On Work

I was reading the first chapter of Acuff’s new book yesterday when I happened upon this statistic:

84 percent of employees plan to look for a new job this year.


I must have read that wrong. Am I incurring dyslexia at a young age? It must be 48 percent (and even that seems high). I re-read it, again, and again, eight times I re-read it.

Nope, eight out of every ten people you know want a new job, want a better job (one can’t decide I guess and the other is satisfied). That’s staggering to me.

But I think it correlates to one thing we talk about on this blog a lot: that we, as an American people, always want more. More money, more power, more cars, more square footage. The list goes on and on.

I’m not saying ambition is something to be sneered at, ambition is part of what drives people to accomplish great things and change the world, on some level, for the better.

Here’s my take on that 84 percent thing: I don’t think people are unsatisfied in their specific workplace, I think they’re unsatisfied by how much money they make and what they spend their time doing. For example, you could pay me $700,000 a year to stand on a street corner and be the dancing Little Ceasar’s guy and there’s no way I would to it.

You might be saying, “that’s crazy Kyle!” – and you might be right. But to me satisfaction in our work comes not from how bloated our pay stubs are or how prestigious our companies may be.

No, satisfaction in our work comes singularly from whether or not you love the work, whether you’re proud of it, whether or not you find yourself getting lost for hours at a time in it.

If you do that kind of work and have figured out how to get paid for it (even a minuscule amount), well, you’re one of the lucky ones. You shouldn’t be in the 84 percent.

2011 Goal

The other day Seth Godin wrote a post about everything he “shipped” in 2010. Our 2010 list is not as lengthy as his but it did get us thinking about 2011.

We have a few different projects we want to ship but our main goal is to start our first profitable Porter family small business.

Don’t worry we aren’t going to start charging for Marriage Project subscriptions or anything like that, the small business will most likely be completely be separate from this blog.

I have to say — we’re completely terrified of this goal but it’s something we, as a family, have wanted to do for a while so we’re going to have to get over that fear somehow.

We’re working on a more full “what we want to do in 2011” post for next week but this is our overarching goal.

We also want to hear about what you’re up to: what are you going to ship in 2011?

PS: Thanks for believing in us even when we sometimes don’t believe in ourselves…

Self Promotion

“Crap. What am I doing here? I wonder if the lady next to me would trade me tables. She can talk about my stuff and I’ll talk about hers. Yeah that makes sense. I know nothing about jewelry and she knows nothing about sewing. But it’s more enticing to hear about a product you didn’t make. Right?”

These are the thoughts that went through my mind right before the holiday bazaar started yesterday. I had been sewing for weeks, this time with a purpose. I was going to sell my things, but I forgot that required promoting and being proud of them. It’s strange, really. I can promote someone else’s fabric store all day long. I’ll tell you about my friend’s photography business or my husband’s athletic ability, just don’t ask me about what I do for a hobby. Or not a hobby. We still haven’t figured that out yet.

It was really inspiring to be around other people with creative minds, to watch them think outside the box and turn a small profit. But even as we continue to document our lives on the blog, we struggle with being too excited about our own work. We try not to tweet about a post more than once a day, but we’ll tweet other people’s stuff all day long. It’s easier and more freeing to talk about someone else’s success above your own.

But then it comes down to this: every minute we have to sew is a blessing. At least to me, though Kyle would consider it a prison sentence. Every minute we have to write is a blessing. And the platform from which to do it? No idea why we have it. So why is it such a difficult thing to talk about your successes? How do we balance having a humble heart with building something successful?


What Happened to the Hobby?

So I have this thing. I think it’s a desire to start my own business, though I’m not quite sure. Whatever I find myself doing, be it making Christmas cards or baby shower gifts or clothing, I always get, “You should sell that.”

It’s great, really. And it’s flattering and it makes me really proud of my stuff. And in my head I picture myself in an uptown studio surrounded by color and inspiration while making a living off my art. Yet recently I’ve taken a few steps back and thought, “What if I never sold anything?”

The art of the hobby has somehow gone by the wayside. At least in my world and in my heart. If I use my designs and my creativity to start a business, the “for fun” aspect becomes a little less prominent. Sure, I’ll still enjoy it, but if you’re going to charge people money for something, it better be good.

I’m sure I romanticize hobbies as much as I romanticize owning my own business. But when I think about life as we know it, how often do we leisurely do anything? Must everything become a money-making endeavor?

I know we have many creative readers out there. For those of you who have taken your passions into the world of business, what made you decide to take the leap? Do you miss having a hobby, or have you loved following your art into the world of business? Where should we draw the line?


Employment Update

Anyone remember the old school Express Personnel commercials? “I got a job… Get a job, Express Personnel… I got a job…” I think it might have been to the tune of an old Beach Boys song, but my dad was never into the Beach Boys when we were growing up, so I don’t know any of their songs. He was never into N’Sync either, but that didn’t really stop us. I guess I have no excuse.

Beach Boys or no Beach Boys, I’m employed! It’s true, and Kyle is doing cartwheels and fist pumps with excitement over another paycheck. Not that it will be that much extra, but it will be something and I’ll never make him budget it for craft money. I’ll be working at a small, locally owned fabric store. If this is your first time reading the blog, you probably don’t understand why I’m doing cartwheels and fist pumps over this as well. So here’s a little background info for you:

1. I love small businesses.
2. I love crafts.
3. I love learning new things.

All of these things swirl around in the universe and come together into one giant neon arrow pointing at one small Dallas business. Hello, CityCraft. Check out the link to the website below and if you’re from Dallas, come by! They offer classes and ab fab fabrics. Abracadabra.

Here’s a link to their website with more info, fabric previews, and class schedules.

Click here to check out their blog or click the button below:

And make something today. Out of anything you want.

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Dream Job(s)

If you could have any job, what would it be?

Maybe this is one of those husband/wife hypotheticals that gets tossed around like George Clooney in The Perfect Storm but we seem to discuss it at least three to four times a week, and usually more. It’s such a fun question because it can be hypothetical to the point that it couldn’t possibly ever come true (like Kyle playing swingman with Durant and Westbrook on the Thunder’s 2013 NBA title team) but also not so hypothetical that there’s a one-in-a-million-Jim-Carrey-in-Dumb-and-Dumber chance it could actually happen. See the following…

Kyle: When I was growing up I wanted to play professional baseball. I thought it would be cool to wear wristbands every day and hit home runs and throw runners out at the plate. Then after that dream died a fiery death I wanted to either be the general manager for a pro sports team or the athletic director at Oklahoma State. I suppose both of those are still on the backburner but my interest is waning. For the last four or five years I’ve felt the desire to be a writer, or rather, a storyteller. I think there was a month or two period during that time when I considered day trading stocks but then I realized the only stock I would ever buy is Nike and whoever makes Sperry shoes and that inkling passed. Quickly. Back to my keyboard.

There’s something about the art of telling a story though. I keep coming back to it. I remember when I was growing up and I used to devour books like Swiss Family Robinson, Moby Dick, and Black Beauty. I probably didn’t fully understand their meaning or the symbolism in each but I got lost in the story, and for that I revered the authors of such books. There are so many different forms of the written word in the world today: newspapers, blogs, Twitter, short articles, long articles, exposes, books, novels, magazines, etc. etc. So I don’t know in what capacity I thrive or even what is most enjoyable to me (though a daily blog post is hard to beat in the way of functionality and enjoyment) but maybe I’ll just keep writing until I find out. That’s my answer though: I’d be a writer of words, a teller of stories, a weaver of tales, a creator of entertainment and story so fascinating my readers could scarce tear their eyes away from that which I have written. That’s how it goes in my head anyway…

Jen: Thinking about my dream job gets me giggly. It’s really a culmination of what I already love (old things) mixed with what I’d love to do if I had time and money (travel). No, it’s not a door to door vintage umbrella salesman, though I do love umbrellas. My dream is to travel Europe for a few months at a time, buy old furniture, have it shipped back to the states, and then come back here to recover, refinish, and resell it.

Oh, the places I’d go! Because there would be no budgets (key phrase here is “dream” job- clearly no furniture, amazing as it would be, could sustain my wordly adventures) I would combine work with pleasure, visiting country after country in search of the perfect pieces. And when I came home, I would spend a few weeks plotting my approach, buying fabrics and picking out paint colors that would be perfect for each piece. Over the next few months, I would sand and paint and staple and sew until everything looked like it came straight from an issue of Domino magazine. I would have to sell all my goods to maintain the quality of my marriage, though I’d really just want to keep them all. Oh, and of course Kyle would come with me, for what’s a dream job if you have to do it alone?

Today, I live out my second best dream job: staying home and working on thirty different projects while my husband actually works. All while I apply for jobs, of course.

What is your dream job? Comment below.


Dream Small

We were sitting on a plane flying on our honeymoon to Hawaii. I was a century of pages deep in a Malcolm Gladwell book when Jen nudged me on the shoulder. I thought she might be changing her guarantee of a Nigeria vs. Chile World Cup final when she pointed to a section of an article she was reading about this group of guys in Maui who grow, raise, and sell taro chips. The quote she was was pointing at went something like this: “We have been very successful with our business and have grown enough to expand our market. However, we are dreaming small, we are keeping our business under control, and providing very quality products to our customers.” Note: I think I wrote that “paraphrase” as if the guy was Asian, not Hawaiian. Go back and read it with an Asian accent in your head and try to not laugh.

Anyway, we aren’t here to dissect native dialects. The point is this: this guy passed up more money and greater glory because he’s always dreamed small. I could barely believe I was reading the words he was saying. It was borderline heretical to everything I’d ever been taught, everything I’d ever believed. Here was this Hawaiian farmer raising cane and spitting a blasphemous theory that flies in the face of the teachings of all the great leaders and wondrous inspirational figures we’ve ever known. The craziest part was that it kind of started making sense to me.

We have these friends who live in Perry, OK, population 5,230 (not including cows). They own and manage a cleverly named coffee shop and just started a church there. I haven’t discussed it with them in-depth but I don’t think they have any aspirations of taking down Starbucks VIA an Oklahoma-based-breakfast-serving-church-gathering coffee shop. And I think if you were to ask them that’s probably not what they want either.

I enjoy pretty simple things. I love to write. I like to throw the baseball. I enjoy books. I’m fascinated by small businesses. I’ve fallen for the state of Georgia. My life is not some grand melodrama played out on a bright stage in front of the whole world. I love my wife. I like to take trips. I want a dog. And I’ve started dreaming small. I’m beginning to understand that life is not meant to be lived boisterously. It’s meant to be lived by doing that one thing you were put on Earth to do, and to do it well.

I want to encourage those of you who have been so faithful in reading this blog. Stop dreaming dreams that would make Rupert Murdoch blush. Dream small and carry those dreams out. Dream well and perform masterfully. Be faithful with the one or two things God has imparted upon you that you do better than anyone else.

At my wedding I had a short conversation with my high school baseball coach about what he was up to, where he was working, how he was doing. Last I had heard he was employed at a corporate tree-trimming company. He stared at me after I asked him what he was doing as if I should already know: “I just took another head coaching job in Houston, Kyle. I was put on Earth to coach baseball so I guess that’s what I have to do.” There was a shade of sarcasm in his voice as if he was laughing on the inside at the very notion that he had even tried to have a different job. He could coach anywhere in the country, at any level. But he chooses high school because he dreams small, lest anyone scoff at the notion that his dreams not be adequate with the cultural norm. Never have I had so great a non-related influence on my life. He taught me the great devotions and the great enthusiasms. Because he dreamed small I learned to know both victory and defeat.

Dream on.

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