). Or an organizational structure and position descriptions for something I did in 2012. All on separate hard drives, waiting to be resurrected.

Each of those hard drives is backed up as well, of course. And my computer (with all of my live projects) gets backed up every couple of days on a separate hard drive altogether.

This is how I do it, not how you should

The above system works really well [enough] for me. But I came to it through a ton of trial and error. And the best advice I can give to anyone is exactly that: try things, try different things, then try some other things.

You can start with the things above, but don’t stop until you’ve found a system of techniques, software, writing on your hand, pinning notes to your shirtt, whatever, that feels¬†right. You’ll know when you find it. Or, rather, you’ll know when you haven’t, so keep experimenting until you hit your stride.

Updates

My First Live S.E.X. Show

Don't worry! It's not just me. I'm doing it with my friend Karen.

My First Live S.E.X. Show

A couple months ago my friends Karen Rayne¬†and Heather Ross approached me with an idea. I don’t remember the wording, but I don’t think it was anything less tongue-in-cheek than “Wanna do a sex show in Austin?”

Um. Yes.

I’ve been wanting to find a way to bring what I do — the social justice comedy-ness of it all — to a more¬†adult crowd (if you will) for a couple years now. When I first moved to Austin the plan was to produce my show,¬†It’s Pronounced Metrosexual,¬†in town as a standing gig, then take it on the road to colleges. That fell through for a ton of in-the-end beneficial reasons, and I ended up rewriting the show into what it is now: something that’s perfect for colleges, but not so perfect for ATX.

Enter S.E.X.

The idea behind the show is that I get to tell a bunch of stories I rarely/never¬†get to tell¬†(like my orgy story, or this new one about a massage in Dahab), and Karen gets to answer questions that adults [in Texas, or, really, most places] have never been able to ask (like, “How does fisting work?“). And we’re doing it on stage.

It’s a perfect date night. Great for 20s, 30s, and 40+s couples, getting away from the kids, or just opening your mind to something new.

Every month, the show will have a different theme, and for the first one, it’s [obviously] Our First Time.¬†It’s going to be a blast, an adventure, and a bit terrifying; awkward, clumsy, messy; I’m definitely not going to¬†tell my parents about it¬†— but above all it’s going to be perfectly¬†Austin.

Below is a little video we put together that might help make it all make sense. Further below is an interview I did with a delightful person that was supposed to be about the show.

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Updates

I’m Sick With Career

Symptoms include shortness of breadth, loss of here-ing, and influinbox.

I’m Sick With Career

When I came to Austin a few years ago I had nothing, at least relative to what I “have” now. I’ve achieved much and gained a lot in a short amount of time, which are all good things. Well, mostly good. There’s one thing that’s grown from an afterthought that pops into my head before I fall asleep, to an elephant in the corner of the room, to a lead backpack inexorably attached to my back: my “career.”

I didn’t have one of those a few years ago. I knew I was supposed to. We’re all supposed to have one, like a government-issued ID or an anus. Butt I didn’t. And, in hindsight, I didn’t miss it. I spent most of my days creating, most of my nights creating, and the rest of the time living. I put so many creations out into the world that year I can’t even recall many of them now, nor did I document it particularly well. I didn’t spend any time thinking about the creations, or managing them, bolstering them, advertising them — those are all things a person with a career does; they’re some of the main side effects of catching¬†career — I just created.

Then I came down with career.

Career is what gets in your way of trying to do work that is meaningful and enjoyable to you. It starts as an unplanned pitstop on your way to some project you’re excited to work on. Next you find yourself scheduling regular check-ups in advance. And before you know it you’re doing full tune-ups with a certified tuner-upper every time you try to get out of the garage. Career is “risk mitigation” and “goal setting” and “trajectory” and “email” —¬†so much email.

It’s tough to create when you’ve been afflicted with career. Creation requires a lot of empty mind space, room that you can fill with new ideas, a place for them to bounce, to grow, to take shape. Creation requires a relaxed mind, a peaceful mind, a calm to set the stage for the forthcoming storm. Career is want to fill the mind and keep it agitated, ever turning, ever grinding, ever aware. Aware of the things you¬†should¬†be doing, the tasks that¬†need¬†completing, how you should be spending your time right¬†now. Creation doesn’t well abide shoulds and needs and nows.

The past couple days, since writing about remembering what you do, I’ve been trying to turn career off, or at least down, just to see what would happen. Beyond the simple peace I allowed myself to experience (which was great), one huge thing happened. Around midnight I put my guitar down, put a kettle on, studied French for a while, then decided to have a workout. During my post-shower workout at about 2am (a time I never shower, because career is usually at high volume at 2am)¬†I finally had a breakthrough on a human sexuality model that I’ve been working on for almost a year now. A model that I’ve sent a few dozen ideas directly to the trash, but kept forcing out new ideas because I know that I need to create this model for this book for this publication date for my¬†career.

As Mickey Smith says in my favorite video (almost) ever, “I never set out to become anything in particular, only to live creatively and push the scope of my experience for adventure and for passion.” That’s how I feel most of the time about my career.

I love what I do. I really do. Genuinely, with all my heart, never want to give it up love. I just want to be able to do that more again, and worry about doing it less.¬†So it’s clear I don’t like something, now I just have to figure out how I’m going to change it.

Updates

Remembering What You Do

"A living cell requires energy not only for all its functions, but also for the maintenance of its structure." - Albert Szent-Gyorgyi

Remembering What You Do

What do you do?

No matter your answer, if you’re anything like me you probably have an iceberg-esque situation on your hands, with 10% of your time spent doing what you do and 90% of your time doing maintenance to allow that 10% to happen.

I’m a “social justice comedian.” Tonight, I got to do that. I performed my show at St. Martin’s University in Olympia, Washington. It was a blast. During that hour, I remembered, for the first time in too long, what I do. Because the vast (vast!) majority of my time as a social justice comedian is spent not being a social justice comedian.

The 10%/90% split is ambitious. Last year, only roughly .006% of the time I spent working was me onstage. The other 99.994% of the time I was reading emails, writing, writing emails, meeting, reading emails, traveling, designing, coding, and writing email. Now, in my case, I don’t need to spend most of that time in those ways. In fact, most of the work I do actually gets in the way of me being able to do what I do. But even if I was just focusing completely on my show, I wouldn’t be spending the majority of my time on stage.

When I’ve gone a long time between performing my show, I get depressed, and find it harder and harder to do the 99.994%-type work I do. It’s easy to lose site of the forest for the trees, and to forget that every email I read and send, every article I write, every little promo thing I design — all of them are little steps that get me to my next time on stage. If I can find the joy on those things that I find in performing my show, my life will become the kind of dream that right now only ZzzQuil can induce.

I’m going to start trying to remember what I do while doing everything I do.