(first of all, on a complete side note, ever since Pet Holdings–the parent company of the ICanHasCheezburger Network, which is run by my good friends Ben Huh and Scott Porad–added Lijit to their sites, I cant spell cheeseburger properly…)

kosher symbolsAt SXSW, I had the pleasure of meeting a young entrepreneur through mutual friends. I often find that interesting companies have really impressive founders behind them (mostly because the idea had to come from somewhere intriguing). This entrepreneur and I seemed to move in and out of the same circles, but never really crossed paths.

Why is this important? While most people probably dont believe this, the greatest gift I get from people is education. My favorite thing in the world is to find people that know more about something than I do, or participate in something I dont, or just flatly do something better than I do, and learn from them.

If you took a list of all my friends and made notations about what makes each one special, you would find a list of amazing talents, knowledge and activity that just by proximity can do nothing but impress.

What I didnt know about this entrepreneur is that he both keeps kosher and observes the sabbath. For most entrepreneurs, limiting your diet (“What if a potential investor/partner wants to eat out?!?!?”) and work week to 6 days (“C’mon! No startup is successful when the founder works only 6 days a week!”) is just unheard of.

Yet, his company is growing, they have secured funding from really high profile investors, and he successfully drives product direction and promotion.

Which got me thinking.

I have several friends who have made specific choices about how they live their lives and what is a priority for them. Sometimes the filter is of religious origin, sometimes is a lifestyle decision, or a geographic choice.

Many people would look at these decisions as limiting. What happens if an important phone call has to be made on a Saturday? Will it just go unanswered? Does something like following kosher laws and observing a sabbath create an artificial barrier for success?

Now, it would be easy to find many folks that have been successful in spite of self-limiting behavior or activities. (Face it, any decision to not do something is self-limiting by definition). Instead, lets discuss why I decided to participate in those self-limited behaviors.

Life is about choice. It is often said that the greatest gift given man was free will. (Of course, the evangelicals will say it was Jesus, but this isnt about a religious debate.) Some have said its man’s greatest burden as well.

(Ok, the religious stuff is over, I swear to Christ.)

I have spent most of my life immersed in free will. I tend to make decisions based on the exact previous activity. I dont think more than a day ahead. My therapist often says that the worst thing my parents did was not provide and enforce clear and distinct boundaries. I lived a life full of free will.

True Free Will often comes with a lack of order.

And I, in order to make the changes I want to make in my life, need structure and order. I want, for the first time in my life, to think…and then…do.

So, I was inspired by the entrepreneur I met at SXSW. If he could continue to be as successful as he is sticking to the choices he has made, then perhaps if I do the same, I would provide sufficient structure and order to help me be more successful.

With that, about two weeks ago, I decided to follow the kosher laws.

Wellllllll, thats a lie. I decided to follow a version of the kosher laws.

Quickly: What are the kosher laws? A set of dietary restrictions that many Jewish people conform to. If you want to read more about them, this is a pretty good resource on kosher. Kosher comes from the Hebrew word “kasher” meaning fit. Non-kosher food is known as “treif” meaning torn. Literally meaning torn by another animal, killed with a dull blade (feels pain), or has a defect that disallows it from being slaughtered.

Here are the basic tenants (as I understand them):

  • * meat is ok. But, it has to come from an animal that chews its cud and has cloven hooves;
  • * pigs are out, because even though they have cloven hooves, they dont chew their cud.
  • * birds are ok, but have to fit certain criteria. For example, they have an established tradition of being kosher or be really close to a bird that is kosher. Chickens are ok; falcons are not.
  • * fish is ok, but it has to have scales and fins. No shellfish. (dammit!)
  • * insects are not kosher (thank god)
  • * fruits, vegetables, nuts are all pretty much kosher, as long as they dont have insects (see above)
  • * dairy is kosher – pretty much
  • * meat and dairy cant be mixed. (you and me, cheeseburger, we are through)

There are a few other rules (like certain foods have to be prepared by other Jews. Like cheese and wine.)

Here are the ones Im following:

  • * meat and fowl have to be bought from a kosher deli.
  • * fish is fine, shellfish are out.
  • * pork is out (which is ok. I havent eaten pork in almost 20 years)
  • * no mixing meat and diary.
  • * fruits, vegetables, diary are ok.
  • * chicken wings are always kosher. (what? I love chicken wings!)

Here is the payoff. Before every meal, I have to think about what I am going to eat. I have to think about where I am going to eat. If I go to the supermarket, I have to think about what to buy.

I have to think…then act. I have to apply some level of structure and order to my meals.

Its not much, but its a start on learning to temper my free willing ways.

Anyone know a good kosher deli in Boulder?

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Micah March 31st

Stuck in the Next Step

Its been awhile since I have written something about me on my blog. Not sure why, just seems that there has been no big changes or revelations lately.Which, it seems, is kinda the issue.

Tomorrow is April 1, day for most that is reserved for hijinks and hilarity. For me, April 1 means something different entirely. On April 1, 2006, I decided it was time to be sober. Big decision. Took a lot of mindshare and time. Willpower and focus. Something I am pretty proud of, but ashamed I had to do it in the first place.

On April 1, 2008, I learned I had Bipolar II. Talk about a mixed emotion day. Here I finally figured out the basis for many of my actions; learned it was treatable, and started to take action. (On a side note, I feel so different here a year later. I am calmer, more able to focus, better at getting things done. Its been amazing.)

So with tomorrow being April 1, what will it bring?

The other day, I was on a man date with Jeffrey (we had just seen the bromance movie I Love You, Man, so Im all up on the lingo) where we were discussing speaking at events and other profile raising activities.

“You know,” I said, “I wonder if my persona, theatrics and past scare people off. After all, most people, once they get to know me realize that I am actually a decent dude.”

Jeffrey paused for a moment. “Dude, I was listening to Dr. Drew on Howard Stern this morning, and he said something that reminded me of you.”

Which, as you can imagine, were just the words I have been waiting to hear for my entire life.

“Dr. Drew was talking about how Artie [Lang] always talks about drugs and his wild times while being on them. Dr. Drew said that Artie was addicited to not being addicted. That through shear force of will Artie had stopped doing drugs, but that he had never overcome his addiction, and until he had treated his addiction, he would never really be able to move forward in his life, because he would be working so hard at not doing drugs.”

“Interesting,” I replied, and changed the subject.

But, I didnt stop thinking about it.

It continued to sit in my head and I continued to chew on it. After all, it was something I thought about a lot. That while I had decided to be sober, and that I figured out the biploar thing, I was still feeling that I wasnt being all that I could be. That success was alluding me not because I was not fighting for it or because I was working towards it, but because I was my own worst enemy. Failure was overwhelming me. Failure was no longer a process; it was a rut.

A couple of days later, I had this IM discussion with a friend:

Me: ok, so here is the deal with me
Me: want to hear it?
Him: yes
Me: jeffrey made a comment to me the other day
Me: about how he was listening to dr. drew on howard stern
Me: and dr. drew said the reason artie talks about being a drug addict all the time
Me: is that he overcame doing drugs, but not the addiction
Me: that he is addicted to not being addicted
Me: for some reason that rang really true for me
Me: there has been a block for me since I got sober
Me: and I dont know what it was
Me: I thought it was the bipolar
Me: but thats not it
Me: so dr. drew said that artie should get treatment for his addiction
Me: which I think I am going to do
Me: I think if I stop working so hard to not be addicted, I can spend time on the things that matter to me. that I can stop feeling so overwhelmed all the time
Me: so thats it
Me: now I have to take a shit. brb
Him: i agree with that
Him: a lot
Me: really?
Him: totally
Him: because when i first met you it dove me fucking crazy that you talked about coke all the time
Him: cuz i know both sides
Him: i have been around addiction most of my life
Him: a LOT of my friends are coke heads
Him: so its like.  wtf. i don’t care. i understand.
Him: but i felt like it was a part of you that needed to peak
Him: speak
Him: yea know
Him: and you needed to get it out
Him: i felt almost as an atonement
Me: yeah – it makes total sense to me now

So, that it. The big April 1 thing. I have not fixed the things that made me make bad decisions in the past, I am just avoiding them, and its time to stop. Stop talking about them, stop making self deprecating jokes. Just stop being stuck in the next step.

And with that, I grow a little bit more…

Photo Credit: dearsomeone

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My friend Allison Hartsoe started a company a couple years back called Internet Business Skills. It seems that now that company has really grown, and she renamed it to Aspyro, offering strategic analysis and technology to help ebay sellers become more effective. I am quite excited whenever I see a friend of mine begin to realize their dream, and the hard work they put in to growing a business starts to bear fruit. So if you are a power ebay seller, and need the best to help you become the best, give Allison a call.