Combining Business and Motorcycle Travel Requires a Minimalist Mindset

For the past two weeks, I've been working in a mobile, make-shift office setting. Not in a trendy, We Work shared office space (though I'd love to try that out sometime), but from remote locations away from my office in Costa Mesa, California.

Last week, along with a couple of coworkers, operated from a business partner's conference room in Salt Lake City, Utah while closing out a project. This week I've been working from Karen's kitchen table in San Jose, California...or as I refer to it, the Cambrian Park satellite office in Greater San Jose.

My minimalist set up for the past two weeks has been what you see pictured above. My 15-inch 2015 MacBook Pro and that's it. No mouse, no external keyboard, no 27-inch Apple monitor... just the MacBook Pro.

Before I left my office in Costa Mesa, I debated taking my Apple Magic Mouse and full-size Apple keyboard, as well as my 12-inch iPad Pro and Apple Pencil. I opted to take only the MacBook.

In the past, I've traveled for work with all of these items (save the 27-inch Apple monitor - it's a tad bulky). Each provides a useful and singular function, but this time I had to consider a lighter than usual carry...

... because everything I took to Salt Lake City I'd eventually be carrying back to California on a motorcycle.

Um, what?

Part of my plan for the conclusion of the Salt Lake City trip was to fly from Salt Lake City to San Jose to see Karen as we had plans for the weekend. I make this travel detour when my travel coincides with our commitment to see one another every two to three weeks. It provides us both the opportunity to see one another for an extra day prior to my jumping on a Southwest or Alaska one-way flight home on a Sunday.

I had another reason for flying to San Jose: it's where my BMW 1150GS motorcycle has been garaged for nearly a year. If everything went according to plan, I'd replace its dead battery, pack it up with my clothing and other essentials, and enjoy a two-day ride to southern California. 

The photo above demonstrates the maximum storage capacity of the bike and even though I took only a 20-inch rolling suitcase and a backpack with me to Salt Lake City, I knew I'd have to be creative in packing since the bike's luggage is already holding road essentials: a battery charger, a portable air compressor, minimal tools, and some extra gloves for cooler temperatures...because southern California winters are so frigid.  :roll: 

I'll leave the suitcase behind with Karen and pack my clothes into either my backpack or in the large Wolfman waterproof bag that will sit directly behind me on the bike.

I've missed riding

I've missed riding and being part of the two-wheeled world.

There is an unspoken camaraderie among motorcycle riders on the road; we drop our left hand from the handlebar and give a two-fingered peace sign as we approach a rider riding the opposite direction; we share parking spaces, are instant friends at roadside fuel stops and cafes when the helmets are off; and we always stop when another rider appears stranded on the side of the road.

There was a time when I lived in Santa Cruz County, two blocks from the beach when a motorcycle was my sole mode of transportation. It suited my needs at the time. These days, at nearly 61, I like having the comfort of a small SUV on occasion and my 2006 Ford Escape is perfectly suited for these needs.

Before minimalism

If I'd been in this situation before I adopted minimalism as a lifestyle choice, I can imagine how different the experience would've been.

Before minimalism, I would most likely have had a very different experience: I'd have packed too many clothes and computer peripherals, become frustrated when confronted with the reality of not having enough storage space for it all on the bike, and then spent money to ship home most of what I packed, representing needless frustration and expense.

Before minimalism, I would have probably made two separate trips because of the necessity of bringing my motorcycle tools to have on the ride home. (Since I needed to bring my tools from my home in Irvine to San Jose where my bike was located, and the TSA doesn't allow tool longer than seven inches inside a carry on bag, I had to twice check my rolling suitcase, at a $30 expense each time (SNA to SLC and SLC to SJC). By combining the two trips into one, I saved the expense of a one-way flight, and potentially two if I was unable to get the bike running again.

Before minimalism, I wouldn't have stopped to consider my essential needs. I'd have just plowed ahead and packed two suitcases with everything I might potentially need: mouse, keyboard, iPad, Pencil, and their associated chargers. I'd have ignored the 20-20 Rule that states anything I might potentially need is obtainable for less than $20 or within a 20-minute time frame and brought everything instead.

Tomorrow I depart

It's Saturday as I finish writing this post and tomorrow I'm set to leave San Jose and Karen behind and embark on a two-day ride to Orange County. As a younger man, I could do this ride in a single day—in fact, two years ago when I rode across the US and back with my son Benjamin, we rode from San Jose to Needles, California, arriving well after dark and totally exhausted—but these days, I choose to ride no more than four or five hours and then spend the night. Tomorrow night my target is to spend the night in Pismo Beach and enjoy a nice dinner, maybe catch the sunset, too.

I'll spend a few hours this morning deciding on what to pack and what to leave behind. For example, I have a ThermaRest self-inflating sleeping pad for camping that I'm leaving here for Karen's daughter to use as she's a big fan of sleeping on the cold, hard ground kind of camping.  I'll never use it again, but it's too good to just toss.

I'll pack the essentials for the bike, my clothing, and see where I stand. I think I've planned accurately enough, but the process is always enjoyable to see how everything fits, kind of like a puzzle.

In another post, I wrote about how it's possible to live as we travel, just with the essentials. I find motorcycle and business travel to be very similar in this regard. Not everyone shares my view, as I've seen hair dryers, curling irons, and portable fans making the cut for weekend trips. 

MicroPublishing Is the Wise Choice

If you're like me, you're driven to write and publish. There is something inside you that compels you to write, to edit, to craft a narrative, and the push the product of these activities out into the world.

With the advent of the blogosphere, with its ease of access and one-button publishing options, writing and publishing have become the choice of every writer in the world who has access to a computer and an Internet connection.

Macropublishing v. Micropublishing

There are several advantages to being a micropublisher with the first being the absence of a traditional gatekeeper. The gatekeepers are still alive and well, but the micropublisher doesn't need them.

Traditionally, before the blogosphere, the macro model of publishing was the only option. You worked on your piece (a book, magazine article, or poetry collection) in private over a long period of time, sent them off to a publisher, and then waited for a response.

The odds were overwhelmingly stacked against the independent author and favored those fortunate to be represented by an agent. Even then, your chances of ever seeing your book on bookshelves (then, the only option) was slim.

Traditional publishing houses barely coughed up any money for marketing purposes and this favored those with an existing audience. However, therein was the problem: Unknown, first-time authors didn't have an audience.

Micropublishing helps you grow an audience

The blogger, the fiction author with a secondary blog, even a YouTube creator has the potential to reach and establish a large audience with a lot less effort and obstacles than the traditional macropublisher.

By using an email list, it's now possible to create a list of those granting you permission to reach them with your micropublishing. This is the Holy Grail of online commerce. Those granting permission want to hear from you...just not every day.

If you don't have an email list, you need to start one. I use Mailchimp and I'm very happy with their service.

Armed with an email list and a mission, the micropublisher can offer loyal readers more of their writing in a direct manner without the need to engage an agent, a publisher, or a marketing professional.

Micropublishing doesn't need overhead

As a micropublisher, you don't have to pay a vanity publisher to print limited runs of your book unless you want to. In fact, you don't have to pay for it at all. With the advent of print-on-demand publishers, you can sell a single copy of your book or other publication and have it printed and shipped at your customer's cost.

Perhaps publishing a physical book isn't that important to you and you'd rather emphasize sales and money in your pocket over a physical book in a bookstore that doesn't generate any income. There are great services like Gumroad, my choice for e-commerce providers, that allow your readers to purchase your micropublication directly from your website and download it instantly after purchase.

Micropublishing is here to stay

Whether you want to publish books, micromagazines, an email subscription, or something else, micropublishing is by far the wisest choice you can make. Micropublishing isn't going the way of the Dodo anytime soon. Increasingly, the majority of readers do so on their digital devices.

As an author or writer, isn't it time you stepped up?

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Pulling the Pin is the Habit of the Amateur

In terms of writing, the phrase pulling the pin characterizes the life of the amateur. The amateur gives up when the work gets hard. They pull the pin because it's easier than doing the work.

The term 'pulling the pin' comes from the days of riding the rails. To uncouple one car from another, the train crew pulled a heavy steel pin out of the coupling mechanism.  ~Steven Pressfield, Turning Pro

I've pulled the pin many times

I've pulled the pin a hundred times. At least a hundred times, possibly more. Even writing here on this site, I've pulled the pin when the work got hard.

I pulled it when my email list didn't budge and when my Twitter feed refused to inch upward. I've pulled the pin when my ebook didn't sell and when my subscriptions didn't impress my readership.

Even though I finally feel as if I've begun the process of turning pro, I still bump hard against the wall at times. I still feel like pulling the pin from time to time. In fact, the pin is always within reach.

But I won't be pulling the pin again. I won't be pulling the pin again because it's too easy. I've taken the easy route too many times in my life. There's nothing waiting for me when I do, at least nothing worthwhile.

I won't be pulling the pin again because it's the path of the amateur. My days of playing an amateur's game are over.

When I was playing an amateur's game, I was afraid of doing the work. I was afraid that if I really did the work, there still might be nothing waiting for me; that I'd regret doing the hard work of the pro and end up with nothing to show for it.

But here's what I found....doing the work for what it will get me is the same as pulling the pin.

Doing the Work is the Reward

For years, I had it the wrong way around. Fear kept me afraid and all too willing to pull the pin, to throw up my hands in dramatic despair, to blame the mentor who'd lied to me. But all that was a lie I told myself.

I told myself that I didn't want to be anyone's fool. I didn't want to appear foolish in the eyes of my readers, my friends, or my family. I told myself that if I did the work and failed to garner the comments I wanted, the retweets I craved, and the Facebook likes I coveted, I'd be a failure.

Being a failure was a concept that paralyzed me. It still does. It's an old parental tape that plays in the back of my head sometimes, even 50+ years later. I know it holds no power over me, but it's still there...waiting for a moment to reintroduce itself to me in a moment of vulnerability.

Failure wants me to take the easy way out. It wants me to give in to despair; to compare myself to other writers and online teachers and judge myself.

Failure wants me to pull the pin. That's fine.

Failure can wait.