Pulse Check

Every quarter, I recap the past, present, and future of my personal journey and the voyage of Value of Simple.

This “Pulse Check” is intended to be an honest, transparent, and (hopefully) inspiring assessment of where I've been and where I'm going.

This is the Pulse Check for April – June 2014.

Old Is a State of Mind

In some ways, I still feel new to this whole “putting yourself out there online” thingy. For example, I continue to consider much of my writing as raw and I don't feel major improvements since starting to blog in November 2010.

In other ways, I feel like I'm coming into my own. I firmly believe in my podcasting and public speaking abilities, partially due to ego-boosters like this new Smart and Simple Matters iTunes review:

I am enjoying all your interviews and the interactions with your guests so much that I am on round two of 1-50, back to back! I look forward to hearing more in the future. So happy to have found your podcast! – Cynthia8a

That reminds me: happy 50th episode, Smart and Simple Matters!

Not to be outdone, there were some other large milestones happenin' 'round these parts like:

  • Value of Simple's two-year anniversary on July 5.
  • Melinda and I celebrated our fifteen-year dating anniversary on April 25.
  • My son Clark, now almost ten-months-old, seems to have a developmental breakthrough almost every other day.

Melinda and Clark in the Back Yard

I'm glad I have such an amazing family to support me and that I want to support. I've been leaning on Melinda lately because all this SimpleREV stuff is weighing heavily on my mind (if not outright weighing me down some days).

SimpleREV – the two-day simple living event in Minneapolis, Minnesota on October 3-4 – has taken up just about all my time in the past three months. And the resources I've poured into it never seem to be enough.

As always, there's a lot going for us right now. For example:

  • The workshop topics and workshop leaders are all kinds of schuper schweet.
  • Dan Hayes, my co-organizer and Simple Life Together podcasting force, convinced me to start the All Things SimpleREV podcast with him. Planning and recording episodes has been all kinds of groovy.
  • I'm finally proud of the SimpleREV website, mostly due to the unsexy (and savvy) work of my friend, Andrea Imsdahl.
  • We're getting traction with our new project, “What Simple Living Means to Me.”

But …

In the short-term, it all comes down to getting butts in seats on October 3-4. My friends and family are tired of hearing me say this, but there is so much tied up in a ticket sale.

Without lots of feet shuffling around SimpleREV's venue, the University of St. Thomas, its vibrancy is at risk. If the workshops feel a bit too intimate because of unused classroom capacity, the workshop leaders can't have the impact they deserve.

I care about my reputation. But I care more about the reputation of people who have publicly hitched their wagon to SimpleREV.

I want to deliver for them. I want to deliver for our current ticket holders who are excited beyond belief for SimpleREV. I owe everyone two magical days, but I'm worried I'll need to hire a magician to provide the pizzazz.

To prove I can break the SimpleREV loop in my head, here are two interesting items before I give you the numbers:

  1. Big Omaha. I drove six hours to Omaha, Nebraska on May 7 so I could attend an event where I knew absolutely nobody: Big Omaha. In-between dodging conversations about tech startup accelerators and obscure programming languages, I was able to get down to the basics with a host of cool folks. I spoke with homesteaders, a tea craftsman, minimalist designers, meditation pros, yoga enthusiasts, and other groovy people. In total, I connected with about 200 of the 750 attendees over 2+ days and simply put myself out there. (Yes, I counted. No, I didn't have a quota.)
  2. San Diego. Melinda, Grant, Clark, two of our best friends, their young son, and I flew to San Diego on April 28 for a week of relaxation and family fun. It turns out that Grant, all three-and-a-half years of him, did better than any of us at the zoo during a record-breaking heat wave. But what I'll remember most is how fulfilling it is to travel with friends. I haven't done that since 2000 when I road tripped to Pasadena, California with some college buddies to see my Wisconsin Badgers win the Rose Bowl. Our slow meals and unhurried agenda in San Diego continue to swirl in my bald dome … while simultaneously trying to forget our collective family meltdown after getting off of our return flight to Minneapolis. I hope to never see the look Melinda gave me at one point (which I deserved).

Exit story time; enter the numbers.

The Numbers

A lot of people are interested in the stats behind Value of Simple. I am too because it helps me understand what's working, what's failing, and what I need to emphasize in the future.

But more than that, being upfront with you and sharing these numbers lets me display some core values of candor, vulnerability, and accountability. The more you know about this refuge of simplicity, the more you know whether this community is a place you want to be.

If a number is in parenthesis, it's the net increase or decrease of the same stat from the previous quarter. This also includes the income I made so you can see how this site supports my family, charities like Second Harvest Heartland, and the greater community.

Note: All numbers below are a monthly average of the past three months.

Note: Amounts shown are after PayPal fees and affiliate payments are made.

  • Total Average Monthly Income: $1,081.65
Check out my Resources page if you want to know why I stand by these products and services.

Most of the non-income stats were up slightly, but they're nothing to write home about.

The number casting a bigger shadow than an approaching storm cloud is the SimpleREV ticket sales. Let's hope I catch lightning in a bottle, or the next Pulse Check won't be fun to write.

What I Learned (and You Might Too)

My goodness. I'm banging the SimpleREV drum hard, aren't I? I guess it reflects my “all in” mentality right now.

In fact, I feel like Mike Hrostoski (a fellow event organizer) did in March when he wrote:

The biggest stumbling block to my writing is trying to sell these tickets. I'm used to sharing everything and anything openly on this space. But now the pressure of creating words that will move men to sign up is stunting my creativity. Something about it doesn't feel genuine … I've felt like that father who's been working 80 hours a week just to put food on the table and keep a roof over his family's head. And then when he asks his son to grab some milk from the store and he completely ignores him, he completely loses it … But just like that overworked father who's on the verge of breaking down, I've been operating from a place of fear instead of a place of love. Wow. It feels really good to get that off of my chest. In fact, it feels really good to be me 99% of the time. Except when I'm trying to sell tickets to this conference.

On the flip side, look at all these friends who have authentically worked to see SimpleREV become amazing:

  • Dan Hayes. He's been there – whenever “there” needs to be – since day 1.
  • Sarah Sheets. She created the SimpleREV logo, The Declaration of SimpleREV (coming soon to an Internet near you), and will be designing the attendee badges.
  • Joshua Becker. He's helping us recruit other workshop leaders and made me blush with this SimpleREV post.
  • Brooke McAlary. I get goosebumps every time I read her article and watch her video supporting our “What Simple Living Means to Me” project.
  • Mohamed Tohami. He occasionally turns Midway Simplicity into the SimpleREV show. He's on another continent like Brooke is, but he's supporting us like nobody's business.

Thank goodness my friends are helping enough to save me from endless pitching and writing of SimpleREV related guest posts. I hate writing guest posts.

Actually, I'm pretty much done with writing guest posts. It's too draining, too time-consuming, and doesn't play to any of my strengths. Maybe someone will create a guest podcasting network that I can join? I'd be on it like a bonnet!

What's Around the Corner

World Domination Summit 2014I'll be on a plane this Thursday to Portland, Oregon for my second World Domination Summit (WDS).

Stoked. Geeked. Jazzed. Pumped up. Thrilled … I'm feeling all these things and more. WDS 2013 was one of the top ten experiences of my life, so I can't properly convey my excitement for round two.

I have an actual “People Scavenger Hunt” list this year and there's a whole lotta folks who are in for some deep connecting! I won't name names because it's not a contest. I don't rank people by importance or anything. But it's going to be one heck of a challenge to chat with 39 amazing people in 96 hours. And those are just the people I know are going to be there.

(Can you tell I'm an extrovert?)

There's also some Experience Curating goodness coming up, hopefully by the end of the summer. I've been spending four hours each Tuesday morning, plugging away on version 1.1 of the book, and I'm about halfway through.

The goal? To have Experience Curating in print by September(ish) and the audio version available by December(ish). The updated version is going to be all-around better, especially after I incorporate the insight from a recent ninety minute slash-and-burn feedback session with my curating hero, Robin Good.

Much of the good stuff will fall In-between WDS, Experience Curating, and getting my first SimpleREV-inspired grey hair. You know, stuff like:

  • Continuing my gratitude rituals.
  • Joining Joshua and Ryan when they come to town for their Everything That Remains tour.
  • Resuming my meditation experiments.
  • Heading north to our family's cabin for a truly simple life, complete with wonderful friends and extended family members.
  • Cranking out Smart and Simple Matters episodes.
  • Remaining in utter amazement at my good fortune … not to mention that you made it through this whole Pulse Check.

Let me know in the comments if you don't see something around the corner you were hoping to see.

Thanks for being interested enough in me and Value of Simple to read this report!

Your partner in simplifying,


Photo Credit: fmgbain