In my 1,000th performance in my 50th state on my 32nd birthday, I shared the journey of what it was like to live as a nomad, why I did it, and what I learned from the experience.

A big shout-out to Civil Beat in Honolulu for letting me tell this story and for putting on an incredible storytelling event.

To learn more about the journey, check out my other travel posts.

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butt sketch artist

Do you think you can be anything you want to be, as long as you set your mind to it? I didn’t used to think so. I mean, people are limited by education, environment, and circumstance.

And then I saw something, or rather someone, who changed my mind.

The Butt Sketch Artist

I was sitting at the closing event of the Women’s Foodservice Forum in Dallas, TX. Earlier that day I had delivered two breakout sessions to 400 aspiring women leaders on the topic of humor in the workplace and was now celebrating the end of the incredible conference.

To my left was a VP of Coca-Cola. She was telling us the story of those “Japanese coke machines” that allow you to pick any flavor you want that in no way started in Japan. To my right, was a VP of Starbucks. She had recently helped improve the food selection that sits in those glass cases along with the delicious marble loaf.

In the middle was a very distracted me. Despite our interesting conversation and the fact that these were two very powerful women to know with regards to business, I couldn’t help but focus on what was happening directly across from our table:

A man stood drawing on a white easel. One woman posed off to the left. A line of ten women stood off to the right, awaiting their turn. The man was not a caricaturist, nor was he a painter, but he was an artist, specifically of drawing women’s backsides.

For each volunteer, the Bob Ross of Butts would give a warm greeting, turn them around, and then help them pose in a fashion to accentuate the lines of their tookus. He would then sketch their butt, sign his name, and and give the drawing to his butt subject. The process took one to two minutes and then the next volunteer would step up.

I was fascinated. A butt sketch artist. I had never heard of such a thing. Immediately I wondered: how did this all come to be?

I’ve dwelled on this a lot since then and have come up with three theories:

1) Failed caricaturist.

My first thought was that he was a failed caricature artist. I imagined he went through art school and was decently talented but he could never draw faces. Like he’d get the frame right but then butcher the nose or draw the eyes lopsided. Eventually he said screw it and drew what he was good at: curves.

2) Artistic integrity.

My second theory was that he was actually incredible at drawing faces, so good, that he would include the blemishes and flaws of his clients to the point of insulting them with his accuracy. The only way he could get around making his clients happy while not offending his integrity as an artist was to turn them around.

3) Passion to profit.

My third, and what I considered the most likely theory, was that he had recently attended a motivational seminar. In it, the speaker asked, “What are you most passionate about? Find a way to make money doing it.” The guy thought to himself, “I like looking at butts. How can I profit from that?”

Like most businesses, I’m sure he started with a few ideas that wouldn’t work. Create Yelp for butts? Too offensive. Become a casting director for Victoria Secret? Too hard to get into. Do caricatures but instead of drawing faces, draw butts? Perfect.

Part of me wishes I had gone up to the man and asked him how he started his business. Part of me thinks the speculation is way more fun. All of me wishes I had gotten in line to get my own butt drawn.

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best of 2015

I do a lot in a year. I eat a lot of food, drink a lot of milkshakes, and generally find enjoyable ways to spend my  525,600 minutes. Here are the best of those moments. (See previous bestofs here.)

Best Achievement – Visiting 47 States

OK, technically this achievement was not on the goals list at the beginning of the year… but I think the fact that I visited (and spoke or performed in) 47 states is quite impressive. And when you add West Virginia, North Carolina, and Hawaii which I’ll get to by February 11, I’ll have hit all 50 states in a 12 month time period.

Runner-Up: 107 speaking / coaching / training engagements

Best Personal Development – Writing More Stories

A by-product of my nomadic travels (see below) has been that I’ve been more conscious of the stories happening in my life. By searching for “story worthy” moments, it’s helped me better appreciate the experiences I’ve had, whether they be the not-at-all kidnapping of Italy or a Walmart Parking Lot in Maine.

Runner-Up: Allowing myself to relax

Best Business Decision – Going to the National Speakers Association Conference

The NSA Conference in 2015 was a great event for me. Not only did I present to fellow speakers and find success, I also met with a bureau (thanks to an event I did at P&G) that has started to represent me. I also met some pretty awesome people.

Runner-Up: Going Nomadic

Best Personal Decision – Going Nomadic

Since March 1, 2015, I’ve been a corporate nomad. I’ve lived out of two bags and have traveled to 47 states and 7 countries. While I’ve certainly missed having a homebase, the experiences of traveling have far outweighed any challenges of being on the road. Having an awesome friends in so many places doesn’t hurt either.

Runner-Up: Staying in Touch

Best Speaking Engagement – AIN 2015

I spoke at a lot of events in 2015 and enjoyed every single one of them. However none were as enjoyable as presenting to my fellow applied improviser in the beautiful setting of the AIN Conference 2015. I did two sessions, and based on the feedback, they both went very well. You can also now see my talk in improvising conversations online.

Runners-Up: Procter & Gamble, OSU Young Alumni, General Assembly

Best Personal Performance – Throckmorton

Thanks to a great connection, I was able to perform in the 200+ seat Throckmorton Theater in the Bay Area. It was a great lineup of performers and I got to do a mix of stand-up and a cliche bit I’ve been working for over a year on. Based on the audience reaction, during and after, it was well received.

Runner-Up: ComedySportz in New York, San Antonio, Seattle, Richmond, Boston, Philadelphia, Chicago, Quad Cities, Provo, Twin Cities, Detroit, Los Angeles, Portland, Indianapolis, Sacramento, and Houston.

Best Travel – 17 State Road Trip 

A year of being a Nomad is likely to lead to some incredible journeys. From my awesome adventures in Norway to great moments in Ohio, I had a phenomenal year of travel. But my favorite part of the journey was the 17 State Road Trip I went on with my brother. It started with my ComedySportz family in Illinois and ended with my real family in Ohio, and I visited 17 states along the way.

Runners-Up: Norway, Grand Canyon, Multiple New York Trips

Best New Restaurant – Sandy’s Donuts

According to Foursquare, I checked into 830 places in 2015, a majority of them restaurants. I’ve had some interesting concoctions in some interesting locations, but the one I keep telling people about is the Smores donut I had from Sandy’s Donuts in Fargo, North Dakota.

Runner-Up: Dognvill Burger, Plan Check

Best New Food – Chicken Alfredo Burrito

Some might see Chicken Alfredo pasta wrapped in a burrito with added cheese and think “Why?” The folks at La Parilla think, “Why not?” So I tried it. And no it wasn’t the most amazing thing that I ate the entire year, it was definitely the most indulgent from an American standpoint. And it was delicious.

Runner-Up: Bunny Bites

Best Live Show – ComedySportz World Championship 2015

Can the best live show I saw be one that I was in? Well it is. The ComedySportz World Championship 2015 versus Quad Cities was such an incredibly fun match to play in, and it went down to the wire for the winning team (Quad Cities). It was great to participate in but even better to watch.

Runner-Up: Honey at SF Improv Festival

Best Movie (I Saw) – Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Were there things that could be improved? Yes. Did it have some similarities to A New Hope? Yes. Was it the movie I was most excited to see and thoroughly entertained in the entire time? Yes.

Runner-Up: Straight Outta Compton

Best TV Show (I Watched) – Daredevil 

Since I didn’t really read much last year, I decided to add a type of media I did consume a lot: TV. And not in the traditional sense, but more in the Netflix and binge variety. For me, my favorite show of the year was Daredevil. It’s superhero meets grungy detective show which is a great combo for me.

Runner-Up: Archer

Best Tweet – Efficiency

While I’ve selected my 20 best tweets from 2015, here’s my favorite of the year:

Efficiency should be a one syllable word.

There you have it, my Best of the Best from 2015. See you next year!

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best tweets 2015

2015 was another down year for Twitter for me with only 114 tweets (compared to 123 last year and 323 the year before). Overall it led to 61,452 impressions, 135 retweets, and 221 likes (aka the new favorites).

Here are my Top 20 Tweets of 2015:

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A talk I gave at the AIN Conference 2015 on how I use improv to converse with other humans.

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A 5-minute set I did at The Stand in NYC.

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must have travel apps

Traveling can be stressful. There’s planning to be done, pictures to be taken, social media to be shared, and relaxation to be had.

Here’s a list of the apps I use to make that all easier:

Travel Planning

The most important travel app for me Google Maps, followed closely by the combo of Foursquare / Swarm (though I’m still not entirely sure why they separated the two).

Foursquare allows me to check out what’s good in a new city and gives me personalized recommendations based on what I like, and Swarm allows me to remember where I’ve actually been.

The full list of travel apps include:

  1. Google Maps – For figuring out how to get to where I want to go. (Android | iOS)
  2. Foursquare – For personalized recommendations of what to see / eat in a new city. (Android | iOS)
  3. Swarm – For checking in so I can remember all of the places I’ve been. (Android | iOS)
  4. Trip Advisor – For finding the super popular things to do and get some tips on how to make it better. (Android | iOS)
  5. Orbitz – For checking out the prices and availability of hotels and booking flights. (Android | iOS)
  6. AirBNB – For finding a local spot to stay in. (Android | iOS)
  7. Budget – For getting a rental car when needed. (Android | iOS)

Social Connectedness

Even if you are anti-social websites, social apps are vital to staying connected with friends and family while traveling the world. Facebook is still probably the top dog (mostly because the majority of my friends and family are connected there) but I only use the mobile site and not the app. Instagram has also been a lot of fun for me.

The full list of Social Apps include:

  1. Facebook – For staying connected with people and serving as a hub for all of my other social media. (Android | iOS)
  2. Whatsapp – For chatting with people from other countries and avoiding texting fees. (Android | iOS)
  3. Twitter – For making jokes and reaching out to people I wouldn’t otherwise be able to contact. (Android | iOS)
  4. Instagram – For sharing “1,000 words” in a single image of what I’m up to. (Android | iOS)
  5. LinkedIn – For making business connections and finding additional engagements while I’m traveling. (Android | iOS)
  6. Snapchat – For silly quick jokes with friends. (Android | iOS)

Productivity

Being on the move means that you have to learn to be productive on your phone as you won’t always have the luxury of your laptop right in front of you. Evernote is the supreme king when it comes to Productivity Apps because it basically serves as my memory.

The full list of Productivity Apps include:

  1. Evernote – For capturing all of my thoughts, including training outlines, meeting notes, and blog post drafts (like this one!). (Android | iOS)
  2. Perfct Day – For tracking my daily habits. (Perfct Day is currently private beta, launching soon!)
  3. Tasker – For automating certain tasks to free me from unnecessary key strokes and app selection. A future post will share some of my top automations. (Android | iOS not available)
  4. Gmail – For getting through the slog of the minimally productive business necessity of eletronic mail. (Android | iOS)
  5. Trello – For capturing todo lists in a Agile-like method (I’m still working on using this well). (Android | iOS)
  6. Dropbox – For accessing presentations and proposals on my phone for review. (Android | iOS)
  7. 7M Workout – For a “it’s better than nothing” workout when you’re short on time and space. (Android | iOS)

Fun and Relaxation

All work and no play made me very stressed out. There are some great apps for strategically disengaging, including my favorite, Word Mix, a fun word game that makes you feel like you’re maybe-kinda-learning something?

The full list of Fun and Relaxation Apps include:

  1. Word Mix – A scrambled letter game where you find all the words. (Android | iOS)
  2. Quora – For reading / answering questions that make you feel semi-productive. (Android | iOS)
  3. Amazon Kindle – For catching up on business books or the occasional fictional tale. (Android | iOS)
  4. Pocket – For reading long-form articles that sometimes make you feel smart. (Android | iOS)
  5. Dots – For mindless creation of squares to try to get points. (Android | iOS)

I’m sure there are a few other apps that I use but none on a regular basis. Have an app you enjoy? Let me know so I can check it out!

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walmart parking lot

11 May 2015. Somewhere outside of Portland, ME

I awoke at 06:30 in the morning. It wasn’t the most restful sleep I’d ever had, but that’s somewhat expected when you are sleeping in a Walmart parking lot in a Ford Fiesta.

I had done a standup show in Montpelier, VT the night before and had driven through state of New Hampshire on my way to Maine, and decided to stay the night in my rental car. I certainly could have gotten a hotel room, but I was curious about what the “car in a parking lot” experience was like. That and it did save me a bit of money.

I had done a little bit of research online before attempting the non-luxurious slumber, at least enough to learn that Walmarts were among the most popular car-sleeping destinations. They’re typically a safe spot to set up car camp as they’re regularly patrolled and have a policy that allows for overnight stays.

Despite my research, I had made a couple of rookie mistakes, the biggest being that I had forgotten to confirm that the Walmart was of the 24 hour variety. This one wasn’t.

I had been surprisingly productive before going to bed. Thanks to the mobile hotspot on my T-Mobile plan, I was able to send emails and catch up on a few things that I’d missed during the day because of all of the driving.

Around midnight, I looked up for my work just in time to see some employees locking the front doors to customers. I hadn’t brushed my teeth yet and needed to use the bathroom, so I had to start the car and find a nearby gas station.

Once arriving at the gas station I decided to skip the “brushing my teeth part” for the night as it somehow felt dirtier to open my mouth in the bathroom than just letting the night go by without a rinse.

I finished up and headed back to the Walmart parking lot, trying to find a spot that was reasonably away from other vehicles, not too directly under a light, but also not so far away that it was easily accessed by creatures of the night.

I had woken up a few times in the night to turn the car on briefly to get the air going a little bit, crack the window some, change positions, use my hoodie as a blanket, throw it off as a blanket, try it as a pillow, try other things as a pillow, etc. But in between those moments I actually got some rest. Again, not the most restful of sleeps but it did seem to suffice.

In the morning, as the sun shined through the windows, I awoke. I got out of my car/hotel room and made my way into the now open Walmart so I could brush my teeth, go to the bathroom, and grab a box a Pop Tarts for breakfast.

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