Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Columbus is #1 on the list of the top five cities to be included in top five lists.

Columbus is the most popular city for writers to add to their top five cities lists.  "Columbus is just obscure enough to convince my editor that I actually did some research instead of just plagiarizing other bloggers, which is what I did." says an anonymous writer from Fodor's travel blog whose Top Five Cities to Visit in 2014 included Jerusalem, New York, Shanghai, Rome, and Columbus. A food and beverage blogger told me "It's nice because Columbus actually exists, after I found that out it was easy to search Yelp and my article was one paragraph closer to being done."

Maintaining a presence on top five lists has long been a priority for Columbus residents. A French list published in 1812 names Columbus as one of the top five cities in the New World to trade furs. Columbus dominates many modern top five lists such as The Top Five Cities Where Judge Shows Find People and Top Five Cities Where the Traffic Isn't That Bad.

The future looks bright for Columbus to be included in more top five lists. "We're totally planning to keep being a city." says an aide close to the mayor "What with all this top five list money rolling in, and that just attracts more top five lists, the sky's the limit." Indeed, Columbus was just included in the list of The Top Five Cities Where the Sky is the Limit.

Next Week: Top Five Cities that are Columbus, Ohio

Thursday, October 3, 2013

How to lead The Best Meadery Tour in the World

My main job at the meadery these days is to lead the Saturday tour. This is my favorite thing in the world to do. I love having an audience, especially when I can pour them drinks every time they seem to be getting bored. The tour is a lot of fun and our guests always have a good time. I've been doing tours and other mead related speaking gigs for the past year and I've learned a few things in that time. Here's some of what I know about making a tour of a meadery, brewery, winery, or distillery fun and profitable.

1. Get somebody that wants to do it. I know that sounds obvious, most people hate public speaking and that's what a tour is. It's important to get somebody in there that can communicate the message in a fun, engaging way. I really love talking to people and I love mead, so my enthusiasm comes across naturally.

2. Know the goal. The point of the tour is to educate people about our products so that they feel confident buying them. Most of the time they know little to nothing about mead. They want to know what it is, how it's made, when should they drink it, how should they drink it, what they should drink it with, and what they should BUY. They are there to take things home and buy gifts for other people. Help them out. Know the prices, know what's available, know what's good.

3. Pop bottles! Like we up in the club. The bottles have to look nice. No messed up labels, no quarter full bottles. The tour is a live infomercial. If it looks old or dirty it makes people nervous. Pour small so guests don't feel like they're chugging glasses of alcohol.

4. Tell the story. People want to hear the story of the meadery and the mead. I describe the product and production methods while I'm pouring, and I tell the story of the meadery while they're drinking.

That's all for now. I will be back with four more when I'm ready to write them. I lead a tour at the meadery most Saturdays. Call for a reservation. Space on the tour is limited and it's been known to sell out. http://www.brothersdrake.com/

Monday, July 1, 2013

I'm making this rich guy pay me to look at my blog

And I'm pretty sure it will be a complete waste of time for him, but I'm going to try to make it worth something by linking to his blog a million times. James Altucher, how do I explain this guy? He portrays himself as this perpetual failure but he seems to have been rich his whole life. He often blogs about how he lost all his money, had nothing, and nobody wanted to be his friend. But from his bio and the people he hangs out with he is clearly loaded. His blog has ten million readers. I'd like ten million readers.

Anyway, Mr. Rich Broke Guy recently wrote a post where he offered to pay people back the five dollar cost of his new book Choose Yourself! The conditions are that after reading the book, he just wants to see a receipt and a review of the book written somewhere. The book currently has 126 reviews on Amazon.

The premise of the book is pretty simple, the middle class is disappearing and it's not coming back, automation is going to replace everybody, all of the institutions that Americans believe in have become scams to rob people of their freedom and drive them into inescapable debt. College, home ownership, pensions, these things are no longer valuable or necessary to be happy, successful, or to have an abundant life.

James believes that if you can make yourself mentally, physically, and spiritually well, you can make other people's lives better, which will make your life better. For him, the first step is what he calls "The Daily Practice". I like the idea of a daily practice. I adopted a similar list of habits last month when I had a long run of shows and I found it to be tremendously helpful. One of the things I like about James' daily practice is everything is optional. One of his simple suggestions is "no junk food" ok, sorry, sometimes life demands chicken nuggets and cookies, but that's fine, there are many more to choose from and most of them are pretty easy.

He gives a lot of examples of people starting businesses and stories about "selling his company", I didn't find any of that relateable. I've never known anybody who had a million dollar idea or sold a successful business for a bunch of money, where in the world is that a normal thing? How do you find people like that? All of my ideas are dumb, like a boomerang that doesn't come back or an urban pigeon farm and rotisserie.

Obviously, fabulous riches somehow await anybody who follows the instructions in the book, isn't that what they all say? I'm skeptical, the author got rich before he got the idea to be grateful and want less, before his daily practice, before he decided to be good and help people. He figured out that he shouldn't be an asshole after losing everything. I guess that makes sense. Maybe the real message is, "if you should happen to somehow get rich, be grateful instead of being an asshole and maybe you won't loose everything."

Is this review worth giving me back my five dollars? Doesn't matter, I'm getting it back anyway. Choose Yo Self!

Saturday, June 29, 2013

What is this blog about? Aaron Ardle attempts to explain himself

One night Jake Thomas and I were working a show at the Newport Music Hall. I was working lights and he was doing sound. I had been reading The Four Hour Workweek by Tim Ferris and I had cultivated a hatred of meetings. I was complaining to Jake about the worthless meetings I had to attend at my day job. Jake had been doing great things from a leadership standpoint at the Newport for a while and he said "We don't have meetings, we just do things that are Rock and Roll automatically." And I said "That's your management style! Automatic Rock and Roll!"

The Newport is a well oiled machine thanks to Jakes leadership. The crew is happy, skilled, and professional. People get promoted, do jobs that are suited to them, and nobody gets super stressed out. His efforts have made the Newport a really great place to work for lowly stagehands and techs that often feel overlooked. 

The fact is, The Newport is such a great place to work that I decided I needed to find a way to share the best of what Jake knows with the world. I haven't worked at every Rock and Roll club, but I feel like the Newport is special enough that the way we do things deserves some attention.

How do you quantify great leadership?  I don't know, it turns out I can't explain Jakes secret sauce. Automatic Rock and Roll the way I originally imagined it is not me. When I started writing the blog seriously, it turned out to be less about Jakes scientific management style and more about my life. 

So here's the thing, I'm going to keep writing about my life, and if the opportunity comes up to discuss Jakes management style we will do it. I'm doing these tours at Brothers Drake Meadery now and I really think public speaking is a way forward for me, so I'll be writing about that. I've learned that I'm happiest when I'm writing, so I'm going to write. At this point, I have no idea where I'm headed. The next post could be about God or gaff tape or anything in between. Thanks for reading. 

Thursday, June 20, 2013

The stagehand tool kit: an exhaustive list by Aaron Ardle

,1. Adjustable crescent wrench
And we're done. This single tool has gotten me through 99% of my career. If the one rule of how to get into Rock and Roll production is Show Up, the one tool to bring is a crescent wrench. Beyond its actual usefulness, it's what showing up with a c-wrench in hand says about it's owner. I'm reminded of this quote from The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy by the great Douglas Adams about the importance of a towel to a hitch hiker:

"More importantly, a towel has immense psychological value. For some reason, if a strag (strag: non-hitch hiker) discovers that a hitch hiker has his towel with him, he will automatically assume that he is also in possession of a toothbrush, face flannel, soap, tin of biscuits, flask, compass, map, ball of string, gnat spray, wet weather gear, space suit etc., etc. Furthermore, the strag will then happily lend the hitch hiker any of these or a dozen other items that the hitch hiker might accidentally have "lost". What the strag will think is that any man who can hitch the length and breadth of the galaxy, rough it, slum it, struggle against terrible odds, win through, and still knows where his towel is is clearly a man to be reckoned with."

The crescent wrench is the towel of the Rock and Roll Galaxy.

There are other things I could drag around, a black sharpie, this flashlight, a roll of electrical tape, a multi-tool, a knife, BUT NOT ALL THE THINGS AT ONCE. 

When I started, I didn't own a crescent wrench. I lived in a one bedroom apartment in the Short North and I never needed tools for anything. I had to ask my dad to bring me one, and he did. It's the wrench in the photo at the beginning of this post. Thanks dad. 

Just having a crescent wrench was enough to demonstrate that I wasn't an idiot and I was somewhat trustworthy. It got me away from the heavy lifting and into learning and networking opportunities. 

Show up, bring a wrench. This is starting to get really complicated. 

Friday, June 14, 2013

I got fired yesterday

And I couldn't be happier. Being a house tech at a busy concert venue is pretty cool, I have a lot of Monday mornings to drink coffee and read successful blogs. That sounds like it would make it easy to do something else on the side. In actuality, because my schedule varies so much from week to week, it makes it difficult for other employers to work me in, no matter how much they may want to.

The most recent person to try is my friend Oron Benary. Oron is the owner of Brothers Drake Meadery, a really cool urban winery that specializes in mead, wine made from honey. He brought me onboard to come up with new flavors and help in production. For the past 90 days I had been doing an ok job of keeping all the balls in the air. Working the meadery as a 9-5 job every day that i didn't have a show. I was working a mimimum of 60 hours a week between the two places and my free time had almost completely evaporated. I loved being involved in the meadery, but I couldn't get any rest. My Monday mornings were now always reserved for work. I was getting more and more worn out all the time. My attitude at both places was suffering. My wife, Carol, knew I was getting depressed and kept trying to get me to take a break.

Then June hit and the Summer Concert Season went nuts. I worked show after show and my presence at the meadery was almost zero, but I did find time to lead a few tours. Running tours at the meadery is really fun for me. I love to talk to an audience, it would be a dream come true if I could make a living talking to people. It turns out this is a great role for me. So yesterday, the GM of the meadery takes me  to Mission Coffee and informs me that I am released from the 9-5 production schedule. Now my job is to talk to people about mead at tours, tastings, festivals, events, rafters, basements, etc..

Did that really just happen? I get to keep the part of the gig that I really like and...that's it?

I left the coffee shop, went home, put my pajamas back on, and spent the rest of the day hanging out with Carol. I'm so grateful to have my free time returned to me. I didn't realize how precious it was until I gave it up for a few months. I didn't really get fired, just from the part of the job I wasn't crazy about.

Maybe Monday I'll do a post about coffee and successful bloggers.