Topher Fangio


Defining Happiness

Today, I read an excellent article from Matt Madeiro about happiness that asked us to answer the following two questions:

  1. What is your definition of happiness?

  2. Are you there yet? Do you fit that description?

So today, I'm going to take just a moment and answer those questions.

What is my definition of happiness?

My life has changed a lot over the last few months which has given me the opportunity to think about this question more than most people. I'm not sure I can completely quantify it in a simple statement, but here goes:

"Happiness for me is living my life on my own terms."

Now, let me elaborate a bit. I have recently begun taking on some side jobs and I've been really fortunate in that I have received more interest than I expected. I have actually had to turn down a few clients because I simply don't have the time for them. In particular, I've been able to pick and choose the clients that I really want to work with. Taking on these side jobs has also allowed me the flexibility to work where I want, when I want. For example: I'm beginning to rediscover my love for coffee shops since I can stay for a few hours and actually get paid for it.

One point I want to stress here though: living life on my own terms is not about doing what I want, when I want, how I want.

In the past, I've had the freedom to make choices, to make commitments, and to live life how I wanted. Sometimes, those past choices conflict with what I want to do right now. Happiness isn't about always getting what you want; that would be ludicrous! It's about having the freedom to make your own choices, and follow through with them. There will always be trade-offs, but the ability to choose those things which will bring you more happiness in the long run is one of the greatest of freedoms.

Lastly, living life on my own terms is about being able to work towards my ultimate goal. It's okay if I'm not exactly where I want to be, as long as I am able to do things that get me closer to it. I love to learn and to grow, so I'm honestly not sure if I'll ever be where I want, but I am happy knowing that I am working towards it.

This brings me to the second question.

Am I there yet? Do I fit that description?

The last year has really helped me shift my attitude. I now know that I can achieve what I want. I know that eventually, I will own my own business and be able to work from wherever my wife and I decide to be. I know that if I don't reach my goals, it's my own fault; and that sometimes that's okay.

Humans are an interesting race; the world changes so quickly around us, and in general, we accept that change, yet we're not ready to really change ourselves. Change our priorities. Change our views of what we want out of life.

Now, I'm not one for being wishy-washy or not having some long-term goals, but too often, I find myself clinging to something that I don't actually care about anymore! An unfinished book that I know the ending to. A project that won't change the world, but I feel like I have to finish. A blog that I want to read, even though I'd rather be writing and building up my own.

So, in the last year, I've begun to try a new technique (and pardon the use of a phrase that is bouncing around the blogosphere): do more of what I love, and less of what I don't.

If there is something that is weighing me down...and I don't have to do it, I don't! I let it slide, and I focus on the stuff that I do want to do. The stuff that I really enjoy. The stuff that makes me jump inside and come alive!

It's been fun, and a bit surreal, to feel this transition.

So, am I there yet? Am I where I want to be?


But I am getting closer and closer each day; and for me, that is what brings happiness.


Yay! I'm a "published" "artist"!

A few weeks ago, Matt Madeiro sent out a call on Twitter asking for artists to contribute to his next free e-book: Happiness Is. I was ecstatic about the idea of doing some art and it just so happened that I had a bit of time on my hands one evening, so I picked an idea off of his list and got started with some sketches.

Don't mind the math...I was concerned about the environment and reusing paper...or something like that.

Anyway, this has been a fantastic experience! From start to finish, I really enjoyed getting back into drawing and getting a bit out of my comfort zone. It's also pretty cool to be included amongst some really great artists in the book!

Below is my original drawing, and I sent him a very slightly revised version that faded nicely into a white background.

I was fairly pleased with myself, and thought I had done a decent job! Then, last night, Matt sent out an e-mail to say thank you, and provide us with a preview copy of the book. The other art work was so good! My dreams of becoming a true artist were dashed! not really. I don't even really have dreams of becoming an artist, but I did realize that my work wasn't as great as it could have been, and I felt compelled to spend a bit more time with it.

I sat down and started cleaning up some edges in Photoshop, and began coloring all of the different pieces. I figured this process would take me an hour or so, and then I'd move on with my day. I was only half-wrong; it took about two hours, but it was a fun two hours :-)

So, below I give you the final product!

I am really grateful to Matt for putting together such an awesome project and allowing us to be a part of it! His work is top-notch, and the book is an excellent read! The art is wonderful, and the text is comical and yet so true.

So please take a moment to go experience this awesome creation and to say thanks for reminding us of the little things that make us happy!


Coming Soon: Something...Primal

fight photo by scottjlowe

Right now is a very exciting time for me!

I'm starting to embrace a more primal lifestyle all around. From food and health, to how I view the world around me, I'm trying to bring out the primate in myself.

I'm also working on redesigning my blog via "live updates" meaning that what you see is the current state. I'm working on the redesign, though, because I'm getting ready to launch a new site (and eventually a series of sites) and I want them to look similar enough that users don't feel lost when switching between the two.

But I'm most excited about this: I had a fantastic software product idea on Tuesday morning around 2:45 am when I couldn't sleep. I won't go into the details, but suffice it to say that you should be getting the primal picture by reading this very primal post. It should be coming very soon.

I'm super excited to get the ball rolling with this! But I need your help!

The Problem: I'm going to use LaunchRock to get some feedback about interest and get some super early beta testers to help me launch via a very iterative process. Unfortunately, LaunchRock is still in beta too!

The Solution: I need you to click this link to help me get a beta invite. That's really it! Just click it and help me out!

If you're interested in creating your own launch page, then signing up for a beta invite will also help me out. If you do, leave a comment, and I'll help you get started in whatever way I can!

Thanks for the help guys and gals!



Lessons Learned From a Failed Job Interview

The latest US labor statistics show that nearly 14,000,000 Americans are currently unemployed and looking for jobs. If we assume that 25% are actively looking for jobs, and doing roughly 1.5 interviews per week, that means that there are roughly 5,250,000 interviews in any given week.

Have you ever had an interview that didn't go quite as you expected?

This past Wednesday, I had an interview that felt doomed from the start. Like a lone Chihuahua pitted against an army of German Shepherds; I didn't do as well as I had hoped.

But even with the sadness and disappointment that comes from such a massive lack of performance, I still had a great time and enjoyed the overall trip. And I even learned a few lessons along the way.

Click to read more ...


A Long Time Ago...

Golden Gate Bridge 2009-05-16-7
Photo Courtesy of Galileo55

Have you ever started a project, then looked back months or even years later to realize that you hadn't ever finished that project?

I fear that has been the fate of this blog.

I started with such good and noble intentions of multiple posts per week; engaging content; awesome pictures; and anything else that would make this site outstanding.

Then life hit me like a Mack truck travelling 100 miles per hour.

So what do you do?

Keep on Trucking

If there's one thing that I've learned from Nerd Fitness, it's to never give up. Always level up your life a little bit each day.

Even though my blog has fallen by the wayside, I've been advancing my skills in coding, management, and business by what I would consider leaps and bounds. I've been learning so much, and attempting to be useful to others in ways I haven't had much time to do (such as open source projects).

Due to some of these attempts, I've apparently been noticed...

I'm ecstatic to announce that I will be travelling to California next week for an interview at a fairly large company (no not that one)! I'm not sure what will come of it, but I'm extremely excited for the potential, and very grateful for the opportunity.

Level Up Each Day

So, in the spirit of new beginnings, I'm going to do my best to start posting more regularly to my blog. Look for tons of pictures next week! I can't wait to see San Francisco!

I intend to create a separate blog for my coding-related posts, so this blog will focus mainly on my own personal experiences and life lessons.

I hope that you will join me on my journey, and I hope that I can make a positive impact on your life.

So I'll leave you with the following question: How can I do it? How can I make a positive impact upon your life?

Leave a comment below!

P.S. If any of you are in the San Francisco area, I'd love to meet up with you next week! Just use my contact form to shoot me an e-mail and I'll get back to you ASAP!