Writing 100 Articles In 100 Days. What Did I Learn?

Photo by Michael Competielle

“You never have to change anything you got up in the middle of the night to write.”

 — Saul Bellow

Today is day 100 of a 100-day writing challenge. The idea was to attempt to write 100 original articles with original photography and publish them. The topics and context we not of importance. In reality, honesty and self-reflection was the priority of this writing exercise. 

Never having written anything before I was presented with a challenge lacking in familiarity and comfort. What was I going to say and how was I planning to say it? 

Looking Inside Myself 

As I began to look inside myself I recognized I needed to find the voice. Being introspective of yourself and displaying your thoughts and emotions leaves you a feeling of exposure and nakedness. It was the warmth of connection and encouragement I received from my readers and writing partner that kept me on track and forthcoming.

Wild flurries of emotionalism flew out of me as I henpecked away word by word, sentence by sentence formulating subconscious thoughts into tangible content. 

When I was in my comfort zone was when I faded off into a meditative state tapping away words that came out of me like I was telling a best friend an innermost deep story. Hours later I’d reread what I’d written and often questioned who was the author, confident it clearly wasn’t me. I’d plagiarized my own words. Hacking into the databanks of my inner psyche. 

Time and Space

The best time to write was early in the morning. My dogs would be snoring, the outside world is relatively silent and I could immerse myself into this transcendent writing flow.

My photographs were my inspiration as I’d write based on the emotional impact I felt from the experiences of exploration into self-discovery. 

Researching my thoughts and looking for supporting content would leave me exploring rabbit holes of discovery as I learned more from becoming a writer than I had from being a reader. My mind an absorptive sponge ingesting and processing massive quantities of data. I forced myself to go out and find inspiration and everything I found became inspiring. 

Tapping away letter by letter I’d lose myself in the moment. Time would pass often quickly as I transported myself into another place in time. Gravity and it’s holding power diminished as I wrote and explored the outside world. I no longer walked on the ground but on a layer of air, slightly elevated above the surface of the world. Airy and light yet not quite floating. 

Time has become more precious than ever before as I respect every moment, recognizing time as our most priceless resource. My relationships with the outside world have felt a bit removed from those that don’t create or can not absorb. The nonreaders are the nonthinkers. Vessels of lifelessness missing the purpose of life and connection. 

Who Is This Crazy Guy?

My discoveries as I wrote in this meditative style yielded wildly varying articles that began to weave the fabric of my consciousness. Patterns of words and phrases were repeated from article to article with differences in meaning and relevance. Each philosophy and theory cumulatively assembling into an enlightened version of me.

As the articles were published new connections were made with friends that began to read my content. The highlight of the writing exercise was when a brilliant inspirational idol shared one of my better posts on Twiter.

As time passed by day by day, articles were published and readership increased. Topics of creativity were well received as were articles on mindfulness.

As I wrote more and more my connection to my mind and soul was enriched. Self-discovery and self-awareness were constant topics I learned the most about myself.

During the hundred days, I found not only could I effectively write but it was simple to get lost inside my conscious. In the next 100 days, you’ll a new level of exploration and discovery. My connections to myself and my mind’s eye have nurtured my world of literary exploration.

Maximizing Your Creativity By Economizing Your Day

Photo by Michael Competielle

How do you know you’ve maximized your day and economized projects to succeed? By prioritizing our day based on establishing small achievable goals while focusing on completing them we can see progress quickly. Morning seems to be a moment in my day where I can be productive and creative optimizing my limited time.

Writing has become easier when I have planned my thoughts prior to even opening my computer. Being I write based on my life experiences, I make sure I document all of them with photographs. When I’m writing about my experiences words begin to follow as I’m describing my recollection of stored details.

To obtain inspiration I love stepping outside into city life to enter into culturally diverse environments. Most cities’ density and mixed uses forsters a culmination of cultural heritage that inspires inspiration. Walking and interacting with diversity help define differences and expands our knowledge.

People watching and focusing on their details

Mornings in a city is a brilliant time to people watch. Window seats in coffeehouses is a favored spot as you can view people candidly observing their body language and movement. As we pay attention to finite details and memorizing them we build attention to details. What makes brilliant writing? Attention to detail and perspective.

When we have clarity and focus on details stored in our memory banks, writing becomes easier. We no longer have to struggle to find words and descriptors to expressive ourselves. As we optimize our writing time while getting into our flow, fully-fledged concepts become paragraphs of precise descriptive narration.

Morning writing lessens environmental influences as we haven’t yet stepped into the outside world. Our thoughts and words are yet to be tainted by the complexities of our day. Allocating morning time towards writing, the compressed availability of free time places pressure on clear and concise phrasing.

Who Wrote This Shit

When I get into my zone, words materialize a rapid pace with fluidity. Minor typos and proper punctuation matter less than getting the words out as if I’m telling a friend a story. Once I get close to what I feel is the end of the article, I’ll reread it to determine how well to flows. When I know I’m writing well the sentences read well. If I’m on track I’ll read the article and question the identity of the author.

It’s in those moments when I’m most creative and thorough that rereading the text makes me question who the author was. It’s that inner voice who comes out and tells the most engaging stories in the briefest amount of time. The economy of time and focusing on small goals have expanded the amount of content I can write about while detail in a focused moment.

Reimagining Landscapes With A Cacophony of Soundscapes

Photo by Michael Competielle

“The final question will be: is the soundscape of the world an indeterminate composition over which we have no control, or are we its composers and performers, responsible for giving it form and beauty?” 

― R. Murray Schafer, The Soundscape: Our Sonic Environment and the Tuning of the World

As my writing exercise is winding down my experiences from the experiment has charged my creativity. The next 100 day series of challenges is moving into compositional sound recording with the added element of composing to an image and creating visual soundscapes.

The exploration of finding content in which to use to make a connection of our sense of sight and hearing is nothing new. From the days of theater or musicals through talkie films and modern-day media, sound to visuals has gelled together well. We have learned to feel a connection to a character’s emotions by using sounds of music to stage the scene as we are lured into the content.

Our minds can make connections to our emotions independently to our conscious thoughts bringing us to a place where we are immersed into the body of others, feeling what they are feeling. The spoken word isn’t required to toy with sadness or despair. Often a single reverberant piano note will bring us to a place where we feel pain and suffering.

There are many, many nouns for the act of looking — a glance, a glimpse, a peep — but there’s no noun for the act of listening. In general, we don’t think primarily about sound. So I have a different perspective on the world; I can construct soundscapes that have an effect on people, but they don’t know why. It’s a sort of subterfuge -Walter March

Hearing Emotion

The classical composers recognized by varying the connections of musical notes compositions could envoke emotion. By altering the individual notes in a phrase or chord, alters the feeling of the composition as our feelings are along for the ride. 

When we actively participate in focused listening we begin to hear the subtle nuances in sounds. Winds and rain have tonality that can paint a visual painting that takes us to that place. Rolling waves, babbling brooks to crashing waterfalls are all movements of water, however, they all have a unique audible sound that paints the picture. 

Whimsical sounds will place us in a happier mood unlike the dissonance felt from fingernails on a chalkboard. The subtle nuance of sounds of we listen closely is meditative and educational.

Intellectuals favor instrumental music as it will allow the imaginations under the wild as we define space and time. Our minds will listen for the clues and begin to develop a spatial perspective. 

Wind and leaves mean trees. A Forest? Moving water could identity a creek, stream or an ocean. The timber and intensity of the sounds become our clues. Crashing water could be oceans waves or a waterfall. 

As we listen to sounds intently we begin to spark our brain to make connections to the visual. Like an expressionist painter, we paint shapes and colors as we build the landscape from the elements of the soundscape. Our minds make the connection as we visualize the scene like reading brilliant literature. 

Be Yourself, The Rest Will Follow

Photo by Michael Competielle

“The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. If you try it, you will be lonely often, and sometimes frightened. But no price is too high to pay for the privilege of owning yourself.”

 —  Friedrich Nietzsche

It’s lonely in here. My mind races with thoughts and concepts I struggle to explain. Creative ideas take a number hoping to be next in line, a sold-out show it’s standing room only.

A sense of belonging could be warm and comforting if the connection were real and the dialogue reciprocal. It’s the few that understand, those who bend light and medium to create the imaginative. The grandiose experience. 

We feel they are odd, strange and disconnected. Yet it appears we are all engaged with the electronic impulses that energize our flow. Colors and sounds, molten and dark. The embers of creativity fueled by inspiration. Words become paintings and noise becomes art. As we reimagine this dismal place a stomping ground of self-expression.

The rhythm of prose a collection of exacting words, painting the foreground of our creativity. Crazy, wacky, odd and weird, we find solace in our medium. Our emotions left on the canvas as we nakedly shy away, bizarre and antisocial.

Crowds praise and encourage us while we secretly cower in fear. Not to be judged only to be misunderstood.

“ Art and life really are the same, and both can only be about a spiritual journey, a path towards a re-union with a supreme creator, with god, with the divine; and this is true no matter how unlikely, how strange, how unorthodox, one’s particular life path might appear to one’s self or others at any given moment.”

Genesis P-Orridge

We chose who we are and represent ourselves often poorly. Not feeling complete within ourselves we need to express ourselves outwardly. The sounds of our creativity speak volumes in our minds yet sound hollow to the ears of the status quo.

What aspect do others understand we do not know. However, our intellect and judgment is only encouraged by those who understand. 

Trivial matters pain me as I lose irreplaceable time. Infuriated as I see the wasted days fade, filed as history. Tomorrow I shall overcome, stepping out into the light and embrace my struggle to be the only thing that matters. Me. 

Associating With Creatives To Expand Your Creative Process

Photo by Michael Competielle

Learning is the beginning of wealth.

Learning is the beginning of health.

Learning is the beginning of spirtuality.

Searching and learning is where the miracle process all begins.

Jim Rohn

You are what you eat and you are who you associate with.

In our lives, we have all forged many relationships based on the circumstances in which we are currently involved. Often these relationships carry on into other aspects of our lives, however, often once the connection is lost, so is the relationship.

I’ve moved on from many a relationship as the connections have diminished. Conversations will be mindless talks about the weather or the past. I can count on one hand the friendships that I still have from high school. Most of those connections weren’t really real and I’ve moved on.

With each new phase of my life and as I explore and expand, the importance of material possessions or accomplishments matter less and less. Emotions and self-expression are more important to me than ever.

Historians bore me if they are living in the past and can’t correlate to the present day. Statisticians are equally humdrum if the stats are the regurgitation of other people’s lives. These aren’t risk-takers, they are averse to taking a risk and therefore boring.

Art Is Life

Most of my greatest friends are creatives. They have painted paintings, written books, molded iron and performed on stage. They have ducked out of social events and forgotten to eat. Lost in their creative conscious creating their art and sharing it with the world.

For us to be creative we need to be inspired as well as in touch with our own thoughts. We work to express ourselves by stepping out into the unknown and taking a chance. Creatives are not judged by their peers, they are judged by those that lack creativity.

“Definition of rock journalism: People who can’t write, doing interviews with people who can’t think, in order to prepare articles for people who can’t read.”

― Frank Zappa, The Real Frank Zappa Book

Years ago I remember meeting a fellow musician on a horse farm who would become my boss, neighbor, and mentor. I started working on the farm and within a few weeks, I moved into my first apartment below the barn manager. He saw me lugging in used furniture, clothing and tons of musical equipment and ran over to help.

“I didn’t realize you were a musician,” he said. “I’m not really, more of a knob turner. Sort of an engineer type.” He replied, “Just like Zappa.”

“Huh, isn’t Zappa a musician?”, I replied. “Yes and so much more,” he said in response.

And down that slippery slope I slide into this new world of engineering, sound design, and creativity.

Every evening after work we would listen to each other’s favorite music and make connections. My beloved Steve Vai had first worked with Zappa having transcribed a ridiculously difficult piece called The Black Page.

He would teach me guitar licks and I would record his. As I learned more about studio trickery I would introduce new and enlightening techniques to the recordings.

Seeing it all come to life

We would head to The Stony Pony to catch Frank Marino and the Mahogany Rush or The Ritz for some Dweezil Zappa.

St. Mark’s Place was a favorite as we would dig through old vinyl hoping to expand our collections and experience new finds. Every modern contemporary my mentor would show me had been inspired by previous works. It was those older works he would encourage me to buy.

You can’t understand Punk if you don’t understand Rock. Rock won’t matter until you learn the Blues. Jazz….you need to understand it all. Mingus, Coltrane, Zappa. They all did Jazz.

Own Your Own Studio

Zappa, Prince, Reznor, and Vai. They all had their own studios. Eno studio is inside his home. A lair for mad scientists as they cross-pollinate new ideas with stolen ones. Stepping further out away from the securities of the status quo. This is where true creativity happens.

My personal studio space is exactly that. Mine and personal. It consists of a culmination of equipment and motivation that allows me to work on my art.

As of late, that has been writing. I really would call it creative writing since I’m not a writer yet I have used it as a creative way to outlet self-expression. With the large volume of articles, I’ve produced the reality hits me on the head frequently (or others remind me) that in fact, I am a writer.

Sources of Inspiration

I’m inspired everywhere I look. Nature inspires me, books inspire me, art inspires me but most of all creative people inspire me. I have hundreds of creative friends that are constantly pushing the envelope expressing themselves. Placing themselves out there, often vulnerable and afraid. It’s with the understanding of how they are feeling that we can respond and provide the security and acceptance of their fears. The fear of being misunderstood.

Artists understand artists and creatives are artists. Shaping the words we read and the images that we see as we embrace the art we love we are embracing the artist for exposing themselves to us so we can attempt to understand.

When I experience new works of art it sparks my creative juices as I become inspired to create. Be it through sound compositions, written text, photographer or just conversation, I love to experience new works and learn from the creators.

Learning About Process

When speaking to creatives I’ll always migrate the conversation towards the process. I’m not actually talking specifically about technique but the creative process. How does an actor fill a roll or how is a sculpture metastasize into a three-dimensional art form? The mind of a creative is the birthplace of all creations. Before pen hits paper or fingers hit keys, the creative mind needs to get into the moment.

Some artists read poetry or listen to music while creating. Others need to experience death or drudgery before they can express dark emotions. So when you place yourself into this sphere of creativity and self-expression, the concepts and knowledge will become a lifeform that will allow you to expand your own craft.

Listening to music I hear ballet, war or disparity. Paintings expose nakedness, sadness, and conjecture. Books expose insecurities and honesty. Photography freezes reality into dreamlike states.

When I’m with creatives I’m on fire, as my speech speeds up and my heart will race. Art is the purest form of self-expression and development. Find your art and find the creatives and your life will take on a new form.

Write Your Own Eulogy And Live That Life

Photo by Michael Competielle

We only have one chance at life. Our time is often wasted with unfulfilling mundane tasks and toxic people. Freeing yourself to live your life to the fullest should be your single most concern.

Over the years I have written a few eulogies. One was incredibly detailed and vibrant as I was able to emphasize the amazing life my friend had lived, however, another eulogy that I wrote was sad and incomplete as I struggled to find where this person’s life goals had been fulfilled.

“He was a great father, son and a harder worker.”

Utter horseshit and if anyway says anything like that at my funeral you have my permission to stab them in the eyeball with your car keys (assuming they still have car keys when I croak, or even cars, or even people for that matter).

My Eulogy

Every day I awaken with the thought “If today is my last, will I have regrets?” The answer is “hell yes” as I’m certain most people would agree. However, it isn’t because I regret the past. The past already happened so I give it the great “bon voyage and fuck off.” We can’t change that shit. What we do control are our present and our future.

I’ve been a son, grandson, father, brother, teacher, student and blah blah fucking blah. Just to be clear nobody cares not even me. What we do care about is the quality of those situations and how we interacted with each person.

An amazing friend once told me of an old proverb “the best day to plant a tree is 20 years ago, or today.” And therefore I daily plant the trees which will grow and nurture my future for as many years as I have left.

My eulogy will list my accomplishments as I work daily to reach them. Writer, philosopher, artist, filmmaker, craftsman, yogi, guru, photographer, pornstar. (I always squeeze that one in as a guy can dream). None of which I’m not working on in some capacity to enrich my life and enlighten everyone I come into contact with.

So my mental eulogy mentions all of these qualities and my backlog of works will be the proof. I will have written books, made more films, written more poetry and become a yogi. How did I get there? I started 20 years ago…or today.

You are reading article number 78 of 100. You are looking at one of over 50k pictures I have guesstimated I’ve taken. Is it my best article or best photo? If I die today it most certainly will be. Is there room for improvement? 100 percent and that’s what I work on daily.

You Are Writing Your Eulogy Everyday

I make it an important part of my day to randomly stop and ask colleagues, friends, coworkers, and family the most important question of them all. The only thing that actually matters. “How do you feel?” It floors most people and the first time or two you often get lame answers. “Fine”. How about fine isn’t fucking good enough. Ask me how I’m doing. Anyone that knows me knows that “I’m living the dream”. Am I? You bet your ass I am. Why you ask.

Because I work daily on my own personal development and goals. I’m going to get to where I need to be because I’ve designed my destiny. Do I have specific plans? Nope. I don’t generally do the same things twice. If I do I modify the sequence and mix it up. I don’t make concrete plans, I don’t follow rules and I read directions backward. Why? Because I like to see what direction the path takes me.

My eye is on the prize as I’m working diligently to learn, develop, create and just breathe. Life is what we make it. Shit is going to happen however if you are on a specific course, you can modify and adjust as your goals have already been set.

If it all ends today, so be it. It’s out of my control, however, when you hear my eulogy there won’t be a question that I was everything I had hoped to be. Possibly just a little sapling in the shadows of the future me that never will have the chance to materialize, but I’ll be damned if I don’t daily fertilizer myself with the beliefs I’ll get there. Some how..some day.

If it all ends today I’ll see the rest of you rebels in hell. Man will I have some stories to tell you. And if we live on realize we are still headed to the same place but my backlog of stories will continue to be mounting.

Today is the best day of my life and today I’m Living the Dream.

Michael Competielle

Stop Asking The Wrong Questions Trying To Get The Right Answers

Photo by Michael Competielle

We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them 

Albert Einstein

The quest for knowledge and finding solutions to problems is a lifelong endeavor. We start off young and ignorant to the outside world as we begin to experience life and its many obstacles. As a child, we often would ask the question “why?” With anticipation the answers to the question are simple. 

As we become older it is assumed that we become wiser. We believe it is through education and experiences however some people we recognize truly excel. They have all of the answers and have risen to the top, riding that wave of life. 

Why is it these certain people always have the answers and seem to be fulfilled while you feel hollow and empty? What makes a brilliant mind? I’d say a great thinker.

On determining the proper question If I had an hour to solve a problem and my life depended on the solution, I would spend the first 55 minutes determining the proper question to ask, for once I know the proper question, I could solve the problem in less than five minutes. 

Albert Einstein

Questioning The Question

We all have those people in our lives, you know the people with a hundred questions that never listen to your answer. They just barrel on with more questions not only ignoring your response but answering their own questions with premeditated answers. You’ll see a smile on their face as they walk away feeling contentment. 

As they feel complete and resolved you feel confounded in how little time people spend thinking and more importantly articulating well thought out questions. 

“You can increase your problem-solving skills by honing your question-asking ability.” — Michael J. Gelb

Confucius, Plato, Einstein, Aristotle, Lao Tzu, and Pythagoras were all known to be great thinkers. And all great thinkers ask brilliant questions. 

So why do so many people struggle with asking the right questions? Because they want to hear the answer they already believe

Great Minds Think Like 

Insecure people spend most of their lives attempting to find security. They will surround themselves around the safety net of like-minded people while having conversations that corroborate their insecurities. They’ll feel better asking baited questions which are reciprocated with shallow reassuring answers. 

The questions aren’t really questions as they are just statements of misdirection. As we stand in front of our peers and repeat to questions while awaiting comforting encouragement, we never really receive valid answers. 

Asking questions we already know the answer to does not help in our self-development. Asking for answers to questions we can’t answer ourselves is the first step to enlightenment. 

Answering Our Own Questions

If you have to ask superfluous questions you’ve already lost. Honest assessment and communication within yourself are a perfect opportunity for obtaining truthful answers. Asking someone else “Am I fat?” When you damn well know you are while awaiting the kind emotionally intelligent answer “You? No way, you look amazing” has manipulated the answer you want to hear even though you actually know the answer is false. 

Why bother asking the question? Does the artificial dopamine rush from a manipulative lie actually make you feel better? Nope. You know you are overweight and out of shape. So how to get to the right answers? Ask the right questions. Simple right?

What Are The Right Questions

Okay, you recognize you’re out of shape. Diets and exercise cause you anxiety. As you make a mental list of options you know won’t work you triangulate onto a possible solution you believe could work. Now reask your question. 

“I’m overweight and out of shape. I was thinking of taking a yoga class and try a new juicing diet. What do you think?”

Honest questions yield honest answers and you are well on your way there. Every day I ask myself questions and attempt to give myself honest answers. When I hit a question I can’t answer or I need to expand on a theory I’ll formulate a well-articulated question that can easily be answered with little objectivity. 

Asking Why

When we are in touch with our thoughts and processed the information to a point where we feel we fully understand things the most valuable question is that of the child. Why?

Why do I have to go to work? Why am I maintaining this toxic relationship? Why am I wasting my time making others happy? Why do I not get satisfaction from (insert statement here.)

As I’m designing my future my time is spent accessing current situations and asking “Why?” When the answer is clear and concise I continue to follow the existing path. However, when the answer is met with murky waters and frustration, I move far away from those scenarios. My life has aligned with a clearer path to fulfillment as my questions are easily answered with two words.

Why?…. For Me….

Finding Creativity By Associating With Creatives In Creative Places

Photo by Michael Competielle

Chelsea is a neighborhood in New York City which is home to a vibrant community of creatives. With a huge stock of art galleries, brownstones, and old industrial buildings Chelsea has been a destination for artists, writers, and musicians for over 100 years.

One of the most prominent buildings in Chelsea’s creative enclave is the Chelsea Hotel. Built-in 1885 on New York’s 23rd Street is the red brick 250 unit hotel building which stands 12 stories tall and was one of the first buildings constructed to become private Co-op apartments in New York City. A utopia for creatives and work class alike the co-op would share in utilities and amenities to conserve costs.

Photo by Michael Competielle

In 1905 the co-op went bankrupt and the building was converted into a luxury hotel that attracted many famous guests. In the post-war ’40s into the ’50s the hotel was showing its age and room rates dropped. The hotel continued to attract the likes of Jackson Pollack and Dylan Thomas who spent his final days living in room #205 of the Chelsea while sickly and on a drinking binge. He died while in a coma in the local St. Vincent’s hospital.

The Chelsea Hotel describes itself as “a rest stop for rare individuals,” a euphemism that still manages to pass the truth-in-advertising test if you take “rare individuals” to mean artists and addicts, and rest stop to mean possible death. Legends of The Chelsea Hotel

Photo by Michael Competielle

Apartments Available

Pulitzer Prize-winning Arthur Miller moved into apartment #614 after his divorce with Marilyn Monroe.

Leonard Cohen wrote “Chelsea Hotel #2” after his romantic encounters with Janis Joplin in room #415. He lived in room #424.

Bob Dylan stayed in room #211 while he wrote the song “Sara” for his first wife.

Sex Pistols Sid Vicious stabbed his girlfriend Nancy Spungen in room #100.

Club Kid Christina lived and died in room #323. Her body was discovered 5 days after her death.

Andy Warhol film The Chelsea Girls in room #442

Photo by Michael Competielle
Andy Warhol’s Auricon 16mm sound-on-film camera with 1200′ film magazine

Jon Bon Jovi wrote the song and filmed the music video for “Midnight at the Chelsea” in room #515

Madonna took the photographs for her book “Sex” in room #822

Writer Thomas Wolfe spent the last few years of his life in room #829

Patti Smith lived in room #1017 with Photographer Robert Mapplethorpe

Brilliant Works

Arthur C. Clarke wrote 2001: A Space Odyssey

William Burroughs wrote The Third Mind and Naked Lunch

Arthur Miller wrote After the Fall 

Dylan Thomas wrote Under Milk Wood 

Yves Klein wrote his Chelsea Hotel Manifesto

Joseph O’Neill wrote Netherland

Thomas Wolfe wrote You Can’t Go Home Again

If Walls Could Talk

The walls of the Chelsea Hotel were adorned with original photographs and paintings by many famous artists. In the later years, the hotel functioned as an artist flophouse as the rent was often paid with artworks. Stanley Bard was the hotel’s manager known to be lax on rents allowed artists to live and create often for years.

Drunk or high Chelsea’s occupants would stumble through her hallways, hiding from their own realities. The walls having witnessed brilliant talents and agonizing pain.

Photo by Michael Competielle

A Renewed Life

The Chelsea Hotel was purchased in 2011 for $80 million by the real-estate developer  Joseph Chetrit and stopped taking room reservations on August 1, 2011. Long term residents were allowed to stay during the renovations as many were protected by rent control laws, however, the construction made the building a health hazard and many residents were forced to move out.

Photo by Michael Competielle

While protected by Landmarks of New York one would hope the fabric and spirit of the Chelsea will remain. Sadly the juxtaposition of the arts and environment has sadly died with the closure of the building and the redevelopment is certain to keep out the artists and writers that made her famous.

Building A New Brand Must Consider It’s Environmental Impact

Photo by Michael Competielle

Walking into a Starbucks one afternoon I ordered a Dragon drink. Paying with the cashless and paperless app I awaited the calling of my name. When my order was up I walked up to the counter and grabbed my drink and thanked the barista. 

Heading out the door I stopped to grab a straw and noticed the only offering was a plastic straw. Immediately I was disappointed and a bit pissed off. How could a large coffee shop like Starbucks get it so wrong?

I did a quick Google search and realized they indeed did have a global initiative to replace plastic straws with recyclable lids by 2020. Why a year to stop ordering plastic straws and start using recyclable lids is beyond me but it’s a start.

I began to think about my local favored coffee shop who replaced paper straws with the plastic lids. I just happened one day and they moved on. They only two locations versus 30,000 and it made me think of a McDonald’s documentary I once watched in which it takes years for them to roll out a new product line.  Their mass got in the way.

New Brands Must Start Right

Working with a new startup as Brand Designer I’ve placed myself into a strategic position for the future of the Brand and therefore the companies lifespan. 

I’ve spent far less time researching or designing the perfect logo or tagline in favor of determining the brand’s identity. With the average life expectancy of a company diminished to only a dozen or so years, priorities must be set properly during the formative years of a brand. 

Trends come and go and successful company brands ride the wave of trends while learning how to maintain market share and positive growth. As a new startup, we have the luxury to fill a void in our market and make a large impact by trendsetting and not following the existing market. 

Forecasting out with a 5-year projection on product and brand decisions we can recognize the decisions made today are representative of where the company will stand in 5 years. Short term goals while ignoring there impact on the companies future are carving a path to failure. 

As I research brands and products I love and use, I’ve recognized these are lifestyle brands. Products that make up the fabric of my personal identity and align with my vision of the perfect life. 

Environment and sustainability top my list as does a brands status of how the treat their employees. With corporate giants swallowing up large mark shares of companies whose original mission was quality and convert them into profit centers at the expense of the environment and staff we have created a downward spiral, racing to the bottom.

100 Percent Sustainable 

The core of our new brand is to be 100 percent sustainable. In our design meetings, we will hit many roadblocks as we see voids in our market which lacks environmentally conscious products. As we have been developing our corporate initiatives and drawn lines in the sand we are now seeing an open field ripe for growth. The products that currently doesn’t exist allows us an opportunity to make them. 

The narrative of our story of how we began and how far we have come is inspiring. We have great distances to strive for however seeing our ecosystem of a brand in our 5-year projection has become clear. 

Why We Will Prosper

Sales and trends aren’t guaranteed. They come and go based on the latest Instagram tag. We won’t be a copy that will survive but a company that thrives based on one simple belief. We believe in our people

Sitting on an hourlong train ride into NYC I was deeply immersed in a conversation with a colleague. He felt everyone on the train looked like cattle headed for slaughter. I gave him the answer that is the qualification for success. 

These people didn’t wake up and say I’m going to do a horrible job today. They didn’t get dressed up and say I’m going to be angry and depressed all day. Those things happened due to environment. Corporate culture that has extinguished their spark. Believe in your people and empower them to build with you the lifestyle you want to live…. And they will. 

Appreciating Life By Celebrating The Dead

Photo by Michael Competielle

“There are three deaths: the first is when the body ceases to function.  The second is when the body is consigned to the grave.  The third is that moment, sometime in the future, when your name is spoken for the last time.”

An excerpt from Sum: Forty Tales from the Afterlives by David Eagleman

Breathing is life. When a child is born there is that sudden moment when they leave the safety of the womb and take that first breath. Irregular and short until their lungs fill with air, an essential requirement for life.

We hardly remember our first breath and fear the taking of our last and so therefore somewhere in between, we need to recognize the ever precious gift of life.

As I sit here and write I question my mortality and attempt to determine am I living life to my fullest potential? Listening to the words at my eulogy will it be said that I lived a fulfilling life? And what of my legacy? My children. My life’s work. Will it matter and shall it be remembered?

You can’t quit until you try
You can’t live until you die
You can’t learn to tell the truth until you learn to lie

Can’t breathe until you choke
You gotta laugh when you’re the joke
There’s nothing like a funeral to make you feel alive

Songwriters: Darren Jay Ashba / James Michael / Nikki Sixx
Life Is Beautiful lyrics © Warner Chappell Music, Inc, Downtown Music Publishing
Photo by Michael Competielle

Many people I know are only half living. Their motions not dissimilar to a zombie on The Walking Dead. Lacking the ability to communicate honestly, living life vicariously through an Instagram feed.

Snapshots in time that will fade away if our experiences don’t promote a fulfillment to living. Our minds worry about what our friends will think, say and Tweet. #youralreadydead.

I’m not going to suggest I’m perfect as I am a work in progress. Sort of like pushing a boulder uphill, I’m advancing at a slow yet steady pace. Just like anyone else the second I stop pushing I run the risk of being crushed by that boulder. My own personal adjustments improve daily as I push myself forward, step by step.

Photo by Michael Competielle

Imagine you’re on a beautiful beach and you need to arrive at a spot far away in the distance. You can jump into your car and drive there. Expedient yet why the rush? What did you loose by speeding along that beach? The smell of the ocean, the feeling of the seas salts on your skin and in your hair, the radiating warmth of the beautiful sun.

Time wasted or time served? When I question where it is I’m going and how quickly I need to get there it is often daunting. Now image you had to write the narrative of the experience. Could you? Would you be able to tell an engaging story certain to inspire?

Life isn’t about the destination, it’s about the journey.

Imagine the destination is our death, and there we sit at the Day of Reckoning and retell the story of our journey. What would you have to say? Have you lived and loved and suffered?

I’m inspired by living while stacking the decks preparing for my death. I’ll breathe in deep and embrace the freshness of the air. The changing of the seasons I embrace and recognize and hope to see more.

With the passage of time I find I need to reassess my daily activities. What could I have spent more time enjoying and what could I move on from. The modern convenience of dishwashers and washing machines has changed who we are and how we function. Those activities used to be done collectively amongst family members and that time would also be spent in conversation.

Recently I wrote about writing memoirs and as I think back I’m not really that interested in pursuing the idea. Better yet to create an inspiring and engaging body of work. From films to photography to creative writing daily I’m working on my legacy. When I’m dead maybe no one will ever really care about my works however, I realize it’s a requirement for me to live.

As I reflect back on the bodies of work created by my influences I see a pattern. Each one started nowhere yet they pushed themselves to create masterpieces, and they lived, even to this day.

RIP David Bowie, Nikola Tesla, Stanley Kubrick, Ernest Hemmingway, Prince, Sun Tzu, General George Patton. May your names be uttered forever.