2017 Year in Review

O God, Thou sellest all good things to men at the price of effort.” -Leonardo da Vinci

This year was about getting re-settled and getting re-situated. The main themes of the year were moving the family to La Crosse, selling the house in Tipton, the ramping up of t-shirt sales, and the ramping down of client work.

The work I was doing was different. Instead of making blog posts I would make over 1000 t-shirts. Instead of listening to podcasts on my way to and from work, I would spend more time with my wife eating out or taking the kids to the park.


At the beginning of the year I lived alone in a one-bedroom, studio apartment.

I designed t-shirts and sold them on Amazon when I wasn’t at Marine Credit Union.

One day in January, Jason and I went to the ice caves with his family.

And towards the end of the month I went up on Grandad Bluff to take a selfie.


In February I went to Kansas City to meetup with my wife and my aunt Peggy in Garden City.

Later on that month my boys visited me in La Crosse and took them to the quarry.

I’d go on walks along the La Crosse river during breaks at work.

And I kept making new t-shirts. This is from a bumper sticker my Grandpa Wade had on his truck.


In March, Suzanne and Carmina visited me and we went to the Mall of America. We haven’t been back since.

After they left I played Minecraft with Samuel remotely online.

Jason and I explored the coffee shop on the corner. It was the only time we did that.


In April I went back to Tipton to visit for Easter.

I took the kids to the park for one of the last times.

My brother, Mitch, came over and I gave him a t-shirt.

We took the kids to see their Grammy.

I went for my first bike ride of the year.

Jason and I went to Taco Bell.

I went to a payments conference in Austin, Texas with Jason.

I saw my aunt and uncle in Austin while I was down there.

I hiked the Balanced Rock Trail along Devil’s Lake.

And then Carmina came to help me move out of the apartment.


I rode my bike across the Mississippi for the first time. It was an odd feeling doing that from my house.

I continued walking on the trail at work. The leaves were starting to come out now.

We celebrated the lives of Joe and Helen O’Banion, my wife’s grandparents, in Tipton.

I was back at home alone. I mowed the yard for the first time.


I had to make my own breakfast.

But then I met this guy at Taco John’s. He recognized me from Instagram.

But at home I was still all alone in an empty house.

But then the kids arrived (along with a lot of help from my Mom, Dad, Mitch, and Jennifer)!

Magdalena setup her workstation in the basement.


I took the kids out for hot chocolate at the Root Note.

The Cobb’s came over for ice cream.

And we met new friends, the Miller’s, at Ranison’s for ice cream.

Samuel enjoys building things. We sold the house in Tipton. Suzanne drove back to sign the papers.

I went on a Dragon Boat race with Jason and Marine Credit Union.

Because we live close to work now, Suzanne would come bring me lunch and we’d go to the park to eat.

For my mom’s birthday, we drove back to Indiana to see her. My aunt, Mary, also drove to see her from Missouri.

But then my Aunt Peggy got sick so I went and visited her before she died.


The family came together for a meal in Garden City.

We celebrated my Aunt Peggy’s life.

See also Peggy’s 50th Birthday Party from August, 2006.

It was good to get the family together for a time.

I took a selfie with my two brothers.

And with my dad.

Back in La Crosse we went for a walk along the marsh.

We also walked to the Mississippi River.

Suzanne continued growing her essential oils business while I continued making t-shirts.

The kids went on a plane ride around La Crosse.

They were all very excited.

The girls were growing up.

The lights were going out.

It was a very exciting time.


In September I went kayaking with Jason.

I visited my mom in Franklin.

While I was there I visited my friend, Hans.

I recreated the Shog logo in Adobe Illustrator and turned it into a t-shirt for me and Samuel to wear.

Amalia learned how to ride a bike.

The kids really got into LEGO building.

And at the end of the summer we finally made it to the beach.


We went kayaking again. It was getting darker again.

Jason and I went to Minneapolis to see a graphic designer and tour the city.

I visited my mom and took a picture of my dad’s bookshelf.

Suzanne’s aunt Kathy visited us in La Crosse.

Suzanne and I visited New Glarus Brewery south of Madison.

Magdalena started swimming and I went to one of her swim meets for the first time.

We dressed up for Halloween.


I hung out with Hans in Franklin.

Kevin started a hot cocoa stand.

Carmina was in a ballet.

Suzanne and I started going on more dates.


I visited the Pearl Street Brewery.

Jason and I made a podcast.

I kept walking on the trail by work.

The kids had a good Christmas. I was glad to have everyone in the same place.

Like Andy Bernard says in the television show, The Office, “I wish there was a way to know you’re in the good ole’ days before you’ve actually left them.” Well, maybe there is. Sometimes you just have to stop and pay attention to the moments you’re in and be thankful for them. They may never happen again.

Never thought we’d get old, maybe we’re still young
May we always look back and think it was better than it was
Maybe these are the moments
Maybe I’ve been missing what it’s about
Been scared of the future, thinking about the past
While missing out on now
We’ve come so far, I guess I’m proud
And I ain’t worried about the wrinkles around my smile
I’ve got some scars, I’ve been around
I’ve thrown some pain, I’ve seen some things, but I’m here now
Those good old days -Macklemore

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 kid’s mom 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 kid’s mom 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.


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.


My kid’s mom 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.


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.


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.


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 kid’s mom, 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.


My brother, Scott, and I celebrated my mom’s birthday at Red Lobster. My kid’s mom, 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.


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.


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 kid’s mom 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.


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.


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.


In December we got fiber optic Internet installed at our house and we really started ramping up soap production for Skinny and Company. My kid’s mom 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.


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.