work-life parallel > work-life balance

10-plus years in the making.

At first, I didn’t even consider actually pursuing work-life parallel. I just thought it was a neat idea. I mean, think about it—instead of keeping work and life equal, yet separate, and constantly at-odds for balance, the two align and become leverage. What’s not to love about that?

I started by chasing the money when I graduated college. Good experience. Bad idea.

I tried finding a job that was car-related—but wasn’t sales or service. I washed (and sometimes rented out) cars for Enterprise. I sold aftermarket parts and shitty body kits for Motorweb. I ran early CRM, ERP, and SCM communities for Toolbox.

Believe it or not, I was fired twice between graduating college and Toolbox. I think both times were on V’s birthday, too. (Not the best memories, to be sure, but to show it wasn’t all unicorns and rainbows.)

I wasn’t cut out for waste water engineering head hunting by cold calling in the Carolinas. And the new management at Toolbox didn’t think online community leaders should participate in the online communities they were leading. (Might explain why you’ve never heard of them.)

Over the course of the decade, my thinking evolved—

  • from “work-life parallel is a neat idea” at Apollo Group
  • to “work-life parallel is possible” at LeadMD
  • to “Holy shit. I’m work-life parallel” at ClearVoice.

So what is work-life parallel?

It’s where what you do for a living is what you would otherwise do for fun.

But it’s more than that. I love drifting turbocharged, AWD Mitsubishis on dirt roads—but there are precious few paid seats available for that train. I like writing, publishing, and marketing—and I’ve been doing it on the side for years. Now I spend my days helping fellow marketers get things written and published through technology that empowers freelancers to be their own bosses. Win-win-win.

But it’s more than that, too. It’s a framework. It’s a way of looking at ourselves and the world around us. It’s a way of figuring out where we are—right now—so we know which direction to go next.

Reflection > Exploration > Discovery > Action > Documentation. That’s how you do it.

Guess what I’m going to be talking about next week…

This is my kite

Work-life parallel—a decade in the making.

It all started with a conversation over cigarettes on my patio where hundreds of troubleshooting conversations in online car communities and dozens of thought-provoking conversations on marketing blogs came to bear. The right place. The right time.

I recently found myself having another such conversation over cigarettes on another patio where all of the above—plus most of the last decade spent in higher ed, ecommerce, tech, marketing, and SaaS—came to bear.

The right place. The right time.

Will lightning strike twice?

This is my kite.

We are voyagers

“Navigation is the perfect metaphor for coping with adversity and the storms of life. If you set your sails right, you can ride these storms, and arrive at these amazing places, and not get tossed around in the ocean if you don’t know how to navigate.” — Sonny Natanielu

I just finished a friggin’ exciting episode of the Ocean Sailing Podcast. Host David Hows had Sonny Natanielu on, talking about traditional Pacific Islander sailing ships, techniques, and history.

We’re talking 100-foot-long canoes bigger—and faster—than anything else on the water at the time, sailing thousands of miles across the Pacific using stars and stories to guide their way. And how people are using these traditional boat-building and navigational skills to rediscover their history and find their way into the future.

It was incredible to hear how their ancestors memorized hundreds of stars—and stories for each—building a multi-dimensional system of open ocean navigation. They knew the stars, the winds, the currents, the sea life, the birds.

Sonny even shares a recent story of personally sailing straight into the path of a massive storm and surfing 16-foot seas on the stormfront into Auckland Harbor—a 4-day trip completed in less than 48 hours.


We might not always be going the same direction as the current and wind, but if we navigate right, we can position ourselves to harness both. We were voyagers. We are voyagers.

Here’s that episode:

/ featured image: waka, full-sail, Murray Watson