The Prodigal Blog

Dear friends,

I am not so conceited to think that any of you have been waiting anxiously for me to begin writing again. However, some of you most likely noticed that I have dropped off of the radar over the last month and a half. This, I assure you, was not intentional but rather  was the result of a variety of life changes crammed into the span of about 6 weeks. If you follow me on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram, you may have been able to piece together what I am up to. For those of you that haven’t seen or interpreted the clues, I am now residing in Kansas City, MO (affectionately hashtagged as #KCMO). I have taken a position with a local direct marketing firm as an art director. It is a tremendous opportunity for me and I look forward to my future with the company.

The last two months have taken me on some incredible adventures. I will be posting stories, images, and snippets from my trip(s) in the coming months. For now, I am focusing on a return to form with content centered around social media, culture, other sometimes random topics. It feels good to be back and I look forward to writing, reading other people’s work, and interacting again.

Be Prepared to be Surprised

Whether it’s a weekend getaway or a major life decision, most things don’t go as planned. We can spend countless hours, days, and sometimes years making plans, only to see unexpected circumstances take us in a whole new direction.
Beginning last Saturday, my friend Jordan and I have been traveling across the American West. We set out with a rough idea of places we would visit and things we would do. However, from the very start we realized that the trip was going to have a life of its own.
From narrowly escaping a rising tide while camping on the Oregon coast to being tent-less while visiting Crater Lake, situations have arisen that have challenged our patience, connected us with the most interesting of people, and provided us with an incredible experience.
We have learned that rolling with the punches and ceasing every opportunity makes for unforgettable adventures.
Make time to experience the world around you, engage with the people in your community, and don’t be worried if things don’t go as planned. What happens instead will most likely be a pleasant surprise.

Eye Contact

Capturing and Holding the Attention of Your Audience

 

In a recent blog post, Seth Godin talks about the value of subscribers and states that 1 subscriber = 1,000 surfers.

In the traditional sense, a subscriber is someone who pays to see your content, someone who is committed to interacting with you. In today’s world, with limitless information available at any given moment (and for free), that definition has grown to include anyone that commits any amount of time to your content. We live in a world of surfers, making the value of that committed viewer nearly priceless.

How this changes what we do

For anyone that publishes content, you understand that Search Engine Optimization (SEO) has been the go-to strategy for attracting new viewers and customers online. This approach is geared towards the reaching the masses. It’s an attempt to snag surfers anytime they’re looking for anything even remotely relevant to you. This is not a bad thing. But it’s not the best thing either.

The times are a changin’ and it is now imperative that we spend more of our time and energy investing in our “subscribers” than trying to preach to each and every surfer that comes our way. Making the effort to engage with and build relationships with those that already like what you do, publish, or sell will yield more fruit than just holding a sign by the side of the road. By the way, this whole relationship and interaction thing is made simple, efficient, and rewarding through social media. [Check out one of my posts on social media here]

These ideas are not just for those that have things to sell. I am talking about creating valuable content, building relationships, and telling stories which apply to everyone, whether you are a housewife, blogger, business owner, or college student.

Duck Hunting

When I was in college, I helped run a leadership development program on my campus. We brought in guest speakers, held conferences, and hosted retreats that taught leadership principles to students. One of those speakers, Dr. Tim Elmore, has written some great material on leadership and communication. One of his fundamental points was the idea of Duck Hunting.

In duck hunting you wait for a flock to approach, fire, and gather up the birds that fall. It’s impossible to gather up the ones that don’t fall; yet, every day we try to do this with the content that we publish and products that we sell. We become fixated on telling as many people as possible about everything we do. Instead, we should focus on those that respond, build relationships with them, and allow them to share our story with others. Because, when you think about it, who do we generally trust more, our friends or an advertisement? Unless you have terrible friends, I think we are all on the same page.

Am I suggesting we abandon all traditional advertisement and marketing strategies? By no means. What I am suggesting is that we put more effort into our subscribers than we do the surfers. If we commit to those that respond, we will see them sharing our story, products, and services with others. At that point, it becomes more about a story than a business. And, in case you can’t see it, that is a very good thing!

Whether you are an online retailer, a blogger, or a stay at home dad, think about who you are talking to, what you want to say to them, and spend time interacting with them. It isn’t always easy. It isn’t always quick. But it’s always rewarding.

 

For more amazing info on communication, marketing, and leadership, check out the guys I referenced in this article.

Seth Godin

Dr. Tim Elmore

Rabbit Hole

Or, 4 Websites to Get Lost In

The internet is crazy. Here is a list of websites that have some cool stuff and that don’t leave you with that waste-of-time feeling. Enjoy!

 

1. Notcot

Art/Design

Notcot is all about the visual experience by posting articles on all things design. From crazy furniture and interior décor to wearable sculptures and photography exhibitions, Notcot is my go-to for inspiration and coolness. They post frequently, so there is always something new to look at. They also have several other affiliated websites that cover more specific topics. This is a great place to get lost and maybe learn something new. It will, at the very least, expose you to some cool stuff happening around the globe.

 

2. Mashable

News/Entertainment

Mashable is a prolific media house. Posting articles on business, tech news, social media, and entertainment, they are a great source for relevant conversation topics. They’re not the New York Times by any means, but the style of content they publish is informative and quick to digest. By integrating specific categories for different social networks, Mashable has become a valuable trend-tracking resource. It’s definitely worth checking out. It’s not for everyone. But, then again, nothing is.

 

3. Pitchfork

Music

When talking about sites that are not for everyone, Pitchfork is bound to come up. However, this is an awesome place to discover new artists or research the discography of your favorites. Providing music reviews, videos, and articles on popular and up-and-coming artists alike, Pitchfork pumps out some very valuable content. This is the website that gave Wilco’s Yankee Hotel Foxtrot a 10/10, so they’ve got a good head on their shoulders.

 

4. Vimeo

Videos

Imagine a better, more creative, higher quality, less crappy YouTube. That’s Vimeo. YouTube definitely has its purpose but Vimeo steps up the game when it comes to viewing and sharing videos. It functions as more of a portfolio platform and thus contains some stellar content. The Staff Picks list is a great place to start. While to many of you this site is not news, I am shocked to hear how many people have never used it or browsed the content there. If you find a cool video, share it in the comments below. I’d love to see what you find!

The Future Me

Or, Where is all this headed?

Everyone, including myself, talks extensively about being productive, managing time well, and how to make the most of every situation. I am so glad that we live in a society that values that sort of efficiency. However, what good is all this efficiency if we don’t know where we are going?

“Where do you see yourself in five, ten, or twenty years?”

My answer to this question has always been complicated. There have always been a large number of things I have wanted to accomplish and places I have wanted to go by a certain age. But when I sit down and really think about it, is that all that life is? Ticking off items on a list? I don’t think so.

If we measure our success in life by the amount of money that we make, the places that we go, or things we have bought, we will always be left dissatisfied. When John D. Rockefeller was asked “how much is enough?” he merely responded with “one more dollar.” We see in that quote that if the pursuit of money, power, or pleasure is our only motivation we will undoubtedly be found wanting for more and will not find contentment in what we have.

But what if we thought about life differently? What if we worked to enrich the lives of others instead of ourselves? What if we sought the joy of others more fervently than our own pleasure?

I guarantee the world would be a much different place. It would be a much better place.

So when you ask yourself the question “where do I see myself in ten years?”, take a look at your motivations. Perhaps you should measure your success more by the lives you have touched, the friends you have made, and the joy you have shared than on that new house in The Hamptons or the car that you drive.

It’s not bad to have goals for your career. I certainly do. But if we let material things dictate the decisions we make, we won’t find joy and we won’t find freedom.

Image

Good Times!

yankey

 

When I am an old man, these are the days I will look back upon fondly. Every day seems to be an adventure. Since my relocation to Oregon in early April, an adventure in and of itself, I have had the opportunity to shape the vision of what I want to work towards and how to do it. To catch y’all up, I have made a list!

(I like lists)

1. Pork and Company

As many of you know, I am starting a new company! It’s called Pork and Company. The goal is to create valuable content and help promote small business owners from around the country. Each day I get closer to the launch, I get more excited about what’s in store. Pork & Co. will be writing articles, publishing images, making lists (of course), that help people engage with the world around them. Topics covered will include Art/Design, Lifestyle, Business, Tech, Music, and Travel. I mention this venture because in order for Pork & Co. to be successful, I can’t go it alone. I am looking for people interested in contributing articles, photographs, videos, illustrations, etc… to this new media outlet. If you have a story you want to share and need a platform or know of something we can write about, send me an email and we’ll get to talking. I am developing compensation packets for people interested in helping out with this project. I have got some amazing people on board right now and would love to have more talented individuals join the team. Hit me up at chris@porkandcompany.com if you’re interested in joining the team or have some ideas to share!

 

2. Chris Yankey (the website)

I started this blog a few weeks ago and have been overwhelmed by the response. It has been awesome getting to have conversations with friends, family, and others about things that came up on here. I am excited to continue working on this site and posting on relevant topics (always game for suggestions as well). I am about to embark on some adventures and will be sharing some cool stuff on here and through Pork and Company (links to come). Thank you so much for engaging with this content and for the many shares I have received as well! I am glad that I am able to bring something valuable to the table. Also, I will be getting into a schedule here pretty soon, so you can expect to see a little more consistency in the posts (trying to take my own advice on productivity). Thanks again for the warm welcome to the blogging world. I look forward to many more conversations in the future.

 

3. Life, in General

It is pretty crazy to think that in just a few months I went from working part-time at a grocery store in North Carolina to starting my own company in Oregon. This is not a testament to my own awesomeness by any means. It is a testament to the graciousness of my family, friends, and Creator. God has given me so many amazing opportunities and my family has been nothing but supportive. Though there will always be struggles, I have so much to be thankful for.

 

4. Travels

As I mentioned previously, I am embarking on an adventure in a few weeks with my friend Jordan. We will be traveling from Portland, Oregon to Kansas City, MO, making stops at National Parks, craft breweries, coffee shops, and anywhere else worth stopping. We will both be documenting the journey and writing about some of the places we visit. Follow the journey on Twitter and Instagram to keep up with us! I am excited to share images, stories, and reviews for y’all on the new Pork and Company site (opening before the trip) as well.

Also, if you know any places in Oregon, Idaho, Utah, Colorado, or KC that we should check out, leave it in the comments below! I am always up for recommendations.

One Man Band.

Yesterday, I was able to have an incredible conversation with my friend Garrett. He is a business owner, father, musician, and waiter. It may go without saying, but there are numerous demands on his time, making productivity extremely valuable. During our discussion, we were able to flesh out some things both of us do to stay productive and keep our minds sharp. Here are a few of things we came up with.

 

1. How Big is Your Plate? (Responsibilities)

We all have a finite amount of time on our hands (our “plate”). Establishing everything that needs to be on that plate is crucial to creating an efficient and productive schedule. Start by making a list of all the responsibilities in your life. These might include family time, finances, cleaning, home renovations, etc… Making this list will help you establish what you actually NEED to do, instead of filling your plate with everything that you could do; a seemingly endless list. Everyone’s list is going to look different, but working these out before making your schedule will ensure that your entire routine is centered accomplishing the most important tasks and activities.

 

2. Big Rocks (Priorities)

You may have heard the “big rocks” speech before. But, in case you haven’t, the illustration is that if you try to shove several big rocks, gravel, and sand into a jar, they won’t fit. However, if you start with the big rocks the smaller items will get sifted down in between them, allowing it all to fit neatly into the jar.

The Big Rocks principle teaches us to focus on what is most important first and then allowing the other little tasks to be sifted down in between them. So, take that list of responsibilities you made and rank them in order of importance. You may only have 2-4 big rocks in that list. Focus on those few big things and allow the other responsibilities take a backseat.

*Pro Tip: It might be a good idea to include family time as a “big rock”. It is sometimes easy to assume we will have time to spend with them, but if we aren’t careful that time can be taken over by other responsibilities.

 

3. Routine (Execution)

One of the productivity killers I am guilty of is saving projects till the weekend. Whether it is laundry, bills, or errands I need to run, I sometimes save all those tasks for the one day where all I want to do is nothing, Saturday. Since you have already made a list of your responsibilities and prioritized them, it’s time to implement a strategy that will help to free up time that you could be using for other, more fun things.

For me, my entire schedule is based on a routine. I am a single man with no set office schedule, but that doesn’t mean I should laze around in the morning just because I can. What I have found is that by establishing a routine, an order of events for my day, I am able to accomplish a wide range of tasks while still remaining flexible. However, this routine was the result of a once rigid schedule. I started by making and holding to that schedule until those things became an everyday routine that I could easily hold to and remember. One key element of that schedule was the breaking up of large tasks into smaller segments of time. Allowing your brain to move from one responsibility to the next will help keep you sharp, engaged, and efficient.

You see, productivity is not about the latest To-Do list app or having a marker board in your kitchen; it’s a lifestyle change. It’s designing your week in such a way as to allow for those “big rocks” to get adequate attention. It’s about knowing what your priorities are and tackling them one at a time.