Enjoying the flexibility of my new career at Arches

It was two years ago this month that Bulbstorm was acquired, finally freeing me to set up shop as an independent marketing consultant.

I tried to escape the 9-to-5 world twice before. Both of those attempts blew up on the launch pad. Two years in, this one seems to have reached orbit.


I’m celebrating the anniversary by meandering through southeastern Utah. Two nights at Natural Bridges National Monument. Two nights at Arches National Park. And two nights wherever the wind takes me.

The colors of Southeast Utah are amazing. In a single view, one can pan down from clear blue skies past snow-tipped purple mountains to red, orange, and earth-toned arches and rock formations dotted with dark green junipers.

Happy anniversary indeed!

yoga at arches national park

Enjoying my flexibility at Arches National Park. Flexibility! Get it?!

The Way of the Solopreneur

I define solopreneur as anyone who runs his own business without intending to hire employees. There’s a lot to like about being a solopreneur. The most obvious benefit is that you’re the boss. You make the rules.

An overlooked benefit is just that. Benefits.

Corporate perks are one size fits all. A Friday afternoon beer cart. A discounted gym membership. Bagels and benefits. There’ll be some variability in health plans, but if you don’t have a pet then that pet insurance subsidy is useless.

As a solopreneur, you choose your own adventure. Maybe you want to work from home instead of an office. Maybe you prefer to work only with companies with a conscious mission. I truly believe that a solopreneur should get more out of it than just not having a boss. It’s too hard and too risky otherwise.

For me, being a solopreneur has been all about summers off and the ability to work from anywhere that has Wi-Fi. Did you know that there’s Wi-Fi in Yosemite National Park? Sure, I pay 100 percent of my health insurance costs. But, yeah, benefits rule.

(I wrote more about my life as a solopreneur – including how I decide what to charge, how many hours per week I work, and more – at Scott’s Marketplace.)

sunset at Arches National Park

Enjoying my Ed Abbey moment at sunset in Skyline Arch.

End of an Era?

And, yet, I wonder if this way of life is threatened by, well, opportunity. My first Meander’s rallying cry was: No girl. No gig. Just the road. But the times, they are a changin’.

On the gig side of things, I recently doubled down on my commitment to the amazing Aly Saxe. I was already the part-time sales guy for her PR firm. Now I’m the part-time digital marketing guy for her software startup. That’s enough hours to make a big meander a little tricky.

On the girl side of things, I haven’t heard from my last lady friend since October. We had a complicated on-and-off relationship but I think six months is enough time to finally declare the patient dead. So, I’m looking … and, for the first time in a long time, I kinda like what I see.

With two epic summers and a number of amazing mini-meanders like Utah behind me, could the meandering phase of my life be nearing an end? Could it finally be time to take what I’ve learned sans girl and sans gig and apply it to life with girl and with gig?


Then again, while I was in Utah, I heard the high in Tempe hit 90 degrees. In early March. Ummm, yeah. Ask me again in June …

NM. LOL. I’m not meandering this summer.

I walk outside. It’s hot. Damn hot. I remember the one (count ‘em, one!) triple-digit day of last summer’s Meander in Nevada City.

I wonder if I’ve made a mistake.

Last Thursday, I received the answer to the lingering question that forced me to kill time hiking at South Mountain. I learned that I didn’t get the temporary digital marketing gig that I thought was the only thing that could keep me in Arizona through the summer.

For a few days after the news, I proceeded as though Meander 2.0 was a go. I invited a friend to rent my house. I contacted road trip buddies. I researched campgrounds.

And then I changed my mind.

NM. LOL. Contrary to photos of my bearded face posted to Facebook, there will be no Meander this summer. Sorry for being a tease, y’all. I just don’t feel like it.

No Meander? WTF? Why not?

The Meander was founded on three principles: No girl. No gig. Just the road. That’s fine for one summer. Great, actually. But not two in a row.

The truth is, I want a girl. No, wait, I want the girl. Alas, the road offers up more flannelled forest cougars with one front tooth than, ya know, potential soul mates.

I like my gig. I’m a digital marketing consultant with some amazing clients. I’m socializing a luxury tile manufacturer, email marketing a therapeutic eyewear seller, and just plain gettin’ things done for one amazing entrepreneur who lets me be me (and meander whenever I like).

And, finally, there’s the road.

I’m not afraid to admit that it’s hard out there. And I’m a bit of a chicken about plunging back into the isolation of traveling the way I traveled last summer. For every shirtless hiking selfie I posted to Facebook, there was a tough night in my tent wishing I was home with friends and family.

Again, sorry for being a tease. This summer, I’m chillin’ … figuratively. Not literally.

OK. What you doin’ instead?

Instead, this summer I’ll keep it local. Kinda. My summer travels will commence with a Las Vegas-Havasu Falls trip in late May. I’ll commit some sins in Sin City, then pay for them by carrying a 30-pound pack 10 miles into and out of a canyon. The summer will end with Camp Tontozona and a trip to Arches and Canyonlands in August.

In between, I’ll enjoy our scintillating summer sunsets at Tempe Town Lake. I’ll work on my handstand. I’ll watch Game of Thrones (spoiler free!). I’ll camp and cabin up north, visit the beach in SoCal, and maybe even tuck in a week or two in Seattle.

The quiet of summertime in Tempe has fostered some of the most spiritual times of my life. This summer, I’ll embrace it.

Of course, there’ll be times when I’ll second-guess this decision. I’ll get cabin fever during long weekends at home. I’ll burn my bare feet getting the mail. I’ll grumble as I dash through the oppressive heat from my AC’d house to my AC’d car.

I’ll be left to ponder …

What’s the temperature in Washington right now?

And who do I know with a pool?

summer in az

After 100 days on the road, I’m restless in Seattle

Seattle greeted me with open arms when I arrived on July 5. In my first 48 hours in the city, I reacquainted with my cousin and her family, found a great yoga studio, and saw two concerts including Robert Plant. What a reception!

No city could keep up that pace. Two years ago, I was ready to move to Seattle. Today, I’m ready to go home. I’m very aware of missing things like my Tempe Leadership class’s first reunion, two of my closest friends’ last nights in Arizona, and the start of Camp Tontozona.

Desert rat in snow at Mt Baker

There’s gotta be a desert here somewhere …

Of course, I’m making the most of my time here. I absolutely love this area! I’ve seen the Seattle sights with my mom, camped twice in the North Cascades, and enjoyed quiet time connecting with my cousin’s family and doing a ton of yoga.

I know what some of you are thinking. Boo frickin’ hoo.

Most of you are sweltering in triple-digit temperatures. You’re reading this post while sitting in your cubicle. You quite understandably think that I’m on a hella long vacation.

I totally get that. It’s hard to define this experience in terms I’d have recognized six months ago. I mean, what the hell is a sabbatical anyway? As I approach my 100th day on the road, it’s quite clear that it is not a vacation. It’s a lifestyle – and not one that I’d choose to live long-term.

No girl. No gig. Just the road. That mantra carried me through an action-packed, spiritually-charged, growth-fostering, two-month drive from San Diego to Seattle. But now? Meh.

No gig? Ha! I love my career. Breakfast with a former coworker in Portland reminded me how much I miss wrapping my mind around a good puzzle.

No girl? Well, I really really dug a girl in Phoenix. Goodbye was a prerequisite for this trip and all the benefits it’s delivered. But goodbye was NOT easy.

Now, after nearly 100 days on the road, it’s time to get back to the gig. And the girl. And ASU football. And my favorite city in the world. And my own bed and kitchen. And all of you.

I’m leaving Seattle on August 26 for a week in the Olympics followed by a short layover in Central Washington. I’ll be at Glacier National Park in Montana by September 8 and Yellowstone in Wyoming by September 15. From there, I’m heading straight down the Colorado-Utah border toward Tempe (with short stops at Dinosaur National Monument and Arches).

That means no Denver and Rocky Mountain National Park. No Salt Lake City and Bryce Canyon and Zion.

Estimated date of arrival: September 28. Right in time to watch my Sun Devils trounce Southern Cal. Right in time for Tempe to wake from its summer slumber.

Until then, I’m stuck on sabbatical. But, if you gotta be stuck somewhere, sabbatical is the place to be. After all, the weather and the views are fantastic!

seattle skyline from kerry park

A decent view until I get home …

So, when will you be back? 3 possible end dates

Not surprisingly, the end of my time at Bulbstorm and the imminent launch of the Meander has inspired a lot of questions. (What’s the Meander?)

Forrest Gump at Alabama

Forrest Gump’s run started in SEC Country. Will mine end there?

For example, are you gonna get another job? No, I don’t think I’d like another job. What are you going to do about money and bills? Well, I’ve never really liked paying bills. I don’t think I’m gonna do that either.

(Full disclosure: I do intend to offer freelance marketing services while on the road.)

But the No. 1 question I hear is: When will you be back?

My answer? Hell. I don’t know. First, I don’t leave until May 8 (in the footsteps of Chris McCandless). Second, meandering doesn’t have an agenda and it definitely doesn’t have a hard stop. Here are three possible exit scenarios:

Speaking Victory (August return)

I’ve had an amazing experience exploring the West Coast and connecting with loved ones in Seattle. I’ve seen what I came to see. The old familiar pulls of career and relationship tug at me. Not unlike Forrest Gump at the end of his run, I’m pretty tired. I think I’ll go home now. And, lo and behold, I make it back in time to scout a Rose Bowl dark horse with good friends at Camp Tontozona. Probability: 10%

Winter is Coming (October return)

Colder temps and shorter days make chilling in Seattle beyond summer less desirable. The timing is right to leave for Yellowstone before it gets too cold and proceed to southern Utah once the summer heat lifts. Once I leave Seattle, I start nosing around for jobs back in Phoenix. If the right job comes along, I rush back through Utah. If not, I take my time at Arches, Bryce Canyon, and Zion intending to return in time for the annual Tempe Leadership alumni reception. Probability: 60%

SEC Country (December return)

I’ve reached Utah with no job prospects and no burning desire to leave the road. Leaves are changing colors in Colorado. ASU prepares to face Notre Dame in Dallas. And the SEC schedule is just starting to heat up. After all, I love southern accents and sundresses. Probability: 30%

My itinerary is very fluid. Know a can’t-miss spot? Got a friend with a couch? Let me know in the comments!