Was she just born to be a writer?

I suppose you could smoke some marijuana to get the words flowing. But, then you’d have to worry about getting too high. 

And, of course, you could drink some whiskey and wine to loosen up your tongue. But, there’s a fine line between writing freely and writing like a drunk bastard.

Then, there is the option to write when you feel inspired. But, like most things in life, inspiration comes at the least convenient times –– like when you’re in the car on a long drive without a laptop or a pen anywhere in sight. 

And, finally, you could just write because you were born to write and that’s what God put you here on Earth to do. But, I think that sounds a bit pompous –– I imagine God had other obligations when creating man and woman than to make you the next Stephen King. Plus, he was probably pretty preoccupied making Stephen king. 

So, here is the truth of the matter. The drugs won’t help. The whisky and wine won’t help (much). Inspiration comes and goes (but mostly goes). And, there will never be another Stephen King. 

So, if you want to be a writer and a damn good one at that, I would start by sitting down everyday at the same time in the same spot for the same number of minutes or hours. And, I would write. 

I would write about what I know. I would write about what I didn’t know. I would reread what I wrote the day before and cross out the shit and circle the gems –– and then I would try to write more of the gems you circle. 

By Cole Schafer.


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Chasing Prolific.

I caught up to her yesterday. Only for a moment. She was taking a break by the small pond on the other side of town –– right where the grass grows long and the trees begin to climb. 

She was naked and she was beautiful –– green eyes –– blue when the setting sun hit them at the right angle. 

I had never been this close to her before. Yet, an arms reach felt so far away. Crouching like a lurking lion I readied my legs to pounce –– and as I did a fallen branch beneath my left foot snapped –– letting loose a whiplash through the silent landscape. 

She turned. We held stares for a moment’s time. Then, she was gone. 

I was chasing prolific yeterday. 

I was an arms reach away. 

I never caught her though. 

She’s to smart and to wise and to quick and to aware. 

Maybe tomorrow. 

Or, perhaps, the day after that. 

By Cole Schafer.


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Am I a drug dealer or a freelancer?

A lot of people think I deal drugs. I don’t, of course. I deal words. But, the idea that someone can make money on their laptop writing anything other than “books” is a foreign concept to most. Here is a slightly over-dramatized version of the conversation I am used to having with strangers. 

Stranger: “The names Lana… what’s your name?”

Me: “Cole.”

Lana: “What do you do for a living.”

Cole: “I am a writer.”

Lana: “Cool. What books have you written?”

Cole: “I’m not really that kind of writer…”

Lana: “What kind of writer are you then…?”

Cole: “I'm like a freelance writer.”

Lana: “Oh. My uncle is a freelancer. He’s 55-years-old and still lives in my grandma’s basement.”

Cole: “Wow, hold on. I actually make a living as a freelancer. Like, I’m not really even a freelancer. More of an entrepreneur.”

Lana: “Don’t call yourself an entrepreneur. That’s so arrogant.”

Cole: “God. You’re right. I’m sorry…”

Lana: “It's okay. But, seriously. What do you do?”

Cole: “I told you. I am a freelance writer. Well, I guess a copywriter to be more specific.”

Lana: “Oh. So you do like Law-stuff? That’s kind of boring.”

Cole: “No. Actually, not at all. That’s not what a copywriter is. I basically write pretty words and sell things for a living.”

Lana: “That doesn’t make much sense.”

Cole: “I know.”

Lana: “You’re lying.”

Cole: “No I am not." 

Lana: “What do you really do?”

Cole: “I already told––never mind–– I’m basically in marketing.”

Lana: “Liar. You’re a drug dealer. Aren’t you?”

Cole: “What––how the f*** did you get that out of everything I just said?”

Lana: “What are you selling? I’ll take three.”

Cole: “I’m not a drug dealer, Lana."

Lana: “I don’t believe you.”

Cole: “I’m not.”

Lana: “Well, could you give me some marketing tips on how to sell more of my drugs then? Freelancer.“

Cole: "Absolutely not. And, don't say "freelancer" in such a snide tone."

Lana: "Sorry... I'm just gonna join your email list and get all your marketing tips for free."

Cole: "Go ahead."

Lana: "Ha. Jokes on you. Since I will be applying your marketing tactics to selling drugs. You're kind of a drug dealer now." 

Cole: "Dammit." 

~End~

By Cole Schafer.


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It takes one person.

It takes one person. 

It takes one person to walk away from a fight.

It takes one person to start one.

It takes one person to believe in somebody else. 

It takes one person to tear somebody else down. 

It takes one person to start a business. 

It takes one person to completely derail one.

It takes one person to start a war. 

It takes one person to start a movement. 

It takes one person. 

One person. 

Person.

Which Person.

Which person will you be? 

It takes one person. 

By Cole Schafer. 


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Let me tell you a thing or two about complacency.

If complacency were alive and breathing, it would be tall, slender, shadowy and horrifying. It would cling to the walls and corners of your home like a toothy vampire waiting to strike. It would always be there. Lurking. Preying. Waiting –– until the moment your turn your back.

Then, it would lunge out and spear you with it’s thick black claws and pull you into the confines of your basement –– where it would strip you naked and feed on you as you stared at the medals and honors and trophies and awards that you had won throughout the years. 

Let me tell you a thing or two about complacency –– it’s always there and always present. 

Don’t turn your back. Don’t turn of the lights. Don’t slow down. 

Because when you do, you’ll be dead. 

By Cole Schafer. 


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Life.

1. Play sports in high school , get good grades, make mom and dad proud.

2. Graduate college.

3. Get job.

4. Get married.

5. Buy house.

6. Buy dog.

7. Have kids.

8. Budget.

9. Live through kids.

10. Take vacation once a year.

11. Maybe get divorced.

12. Retire.

13. Die.

14. Take lots of pictures for Instagram along the way.

By Cole Schafer.


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It's like water –– you will always need more.

When you’re sending out that email to that one important person. And, when you’re asking that one important person to believe in you. Sooner or later, you need to ask yourself whether or not you believe in you. Because someone else’s belief in you will never be enough. 

It's like water –– you will always need more. 

By Cole Schafer.


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What happens when the plane shakes?

I was riding 15,000 feet above the ground in a jet that was hurling for Chicago O’Hare. It was a late afternoon flight and the cabin was silent, save for a crying toddler near the back of the airbus frightened by the invisible force adding pressure to her ears. 

The crying grew faint as I threw on my Bose headphones and hit play on a podcast episode I had downloaded before the flight. As the voices on the prerecorded tape chatted back and forth about business and writing and money, thoughts ran through my head –– mostly thoughts of the future. 

I thought about my copywriting business. I thought about how much it had grown since first starting it two years ago. I thought about how this growth wasn’t enough. I thought about a particularly difficult client I had just parted ways with. I thought about another client I loved that I hoped I never would part ways with. I thought about money and how I wanted to make more of it. I thought about the craft of writing and how I wanted to become great. I thought about…

Then the plane shook. 

And, as it shook, my thoughts scattered away from my mind’s conscious like roaches at the switch of a light. I began to sweat, lightly then all at once. I felt hot. I felt cold. I felt scared

The turbulence carried on for about five minutes, up and down the plane jolted –– and as it crashed back and forth in the wind I took note of my thoughts. 

They weren't the same thoughts I had been thinking before. They weren’t about business growth, difficult clients, wonderful clients, making more money and writing better than I ever had before. 

They were about staying alive. 

It’s funny and not funny all at the same time –– how we have all these big boisterous life plans to conquer the world. 

That is until the plane begins to shake. 

By Cole Schafer. 


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How to talk to people.

  1. Listen. 
  2. Look them in the eyes. 
  3. Don’t make small talk –– everybody knows it’s cold. 
  4. Listen. 
  5. Set your phone on silent and leave it face down on the table. 
  6. Better yet, leave it in the car. 
  7. Listen. 
  8. Don’t agree just for the sake of agreeing.
  9. Don’t disagree just for the sake of disagreeing.
  10. Listen.
  11. Say something interesting. 
  12. Leave them better than you found them.
  13. Listen. 

By Cole Schafer. 


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Will [fill in the blank] fix the situation?

Sometimes, when we feel like doing something brash, we need to step back and ask ourselves the following question ––

Will [fill in the blank] fix the situation?

In other words… 

Will losing my temper and sending a nasty email fix the situation?

Will pining the blame on someone else fix the situation?

Will getting offended and taking things personally fix the situation?

Will rolling my eyes and making someone else feel less fix the situation?

When we take the time to step back and ask ourselves these questions, 9 out of 10 times we will find the answer to be no. While losing your temper and sending the nasty email might feel good (at first), rarely does it fix the bigger problem you’re trying to solve –– rarely does it fix the situation.

By Cole Schafer.


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"Every morning a warrior should recommit himself to death."

“Every morning a warrior should recommit himself to death. In morning meditation, see yourself killed in various ways, such as being shredded by arrows, bullets, swords, and spears, being swept away by a tidal wave, burned by fire, struck by lightning, dying in an earthquake, falling from a great height, or succumbing to overwhelming sickness. An elder warrior said, “Once out of your front door you are surrounded by death. Once you leave your gate you are surrounded by enemies.” This saying is not merely a parable, but a way to prepare for your fate.”

– Yamamoto Tsunetomo, Master Samurai.

Perhaps, this quote resonates with me because I am Japanese and have a slight obsession with samurais. But, after coming across it a couple days back, it's been looping in my mind ever since. While neither myself nor you reading this live in a world where we must constantly face death... we do live in a world where we must constantly face failure. 

Many of us have been taught to act as though failure does not exist, that positive thinking somehow magically keeps failure away from us. But, what if we forced ourselves to consider failure on a daily basis? What if we started viewing failure like death, not a possibility but rather something inevitable?

Eventually, when failure shows up on our doorstep we wouldn't stare at with horror and surprise... we would instead smile and say, "Good, I knew you would eventually come. Now, teach me... where did I go wrong?"

By Cole Schafer.


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Do you want to be the hero... or do you want to win?

Great teams are harder to come by nowadays. Not because we are absent of great people. But, because we are absent of great people that are okay with NOT being the center of attention… 

When groups of great people come together and accomplish even greater things, it’s because a vast majority of them were able to swallow their pride and take off their cape and say –– 

“I’m okay with not being the hero in this story, as long as it means WE can WIN.”

Sooner or later, all of us have to come to this realization if we want to be successful. Sooner or later, all of us have to ask the question –– do we want to be the hero… or do we want to win? 

By Cole Schafer. 


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|un|healthy competition.

Eventually, there is a shift that takes place in business, intimate and platonic relationships.

The relationship goes from, "it's you and me against the world" to "it's you against me." 

Being on the same team begins to no longer feel like winning. But, it instead feels like you are sharing the success, sharing the praise, sharing the fame, sharing the money, sharing the [fill in the blank]. 

The question the two of you are asking changes.

What once was, "how can we make each other better?" is now, "which one of us is better... is it you or is it me?"

This changes everything. This changes the entire dynamic. This changes the competition. What once was healthy is now extremely unhealthy. 

And you're forced with a tough decision. Do you fix it or do you leave? 

By Cole Schafer. 


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Why you aren't creating anything worthwhile.

You aren’t creating anything worthwhile because it's too comfortable not too. 

It's too comfortable to fail at a relationship when you have Tinder in your back pocket. 

It's too comfortable to fail at starting a business when you have a steady paycheck. 

It's too comfortable to fail at losing weight when you have Ben & Jerry's in the freezer.

It's too comfortable to fail at reading a new book when you have Netflix one click away. 

In a world where innovation has allowed humans to live comfortably 24/7, the race or the challenge rather is no longer running from pain and suffering... but rather running from comfort.

Or, seeking out lives that sacrifice comfort for greater meaning and purpose. 

In order to do this effectively, we must have the discipline to make failure more uncomfortable than success. If the alternative to going to the gym is eating fried foods on the couch... failure is much more comfortable than success. 

For example –– if you’ve been trying to start a profitable side-hustle but keep quitting, it’s because you’re making it easy on yourself to quit. You’re making it comfortable to quit.

What would happen if you raised the stakes? What would happen if you took $2,500 out of your bank account and placed it in an envelope and then gave it to a friend? What would happen if you told your friend that if you don’t succeed at what you are wanting to do they can keep it?

Would you still quit? I don’t think so.

It would be too uncomfortable to quit. 

By Cole Schafer.


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You can't market shit.

Before you ever spend a single $1 on marketing, you need to determine whether or not you are attempting to market shit.

I see a lot of brands grow to hate their marketing and advertising firms because they aren’t increasing sales. When in reality, the reason they aren’t increasing sales has nothing to do with the campaigns and everything to do with the product or services being sold.

I think marketers, advertisers and business owners need to be more transparent about what they are selling. And, while you can’t tell a client that you won’t market their product because it's shit and it won’t sell… you can choose whether or not to work with them.

At the end of the day, we need to stop putting price tags on shit. There are too many good marketers and too many good products to waste time and energy and money on shit.

By Cole Schafer.


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Kyoodle

Kyoodle is a funny word with a serious meaning –– to make loud useless noise. Between dings, buzzes, likes and shares... there is a lot of kyoodling going on in the world we live in.

The value of work is no longer measured by the level of positive impact it creates but rather the level of kyoodling it produces. 

The bottom line is that we live in a world with an endless number of kyoodlers and very few creators. 

Which one are you going to be? 

By Cole Schafer.


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I don't want to play in your sandbox.

Throughout your life you’re going to be faced with situation after situation where you are forced to make an extraordinarily tough decision –– to do what everyone else has always done or to do what everyone else is scared to do. 

I call this the sandbox. It’s the place at recess where everybody hangs out because it’s safe and it’s familiar. But, in the sandbox there are rules and if you are going to play in the sandbox you must abide by those rules. 

You can’t throw sand. You can’t play with a toy that someone else is already playing with. You can’t take up too much room in the sandbox. Etc. 

The list goes on forever. 

Eventually, you will notice that there is always one kid that’s perhaps a little bit different and a little bit bold, that says ––

“Forget this. I am gonna go play somewhere else where there aren’t any rules. I don’t want to play in your sandbox.”

And, so she goes, off to unexplored territory at the other end of the playground. The other kids make fun of her and laugh because she has chosen to be an outsider. 

But, when the sandbox inevitably gets infested with pinworms, the kids don’t think she is so crazy anymore. 

In fact, they go as far to ask if they can play with her. 

She says yes, as long as they wash her hands. 

But, things have changed. She is now the queen of the new sandbox –– and the queen makes the rules.

By Cole Schafer.


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