Lucid Dreamers: Cameron Klemczewski & Building Relationships

Cole Schafer Blog

I was first introduced to Cameron Klemczewski seven years ago in a program called Shepard’s Law Academy– a two-year study in law and social justice.

Ironically, neither Cameron nor I entered into careers that had anything to do with law.

The 16-year-old Cameron I knew and had become quite fond of as both a classmate and close friend was slightly awkward and unsure of himself, but extremely bright and full of potential.

Fast-forward seven years to present-day, Cameron radiates confidence and charisma– both his intelligence and hard work have allowed him to not only meet his potential but surpass it considerably.

Out of all the 20-something post-graduates I know, the name Cameron Klemczewski sits near the top of the list as one of the most impressive.

At just 23 years old, Cameron thrives as a financial representative at Northwestern Mutual–  working with people of all ages to build brighter futures through financial planning, wealth protection and asset growth.

“I really enjoy the relationship aspect of life, and I think that is a big reason I love being a financial planner. The relationships I have built have been one of the best aspects of working at Northwestern Mutual

I always knew that whatever I did, I would want to see the difference I was making in other people’s lives, like visually see it. I remember back in high school, I had a financial advisor visit my class. He talked about the amazing relationships he was able to build through his career, and the lives he was able to positively impact through financial planning. From that point on, I knew that was exactly what I wanted to do.”

In college, Cameron worked as an intern at Northwestern Mutual and fell in love with it. His drive and hard work led him to set a pretty lofty goal for himself– to be one of the top 10 interns in the country. Considering there were 4,000 interns nationwide at the time, it’s safe to say he had his work cut out for him.

“I put my nose to the grindstone and worked as hard as I possibly could. I didn’t get to top 10 in the country but ended up being #24. So, top 25 out of 4,000 interns.”

Cameron went on to say this hard working mentality, combined with a desire to build relationships and make other people’s lives better is what has fueled his success.

“Whatever it is, I think everyone should do what they have a passion for. Do what you love to do. I work close to 60 hours a week and I just love it. I am passionate about what I do and am making the difference I want to make.”

As far as the future goes, Cameron says he genuinely foresees himself retiring from Northwestern Mutual– his future goals are to continue to grow his business as big as he can and help a lot of people while doing so.

What is a routine you do every single day to keep you on your A-Game?

"I try to get into work by 7. Typically, my meetings will run as late as 7-7:30. It can be hard. I won’t lie. My bed is warm. But I put in the work because I know what I want my life to look like long term."

What book do you most often gift to others?

"A book that really impacted me is the Strangest Secret. It dissects the art of making goals for yourself. You can literally write down a goal, look at it every day, look at it at lunch and you will begin to mentally own that goal and subconsciously you will be doing things that help you reach it."

What is your superpower?

"I don’t necessarily have a superpower. But I have a couple of strengths that play well for me. Encouragement. I have always been really good at encouraging people and building them. Work Ethic. I learned my work ethic from my dad, just watching him work towards his dream every single day. He started his own business and now it is franchised out into 150 different locations. Watching him, instilled that work ethic in me."

What is your biggest weakness?

My biggest weakness can be doubt at times, thinking “Am I good enough”. But this doubt is a strength in a way. It provides me the opportunity to practice self-talk and think positively, think bigger. I don’t let myself get down for long.

If you had a billboard at the busiest intersection in the world, what would it say?

"Hard work beats skill every time."

By Cole Schafer

Lucid Dreamers: The Young Entrepreneurs Behind The Come Up Shoppe

This post is sponsored by Lucid Coffee Bar, a hidden gem in downtown Newburgh. The Lucid's Dreamers campaign celebrates those that have big dreams by telling their unique stories and experiences.

There is so much that goes into each of the pieces we pick, we hand pick every article of clothing that is in our store. Every piece. Every piece has a reason it is in our shop. All we want is to get that one person to find that one piece they really connect with.

If you were to take a stroll through downtown Newburgh, sipping away on a Lucid vanilla latte, you would eventually happen upon a rather simplistic white sign that reads ‘The Come Up Shoppe’, accompanied by a swooping black arrow pointing skyward. 

Clever branding doubles as both a stylistic introduction to a brand that has become iconic in the Southern Indiana area, as well as a directional -- you literally walk up a flight of cobble stone steps to come up to the shop. 

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Hip hop, 90’s Rap music and a door that is always open welcomes you into a small venue that sits snugly on the balcony above the stairs. Once inside, you will be met with hangers upon hangers of some of the best vintage you can find. Brands like Marlboro, Polo Ralph Lauren, Tommy Hilfiger and Nike can be pulled from the walls in handfuls -- each of which is hand-picked gems from the owners and co-founders Angelo Butturi and Sam Curtis

The pair of 20-something entrepreneurs and fashion aficionados that many would argue were born in the wrong era, grew up playing hockey and lacrosse in high school, where together they went on to compete collegiately at Hanover College. 

As some of the first NCAA Lacrosse players to ever come out of Evansville, Angelo and Sam are both fierce competitors and avid sports fans -- which is made very apparent in the rapid success of The Come Up Shoppe. 

I had the opportunity to sit down and talk shoppe with Angelo and Sam over an ice cold cup of joe from none other than Lucid Coffee Bar. It was on the front deck of Newburgh’s favorite coffee spot where I picked the brains of these young hustlers. 

I used to thrift shop with my dad in flea markets. I continued that through high school -- I would check out Goodwill and different thrift shops to look for polo and Tommy; keeping up with trends and styles, but at a cheaper price,” said Sam. 

While in college, Sam began to notice people were making some serious money buying and selling vintage through social media sites like Instagram and Facebook. It was around this time he realized there was a serious opportunity to monetize his passion -- for two whole years all he did was buy vintage and build his inventory. 

One day, Angelo was buying a few clothes from Sam’s apartment, “I was looking through his inventory and was like ‘Sam, you should have some people come over and buy some of this stuff’. I invited a few of my friends over and they loved everything and bought quite a bit of clothes. Seeing that, I realized the potential. I was the one friend that didn’t think he was crazy. I remember writing him a huge text one night at like 2 a.m. -- I want in, I want to be a part of this. That summer after I graduated, we hit it hard.”

The two of them paused for a moment, almost as if Angelo’s words allowed them to reflect on how far they had come in such a short time. I asked them why it is they are so passionate about their store and what is that fuels them. 

Sam took a sip from his iced coffee before answering, “Ultimately, we want to bring a culture to Evansville, spice things up a bit. We have turned a passion of ours into a business and we just want to share it with people. There is so much more to our store than meets the eye. When people ask questions about the history behind some of our merchandise, that is what really gets us excited. Telling people why it is in the store, why it is special and why it is vintage. There is so much that goes into each of the pieces we pick, we hand pick every article of clothing that is in our store. Every piece. Every piece has a reason it is in our shop. All we want is to get that one person to find that one piece they really connect with.”

While Angelo and Sam have seen a ton of success in a very short time with The Come Up Shoppe (open for a little under 8 months), they would be the first ones to tell you that running a business is anything but easy.

Sam works over 30 hours a week waiting tables on nights and weekends; while Angelo spends any extra time he has coaching youngsters in Lacrosse -- all on top of running a full-time store. 

Be on the lookout for The Come Up Shoppe, the sky's the limit for these two 90’s loving, Hip hop blaring, thrift store diving hustlers. 

I don’t foresee anything standing in their way.

By Cole Schafer

Lucid Dreamers: Mackenzie Sweeney's Life of Yoga, Travel & Everything Inbetween

This post is sponsored by Lucid Coffee Bar, a hidden gem in downtown Newburgh. The Lucid's Dreamers campaign celebrates those that have big dreams by telling their unique stories and experiences.

Cole Schafer Blog
All I did for four months was walk dogs, go to yoga and go to therapy.

Sharing many of the same creative spots, Mackenzie and I had a habit of ending up at the same coffee shops scattered around town. After a couple months of regularly showing up at the same series of venues, she became something similar to a coworker of mine, a word very foreign to a digital nomad.

How would I describe Mackenzie? Unique. Beautifully unique. She stands nearly 6 feet tall and her hair is never the same color -- red, green, blue and nearly every hue in between. Ink decorates her skin like an open picture book, holding true to Jack London’s famous words,

“Show me a woman with a tattoo and I’ll show you a woman with an interesting past.”

My only critique to the literary legend’s quote would be the addition of the word present. You see, Mackenzie’s entire life is interesting. She was born to be interesting, I don’t think she knows any different.

Even as I type away at this post, Mackenzie is thousands of miles away practicing yoga in Bali.

Born and raised in Denver, Colorado. She was a super big choir nerd in high school. Eventually finding herself enrolled at the University of Evansville with a scholarship in Opera and academics.

Post graduation, her years revolve around her summers in Alaska, where she spends about 5 and a half months in little tiny Skagway, Alaska, working as a tour guide performer at a historic saloon and brothel museum.

She also works as a Virtual Project manager at a firm called ‘Leverage’, recently promoted to the marketing lead of the company. Yes, the yoga-loving, opera-singing free-spirit has some brains too.

She is one of the most self-loving and compassionate individuals I have ever met, but she hasn’t lived a life free of pain.

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“During what was going to be the graduating semester of college, I was struck by a car walking across the street. It was Valentines Day, 2014. It knocked me for a 3rd-degree concussion. I didn’t understand. I could remember things. I lost my ability to speak French, which I was fluent in.

I was one of the greatest multitaskers, couldn’t do that anymore.

It really fucked with my emotional processing. I never struggled with anxiety and depression until then. I didn’t have a calm, I was either really high or really low.

The year of 2014 is still very fuzzy as I was healing from that concussion. I couldn’t process things, my mind was always hurting and my heart was aching.

At the start of 2016, I was vacationing in Central America during New years. And I realized that something was wrong with me. I was in a shitty relationship, working a job in Corporate America I hated and I was over it. I quit the relationship. I quit the job. And I decided I was going to go do the things I had always said I wanted to do.

You’ve been saying you want to be outside and wear workout clothes? A dog-walking position opened up, and I started walking dogs. You’ve been joking about modeling for 10 years? Why not go get a modeling contract? And I did. I did all of these things and I started seeing a therapist that specializes in traumatic brain injuries (TBI’s).

All I did for four months was walk dogs, go to yoga and go to therapy.

Sometimes I still have issues from the accident. When I do a lot of mental work through the day and my brain gets tired, I have trouble completing my sentences. Yoga has helped with that, it has taught me to think before I talk.”

I asked Mackenzie what her future dreams and aspirations were. She is constantly on the move, hardly ever finding herself in one place. I was curious to know if she had any intention of ever slowing down.

She said she had two dreams. One is to be a mom. Another is to create a program that helps preteen girls feel empowerment and embrace self-love.

I think she will be exceptional at both.

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What is a routine you do every single day that keeps you on your A-Game?

“I list off 10 great things in my head, starting with “I am loved”. I started doing that when I was in a really dark place and couldn’t get out of bed in the morning. I would wake up and start listing, and if the first 5 were hard, I would go back to bed for 5 minutes and start listing again.”

What is a book you most often gift to others?

“The Mastery of Love by Don Miguel Ruiz. It taught me that if you love yourself so so fully, nothing and no one else can control you, loving yourself is giving yourself power.”

What is your superpower?

“I can calm a room. I can come into any situation and really neutralize it.”

What is your biggest weakness?

“Overcommitment. No is the power that the good witch wields. I love to say yes, but I have learned I need to say no.”

If you had a billboard at the busiest intersection in the world, what would it say?

“Take a moment.”

By Cole Schafer

You Are 23 & Want to be Successful, so Do These Things

Cole Schafer Blog
Hanging around. Hanging around. Kid’s got alligator blood. Can’t get rid of him.
— Teddy KGB

I am 23, not successful and still have a lot to learn before I will ever reach success. But, I can share with you a few things I am doing in hopes to one day be successful. I can’t promise that it will work for you, but thus far it has worked to bring me very modest amounts of success.

I wanted this post to be relatively concise, providing actionable steps you could implement today. So, let’s jump right in.

1. Stop Scrolling

The average person spends 2 hours of their day scrolling through their social feeds. Over the course of the year, this adds up to 730 hours or 30 days. You are spending an entire month out of every year scrolling, mindlessly, through social media. If you spent these 730 hours selling lemonade from a lemonade stand for $5 an hour you would be spending your time more productively because at least you would have $3,650 to show for it. I have a lot of opinions on social media, you can read more here

2. Work on Your Craft Every Day

I don’t care if you are a wood whittler, a painter or a coder, success is only achieved through deliberate, consistent practice. Find a 1-2 hour window each day that you can spend perfecting your craft. I can’t emphasize enough how important this is, you will not become better unless you submerge yourself in deeply focused, purposeful practice.

3. Be Patient

You are going to work your ass off at something you love every single day of your life and chances are nothing is going to happen for 3-5 years. You need to understand this, you need to accept this and you need to keep being patient. If you can’t wait until you are 28 years old to reap the rewards of your hard work, you aren’t doing something you are passionate about.

4. Stop Waiting for Your Big Break

I have been alive for 23-years and I know of only one person that has ever gotten a big break. 99.99% of the time people don’t get ‘big breaks’. I have interviewed some crazy successful people who make a lot of money and make a lot of difference in the world, and none of them have ever had a ‘big break’. They became successful through everything I described in points 2 & 3 -- deliberate practice and patience. You will not fall in the .01% that gets lucky, so get out and make your own luck.

5. Force Yourself to Suck at Your Passion

If you were to have watched me go through basketball drills in my driveway while I was growing up, it would have been painful. I would dribble two basketballs, and would just pound them against the concrete until one of them went flying off my foot or off the opposing ball. Sometimes one would take a weird pop off the concrete and strike me in my fingertips, ripping the flesh between my finger nails. The pooling blood would then decorate the basketball as I continued on -- harder, harder and harder. Each time dribbling harder and faster than the time before. When I would get done with my drills, my hands would be as black as the asphalt and my shoulders, wrists and fingers would throb.

When I practiced, I practiced so hard that I sucked -- always forcing myself to perform 10% faster than a speed I was comfortable at.

That is how I got good at basketball, I forced myself to suck. It is the same way I plan to get good at writing, too.

6. Create The Life You Want, Stop Following Someone Else’s

I have always been a sucker for a damn good Instagram account. As a creative, I have a habit of falling in love with pretty pictures. There have been times where I have found myself spending too much time admiring other people’s lives on social media, wasting valuable time I could be spending on my own. Social media is responsible for creating a lot of dreams and killing just as many.

Every second you spend thinking about what someone else has is taking away from the time and energy you could spend creating something for yourself.

7. Stop Caring What Other People Think

A couple weeks back I had a creative director that I had contacted email me back a shitty condescending note that said, “I would stop writing about topics like depression and anxiety. Cool. It drives 20-something traffic, but it isn’t going to land professional brands, they won’t have much faith in you.” I used to allow notes like this to obliterate my confidence, but now I take a deep breath and then politely destroy the individual who thinks they can take on a writer in an email exchange -- politely, of course.

When you believe in your mission and are passionate about the change you want to see happen in the world, you stop caring about what other people think about you. My writing is vulnerable because I want to be that conversation for the person who is struggling, the person who is struggling in relationships, struggling with their anxiety and struggling to see their potential.

I am fighting for something much bigger than one person’s opinion.

You should be too.

By Cole Schafer

Lucid Dreamers: Josh Barnett & The Story Behind 19nine

This post is sponsored by Lucid Coffee Bar, a hidden gem in downtown Newburgh. The Lucid's Dreamers campaign celebrates those that have big dreams by telling their unique stories and experiences.

Cole Schafer Blog
I am up late and out of bed early — I’ll sleep when I’m dead.

My first encounter with Josh Barnett was over an ice cold beer at an iconic German joint, called the Gerst Haus, on Evansville’s west side Franklin Street. We were sitting out on the back patio, enjoying a break from the stifling hot Indiana sun that was falling behind the horizon, not unlike a basketball destined for a buzzer beater.

My first impressions of Josh would hold true to the individual I would grow quite fond of as both a friend and mentor in the years to come.

He was both intense and laid-back, a born hustler with the patience to outwork the fiercest of competitors. He was a diehard fan of college sports, with a particular liking to basketball. He possessed a keen eye for style, which was made very apparent in both how he dressed himself and the company he was building from the ground up.

Fast-forward a couple years and yet again I would find myself sitting across from Josh at Lucid Coffee Bar, except this time I would be interviewing him for this amazing story.

Watching Josh sip his green tea seemed counterintuitive as he wore a Nike snapback, some version of Jordan’s and a badass 19nine T.

Remember what I said about him being both intense and laid-back?

By day, Josh Barnett dedicates his time to educating America’s youth at Washington Middle School; by night, he builds the notorious vintage sports apparel empire, known as 19nine.

I had been sporting the coveted 19nine brand for years. But I didn’t realize its full potential until I started finding my favorite t-shirts stolen from my closet, hidden away somewhere in my girlfriend’s belongings.

19nine had accomplished something with college basketball T’s that no other brand had done before -- non-fans were wearing them and loving them.

I was intrigued, and so I asked, how 19nine became… 19nine.

“I had a golf scramble for high school and college buddies called “The Pound It” up in Indianapolis. It was a weekend where everyone came in from wherever they were in the country. We had guys from New Jersey and even Arizona. It would just be a weekend where everyone would stay at my house and we would play a ton of golf and have fun.

It started out with a little over 30 people and at the peak, it got up to over 100.

Anyways, Kevin Spahn and I would make t-shirts for the event each year, and eventually, we decided to start printing on premium T’s. People would take them home after the weekend and hit me up, ‘Barnett, you got any more of those t-shirts? My friend wants one. My brother stole it, and I can’t get it back.’

So, when people started taking the shirts, we realized we may have something here. That’s when Spahn and I hooked up with Aaron Loomer, and Chad Amo and started brainstorming ideas for a t-shirt company.

We decided we wanted to produce quality, vintage collegiate sport's t-shirts with thought and meaning behind them.

The first year we didn’t have a website or anything. We just went to people with businesses, foundations and charities and asked them if we could do their t-shirts. We started to take-off when we designed the t-shirts for the Wes Atterbury Foundation Annual Golf Scramble.

We thought we needed a lot of money to start 19nine, but today we laugh about it. The 4 of us each put in right around $1,000 to get 19nine off the ground. That’s it”

Today, while 19nine is still young, they are growing at a lightening pace, having partnered with some of the biggest names in College basketball -- Butler, Purdue, Indiana, Memphis, Michigan State, Wake Forest and Xavier, to name a few.

A big part of this growth can be attributed to their recent purchase of Retro College Cuts, which has positioned 19nine as the only manufacturer of retro college basketball shorts in the United States.  

“Our aim is to bring back the nostalgia of college basketball in the 70s, 80s, and 90s but to do so in a modern fit.”

Josh went on to explain that this growth hasn’t always been easy, and most weeks he and the two other owners put in a full work week outside of their 9-5’s. He reflected on the grind that comes along with running his own business, and he said something that I felt summed up both him as an individual and the company he helped create, very well.

“You have to love it. It’s so cliche to say, but it’s true. I don’t care about the money, I just want to make cool shit. That’s what I love. Period.”

Final Five

1. What is a daily routine that keeps you on your A-game? 

"I don't really have a daily routine when it comes to 19nine because I work full time as a social studies teacher. So, my routine is on the school side of things and then I hustle to fulfill my 19nine obligations after class and at night."

2. What book do you most often gift to other people? 

"Most recent is "Shoe Dog" by Phil Knight. It's a great book, both interesting and inspirational.  All start-ups and entrepreneurs should give it a read."

3. What is your vice? 

"I don't really have much of a filter. You pretty much know where you stand with me at all times. It's both a blessing and a curse."  

4. What is your superpower? 

"I am up late and out of bed early -- I'll sleep when I'm dead."

5. If you could have a billboard at the busiest intersection in the world, what would it say? 

"Phil Knight has a quote in one of the last pages of "Shoe Dog" talking about the journey meaning more to him than the money or fame. I wouldn't know because I don't have money nor fame, but if I had to put something on a billboard, it would simply be, "Enjoy the Journey."

By Cole Schafer

Lucid Dreamers: Eric DeLong, Lucid's Head Barista

Cole Schafer Blog

This post is sponsored by Lucid Coffee Bar, a hidden gem in downtown Newburgh. The Lucid's Dreamers campaign celebrates those that have big dreams by telling their unique stories and experiences.

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When I swing the door open to Lucid Coffee Bar, in search of an ice cold Americano, generous on the mocha and light on the cream, I am used to hearing two familiar sounds -- the rattling of bells attached to the inside door handle, alerting the room of a new visitor and Eric DeLong’s loud, unique high-pitched laugh.

In the midst of writing this piece, I was searching for the right words to describe Eric. While he truly is 'one-of-a-kind', the cliche sentiment just wasn’t cutting it.

Fortunately, while interviewing Jake Jones, a friend of Eric's, he summed up the world’s perception of him wonderfully, “If you know Eric, if you run into Eric, your life is just better because of it.”

Eric DeLong in many ways is a jack of all trades, but for the sake of this blog’s length, we will sum up Lucid’s head barista in three titles -- musician, worship pastor and coffee connoisseur.

Eric DeLong grew up in Russell, KY, a small town located in the Northeastern part of the state, nestled on the south bank of the Ohio River.

He didn’t grow up with much, nearly nothing at all. It was this that taught him to seek out all the beauty in the world that money couldn’t buy -- great music, laughter and a damn good cup of coffee.

In many ways, what truly should be considered the finer things in life.

Ten years ago, a buddy of Eric’s asked him to move to a city in Southern Indiana, where he had plans to plant a church.

It was in Evansville where the two friends planted Resurgence Church, a place where Eric served as an elder for 10 years, before taking on the position of Head Barista at Lucid Coffee bar. He still serves actively at the church he helped build as a worship pastor.

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“I love coffee and I love providing great coffee for people -- whether that is someone that is already really into coffee, or someone that is trying it for the first time. Enjoying coffee is more of an experience than just actually drinking it. For a lot of people, it’s a ritual.

I also just love working with people. That’s obvious, with my background in ministry.  I love getting to know people. Learning what makes people tick. I just really enjoy helping people have a great experience.

Ultimately, I want to add value to other people’s lives in a meaningful way -- whether that be through serving an exceptional cup of coffee with Lucid, leading worship at Resurgence or writing and playing music.”

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I asked Eric about some of his future ambitions,

“My dream would be to continue to help build Lucid; but also have a studio where I could provide both a space and instruments for kids that are under-resourced. Kids that don’t have money to have musical instruments and the ability to express themselves creatively.”

After Eric and I’s interview, I followed the Ohio River home, in my little red pick-up truck, whilst sipping my Americano and listening to my favorite song of his, “Broke & Blind”. I thought it only appropriate to close with a set of lyrics from that particular song.

Well I ain’t sayin’ that this life is easy
When we’ve been living off of peanut butter and jelly

But Jesus says that the lilies don’t spin
But they’re looking pretty good and He cares for them

So darlin’ I think that we’ll be just fine
We got food, we got love and $3 bottle of wine.

 

The Final Five

What is a daily routine that keeps you on your A-game?

“I wake up, get out of bed and make a cup of coffee.”

What book do you most often gift to others?

“Dandelion Wine by Ray Bradbury.”

What is your vice?

“When I am focused on something, I tend to be extremely oblivious to other things going on around me.”

What is your superpower?

“Empathy.”

If you could have a billboard at the busiest intersection in the world, what would it say?

“Listen, because life is nuanced.”

By Cole Schafer

Lucid Dreamers: Susan Hyatt, Queen of the Wild Wild West

This post is sponsored by Lucid Coffee Bar, a hidden gem in downtown Newburgh. The Lucid's Dreamers campaign celebrates those that have big dreams by telling their unique stories and experiences.

The old wood floor of Lucid Coffee Bar creaked beneath my feet as I shifted my weight anxiously from side to side, awaiting Susan Hyatt’s arrival -- I would be lying if I said I wasn’t slightly nervous. 

And for good reason, to date, she was and is the most highly decorated of my dreamers and one I have been following for years. Master life coach, a self-made millionaire, relationship guru, highly successful internet entrepreneur and writer. 

Her work has appeared in Cosmopolitan, Seventeen, Oprah.com, Oprah Winfrey Network and Woman’s World. Her fame has grown to such heights that some of America’s biggest brands, like Seattle’s Best Coffee and IKEA, have struck up brand partnerships with her.

Simply put, Susan Hyatt is the shit.

Fortunately, my nerves quickly dissipated as the door swung open and a pair of piercing blue eyes waltzed in and greeted me like an old friend. Susan was dressed to the hills and was as down to Earth as anyone I had ever met. 

After grabbing our coffees, I led her up the stairs to the lofted seating area residing above Lucid Coffee Bar, where she shared with me her journey, her wisdom on Entrepreneurship and her belief that anyone can make a living on the internet, doing what they love. 

The internet is the wild wild west, there is so much opportunity there for people interested in following their passions.

“I was a burned-out workaholic real estate agent. I supposedly had it all… on the outside, it appeared that way. But, on the inside, I thought, “Is this it? Because this blows.” And I felt guilty and ungrateful for feeling this way. I had this great husband, beautiful children and thriving career. But I would watch shows, like Oprah… and just feel so envious of people who were doing things that they loved.

I felt like somehow I had missed the boat. In school, I was always an honor student and involved in a million things. But I was never a standout athlete or the best singer in the chorus. I never really had my thing. So, when I saw someone who was super gifted and excelled at something they absolutely loved, I would just think, “Gosh, where is my thing?”

I discovered my answer to this question after hitting rock bottom. It was Easter weekend of 2007. My mom was coming to visit and I promised her that I would not work during her stay. There was an out of town customer that I had shown houses to several times, and they made a surprise visit for the weekend, called me and said they wanted to make an offer on a house we had previously looked at. I ended up selling the house on Easter weekend, it was the biggest sale of my career, but I was furious. I had literally worked the entire weekend.

I remember my mom gave me a good “Southern Mama” smackdown. She told me she was going to watch the kids and wanted me to take the day to relax and figure some things out.

That afternoon I cried in my kitchen because the only two things I could think of doing on my day off was laundry and grocery shopping. Besides work, I didn’t really have any other activities or passions. 

It was this moment that I turned my life around. I booked a flight to Phoenix to attend a conference held by my favorite life coach, Dr. Martha Beck. Before I knew it, I was a certified life coach myself coaching women on many of the things I had previously struggled with.

I never knew I was an entrepreneur. But, I feel safer creating my own paycheck than I do working for someone else. I think most people are surprised to find out I make a living from my laptop. I get a lot of mail from people saying, “oh my God I can’t believe you’re in Evansville, Indiana.”

I actually enjoy being here and then traveling to where I need to be when I need to be there. Because I can enjoy a low cost of living and a pretty low maintenance lifestyle. I think it’s a part time job just living in New York or Los Angeles.

There are so many ways you can package the things you’re passionate about in a way that isn’t selling your soul to the devil but is funding the whole thing. The internet is the wild wild west, there is so much opportunity there for people interested in following their passions.”

As Susan and I parted ways for the day, I reflected on the last bit of wisdom she left me with -- "The internet is the wild wild west, there is so much opportunity there for people interested in following their passion." 

It hit home. For the first time in history, the internet provides something beautiful -- opportunity. It does not discriminate against education, location, religion, gender or color. If you have a solid wifi connection and a drive like Susan's, it will take you places you could have only dreamed of, while making you money all along the way. 

Keep killing it, Susan Hyatt. 

The Final Five

What is a daily routine that keeps you on your “A” game? 

“I do this little exercise that is basically thought work. It’s called ‘Dial It Up’. I assess how I feel and think about what I have going on for the day, and then I think about how I would rather feel. It’s like picking out your wardrobe, sifting through your thoughts and deciding which thoughts and feelings work for the day.”

What book do you most often gift to other people? 

“Finding Your Own North Star by Dr. Martha Beck. In my opinion, it is hands down the best self-help book ever written. She is hilarious and intelligent, she got her Ph.D. from Harvard. She combines life coaching, science and humor in a way that makes it very easy to understand. That book changed my life.”

What is your vice? 

“Letting go of control of what my children do. So, parenting is really my Achilles heel. Those two are so incredibly strong-willed and they are amazing human beings. They are way better humans than what I could have ever imagined. My greatest blessing and hardest lesson has been to learn to let go.”

What is your superpower? 

“Empathy. I think ultimately it is being able to stand outside of someone’s pain, understand how they feel and then help them.”

If you could have a billboard at the busiest intersection in the world, what would it say?

“Please, for the love of God, GO FOR IT!”

By Cole Schafer

Lucid Dreamers: Ellie Schmitt and Being the Experience

This post is sponsored by Lucid Coffee Bar, a hidden gem in downtown Newburgh. The Lucid's Dreamers campaign celebrates those that have big dreams by telling their unique stories and experiences. 

Cole Schafer Blog

It was a rainy day outside of Lucid Coffee Bar, as Ellie Schmitt pulled up in her Nissan Murano. I smiled as I read the large print on her back windshield: @ellieschmitthair. Salon One. (812) 473-2574. 

I thought to myself, this girl has got it figured out.

I spent an hour with Ellie, as we solved all the world’s problems over iced americanos -- touching on topics ranging from family to business. 

Ellie Schmitt is a beautiful, bright and talented entrepreneur that is in the business of helping people look and feel their best. 

Ellie graduated from Castle High school two years ago with a 3.8 GPA. Originally planning on attending the University of Southern Indiana to pursue a degree in Nursing, she chose to attend the Salon Professional Academy instead to become a hair stylist. 

Today, she is the owner of Salon One, managing a team of talented stylists -- all of which are older than her. 

Did I mention she is only 20 years old?

When I say I am going to do something, I will do it.

“I would tell young people to save and save well -- half of everything you make, you should save. Ultimately, this is how I was able to be in the position I am today, through being persistent and consistent with my savings, day in and day out. 

After graduating from high school, I continued to live at home, which allowed me to save up the money to eventually buy Salon One from my aunts and their friend Laurie, who had owned it for 26 years. I am really close with both my parents. My dad has taught me everything I know about business and finances, while my mother has always been this amazing support system. 

When I decided to buy Salon One, I made a business plan and took it to my banker. I told him that I didn’t want my dad to cosign on the loan, I wanted the financial responsibility to be 100% on me. I made my down payment on the loan, and have been a business owner ever since December 30th. 

My aunts created a great salon, but when I took over I wanted to look for ways I could improve upon what they had worked so hard to build. One change I made a year ago was implementing an online booking system, where our clients could receive text reminders for their appointments; which helped cut back on no-shows. I literally have had to manually enter over $40,000 worth of products in our system. I also converted the credit card system recently, which has been a huge undertaking.

In the next few months, we will be doing a renovation and adding 3 more stations. I am really going to push the Salon One team to grow over the next 2-3 years, I think we definitely have it in us. 

I work to set Salon One apart from other salons through experience. People can get their hair cut anywhere, but it’s about the experience you provide your clients that set your salon apart. I always try to make my clients feel good and comfortable. I am big on giving compliments and doing everything I can to show them how much I care.

After I cut and style a client's hair, I will a lot of times take a note or two on something they said during their appointment. That way for the next appointment I will be able to check in and see how they are doing. 

I have girls that sit down and say, you are my therapy session. It’s comments like those that make me realize I am having more impact than just styling hair. 

With that said, being a business owner is not all rainbows and butterflies, recently I have worked close to 60 hour weeks including between hair and actually running the business, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. It has been such a rewarding experience.”

At the end of Ellie and I’s discussion, I felt inspired by her confidence and the deep level of commitment she had towards her business, clients, and stylists. At 20 years old, she was one of the most impressive entrepreneurs I had ever met.

I had to ask her, “Ellie, how at such a young age, did you have the confidence to take the path less traveled by? I mean, you’re 20 years old and own a salon.”

She paused for a moment as she smiled a smile that lit up the room and shrugged, “... When I say I am going to do something, I will do it.”

Final Five

1. What is a daily routine that keeps you on your “A” game?

I am a planner and like to follow a plan throughout the day. So, I always start out my mornings looking at my schedule and what I need to get done. I go over in my head what I want to do during my gaps between client appointments, normally this is business related stuff. 

2. What book do you most often gift to other people? 

Oh, The Places You’ll Go by Dr. Seuss. This is an amazing book for people that are about to make a change in their life. I actually just read it the other day, since I am making this transition into being a business owner.

3. What is your vice/guilty pleasure? 

I am definitely OCD. I tend to be obsessive in all aspects of my life. Every night after I am finished with work, I write down all my numbers for the day. If I am off by a $1, I will stay after for nearly an hour until I figure out why my numbers aren’t adding up. I need to work on letting some of the small stuff go. 

4. What is your superpower?

I love to crunch numbers. That is my thing. Of course hair, I love doing hair. But crunching numbers and saving money is something I love to do, and it is a big reason I have been able to purchase Salon One. 

5. If you could have a billboard at the busiest intersection in the world, what would it say? 

Be The Experience.

By Cole Schafer

4 Life Lessons I Have Learned as a Freelance Writer

Cole Schafer Blog

When I quit my job as a digital marketing strategist to become a freelance writer, I remember staring at the glowing screen of my laptop thinking... what the fuck did I just get myself into? 

When I quit I had next to nothing in savings, not a single client and zero experience writing professionally. Seriously, I had never been paid a cent for anything I had ever written. 

All I had was a dream, a cup of coffee and my MacBook air. Oh, and two wildly supportive parents that have always told me I could do anything -- happily allowing me to move in post-graduation. This helped too. 

I have officially made a living as a freelance writer for 4 months now. I am far from being what I would consider "great" in the freelance-sphere, but I am getting there... slowly but surely. 

I wanted to share with you today a few life lessons freelancing has taught me over the past 4 months, some of which I hope you can apply to your own life. 

4 Life Lessons I have Learned as a Freelance Writer

1. Own Your Fuck Ups

Lesson #1: You are human and you will fuck up. You should be fucking up. It means you are busting ass and putting yourself in positions where there are high stakes -- meaning you can either win big or lose big. There is nothing wrong with failure, I would even argue it is good to fail. Just own it when you fail. Own your fuck up.

A while back I received a phone call from a startup I was doing copywriting for. They informed me that they weren't pleased with my work and would be heading in a different direction. 

My first response was to get defensive. Copywriting and writing for that matter are two things I am very passionate about. I was ready to fight back. But I didn’t. I held my tongue.

I took a deep breath and said a few closing words. I thanked him for the opportunity and got off the phone, letting him hang up first.

I reflected on my work and decided that I was better than the work I had done. I emailed my ex-client, shortly after the phone call. I informed him that I would not be taking compensation for the past two weeks of work. This was painful, I gave up $900 in income. But it felt like the right thing to do, so I did it. I held myself accountable -- I owned my fuck up.  

2. For Every $1 You Spend, Put $1 in Savings

Lesson #2: You can tell a lot about a person by giving them $2. The individual who lives too much spends the $2. The individual that lives too little, saves the $2. The individual that lives just right, spends $1 and saves $1. You should always strive to be the individual that lives just right.

When I was first starting out as a freelancer, I had roughly $750 in savings -- most of which I spent on purchasing a Macbook Air for my writing business. I was 5 months out of college, broke and living at home with my parents.

I quickly made a rule for myself, for every $1 I spent, I was going to put $1 in savings. There were times I didn't get to do the things I wanted to do, but it was this practice that got me through the dry spells of freelancing. 

This is one of the more important lessons freelancing has taught me. 

3. Education on a Budget

Lesson #3: If you want to grow, I have only one piece of advice -- read damn good books and drink coffee with people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world.

When I was starting out in freelancing, I was providing a service I didn't go to college for -- writing and copywriting. With a college education being $40k, I sure as fuck wasn't going back to school. So, I realized I would have to learn on a budget, from people and books.

This last year I started reading 3-4 books a month and writing stories about people who amaze me. My mind now moves faster, my creativity runs deeper and my heart has grown bigger. 

Mankind was born to move one another, to change one another and to love one another. I think at times, we forget this. We think we are on our journey alone, in constant competition. 

Becoming better is a collective effort. 

4. There Is Only One Sure Path to Success 

Lesson #4: The path to achieving success is very simple -- it is a relentless dedication to your craft, day in and day out.

There are a lot of dumb ass lifestyle coaches and entrepreneurs online that claim to hold some secret path to easy success -- this is bullshit. 

If you want something and I mean really want something, you have to be willing to lay it all out on the line. You have to be willing to bleed for it. You have to be willing to let your dream slowly kill you.
In the past 8 months, I have written 60 blog posts on my personal blog, which totals in at about 75,000 words. 

I have written countless pieces of content for startup clients, Entrepreneur Magazine and Medium, which total in at 100,000 words. 

In addition to this, I have probably written another 50,000 words that never reached the public because I thought they were shit. 

I have written roughly 28,000 words per month for the last 8 months. This adds up to enough words to fill over 4, 200-page books.

 I'm going to double this in 2017. 

There have been days where my dream of becoming a writer has sucked me dry of every word left in my entire being. 

But guess what? My dream wanted more, so I figured out a way to write more.  

By Cole Schafer

27 Epic New Year's Resolutions for 2017

Cole Schafer Blog

I wanted to kick off the New Year with a list of Epic new Year's resolutions. I was going to launch this on New Year's Day, but no one wants to read with a hangover. Plus, Monday is when people change the world.

Before we dive in, I wanted to offer some thoughts on setting New Year's Resolutions.

Be Specific.

If you want to lose weight, your New Year's Resolutions shouldn't be "I want to lose 25 lbs." It should be "I will lose 25 lbs by giving up soda and fried foods for 365 days, as well as run 5 miles a week."

The majority of people don't stick to their New Year's Resolutions because they are too vague. I want to lose weight. I want to stop drinking. I want to be nicer to my wife.

Okay, but how? Be specific.

 

27 Epic New Year's Resolutions

1. Have a cup of coffee with someone new once a week —write down one lesson you learned from that person. At the end of the year, you will have learned 52 lessons from 52 people.

 

2. Place $5 in a jar every day for a year— by 2017 you will have saved $1,825.

 

3. Text the people you love every Monday. Set a reminder on your phone to send them a quote, a piece of motivation or a simple "I Love You". This will take you 10-15 minutes tops and will make your day as much as theirs.

 

4. Challenge yourself to turn $10 into $100 by the end of the year.  If you successfully accomplish this, you just figured out how to 10x your money. Can you do this on a grander scale? Can you do this with $1,000? $10,000?

 

5. Buy a Ukulele. Learn to play said Ukulele. Why? For the first time in your life, you can say you know how to play an instrument.

 

6. Learn French. There is a website called Duolingo that teaches you how to speak another language, and it’s completely free.

 

7. Drink 64 oz of water a day. Besides simply keeping you alive, water has amazing benefits on the body —combats fatigue, reduces high blood pressure & cholesterol and eliminates premature aging. If you find it difficult to measure your water intake, simply fill up a half-gallon of milk with water —this measures out to be 8 cups or 64 oz.

 

8. Finally, make the move to quit cable.

 

9. Brainstorm ways you can eliminate $250 in monthly expenses — eating out, hefty bar tabs, daily coffee runs, etc. At the end of the year, you will have saved $3,000… Book a flight to Europe.

 

10. Meditate for 10 minutes every single day, monitor your changes in mood from week to week. Here is a great app that offers guided meditation. It’s my go to.

 

11. Overcome Conversational Narcissism. Conversational Narcissism is when people seek to focus attention mainly on themselves in conversation. We can all think of people we hate talking to because the conversation is always about them. But honestly, I think everyone is guilty of doing this in some capacity. Make an effort to be genuinely interested in other people's lives, their interests, and their passions. Ask questions versus giving answers.

 

12. Parents, Buy Your Kid a Book -- 14% of the United States population can’t read this blog post— that is approximately 32 million American adults. 775 million people across the world can’t read, while another 152 million children who aren’t attending school are set to follow in their footsteps. In the past year, 80% of American families did not purchase a book, not one. So, please... for the love of God, buy your kid a book. Instill a hunger to learn within them. I think encouraging your family to read more is a fantastic New Year's Resolution.

 

13. Is it time to delete your Tinder? I am in a relationship, so I haven't been swiping in a while. But, a part of me questions how healthy Tinder is. I don't know, there will be a blog post coming soon, I am sure.

 

14. Stop drinking soda, give it up for 365 days.

 

15. Remember your friends birthdays -- I am awful at remembering birthdays, seriously awful. I am sorry... Rob, Brian and John.

 

16. Hold a spider. 30% of the population suffers from Arachnophobia. I am being a little facetious here, but if you have a legitimate fear of something, overcome it in 2017 -- public speaking, heights, darkness, etc.

 

17. Talk shit about people less.

 

18. Learn to speed read. The majority of people are capable of reading between 200-4oo words a minute. Speed readers claim to have the secret to reading up to 1,700 words a minute.

 

19. Learn a martial art --Karate, Taekwondo, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, etc. I think it would be badass to be a black belt, plus you will be able to protect yourself.

 

20. Have better posture. Make an effort to stand up straighter. Consider investing in an adjustable standing desk.

 

21. Climb a mountain.

 

22. Start a side-hustle.

 

23. Quit pornography. This is an article all young men should read with an open mind.

 

24. Start your year off clean by partaking in Dry January -- not consuming alcohol for one full month.

 

25. Are you the type of person that has been late to just about everything your whole life? Business meetings, dinners, appointments, etc. Start being early this year.

 

26. Stop hating your ex. I wrote this a little while back and it seemed to resonate well with readers. I get vulnerable and discuss my experience overcoming a bad breakup. This year make it a goal to heal.

 

27. Go solo -- once a month go out for a day by yourself. Go grab coffee, adventure, shop for vintage goods, listen to music, etc. In order to be happy with other people, you need to be happy by yourself. Commit some time to being solo.

By Cole Schafer

Lucid Dreamers: Zack Mathis, Azzip Pizza & Listening More

This post is sponsored by Lucid Coffee Bar, a hidden gem in downtown Newburgh. TheLucid's Dreamers campaign celebrates those in the community that have big dreams and inspire others by telling their unique stories and experiences. 

I am a coffee connoisseur, and in my humble opinion Lucid reps out the best Americano in town. Stop by when you get the chance and give Lucid a try, I promise you won't be disappointed. They are located at 224 West Jennings St. Newburgh, IN 47630.

Cole Schafer Blog

One of my dearest friends and greatest role models has always reminded me of the Pink Panther -- exceptionally trendy, silent, curious and wise beyond his years. He also has a subtle resemblance to the beloved cat detective, but that is neither here nor there. 

Zack Mathis is the quiet we long for in this noisy, ever-bustling world. He doesn’t say much, but when he says something it carries weight. Weight that carves out a space in your memory box. Weight that instills wisdom. Weight that drives an individual to move.

Zack Mathis is a silent champion.

The two of us crossed paths for the first time while preparing for an international marketing case study competition. We grew close quickly as we found ourselves deep in the heart of Edmonton Alberta, Canada taking on both Canadian and American university teams. During our 4 day stay we ate a plethora of fries smothered in brown gravy topped with cheese curd -- a delicious Canadian concoction referred to as Poutine. We studied relentlessly for 48 hours whilst consuming copious amounts of coffee, preparing for our upcoming presentations. We froze to death in -10 degree weather. We even fit in some time to find ourselves at a bizarre western EDM club at 3 a.m. after discovering a shared interest in a well-made Gin and Tonic.  

By the grace of God and Zack’s marketing brilliance, we won the competition. But it was during this trip that Zack taught me something far more valuable, the importance of listening. At times he lead our team without ever saying a word, by simply listening until he discovered an answer. When the two of us would converse, he would listen to every detail of every subject I discussed -- only speaking when he felt he had value to add. At first I found it peculiar, but over time I learned that his ability to listen was what made him great at building friendships, leading teams and crafting exceptional marketing strategies.

Today, Zack works as the Marketing Director at Azzip Pizza. A startup fast-casual pizzeria that is spreading like wildfire. Zack’s keen ability to listen has been instrumental in its growth and I foresee it being increasingly more valuable as Azzip continues to expand.

Cole Schafer Blog

“Transitioning into the role as Director of Marketing at Azzip was challenging. No one had held the role before me, so I had a lot of questions I had to answer on my own -- How much social media content is the right amount? What is making us a beloved brand?

It has been a very hands-on learning experience -- both exciting and rewarding. I started working here in college and moved my way up from team member to shift manager to Director of Marketing.

In my position, listening is my greatest asset. Listening to our customers allows me to quickly jump into other people’s perspective. It allows me to be empathetic. In turn allowing me to help Azzip better serve our customers.

We live in a world where there this is so much noise all the time. Everyone is always talking, but hardly anyone ever takes the time to listen. I see this a lot in small talk. People are talking, but are they really saying anything?

When I talk, I try to always add value. People ask me why I am always so quiet, sometimes I just prefer to listen.”

Zack Mathis is going to make a lot of noise in this world by saying very little.

The Final Five

1. What is a daily routine that allows you to stay on your A game?

"I wake up and scroll through my social media feed -- see what is going on in the world. Generally, I will check twitter to find what is trending and if I can apply it to marketing for Azzip."

2. What book do you most often gift to others?

How to Win Friend and Influence People by Daniel Carnegie. The book has a lot of great lessons, but it focuses on understanding other people’s perspectives. It highlights the importance of empathy." 

3. What is your vice/guilty pleasure?

"I wouldn’t necessarily call it a vice, but quality goods and spending quality time with people. Both of these ‘vices’ can cause me to spend too much money. With that said, I see it as an investment that is worth it to me." 

4. What is your superpower?

"I'm good at helping people work through things. As they fill the silence, I keep an ear out for a solution hidden in their words."

5. If you could have a billboard at the busiest intersection in the world, what would it say?

"Listen."

By Cole Schafer

Lucid Dreamers: Ben Trockman is Going to Change The World

This post is sponsored by Lucid Coffee Bar, a hidden gem in downtown Newburgh. The Lucid's Dreamers campaign celebrates those in the community that have big dreams and inspire others by telling their unique stories and experiences. 

I am a coffee connoisseur, and in my humble opinion Lucid reps out the best Americano in town. Stop by when you get the chance and give Lucid a try, I promise you won't be disappointed. They are located at 224 West Jennings St. Newburgh, IN 47630.

Cole Schafer Blog
I am so fortunate because I have a job where I get to spend the day thinking about how I can make other people’s lives better.

When I walked out of Ben’s office and into the blistering cold Indiana winter, my entire being was focused, inspired and moved by a single looping thought -- Ben Trockman is going to change the world. 

“At the age of 17, when I had my spinal cord injury, the whole world stopped.

I went from being this independent high school kid, that thought nothing could stop me, to having to rely on my family to assist me in everyday tasks like eating, bathing, dressing and even sending text messages.

Over the past 10 years I have gained a greater perspective on the world, and have learned to celebrate what truly matters in life -- building genuine relationships, having good conversations and working to create happier lives for others.

I think about all the people that have helped me get to where I am today and think about all they have sacrificed. That is what drives me. I was given another chance and if I can provide just a fraction of all that was given to me, I know my life will be fulfilled.

I think people get so caught up in doing their own thing, that they forget to open their eyes and look around. We all tend to forget that we have an opportunity to do something bigger than ourselves.

I am so fortunate because I have a job where I get to spend the day thinking about how I can make other people’s lives better.”  

Ben graduated in 2014 with a degree in PR and Advertising, and went on to do a 3 month internship with the Easter Seals, before being hired by Old National Bank to serve as their Outreach & Employment Specialist -- where he works to increase successful employment opportunities for people with disabilities.

After Ben’s accident, he started to notice that people had difficulty engaging with individuals with disabilities. He used himself as an example, “People are afraid to come up and greet me because they are scared I can’t shake their hand, so they just don’t engage.”

He began to realize that he needed to change how society viewed people with disabilities. He knew in order to do this, he would have to start from the top of an organization and work his way down -- Old National Bank was a great place to start.

Ben started the Achieve ABILITY professional mentoring program within Old National Bank, a program that pairs their organization’s leaders with individuals with disabilities. The program has been a huge success and Old National has since hired 3 of the Executive Pairings that Ben has put together.

One of my favorite stories Ben told me was about a young woman from the University of Evansville. She is a phenomenal student, a dual major in Finance and accounting, extremely outgoing and she has traveled across the world to over 15 different countries. This young woman also happens to be completely blind.

He explained how much this young woman opened the eyes of the ONB leader she was paired with. She helped him realize that people with disabilities aren’t handicap, they are just reserved and fully capable of accomplishing anything.

Ben said that one of the most rewarding aspects of his position has been seeing how many people within Old National have bought into the organization’s mission.

“We have had a huge impact on ONB culture and the communities within our footprint. We are creating a corporate culture that is compassionate and empathetic to not just people with disabilities, but to people in general.”

I asked Ben what his future goals were for himself and for the movement he has created at Old National Bank, “In the next 3 years I want to continue to be involved in the community and become a part of the economic development in Evansville. I want to continue to work with ONB to build awareness and push this mindset across other organizations.”

After our discussion, I couldn’t decide what impressed me most about Ben Trockman. All I knew, was that I had just met with one of the most selfless, compassionate and purposeful individuals alive today.

During my hour discussion with Ben Trockman, he taught me that success comes down to mastering one very simple lesson -- spend time each day making other people’s lives better, happier and fuller.

Ben is spending each day creating a movement that quite possibly could change millions of people’s lives across the United States -- that makes Ben Trockman the most successful person I know.

Continue to change the world my friend, one day you’re going to be the person that other people quote.

Ben is currently gathering signatures for a petition, he is calling on Indiana Lawmakers to give a much-needed update to the state's accessibility symbol. Please click on the picture above and sign his petition! 

The Final Five

1. What is a daily routine that allows you to stay on your A game?

“I am big on making lists. I am constantly thinking about what I need to accomplish, and often times this causes me to become scatter-brained. Creating lists helps me stay on track and remain focused on the task at hand”

2. What book do you most often gift to others?

“I am not much of a book reader. I am more of a quote guy. I love quotes. It’s amazing to find inspiration in the words of someone who has accomplished a lot in their lifetime. In fact, I will share a quote with you that I live by. It’s by Theodore Roosevelt -- “Great thoughts speak only to the thoughtful mind, great actions speak to all mankind.””

3. What is your vice/guilty pleasure?

“Social media is sometimes a weakness of mine.”

4. What is your superpower?

“I am a good gatherer of people. I spend time trying to foster relationships with people, and have been blessed with great friends. I would say my superpower is that I can throw a good party.”

5. If you could have a billboard at the busiest intersection in the world, what would it say?

“Dream as if you will live forever, live as if you’ll die tomorrow.”

-- James Dean

By Cole Schafer

Lucid Dreamers: Stacey Godbold, Discovering Your Passion & Becoming a Self-Learner

This post is sponsored by Lucid Coffee Bar, a hidden gem in downtown Newburgh. The Lucid's Dreamers campaign celebrates those in the community that have big dreams and inspire others by telling their unique stories and experiences. 

I am a coffee connoisseur, and in my humble opinion Lucid reps out the best Americano in town. Stop by when you get the chance and give Lucid a try, I promise you won't be disappointed. They are located at 224 West Jennings St. Newburgh, IN 47630.

FullSizeRender 25.jpg
I think what I am most proud of is the fact that I am a self-learner. In school, I had difficulty applying myself. But once I discovered my passion later in life, I started working relentlessly to become good at it.

Stacey Godbold’s smile lit up the room as she stepped out of the cold and into the warmth of Lucid Coffee Bar. She greeted me with a colossal hug, and I noted how fond I was of the powerful energy she carried -- it felt genuine and ever present, completely unforced.

More people should hug people like Stacey hugs people.

The two of us eventually made our way up the stairs to the loft residing directly above Lucid. She sipped away at her latte as she told me a story packed full of both good and bad chapters that were rich with wondrous twists and turns.

Today, Stacey is the president and founder of Project Reveal -- a highly successful non profit that supports and inspires women by sharing stories of strength and hope through their documentary television series and community events.

What I loved most about Stacey’s story was it’s relevance to so many young people. Stacey Godbold ended up in a much different place than she started. She would be the first one to tell you that it’s not about where you start, but rather where you finish.

Cole Schafer Blog

“Growing up, I was the wild, less focused one of my friends. In school, when I wasn’t socializing, I was staring out the window, losing myself in my thoughts, daydreaming.

When I went off to Western Kentucky, I believe I started off studying to become a dietician and then eventually moved to speech therapy. I remember having no idea what people actually did in their day jobs and just picked a major I thought would make me money. 

The summer before my senior year, I got very sick mentally, emotionally and spiritually. My parents asked me to come home so I could get healthy again. It was right around this time I met a guy I really liked, and the two of us started golfing all the time. One day, an older gentleman asked to join us, and my initial reaction was, ‘Uh, no… I want to spend time with my boyfriend.’ Well, I am glad we ended up allowing him to accompany us because he offered me a job that introduced me to my passion -- marketing, PR and advertising.

I think what I am most proud of is the fact that I am a self-learner. In school, I had difficulty applying myself. But once I discovered my passion later in life, I started working relentlessly to become good at it. I would spend hours watching a video on how to make a brochure, build a website or shoot a professional video.

I had a real drive to be really good at what I did.

As I continued to learn and work, more and more opportunities came my way. I became the director of marketing for SWAT Pest Control, then later went on to become the marketing director for the Girl Scouts of Southwestern Indiana.

After having my first born, I started struggling with infertility and went into a very dark place spiritually and emotionally. It was ugly. I needed to know what women were going through and how they got through it. I needed to know I was not the only one struggling and feeling crazy. I got this idea to start taking videos of women telling their stories. It was my way of looking to other women for inspiration.  

This was where Project Reveal took root, and it has been growing ever since."

Stacey Godbold has become one of the more successful marketers in the area. She has built a monumental foundation from the ground up and continues to selflessly serve the women in her community on a daily basis. She did every bit of this without ever being traditionally educated in marketing, entrepreneurship or even leadership.

She was 100 percent self taught, and in my eyes that is Stacey’s greatest achievement.

Final Five

1. What is a daily routine that allows you to stay on your “A” Game?

“My daily routine is morning prayer, coffee and then coffee again. Then in no particular order -- Crossfit, sweating, laughing, grunting and a little swearing. Also tight hugs for my husband and snotty mouth kisses from my kids.”

2. What book do you most often gift to others?

“You know, I actually don’t spend much time reading. I do have a few things that I live by and pass on to women -- write down your fears or tell someone. Set it free so it won’t take ahold of you.”

3. What is your vice/guilty pleasure?

“Oh man, this is terrible, but I have a potty mouth. I know… it’s not very lady like.”

4. What is your superpower?

“I am grateful that I have been given an insane amount of energy. I am like the energizer bunny, constantly on the go-go-go.”

5. If you could have a billboard at the busiest intersection in the world. What would it say?

“When we serve others, we are the best version of ourselves.”

By Cole Schafer

Lucid Dreamers: Brandon Scott & The Meaning Behind Carter Crew

This post is sponsored by Lucid Coffee Bar, a hidden gem in downtown Newburgh. The Lucid's Dreamers campaign celebrates those in the community that have big dreams and inspire others by telling their unique stories and experiences. 

I am a coffee connoisseur, and in my humble opinion Lucid reps out the best Americano in town. Stop by when you get the chance and give Lucid a try, I promise you won't be disappointed. They are located at 224 West Jennings St. Newburgh, IN 47630.

Cole Schafer Blog

Foreward

For almost a year, I had heard about Brandon Scott, but never actually had the chance to meet him. Business professionals described him as being a marketing genius. Individuals in my creative circle deeply admired his creative brilliance. Mutual friends of ours claimed he was the most genuine and authentic human-being they ever had the pleasure of knowing.

I was curious -- who on Earth was this Brandon Scott guy? And why was the entire city of Evansville talking about him?

I fully understood the buzz after running into him one night at a bustling bar in town. Previously to the exchange I am about to describe, we had met briefly, but not long enough to share anything deeper than small talk.

If you have ever met Brandon, you would understand what I mean when I say he looks famous. His appearance, the way he communicates and the way he carries himself leaves an individual questioning whether or not they are in the presence of a star. I think in many ways, he is.

On this particular night he greeted me with a big smile and a firm handshake, immediately cutting past any bullshit, he asked me, “So Cole, what does success look like for your life?”

I would be lying if I said I wasn’t slightly taken aback, “Well, I kind of want to be an entrepreneur. I also like to write. Honestly, I don’t really know..?”  

Brandon laughed and said, “Cole, man. That’s the worst answer you could have given me.”

I was used to most people offering a cliche response to my statement -- oh, don’t worry… you have plenty of time to figure it out! Well, Brandon wasn’t most people.

“My friend. You are too talented to let indecision keep you from your dreams. If you want to find success, if you want to be successful, you must clearly define it. Then you need to set tactical goals or milestones and pursue them with an unmatched laser-focus. You have to throw blinders on, have tunnel vision on exactly what it is you are wanting to achieve, and attack each goal like a rung on a ladder. Everything else needs to become white noise. If you chase after multiple things at once, or even worse, don’t know what you’re chasing after, you’ll just be running in place.”

I didn’t know it at the time, but this single conversation would greatly impact the course of my life. Brandon, in many ways, is the reason I chose to follow my dreams of writing with an intense dedication and is to thank for me being able to make a living following that dream today.

So, before we begin… Thank you Brandon Scott.

Lucid Dreamers: Brandon Scott & The Meaning Behind ‘Carter Crew’

Cole Schafer Blog
My life changed quite a bit when my son Carter was born 9 months ago, and 5 weeks premature. He was in the NICU for 9 days straight and I can honestly say those were the longest 9 days of my life.

Two years later, sitting across from Brandon Scott at Lucid Coffee Bar, I finally had the chance to learn more about the life and mindset of an individual I had looked up to for so long. What was intended on being a 30 minute interview, turned into an hour and a half conversation about life, business, family and service to others.

If I were to say that Brandon has lived an impressive life, it would be an understatement. As a sophomore in high school, before suffering an MCL tear, Brandon was being recruited for football by a handful of Big 10 universities. After the injury, he diverted his attention to basketball, where he went on to play at the collegiate level.

During his time in college, he dual-majored in Musicology and Music Technology, eventually going on to land an internship at Island Def Jam Records. Yes -- Kanye West, Desiigner, 2 Chainz, Logic, Iggy Azalea, Jhene Aiko, Big Sean and Justin Bieber.

After graduation, Brandon worked relentlessly, pursuing a number of passions in Atlanta. During the day he managed an Express store, and at night he worked as a Music Producer and Audio Engineer.

It was around this time that Brandon was approached by a couple of his old high school buddies to start a t-shirt company called College Slogans. This small start-up eventually transformed into what would become College Mansion and Mansion Minds, which was an interactive media agency that promoted college lifestyle entertainment -- once valued at nearly $20 million, with clients including Anheuser-Busch and NFL Player Rob Gronkowski.

Brandon’s knowledge of user experience and his passion for entrepreneurship, technology, social media and digital marketing is what led him to accept a position at Ten Adams as the Director of Brand Strategy + Digital. Ten Adams is nestled in the heart of Downtown Evansville and is one of the strongest healthcare branding, marketing + advertising firms in the region, currently growing at an electric pace.

As Brandon and I dug deeper into topics about life and family, I discovered that what made Brandon so successful had nothing to do with his drive and more so to do with a service he believed he owed to others. This discovery hit me when he told me about the birth of his son and the meaning behind his name.

“My life changed quite a bit when my son Carter was born 9 months ago, and 5 weeks premature. He was in the NICU for 9 days straight and I can honestly say those were the longest 9 days of my life. It was this constant state of ambiguity, not knowing for sure if he was going to be okay.

I remember when I was considering career moves from Atlanta, Georgia in 2013 -- I had the option to choose between Evansville, Charlotte and NYC. When I visited Evansville and met with Ten Adams, I fell in love with the people and the hometown feel. I saw the vision from the company’s leadership, and the need for me to join the Ten Adams team. I also saw this incredible, unique local energy building and moving around the town.  It was important for me to really connect, collaborate, contribute and add value to the movement.  Acquaintances became quality friends, and eventually these friends became family. I will never forget how the Evansville community was there for my family and I during this very intense time in our lives, it was incredible. It validated why we chose Evansville to call home.

My wife Jill and I chose to name our son Carter Crew. A name that really fit our journey and values.

Carter is a Scottish word and it means to transport goods by cart or wagon. Crew by definition is a group of people that work closely together to complete a common goal.

The greatest lesson I will ever give to my son is in his name -- Life is not meant to be spent self-served. Collaboration is far more attractive than ego. Carter Crew is the blessing of personal relationships that have added immeasurable value to our lives. I want for him to be there for others, even at times carry the weight for others. I want him to step up when called upon, and to be of service to his friends and family.”

After Brandon told me his son’s story, I started to reflect on his life and the many amazing things he had accomplished. What I realized was that above everything else, his life was about helping other people.

In high school & college he was a teammate. Post graduation, he worked with artists to improve their sound, their craft and their passions. When his old high school friends approached him about helping them with the creative aspect of their business, he jumped at the opportunity. When he gave me advice one night that would eventually change the course of my life, he was strictly concerned about my own well-being.  Today as a Digital Marketing Strategist working with some of the biggest healthcare organizations in the nation, he helps them improve their brand and their digital presence, so they can in turn better reach and serve the tens of thousands of people suffering from illness and injury.

What I learned about Brandon Scott was that his entire life, the lessons he taught and the way in which he lives to serve others came down to two words… Carter Crew.

Final Five

What is a daily routine that allows you to stay on your A game?

"Every morning when I wake up, I try to consume information from different outlets and mediums. I remind myself to keep an open perspective, learn and pray for wisdom and courage. I don’t necessarily follow a specific routine, but I have a personal ethos about falling in love with the path and not the product. The journey is as fulfilling as the destination."

What book do you most often gift to others?

"The Alchemist. Although, now that we have Carter Crew, I recommend Moms on Call for new parents."

What is your vice/guilty pleasure?

"I tend to spread myself too thin. I am really bad at saying ‘No’.  But to be honest, I don’t plan on changing this aspect of myself and I don’t necessarily want to. I like to be everywhere at once and I live to provide as much value to as many people as I can -- I couldn’t do this if I stopped saying yes to people when the opportunity presents itself."

What is your superpower?

"Faith. Hebrews 11:1 isn’t just a scripture for me, my life has really been guided by it at every turn." 

If you could have a billboard at the busiest intersection in the world, what would it say?

"Connect. Collaborate. Contribute."

By Cole Schafer

Gap Years, Ferris Wheels & Sacrifices: 10 Thoughts on Battling Your 20s

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How would I describe my early twenties? A dark pit of ambiguity, a stranded sailboat battling winds blowing from every direction, a series of disappointments, a cluster-fuck and finally… the most exciting time I have ever had.

Four months ago, my life changed quickly. I graduated college, got a job at a digital marketing agency, left my job at the digital marketing agency and found myself single battling heartbreak... all within the time frame of one month.

If I am being 100% transparent, I was pretty fucked up for a couple months. I felt like my life was spiraling out of control, right before my eyes.

I didn't realize it at the time, but my situation was not out of the ordinary. In fact, it was something almost every post-grad experienced as they transitioned from college to real life. 

The primary reason I chose to write this post is because I have seen too many beautiful, brilliant 20-somethings confused, anxiety ridden and discouraged about their futures. While I don’t have all the answers, I would like to share my story, along with a few tips I have used to keep my head above water in this crazy tsunami we call our twenties.

You may be approaching the end of your senior year and in a state of panic trying to figure out what your next step is post-graduation. Maybe you are 23 and find yourself miserable at your first job. Maybe you just got out of a serious relationship with someone you thought you were going to build a future with.

Regardless, I am sorry, and remember everything is going to be alright — stay calm and read on my friend

10 Thoughts on Battling in Your 20's

1. Establish a Kick-Ass Morning Routine

A primary reason our early 20’s are so stressful is the massive amounts of ambiguity that seem to encapsulate our every move. I recommend battling these feelings of ambiguity by establishing a morning routine.

I wake up every morning and start my day with a hot-cold shower, followed by a breakfast of three eggs and three pieces of bacon. I then meditate for 10 minutes, before drinking my first cup of coffee and repping out my morning pages -- for a writer this is just getting your thoughts down on paper as a warm-up for the day’s project.

Morning routines allow us to add a sense of control to our day and our lives. While relationships, jobs, interviews, college and life may be up in the air, at least we have complete control over our morning.

Quick Tip: Always make your bed in the morning. No matter how bad or crazy your day is, you can always control how your bed looks. Getting into a fresh, nicely made bed at the end of a chaotic day, does wonders for alleviating stress.

2. Your 20’s Are Not a Race & Certainly Not a Competition

Chances are, one of your friends is absolutely killing it right now in their first job. That is fantastic, and if you are a good friend you should be happy for them. With that said, you should never feel the need to compare your current situation to theirs. Life is not a race against anyone. There is no set place you need to be at any specific age.

Here is a list of highly successful people that were worse off than you in their twenties:

  1. John Paul Dejoria -- Founder of Paul Mitchell (worth $900 million). Was homeless twice in his 20’s with a 2 year old child
  2. Mark Cuban -- Owner of the Mavericks & serial entrepreneur/ investor (worth $2.3 billion). Lived in a three-bedroom apartment with five other dudes in his late 20's.
  3. Oprah Winfrey -- You know what she does (worth $3.9 billion). Was fired from her news anchor position at 23 years old.
  4. J.K. Rowling -- Author of Harry Potter (worth $1 billion). Didn’t publish her first book till her late twenties, was a poor divorced single mother at the time.

No matter what your current situation is, it has absolutely no influence on the rest of your life. So, stop beating the shit out of yourself for not being a superstar in your 20’s. If you ever feel behind, just revert back to this list -- you have big things ahead of you. 

3. Take a Gap-Year & Make Mistakes

I am a proud American, but I strongly disagree with how our culture goes about educating & raising its youth. Literally, from age 5 to 22 we spend 9 months out of the year within the confines of a classroom. I find this to be detrimental in a number of ways, but primarily because it inhibits an individual from ever taking serious time to discover their identity.

I believe that everyone between the ages of 18 - 22 should take a gap year, or at the very least a gap month.

During this time you should work some type of manual labor or service job to fund this period of self-exploration. When you are not working you should be following your passions and reading voraciously on topics that are of specific interest to you. In other words, if you are interested in the arts you should not be reading on the correct way to solve a fucking calculus problem. On the weekends, spend your time traveling, exploring, adventuring, making bad decisions, learning from said bad decisions, etc.  

By the end of this gap year/month, I can promise that you will have a deeper more intuitive understanding of your individuality; having developed the self-awareness to answer the most important question you will ever face -- What will make me happy?

4. Follow Your Passions

A couple years ago, I was having a cup of coffee with a close friend of mine and we were on the topic of individual interests. He was a devote follower of men’s fashion, especially interested in men’s raw denim jeans. Ten minutes went by as I listened to his crash course on raw denim. I was blown away at what a deep understanding he had for the craftsmanship that went into making them. His eyes lit up with passion as he talked about denim, it was unbelievable.

Finally, I stopped him, “What’s your major?”

He paused, “Huh? Uhm, information systems.”

I responded, “Why?”

He was a little taken aback, “Well, I think I can pretty easily get a job in that..”

I just looked at him slightly confused, “I think you should get a job in the fashion industry, working with denim.”

The conversation sputtered out after that.

Weeks later, we ran into each and he mentioned to me, “Hey man. I know this sounds odd, but no one has ever told me that you could get a job doing something that you loved… like that was never really something I realized.”

He decided to change his major to marketing, because it would better help him market the denim he one day would be creating.

We read this story and scratch our heads, maybe even scoff lightly at the naivety of someone not realizing they can make money doing something they love -- but I see so many people everyday with the same mindset as my friend.

When you are a 20-something, there is absolutely no reason why you shouldn’t be chasing your dreams, or at least working a job that you enjoy and are passionate about.

5. Commit a Percentage of Your Paycheck to Savings

I am no guru when it comes to personal finance advice, but I wanted to share a simple rule I have followed post graduation. 

I take 50% of everything I make and place it in a savings account. The other 50% of my money goes towards gas, insurance, my phone bill and having a shit ton of fun. I have two wonderful parents that have allowed me to move back in with them during my first year post-graduation, and this has allowed me to save a little more. 

I recommend everyone to place a portion of their income in savings. Most financial advisors recommend 20% of after-tax income. If you can save more than that, great. If not, 20% of every pay check accumulates into some pretty lofty sums quickly, if done religiously.

It is important to understand that your savings account places you in a position of power over your life. 

You don't like your job? Quit, and find one you do like. You really want to start that online knitting business you've been dreaming of since the age of 16? Do it. Are you ready to relocate to a different city? Start packing.

None of this is possible without building up a savings.

I don't believe that happiness can be found in money. I do however, believe that having a substantial amount in savings allows us to have greater control over our lives. 

6. Play Hard & Live Hard

This last Friday, I was seated at the top of a ferris wheel, across from one of my best friends. I felt like I was floating in the sky as the cool autumn breeze touched my face. One hundred feet below me, a dazzling storm of chaos raged on. Pulsating purple lights and loud bass illuminated and shook the ground. It looked as though thunder and lightening were emerging from the Earth.

Austen Henson, one of my favorite people in the world, started screaming at the top of his lungs like a 9 year old kid that just downed a liter of Mountain Dew -- he was euphoric. I felt it too -- all the beauty in the world compacted into a single moment. 

In the words of Charlie in Perks of Being a Wallflower, "I felt infinite."

This is one of the most important points I will make throughout this post. Find moments in your life that take your breath away and experience them often. We are at a stage in our lives where we are so obsessed with the idea of building our futures, that we forget to live. 

Be ambitious, but have fun doing it -- you're in your 20's, live like it. 

7. Choose Your Sacrifices

I have said it before and I will say it again -- you can't have it all.

In your 20's you have to make choices, and you have to accept the fact that you can't have the best of both worlds. The sooner you realize this, the better off you will be. 

When I was graduating college, I had a very unrealistic idea of how the world worked. I wanted to be an entrepreneur, I wanted to live in a big city, I wanted to have a ton of flexibility and I wanted to travel. 

While sure, all of these things looked amazing when I closed my eyes, I never took serious time to think about what I would have to sacrifice to achieve them.

After life served me a few reality checks, I had some inner dialogue...

If I want flexibility with my job, I may have to give up the stability that comes along with a salaried position. If I want to live in a big city where cost of living is more expensive, I may have to mitigate said costs by traveling less and saving more. If I want to be an entrepreneur, I have to be okay with eating ramen noodles for a couple years as I get my business off the ground. 

After I looked at the shit I would have to sacrifice to get where I wanted, my plans changed quite a bit. Suddenly, I was able to differentiate between what I thought I wanted and what I actually wanted.

I am a huge advocate of dream-chasing. But I also believe it is important to dream in a realistic way. You are at a time in your life where the world is your oyster and you can choose to do whatever you want, but everything comes with a sacrifice. 

Depending on what you want to accomplish, you have to be okay with sacrificing money, comfort, luxury, love and flexibility. Why do you think more people don't chase their dreams? It's one of the hardest things an individual will ever do, people don't like sacrifice.

8. What Is Love? Baby Don't Hurt Me... Don't Hurt Me... No More. 

Intimate relationships & love in your 20's are a pretty fucked up mess, especially for dreamers. I have yet to figure this one out, but I can offer a few thoughts on the subject. 

If you are an ambitious individual, there is a good chance that you are a lover too. I have found that passionate people tend to be passionate lovers, and this makes life terribly complicated. 

I am not here to paint an unrealistic picture of the world we live in, I am here to offer you a reality. There is a chance that one day, you will have to choose between two passions -- the person you love & the dream you love. 

I am 22, so I am going to recommend you always choose the dream. Though, a small part of me thinks 34 year old Cole may think differently.

The thing is, dreamers change the world, but lovers do too. I don't know, I will write a follow-up on this subject in 12 years. 

9. You Can Still Have a Blast Living at Home with Your Parents

After I wrote down my sacrifices, something became very clear -- I would be moving back in with my parents for a year.

No, this isn't what a post-grad envisions his life will look like upon graduation. I pictured myself working at some cool agency in a happening city with a studio style apartment. 

There was one problem though, I didn't want to work for someone else. I wanted to be my own boss, which meant financial stability was out the fucking window for a little while. 

So, in with my parents I moved.

It has ended up being one of the best decisions I have ever made. It's given me the financial flexibility to concentrate 100% of my efforts on building my dream, and it has allowed me the opportunity to spend one more year with two incredible people. 

My parents are two of my best friends and having more time to make memories with them before going out on my own has been a blessing in itself.

If you find yourself in a position where you have to head home, embrace it. This year will be something I look back on and cherish deeply. 

10. Decide How You Want to Measure Success

If you choose to measure success in money, you will forever be left feeling unsuccessful. The funny thing about money is that you can always have more of it and there is always someone out there that will have more of it than you.

I measure my success in my relationships, my writing, my experiences and my peace of mind. On a daily basis, I try to create something that money can’t buy; whether that be a moment with another individual, an experience or piece of writing that I am really proud of.

Laughing until your cheeks hurt with your best friends in an alleyway over a 6-pack, is something money can’t buy. Scratch that, it may cost $10. Taking a moment to breath in the freshness of autumn, while holding a radiant burnt orange leaf in your hand is something money can’t buy. The feeling you get when holding that special person is something money can't buy

When we start measuring the success in our lives in these tiny intimate, wondrous moments is when we truly become successful.

When you’re feeling overwhelmed with your future, just remember there is a lot of beauty in your present. 

Slow down & breath in Autumn. Seriously, do it right now. 

Where I am Today

After shit hit the fan six months ago, I took two months off and decided to do some traveling. I had never taken time to reflect on what I wanted versus what was expected of me.

I remember I was writing in a small coffee shop in Los Angeles, California and it hit me... I want to drink coffee and write for the rest of my life. 

I returned to Evansville with a new purpose, to make a living writing. I currently run this business & lifestyle blog and work as a copywriter and freelance marketer for several start-ups in the Indianapolis area.

I travel when I get the chance. I am living at home with two of my favorite people in the world, my parents , as I save up and build my copywriting business. I probably drink too much on the weekends, but laugh much much more. I am surrounded by amazing friends & people. 

But to be completely honest with you, I don't know where I am going to be in the next 6 months. I would like to think I have it figured out, but if I don't, that'll be 100% okay. 

I just want you to know that no matter what life has thrown at you, no matter how crazy your life seems, or how blurry your future... everything is going to be alright. 

Cole Schafer

 

 

Lucid Dreamers: Alisha Sims, Overcoming Sexual Abuse & Discovering Self-Love

This post is sponsored by Lucid Coffee Bar, a hidden gem in downtown Newburgh. The Lucid's Dreamers campaign celebrates those in the community that have big dreams and inspire others by telling their unique stories and experiences. 

I am a coffee connoisseur, and in my humble opinion Lucid reps out the best Americano in town. Stop by when you get the chance and give Lucid a try, I promise you won't be disappointed. They are located at 224 West Jennings St. Newburgh, IN 47630.

Cole Schafer Blog
I found that as I got older, my body remembered the abuse long after I felt like I had moved past it.

Alisha Sims approached me carrying an impressive digital camera equipped with a massive lens at her side. Her bright blue eyes pierced through the burnt shades of fall, and her blonde hair contrasted elegantly with her tightly fitted black leather dress and knee-high grey boots.

I could feel the confidence radiating off her heart and soul, and before she ever spoke, I knew she lived with a deeper purpose than most.  

At the time of our interview, I knew nothing about her, save for the fact that she ran one of the premier wedding & Boudoir photography businesses in Southern Indiana. I had been following her work for nearly a year, and it was only a matter of time before I chose her to be a Lucid Dreamer.

About 10 minutes into our discussion, I realized the beautiful, bold and confident woman sitting in front of me was once very broken. Alisha Sims turned out to be one of the strongest individuals I had ever been in the presence of.

Cole Schafer Blog

“I was sexually abused when I was a kid. I believe 8 years old was the first time it happened, and it continued on and off into high school. I found that as I got older, my body remembered the abuse long after I felt like I had moved past it. I had an incredible amount of difficulty trusting and feeling comfortable enough around a man to become intimate. I went through years of therapy to overcome the trauma I experienced in my childhood and teenage years. Something I struggled with was my self-love, shame and a healthy level of comfortability with my sexuality.

I made the decision to become a Boudoir photographer because I wanted to help women discover something I very much needed during that difficult time in my life -- empowerment, self-love, sexual confidence and love for my body. I work everyday for these beliefs to be normal things for women, because they were something I had to work everyday for years, to find in myself.

That’s why I am a Boudoir photographer.

After sitting down and talking with Alisha about Boudoir Photography, I did some research on the art and some of the many benefits that come along with it. For those of you who don’t know, Boudoir is a French word that means a woman’s private room or bedroom. The art of Boudoir Photography is creating intimate settings for classy and romantic images of women.

While this form of photography is controversial, it is hugely therapeutic for woman dealing with self-confidence and sexual issues. I must admit, I was a little skeptical at first, but Alisha made me a believer.

Alisha Sims is 27 years old and has been running her photography business for nearly seven years. She currently has 3-part time employees, and imagines she will need more, as her business is growing rapidly.

Towards the end of our conversation, I took a moment to fully appreciate the strong individual sitting in front of me and the adversity she had to overcome to get where she was today. Here was a 27 year old female entrepreneur making a killing in the photography business, while working every single day to help women discover confidence and celebrate their sexuality.

While I had only knew Alisha for an hour, I felt an incredible amount of pride in her, what she overcame and everything she stood for.

She truly is an exceptional human-being.

The Final Five

1. What is a daily routine that allows you to stay on your "A" Game?

"I wake up thinking each day is going to be a good day. Along with this I celebrate the small wins. When my team lands a client, no matter the size, we take a break and have a dance party."

2. What book do you most often gift to other people?

"For couples, I always recommend The Five Love Languages & for single woman I recommend Girl Boss.

3. What is your vice/ guilty pleasure?

"I am awful at relaxing. I am a workaholic and struggle to find balance. I always want my family and fiance to feel loved, so this is something I am constantly working on."

4. What is your super power?

"I am a believer. I believe in myself and I believe in people. I also don’t ever consider failure. In fact, in my mind it does not exist, it just isn’t an option."

5. If you could have a billboard at the busiest intersection in the world, what would it say?

“Less perfection, more passion.”

By Cole Schafer

 

 

 

 

 

Lucid Dreamer's: Tristian Gregory & The Art of Focus

This post is sponsored by Lucid Coffee Bar, a hidden gem in downtown Newburgh. The Lucid's Dreamers campaign celebrates those in the community that have big dreams and inspire others by telling their unique stories and experiences. 

I am a coffee connoisseur, and in my humble opinion Lucid reps out the best Americano in town. Stop by when you get the chance and give Lucid a try, I promise you won't be disappointed. They are located at 224 West Jennings St. Newburgh, IN 47630.

Cole Schafer Blog
You can be average, or you can choose to thrive in this world. It’s your choice.

I was seated outside of Lucid Coffee Bar when Tristian Gregory pulled up in a brand new Dodge Durango. He stepped out sporting a well-tailored black suit & a pair of shades, talking on the phone with whom I presumed to be a client.

He is a hustler -- constantly on the move, constantly making things happen.

He greeted me with a big smile as I handed him his drink of choice, a mocha latte. While I had known Tristian for quite sometime, it wasn’t until just recently that the two of us had become good friends. We took a few minutes to catch up on life, before diving into an inspiring discussion about focus & success.

He was a star basketball player back in high school at Evansville Harrison, going on to make quite a bit of noise at the collegiate level at Earlham College -- where he was all-conference his Junior & Senior year, averaging nearly 20 points a game. His success didn’t stop at basketball though, his first year in commercial lending with Old National Bank he was named Top Performer of the Southern Region.

I knew he had to have a pretty amazing story. Here was this guy that time and time again had risen to every occasion life threw in front of him. How did he get to where he was today?

“When I was 2, and my younger brother Trevor was 1, my biological father left us. Times were hard for a little while. There was a period where my mother, Trev and I were so poor that we had to split a #1 from Wendy’s for dinner. My mom seriously worked like crazy to take care of the two of us. She was constantly working, but was never late to pick us up from school, and always figured out ways to spend time with us.

My step dad entered into our lives a couple years later and was just incredible. I remember back in 3rd grade I brought home a ‘D’ on my report card. He sat me down and said, ‘You can be average, or you can choose to thrive in this world. It’s your choice.’ After that conversation I got all A’s from 3rd grade on.

I reflect on where I am today and the success I have had in basketball and in my career, and so much of that can be attributed to my parents. Growing up I watched how much they sacrificed to give Trev and I a better life. I watched what they were willing to give up to make sure we had new clothes and a nice pair of basketball shoes to start the season.

In so many ways, my parents instilled a deep level of focus within me.”

Cole Schafer Blog

Today, Tristian gives back by speaking with non-profits on this subject of focus. He talks monthly at The Goodwill Family Center with a group of struggling women who are interested in bettering their lives. Normally he will structure his discussions in such a way that the first half will consists of lessons on finance, and the second half will be motivational and inspirational material in regards to achieving success in life.

I found this to be incredibly touching. Tristian didn’t really say, but a part of me felt as though this was his way of honoring his mother, by helping women who were once in her position.

While Tristian has already found an immense amount of success at a young age, he is still dreaming and doesn’t plan on stopping anytime soon. He said one day he wants to become the president of Old National bank in the midwest region.

I can’t say for sure, but my guess is that he will be.

Final Five:

1. What is a daily routine that allows you to stay on your A game?

“I listen to Inky Johnson every single day when I wake up, he gets me in the right mindset to go out and make things happen.”

2. What book do you most often gift to other people?

Good to Great. It’s a book about how good companies have become great companies by focusing on their strengths and core competencies. While the book is directed at more of a business audience, many of its lessons can applied at the individual level.”

3. What is your vice/guilty pleasure?

“I definitely struggle with being a perfectionist, and it is something I am currently working on. When you have the mindset that everything needs to perfect in your life, it causes you to get stressed out and pass judgement onto others."

4. What is your superpower?

“I have never met a stranger. I love connecting with the people I meet on a day-to-day basis, even if they are complete strangers.”

5. If you had a blank billboard at the busiest intersection in the world, what would it say?

“Thoughts become things.”

By Cole Schafer

Lucid's Dreamers: Erin Morrison, Flutter Boutique & Listening to The Little Nudges

This post is sponsored by Lucid Coffee Bar, a hidden gem in downtown Newburgh. The Lucid's Dreamers campaign celebrates those in the community that have big dreams and inspire others by telling their unique stories and experiences. 

I am a coffee connoisseur, and in my humble opinion Lucid reps out the best Americano in town. Stop by when you get the chance and give Lucid a try, I promise you won't be disappointed. They are located at 224 West Jennings St. Newburgh, IN 47630.

Cole Schafer Blog
All throughout my life, I have listened to the little nudges, and they have never failed me.

I briskly walked up the steps to the loft that hangs above Lucid Coffee Bar. I was running a couple minutes late to the interview, due to the fact that I had taken extra consideration piecing together my appearance.

I was meeting with the owner of the hottest boutique in Southern Indiana and I had every intention of dressing to impress. Behind my shades, I saw the owner, creative director and stylist of Flutter sitting elegantly towards the back of the loft, next to an age old fireplace.

Erin Morrison’s hair was in a messy, yet artfully pieced together bun, and her shades set atop her head like a crown. She was wearing ivory white denim, a grey plaid button down and a pair of badass boots the same color. She had a trendy Swell Bottle to her left, decorated with a cool wispy pattern. A Sony 5100 camera sat in front of her, having just finished up a few shots for Flutter’s Instagram and website. And she kept playing with this unique looking necklace, that resembled something of a leather auxiliary cord with bronze audio jacks.

She was out of place, she belonged in a magazine.

I approached her, removed my sunglasses, and we shook hands. The two of us wasted no time, and had an amazing conversation about passion, faith, entrepreneurship, and family. I didn’t know it at the time, but this discussion would turn out to be the inspiration behind one of the most beautiful blogs I had ever written.

Before I venture any further, I must preface that Erin Morrison is in my opinion, too humble for her own good. So, everything that I write, unless quoted, was my own individual interpretation of Erin. Not her words about herself.

Erin hung the moon with creating Flutter, but if you were to ask her… she just thinks she tossed a star in the sky. If you are an entrepreneur, a young man or woman, there are light years of life experience that can be learned from this lioness.

Cole Schafer Blog

“My husband and I met in New York. He was studying at West Point and I was a Nanny in Westchester County. The two of us fell hard for one another, got married a few weeks after Bill’s graduation, and moved to Alabama where he went to flight school to become a Black Hawk helicopter pilot. In 1999, I was pregnant with our second (of three) when his helicopter went down. Seven of the eleven men on board died. Bill lost his right leg below the knee, broke his back, and sustained several other injuries. He was medevac’d to Nashville, Tennessee where he went through rehabilitation at Vanderbilt. I remember when I had down time, I would spend afternoons looking at all the beautiful boutiques there. We were so poor at the time, so I couldn’t afford to buy anything. But I fell in love with them, the style and the feel. After Bill was medically retired from the Army, we moved to several different states with General Electric. In 2006, we moved to Evansville.

Six years ago, we attended the National Amputee Golf Tournament held in no other than Nashville, Tennessee. This time around, I could actually afford to buy a few things from the boutiques and once again just fell in love with all of them. It was this wonderful healing experience for both of us, because we were able to see just how far we had come from the horrible accident.

I remember getting back to the hotel, and it was time to leave. I told my husband how frustrating it was that Evansville didn’t have any boutiques like the one’s in Nashville. I was joking around and saying that I might as well just start up my own boutique. He immediately got out his laptop and in 15 minutes had three locations picked out in downtown Newburgh. I said, ‘sweetie I was joking. That was a joke.’

He talked me into at least taking a look at the locations, and I ended up falling in love with the first place we walked into, which is still the home of Flutter today.  

All throughout my life, I have listened to the little nudges, and they have never failed me. I had them when I met my husband, I had them when I walked into the building that would become Flutter, and I still have them to this day as I choose the right direction for the boutique. I think these little nudges are God pointing me in the right direction.

The reason Flutter is what it is today, is because of God and these little nudges. I don’t have any other explanation.” 

The Final Five:

1. What is a daily routine that allows you to stay on your “A” game?

“4:45 a.m. workout and pilates. I don’t feel normal when I am not regularly working out. Family time is important to me, so I workout in the mornings that way I can spend time with them after work.”

2. What book do you most often gift to other people?

“The Bible.”

3. What is your vice/ guilty pleasure?

“Social media. It is a challenge to balance spending genuine time with family and treating Flutter’s followers like family. Social media is very important to Flutter’s success, so it takes quite a bit of attention.”

4. What is your superpower?

Erin: *blushes & shakes head no*

Cole: “Erin, I need you to give me a superpower..”

Erin: “No.”

Cole: “Please?”

Erin: “I don’t have one, I feel uncomfortable saying that type of stuff about myself.”

Cole: “Okay… Can I come up with one based off my impression of you during this interview?”

Erin: “I think that would be okay.”

What I gathered from Erin and I’s conversation was that she has a high emotional intelligence, intuition and a keen ability to empathize. A combination of superpowers I presume she developed through her strong faith and the challenging life experience of her husband’s accident. Every week, she gives away a piece of clothing, in the Flutter Friday Giveaway. I asked her why, and she said because she just loves giving. There was no other explanation. Throughout my years I have found that there are some people that have a gift of understanding the feelings of others without spoken word, Erin is one of these people. And I think this is why Flutter is what it is today, because she doesn’t have customers she has people she serves that she feels deeply for.

5. If you had a billboard at the busiest intersection in the world, what would it say?

“Listen to the nudges.”

By Cole Schafer

Lucid's Dreamers: Austin Current & Living a Balanced Life

This post is sponsored by Lucid Coffee Bar, a hidden gem in downtown Newburgh. The Lucid's Dreamers campaign celebrates those in the community that have big dreams and inspire others by telling their unique stories and experiences. 

I am a coffee connoisseur, and in my humble opinion Lucid reps out the best Americano in town. Stop by when you get the chance and give Lucid a try, I promise you won't be disappointed. They are located at 224 West Jennings St. Newburgh, IN 47630. 

Cole Schafer Blog

It is of great rarity that I find myself in the presence of an individual who I would consider to be extraordinary. Austin Current was that rarity.

At 22, Austin is a professional body-builder making crazy amounts of noise in the health & fitness arena. He is a world-traveler, having already set foot in 13 different countries. A certified trainer who has worked with athletes across three continents. And finally a web-entrepreneur seeking to redefine the online fitness coaching industry.

Tracking down Austin was no easy task. Despite his larger than life persona, he is quite introverted and for the most part surrounds himself with a select few. After weeks of back and forth, I was finally able to catch him on a day in-between work-out’s, coaching and traveling.

We sat down for a cup of coffee at Lucid Coffee Bar and had a fascinating discussion about life, balance and roads less traveled by.

For an individual whose job consists of building he and his clients exteriors, I was blown away at just how down to earth, intelligent and transparent Austin was. About 5 minutes into the interview, I quickly realized that Austin had spent just as much time building his mind as he had his body.

“Growing up, I was not an exceptional student in high school. I developed athletically very quickly, it took me till college to fully develop intellectually. I think some of this was due to the fact that everyone knew me as an athlete, so they never cared about how I did academically. I guess it just was never stressed. When I made the decision to go to college, I had one person who believed I could actually finish, that was my grandfather. His support gave me this new sense of responsibility, and was instrumental in the success I have found in college. I literally went my senior year in high school from being a 3.0 student to my freshman year in college achieving a 4.0. I went from being the guy that copied off everyone, to the guy that everyone wanted to copy off of. Many people have this misconception that as a bodybuilder, all I care about is my body and how I look physically. When in reality, my body is the last thing I think about. As a coach, my mantra is balance and moderation. These are the words I live by, and words I do my best to instill in the people I work with."  

This concept of Balance and Moderation is what I believe makes Austin so successful on stage as a competitor, in his personal life and in his business.

He explained to me that before this year, he never thought of himself as an entrepreneur. What recently fueled his desire to run his own business was the flexibility that would come with it, and for an individual who has a handful of passions, flexibility is a necessity.

Cole Schafer Blog
As a coach, my mantra is balance and moderation. These are the words I live by, and words I do my best to instill in the people I work with

Austin explained that he wasn’t concerned about running the show, nor becoming super wealthy. Two very common motivators for individuals seeking careers in entrepreneurship. No, Austin desires to become an entrepreneur because he wants to be in complete control of his life and where his life is taking him.

On that note, I asked Austin what his dream was,

“My dream would be to work remotely, and continue to grow my online business, while positively impacting the people I work with. I think it would be neat to own a tiny house one day, and do a lot of traveling.”

The Final Five

1. What is a daily routine that allows you to stay on your “A” game?

“I actually picked up this tip from Andy Frisella, and it is called a “Power List”. It’s where you write 5 things down that you want to accomplish that day, and just get them done. It doesn’t matter if they are big or small, just write them down. I collapse if I don’t have structure, and this is a tool that I have found very useful in keeping me on course each day.”

2. What book do you most often gift to other people?

“You know, I don’t take the time to read leisurely, just because I read so much academically as it is. But I listen to a ton of audio books, because it gives me the ability to multitask.. Anyways, I recommend any of Gary Vaynerchuk’s books. I also just wrote an eBook that everyone should check out if they are interested in learning more about health & fitness”

3. What is your vice/guilty pleasure?

“Being habitually lazy. I know it sounds odd, and people struggle to understand it. But I have absolutely zero remorse when I lay around all day, hence the “Power List” to keep structure in my life. I love binge watching Netflix, my favorite shows are New Girl, The Office and Friends.”

4. What is your super power?

“Being uncomfortable. Whether it be extreme dieting, studying for a big exam or grinding for the business. I am really good at being uncomfortable to get what I want and where I want.”

5. If you had a blank billboard at the busiest intersection in the world, what would it say?

"Enjoy the moment you're in, because you can't recreate it."

By Cole Schafer

 

 

Lucid's Dreamers: Taylor Mathis & Why Good is Better Than Best

This post is sponsored by Lucid Coffee Bar, a hidden gem in downtown Newburgh. The Lucid's Dreamers campaign celebrates those in the community that have big dreams and inspire others by telling their unique stories and experiences. 

I am a coffee connoisseur, and in my humble opinion Lucid reps out the best Americano in town. Stop by when you get the chance and give Lucid a try, I promise you won't be disappointed. They are located at 224 West Jennings St. Newburgh, IN 47630. 

As a blogger, transparency is a value I hold close to my heart. So, I would like to preface by saying that Taylor Mathis is one of my best friends. Well, now that I think about it, he is everyone’s best friend. Hell, he is probably even your best friend.

Walking into a bar with Taylor is like watching Ray Liotta work his charisma in Goodfellas. Wherever he goes, he never ceases to be the man of the hour.

Trust me, I should know, the two of us have been heavy frequenters of the Franklin bar scene for far too long.

Our Friday nights generally begin at Sportsman’s, a legendary billiards bar in our hometown. When we walk in, Taylor is immediately met with an onslaught of greetings, handshakes, inside jokes and boisterous laughs (he literally knows everyone, he probably knows your cousin’s boyfriend’s sister’s soccer coach for God’s sakes, I have never met anyone so well-connected).

In the midst of the swarm, I generally take advantage of the time to defuse my social anxieties with a strong G+T. We eventually make our way over to a table, where I kick Taylor's ass in a few rounds of billiards, before continuing down the rest of the Franklin Street bar scene with the underground mayor of Evansville.  

I told myself that I may not be able to be the best at any one single thing, but I could always be a good person and make people feel good.

When Lucid Coffee Bar and I decided to run a campaign called, “Lucid’s Dreamers”, Taylor was the first person I called. I had never taken the time to sit down with him and understand just how he does it.

By “it”, I mean his ornate ability to treat every single person he meets as though they are lifelong friends. I always knew there was something more to the fun-loving, belly laughing entertainer that I am so lucky to call my best friend, and I was ready to find out what exactly made him tick.

The two of us were sitting across from one another at Lucid Coffee, he was quickly working up a buzz from his Iced Vanilla Macchiato. Between pulls, he would say, “My God Schaf, this puppy is really hitting the spot!”

I eventually asked him, “Alright man, so tell me how you became Taylor Mathis?”

He smiled, revealing a set of white pearly teeth, and shared some wisdom that had my brain racing for the remainder of the day,

"I grew up playing baseball. I played throughout elementary school, middle school and even up through high school. When I played, I was never as good as I wanted to be, and for a long time I was really hard on myself about it. You know how it is… you played sports. When you’re young you always want to be the top dog, the best on the team. The problem is that everyone is constantly competing with one another, and I always felt like this sort of threw off the team camaraderie. Over time, I stopped being so hard on myself and realized that life isn’t about being the best. I told myself that I may not be able to be the best at any one single thing, but I could always be a good person and make people feel good."

After Taylor had shared this, my mind flashed back to several months ago when he, myself and a few buddies road tripped up to Indianapolis for the Indy 500. We stopped by Chick-Fil-A, upon Taylor’s request. He had worked a double shift, and hadn’t eaten all day.

He ordered two chicken sandwiches, and I laughed to myself as I watched him shove the first sandwich in his mouth, almost devouring it in a few bites. He was obviously famished.

Right as Taylor was getting ready to tear into his second chicken sandwich, we turned the corner and there was a homeless man holding a sign, “Will work for food.” Taylor raised his voice in the car, “Pull over.”

He handed the homeless man the sandwich through the window, and we continued on up to Indianapolis.

I could tell Taylor was still hungry, but he knew that man was hungrier. That’s the type of person my best friend is.

I later asked Taylor, what his dreams were and where he saw himself ending up. He currently works in sales with the Bob's Gym family in Evansville. He said, "Thus far the experience has been incredibly rewarding. It doesn't feel like sales to me, it feels like I am helping other people live healthier lifestyles. I am not sure what my future holds, I think owning a business would be pretty cool. This right now, is enough for me though."

As a close friend of Taylor's, I couldn't tell you where he is heading, but I know it's somewhere good. 

Cole Schafer