Tag Archives: passion

Living BOLDLY and fearlessly (while being smart about it)


I’m honored to have one of my articles published in the June 2014 inaugural issue of BOLD Favor magazine, a publication highlighting people, organizations, and causes that inspire people to live boldly and fearlessly. I’d like to share the article with you, my wonderful readers, in its entirety.


The founder and editor-in-chief of BOLD Favor, Lynita Mitchell-Blackwell, is an impressive young lady who is a published author, CPA, attorney, speaker, and leader in her community. I always tell her that she is going to be another Oprah in a few years, so I plan to stay on her good side so I can borrow—no, have—a few million bucks from her one day. So when she asked me to submit an article related to living boldly, I was very happy to do so.


When I first thought about living boldly, I considered the time I stepped out of my comfort zone to ski on a steep slope (a mountain slope in the Austrian Alps, of all places), even though I had never touched a ski in my life. After two short lessons, I went up to the top of a hill and tried to practice making turns. Instead, I shot downhill like a bullet, straight toward death or serious injury in the form of a massive concrete support column. The other skiers spotted me as an obvious newbie and decided to move out of my path. I heard the ski instructor yelling for me to turn, but my leg wouldn’t listen. As I got within 20 feet of slamming into that column, I shifted my weight so hard that I executed a perfect 90-degree left turn at the last second. I drifted away with a new lease on life and a promise to start going to church more, as my buddy gave me that smirking “you-know-you-almost-killed-yourself-don’t you?” look.


BEFORE: Living boldly and fearlessly on the ski slopes

BEFORE: Ready to live boldly and fearlessly on the ski slopes


How I lived boldly and fearlessly on the ski slopes

AFTER: How living boldly and fearlessly on the ski slope worked out for me


While that was certainly living boldly, it was also a bit stupid to try skiing in that environment, especially one where most people didn’t even speak English and I didn’t know the German words for ‘hospital’ or ‘last will and testament’. I didn’t want to inspire someone to risk his or her life, so I decided to write about safer ways to live boldly.

Enjoy the article and check out the magazine!



Pushing BOLDLY Through Fear & Past Procrastination

Reprinted from June 2014 issue of BOLD Favor magazine

by James Reid


Taking a leap of faith

Leaping out of the comfort zone (which is safer than skiing)


To me, living boldly is stepping out of your comfort zone and changing your life. Everything starts with that first step.

Most people never take that step because of fear. Fear of being a failure. Fear of uncertainty. Fear of being ridiculed or of being uncomfortable.

I had those fears when it came to my writing. I love to write. I daydream about being a famous author. And I procrastinated—for years—in writing my first novel. It isn’t good enough yet, I told myself. I never learned how to do this. What if people laugh at me and say my book is garbage? Especially after I spent all these years on it?

If you are thinking like this about your own dream, stop it.

I used to volunteer and spend time talking to elderly people with no family. They appreciated the company. And while the conversations were pleasant, all of them expressed the same regret: they wished they’d taken a chance on doing something they loved. They said they made dozens of excuses for their inaction; they were too busy, kids got in the way, etc. They warned me not to make the same mistake because life sneaks up quickly. The situation and timing for living boldly will never be perfect. The best time is always now.

So for me, the fear of having critics rip my book wasn’t as strong as the fear of getting old and looking back on my life, wishing I had taken a chance to achieve great things. How about you? What do you fear most? Failure? Or regret?

I have a feeling you want to change your life and make that big step! As you live boldly, I’ll share some things I’m learning as I go along in my career:

  • Haters will come. They’re always going to be there, so forget them. I fretted about them until someone reminded me that even the Bible has detractors. So if some people have problems with the best-selling book in history, how can I expect my book to emerge unscathed? You’ll never get everyone to like you. Focus on your supporters instead.


  • Forget about making mistakes. In fact, use corporate puffery and call them learning opportunities. You’ll have plenty of them, especially when starting any venture. Of course, you should try learning from other people’s mistakes rather than your own, but it’s still unavoidable. Just learn from them. I’ve learned more of what not to do than what to do in this early stage of my writing career.


  • Aim high. You’ll need to, because people will always be pulling you back down with them. For example, writers groups can be depressing. We’re constantly told we have a better chance of hitting the lottery than of getting an agent and making money, blah blah blah. Yes, the odds are astronomical. I experience them every day. Living boldly means you will, too. So you need to be a realist.


But don’t confuse realism with pessimism. Pessimism is naysaying, with no thought of positive outcomes or solutions. A realist understands the risks and troubles, but plans to overcome them. It’s true that most writers make little money. Yet, James Patterson made $94 million in one year. So somebody is making money by writing. Will I get there? Who knows? Most of us won’t reach that level (if money is your measure of success). But he started at zero like everyone else. Aiming high and believing you can get there is living boldly. It’s difficult, but not impossible.


  • Be patient. I struggle with this myself. But unless you’re lucky, success won’t come fast. However, people expect everything to move quickly these days, so they’ll question you and doubt you, wondering why it hasn’t happened for you yet. Just keep at it. Big things have small beginnings. That first step is the hardest. Once you get going, you start rolling.

It took me ten years to complete and publish my book. People always wonder why I didn’t give up. It never crossed my mind. I love writing stories and I still hold on to that dream.

If you take that bold step to change your life and do what you love, giving up won’t be an option for you, either!

Career Change does a body good

I’ve been blessed to learn and cultivate a particular set of skills, skills I’ve acquired over the course of my career.

I’ve always wanted to say that.

Actually, it would be cool if I were a former spy like Liam Neeson in Taken, but the skills I’m talking about won’t help me take out violent criminals single-handedly. Instead, they’ve helped me survive layoffs and do well in six industries and disciplines. In about 17 years, I’ve worked in retail management, finance, pricing, marketing, and product management. I’ve also written my first book in a murder mystery series.

Lots of younger professionals (20’s – 30’s) ask me how I transitioned through multiple career paths. Those that ask me usually seek a career that is more fulfilling. Therefore, I thought I’d share a few things I learned. If you find yourself in this situation, I hope you find this useful.

Figure out exactly what you want to do

Hopefully, you’ll already know this, so I won’t spend a lot of time on it. We only live so long, so you don’t have time to taste-test a thousand options. Research your targeted choice and interview folks already in it. Make sure you really want to try it. You don’t want to waste years getting into something only to end up hating it.

Understand and build your transferable skills

I jumped from retail banking to financial management to marketing. Although the roles are different, all require strong analytical capability. I cultivated that skill and positioned it as an asset for each role.

Let’s say you sell used cars but want to work in product management one day. Start by determining the basic skills required for success in each role. Suppose one is understanding and meeting customer needs.  Another one may be influencing buying behavior. If you build on those skills and can demonstrate them, you’ll make a huge leap in including yourself among the candidates in your targeted career.

Remember that skills can be learned. Although I majored in marketing, I ended up working in finance because I couldn’t get a marketing job when I graduated. I had to learn how to be analytical and look at the big picture because I sure didn’t do much of that in the beginning of my career.


This is obvious but is even more critical when you’re switching careers. You’ll be an unproven commodity in your new field. Building connections is key to convincing someone to give you a shot. Also consider joining Toastmasters to brush up on your public speaking; the ability to network and present and convey ideas will open doors everywhere.

Offer yourself on a trial period

Some people apply for jobs outside of their field, don’t establish relationships, but expect to command top dollar without working their way up. That’s ridiculous. Instead, find someone in your new field and offer to assist them with a project—for free. Or join a cross-functional project team at work to gain exposure. If people don’t have to pay you, they’re more likely to bring you in, show you the ropes, and give you valuable insight. I’ve landed a couple of jobs this way.

Understand it will take time

Everybody wants everything now. Life doesn’t work like that for most of us. Things take time, even for things where we feel we’re a natural fit.

I love writing—and yet, it still took me about nine years to write and publish my first book. It also cost a lot (i.e., attending writer’s conferences, paying copy editors, paying for promotional tactics, etc.)

Hopefully, it won’t take you as long to start your new career as it did for me to write my novel. Just understand that this effort usually isn’t overnight. Your career path might resemble a line dance; you’ll have to take a step forward, one step back, and two to the side before moving forward again.

But as long as each step puts you closer to your goal, you’ll keep acquiring those valuable sets of skills that will place you where you want to be.

We build them up, We tear them down

Social media is great. It gives a voice to millions who otherwise wouldn’t be heard. Unfortunately, it also gives a voice to mean, angry, and hypocritical people. And when they get going, the nastiness spreads like wildfire, usually for things that really aren’t that serious.

We adulate and hate our celebrities at the same time. We indulge in hero worship but God forbid they make a mistake or do something that reminds us they are human. Then we turn on them in a rabid fury.

The NFC Championship between the Seahawks and 49ers is a perfect example. Cornerback Richard Sherman, a Stanford graduate and intelligent guy, went Clubber Lang on Michael Crabtree. Sherman was so hyped in a postgame interview, he virtually unloaded on Crabtree, probably spraying some spittle on Erin Andrews, who didn’t know what the hell to do after that.

His outburst was uncalled for and unprofessional. Everyone saw that. But what got me is the reaction to it. People vilified him and called him a thug. On cue, racist trolls infested social media like roaches, pouncing on the opportunity to call someone the n-word behind the safety of anonymous screens. I presume it made them feel better about themselves for some reason, but their hypocrisy was hilarious. They were so upset because a mere football player, who does nothing to put food on their table or pay their mortgage, yelled and talked trash to an opponent? And the only way they could express themselves was to hurl nasty remarks and threats at a guy they accused of having no class or tact?  Clearly, self-reflection is in short supply these days.

Besides, isn’t that raw fire what NFL fans ask from the players, anyway? No one likes it when an athlete or coach like Bill Belichick talks to the media in boring sound bites and clichés. “Give us more,” people say. “We want to hear the raw stuff!” People love the ‘mic’d’ up segments, where we hear the trash talk from players. But when Richard Sherman fired off at the end of the game, while still overloaded on adrenaline, people ripped him. They got what they wanted and couldn’t handle it.

The media knows what it is doing. They seek these guys right after the game to get their raw emotions. And Sherman is already known as a fiery guy who talks trash. They knew they were going to get something juicy from him. They got what they wanted.

He definitely needed a timeout before he got within a mile of a microphone, and clearly, his display was unnecessary. Hell, his team had won. But he also did not bash the fans, the viewers, nor did he fill our living room with a stream of profanity. It was pretty tame, as far as outbursts go. And does anyone remember a guy named Muhammad Ali?  The Greatest is revered by everyone. But he ran his mouth just as much and said FAR WORSE in his prime. He made Joe Frazier’s life hell with a slew of nasty racial insults. Frazier hated him for years and only forgave him decades later.

I have a feeling Crabtree will get over this well before a few decades passes.

And I hope others can get over themselves and their indignation well before that.

Because it just isn’t that serious.

What do you think?

Write about what you DON’T know

Every writer has heard the adage: write about what you know. It’s sound advice. It gives your words confidence and credibility.

But what if you want to go beyond your expertise? I’ve met aspiring writers who want to do this, but they limit their scope to what they do for a living. As a result, they get stuck figuring out how and where to start exploring new territory. This isn’t a problem for everyone, but if you’re glued to the starting blocks, I’d like to help.

Over the next few posts, I’ll share some things to keep in mind as you dive into writing something new. These insights helped me with my first novel, Partners in Crime. After reading it, people who don’t know me usually think I’m a cop. Yet, I’ve never been in law enforcement. They ask me how I captured the emotions of a homicide detective and vivid forensic details without living in it every day. Here was my first step:

Read and accumulate data

This screams “no-brainer”, but many people don’t do enough of it. Fiction must read as truthful as non-fiction. So if you include a terribly inaccurate detail in your story (such as having a positive DNA match convict someone years before DNA was actually used), readers will hate you. Okay, they might not really hate you. But you’d better believe someone will know you’re wrong and you’ll lose credibility.

  • Comb through the internet, articles, and reference materials

For Partners in Crime, I studied forensic investigation, reviewed Georgia statutes, ordered criminal law textbooks, and even watched autopsies online. But how did I know what I needed to research, if I never worked as a homicide detective?

It’s an easy answer but not an easy task. Let’s say you want to write a legal thriller with corporate espionage, but you know nothing about that world. You can just start with Google search terms, such as “legal information” or “corporate espionage”, and you’ll find information about trademark and patent laws, sites with free legal information like http://www.nolo.com, actual examples of companies stealing secrets and how they did it, etc.

Easy? Yes, but the key is to keep searching, to keep reviewing things beyond the first page of results, and to keep tumbling down that rabbit hole. This generates more questions and subjects to investigate. You’ll come across things you never considered but need to know. In another post, I’ll talk about actually finding people you need to meet, but before that happens, you need your facts. Folks are more likely to help if you’ve done your work.

  • Prepare for the long haul

It took me almost eight years to complete my book and I had to discipline myself to research even minor details for the entire time. Some days, I spent 100% of my writing time on it. In fact, I gathered data for months before I even started the book. Depending on your subject, your data will likely change from when you first reviewed it to when you write about it. For that legal thriller, you’ll need to be up-to-date with the law if your story is set in the present day. So don’t expect to surf Google for a couple of hours and think that’s enough.

  •  See what other writers are doing

You should be reading other books in your genre already. It will help you understand what works and what doesn’t.

  •  Don’t go 100% Hollywood

Never rely solely on movies or television. While they can be good resources, theyre notorious for fudging real-life authenticity to appease audiences. If you want to write about things outside of your realm, you’ll need to be as authentic as possible to stay credible to readers.

The more data you come across, the more it sparks those creative ideas for your story. These are just things I’ve found helpful. For those who’ve broken through their boundaries, what are some things you’ve found helpful when gathering data?