Craig-348 Expat- On Empty Wallets And Free Coffee Coupons

Craig note- I often write content while riding the train. It saves time. (Enjoy!)

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My wallet is empty.

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A coworker comes to my desk every month for “friendship” money. She came today with a familiar envelope in her hand. The young woman took my last sen yen ($10).

(Really, she took it out of my open wallet. God bless her future husband. Yikes!)

The company uses the “friendship” money to pay for our annual team-building trip and to buy some snacks for the staff on occasion. The owner kicks in money, too. We have done some fun trips over the years.

(Fast forward to the end of the day…)

I am standing on this crowded train with only four bucks worth of change in my back pants` pocket and a faded train pass.

If my heart stopped at this very, very, very second, the police would find a gaijin card, a health insurance card, and a crumpled coupon for a free cup of coffee on my person.

(Buy ten cups. Get one free. Welcome to Japan!)

Life is not without a sense of humor.

I am reminded of a time long, long, long ago when my wallet was literally empty. My, my, my how times have changed!

It`s a funny feeling to know while my present wallet is empty, my life is so, so. so full. To be sure, I am most grateful for that.

It beats the alternative every time.

(Tangent…)

I read an article a few months ago about money and happiness. Research shows in America it takes only $75,000 (give or take) a year to make most folks happy. Of course, other factors like health and relationship(s) play a role in life contentment, too.

The idea is any money above that figure does not significantly increase life happiness.

On the flip side, I read another article. It says if you have NO debt and ten dollars in your wallet, your net worth is greater than 25% of Americans COMBINED.

I stand on this train with zero money in my wallet; yet, I am more fortunate than many, many, many people in America.

Sad, isn`t it?

Moreover, 2/3 of the world`s population lives on less than TWO US Dollars a day, most of those people on less than a dollar. The four bucks in change jingling in my back pants` pocket makes me upper class in any number of places around the world.

Plus, I have that free coffee coupon.

Really, really, really sad, isn`t it?

(Back to my original thought…)

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I remember in America a time when money (lack thereof) permeated my every thought. There was never ANYTHING I did in my life that was not connected to money. It was a depressing feeling.

Now, my wife handles the family finances.

That is common in Japan. I gave my ATM card to my wife years ago. I get some pocket-money every week.

And, that`s it.

It was a difficult transition to not deal with money matters. I remember pestering my wife about where my our the family`s money was going. My questions inquisitions were annoying her something fierce.

So, I stopped asking.

I find/found a great measure of freedom in working hard, living life, and never talking about money. Of course, that is easier to do when one has enough money. Thankfully, I don`t worry too much about keeping the lights on every month.

Still, I NEVER take that for granted.

(Trust me, I am not loaded. I will be flipping flashcards for a living until I am like a 125.)

I realized no amount of worrying about money changes my bank account balance. My energy and time is focused on working as hard as I can.

That is the part I control.

The rest is up to my company, my health, fate, and the universe. Although; I should ask my wife for a raise in case I want more than a free coffee.

Especially since I just noticed my coupon is expired…

Grey, Grizzled, and Gaijin

Got a Question for the Grey, Grizzled, And Gaijin Mailbag? Send it to:  @craighoffman11 on Twitter!

“Success comes to those who dedicate everything to their passion in life. To be successful, it is also very important to be humble and never let fame or money travel to your head.”- A. R. Rahman
 

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Craig-347 Expat- On Seven Billion Reasons To Work Hard(er)

Craig note- Some of my old writings popped up on my Facebook feed. I write weekly to my pals and family. (Enjoy!)

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On One`s Place In The World (2016)

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Seven billion people.

That`s great and all. But, it is very, very, very tough to stand out. In fact, I spend countless hours on Twitter (writing) doing just that.

Social Media (writing) success has very, very, very little to do with talent. Everyone at the upper levels of Social Media (writing) is talented. It`s why they are successful (write). That is not unlike many, many, many other fields.

Every NBA player grew up as the “best basketball player” in their neighborhoods. The same is true for the NFL, NHL, or even really, really, really smart people.

(Tangent…on this tangent…)

I had a foreigner comment this week that, “What little I know of you, I think you are a smart person.”

(Dude. I am not a moron.)

He was trying to save my soul. And, he offered to “…share the truth of the Bible…”

Now, years ago, I set about memorizing the entire Bible. I did not have the heart to tell him that. I grew up believing that all the answers were in that book. Perhaps, they are, but I wasn`t one of those people lucky enough to find my life answers there.

(So, I looked elsewhere.)

It`s sort of funny to be so, so, so happy in life knowing deep, deep, deep, down I am going to spend eternity getting BBQ-ed like a four dollar discount steak.

(Ouch…)

But, my “worrying-style” of writing as my beloved friend coined my prose this afternoon is a really, really, really popular style.

(It has been enormously popular.)

Chicken Little draws an audience…as people just love watching the sky fall.

On somebody else.

On Being Hard On Yourself (2017)

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Mistakes.

I hate them.

This probably is not unlike most people. But, my mistakes, well, I despise them.

I was talking to my beloved mother last week. And, I said, “You know, people tend to think I am perfect.”

She said, “YOU think you are perfect.”

(And, that`s true.)

That`s not an ego thing. That`s a lot of hard work to reach perfection in every facet of my life. I put a lot of effort into everything. Heck, I brush my teeth with gusto.

(I really do. My dentist hates that.)

My life results with that mental approach are fantastic.

But, of course, (even) the great, great, great Grey, Grizzled, And Gaijin falls short. And, fall, yesterday, I did.

Literally, I fell into a sewer drain.

(Physically and mentally…)

Actually, this tangent the second one I wrote. The first one was a scathing rebuke of me (by me).

I am tough on people.

But, I am tougher on me.

This time, I don`t have it in me. I could have been more careful walking back home, and I could have been more careful having a bit too much fun at the party.

(I drank a little too much.)

But, I wasn`t.

And, I didn`t.

In the end, things worked out. It was good reminder to always be aware of your surroundings, especially in a foreign country.

Life has no rewind, so I am moving forward.

Albeit, slowly for the next couple days…

Grey, Grizzled, and Gaijin

Got a Question for the Grey, Grizzled, And Gaijin Mailbag? Send it to:  @craighoffman11 on Twitter!

“Happiness is not something you postpone for the future; it is something you design for the present.”- Jim Rohn
 

Craig-346 Expat- Are You Living In Expat Fantasyland?

Craig note- Schnikes! I have met some strange, strange expats over the years. They live in a very, very, very different Japan than I do. 

This post is a composite of some of the Fantasyland-living expats that I have met over the years. (Enjoy!)

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“Oh, don`t worry, I have enough money.”

That exact quote came from an expat this week. He told his coworkers how he was not feeling, “working more…” in the next school year.

That means other foreign coworkers in the company will have to pick up the extra work. Some of the folks are happy about making more money. But, there are a few expats who have little to no interest in working over the minimum.

They are content to live paycheck to paycheck.

Is that wrong?

I don`t know.

But, I know that is NOT why I moved to Japan. If I wanted to struggle, I would move back to AMERICA.

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(Tangent…)

I was reading about an English teaching job this past week. The salary was 250,000 yen a month, plus transportation. The full salary was offered 12 months a year.

(That is becoming more and more rare. It is common to have ZERO or reduced salary several times a year, especially August and Decemeber.)

Foreigners in droves were throwing the job posting/poster under the proverbial bus. Generally, I don`t comment on the Facebook forum junk.

There is little point. The expats (or people not even here) posting always, always, always have all the answers.

(That`s a joke…) 

But, in this case, the surrogate expat poster for the company was getting beat up pretty bad. So, I threw him a bone.

The job offered extra eikaiwa (English) classes in addition to the set salary. So, I questioned, “What exactly is the problem with this job?”

People posted:

“Well, it should pay more.”

“Do they provide a car?” (The job required a scooter or driver`s license.)

“No foreigner would work that many hours.”

“Nobody would take that job.”

“You have to eat lunch with the kids.”

I went on to post:

“Everyone wants more. We all want more. But, in Kansai, we start at 250,000 yen, and we quibble over the rest. That is a 265,000 yen a month job (likely more with the extra work). “

“I know every job. You would be hard pressed to find FIVE (entry-level) English teaching jobs offering those conditions (in Kansai).”

“Welcome to English teaching in Japan in 2018!”

The forum got really, really, really quiet.

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(Returning to my opening…)

So, the expat in the beginning of this post is a long-term foreigner. He is married. And, he has multiple kids.

The last time I saw him, he commented, “Yeah, we (he and his wife) are looking for ways to cut our food budget (to save money).”

(He had a new computer and an iPhone that he was eager to show off to me. But, I digress.)

He dreams of buying a house in Japan. But, he turned down tens of hours of extra work. Mind you, he is worth less than a postage stamp. The expat has made that no secret during our conversations over the years.

So, I wondered what could be more important than making more money. Especially, if home ownership is the ultimate goal…

“Why?”

“Well, I have ‘things’ I want to do?”

“What ‘things`?”

“Well, you know…”

I left it at that. It turns out the `things` is him sitting around his house with his family. A house they barely afford to rent. He told me, “I am just going to go down to the bank and get a house loan in the near future.”

“Don`t you think that`s a bit unlikely to be successful?”

“Oh, it`s easy to get a bank loan in America.”

“But, where do we live?”

“…”

The expat got really, really, really quiet. And, we parted.

You see wishing, hoping, and praying may keep the lights on in Fantasyland, but in Japan a lack of work ethic, money, and any connection to reality; generally, means for most Grey, Grizzled, And Gaijin expats that one day:

“The ride is over.”

Grey, Grizzled, and Gaijin

Got a Question for the Grey, Grizzled, And Gaijin Mailbag? Send it to:  @craighoffman11 on Twitter!

“My life motto is basically to lower your standards and expectations so you’re never disappointed and never put any trust in anything, and I try to prepare for the day that I wake up, and everyone I know is like, ‘LOL JK best long-running practical joke ever’, so I’ve never really let myself freak out or get too excited about anything.”- Tavi Gevinson
 

Craig-345 Life- What`s The Exchange Rate Of Your Karma?

Craig note- I was thinking about karma. (Enjoy!)C9NhUnIVoAEbtkF[1]

 

 

104.

When I arrived in Japan nearly 13 years ago, I got 104 yen (to the USD) when I exchanged my money. It was the first time I held yen in my hands. I remember thinking, “Looks like Monopoly money!”

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Funny, the last time I returned to America, I remarked US dollars, “Looks fake…”

(There have been several redesigns of US dollars since I have been in Japan.) 

I came to Japan at 29 years old.

I have written before on the topic, but I was not very, very, very happy about coming here. To be sure, I was thankful for a job. But, I had no real interest in Japan unless watching “Karate Kid II” counts.

(Good movie, btw.)

There was a big, big, big part of me that wondered, “Why am I not good enough at/in life to make it in America?”

(I never came up with an answer for that.)

I had been so, so, so close to getting a life-altering job/career in America. But, there was always, always, always something that got in the way. Some surreal events took place to stop my life from moving forward.

Seriously…

Karma never seemed to be on my side.

Too, this applied to my relationships. Over the years, there were women who I thought might be the ‘one.’ They disagreed.

Some of them really, really, really disagreed.

And, again, karma never seemed to be on my side.

(Fast forward…)

It`s an amazing, amazing, amazing thing to now live in Japan. My time here has been fantastic. It has exceeded every expectation and dream I had.

Karma is always, always, always on my side.

Why is that?

(I have never come up with an answer for that either.)

It`s not like I magically got any smarter, more talented, or even taller while in Japan. And, I am just as hard-working as I ever was in America. But, in every single phase of my life, I now get/have positive results.

Well, I could use more hair, but there are limits to the power of karma.

But, I digress…

(Tangent…)

Years ago, I had ZERO money. I was a graduate student. I was hungry. I was staying on campus over the summer break. There was no meal plan. So, I had to fend for myself.

(I had no car. Even if I did, I had no gas money.)

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I scrounged around my small, small, small graduate dorm room. And, I found some change.

75.

80.

85.

90.

96, 97, 98, 99, 100!

I ran down to the local McDonald`s restaurant to get a hamburger. I showed no shame as a I plunked down my well-earned copper, nickel, and silver treasures on the hard counter.

The girl behind the register was pi$$ed annoyed. Soon, she was visibly angry unhappy when she recounted my loot. There was no doubt I miscounted.

“You are short a penny, sir.”

“A penny!?”

“Yes.”

I searched my well-worn blue jean pockets. But, there was no penny to be found. I left my change on the counter, and I walked back to my dorm room. I went hungry for three days before my meal plan kicked in for the new semester.

There is no real point to that story. But, sometimes when you are a just little short of (insert whatever) in life, you might as well have nothing. But, when you have just a little more of (insert whatever), you are really, really, really fortunate.

And, that is something to be thankful for every day.

No matter where your karma gets exchanged…

Grey, Grizzled, and Gaijin

Got a Question for the Grey, Grizzled, And Gaijin Mailbag? Send it to:  @craighoffman11 on Twitter!

“On one hand, we know that everything happens for a reason, and there are no mistakes or coincidences. On the other hand, we learn that we can never give up, knowing that with the right tools and energy, we can reverse any decree or karma. So, which is it? Let the Light decide, or never give up? The answer is: both.”- Yehuda Berg
 

Craig-344 Lecture Transcript- On Writing Novels

Craig note- We spent time in a YouTube and in a lecture or two talking about the process of writing novels, writing in general, and self-confidence. (Enjoy!)

Grey, Grizzled, And Gaijin

Introduction

Hello, it’s Grey, Grizzled, and Gaijin, and we’re back! We hope you’re having a happy day wherever you’re watching this video from.

We had a couple of days off from our regular gig in the salt mines, so we thought we would address a recent Grey, Grizzled, and Gaijin mailbag question that came in to us.

It dealt with novels and the novel writing process and how someone could become a novelist. That came in mostly because of the publication of our second book “The ‘Moore’ We Forget.” But, of course, our novel does not help you write your novel.

So, we’re here to offer some encouragement and advice for those of you who are looking to join those successful folks around the world who reached that bucket-list dream of writing a novel.  Hopefully help those of you who take that next all important step of publication.

Years ago, we read a great quote that said something to the effect of the worst published novel is better than the best unpublished novel. No matter what you put out there it will be better than 99% of the people in the world who dream about writing novels.

Now, are you going to be at the top of the 1% of those who do publish and write novels?

I don’t know. Stranger things have happened especially with Amazon and even Amazon self-publishing but dare to dream and reach out in 2018 to accomplish your goal. That’s the first step all of the rest you really don’t control.

If people loved my second novel that’s great. A quick a back story our first novel was quick. There are some bobbles in the publication. We were excited to reach that dream.

People loved it.

People hated it.

It didn’t change our life. We made a few bucks, but we have yet to receive them from Amazon because we haven’t hit that threshold. Which is an amazing thing! Let me talk about that in another lecture.

But, we reached our dream.

The second time we made a full effort to really, really, really extend ourselves and put the full force of our writing abilities, editing abilities, and our ideas into practice. And, that novel was well, well, well received. If you read both books, you’ll see what we’re talking about.

On Word Counts

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The first thing I think people struggle with is the length. “Can I write 50,000 to 75,000 words?”

The answer “Yes.”

But, we don’t see it as 50,000 words. We see it as blocks of 2,000 words as a block of 500 words as a block of 200 words as a paragraph a sentence a word or even a single letter. All of those steps get you to your final word count goal whatever it is that you set that out to be.

We’re less concerned with word count with quality of the words that go into it. If you spend a moment with our second book and we really, really, really encourage you to. It’s a style based on pace and word economy.

We’re not big on adverbs we make every effort to crush our crutch words, and that does sink our word count. This is especially early after we write our first draft.

It is a painful thing to watch your work slide under whatever word count you had hoping that you would reach going in. But, the idea is that we kick out lesser words and lesser words connected to weaker ideas.

We put in better words and stronger ideas and the sum total of daily rewriting our first draft eventually produces a stronger more quality work that’s really, really, really key.

Anyone can write 50,000 words the key is “Can you write 50,000 really, really, really good word?”

[Words] that somebody is willing to keep turning the pages and going to the next chapter and hopefully reviewing and retweeting and pushing your work out there.

That is key if you really want any success on a (professional) writing level. It’s also key in blog writing. You have to write things that people are interested in and interested in sharing. Otherwise, it’s you writing to yourself.

On Developing Plot

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We talk about plot. And, we do believe it’s conflict. And, anybody that you talk to or read will tell you you’ve got to put some characters in that fight and do something. And then they resolve.

And, there’s this idea of a three-act kind of thing. And, some people think it’s an eight-step process. In japan, Japanese writers surprisingly there’s a four act kind of writing process that people aspire to adhere to.

And, if that works for you, great.

Generally, we try to pivot to some sort of resolution about two-thirds of the way in. We also try to do that within each chapter. There’s some sort of introduction, a problem, and a resolution.

Even within each chapter we do this mostly because it makes rewriting very easy. If you take a story and you’re locked into a certain path, it’s really difficult to undo if you find
that, that path is wrong.

If you go chapter by chapter and it’s more self-contained you have an opportunity to backtrack, rewrite, and go into another direction without erasing hundreds of pages.

Is that the style that works for you?

I don’t know.  

But, it’s been in a very effective style for me. And, I do go back and forth between the “we” pronoun and the “I” pronoun. Apologies for that. But, it is true.

On Creating Characters

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I try to make imperfect characters. I don’t want anybody that everybody loves, and I don’t need a character that everybody hates. That’s not my idea you can read any number of websites and YouTube videos like this one that will tell you the same thing.

I tend to lean on characters that have something physically wrong with them in both books major characters have had things like: eye problems or hearing problems.

The new book a character is missing several fingers and has a bad leg. I think it adds an element of realism. I try to make my characters move I try to make those dialogues mean something.

I also like third characters. Whether it’s a staff member, a waiter, a brother, or a sister.

Another family member in the scene…

Another lover that comes into the scene…

I think it builds tension. I talked in the blog post about table tennis kind of storytelling.

Where you do something…

They do something.

You do something.

They do something.

It’s great for 10 pages. For 180 pages, it gets really, really, really boring. But, if you bring in that other character(s) to bounce an idea off; to give them something to do; it allows you to more effectively control the pace.

We talked in the blog post about not being so ex machina in your conflict resolution(s). “I love you. You love me. Let’s end happy.”

That’s a story that’s been done ad nauseam over the years and not something that we were particularly interested in producing. We wanted to do something no pun intended novel and unique in our writing.

On Self-Confidence

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The final thing that we’ll talk about here is self-confidence. Our first novel was loved by a lot of people. Our first novel was also hated by a lot of people. Some of those people made it no secret that they hated our novel in a very public way. And, we took that to heart.

If you love writing and you put your soul into a work, I don’t care who you are on some level whether you admit that to the public; whether you admit that to yourself; or not whether you’re sitting in bed late at night, it does affect you. And, it did and does bother us.

But, we put that [criticism] into a productive cause, and our second novel we went full force into shutting those people down with our best full second effort. And, we achieved that goal.

On Writing Goals

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The goal is not to become rich or famous. If that’s your goal for novel-writing, please don’t write novels.  

Could you become rich and famous?

Yes.

Are you going to become rich and famous by writing $0.99, 180 page e-books for Amazon?

Probably not.

But, are you going to hold your head high when you see your name on that cover on Amazon Kindle?

Yes.

When people you know, know that you have accomplished something that they will never do…

That is what we hold on to and when we write a book and we walk away from it we don’t care what anybody says, because we have achieved our maximum writing potential.

Finally, we encourage you to seek out people who have been successful in writing. We try to create a writing community of people that we can lean on and depend for encouragement.

And, we encourage you to contact us with your dreams. That’s it and have a great, great
day.

Grey, Grizzled, and Gaijin

Got a Question for the Grey, Grizzled, And Gaijin Mailbag? Send it to:  @craighoffman11 on Twitter!

“In every day, there are 1,440 minutes. That means we have 1,440 daily opportunities to make a positive impact.”- Les Brown
 

Craig-343 Social Media- But, Where Is Number 49?

Craig note- I gave a lecture on “winning” recently. It got me thinking. (Enjoy!)C9NhUnIVoAEbtkF[1]

 

 

Winning.

It matters.

If you don`t believe that, this post is likely not for you.

As you may have guessed, I am motivated person. I really, really, really go at my life. I make no excuses. And, I never, ever, ever say:

“I can`t.”

And, I would throw myself in the river before I ever, ever, EVER told somebody:

“I`m too busy.”

Those are excuses not reasons for failure at school, at work, and in life. Successful people always, always, always find a way to get things done. And, yes, this comes a personal cost (at times). I AM willing to pay that price.

Are you?

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(A tangent…)

I spoke about AKB 48 the other day. They are a very, very, very popular J-pop group here in Japan. There are 48 girls in the group. When I first came to Japan, they were on TV constantly.

(I believe they still are. I don`t watch TV as a rule. It`s part of getting things done.)

I said, “I wonder whatever happened to number 49.”

The group I was speaking to was puzzled.

“Yeah, you know, they picked 48 girls for that group. Right?”

“Yes.”

“Well, those 48 girls get on TV and earn paychecks. But, number 49 got sent home with nothing. What happened to her?”

“…”

(Related…)

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This week hundreds of new JET Program applicants around the world got the good news they made it to the next round of the hiring process. But, of course, 100s; if not 1000s, more got rejected.

They lost.

Now, it is on to Plan B, C, D, or even Z if they want to come teach English in Japan. Trust me, most of those options are far, far, far less appealing than the cushy JET Program English teaching jobs.

They failed.

(As this relates to Social Media…)

I see a lot of failure in/on Social Media, too. It is astonishing the amount of that, that is self-inflicted. People come to me often for Social Media advice. 99% of the folks have the same problem. They think they are special.

Perhaps, they are, but more likely; well, let`s be honest. Shall we?

There is NO WAY you are going tweet ONCE a week as a normal human being and get 1,000,000 followers.

There is NO WAY you are going to post a blog ONE TIME and get thousands of interactions.

And, there is NO WAY you are going to upload a YouTube video or podcast ONE TIME and get zillions of interactions.

Sure, you might get lucky and post something that goes viral. It does happen. But, once your 15 seconds of fame are up, you are going to have to come up with something new.

The average Social Media engager moves on quick, fast, and in a hurry if you don`t.

(Again, the above is talking about normal, regular people on social media, especially those just starting out.)

Nothing replaces, quality content, time, and effort for most people on Social Media. I say it all the time, “I am nobody, but I am the best nobody I can be.”

That`s my big, big, big secret. It is my committment to that ideal that sets me apart from 99% of the “regular” people on Social Media. I AM willing to do all the Social Media grunt work (and some) to reach success.

Are you?

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Social Media Action Steps

  • Be consistent. There are no days off on Social Media.
  • Be repetitive. You might live on Twitter. Most people don`t.
  • Be brief. People don`t have time for your sh%t.
  • Be creative. Follow what others do, but be unafraid to improve upon it.
  • Be there for those who follow you. And reach out to those who don`t.
  • Be in it to WIN it!

Grey, Grizzled, and Gaijin

Got a Question for the Grey, Grizzled, And Gaijin Mailbag? Send it to:  @craighoffman11 on Twitter!

“A successful competition for me is always going out there and putting 100 percent into whatever I’m doing. It’s not always winning. People, I think, mistake that it’s just winning. Sometimes it could be, but for me, it’s hitting the best sets I can, gaining confidence, and having a good time and having fun.”- Simone Biles
 

Craig-342 Social Media- On Tips For (New) Bloggers

Craig note- I spent time writing a new blogger in Japan on Twitter. While it focuses on blogging in/about Japan, the ideas certainly translate to anyone looking to blog. (Enjoy!)C9NhUnIVoAEbtkF[1]

 

 

On Finding Your Voice 

It can be difficult to find “your” voice when writing a blog. People write what they know. It also depends on your goal(s) for your blog. If you dream of becoming popular, it`s a must that you find a unique angle.

On Expanding Your Audience

It`s important to expand who engages your content. There are expats (bloggers) who focus on the JETProgramme (insert something niche). That`s great.

But, this a dead horse as far as ever becoming popular. Many, many, many expats (bloggers) target people who love Japan, Japanese food, travel, etc.

(Insert whatever you are blogging about…)

Again, the social media engagement ceiling for that stuff is really, really, really low. You have to be more than a one-trick pony to gain a significant blog following.

On Not Just Copying Other People (Or Getting Stuck In a Rut)

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Often the (expat) content creator (in Japan) becomes “just another white guy” with a blog, YouTube!, podcast, or whatever. In turn, their content, and I find this in a lot of podcasts here, is “The English teacher O` The Week” format.

The social media engagement ceiling for that type of content is; well, really, really, really low (and boring).

On Giving Everyone A Reason To Read (And Come Back) To Your Blog

 I write about Japan (of course). And, no one post is going to be for everybody. But, I try to put something in EVERY post for everyone. Readers don`t have to LOVE everything you post, but they better like most of it. This is really, really, really key.

You have find ways in blogging to keep people reading, coming back, and sharing your content with others. That`s critical if you want to move beyond writing for five people.

On Personal Blogging Philosophy

I try to be real and talk to my readers. I`m a regular dude who gets up; works, and in my spare time pursues my dreams. I think anyone can relate to that.

On Listening To Your Audience

It`s important to look at the posts that are popular. My core, once it grew beyond expats in Japan, did not care about posts on English teaching.

But, they loved posts about Japanese food, social media, writing, and life advice. So, I pivoted, and I wrote more about that stuff.

My Twitter, blog, and social media increased 10-fold.

On Dropping Your Smaller Core Group(s) A Bone (From Time To Time)

I don`t forget the English teaching peeps. I still drop a post or some advice for them. But, I cater to the people more likely to share and retweet my posts. Those folks keep my blog growing.

I promote my content with Twitter videos. And, I have jumped a bit on YouTube to draw people to my blog. I do this to reach my ultimate goal of getting people to my novels.

(Hint! Hint! It`s available to the right of this post.)

Social Media Action Step(s)

  • Find your voice. People will read your blog if your ideas are unique and your personality shines through the post.
  • Focus on producing regular, quality blog posts. Nothing tops quality content. 
  • Reach out to your core to see what they want to engage. Readers matter. 
  • Shorten your paragraphs in blog posts. We live in a smartphone-reading/reader world. People get annoyed reading long blocks of writing on a phone. 
  • Keep it short and sweet. 500-1,000 words a post. Yes, people read longer things. But, it had better be AMAZING writing/content beyond 1,000 words.

Grey, Grizzled, and Gaijin

Got a Question for the Grey, Grizzled, And Gaijin Mailbag? Send it to:  @craighoffman11 on Twitter!

“Put your heart, mind, and soul into even your smallest acts. This is the secret of success.”- Swami Sivananda
 

Craig-341 Life- On Broken Clocks And Waiting To Be More

Craig note- I have been in a thinking mood in early 2018. (Enjoy!)C9NhUnIVoAEbtkF[1]

 

 

The other day my living room clock broke. Well; more specifically, the battery died. The hands of the clock spun around at warp speed. It was an apt symbol for my recent winter vacation and my life.

People say “Time flies when you are having fun.” I know that is true. But, recently, I have come to understand time flies when you are really, really, really living life, too. Of course, some people don`t get the chance to live a very, very, very long life.

And, that troubles me.

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In the news, there is a viral letter from a terminal cancer patient. She writes about what she finds really, really, really important in life. She had this idea she was going grow old and grey.

But, she will not get that chance.

Oddly, this applies to my life currently. I have my annual health check in two weeks. It`s the worst…THE WORST time of year for me. I hate hospitals, doctors, nurses, and healthcare-related things and people of all manner.

(No offense…)

Mostly, I hate them, because they know something I do not. And, worse, they know…

The truth.

The truth that I am not Superman.

(No matter how hard I try to convince myself that I am...)

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In America, I rarely had health insurance as a working adult. I was a healthy, young man. And, I was darn lucky I avoided any major maladies. I have family and friends who were (are) not nearly as lucky.

Of course, Japan offers health insurance. I paid my premiums for years before I went to the doctor. I was okay with that. Later, I got married, and my wife made me go to the doctor for a health check. I believe her exact words were, “If you don`t go, I`ll divorce you.”

I considered divorce. (j/k)

I went. I sat through all sorts of tests. And, I left. Two weeks later the test results came in the mail. I was in perfect health. I playfully mocked my wife for, “worrying about nothing…”

(Fast forward…)

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I got a job at Japanese company. They, too, required a full health check. So, I went. And, I had trouble with a few tests. Like before, I got the test results in the mail. And, this time I was not perfect. I spent WEEKS feeling sick and weak.

My wife made me go to various doctors for follow-up exams. They found nothing wrong. Everyone chalked it up to, “Craig`s Japanese is terrible.”

(I protested. But, it beat admitting that I was sick.)

I returned to my genki self. And, life went on very, very, very much the same. But, I know one day the health check result is going to come in the mail. And, the result will not be good. Unfortunately, it will not be because, as my wife puts it, “You $%$% at Japanese.”

(Remind me to write an article about Japanese wives one day. Eek!)

All kidding aside, it is why I have really, really, really pushed my writing. I had this idea one day, “when I retire…” I would sit around all day and write books. But, once I turned 40, many, many, many friends were beset by health problems.

(In fact, one or two died.)

I took it as a wake up call to make “tomorrow”…TODAY.

In last two years, I have written two novels, 341(+/-) blog posts, several guest blogs, newspaper features, company handbooks, several ESL courses, built a social media company, and became rather popular. And, I have worked 5-6 days a week a regular job.

I write that not to toot my horn.

My life does not require anyone`s praise or approval. I tell you the above in the hopes if you are sitting around waiting for the time to “be more” in Japan (or anywhere), that you get off your a$$.

Your life like my clock has a limited battery…

Grey, Grizzled, and Gaijin

Got a Question for the Grey, Grizzled, And Gaijin Mailbag? Send it to:  @craighoffman11 on Twitter!

“Good, better, best. Never let it rest. ‘Til your good is better and your better is best.”- St. Jerome
 

Craig-340 Social Media- On Birds (And People) Banging On Glass (Ceilings)

Craig note- I am kicking around storylines for my next novel. But, I wanted to post new content. People have been writing me with questions on evaluating social media success/failure. Trust me, it is easy to get discouraged.

This post is intentionally over dramatic, but the feeling(s) are there to some degree even for me. (Enjoy!)C9NhUnIVoAEbtkF[1]

 

 

I awoke over my winter vacation about 2:30 a.m one morning. There was no reason to be up at that hour. But, my computer called me to sit before it and write something.

(What? Your computer doesn`t do that?)

Truthfully, I did not have it in me on that morning. My computer called to me again. So, I wrote a blog post (or two). After I finished, I went back to bed.

But, I could not fall asleep.

There was a little bird outside my condo window. He kept chirping. It was cold outside. I imagined the little sparrow was calling out to me, “Let me in! Let me in! It`s cold outside.”

I thought about opening the window.

But, I did not.

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Years ago, another little bird flew repeatedly into my bedroom window. Time and time again, the little bird would fly full speed into that glass pane. One supposes it mistook its reflection for another bird.

(At least, I hope so. Otherwise, it was one really, really, really dumb bird.)

This went on for several weeks. It annoyed me to no end. We lived in a woods, so I begrudgingly got used to it. But, back in those days, I worked long, long, long hours. The little sleep I got was a very, very, very precious thing to me. One morning I did not hear the bird.

Truthfully, I was glad.

I got ready for work, and I walked out the front door. There on the cold, grey sidewalk was the little bird. It was dead. In fact, it had been shredded to pieces (no doubt by another wild animal living in the woods).

And, I was sad.

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(Fast forward…)

A few years ago, I worked in a countryside school in Japan. A sparrow built a nest near the door to one of the old, old, old school buildings. The bird flew full speed into the upper glass of the building door every morning.

Everyone was told to, “Be sure and shut the door, so the bird does not get into the school.”

Of course, somebody did not shut the door, and the little bird got inside the building. Worse for the bird, nobody noticed it was hiding inside a classroom during winter vacation. That did not end well for our little friend.

I returned after the break to find the English classroom covered in white bird poop of varying sizes. The bird had been in quite the panic to escape the locked building. I found its blood-covered, dead body lying on the hallway floor.

The worst part…

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It was just a half meter away from an open widow (and to its freedom).

It got me thinking about (social media, life) success. It is so, so, so easy to want to be more (on social media/in life). I try to focus on the tasks at hand.

But, I would be lying if I said I did not keep some eye on (books sales, blog numbers, and Twitter engagement levels.) At times, I question if it (my enormous effort) is really, really, really worth it.

(Hence, this post…)

Of course, I enjoy writing. And, as I wrote another content creator in Japan, “I have shared Japan from the first day I came here.” This also something I enjoy doing.

But, I do question the validity of writing, writing, writing, and sharing, sharing, sharing with no real endgame (sustainable income, fame, or whatever). There must be something more productive I should be doing with my limited free time.

I end up feeling very, very, very much like those dear departed little birds…(at times)

There is no point in banging on the (social media/success) glass ceiling. Yet, I cannot help but keep bangin` away.

I am left to wonder if “(Social media/Success) really, really, really is just (not) for (me or) the birds.”

Hopefully, I don`t end up like a (Social media/Unsuccessful) dodo.

Grey, Grizzled, and Gaijin

Got a Question for the Grey, Grizzled, And Gaijin Mailbag? Send it to:  @craighoffman11 on Twitter!

“Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not: nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not: the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.”- Calvin Coolidge
 

Craig-339- On Kaiten Zushi- Beyond Sushi

Craig note- Conveyor belt sushi is changing in Japan! (Enjoy!)

Grey, Grizzled, And Gaijin

Sushi

Of course, if you go to a kaiten zushi restaurant in Japan you expect this:

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Alternative Sushi

You can find “sushi” without fish. This hamburger sushi has been around on the kids` menu for years. Oddly, it is my favorite “sushi.”

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Too, you can find things like hot coffee, pudding, cake, and even pretzels on the belt at most kaiten zushi shops.

It great to have more than sushi on the menu. But, be careful, those add-on dishes can make the once affordable kaiten zushi family meal a ZILLION yen!

Grey, Grizzled, and Gaijin

Got a Question for the Grey, Grizzled, And Gaijin Mailbag? Send it to:  @craighoffman11 on Twitter!

“Going to a restaurant is one of my keenest pleasures. Meeting someplace with old and new friends, ordering wine, eating food, surrounded by strangers, I think is the core of what it means to live a civilised life.”- Adam Gopnik