The Ups and Downs of Business and the Path to Success

One moment your on top of the world and then the next, life hands you a heaping helping of humble pie.

What Success Really Looks Like

What Success Really Looks Like

Maybe it’s just me and I’m inclined to have big emotional upswings and downswings, but life is a just a crazy roller coaster. Success is less like climbing a mountain and is more like climbing a series of hills that turn into a mountain range, with more hills in-between. Some of these hills and mountains will then have groups of trolls at the top trying to throw you back down the other side and make you start from the beginning, or to the bottom of a mountain that you’ve already climbed.

I will give you an example of this based on events happening solely this past week:

That trolley tour that I was suppose to guide got cancelled. I was very disappointed. The disappointment didn’t stem so much from not getting paid for it (although I’d be lying if I said that didn’t play a part), but stemmed more from the work that I put into mapping that tour route, memorizing the script, and practicing it once per day for 2 weeks all being for naught. True, it helped me write my Church Hill Tour script, and gave me something that I might be able to use if we do this sort of thing down the road; but that’s a tiny consolation.

I found out about this on Monday. On Tuesday, I get a call to give a private tour (which pays pretty well) that evening and execute it almost perfectly.

Success! Up the mountain.

Saturday comes and it’s time for the morning tour and I get one guy who doesn’t tip me anything for the awesome 2.5 hour tour I just gave him.

Well that’s a kick in the pants down the hill.

Granted, I didn’t expect a big turn out because of all of the cool stuff going on for the 150th anniversary of the fall of Richmond at the end of the American Civil War; but seriously; one guy?

Down we go.

So, the inaugural Church Hill tour was that evening as given by one of my new guides, JJ. I didn’t hold high hopes for turn out because of all of the Civil War living history and reenactment stuff going on at the State Capitol. It’s a tough competition, but Lo and behold…..

Inaugural Church Hill Tour

Inaugural Church Hill Tour

19 people show up for the tour!

Back up the mountain.

It’s not easy, but it sure is an exhilarating climb.

Tour Company Stuff, New Podcast Recommendations, WM 31, Star Trek, Musings

I haven’t written anything in a couple of months now, which is hurting my mission of this blog being the first thing that comes up when you Google my very unique name. I’ve still got to chase Spokeo and Quirky off of the first page of results, but that will come. I will take this opportunity to update y’all on happenings with the tour business (why I’ve been so busy), My Wrestlemania 31 predictions, some cool new Podcasts that I’ve been getting into, and pretty much just muse about stuff that I’ve been thinking about.

DSC01521Big Things For the Tour Guys

Big things going on for me with the Richmond Tour Guys. First off, tour season has restarted! I finally get to give tours again. I’ve even brought on 2 guides so I can have some weekends off occasionally. One of them is a recent VCU Grad with a degree in History and the other is long time Church Hill (the oldest neighborhood in Richmond) resident who will be doing 2 tours of Church Hill per month.

That reminds me, I have added a tour of Church Hill which will take place on Saturdays at 3:30 PM and Thursday evenings at 5:00 PM. I’m very excited for these as Church Hill has so much rich history share and the tour ends around a pub, so I may be able to have a pint or two with some of the more interesting tour attendees.

I was also contacted by Taylor’s Classic Travels that has a trolley that they rent out for private events, wine tours, brewery tours, and weddings. They have been hired by The Brownstone and Butler’s Unique Catering to do a tour of Church Hill and are using me to guide the tours. I’m very excited to make this connection and work with Terra and Joe.

If you want to buy tickets to this all-you-can-eat brunch, ride a trolley, and witness me blow your mind with my awesome tour guiding, the link is here.

After I get back from visiting family and friends on the West Coast in June, I’m going to start charging for tours and see if this has legs as a full-fledged business. So if you want to come on the free tour, get it while it lasts!

I’ve also had a ton of other opportunities come my way as well that I’m working on, but can’t mention yet on such a public forum…..

New Podcasts

Entrepreneur On Fire: Since the tour business has been going so well, I have decided that I need to update my business IQ. Since I have no formal business training and I am too busy to read any non-history related books since I’m writing and developing two new tours; I get it in during my morning cleansing ritual (shower, shave, getting dressed, etc.) and driving time (which I have much of) via Podcasts.

Entrepreneur On Fire has given me some, as the host John Lee Dumas would put it, “mind blowing insights” into my business. Basically, he spends a half-hour interviewing various entrepreneurs about their business, how they built it, and finding out their habits. I have gained more insight into how to run, market, and view my business than I could possibly have otherwise.

Ironically enough, the first one that I listened to was an interview with a guy who started Museum Hack which gives entertaining tours of museums in New York.

I was hooked.

Now I listen to the almost every podcast Lee puts out. If you are an entrepreneur, side-preneur (me!), or want-repreneur, this is a great Podcast to check out. It has quickly risen to the top of my podcast Queue.

What the Speak!: This Podcast is all about Public Speaking. Bryan Kelly interviews public speakers of all sorts and learns about their journey, which teaches me all sorts of tips and tricks.  Being a Tour Guide, a lot of what I do is performance based speaking. Since I have no formal education in public speaking (other than a one semester Speech class Freshman year of college where my final project was an epic speech on the word F***) I decided to look for a podcast on the topic.

One Google search later, lo and behold, What the Speak comes up. It really put what I do into perspective. Even without being able to see myself giving tours, I can already see things that I need to work on and improve.

The Thomas Jefferson Hour – Switching gears, this podcast is all about the most famous of Virginians… Thomas Jefferson. Clay Jenkins, award winning Humanities Scholar and Thomas Jefferson researcher, gives in-character interviews as Thomas Jefferson to give his view. It sounds really hokey, but it is one of the most incredible podcasts that I listen to. Jenkins has studied Thomas Jefferson so in depth, that he flawlessly answers questions off the cuff, citing primary sources for reference.

Actually, learning about Thomas Jefferson and all that he accomplished in field literally ranging from A to Z (he even knew how to tie arteries!) will really make one feel intellectually inferior.

Wrestlemania 31 Predictions

Wrestlemania 31 is coming up  and I’m not super thrilled about the card.

The match I’m most looking forward to is Bray Wyatt vs. The Undertaker. Now that the Undertaker has had his streak broken (last year by Brock Lesnar) it’s fair game as to whether he can win or lose. There’s no assumption that the streak will continue because it’s been broken. They could have Taker lose, and have that be the nail in his coffin as he passes the torch to the self-titled “New Face of Fear” Bray Wyatt, or he could win and redeem himself. I hope he loses and rides out into the sunset…. although by the looks of it he may have trouble getting on the horse. It’s a tossup, but I’ll say Wyatt wins which will fit into the narrative on next year’s Wrestlemania where Undertaker will hang up the boots if he loses and his opponent is some heel who just wants to “put him out of his misery.”

Triple H vs. Sting will be good. They are both incredible in-ring storytellers. Seeing Sting in action in front of 80,000 people again will be nuts. He’s been in small arena’s with TNA for the last 12 years. It’s hard to say who’s going to win, but my money is on Sting to fit with the Wrestlemania hero’s win narrative. The match will be very good.

John Cena vs. Rusev is a feud that I have really been enjoying. There’s just something so old school and nostalgic about a Russian talking smack about the US and the hero standing up and fighting for the country he loves. (Rusev’s actually Bulgarian, but WWE doesn’t have much regard for the geographic knowledge of their audience). They had a really good match at Fastlane and I think this one will be good as well. Cena goes over for the feel good moment.

Roman Reigns vs. Brock Lesnar…. eh.. the build up to this has been atrocious. I mean it’s basically Paul Heyman giving awesome promos and Roman Reigns fighting off the Authority. I like Roman Reigns, but I don’t buy him as a Wrestlemania main eventer. Not yet at least. Lesnar has officially re-signed with WWE, so I think he wins since Reigns is proving to be a non-starter for much of the WWE Universe. I still think Rollins is going to cash in Money in the Bank at WM 31.

By the way, that crowd is going to be very ruthless to Roman Reigns.

The Intercontinental Title Ladder Match is going to be a fun match, but there are better ways to use the guys who are going to be in it. Daniel Bryan was main-eventing Wrestlemania last year and now he’s been jammed into a match with 6 other guys who have nothing else to do on that Sunday night. The build up has been somewhat amusing, mostly thanks to R Truth’s antics, but overall it’s a real non-starter. I say Bryan captures the title in order to bring some prestige back to it.

The Bellas vs. AJ and Paige is also a real non-starter, mostly because I do not like the Bella Twins. Nikki is so sloppy and unbelievable as a credible threat. Paige and AJ can wrestle circles around them. Either way, it’ a Divas match, so the WWe will probably either give them 3 minutes or just bump them when Sting/Triple H goes too long. Because that’s what WWE does to Divas at Wrestlemanias. Paige and AJ for the victory.

Andre The Giant Battle Royal: Who knows? After Cesaro won last year and was summarily buried, it doesn’t feel like this Battle Royal matters as much as it did last year when it was new and could potentially be a stepping stone to greater things. I don’t rightly know who will win; or care for that matter. So…uh… let’s jut say that…uh…. Curtis Axel wins and gets pushed to the stars! Axelmania!

Star Trek

A few months ago, I decided to watch Star Trek, the original series on Netflix. I had never watched it before and had a much different idea of what it was in my mind prior to watching it…..

Zounds! What an incredible show! I mean the production value isn’t incredible, but the messages and morals are mind blowing. Spock’s insights into humanity from a purely logical perspective and his verbal exchanges with Captain Kirk are highly entertaining. The show really makes one think about humanity and society’s faults as well as our greater qualities such as a soul and free will. Things that we take for granted are put on display in different species that lack these things.

I’m almost ashamed I hadn’t given it a chance before. I’m smack dab in the middle of season 2 right now.

Other Thoughts

  • I was at Sweetfrog by the theater the other day waiting for my beautiful girlfriend to meet me and ventured over to see what was playing and realized I had never heard of any of the movies that were playing. You see, Melanie and I cut our cable cord a year or so ago and have not looked back since. Between the internet, Netflix, and Hulu, we don’t miss anything AND we get to save money and not watch all of the commercials. The commercials we see are not the same as they are on actual TV so we never see movie previews. I’m pretty sure they’re all going to be terrible anyway. Anything that’s grandiose enough to win awards is not worth paying to see in theaters anyway when it will be out on VOD and DVD in 2 months.
  • Light beer is disgusting. I use to drink it if it was present at a gathering. I liked it okay. I accidentally bought Yuengling Light the other day and was severely disappointed to taste that flavorless beer when I was expecting delicious Yuengling.
  • Yuengling, for my West Coast compatriots who haven’t heard of it, is a great East Coast beer. It’s like a step above Bud/Coors/Miller in terms of taste and maybe $1 more expensive for a 6-pack, but not quite as expensive or heavy as craft brews. I had never actually heard of Yuengling until I moved to the East Coast, because apparently it isn’t distributed West of the Mississippi. It is the oldest brewery in the country, by the way.
  • I want to have a Podcast in the worst way…. soon…..

Remember everybody, Matthew Maggy says “zip it up and zip it out!”

 

Stories From The Road: How I Got the Nickname “Cowboy” in Cambodia

Chillin at Utopia, where I worked for 6 Week in Cambodia.

Chillin at Utopia, where I worked for 6 Weeks in Cambodia.

My nickname while I worked at Utopia in Sihanoukville, Cambodia was… “Cowboy.”

There was a stray cowboy hat that said “Cambodia” across it that was laying around at Utopia, the hostel/bar I worked at in Sihanoukville, Cambodia. I picked it up, washed it and started wearing it.

Every day.

All of the time.

Because I’m from the United States, wore the hat, and used Snuss (chewing tobacco, which I have long since given up), Europeans, Aussies, and Brits started calling me “Cowboy” (mostly because they couldn’t remember my name, but remembered the hat). It is, by far, the coolest nick name that I’ve ever received.

The nickname doesn’t fit at all. Yeah I might be Libertarian leaning, but I grew up in the Bay Area, California. Though, I did live in Reno, NV for about 7 years which is the Wild West…so I guess there’s a bit of Cowboy connection.

My friend ("Buddha") invited me to join their table because they liked the hat. He wore it. A true privelege

My friend (“Buddha”) invited me to join their table because they liked the hat. He wore it. A true privelege

Anyway, I lost it at a bus-ride rest stop somewhere between Mui Ne and Hoi An, Vietnam. I genuinely felt a sense of loss. I had grown very attached to that hat. Since I was in the middle of a harrowing, fiasco-filled 24 hour bus experience and had already read all of 1984 by George Orwell, I decided to write about it in my travel journal. This is not masterful prose by any stretch of the imagination, but a pondering of why I felt such a sense of loss. It is also a journal entry, so it is not proofread.

“I lost my hat. My Cambodia hat. It has been with me for only one month but it has been with me through so much. I will never own a hat quite like that again. It gave me an identity, a recognition, a “look,” impressed the ladies, gotten me goodwill from foreigners and the locals alike, shielded me from the sun (both asleep and awake), and was my prized souvenir of my travels.

I left it at a rest stop in Vietnam. I hope that hat is found, worn, and treasured by someone. Perhaps it will shield them from the sun preventing sunburns or skin cancer. Maybe it will help another guy with the ladies. Maybe a local will pick it up, have a good laugh with his friends, and toss it aside to be left as garbage. That hat has passed between 3 people, and my hope is that it continues to be picked up and passed on living on in other people’s photos; forever a part of their trek through South East Asia. It’s a magical hat of sorts. It’s a symbol of freedom from the drudgeries of daily life, and a symbol of joys and hardships experienced on the road.

Maybe it’s that as my trip comes to a close, that I’m ready to part with a life on the road in which that hat represents. Perhaps it’s a sign that I need a new hat to adventure with until that is too lost and passed on to the next worthy wearer. A symbolism of shedding one phase and moving to the next.

If that hat represents freedom does that mean that I’ve lost the freedom that the road has given me? NO! I’m always free in my own way.

Or maybe my hat just blew away and is thrown in the trash…”

My friend from Spain who I met on the bus and later kicked it with in Hoi An, Vietnam said “I don’t get it. Why don’t you just buy a new hat?”

He just… didn’t…understand….

IMG_0864

Tuan who I met in Da Lat, Vietnam and brought me to his friend’s house for a Tet party

 

In Mui Ne, Vietnam

In Mui Ne, Vietnam

Angkor Wat

Angkor Wat

At the Elephant Waterfall in Da Lat, Vietnam

At the Elephant Waterfall in Da Lat, Vietnam

Hey! That's not what cowboys ride!

Hey! That’s not what cowboys ride!

Random Observations, Quotes, Witticisms

Every-so-often I will probably post one-line thoughts, jokes, or quotes that I heard, wrote down, or posted on Facebook so here we go:

  • I’ve been reading a bit of Thought Catalog and have arrived at the conclusion that the Millennial Generation (of which I am a part) have surpassed all other generations…. in whinyness.
  • From my girlfriend, Melanie:
    • Q:What part of the world do bad jokes come from?
    • A: The Yuckatan Penninsula.
  • “History is the autobiography of a madman.” -Alexander Herzen (via Hardcore History)
  • There will come a point when I’m older and technology will have surpassed me, and young people will get frustrated trying to explain it to me.
  • The tragedy of youth is the inability to see the long game.
  • Life is so much better with the love of a good woman.
  • Is it wrong that one of the joys of my job is screwing with telemarketers?
  • My friend said he liked ” hot chicks on skateboards” one morning so I made him this before I went to work. hot chicks on skateboard
  • Helpful hint: wash your hands thoroughly before peeing if you have recently cut jalapeno peppers.
  • Too many options are not good: I hate going to a bar and having to choose between 200 beers. I found the solution (for most bars)… keep your choices to whatever is on tap.
  • My good friend Brendan asked me the other day why I like history so much. The only response I could think of was “because it’s (expletive)ing cool.”
  • I wish teleportation was a thing. How close are we to that?
  • Good Punk band name: “Terms and Conditions.” Feel free to steal.
  • “Our mentors have a way of seeing more of our faults than we would like. It’s how we grow.” – Padme Amidala from Attack of the Clones
  • Pictures cannot possibly capture how massive the Pantheon in Paris is.
  • When I was at the Louvre I thought “Man, no wonder France went bankrupt and the peasants revolted.”
  • The more life I experience, the more I see how accurate famous quotes are.
  • When I was outside of the Buckingham palace, I was thinking: “What if the Queen is in there right now, sitting on the toilet constipated looking out at us?”
  • Smiling panhandlers: frauds….. or very driven?
  • You have at least one thing in common with everyone.
  • My definition of Heroism: giving up what you want most for the greater good.
  • A few political alliterations (or as I call them, “Politicalliterations”) I came up with during the 2012 election while working at a political survey call center:
    • Conniving Congress constantly contrives constitutional contradictions; continuously conning constituents.
    • Research regarding Romney’s record reveal recondite rhetoric regarding Republican requisites; riling Ron’s rabble-rousers. (Ron being Ron Paul)
    • Obama’s organization offends olfactory senses.
    • Bit-by-bit Barack belligerently brings Big Brother. Beware, Boener backs Barack’s Big Brother bills by berating big budgets; blinding beings.
  • A High Five without touching hands = Wi-Five.
  • I should have read more of the assigned books in High School. I’d be much more well-read.
  • Some people complain about turning 30 years old. I turn 30 this year and I’m way more awesome now than I was at 20.

Dr. William Foushee – Remarkable Richmonders

One-to-two times per month, I write a blog post on Richmond history and/our tourism on my Richmond Tour Guys website. This month was one that I’ve wanted to write for a long time. Unfortunately, there’s not a lot of research done on him, and I don’t have the time to sift through primary sources in the Library of Virginia due to work obligations during the week. So my biggest, but not sole source for this post was “Richmond: The Story of a City” by Virginius Dabney (totally destined to be a Virginia historian, am I right?). A book that I highly recommend for the history buff. Anyway, here is Richmond’s first mayor.

Dr. William Foushee

Dr. William Foushee - The First Mayor of Richmond

Dr. William Foushee – The First Mayor of Richmond

Largely forgotten by history outside of Richmond history buffs, Dr. William Foushee was Richmond’s first Mayor, first citizen, and very much a contemporary of famous founders such as Thomas Jefferson and George Washington and was held in similar high regard.

Dr. Foushee was the descendant of French Huguenots (French Protestants who fled France during the Reformation and were given asylum by the Governor of Virginia in the early-17th Century). He grew up in Virginia, but was educated in the Medical Profession at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland. He came back to Richmond to practice.

On March 6, 1775, Foushee married Elizabeth Isabella Harmondson in Northampton County, Virginia. They would have 7 children: William Jr., John, Nancy, Margarette, Elizabeth, Charlotte, and Isabella.

Which also pretty much covers all of the common names of that era.

Foushee was very highly regarded in the Medical profession. He became a renowned surgeon during the American Revolutionary War. He was at one time President of the Medical Society of Virginia. He was also a first mover in the newly discovered Smallpox inoculation. In 1788, Henrico County gave him permission to administer it. To prove he rolled with the Revolutionary elite, here is a letter that he wrote to Thomas Jefferson about the vaccine (which he CC’d a Dr. Currie on).

His medical expertise also came in handy in a way he may not have envisioned. At the time of the Revolution, the rougher sort of men in Richmond had the practice of growing one finger nail very long and sharpening it to a fine point. With this point they would try to gouge their opponents eyes out or their scrotum sack open.

Richmond was a… different place back then. A port city with many brigands and lots of rabble.

One day, Foushee was walking around with a paroled British Officer named Thomas Aubrey. Among the “Gentleman” it was not uncommon for theFoushee aristocracy to associate with British Officers in a cordial manner, but the commoners were not quite so open. One of these sharp-nailed ruffians decided Foushee was too friendly with the enemy and gouged the future Mayor’s his eye out of socket. With the good Doctor’s eye dangling out of the socket onto his cheek, the ruffian attempted to yank it out, but was tackled by Thomas Aubrey. Foushee quickly put the eye back in.

In 1782, Richmond was officially made a City and Foushee was elected as the  first Mayor of Richmond from among the 12 Council Members. He also, at one time or another, was a member of the General Assembly, Postmaster, and President of the James River Navigation Company (which built and managed the canal system in Richmond).

During the War of 1812 while Postmaster of Virginia, he commanded a company of troops that was raised to defend Norfolk from British attack. Norfolk was razed and the unit never saw action as Richmond was not attacked during the War of 1812.

On August 21, 1824, Foushee died in his home. You can see his grave at Shockoe Hill Cemetery on Shockoe Hill in Richmond.

In honor of all of his accomplishments… they named a street after him. In case you were curious where Foushee Street came from…