How We've Tamed This Wild Year Of Life & Freelancing

This will be the last blog post for 2015. Like I did last year, I'm taking an intentional break from writing here to give me rest and relief from the burden of updating this blog. With this rest will come a new surge of energy and ideas for the blog in the new year. In the meantime, I'll put my head down and focus on knocking out the full workload on my plate. 

Before I sign off for the year, here is an update of our journey so far. Enjoy learning about God's provision, my progress in freelancing and how I ended up working with Tom Cruise.

Embracing The Life Of Freelancing

Last year by God's grace, contract consulting and marketing work continued to flow my way, so in January of this year, I decided to embrace and commit fully. As a result I was able to implement some goals and system to maximize my success. As of August, we've been freelancing in a financially sustainable way. We are very grateful for this success. To get more specific, I'll share about the financial margin we establish through a visual metaphor of a water tower in the next section of this post. 

In the meantime, here are some work highlights for the past year...

  • Tom, from Cedar Creek Cabin Rentals, and I have been working together executing a variety of communication projects. We've established communication automation between him and his prospects, customers and fellow cabin owners. We've increased his search engine visibility on Google 4%, and we've leveraged technology to eliminate many tedious tasks his team was doing manually. We've also improved the look and user experience of his website at the same time. We're both very happy about the amount of success we've had.
  • I've worked with Joyields Institute, McKeever's First Ride managing and promoting their organizations through the email marketing tool Mailchimp, which I absolutely love. 
  • I've gotten to work with a great friend, Jason Long, who is building a great project scoping tool called BrainLeaf.
  • Most of my website work as a freelancer and through Noodlehead was through an open source platform called Joomla. In the last three months, I have a chance to maintain and build three WordPress websites. This has increased my skill-set in this area, but after working with WordPress in more depth, Joomla is still my preferred platform.
  • It was fun and interesting to work with several old Noodlehead clients!
  • Toronto and Boston were two places I got to visit. My role at these two events was to help manage the social media.

Filling Up Our Water Tower

Water-Tower-Buckets

One of the dynamics of freelancing, or owning a business, is the roller coaster effect of success and slow times. Feast or famine as many put it. There are unexpected slow times and unexpected expenses that find their way into our lives. To help mitigate against this dynamic, we established a financial buffer.

First, we identified a margin of fifteen thousand dollars. We believed this margin would allow us the flexibility to handle the unexpected circumstances in our life. This 'water tower' would be calculated based on the money owed to us, the money we had in our business account and the money we had in our personal checking account. If between these three places, we have fifteen thousand dollars, our "water tower" is considered full.

Now, while we got within a few hundred dollars of it earlier this year, it was not until the end Of November did we fill this water tower up. By doing so, it initiated our next phase which includes short, medium and long term savings.

To better share our progress here is a visual graph from when we began tracking this metric in the fall of 2014. We are excited about the progress we've made and we hope you are inspired to take the initiative in your own life to do the same.

water-tower-progress

Closing The Loop On Noodlehead Marketing

When we "ended" Noodlehead Marketing in March 2014, I continued to use the bank accounts and legal entity for my freelancing efforts. I intended to end the company legally and start a new one, but with all the work I was getting, I never got around to it. Eight months ago, there was a situation with our merchant services that caused a costly and time consuming issue because I was using the company for my freelancing efforts.

Thankfully, we were able to get it resolved, but it became a catalyst to realize I needed to setup the new company. The only reason I had not set it up was because it was easier to keep using Noodlehead. This was not a good reason and I was not being intentional.

To help push me further, I had a new client who was going to pay a year of insurance coverage a few months ago. The timing was perfect and I setup a new s corporation for my freelancing efforts. In addition, I also setup new bank accounts and merchant services. Noodlehead Studios Inc has now ended with the Secretary of State and my last action will be to file its 2015 tax return. 

In retrospect, this is how Noodlehad Studios started. We moved to Atlanta and the idea was there, but it took almost two years to actually launch it. In this case it took almost two years to actually close it!

The name of our new business is Protheseos Inc and it means intentional in Greek. Also, Noodlehead Studios Inc. was owned solely by me, but for this new business I made Cait and myself equal partners. 

Changing My Personal Mission Statement

For the last few years, my personal mission statement was to teach and inspire. While I love to do that, I felt it was too one way. It was me giving and not enough receiving. I wanted a mission statement that was more harmonious with the relationships in my life. For this reason, I decided to test and embrace a new mission statement. It is now 'to share life'. This new mission statement better communicates my desire to receive life from God and others, and to also share this life with others.

Here is my intent in life, as it stand today.

Purpose (Why?): Embrace the Life of Jesus Christ. 

Mission (How?): Share Life.

Vision (Where?): Thrive Together.

Growth In Our Marriage

In many ways, the last 2 years have been similar to the first two years we moved to Atlanta. For this reason, it has triggered many memories and impulses from that difficult and volatile season of life.  I'm grateful for the friends and family who've been there to help me through some of these issues. While they've been difficult to work through, the fruit for myself, marriage and others is invaluable and powerful. With more stability in the beginning of this year, it gave me enough insulation to leave survival mode and reflect on my journey and relationships.

This summer was a season of reflection and in August, I was able to jump back onto the saddle and move life and work forward. It is interesting to see how this is reflected in the water tower graph above.

A Book On Freelancing Is Coming Your Way

With the financial and time margin built in my freelancing career, I'm now able to shift some of my energy towards writing. My intent within 3 years is to diversify my income from freelancing exclusively to a combination of freelancing and writing. My first step towards this is to write a book on what I've mastered, freelancing.

Inside this book, I'll provide a blueprint and guide on how to choose and succeed at freelancing. It will be a personal and actionable book.

As my first book, it will lead to many new learning opportunities and my past work with authors and publishers will certainly have prepared me for this.

My next milestone in this process is to finish the draft by the end of the year. Half way complete, it'l be crunch time to get this done since a large workload and the game Fallout 4 has slowed me down on this goal :-)

Yes, I was In Captain America, and I also Worked With Tom Cruise

ATF-AgentI love watching and creating stories through the medium of film. This summer, I got to experience the life of extra work on four feature films, the first of which will be coming to theaters in a few weeks.

My first movie was Alvin in the Chipmunks. My role was a star attending a VIP event where the chipmunks premiered their new song. I filmed two days on this movie set.

The second film I was in was Captain America 3, and I was in this film twice. The first time was a scene with Black Widow and Scarlett Witch where I'm a lost tourist in Nigeria. Apparently this is a scene in the film early on, so hopefully we'll see my curly head bouncing around. My second scene for Captain America 3 was as an MIT student listening to a speech by Iron Man.

The third film I was in, was the founder, with Michael Keaton. The film is about the story of McDonalds. My role was an a construction worker in the 50's and I'm in several scenes. This was a fun production to be on and I also got to do it with my good friend Craig Haynie.

Lastly, I was in the film Mena with Tom Cruise. I was an ATF agent who helped bring the character of Tom Cruise to the DEA of the area. While it was not planned, I asserted myself and a line of dialogue in one of our two scenes. If it makes the cut, we'll hear me yelling "You're letting him go!"

These four experiences were a blast and I learned a lot being on these large scale productions. 

More Babies Are On Their Way!

montoya-family

We're pregnant with our fourth child, woohoo! It is a boy and our intent is to name him Elihu (Pronounced e-lie-you). We expect Elihu to come out of the womb February 16th, the same day as my great-grandmothers 110'th birthday!

In addition to my wife getting pregnant, my two sisters also got pregnant. My younger sister just had her baby the day before Thanksgiving and my older sister will have their baby early next year around when we have ours. My parents will be getting three grand babies in 3 months!

Special Thank You

thanks

  • God - Thank you for your provision, direction and orchestration in my life.
  • Caitlyn Montoya (My Wife) - Thank you for enduring throughout our journey. Thank you for bearing our fourth child and taking care of our wonderful children. Thank you for supporting me through this journey the past 18 months post-Noodlehead.
  • My Kids, Madison, David, & Judah - Thank you for your grace and mercy as a newer father. I'm proud of all three of you and I look forward to seeing you all growth into the people God designed you to be.
  • Mom & Dad - Thank you for your support, generosity and sharing life with me
  • Greg Goodrich & Jim Karwisch - Thank you for allowing God to divinely connect us and for the support, guidance and direction you've share with me.
  • Jack McEntee - Thank you for being a strong and supportive presence in my life.
  • Len Wikberg - Thank you for helping me work on The Island Story.
  • James & Betsy Rowell - Thanks for helping us work through some of our personal & marital issues.
  • Generations Norcross - Thank you for supporting and loving our family.
  • Rob & Robyn Loew - Thank you for leading our family small group and supporting our family in all the ups and downs of life.
  • Joe Licata & the guys (Ken, Tom, Dan, Jim, & Bob) at the Sugarloaf Bible Study - Thank you for sharing life together with this young student of the word :-)
  • Christy Lamp, Amanda Gros, Ryan Lampa, Austin Gros, John Lehmberg, Craig Haynie, Ivan Alfaro, Drew Heilman, Issac Ingram, Jason Gribble, Leonard Wikberg, Preston Riner, Ryan Smith, Nathan Maybery, Keith Taylor, Robert Loew, Sam Rasmussen - Thanks for being a friend :-)
  • CJ Perry, Ryan Middleton, & Michael Middleton - Thanks for sharing gaming fun with me.
  • Sandra Brooks - Thanks for hiring me to move things, run your garage sale and build your website. We've definitely had a unique work engagement.
  • Thank you for choosing to work with me this year Jackie Cope, Bryant Cornett, David Feldman, Jason Long, Deenie McKeever, Steven Gross, Dixie McCurley, The Lasso Team, Sobem Nwoko, Tom Telford, Carol Urbanija, David Sturm, Alison Sturm, David Wittenberg, Ron Medlin, Fred Spring, Wes Vaughn, Fernando Garzon, Craig Haynie, Rick Cope, & Sunshield Films.
  • Thank you Nonie and Nicole for working with me. I appreciate the opportunities you shared with me.
  • Innovative Admin Services - Thanks for making payroll easy for me.
  • Less Accounting - Thank you for making my accounting efforts so easy and fun!
  • Eric Witt - Thank you for keeping my Facebook feed filled with interesting and clever content.
  • Builder Specialties, Lisa Ethridge, David McLeroy, Jean Vallee & Georgia Expo - Thank you for the residual support you've given me as I launched into my new season of life.
  • If I missed you, thank you for sharing life with me!

Tags: God, intentionality, mission, reflections, annual, freelancing, water tower, noodlehead studios, marriage, book, writing, captain america 3, tom cruise, Michae Keaton, Baby, Thank You