Confessions of the “Quality” Obsessed…

It’s been a while since I’ve put out or even recorded a video or a podcast. There’s a lot of different reasons for that . Some of which are more complicated than others. 


If you listened to my podcast interview with Daniel Midson-Short, you may have heard me mention that I picked up a second job. As you can imagine that comes with its fair share of time constraints and scheduling complications. I have less available time to meticulously craft podcast episodes and videos in the way that I once did.


However, that’s only part of the story. It’s not the “whole” truth. Yes, my free time has been dramatically reduced but, another big reason that I haven’t been recording or filming lately is an issue of “mind-set”. I’ve been a bit lost, both creatively and personally. I’m in a weird head-space.


In the past year that I’ve devoted my time, effort, and energy to making videos and recording podcasts I’ve started getting obsessed with things I never cared about. Things that I never gave a shit about became vitally important.


Look, I get that over time it’s not uncommon for our priorities to change, in fact we can expect that they will. There’s nothing wrong with varying the levels of importance that we attach to things. There’s nothing wrong with shifting the hierarchy of what we value. But, sometimes we lose something in the shift. Sometimes in shifting how much we value certain things we inadvertently shift our “values”. We move pillars that should never be out of place, and we compromise the structural integrity of who we are.


I didn’t start making videos because I wanted to be a film maker. I never wanted to be a videographer or a cinematographer. As much as I love the art form, as creatively invigorating as it is to film and edit, it’s not my primary aspiration. It’s not my passion. And yet, I’ve found myself becoming increasingly obsessed with camera angles, camera settings, lenses, aperture, frame rates, lighting, audio, mic placement, B-roll, cinematic sequences, setting, background, etc, etc, etc.  In other words, I’ve become overwhelmingly obsessed with the production, the “quality”.


There’s nothing wrong with all the videographic techniques and cinemagraphic speficities outlined above. I’m glad I took the time to learn to do them. But, the simple fact remains I didn’t start doing this for any of that.
I’ve also been unhealthily obsessed with “the numbers”; the subscriber count, the views, the listens, the plays, the likes, the shares, the comments, and the things. We all know the numbers shouldn’t matter. We’ve all either said ourselves or heard other creatives say “don’t create for the numbers”, “the numbers don’t matter” but, saying it and believing it are two different things. Implicitly, in the back of nearly every creators mind, the numbers matter. A lot of us, especially me, will attach our value as a creator, the value of what we create to those numbers. We will interpret those numbers as a numeric representation of how much our work matters, and we start judging the quality of our work based on those numbers. At least, that’s what’s happened for me.


One of my guilty pleasures is Gary Vaynerchuck. Love him or hate him, his energy is intoxicating and his enthusiasm is infectious. I don’t agree with everything he says, but I’ve garnered some valuable and beneficial information from his work.


One of the things I’ve disagreed with about most adamantly is the idea that quantity is more important than quality, because he says that quality is subjective. I think there’s some truth to that. After all art is subjective, we each decide in our own way what we define as art. As much merit as I see in that point I haven’t been able to make the leap to this quantity over quality position.


Interestingly enough, a few months ago Gary Vaynerchuck was interviewed by Matt D’Avella. I think it’s fair to say that D’Avella has a stance on the quality vs. quantity question that it is seemingly antithetical to Vaynerchuck’s. He believes it’s better to put one really high quality video every week than to put out 7 “ok”  or mediocre videos. He favors quality over quantity. For the past year that’s the way I’ve been leaning as well.
When it comes to quantity vs. quality it’s not as simple as an “either/or” question. If art is subjective, if quality is itself subjective, then I think it’s also safe to say that the way in which one chooses to answer or approach this question is also subjective. I think it comes down to self-awareness and consistency.


If the precision and production level of the craft, is your driving factor, and you can be consistent in putting out that work then, I think that’s working just fine for you. In other words, if you’re more motivated to put out one high quality piece of work every week and you can continuously come through on creating and delivering that piece of work week in and week out then, you’ve already won.


But…that’s not what I’ve been doing. I’ve been operating under the auspices of pursuing this “quality” model but, I’ve been anything but consistent. In most cases, I don’t even attempt to film or record when my conditions or circumstances don’t allow for attaining the level of “quality” I feel is “necessary”. In other words, if I don’t feel I have the time or space to get close to perfection then I don’t even try to do anything at all. 


My obsession with “quality” has become counterproductive. “Quality” has become my excuse not to create. “Perfectionism” has become procrastination. Adam Savage says that “procrastination, perfectionism, and analysis paralysis…are the bane of a Maker’s existence”. I can personally and avidly attest to the truth of that statement.


I think I lost my connection to an even more important question, “why did I start?” “What did I start doing this for?” It’s so easy to get lost in the minutia of techniques and all the things that touch the thing you’re doing but, what’s the core of what you’re doing? What’s the heart beat of why you do what you do? If you lose touch with the thing that made you want to start doing what you’re doing then you’ve lost the whole drive, you’ve lost the whole aspiration, the whole motivation, the whole operative significance of the thing.


And that’s where I find myself. I’ve let all the things that touch my work influence my process more than than the central thesis of the work.
So, if I didn’t start any of this to be a film maker, an audio guru, a YouTuber extraordinaire, if I had no interest in becoming a cinematographer or a videographer, why did I start doing all this for? I started doing this because there where things that I wanted to talk about that I wasn’t getting to talk about. There were conversations that I wanted to have that I wasn’t getting to have, and I needed to have, and I still needed to have them. I’ve lost sight of that in the process of just trying to make the shit.


I started doing this because I’m in love with ideas. I’m in love with the kind of ideas that James Victore might call “Dangerous Ideas”. Oscar Wilde said that ” An idea that is not dangerous is unworthy of being called an idea at all”. That is my core. It’s gotten buried in the process but, its still there, and I’m trying to find my way back to it.


How do I get back? I don’t know. I don’t have it all figured out yet. But, this is an attempt to get back to the dangerous ideas, and maybe that’s a dangerous idea in itself. I hope that it is. I don’t know what comes next, but i never have. All I can tell you is that I’m still in the process. If you’re still here then, we’re in the process together. 


Keep showing up, Keep doing the work, FAIL BOLDLY, and let’s make something meaningful.


Shout out to my Patrons and Supporters:
Jim Martin – https://theunusualbuddha.com/
Ben Bridges – https://www.myfpvstore.com/
Rev. Jerry Maynard – https://www.facebook.com/revjerryhtx/?epa=SEARCH_BOX
Jerome Shaw – https://anchor.fm/jshaw
Rajan Shankara – https://rajanshankara.com/


If you want shout outs in podcasts and videos, if you want access to all my behind-the-scenes, patron only content, if you want early access to all my videos, and if you want to be a part of a community of creativity and curiosity, the check out my Patreon page – https://www.patreon.com/duanetoops

New Video!”The Child Who Survived Adulthood” w/ Jerome Shaw

This is a special episode/video for me because not only is Jerome Shaw a talented creator and an inspiring podcaster but, he’s also one of my Patrons. His support and his encouragement means the world to me, so I’m excited to share this conversation with you!

We talk about his theater arts background, his metamorphosis into a marketing Entrepeneur, and his creative journey into podcasting. He offers details about his meditation practice and gives us a glimpse into his creative process. This dialogue takes a lot interesting twists and turns, and ultimately I think its a beautiful adventure. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do!

If you want to listen to the full podcast you can find it here:

Be sure to check out Jerome’s podcast – https://anchor.fm/jshaw

And be sure to connect with him on Social Media:

https://twitter.com/jromeshaw

https://www.facebook.com/jerome.shaw.9

https://www.instagram.com/jromeshaw/

https://www.youtube.com/user/Peralisis/videos

Shout out to my Patrons and Supporters:

Jim Martin – https://theunusualbuddha.com/

Rev. Jerry Maynard – https://www.facebook.com/revjerryhtx/

Ben Bridges – https://www.myfpvstore.com/

Rajan Shankara – https://rajanshankara.com/

If you’d like to get a shout out in podcasts and videos then be sure to check out my Patreon page – https://www.patreon.com/duanetoops

For $3/month you get all the behind the scenes blogs, videos, and photos, plus shout-outs, plus early access to all my YouTube videos!

Keep showing up, Keep Doing the Work, FAIL BOLDLY, and let’s make something meaningful

New Video! “Is it True? W/ Rajan Shankara”

Recently, I had the good fortune of interviewing Rajan Shankara for an episode of the podcast. you can listen to the full episode below.

Today I released the video of our conversation:\

Rajan is a former Hindu monk who lived the monastic life for 12 years. Almost a year ago he left the monastery and returned to the world. He’s now a personal trainer, a meditation teacher, and a life consultant.

He and I began chatting near the end of year after we had both been guests on the Project Mindfulness podcast. You can find Rajan’s episode here: https://projectmindfulness.com/podcast/audiobiography-of-a-yogi/

And mine here: https://projectmindfulness.com/podcast/episode-7-facing-the-reflection-in-the-mirror-with-duane-toops/

We wanted to collaborate together in some way but, we just weren’t sure how. Since our initial contact I started my podcast and the time was finally right for us have a recorded conversation.

Rajan was an absolute pleasure to speak with. We talk about what pushed him into the process of taking up a spiritual path. We discuss his time spent as a monk, and what inspired him to leave monastic life. We compare notes between Zen and Hinduism, and we even touch on some big topics like ‘Enlightenment’. We had a great time and I really hope you enjoy it!

Be sure to connect with Rajan on Social Media:

Facebook Business – https://www.facebook.com/Rajanshankaraofficial/

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/rajan.shankara.5

Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/rajanshankaraofficial/
Twitter – https://twitter.com/rajan_shankara

Shout out to my Patrons and Supporters:

Jim Martin – https://theunusualbuddha.com/

Ben Bridges – https://www.myfpvstore.com/

Jerome Shaw – https://anchor.fm/jshaw

Jerry Maynard – https://www.facebook.com/revjerryhtx/

Rajan Shankara – https://rajanshankara.com/

If you want shout-outs in podcasts and videos, if you want to get early access to videos, and if you’d like exclusive access to Patron only content, then check out my Patreon Page. For $3/month you get it all!

Be sure to check out my Website to stay up to date with what I’m up to, and feel free to hit me up on Social media – links below.

YouTube – www.youtube.com/duanetoops
Twitter – https://twitter.com/duanetoops
Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/duanetoops/
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/duanejtoops/

Keep showing up, keep doing the work, FAIL BOLDLY, and let’s make something meaningful.

Hurricane Daze: What’s Coming Next…?

It’s Thursday. The week is coming to a close and yet, I feel like my week is just getting started.


Let me explain.


I live in Central Florida and if you’ve been following the news at all you may have seen that we’ve been living with the threat of Hurricane Dorian for the majority of the week. 


I’ve lived here in Central Florida since I was eighteen. This was not my first hurricane experience but, the unpredictability of it is something you never quite get used to. When you’re waiting to see what happens or what’s going to happen, it’s like your whole life gets paused and everything is thrown into a perpetual and all-consuming “waiting”. You make preparations, you check the updates, you double check your preparations, you check for new updates, you make sure there are no gaps in your preparations, but ultimately you’re just waiting…


After a few days of “waiting” it’s difficult to distinguish what day it is, they all start to blur together.


Today is our return to normalcy.


We got lucky. Hurricane Dorian didn’t make land fall in Florida. Unfortunately, the Bahamas were not as lucky. My heart goes out to them. I can’t even begin to wrap my mind around what they’re going through and what they’re experiencing. My words fail. I know it doesn’t help but I’m sending them as much compassion and concern as I can.


Before the tumult of hurricane preparation took over our daily routine, I had the good fortune of interviewing Rajan Shankara. Rajan is a former Hindu monk who lived the monastic life for 12 years. Almost a year ago he left the monastery and returned to the world. He’s now a personal trainer, a meditation teacher, and a life consultant.


He and I began chatting near the end of year after we had both been guests on the Project Mindfulness podcast. (You can find Rajan’s episode here and mine here) We wanted to collaborate together in some way but, we just weren’t sure how. Since our initial contact I started my podcast and the time was finally right for us have a recorded conversation. 


Rajan was an absolute pleasure to speak with. I had a great time talking with him. The impending storm pushed me behind schedule in editing the interview but, I’ll be starting that process today, and I’m hoping to have ready to release sometime before the end of next week.


I’m sorry to keep you “waiting” lol. If you want to listen to the latest episode of the podcast you can find it here and if you want to watch the video of the latest episode you can find it here.


Wish me luck.

Keep showing up, keep doing the work, FAIL BOLDLY, and let’s make something meaningful.

A Blog About Nothing


I’ve made a few videos for my YouTube channel recently that are different from what I normally make. Maybe we could say they’re a bit more experimental, at least for me anyway. Whatever adjective is best suited to describe my burgeoning video work, its certainly been a departure and its certainly taken me out of my comfort zone.


I’ve come to realize that I’ve been taking myself and what I create too seriously, and I haven’t been giving myself room to experiment or space to play. So, I’ve been making it a point try to have a little more fun in the process.


In some ways, this realization, this shift, started when I watched a video on Daniel Pascual’s YouTube Channel. He made a vlog about nothing, purposefully and deliberately about nothing. He said he did it to take the pressure off and to kind of dumb things down a bit. That may not seem like much but, it really hit home for me.
It was oddly refreshing and it felt like exhaling. I came face to face with how much stress and strain I’ve been putting on myself and my creative process. It made me recognize how little breathing room I’ve been giving myself.


I commented on the video saying that I should really try to do a video like that. Daniel encouraged me to do it, or maybe its better to say he challenged me to do it, lol. I accepted. Even though he and I are on opposite ends of the country he still scares the fuck out of me.


I really struggled to get my head around how to do a vlog about nothing. Believe me I know how ridiculous that sounds. I made more than one attempt. I hit record and tried to just go, unfortunately nothing went, lol.


After the false starts and failed attempts at Daniel’s “nothing” challenge, I took the family on a weekend camping trip. I brought my cameras with me. I was thinking that maybe I could vlog, or maybe take some cool shots. In other words, I went to accomplish something, to produce something, to do something. I felt like I needed to. Internally, there was a pressure to use this trip as a means of creating content. It felt like if I didn’t create something then I wasn’t really a creative and I wasn’t really a creator.


I took some OK shots, got some OK footage but, I just wasn’t feeling it. It felt forced and uninspired. It just wasn’t working. I started to get really frustrated about it, and started judging myself kind of harshly about it as well. I felt as though I should have been able to create something brilliant and beautiful on command.


Slowly, I realized that I needed to just put the gear away and just be present. I needed to give myself permission to do “nothing”. I needed to enjoy just being there. This moment wasn’t about creating, producing, or doing. It was simply about being; being with my wife, being with my kids, being with our friends, being exactly where I was.


If I’m being honest, doing “nothing” is disconcerting. It makes me uncomfortable. I place an extremely high premium on productivity, on producing, on doing “something”. So much so that I almost never allow myself to really do nothing.


I’m addicted to “doing”. 


The addiction to doing came up when I Interviewed Stuart Carter from the Simply Mindfulness YouTube channel on an episode of my podcast.
Stuart reminded me that “we are not human doings, we are human beings“. He pointed out that “We so often get caught in ‘I must do this to have value, I must do this to have worth’, when actually just being is all we need.”


Intellectually, I know that my value isn’t predicated on what I produce or what I accomplish. But, I still fall into the trap of equating who I am with what I do. I attach my self-worth and my identity to what I create. Daniel’s exercise showed me how much of that desirous craving for production has invaded my creative endeavors.


I returned from our camping trip with a clearer head, a clearer view of my obsession with “doing something”. But, I had no clearer idea of what my “nothing vlog” would be.


Recently my wife started doing some wood-working projects and she decided to refinish our Corn-hole boards. As I sat frustrated and bewildered, I noticed her begin to set-up for this refinishing project. The thought occurred to me that it might be fun to film her working on it. I needed the break and she welcomed my company. I had no plans for the footage, no goal, no purpose, it was just about play. It was more fun than I even imagined it would be. Once I edited the footage I knew I had to share it. I had inadvertently stumbled upon my nothing vlog. You can watch it below:

This exercise taught me about myself and my creative process. It taught me to accept the opportunities that show up; whether it seems productive or not, and whether it seems purposeful or not.


There is a way of being creative that is more about probing than about producing. There is a way of creating that exposes the limits of what we can create. There is a way of ‘being’ that gives witness to the exceeding abundance of what we can experience.


Working with the medium of video is teaching me to document the dynamic discovery of every daily detail. It does not tell me to do something different or to be something different. Instead, it tells me to see differently, to “Be” differently. We are presented with the opportunity to begin seeing in a whole new way, an opportunity of “Being” in a whole new way.


Sometimes storytelling isn’t about creating a story but, about simply finding where we are in the midst of a much bigger story.


Maybe this wasn’t the vlog about nothing that Daniel would have wanted me to make but, it’s the one that represents where I am now.

New Episode! “Meaning & Melancholy W/ Eric G. Wilson”

I’m so excited to share this episode. I got the amazing opportunity to interview one of my favorite writers and thinkers, Eric G. Wilson.

A few months back I made a video and a podcast talking a little bit about one his books, Against Happiness.

Here’s the video:

And, if you want to listen to the podcast episode you can find it below:

That video put me in touch with both Eric and his podcasting partner, Joel Tauber. I was fortunate enough to have Joel as a guest on a previous episode of the podcast:

If you want to watch the video, here ya go!

You can also read a little bit more about it here and here.

Their podcast, which we talk about in the episode, is called Belt: A 2-Man Memoir. Its funny, smart, and irreverent.

This is an incredible conversation. I’m so unspeakably grateful to Eric for taking the time. 

As the title of this episode suggests, we talk a lot about meaning and melancholy. But, we also talk quite a bit about creativity, writing, failure, religion, spirituality, and so many other rich and dynamic subjects.

Here are a few of his books that we talked about in the episode:

Everyone Loves a Good Train Wreck

Keep It Fake

The Mercy of Eternity

Polaris Ghost

I hope you enjoy this episode. If you do, it would mean the world to me if you subscribe to it on whatever platform you’re listening to it on, leave it a good review and share with your friends.

If you’d like to support this work of learning out loud, contribute to creating a community of curiosity then please check out my Patreon page. For $3 a month you get shout-outs in all my videos and podcasts, you early access to all my YouTube video before they are released to the general public, and you get access to exclusive behind-the-scenes Patreon only blogs, videos, and photos.

Keep showing up, keep doing the work, FAIL BOLDLY, and let’s make something meaningful.

“Concentrated Curiosity W/ Jack Stolz”

A few weeks ago I got to do an interview with YouTuber extraordinaire Jack Stolz. I’ve written about it here and here.

Podcast episode below:

Jack is a musician, a vlogger, photographer, cinematographer, and all around awesome guy!

Jack has played a big part in my process of dipping my toes into videography and YouTube. As a result, Jack has become a good friend and he continues to inspire me.

Whether he realizes it or not, Jack has been with me throughout most of this endeavor, in one form or another. He’s been a big encouragement. He has continually made himself available to talk shop, to provide helpful tips and advice, and to give feedback.

It probably goes without saying it was great to spend some extra time talking with him. It was an even greater pleasure to do it for the podcast!

If you want to check him out, here’s all the places you can find him:
Instagram
Twitter
YouTube

If you want to support this work of learning out loud, if you ‘d like to help create a community of curiosity, and if you’d like to get access to exclusive, behind-the-scenes, Patron only content, and get shout-outs in videos and podcasts, then check out my Patreon page.

Keep showing up, Keep doing the work, FAIL BOLDLY, and let’s make something meaningful!

New YouTube Video! “Just For Fun”

I posted a brand New YouTube video today!

I’m definitely guilty of being too serious, especially when it comes to what I make and create.

With that being said, I think I’ve been to much pressure on myself and what I do. So, this video is my attempt at trying to do some things just for fun.

I reference an interview I did with Jim Martin from The Unusual Buddha. The full podcast episode is below:

If you’d prefer to watch the video of the full length interview, you can find it below and here:

If you want to check out Jim Martin and his work with The Unusual Buddha see the links below:


FB – https://www.facebook.com/theunusualbuddha/
Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/theunusualbuddha/
Twitter – https://twitter.com/notthebuddha

Shout to my Patrons and Contributors Jim Martin and Ben Bridges

If you want to get shout-outs in podcasts and videos, if you want to help support this work of learning out loud, and if you’d like to help create a community of curiosity, then check out my Patreon Page.

Keep showing up, Keep doing the work, FAIL BOLDLY, and let’s make something Meaningful!

Gonna be a busy week…Content-Creation

Welcome to Monday! It’s a brand new week, and that means I’ve got a lot of brand new content-creation that I’m planning to work on and post this week.

In fact, I think I’m writing this post primarily as a way to help organize myself this week, lol.

With that being said, welcome to my publicly shared to-do list for the week.

For starters, I dropped a New Podcast Interview with the amazing Jack Stolz last Friday. Jack is a triple threat. He’s a bad-ass musician, an amazing YouTuber, and an incredible videographer. I’ve written a couple blogs about the experience, which you can find here and here. Also, the full episode is below:

With that being said, my main priority for the week is to finish editing the video of the interview. And, then, get it posted to my YouTube Channel.

Next on my To-Do list is to finish editing a vlog I made over the weekend. I’d like to start experimenting with the kinds of video and vlogs I make. I normally do a lot of informational/educational stuff. I talk a lot about books, ideas, philosophy, creativity, mindfulness, meditation, etc. But, I’d like to start doing some stuff that’s a bit more fun and lighthearted. I think I need that in my content-creation process. In other words, sometimes I think I take this stuff a little too seriously and I just need to make it a point to create some things that are just about the sheer enjoyment of creating. I’m hoping that I can get that vlog done and posted this week too.

Also, a while back ago The Tattooed Buddha sent me a book to review called From Mindfulness to Insight: Meditations to Release Your Habitual Thinking and Activate Your Inherent Wisdom. I decided to make it a series rather than just a one off review. For part one of the series, I wrote an article and I made a podcast episode. (Full episode below)

With that in mind, I’d like to finish writing part 2 and I’d like to finish up the video for part one.

Wow! Now that I’ve written all that out I’m realizing how much that is. And, that’s not even everything I was going to put on my to-do list for this week. But, after looking at this, I think that’s enough for now.

Wish me luck!

Keep showing up, keep doing the work, FAIL BOLDLY, and let’s make something meaningful.

New Episode! With Jack Stolz!

Hey Friends!

I hope you’ve had a great Friday so far, and I hope this makes it just a little bit better!

Just wanted to let you know that I just dropped a Brand New Podcast Episode today. I got the chance to interview musician, YouTuber, cinematographer, filmmaker, and all around awesome guy, Jack Stolz!

I came across Jack’s Channel pretty early on in my early forays into YouTube land. His work blew me away then and it blows me away even more now. It’s been great to see his work evolve and get progressively better and more captivating. Just when I think I’ve seen the best he has to offer, just when i think he couldn’t possibly get any better, he puts out another video and raises the bar even higher!

I’ve been picking Jack’s brain for the better part of almost a year as I’ve been trying to find my way in the crazy world of YouTube and videography. I’ve still got a long way to go and I still have a lot to learn but, Jack has consistently been there throughout this process, providing feedback and encouragement. Every time I’ve had a question he’s done his best to provide an answer. Every time I’ve asked for feedback he’s willingly and enthusiastically given his attention and time.

With that being said, having Jack on the podcast was an absolute no brainer! I can’t even begin to tell you just how much I enjoyed getting to have this conversation with him. It meant a lot to me that he took the time to share his story and insights on the podcast. Jack’s perspective on creating and the whole creative process is refreshing and inspiring.

In this interview he talks about his past experiences of being a touring musician in two different signed bands. We talk about his shift into photography and videography, and his approach to creativity. We even talk about meditation, and how its impacted his daily life and his creative work.

Give it a listen and let me know what you think! I hope you dig it!

Be sure to check out Jack’s Channel and be sure to send him some love on Social (links below)

Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/jackstolz/?hl=en

Twitter – https://twitter.com/TooLateTheJack

Keep showing up, keep doing the work, FAIL BOLDLY, and let’s make something meaningful!