Priorities for the Next 30 Days

Clearly action is more proactive than just “thinking” about something. But action without thought can result in just spinning your wheels. It can be helpful to prioritize your action. The question is: what three priorities do I have for the next thirty days that will move me closer to living the life of my dreams?

Priority 1 – Consistent Content Creation

I need to keep up with the work I’ve started with the 30 Day Blog Challenge. In fact, I need to accelerate the amount of content that I produce. Writing one blog post a day while I work my day job has proven challenging, but also rewarding. I walk away from the process spent but very fulfilled. It has been interesting proving to myself just how much content I can create. Even though the material I am putting out at the moment is less directly related to producing carbon fiber, they are effectively training my writing “muscles.” They are also critical in addressing the psychology and impetus behind the business.

Moving forward, I need to expand what I produce and where. In addition to working on Blog Challenge posts, I need to put together some pillar posts. I have a few that I am working on. I just need to follow through and get them done. It’s also important that I start producing videos for my YouTube channel. These will provide excellent value to anyone interested in following along. With any luck, some of my followers will surpass me in output.

Priority 2 – Engage My Audience

To make this happen I am going to take a page from Pat Flynn’s play book and attempt to be everywhere. I’ve started some of the process. I have a presence across multiple social media platforms already. I need to pick up the slack and reach out to the ones I haven’t previously sought out. More importantly, I need to strategically and consistently seek out people who are attempting things similar to me and do whatever I can to provide them with value.

Another step I need to take that ties in to both engaging my audience and producing more content is to start an email newsletter.

Priority 3 – Build Things Out of Carbon Fiber

Insane, right? How dare I actually do what I set out to do when I started this blog. I have a list of products that I want to make, both for myself and for other people. My plan is to roll some of these out within the next thirty days. I will have to hold off talking specifics on some of them because I am producing them for other people and it is at their discretion when they want to launch. Rest assured they are exciting projects. As for my own stuff, I’ll be talking it up pretty extensively as I get closer to a launch date. Suffice to say I am putting a fair amount of pressure on myself to get things to market. And when they do get to market, I hope you get as excited about them as I am now.

Final Thoughts

This challenge is providing me with some nice inertia. This definitely qualifies as doing something different (for me) in an attempt to effect a different result. Now is the time to capitalize on the inertia.

Take action on your own projects and make inertia work for you for the next thirty days.

Defining the Perfect Day

Today’s 30 Day Blog Challenge:

Write out, in exacting detail, your perfect day.

This has been surprisingly difficult. I’ve been trying to figure out why that is. For me, at least, it comes down to not allowing myself to be selfish. Not in the Nietzschean sense of the word, as in “I” to the detriment of all others. But, rather, selfish in terms of “without a strong ‘I’ there can be no basis for ‘we.'” All that to ask:

Why is it so difficult to ask for what we truly want?

I think it’s drummed into our heads that the needs of others should come first. Our brains translate this to include other people’s wants as well. In the end we put our wants last. We wind up fearing asking for what we want.

In order to succeed we have to get past that. We have to act to get a handle on our fears.

To that end, writing down these desires lends inertia to achieving them.

With that in mind, I give you my perfect day:

I wake up early, refreshed and…

Y’know, I had a whole thing written out. In painstaking detail. I struggled like hell to get it written and, in the end, it still sounded fake to me.

The truth is, my perfect day involves me spending as much time as possible with my family. Truthfully, after the last few days, that means that a forty-hour week would be a vast improvement. Having said that,my hope is to have manufacturing set up so that it is fairly self-sufficient. That way I can concentrate on research and development, producing new content, and pointing the business in new directions. All of which can be done (in part or in whole) from home. This doesn’t mean that I won’t work outside the home, but some of the stuff that needs to happen outside my house can take place in my garage (prototyping, etc.). And, at the end of the day, I’m working with carbon fiber because it’s interesting. Shouldn’t that be the criterium for anything we do?

Because, ultimately, I don’t buy into the axiom about work that: “if it were fun, they’d call it play.”

Work should be fun, else why engage in it? Most people give up most of their waking hours to work. Even if it’s challenging (hell, especially if it is) you should enjoy what you spend your time doing.

A master in the art of living draws no sharp distinction between his work and his play, his labour and his leisure, his mind and his body, his education and his recreation. He hardly knows which is which. He simply pursues his vision of excellence through whatever he is doing and leaves others to determine whether he is working or playing. To himself he always seems to be doing both. Enough for him that he does it well.

-Lawrence Pearsall Jacks

I keep working at embodying this quote. Some days I get there. Others, not so much. Either way I hope my kids see my endeavors as fulfilling and realize that theirs can be as well.

Defining Location Independence

I mentioned location independence in yesterday’s post. I’m sure those two words conjure up some significant imagery, but it bears the question:

What does location independence mean to me?

As is the case with anything worthwhile, my definition is continually evolving.

At one point in time, I think my concept of it would have had me being totally nomadic, unencumbered and alone. Never staying in one place for any length of time, constantly exploring new places, always on the move. But that version of me doesn’t exist anymore. Truthfully I’m not sure he ever existed. I think I may have been enamored of the idea of that. Some version of the wandering monk, like Kwai Chang Caine or Jules Winnfield. Although if you’d asked me then, I probably would have referenced Yojimbo above the others. All of that ignores the fact that I can see that being a lonely existence from here.

To be sure, there are people who can pull off the alone and unencumbered thing. But I know myself too well, and at this point in time (and frankly, probably since forever), I would likely just become a hermit and not interact with anyone if I spent any significant time traveling by myself.

That’s not to say I don’t enjoy my solitude. Quite to the contrary. I am very comfortable being on my own. Thankfully, I enjoy my own company. I have traditionally found myself seeking out solitude more often than not. It’s kind of my natural state, honestly. I think it can be an advantage as an entrepreneur.

That doesn’t change the fact that interaction and connection are vital parts of the human condition. Fortunately for me, my wife showed me the light in this regard. My life is immeasurably better because she showed me how good connection can be.

And then we had kids and things got even better. I now have two tiny humans who are absolute sponges for the world around them. It delights me every day I get to watch them figuring things out.

Which really ties into my definition of location independence.

It’s all about being free to spend time with my family and show my kids a broader world than they can see in their own backyard. But it’s also about having a safe haven. A base camp from which to explore.

That base can be anywhere, and exploration can span from a few minutes, up to a full-blown sojourn.

I look forward to having a business that affords me the opportunity to delve into that, and a community with whom I can share my stories and hear theirs.

Now go out, have fun, and explore your world.

Lessons From My Childhood

My dad was a pilot, so I grew up with a few unique things that, at the time, I thought were absolutely normal but that, in retrospect, I realize were rare beyond measure. I also understand now how much they set me up to be location independent.

The first thing that was significant about having a pilot for a parent was that he was, literally, gone for half the month. The interesting thing is that my impression of him was that he was home for half the month. I really do think that I saw my dad more than my friends whose dads had “real” jobs. When he was home he was home. He was present in a way that 9 to 5-ers never seem to manage. He never had to multi-task his time with my brother and I. It meant that if he were home, we knew that we had full access.

The flip side of that is that, subconsciously, I learned to work fifteen days a month. Needless to say, I’ve run into some opposition in regular jobs to that idea.

Another thing that came from having grown up as the son of a pilot is an ability to travel on a moments notice. We would get home from school on Friday afternoon and be told that we had twenty minutes to pack. When we’d invariably ask where we were going, our parents would fire back with:

“We don’t know. We’ll see what’s available once we get to the airport.”

Which would meet with our dumbfounded expressions, triggering:

‘Umm, plan for someplace warm, I guess.”

I get wanderlust to this day.

That wanderlust, coupled with an ability to say yes to impossibly short lead times for travel gave me a competitive advantage in rock and roll.

Back when airlines had paper schedules available, you could finagle your way around the country as a stand-by passenger pretty easily, as long as you understood a hub-and-spoke system. My parents felt it beneficial for my brother and I to be able to operate in that world. They went through the task of showing us how the paper schedule worked, cross-referencing flight maps and departure airports. Once we got the hang of it, they put us in charge of getting us all to our destination. It didn’t matter where we went in between, whether we had to backtrack, nor how long it took. We were in charge. (I got handed the reins at four.)

A few big things came out of these lessons. First, understand you terrain. To this day, no public transit phases me. Anywhere. Second, getting lost is a lot less daunting when you know you can get yourself out of some rather silly places. And third, the journey really is as much fun as the destination. At least it can be if you stop worrying about a “schedule.” When you know that you’ll inevitably get where you are trying for, all the stuff between here and there just becomes adventure.

So, yeah. Not exactly a typical childhood, but it sure seemed normal to me.

Oh, and the smell of jet fuel still makes me nostalgic for my youth.

What “normal” thing in your childhood taught you invaluable lessons as an adult? Leave a comment to let me know. I look forward to hearing the tales.

A Better Day


You ever have one of those days where you look around and wonder how you wound up in your life? Doing your job? I’ve been having those more and more lately. There are definitely aspects of my life that aren’t that way. I love my family. I wouldn’t trade them or my time with them for the world. But I have to leave them in order to go to work, and that’s when the mystery kicks in.

I was watching something on television at one point and someone was asking how to fit in a workout or some such thing being that they worked fifty hours a week. I turned to my wife and said:

“Do you realize how easy our lives would be if I only worked fifty hours a week?”

I realize that working in film means that I hold a position that people aspire to. I have a pretty firm grasp on the fact that it’s hard to feel sorry for someone who works in a prestige industry, but the truth is I make certain sacrifices for my job. Chief among those is that, when there is work, I can go all week without seeing my kids eyeballs. If I go out of town for a job it gets even worse.

Believe me, when I’ve been on the clock for fifteen hours and I know my family is asleep in bed, I definitely start reconsidering my career choices.

The whole point of undertaking this blog is that I hope to be able to spend time with my family, as well as do something that can make my kids proud.

I think I have a modicum of talent and vision. I think I have lived a varied and interesting life so far. I can take these things, overlay them, and come up with some interesting things.

I have a list of products running through my head that I want desperately to be able to make. And if I can teach and inspire others to bring the things in their heads out into the real world, what could possibly be better?

So if you ask me what my ultimate life is in a limitless world…?

My answer is:

Carrying out my vision, inspiring my kids, and empowering others to do the same.

What this looks like on a day-to-day basis varies. It can be anything from writing to manufacturing to marketing or research. What doesn’t change, however, is that it entails a greater portion of my time spent with my family.

Thanks go to Natalie Sisson over at The Suitcase Entrepreneur for the timely kick in the pants with her Blog Challenge.

One step closer

I finally ordered the materials I need in order to start making stuff. I’m not entirely sure what took me so long, although the cost certainly proved to be a bit of a barrier to entry.

The strange thing is how panic-stricken I got right before I pressed “submit” on the order form. I can only imagine that is tied to my procrastination. I think it’s interesting that I would resist forward progress so much. It is certainly easier stay static and comfortable, even if that means you aren’t going anywhere. But as biology dictates, nothing is truly static. A thing is either growing or decaying. I think it’s the same way with business.

This step is marginally about taking action, and significantly about believing in the “me” I tell myself stories about.

I have taken one small step forward into a world I hope I can inhabit.

I am assured that other businesspeople feel self-doubt and fear. Hundreds of books have been written about it. But when faced with the fear of failure (or worse: success) no one else’s issues come into play. I have only myself in that room, wondering if I can do all these things I have been so confidently announcing that I shall do.

I have to step back, empty my cup. Come at this as a beginner. I don’t know everything. I’m not supposed to.That’s the whole point of learning something.

I have to embrace the beauty of the Beginner:

Not only are you, as a beginner, allowed to suck, you are supposed to suck.

When it comes right down to it, the only person who expects perfection right out of the gate from me… is me.

What kind of stupid expectation is that?

Nobody is that good immediately. Okay, maybe Mozart, but hey, that guy is dead.

I guess that’s why, in the words of Pat Flynn, we just have to “Let Go.”

Let go of our preconceived notions of what we “should” be able to do. Let go of our fears of what others will think. Let go of those fears that keep us from taking action on our dreams.

The next step is always the hardest thing to do. But I promise the feeling of relief at having accomplished even the smallest victory will overpower the anxiety keeping you from doing it.

As for me, it’s time to prep my workspace so it’s ready when my stuff shows up.

If you want a great look at a guy who took the reins on his own life and is accomplishing great things, check out Pat Flynn’s blog at: You won’t regret it.

Tragedy touches Boston, pain reaches farther

I realize that there is nearly no connection between what this blog speaks to (carbon fiber and a maker mindset) and the tragic events that happened in Boston today, but I felt compelled to talk about it.

While there is very little connection in terms of subject matter, philosophically we here at the Playground find a deep connection with those running and supporting the Boston Marathon. At the core, our business and personal philosophy espouses empowerment and the joy of physical activity. I can think of few things that embody those ideals more than the Boston Marathon.

It was with heavy heart, then, that I heard the news of the bombings in Boston. Our thoughts go out to those there, and those with loved ones at the scene.

“At first you think, are any of them my people? Then you remember that they are all your people.” –From @ANGinUSA

We mourn the loss of life, hope for the rapid recovery of those injured, and wish for the safety of the first responders. We also hope that the endurance community moves forward with the heart and determination that we’ve seen time and again. Not that they would forget the events of today, but rather that they pull together and help each other recover.

As for the rest of us, I hope we can avoid jumping to conclusions, bypass the platitudes, and reach out to one another.

Be sure to hug your loved ones today. I know I will.

It’s Time to Start

I’ve spent a ton of time thinking about carbon fiber, and a lot of time thinking about the blog as well. As a matter of fact, as I was driving to work this morning it dawned on me that a lot of the ideas I have regarding the Playground go back nearly two decades. And in the last week, one thing has been stuck on a permanent loop in my head:

All this thinking hasn’t actually achieved anything.

Sure, I have a list of projects and processes that I want to tackle a mile long, but without action the items on it will only remain figments of my imagination. Nothing is ever accomplished without taking some action.

As such, I have set forth on what I am calling (for lack of a better term) my Action Plan. There are several steps involved, and they build on each other. Each should be a small, simple move forward, and each should be easily attainable. I may amend these as I go, but the important thing is that I move forward on these post-haste. I believe that these steps are very specific to what I want to accomplish, but also that they can be translated to virtually any other project I want to tackle.

Step 1: Research

In some ways, this step has been going on for a while. I think that all my daydreaming and poking around the web has been the groundwork that this is all based on. The difference now is that the research is more focused. I am not so much interested in everything that exists about carbon fiber at this point as I am learning the first thing I need to know about actually building something using carbon fiber.

This step is, most importantly, finite. It is incredibly easy to get caught up in the research trap. To think that you just need to learn that one more thing. To think that if you were just to come up with the perfect system, it would all be sooo easy.

Perfection is the enemy of action. 

I don’t mean that one shouldn’t try to achieve perfection. What I mean is that seeking perfection often precludes one from taking action in the first place. Far better to just do something, no matter the results than to not do anything in an attempt to perfect everything before moving forward.

In this instance, my research covers what I need to safely execute my first project in carbon fiber. Once I know just enough to safely pull the trigger, I have to go ahead and do it. Which brings me to:

Step 2: Test project

Now I make my first piece…out of fiberglass.
I realize that I just said that finished research would carry me into a carbon fiber project (and it will) but a key principle of this work is that I want to move forward with the least amount of expense to achieve my goal. With that in mind, it’s time for me to apply the principles involved in carbon fiber fabrication on a material that acts very similarly, and at a fraction of the cost.

I have no real intention of taking this intermediary step at every stage along the way, but I feel that as a first project it is important to lay an effective groundwork for what comes later. I have worked with fiberglass in the past, but I think that I can improve on my process, given the research I have done even to this point.

My goal for this step, and the follow-up that I will do in carbon fiber, is to make…a flat panel. Exciting, I know. But this is where everything starts from. When learning to sew, you make swatches. With welding, you weld beads on a flat plate first. It would stand to reason that the simplest form is the best starting point in the learning process for carbon fiber, as well.

I am not concerning myself with producing a finished or useable product at this phase of things. The purpose of this step is to familiarize myself with the ins ands outs of cloth and epoxy. There are other types of resin that I could use with fiberglass, but as my goal is to work with carbon fiber, none of those are viable options. I should be getting used to the properties of epoxy as early as possible.

As I am building this project in both fiberglass and carbon fiber, technically this step could be broken down into step 2 and step 2a, but the idea is the same: Get my hands dirty and have an actual FRP panel (or two) at the end of the step.

Step 3: Mold making

This is where the rubber meets the road. As an intermediary step in the process, I again will likely not be working with carbon fiber directly. The mold is most likely going to be made of fiberglass, but it is an important step toward achieving an actual, useable thing made of carbon fiber.

There are a number of sub-steps in this step and I hope to provide information on each of these as I progress. I can’t, in all honesty, catalogue them all right now, as I haven’t yet gotten that detailed in my research. I have a general idea of what’s in store for me, but there are any number of things that I can’t predict happening or needing to know from where I currently stand.

Then again, that is the whole point of doing what I’m doing, in the way that I am doing it. None of us can truly predict the knowledge we will have or need tomorrow. Expanding my knowledge base is a critical benefit of my writing this blog. I have a thing that I think I can do, and I want to test myself to see if I actually can.

Suffice to say, this step will involve coming up with a shape for something, and taking steps to make that shape a reality executed in carbon fiber.

Step 4: An actual Thing

This step gets me something I can hold in my hand and use. I have some ideas on what this first thing is going to be, but I suppose it will really come down to what strikes my fancy most when I get to the mold-making process.

To be fair, this step is just the natural next progression from the last, as the mold will be in place and established. It doesn’t mean, however, that this step is a forgone conclusion. There are a number of things that I will need to learn between making the mold and using the mold to build something. I will certainly be building on the knowledge I will have gained in the first several steps of the process, but will also be adding to my knowledge base as I move ahead.

Honestly, I’m pretty excited for this stage of the game.

I will have something I can touch and recognize as something by the end of this step. All the study, practice, and preparation will culminate in something tangible. Something that sprang forth from my mind, created with my own hands. There is something pretty satisfying to that thought. And if I have laid the groundwork correctly, that process will be repeatable. If I’ve really done it correctly, it will be reproducible.

Step 5: One Step Beyond

This step could just have easily been called “…and Another Thing” or “oh, By The Way.” That’s because this step involves everything else beyond the basics. It also encompasses the first four steps over and over again, in a sense.

The final step is really about expanding my knowledge base even further. Learn some, build some, become proficient, learn some more, ad infinitum. It’s really about pushing into new areas, learning new processes, coming up with new stuff I want to build. And there are so many different levels to what is possible within the world of carbon fiber. So many different processes and avenues to explore that I can keep going for quite a while. Which is what attracted me to it in the first place.

The beauty of carbon fiber is that, for the most part, if I can think it I can build it.

I just have to take action to get there.

What action do you have to take to move your projects forward? Leave a comment and let me know your next step.

Why Carbon Fiber

Straight up, I love material science. I guess that’s why carbon fiber is such a fascinating thing for me. That you can tailor the way a structure reacts just by the orientation of the fibers in a cloth is mind-blowing.

I have been fascinated with carbon fiber since I first heard about it as a kid. At the time it was the sole domain of the aerospace industry, but there were a few people who were seeking to apply it to private ventures. Being from an aviation family, the most visible of these people to me was Burt Rutan. Scaled Composites has made some of the most interesting aircraft in the last half-century. Rutan refused to accept the conventional wisdom regarding the form an airplane had to take. Composites and carbon fiber certainly helped him realize his unconventional vision.

Up until recently, I had thought that working with carbon fiber was something beyond the scope of what I was capable. I had done some small projects using fiberglass, but for some reason carbon fiber seemed out of reach. Something clicked recently, and I realized that if I can work with fiberglass, carbon fiber is just a stone’s throw away in terms of process.

This realization sparked a fire in my brain like few things have before. The possibilities were only limited to my imagination. I could tackle all sorts of projects that I have been harvesting over the years.

The great thing is that this prospect lets me advance on a couple fronts: I get to learn a new skillset (definitely a draw for me), and I get to come out of it with tangible proof of what I’m doing. I am very much a hands-on learner, and this is right up my alley. I love things where process is a major component. I hand write a lot, and crocheting, sewing, and welding are all things that I enjoy doing. It’s a strange mix, I know, but when you consider the process aspect of all these things it all makes sense.

I’m not really sure how hard this whole thing is going to be, nor where it will ultimately take me. I can only say that I’m excited to build some of the things that are in my head, and that learning how to bridge the gap between seeing it in my mind and holding it in my hand is really intriguing.

I hope you enjoy seeing my learning curve, and I hope it inspires you to pursue something you previously thought impossible.


Welcome to My goal for this site is for it to become a place for me to catalogue my journey in learning how to build things out of carbon fiber. My sincere hope is that it also provides some information for other people interested in the process, as well.
The world of carbon fiber manufacturing has always been shrouded in a bit of mystery for me. I hope to demystify the process. To bring a DIY element to it that seems lacking. I sincerely hope that you find the journey as interesting as I do, and will follow along.