2015 Year in Review

This is what I have observed to be good: that it is appropriate for a person to eat, to drink and to find satisfaction in their toilsome labor under the sun during the few days of life God has given them—for this is their lot. Moreover, when God gives someone wealth and possessions, and the ability to enjoy them, to accept their lot and be happy in their toil—this is a gift of God. They seldom reflect on the days of their life, because God keeps them occupied with gladness of heart.” Ecclesiastes 5-18-20

Erich Loves Donuts

In January I helped Jason renovate his great room. I occasionally do carpentry on the side and Jason needed trim installed. During that time I discovered Jack’s Donuts. I was beginning to build out my ‘breakfast brand’ persona online.

Erich at the Bean in Chicago

I also got a chance to go to Chicago for a HVAC tradeshow. GoServicePro had a booth there and I helped tell people about the system in hopes of getting some demos scheduled back at the office. It worked.

In February, my wife and I went to Nashville for the iTHRIVE conference, which is a Young Living Essential Oils business conference. I watched the baby during the day and we hung out together at night.

Erich Stauffer Advance 3

In March, my wife and I went to Kansas City to attend an essential oils conference for men. While out there we had the opportunity to have dinner with my aunt, Peggy. It was good to catch up with her and see her again.

Erich Stauffer on Periscope

In late March, Twitter released Periscope and I had some fun making live videos with it. Making more videos was one of my resolutions for the year. I wanted to ‘do the things I asked my clients to do’ and one of those was make videos.

Samuel and Daddy

In April I started a new company with Matt Geddie and Rahul Sahni. It’s an import/export company that connects buyers and sellers around the world. I had to learn about Alibaba and international trade. We ate a lot of food together.

Erich, Matt, and Rahul of RMI

I also started creating more videos of myself in order to document more of my day-to-day life. I started posting them on Facebook and YouTube. I got a lot of weird questions and comments, but I was trying to practice what I preach.

I called the videos “1-minute updates” and started creating a new video every weekday. I would record them on my way to work while driving in the car. I told people it was “practice” for making videos.

Erich at Skinny

In May, I started working nights and weekends at Skinny and Company more. My daughter, Amalia, had a birthday. She turned 2. On Mother’s Day we all went up to the Indiana Dunes State Park. It was a cold, fun day. We have lots of neat pictures.

Indiana Dunes Trip 2015

Jason and I held a Minecraft Conference for the kids. They got to play Minecraft together and teach other about what they had been learning. Jason and I also went to a concert in Fountain Square. While I was waiting on Jason to show up I made a video.

kids-fishing

The boys wanted to go fishing so I bought some fishing rods from Wal-Mart and we headed down to my parents house. This was their first time fishing, but the only thing they caught was a frog. It made me realize I still don’t like to fish.

In June, coworkers at GoServicePro (Hans and Chris) and I started doing weekly ‘food challenges’ where we would go get a similar food and do ‘blind taste tests’. We started with subs and moved on to various foods throughout the month like dark sodas, hot dogs, and gourmet hamburgers. This was all practice shooting and editing video using iMovie on my iPhone.

Exploring Boys

Kevin and Carmina finished up Soccer. I had fun watching them play and going on walks with the other kids along the river behind the soccer fields. I even got to play one game against Kevin. Afterwards, I took the boys to get ice cream.

ice-cream-kids

My wife wanted me to help her landscape the yard so we started trimming back old bushes and tearing down vines that had grown up against the house. Eventually we took down the back deck, too. It was hard work, but it looked better when done.

landscaping-stauffers

I attended another “Dude’s Game Night” at Jason’s house with some guys that are friends with Jason who have become friends of mine including Cullen, Chris, and James. Sometimes Hans comes too. Jason’s wife makes lots of good food. It’s a good time.

me-and-my-mom

Carmina and I both have birthdays in June. My mom came up for Carmina’s birthday party. Jason took me out for waffles on my birthday and then we went on a “Tour of the North” another day. We went to Marion, Huntington, and Upland.

erich-tree-marion

At the end of the month, we went up to the Indiana Fiddlers Festival with my parents. The kids enjoyed listening to the music and walking the trails. At work, Michael, a new guy started. Michael had a beard too and he appreciated my beard.

Erich Stauffer, Full-Stack Marketer

In July I celebrated my brother’s birthday with a trip to Steak n Shake with his daughters. During this month my wife, Suzanne started doing Periscopes for her business. Jason and I went to a Foxing and Mewithoutyou concert in Indianapolis.

And then we found out my mom had cancer.

sue-steve-stauffer

My brother, Scott, and I celebrated my mom’s birthday at Red Lobster. My wife, Suzanne, attended a Young Living convention in Texas for a few days, leaving me alone at home. Here’s what we talked about before she left:

My daughter, Magdalena, made me salsa. It was good. When Suzanne got back, she started making bars of soap and shampoo for Skinny and Company. August is our wedding anniversary. My brothers, Mitch and Scott, got together at BW3s to discuss family matters.

mitch-and-scott

Later on that month my mom had us all down to her house to take group, family photos. Back in Tipton I took my two sons to their first high school football game. The baby, Amalia, has started to grow up and is going on more walks with us.

erich-iu

In September, Jason and I took a road trip down to Bloomington and walked around the IU campus. I had a dream about a ‘red caboose’ restaurant in Tipton and then Noblesville’s train museum gave out caboose rides at the Pork Festival.

I went down to visit my parents in Franklin and my dad gave me a guitar. My wife went on another business trip, but this time to Utah. I started helping out nights at Bonzi Sports again by helping him setup Opencart. Jason and I kayaked the White River.

In October I went and saw The Martian and my mom started chemotherapy. iOS 9 came out and McDonald’s started serving breakfast all day. I took a week off from GoServicePro to meet with clients during the day and take a family vacation to see my Aunt Janice and Uncle Dan in Texas.

We first drove to Chicago where we went to Millennium Park and Lou Malnati’s. The next day we flew to San Antonio where we saw The Alamo and walked the River Walk. We then drove to see my Grandpa Stauffer and then finally to see my aunt and uncle.

It was the first time I’d flown since June of 2000 when I went to Texas for a wedding. Dan and Janice’s daughter, Amy (my cousin), was getting married. It was good to spend some time with the two youngest children and Suzanne – and to see Grandpa, Dan, and Janice.

erich-samuel-chicago

One of my goals on the vacation was to make a decision whether to start a new company (if so, what type) or continue on the path I was on already. I thought about it all week and on the plane ride back to Chicago I finally had an answer.

erich-jason-breakfast-club-me

I started Breakfast Club Me as a creative outlet and to practice building a consumer brand and online marketing using social media, email, and video. It would build on the ‘breakfast guy’ brand I had already built up naturally over the years.

My first product would be a t-shirts that said things like, “Biscuits”, “Waffles”, and “Sandwiches”. I didn’t know much more than that when I started. But to get started I found some similar shirts online and started creating content right away. Within 30 days I had my first product.

fiber-optics

In December we got fiber optic Internet installed at our house and we really started ramping up soap production for Skinny and Company. My wife makes their shampoo bars and I make the wood molds and do the stamping. This is the part of the post where I tell you what I learned.

samuel-and-me-2015

Kids grow up. They only ask you for “big jumps” or for you to take them to the park for a short time. After a while, they stop greeting you when you get home and sleep in when you leave in the morning. When a child asks for a hug. You stop whatever you’re doing and give it to them.

The Only Way Out is Down

Sometimes I wonder what life would be like if it was more like Minecraft. I wake up alone in the middle of a foreign, undeveloped terrain full of wild animals and scary beasts. My only tools are my fists. I’ve got 12 hours until sunset.

Sometimes I fantasize about escaping through tunnels. When I was young I wanted to build a secret tunnel outside my brother’s basement closet wall. I never did, but I wanted to. I still think about digging a hole in my basement floor.

Maybe that’s because I’m an introvert. At least I am some of the time. I know this because I get energy when I’m alone. But when I’m alone, all I want to do is find things to share with other people. So maybe I’m an extrovert. Who knows.

The only times I’ve been alone in real life is when I chose to run away. People naturally group together. We are naturally social. It gets harder to make friends as an adult. You have to be more intentional about it, but it’s still possible.

In elementary I had a wooden fort in my backyard I made from recycled fence material. In middle school I built forts out of osage orange trees and old telephone poles. When I got one fort done, I’d start another. I do the same in Minecraft.

I go out exploring until I find a good spot to built an outpost. I then spend a few days to a few weeks setting up a small outpost. Sometimes people come behind me and the outpost grows into a town, but by then I’ve moved on.

I’m a developer. I develop new procedures, new roads, new towns, new ideas, and new products. I help get things started and then I move on. I’m a maker, a doer. Less talking, more action. But enough about me. Let’s move on.

novaskin-minecraft-wallpaper

Underutilized Me

I work 8-5 and do IT support and web design nights and weekends. My wife sells essential oils and makes soap for Skinny Coconut Oil. We have 5 kids. I go to church 2 times a week. I have an hour commute.

There’s just not a whole lot going on.

I’m underutilized. There are whole evenings where no one has any work for me to do. There are no meetings to attend. I spend entire Saturdays and entire Sunday afternoons with no work requests. So what do I do?

I rest. I meet with friends. I read articles on the Internet. I make videos. I tweet. I update my website. I go for a walk. There is still more time. There is a ton of time. I take the kids to the park. I read to them. Still more time.

There have been times in my life where I’ve felt overwhelmed or underwater. But even in these times, with a little bit of diligence and perspective, the short periods were not as bad as I originally thought. It was okay.

In January of 2012 I wrote, Problem Solver Seeks More Things to Fix, which I later regretted when hard problems began to present themselves (be careful what you ask for). But that’s essentially what I’m doing now.

The world is apparently changing exponentially, but the news seems slower than ever. We are living in amazing times, so why do I feel bored? Why do I just want to throw rocks in the creek and climb a hill?

Do I need more purpose in my life? Do I need more goals? How do I determine success? What do I want? Maybe I’m being too introspective and I’m asking the wrong questions. Maybe I should look outward more.

Who can I help more? How can I start thinking more about other people’s needs, rather than my own? How can I seek to add more value to the world than the value I take from it? What I can I do to get started?

In order to reach my next goal of earning $20,000 a month, I’m aiming to create $200,000 a month in value to the world (or $2.4 million in value per year). This changes how I think about the problem I’m solving.

I don’t know how I’m going to get there, but I’m going to document the process so you can follow along with me. I’ve heard that if I ‘take massive action’ or even if I ‘work a little bit every day’ I’ll get there. We’ll see.