The Birthday List

Remember when you were a kid and your birthday was the thing that you most looked forward to all year? It was that day of ultimate fun when you were treated extra special and got to do and enjoy all of your favorite things. I remember birthdays being this way for myself and my friends for all of my childhood and well into my teenage years.

And then, at some point, I began to notice that many of the people in my life didn’t really enjoy their birthdays anymore. Sometimes they didn’t even tell anyone it was their birthday at all. They would hope the day would silently go by, and that no one would notice they’d turned a year older.

But today, on the first day of my 34th year of life, I’m here to tell all of you (and myself) that birthdays are a day to celebrate yourself and celebrate your life – no matter what your age. And so I present to you, The Birthday List.

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The Vast Rewards of a “You-cation”

Does it ever seem like you can never quite get to those things in life you’re most excited about? Those things you’d love to do that are indefinitely “on the backburner” because you’re too busy simply trying to keep up with the many activities of everyday life?

There are of course things we each must do every day: sleeping, eating, earning a living, taking care of the kids, walking the dog, etc. But for all of us, there are other things beyond those must-dos that we want to do – long to do. Things that would bring us such deep satisfaction and joy, if only we could find the time.

That’s what a you-cation is all about. Reserving the time for those things you care about that never get done because they’re just not as high a priority as the must-dos in your life.

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Take Control of Your Time

Do you ever feel like time is in control of you instead of the other way around? This is exactly how I felt most of my adult life – until recently. So what changed? It’s very simple. I decided to structure and spend my time much more deliberately and thoughtfully. Following the following three principles, I was able to take control of my time, and you can too.

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What is a work funnel?

Have you ever given any real thought to how you secure work? If you trace backward and consider each step of the process that had to happen to get you there, you’ll most likely discover that you have one or more processes that you go through over and over.

A “work funnel” diagram is basically a visual representation of this process and each stage in it. You might have just one funnel, or you might have multiple funnels, depending on your profession and how you acquire work.

Getting completely clear on what these work funnel processes look like for you will arm you with the knowledge to set specific work goals for the future and take clear actions towards achieving those goals.

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Interview Series: Gerald Bailey

How do freelancing artists do it? How do they piece together work to create a sustaining and stable career?  Through this interview series, I aim to get to the heart of those questions by talking to various artists about how they make freelancing work for them.

In this tenth installment, Janelle Reichman at Continuum Design & Web spoke with trumpeter and electronic musician Gerald Bailey. Originally from Indianapolis, Gerald earned a bachelors degree in jazz trumpet performance at the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music before moving to Chicago, where he has lived for the past 13 years. Gerald’s musical career has varied greatly – from performing at the White House with Balkan brass band Black Bear Combo, to touring with bands like Belle and Sebastian and Mumford & Sons, to playing lead trumpet in bands at Chicago’s famed jazz club The Green Mill, to touring with his own electronic based music project Charles Mantis, which blends trumpet and beats with elements of Electronic, Jazz, Balkan, and Dance music into one unique style. Gerald’s new Charles Mantis record Datura Inoxia is available for streaming or purchase HERE. In this interview, Gerald spoke to Continuum about maintaining a mobile lifestyle, making lists, practicing in the car, the importance of time away from music, why a freelance life might be the way of the future, and a lot more. Enjoy!

(photo credit: Roxy De La Torre)

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Public Speaking 101

Public speaking is a powerful way to build any business. Not only does it establish you as an expert, it also allows you to be seen and heard by many people – in the same amount of time that it would have taken you to sit down with one single person for a coffee. About a month ago I gave a presentation at my local WordPress Meetup group. It was only my third time presenting in my life, and the previous engagement had been several years prior – so I was a bit nervous to say the least. All in all the presentation went well, but I also walked away from the experience having learned a ton about what I could improve for the next time. And so I present to you: 8 tips for making your public speaking engagement a success.

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5 Easy Ways to Save Money

I’ve noticed that any blog posts I write related to saving money are always a hit – so here’s another one. Since becoming a home owner earlier this year, I’ve been thinking of small things I do (or could do) to save money here and there. Here’s five things that came to mind.

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Build Your Vocabulary: 5 Tips

Why do people long to learn new words? Some people want to sound smarter. Other people are simply lovers of the English language. I myself find it to be a fun and interesting challenge in day to day life. After all, there are over 171,000 words in the Oxford English Dictionary (yes I just looked that up) and have you ever wondered how many of those you actually use? If you enjoy learning new words as much as I do, here’s five tips for building your vocabulary day by day.

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Working with a Designer: Get the Results You Want!

Back in 2011 when I released my first solo jazz album (here it is if you’re curious), I hadn’t yet begun designing album artwork myself – so I hired a professional graphic designer to design it for me (her name is April Kuo and she did an amazing job by the way). But what I found most interesting about this experience was that for the first time, I was the client in a design project instead of the designer! It was quite enlightening, as you can imagine.

I know from my experience as a professional designer that there’s lots of things I can do to help make sure the client is totally happy with the outcome of the project. These things include: listening carefully to my clients’ wants and needs, being patience with them as they figure out what they like and don’t like, and communicating clearly (without any tech jargon) about matters related to websites, search engines, design, and many other topics. Being on the client side of a project made me think hard about what I could do as a client, to make sure I got the results I really wanted. Below are four tips that I believe will greatly help you to get the results you want from your project with a designer – whether it’s for a website, album, business card, or anything else.

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Interview Series: TubaJoe Exley

How do freelancing artists do it? How do they piece together work to create a sustaining and stable career?  Through this interview series, I aim to get to the heart of those questions by talking to various artists about how they make freelancing work for them.

In this ninth installment, Janelle Reichman at Continuum Design & Web spoke with tuba player TubaJoe Exley. An NYC resident for over fifteen years, Joe lived in Louisiana, Colorado, and Chicago before becoming a New Yorker in 2000. Joe has become one of the most in demand tuba players in the New York area due to not only his tremendous creativity but also his versatility among styles of music, as evident in his work with ensembles such as the high energy oom-pah band The Ja Ja Jas, the early hot jazz band The Gotham Easy, and the psycho mambo band Gato Loco. Additionally, Joe has recorded with Dillinger Escape Plan, worked as an arranger and music director for Zola Jesus, and even toured with JS Monk. How’s that for diversity! In this interview, Joe spoke to Continuum about odd jobs, Willie Nelson, the perfect day, and developing a personal brand – among other things.

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