farewell, minneapolis.

February 3rd, 2012 | 4 Comments

For some, this news may come as a shock and for others it may have been a long time coming. Either way, I am officially moving to New York City as I have accepted a Digital Account Executive position with mcgarrybowen! This decision was very difficult as I have grown incredibly fond of Minneapolis, a place that I truly can call home. That said, I want to go through a list of some things that have allowed me to grow and be in such a promising position in my young career. I owe a big thanks to the below, all of which will be greatly missed!

  • Risdall Advertising Agency – A huge thanks to John Risdall who gave me a start and believed in me from day one. I learned so much about myself, the real world and marketing from this amazing place and met some incredible mentors along the way – Jared Roy and Chris Peterson to name a few.
  • A truly special and diverse group of friends that love me for who I am and have opened my eyes to so many new and wonderful things in the world.
  • My awesome cousins, The Howes, out in Stillwater, MN who put dinner on the table for me at least 2x a month and allowed me to torment their little kiddies time after time 😉
  • Dinkytown – where it all began! College at The U of M was 4 of the best years of my life (from what I remember) and has allowed for a great foundation, socially and professionally!
  • Uptown – This is where phase 2 of Minneapolis began for me. After school, I moved to Uptown where I lived in a great place, with awesome friends and began exploring all of the wonderful things this city has to offer (ie: the lakes, amazing food, beers and bars, awesome vintage shops, a top-notch music scene and more).
  • The Current – Though I plan to stream it, The Current has been my baby. This independent radio station is the best in the country and has introduced me to so many new creative outlets in the Twin Cities.
  • Urban Bean Coffee & The Movement Minneapolis. Two businesses that I frequented often and happen to be owned by crazy awesome dudes that have become great friends – thanks for the caffeine, social space, kettlebells and constructive abuse DDN and Greg.
  • The INN, Cafe Maude, Marvel Bar and more. Some great friends happen to be awesome “mixologists” in Minneapolis. I have grown fond of true cocktails and these people/establishments have opened my eyes to the art that is alcohol, something I wish to continue learning more about in New York City!

I will also be missing my hometown of Milwaukee and everything that place means to me. Most importantly, my incredible family who I am very close with and all of my long-time friends who have been through thick and thin with me and truly know me best.

As one chapter closes, a new one begins. I am a big advocate of change and know that NYC will be a powerful and rewarding experience. I’ve got some amazing things to look forward to and I am excited to take all of you along for the journey. To anyone or anything that I’ve missed, thank you for everything!

Farewell, Minneapolis, it has been real.

 



2012: A Year in Anticipation

January 9th, 2012 | No Comments

I prefer to live in the moment rather than yearn for the past or plan ahead. But, I have good feelings about 2012 and want to share some goals. Some of these goals I will achieve tomorrow and others might not get achieved at all, but I look forward to the year ahead!

  • Take 4+ Trips/Jaunts/Vacations/Escapes (South America is an option as I have a close friend moving to Santiago, Chile)
  • Drop my body fat to 10%
  • Write 4+ blog posts per month
  • See 12+ live shows (planning on hitting a major festival over the Summer)
  • Be asked to speak on digital marketing to a group of people 3+ times
  • Help inner-circle and outer-circle connections make more money, meet more people and gain more business
  • Dip my feet into the world of coding… I think
  • Finish 3+ books
  • Donate resources (time and/or money) to a non-profit I believe strongly in
  • Do my laundry prior to running out of my final pair of  boxer briefs
  • Become a DJ………..just kidding
  • Invest some money into the stock market and my eventual retirement (Facebook!!!)
  • Be more assertive and less impressionable on decisions small and big
  • Learn to snowboard.

I will reference this post throughout 2012 and even edit it according to my status on achieving these goals. If you have any suggestions, I am happy to consider adding them to the list!



PR Everyday – Making Every Victory Count

December 7th, 2011 | No Comments

PR Everyday – Personal Record everyday. The Movement Minneapolis is where I workout and where I’ve picked up on this philosophy. I wrote about about this innovative twin cities gym in my return from a blogging hiatus post, but I have yet to realize the amount of value I am getting out of my membership until I took a step back and changed my mindset.

The light bulb moment: The more I worked out and built the PR Everyday motto into my routine, the clearer it became that this philosophy needed to be symbolic for my lifestyle, outside of the gym.

Inside the Movement Minneapolis, the goal is simply to beat your previous workout, whether it be by a single rep, some added density or completely smashing it. Size only matters for certain things in life and PRs are not one of them. When it comes to trying for personal records every day, we should try to both seek and cherish each and every victory. I am certain that if we strive to have one PR each day, we will feel a great sense of accomplishment and motivation.

Lately, I’ve been PRing a lot and despite my records being small in size, a win is a win. Once I grasped the beauty of evolving each and every day, I was in! I am fortunate to have seen the light and look forward to PRing in and out of the gym on the go forward.

If you live in Minneapolis, I encourage you to check out a free week at the Movement Minneapolis and join me on the PR Everyday adventure.



Back from a Blogging Hiatus

November 20th, 2011 | 1 Comment

For those that care to hear about what I’ve been up to lately, please continue to read. For those who don’t, look for a more relevant post in the near future.

Recently, I have:

  • Returned from the return trip of a lifetime.
  • Deepened relationships with new friends and reconnected with many old friends near and far.
  • Celebrated Halloween with my family rather than drinking excessively and looking like a fool.
  • Evolved at work where I now manage 8+ accounts and 5+ online marketing retainers.
  • Collaborated on some pretty sweet ideas outside of work.
  • Raised over $150 for the fight against men’s health issues by letting my Mustache region not be touched with a Razor since November 1st.
  • Been happily frequenting local Minneapolis spots including: Urban Bean Coffee, Tilia, Bar la Grassa, Haute Dish and more.
  • Re-joined the Movement Minneapolis and have shed off over 1% of body fat.
  • Set challenging and big, yet feasible life goals for the near future.
  • Done my best to walk the talk, and it feels good.
Allow me to expand on a few of these before I set you free from this narcissistic post.
The return trip of a lifetime: This consisted of a European adventure with three very close friends. Myself, Jordan, Benett and Alex all studied abroad a few years ago and have been dying to get back. We finally did and it was incredible. We started in Barcelona, then went to the French Riviera and finished it off in Florence, Italy. I truly love everything about the European lfiestyle and it felt so good to be back. Things like the coffee culture, the wine culture, acceptance, the coinage, train life, being an outcast, speaking foregein languages, the fashion, nightlife, food and many other cultural Euro subtleties/lifestyles make me prefer life abroad. I can’t wait for round #3.
Movember: This month, I joined some friends and lent my dignity to the fight against men’s health issues by trying very, very hard to grow a mustache. It’s been quite the journey and in this case, it’s truly the thought that counts. My team has raised over $2,000 and I’ve contributed over $150. There is still time to donate, please feel free to check out my profile/make a donation by visiting the link in the bulleted list.
The Movement Minneapolis: This gym is really special. I’m on my 2nd stint with them and it’s great. They have a very innovative style that truly sets them apart. It’s kettle-bell focused and dependent on how your body responds, tests and excels to various movements. If you live in Minneapolis and haven’t checked them out, you’re missing out!
Goals: I’ll update after achieving.
Walk the Talk: Talk is cheap. Actions speak louder than words. Cliche, but true and it’s paying off.
Thanks for reading.


Wisconsin Sports are on Fire!

October 10th, 2011 | No Comments

Wisconsin Sports Mashup Logo



Returning to Europe: Barcelona – Nice – Florence

September 18th, 2011 | No Comments

Almost three years ago, I took a giant step forward in my life. I moved to Barcelona, Spain for about 5 months to study abroad. At the time, I had no idea what to expect and was genuinely nervous. I was nervous because I was so accustomed to my steady life in the US. Well, that experience changed me and shaped who I am today. I am both fortunate and thrilled that I took advantage of a priceless opportunity that will forever have an impact on my life.

That said, On Wednesday, September 21 I am finally heading back to Europe for the first time since my study abroad trip. I’ve been dreaming of this moment since the day I got returned. America is an amazing place, but I am a strong believer that people need to test themselves and see how much life has to offer outside of our respective bubbles.

I am going with three close friends who also studied abroad. We are starting in Barcelona, Spain then hitting Nice, France and finishing in Florence, Italy. Strangely enough, I am getting those same butterflies that I got a few years ago. Today, I am in a much different life state than I was for studying abroad and this trip will be much shorter, but I am hopeful that this trip will be equally as rewarding, just in a different way, a way I can’t predict but will just have to find out.

After I return, I plan to share my journey with all of you through stories, pictures videos and more. If anyone has any special requests or recommendations, please share!

 

 

 

 

 



9 Candid Questions with a Friend, a Mentor, a Bro on the Rise

August 26th, 2011 | 2 Comments

My blog posts have been quite introspective lately. I want to flip the focus and put it on someone else. That said, I’ve interviewed a friend who is also a mentor, a passion project counterpart (InboxCupid) and a true inspiration. Kareem Ahmed is a household name in Minneapolis these days and I am fortunate enough to be a part of his crew. He is a likeable guy that is making his mark on a city that needs more people like him. If you Google his name you’ll find various press pieces he’s earned one way or another.

I interviewed him because I want to give my readers a fresh perspective and hopefully inspire some motivation from opinions that are not my own. Not that @Kareemy isn’t candid, but I wanted to dig a bit deeper and give readers a genuine feel of the guy. I’ve tried to ask questions he hasn’t encountered before. Please enjoy some back n’ forth between Kareem and myself.

Kareem Ahmed and Blake Bensman at Urban Bean CoffeeI’m on the right, Kareem is on the left.

1.) You don’t take life too seriously, is this perception accurate?

Life is meant to be lived. I don’t mean to come off as NOT taking life seriously. I’ve always been a lighthearted, go with the flow kind of guy. In fact, years ago in middle school and high school, I noticed that all of the quiet, stoic guys always got the girls, so I tried to be more serious…it didn’t work. You are who you are and I just happen to go with the punches. I feel like people hone in on microscopic angles of their lives and forget the bigger picture. There’s a more important story at hand.

2.) Beyond the obvious, what about sitting in a cube/office from 9-5 really turns you off?

There is nothing wrong with a good ol’ fashioned 9-5. I have the utmost respect to anyone on the grind. I just haven’t found the right cause to dedicate 40+ hours a week to. That’s why I want to work in startups, those people are grinding hard for something they believe in. And usually, they don’t have cubes. Right now, I’m running my own show and it’s harder than being an employee but I’m learning a lot and I’m happy right now. If I’m not happy in 6 months, or a year, or even 3 months, I can always go back to work.

3.) What are you scared of? How do you conquer your fears?

I‘m afraid of time because it never stops. The clock always ticks and no one can stop it. I’m also afraid of losing people. Relationships are irreplaceable and once you’re gone, you’re gone.

4.) How do you handle stress?

One thing my father taught me when I was young, was to never panic if you’re drowning. He told me that most people who drown (in water) end up going under because they’re panicking, flailing, forgetting how to swim. I like to keep calm. If I’m not in my death bed, it’s not the end.

5.) Do judgements from others mess with your complex?

A bit, but not much. Sometimes I psych myself out, because I don’t want to offend any body or be misinterpreted (which isn’t possible). Sometimes when people doubt me, I doubt me. But then I remember that what I’m doing is the right thing and I carry on. One of my biggest peeves is “nosy judgers” those who aren’t doing anything other than critiquing others. It’s like, if you spent more time creating or experimenting, you’d have judgers too brah.

6.) You lost your father as a young man, who do you look to fill that void?

I ask a lot of questions. I get advice from a lot of people. Often times, I wonder what my father would do in a situation/predicament and just go with it. Kinda like a WWJD type of thing.

7.) You are perceived to be quite likeable, why is this?

I think that being likeable has to do with being able to relate to the people around you. I like people. I like being surrounded by them. I like meeting new people. It’s just an inherent trait in my personality so I think my like for people translates into a like for me.

8.) What is next for you?

I’d like to go to one of the coasts for the experience. NYC is a champ. SF is pretty hip with the tech scene. LA is just dirty and fun. I’m happy in Minneapolis, but experience is the spice of life.

9.)A message to the haters?

Thank you.

 

Kareem and many others around me add value to life by bringing positive energy, new perspectives and an overall fun time to the table.

Kareem has worked in digital marketing for over 4 years. For now, he is officially his own boss where he heads up New Economy Labs, an online marketing consultancy. He is also spearheading projects like InboxCupid, a free online dating site that sends daily dates to your inbox (check it out)!

If you want to reach out to Kareem or learn more about him, check out his blog where he writes about things like living outside the box, lifestyle experiments & making life investments.

I would love to hear some feedback, so please feel free to leave your comments.
Cheers!


Vann Alexandra’s What’s with Watch the Throne?

August 17th, 2011 | No Comments

My friend, Vann Alexandra, is one of the coolest people I know. She eats, breathes and sleeps music and happens to be a hell of a writer! She’s worked for Spin Magazine, as well as Paper, V and New York Magazines. I asked her to share her talent & knowledge for writing & music with my audience by reviewing the late Watch the Throne. Enjoy, or don’t, as that is the beauty of music and its public reception.

In a review of  “Watch the Throne” – the new, high-reaching collaboration between Kanye West and Jay-Z – New York’s music critic points out audiences’ negative reactions to the album’s ostentation and insensitivity, such as the rappers’ blatant focus on wealth during These Hard Times; their shift towards “Spider-Man rap,” where “with great power come great opportunities to act all touchy and bealeaguered”; and their indulgence in “exotic new things to complain about.”

The reactions are not surprising, and they make sense (I agree with most of them). But, then again, what else would we expect from these two (other than wealth-flaunting, big ass production, and high profile cameos)? Jay and Ye go big instead of going home, and of course, they’re not very gentle about it. Which is why, at first (and second and third) listen from beginning to end, the record comes off as overtly flamboyant, flashy, and in that way, disjointed, and sort of annoying. However, on the fourth listen, I realized there are a few things to bear in mind: 1. This is not an entirely capitalist record, 2. Even though it sounds like one, which 3. Of course it does. Kanye West is essentially the H.A.M behind all of this.

Inherent West judgments aside, and the fact that there’s a shitton of talk about riches, bitches, and all the glory that comes with it, “Watch the Throne” is subtly soaked with something bittersweet. It’s about being rich, but also wary. At first impression, “Watch the Throne” comes off as a bombastic title, one that implies boast rap. But at the same time, the process of “watching,” in itself, connotes cautiousness, anxiety, and vulnerability. In “That’s My Bitch,” Jay raps, “Now shoo children, stop looking at her tits/Get ya own dog, ya heard? That’s my bitch.” (His bitch is Beyoncé.) Here, it’s clear that Jay is all about the boast; his wife’s the hottest chick in the game, wearing his chain, and he wants the world to know that. But then again, there’s “New Day,” where Jay gets soft on us. “Sorry junior, I already ruined ya/Cause you ain’t alive, paparazzi pursuin’ ya,” he laments about the consequences of his fame to his unborn son.

“Watch the Throne,” has some great tracks. “Lift Off,” is a really catchy jam that sticks right off the bat; “Welcome to the Jungle,” has a pretty banging beat to it too. But it’s obvious these guys know they make The World’s Best Rap. What they want is for listeners to “really listen,” to hear their feelings shine through in some human way. Why else would they write songs like “Murder to Excellence” or “Made in America”? It’s the closest that flaunt rap gets to being emo. But that makes us listeners skeptical, especially when these vulnerabilities are still crowded by so much flamboyance. It makes us question the authenticity.

-Vann Alexandra

Again, Vann is a sweet writer living in New York. Please check out her blog.



“Loving Life Right Now”

July 14th, 2011 | 4 Comments

When surfing your stream on Facebook, Twitter or Google+ you will stumble across those status updates, tweets and Google +’s that say, I love life so much right now or Life is great!

The other day, reading one of these obviously hit me in a different light than normal. It shouldn’t take getting an A on an exam, scoring a date with a cool person or winning $100 at the casino to showcase happiness and live life to the fullest. We all have the power to create our own destiny and should be loving life as much as possible.

Life is too short to only love life after something great happens. We should all stride to love life everyday and when we don’t, roll with it, because life is short.



Surrounding Yourself Selectively

July 11th, 2011 | 2 Comments

What do you political figures, big time athletes and successful entrapenuers all have in common?

A very powerful & potent network of people surrounding them.

You can argue that Michael did not need Scotty, or that Bill Clinton did not need Al Gore but the fact is, they did. Now that I’ve finished school (just over a year now) and entered the “real world” I’ve been doing my best to set myself up for success & self- satisfaction. One step that I’ve consciously begun taking is surrounding myself with diverse, positive, balanced people who challenge me, encourage me to try new things and make me think. Young, old, male or female it does not matter. I want to be around people that consistently push me to grow.

This concept comes back to networking, putting yourself out there and trying new things. If you don’t take steps like this one, you may find yourself simply settling. I encourage everyone to begin surrounding yourself with those that bring out the best in you.