Fail Creatively

I think we all hate to fail. It sucks, it really does, putting a ton of sweat equity into a project and then it turns out to be a fail. The photos didn’t appease a client, screwing up the budget, the client we wanted decided to go with our competitor, no publisher’s interested in a manuscript we put our soul into, no one wants to see the movie we produced, someone spits out the food we made, not a single song download we created, boss hates the presentation, and nobody wants to buy our art.

It sucks to fail!Adam Fricke filming at Russell Cave National Monument

But failing is a necessary part of life. As we were leaving Nashville, my brother and I had a long conversation about what it means to fail. We both hate failure, I’m sure you do too, but it’s necessary and I think it’s even fun if done right.

How boring life would be if we were perfect, am I right? It’s kind of like a story plot. You start at Point A where nothing’s going on. Something catches your attention, you see something you want or decide you want to do something. Then you go on this journey, but along the way you face some challenges. Two things happen at this point: you’ve experienced this challenge before and know how to overcome it or this is brand new to you and you take your best shot at overcoming the challenge. Now if you’ve experienced this before, you hopefully know the solution right away and know how to get past it, but if it’s your first encounter, chances are you’re going to fail. You don’t know any better and end up in the deep end.

That’s not where the story ends.

You problem solve and figure out a way to get past this hurdle. That’s the climax of this story of your life. You figure it out and it’s all downhill from there. You come out with more knowledge and are, later on, able to help others get through the same challenge you faced.

Climbers, and other outdoorsy people for that matter, are some of the best failures I know. They’ll devote their lives to memorizing a sequence to a route so they can get past one part, the crux, in one push. They’ll fail hundred of times, falling on the same move, before finally sticking the move and being able to send the problem.

Why do they drive themselves nuts trying to conquer that one move? The outcome is the greatest reward out there. Knowing that they tried so hard for so long, gave it their all, and then actually bagging the send is one of the best feelings in the world and that’s what makes failing worth the pain.

When we choose to not put ourselves out there or give up, we rob ourselves of happiness. We can come up with a great idea, create a beautiful piece of art, or try something new, but it’s not worth it if we give up when the going gets tough. Not putting our work out there because we’re afraid of what haters will say, giving up because we think it’s too hard, or just not starting because we’re afraid to fail is when we lose the spark in our life. I solely believe that in order to be happy we have to fail because overcoming failure is one of the greatest forms of payment.

Now get out there and fail happy.

Routine is the Enemy of Creativity

 I bet you have your daily routine dialed in: wake up, get ready for the day, have some coffee, go to work/school, come home from work/school, do something rad in the evening, maybe have a drink, and repeat Monday through Friday. If that’s your routine, we’re a lot alike, or at least we were. I don’t know about you, but I hated my routine. It felt like I was just going through the motions and not doing anything meaningful. It’s been a little over a week since I hit the road with my brother and within days I found myself missing my routine I had so carefully dialed in over the years.Routine is the Enemy of Creativity

Photo: Adam Fricke

We look for patterns in our daily lives. We’re taught from a young age to find patterns and utilize them to get things accomplished quicker, better, faster. It’s a wonder I was missing my routine. Since as long as I can remember I’ve been carefully trained to find routine and use it to my advantage and poof gone.

Finding routine on the road’s tough. So far we’ve been in virtually a different city everyday and come up with our plan for the day, if you can even call it a plan, in the morning when we get up or right as we’re getting ready to turn in for the night. For someone who has lived by a routine for years, it’s rough.

Living a life of routine kills creativity. 10 days in and it’s gotten easier. The initial shock of living in a van and always being on the move has subsided and it’s easier for me to appreciate the lack of routine. Without routine things look different, sound different, they are different. Everything stands out because our perception changes. Don’t believe me? Take a look at this.

We read left to right and when we scan across the ocean, for instance, we look left to right. When we do that we miss certain things because we expect to see what’s next rather than actually seeing what’s in front of us. When a good filmmaker is shooting a scene and the camera pans across an open area, it’s generally from right to left. It’s more dramatic for their audience since our routine’s to look from left to right. Search and rescue teams are trained to search from right to left so they break their routine and they have a better chance of seeing what they’re searching for.

Don’t go off berating me just yet. Some routine’s good, don’t get me wrong. Dental hygiene, wearing clean underwear, washing hands, those are all great routines to keep up with. You and anyone that comes near you will thank you. The same route you take to and from work/school, change it up! Take another route and keep an eye out for something new.

You’ll never find that golden nugget that’ll turn your day around if you keep doing what you’ve been doing.

Not Yet Ready, but Willing

For the past few months I’ve been listening to this song “Ready and Willing” by New Found Glory. In the song they talk about being the underdogs and being ready and willing to get out there, chase their dream, and lose it all, in hopes of achieving their dream.Not Yet Ready, but Willing

I can relate to the song, and I bet you can too. Truth be told, this song’s really helped hold me together. Anytime I feel like I’m going to fail on The Bro’d Trip, when fear takes hold and starts telling me this whole road trip is just a waste of my time, I hit play and let the words give me hope. Truth be told though, I’m not ready for The Bro’d Trip, but I’m willing.

Packing up my childhood memories from my childhood room, never to come back to the house I grew up in because my parents are moving was one of the hardest things I’ve had to do. I know it may sound petty, but I felt it was worth crying over, and I did. I wasn’t ready to say “see-ya-later” to my family and friends, but I did. It sucked and it still sucks. I’ve been on the road for four days (Adam and I missed our departure date by a day) and it still doesn’t feel real. Every day I think about turning our big Sprinter Van around and heading right back down to Florida, where I’m comfortable.

This is the biggest journey of my life, so far. I don’t know how I could fully ready myself for this. I’ve been told I’ve done everything right to be ready for this: paid cash for a van, saved up an emergency fund, got a couple of awesome sponsors, started building a small following, etc., but I still don’t feel like I’m ready for what lies ahead.

That’s the joy of a big journey. We can do everything in our power to get ready and be prepared, but we’re never fully ready. All we can do is be willing to take that big step and move forward, even though fear’s telling us to wait a while longer, until we’re ready.

Deep Roots | When Beer Makes Sense

Right after we got the van home my mom asked us if we wanted to have a party. A going away party/open house for our family and friends. People that have been in our lives throughout the years and the people we wouldn’t be seeing for the next year. Of course Adam and I said “yes” and we started planning for the party. Not really, we actually pulled all the details together just days before the party, but we did put the Facebook invite out about a month in advance.Deep Roots | When Beer Makes Sense

Party day came and I went to pick up our keg of beer from Red Cypress Brewery. It was called Deep Roots, a delicious ale with a fitting name. Right as I got that thing tapped our friends and family started flowing through the door and the beer kept flowing all day and late into the night.

The Facebook invite said 52 people were coming, but I reckon there were more than 52 people that came by throughout the day. Adam and I got to show off our van, hangout with everyone, and just have a good time. The van build had really beat us down the previous week and this was a great way to put it behind us and enjoy the entire journey we’ve been on.

As the party started to wind down our friends lit up a fire and we burned a ton of scrap wood pieces we had from the van build, along with some of the original pieces of wood from the original conversion. Adam and I saw the dimensions we had written down burn in the fire and as I placed the last piece of wood onto the fire, a piece of wood from the original conversion build, I got a little teary eyed. I didn’t cry because I’m a big strong man though.

Adam and I couldn’t have gotten to this point without everyone that played a role in our lives. The both of us have deep roots here and around Orlando and it’s hard to think that in a week and a half, we’ll be uprooting said roots and heading off on a new journey. As much as I poke fun at the suburbs and think that I hate routine, it’s also kind of nice. Without the suburbs or the routines I’ve developed I wouldn’t have been able to meet even half the people I know that have helped shape me into who I am today.

We have deep roots here and it’s hard to uproot our Magnolia tree like roots to chase a dream, but it’s worth it and it needs to happen. It’s time to go scatter new seeds and chug life. Plus it’s not like we’re never going to talk with our friends ever again. That’s what Facebook’s for, right?

We’re Fortunate to Be Able to Say “Eh”

The surf in Florida’s been killing me for the past two or three years. It seems like every time a great swell rolls in I have to work at my job, leaving me to only catch the tail end of that awesome swell and hear “Dude you should’ve been here two days ago” yet again. This past weekend was no different.We're Fortunate to Be Able to Say "Eh"

Adam and I drove to the beach after I got done with a (former) Christmas work party and it was awesome seeing everyone again. I hadn’t seen everyone since my last day at work, the day before Thanksgiving, and it sounded like nothing had really changed (always a positive). We woke up Sunday morning for his last surf contest. He graduates from UCF this week, or next I forget, and this was his last time ever competing for the UCF Surf Team. I know what you’re thinking, yes, UCF has a surf team.

The waves sucked, per usual. It’s Florida and it takes all the stars to align for the waves to be great. Rather than go for a surf in the semi-chilly water, I opted to post up with my camera in the bed of my dad’s pick-up truck and grab some video (which you’ll soon see in our vlog) and pictures of Adam and his teammates.

When you’re shooting video and pictures of people surfing other people come up to you. Sometimes just to talk, occasionally they’ll ask you to take their picture or if you got any pictures of them while they were surfing, but most of the time they ask “How are the waves, dude?” Most of the time my response is “Eh, it’s ok. I mean it beats a day of not surfing, right?” About that time they throw the hang loose sign and say “Right on, bra” as they walk away to their car, grab their board and head out for a surf sesh.

Ever think about how we’re fortunate to say “Eh, it’s ok.” I don’t think we recognize it enough, at least I don’t. I’m not the greatest surfer by any means. We’ll bring out the camera and take turns surfing and shooting video and pictures. Later in the day when the memory card’s dumped onto our hard drives I realize how good at surfing I’m not, but I have fun and that’s all that matters.

Deep down I know I’m fortunate to know how to surf and to be able to scoff at mediocre waves. I’m not fighting for my life on a daily basis or live in a war torn country where I need to carry a weapon with me just to go get a gallon of milk. Hell I’m fortunate enough to be able to go get a gallon of milk when I need my cereal fix.

You and I are pretty fortunate, I think. We have access to the internet and whether we get to complain about our slow internet connection or the less than stellar waves, that makes us fortunate to say “Eh, it’s ok.”

What You Can Learn From Building Out a Sprinter Van

There’s a lot that can be learned from building out a Sprinter Van. You can actually learn more than just carpentry skills. Life skills are also taught when you’re walking in and out of a Sprinter Van all day, cutting pieces of wood to specific dimensions, and assembling everything, only to disassemble part of it because your plan didn’t quite work out how you had originally intended.What You Can Learn From Building Out a Sprinter Van

Photo: Adam Fricke

If you’ve never had the chance to build out a Sprinter Van (or some other vehicle), I’d highly recommend it. It’s a lot of fun, extremely frustrating, and everything in between with lots of life lessons. These are some of the life lessons you can expect to learn, should you decide to build out a Sprinter Van or the vehicle of your choice at some point of your existence.

Art Class > Geometry

Math is not a strong suit for my brother, parents, or me. You’d think that you’d have to be great at geometry to properly build out a Sprinter Van, but you don’t. Geometry skills certainly help, but as long as you’re able to add, subtract, multiply, divide, and can make a stencil out of cardboard, you’ll be just fine. Turns out art skills trump geometry. In our case at least.

Communication Skills

Countless times I’ve wanted to shake Adam silly to let him know that his idea sucks and my idea’s the best idea. Good thing I haven’t done that yet because it turns out he has some great ideas and my way isn’t always the best way. Learning how to communicate effectively with whoever you’re working with saves you tons of time spent fighting and allows you to have effective dynamic discussions that result in forward progress.

Maybe if our world leaders and politicians would build out a Sprinter Van together they’d all learn how to communicate and actually get sh*t done. What do you think?

Problem Solving

All you need is a general idea. Simply an idea of the layout you want. As long as you’re good at problem solving and have some time to sit, stare, and ponder, you’ll be able to build out a Sprinter Van. Eventually you’ll begin to realize that one of your greatest strengths in life is your ability to problem solve.

 

Maximizing Strengths & Minimizing Weaknesses

There are some things Adam’s better at than me and vice versa. Take a look at our vlogs and you’re going to see more of Adam smoothing out the edges with a sander, getting proper measurements, and tracing out those measurements. You’ll probably see me using the power tools most of the time. We do that for a reason. Adam’s OCD kicks in and the kid’s able to get perfect measurements and I’m more comfortable, and faster, with the power tools. Playing to each other’s strengths allows us to get things done much faster with fewer headaches.

 

Discipline

Working on a Sprinter Van’s fun, but it also gets tedious when it starts to consume your life and it looks like no end is in sight. If you can find the discipline to get up every day and work on your Sprinter Van, you’ll feel like you can conquer the world.

Teamwork

Screwing a wood screw into some wood’s a pretty simple task. Now dress it up a bit and try to hang something that weighs 5 pounds on your own. There’s your problem. Having an extra set of hands is essential and you’ve never realized the importance of teamwork until you started building out a Sprinter Van.

Asking for Help

The Beatles said it best “I get by with a little help from my friends.” We can accomplish a lot on our own and Adam and I get an awesome feeling of accomplishment when all goes according to plan. There are some other small projects that if need to be done right, requires help from a friend. We’ve had to call on friends from time-to-time in order to get something done right like running the wiring or welding a patch in the floor. Asking for help is something the stubborn hate to do and when done right is a lot of fun to get a community to lend a helping hand.

What They Don’t Tell You About Being FUNemployed

The idea of being without a “real job” and being a freelancer, or starting your own business, is beginning to gain traction. As more and more of us millennials develop skills to take a stab at entrepreneurship and build our own businesses in whatever field it might be, the more we begin to romanticize the idea of being funemployed. It’s kind of become the new American Dream. There are lots of rewards with being funemployed like: working in your boxer shorts, getting up whenever you want, working whenever you want, surfing the web without repercussion, etc. The freedom of funemployement is what we seek, to say the least, but with that freedom comes a lot of headaches.

This is what they don’t tell you about being funemployedWhat They Don't Tell You About Being FUNemployed

Photo: Adam Fricke

Work Never Stops

Just because you’re busy having fun or doing something “important” to you doesn’t mean diddly squat to your clients. When they need something from you, you have to be able to deliver within their timeframe. You could push it off as much as possible or get it done according to your schedule, but your competition is always improving. In order to set yourself apart from your competition, you have to constantly be improving and providing better results, and service, than your competition.

You Have to Sell Yourself

No not that way. Be confident in your work and find a way to market yourself. Why should someone else believe in you if you don’t believe in yourself and your work? Just because your work is top-notch, doesn’t mean anyone else knows that. Getting in front of your future client can be a struggle, but you have to constantly jump in front of potential clients so they know who you are and what value you can add to them.

There’s No Sleeping In

Theres a saying that the early bird gets the worm and it’ll never ring truer than when you decide to become funemployed. I think one of the best qualities in someone is when they’re on time. The reason for that is that your competition is never on time, stand out from your competition and be on time. That means operating on your client’s time. Let’s say your client’s office hours are 9:00am – 5:00pm on the east coast, but you’re on the west coast. That means you’re 3 hours behind your client’s operating time, but in order to stand out, you could (and should) be on call and ready to go at a moment’s notice according to your client’s time.

Clients Come and Go

This point goes right back to point number 2 (You Have to Sell Yourself) because clients come and go. As fast as you gain a new client, you can easily lose an existing client. In fact, I lost a client today, but I also gained a client a couple of weeks ago. We all want a long-standing relationship with all of our clients, but businesses change and sometime cutbacks need to be made or maybe down the road you both realize you’re better off not doing business together. Whatever the scenario is, it’s ok, don’t take it personal, learn from the experience, adapt if needed, and start selling yourself again.

Distractions are All Over

You thought donuts in the break room were a distraction and hated it when you had to quickly close your social media profiles when you heard your boss walking by you. When you become funemployed you’ll wish you had your boss walking by again and think donuts in the break room were the least of your worries. Distractions are all over the place and it take a lot of motivation to beat those distractions. Much like finding the motivation to do homework in college, you have to find the motivation to get your work done. It doesn’t matter where or how it gets done, the work just needs to get done and the sooner it gets done, the sooner you can get paid.

Are you funemployed? What do you wish people would’ve told you about funemployment before you quit your job to become funemployed?

There’s No Such Thing As Luck

Ever since Adam and I made our Bro’d Trip plans known to the world a few weeks ago we’ve had a lot of people tell us how lucky we are that we get to take a year off to visit all 50 states by van. To be honest with you, it’s kind of irritating to me when I hear that I’m lucky to be taking a year off. We both busted our butts to be able to live this dream of ours and we’re doing anything, but “taking a year off,” but that’s another story for another day.There's No Such Thing As Luck

Luck is when success, or failure, just happens out of thin air. With luck there’s no work involved. The best way I can illustrate luck is when you stumble upon a lamp and a big blue magic genie that sounds like Robin Williams appears out of the lamp to grant you three wishes. That’s some luck and if it’s happened to you, I hope you used one wish to wish for an endless supply of wishes.

Rather than realizing it took a lot of hard work to see that someone got to where they are now, we just see where they are and associate it with luck.

Waiting on luck to happen isn’t going to get you anywhere; however, preparation will get you somwhere. Sitting around watching daytime TV in your free time, waiting for opportunity to come knocking at your front door’s not going to get you anywhere. Trust me. I’ve done that before and it got me nowhere. I wouldn’t recommend trying it either. It gets kind of depressing and lonely.

What I’ve found is that preparation tends to be met with opportunity. Almost every person that’s now living the life we wish we were living spent years preparing for where they are now. Preparation is practice for future success. It’s a lot easier to fall flat on your face when only a couple of people are watching. Falling flat on your face in front of a bunch of people sucks and really kills the self-esteem.

Adam and I could have left two years ago on The Bro’d Trip, and to be honest, I’m glad we didn’t. We’ve learned a lot over the past couple years. Working my day job has taught me some invaluable business skills: like being diligent about following up and making a phone call over sending an email when something needs to get done. Our photography and video skills have drastically improved and while you’re preparing, people eventually notice.

I think you know you’re doing something right, or you’re on to something, when preparation meets opportunity. Long hours and late nights tend to feel worthless until you catch a break and get noticed. And that’s what happened with us. We wanted to make The Bro’d Trip great, but we knew it could be even better with some help and low and behold, a couple companies noticed us and offered to lend us a helping hand to make this great.

To say someone’s lucky to be doing what they’re doing belittles all their hard work and preparation that it took for them to get where they are now. Maybe you know the feeling. You bust your butt to get the opportunity you want or to do something you’ve been wanting to do for what seems like an eternity and someone just diminishes all your hard work be equating it to chance, luck. Saying someone’s doing something special, outrageous, or something you want to do one day, now those are words that could be used instead of luck. Let’s be real, we can do anything with some hard work, dedication, preparation, and a little help from others in the form of an opportunity.

Luck has got nothing to do with it.

Elk in Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Not many people know that elk roam in the east. There were hundreds of thousands of elk roaming Great Smoky Mountains National Park (before it was actually Great Smoky Mountains National Park) until the 1700’s in North Carolina and 1800’s in Tennessee, that is until humans came through and overhunted them and took over their habitat. For centuries we were relegated to going out west to see these beautiful mammals in their natural habitat. Recently, in 2001, the National Park Service began to reintegrate elk back into Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Now elk roam all over the National Park and they’re so cool to see in person.Bull Elk standing in the fields of Cataloochee Valley in Great Smoky Mountains National Park

First you need to get to Cataloochee Valley off I-40 in North Carolina. Take exit 20 and then hang a right on Cove Creek Road. Get comfy because it’s a long 11 mile drive up the winding mountainside, some of which is on unpaved road.

As you drive into Cataloochee Valley you need to keep your eyes peeled. The elk are known to graze at the back of the park in the fields, but sometimes you seem them elsewhere. When my family and I went there we got real lucky and saw them very quickly, grazing in a field just off the side of the road. Adam and I were going bonkers because of how close they were. We each brought our 70-200 lenses and a 2x tele-extender, but it turned out that they were so close that we were just fine using our 70-200.

When you do roll up on a herd of elk, be sure to keep your distance. The National Park Service enforces a 50 yard rule. There are times though that the elk come right up to you and by your car and it makes for an unforgettable experience. Just be aware and be careful. These are large wild animals that will charge if they feel threatened.

In order to see elk, the elk actually have to be there. The best time to go see elk is early in the morning or later in the evening during the fall and spring months. It’ll be chilly during those months and you’ll want to dress appropriately and stay warm. A lot of people bring lawn chairs to sit outside and just look at the elk grazing in the field. A set of binoculars or a cool periscope might help bring them a little closer you as well.

Photographers are a different breed and they’ll want to bring their camera with a telephoto lens, minimum of 200mm.

Soon the elk will be out of Cataloochee Valley for the winter and you’ll have to wait until spring to see them. Make an afternoon trip out there and have a blast putsing around, seeing some of the other wildlife and history that’s in Cataloochee Valley.

Is the World Shrinking or are We Giants?

Taking a trip down memory lane’s fun. You go to the places you went to as a kid and relive your childhood. The thing is that when you go back and take a trip down memory lane, what you saw as a kid’s different than what you see now. Well technically it’s the same. Same waterfall, same river, same beach, same ocean, same scenery, same thing. Everything we saw as a kid was like looking up to giants. Older humans were giants, nature was full of giants, even the grocery store was a giant to us. As we got older, something changed. Our perception changed.Is the World Shrinking or are We Giants?

Yesterday I took a drive through Pisgah National Forest with my parents. It’s a beautiful forest in North Carolina, about 30 minutes south of Asheville. We went to Looking Glass Falls and saw thousands of buckets of water gushing over the falls from all the rain the area’s been getting lately. Then we went to Sliding Rock. It’s exactly how it sounds; in the summer you go to this rock face in the middle of the river and slide down in the chilly water that’s running off the top of the mountain. It’s so much fun to slide down the rock face that everyone goes there. Cars back up waiting for a parking space, picnicking’s prohibited so you get your slides in and then leave as fast as you came, and they shut down the area on some weekends because of the overcrowding.

The first time I went there I couldn’t have been more than seven years old, maybe even younger. I was terrified to go sliding down, out of control, plummeting into the water basin at the bottom. All the water gushing down the rock face looked gigantic to me. After a lot of sweet talking from my mom and my aunt, I finally got in line, waited my turn, and then sat on my butt to go careening down the slippery rock and splashed into the chilly water. I swam to the exit platform and that was it, I beat my giant, I was done.

High school came around and I went back and slid my brains out. I had a blast with my family that day. Older I was and enjoyed sliding down a slick rock for no apparent reason with a sliver of water between the rock and my butt. We slid down that rock and built up a huge appetite and a need for a nap.

The water was pouring down Sliding Rock yesterday. It was raining and had been raining fairly consistently and the rivers were raging up there. My parents and I were the only ones at the parking lot. I hopped out, grabbed my camera and tripod, draped a towel over it and headed down to the base of Sliding Rock. Everything was setup and as I looked through the viewfinder, something looked different. The water was raging down the rock face, so much in fact that it’d be a direct route to pain if you slid down, and yet it all looked smaller.

My perception changed and it what looked gigantic to me, and terrified me, when I was a little kid had me thinking how much smaller the rock face is now and whether or not I’d get seriously hurt should I decide to take a slide. Maybe I gained some wisdom and figured a slide down wouldn’t be the best idea, but I was also seeing this are different.

Maybe something like this has happened to you. Going back to the place where you had a favorite memory as a kid and it’s different. Giants aren’t surrounding you anymore; now you’re the giant.

Our perception changes and it’s just a fact of life. The more we explore, the more giants we’ll see, and then we get to live like a kid again. And being a kid again is awesome.