Magic That Inspired Me The Most In 2017

YouTube is both a gift and a curse for magicians. On the one hand, it’s fantastic at spreading the excitement and mystery of magic to a wider audience that has never been to a magic show, on the other hand, it is always so tempting to hit that pause button to catch what sleight the magician just performed.

On the one hand, it’s fantastic at spreading the excitement and mystery of magic to a wider audience that has never been to a magic show. On the other hand, it is always so tempting to hit that pause button to try and catch the sleight the magician just performed.

“The hand is quicker than the eye”, goes the old saying, but the pause button makes speed obsolete.

I started dabbling in a little bit of magic in December of 2016 when I watched David Blaine perform on Jimmy Kimmel’s show with the Black Eyed Peas. It was an awesome trick, and I knew I could figure it out if I spent a little bit of time utilizing my programmer’s mind to reverse-engineer how Blaine did it.

10 minutes later, I gave my theory on how the trick worked a try, and Leah’s reaction and giggles set me off on a journey to learn more.

These days, I still love and get inspired by the magic acts I see on YouTube, but even as inexperienced as I am, it’s hard for me to see the forest for the trees, so to speak. I get so lost watching the magician’s hands and searching for their suspicious little movements, that I don’t enjoy the beauty of the routine and the hard work that they put into creating it as much as I’d like.

I suppose that’s just how it goes when you’re working to become a magic hobbyist. It’s a blessing and a curse, just like YouTube.

There are a few acts, though, that have managed to completely blow me away. The skill, the beauty, the cohesive storytelling, and the stage-presence of the magicians in the clips below took me out of that skeptic’s mindset, and gave me back the sense of wonderment and awe that I try to create for my audience.

These are a few of the best YouTube magic clips that I’ve seen so far in 2017. Not just because the tricks themselves are impressive, though they are, but because of how the magician masterfully leads me in the direction they want me to go, and then leaves me there with my jaw dragging on the floor.

Enjoy these clips.

Backstage Magic Trick: Penn & Teller (on Jimmy Kimmel)

Hard not to talk about Penn & Teller when discussing magic. These guys are masters, for real. There are two things about this routine from the famous magic duo that I really loved:

  1.  It shows that you don’t need a complex set of tools or the most advanced, modern technology to impress an audience. It’s all about how you tell the story.
  2. I can’t remember the last time I felt like a giddy little kid like I did when watching this. They didn’t just tell an engaging story, they actually brought me back in time. So cool!

Street Magic Brooklyn: Chris Ramsay

I’ve been a big fan of Chris Ramsay’s since I found out about him in January this year. He has inspired me with his tricks, video blogs, tutorials, and his slick camera editing skills to keep pushing forward with creating my own routines. I understand the world of magic better because of him.

In this video clip he takes to the streets of Brooklyn to show off his skills, and even talk a little bit about the reason why magic is important. He shows here that magic and mentalism tricks, even some that are incredibly simple to execute, can really brighten a stranger’s day. Cool stuff here.

Fooled: Richard Turner

Richard Turner, a self-titled “card mechanic”, can not see… not with his eyes at least. He has worked for so many years to develop a sense of touch with playing cards that is unmatched. He has even worked with Bicycle Playing Card Co. to help them understand the differences in all 52 cards in a deck, which he uses to give him incredible control whenever he picks them up.

He doesn’t just have a good feel for the cards, though, his sleight of hand is beyond anything else I’ve seen. I don’t understand how anyone can become as skilled as he has with his sleights, and even more so considering he is blind!

A Message: Shin Lim

I can’t get enough of this guy. Shin Lim takes two things that I love dearly, magic and music, and blends them to create seamless routines that astonish anyone who watches. Once a pianist, he was diagnosed with carpal tunnel which forced him to leave music… and now he’s a card magician?

Just under two years ago he severed two tendons in his thumb and was told he may never be able to do card magic again, and yet here he is performing a routine that is so captivating that it took me a half-dozen views before I could even begin to try and watch for his sleight of hand. He is truly a phenomenal performer, and I’m excited to see what else he’ll do in the future.

Too Many Bottles: Mat Franco

I’ve seen quite a few people repeat this act almost word for word and movement for movement. None of them quite match Mat Franco, though, in his excellent stage presence and the way he keeps me asking for more. Whenever I have a friend over and we get to talking about magic, I show them this video. If I can one day get to the point of taking an old classic trick and performing it like Mat does here, I’ll be feeling pretty dang proud.

BONUS – Smoke and Cards: Shin Lim

Just for good measure, I’m gonna throw this last clip in to show once again just how powerful mixing magic and music can be. This has inspired me greatly to find my own ways to mix smoke and magic together (as you can see in my photo at the top of this page). There are no words that I can really use to explain just how good Shin Lim is in this routine, so I’ll leave you with it. It’s crazy how an act with so few words can communicate so much emotion.

The Magic in Music

"The Magic of Music" Narrated

by Tim Stiffler-Dean | Blog Posts Narrated

Occasionally, our original plans have to get put aside in order to make room for something much better.

My original plan tonight was to write about a simple card trick that I had created earlier today. Which I thought might make for a nice introduction to my magic hobby. The Universe proved to me once again, though, that it has its own tricks up its sleeves, and I’ll have to save that article for another time.

Instead, I’ve found myself exploring a different kind of magic:


“Without music, life would be a mistake.”
-Friedrich Nietzsche

I am at my most inspired state for writing when I am listening to music. Every time I sit down to write, whether it’s a private journal entry, a blog post for you, or even some code, I always start by hitting that play button in my music player.

Music gives my words, and yes, my code, meaning beyond simple definitions and semantics. It helps me understand the emotion for each syllable uttered throughout the course of internal dialogue that plays in my mind, while searching for the words that should be used next. It helps me match the cadence of my voice to the cadence of a song, which makes the entire experience for you, my reader, that much more engaging.

When I listen to music while writing, everything just seems to come together the way it’s supposed to.

“Music expresses that which cannot be put into words and that which cannot remain silent.”
-Victor Hugo

Tonight, I began with a plan for what to write, but the music did not allow me to. Johann Johannsson, with his Cambridge, 1963 from The Theory of Everything movie soundtrack (which you can listen to above), gripped my thoughts and tore them from the path that they were on. There would be no simple writing of a blog post; I needed to let the music lead my thoughts elsewhere, and wait to see where I ended up.

I’m still listening to that soundtrack. Enjoying the sights that it’s granting me to see with closed eyes. Falling into the emotions of an entire history’s worth of human experiences that each track is imbued with. Holding fast to piano-played notes as they delicately dance through my heart and carry on chasing a not-too-distant dream world. Sinking back into my pillow with the aching fear that I may die tomorrow and never hear these songs again.

For your own sake, your own sanity, your own soul… do not let these notes play on in vain. Be cautious with your time. Be jealous with it. Be protective of it. Our time is finite, and while the greatest desire of mankind has been to make himself immortal, we must recognize the limitations that come with that desire.

We cannot make ourselves immortal, but we can multiply the moments that make up our mortality. Take a single second and witness it become four when a perfect chord is struck on a piano. Take a minute and transform it into a thousand with a drumroll that threatens to never end. Take an instant and amplify your desire to press on with each blast of the trumpet choirs.

“If I were not a physicist, I would probably be a musician. I often think in music. I live my daydreams in music. I see my life in terms of music.”
-Albert Einstein

I don’t just use music as a tool to help me focus, I use it as a way to increase the value of each moment that I find myself creating something. It’s the difference between being “active” and being “fruitful”. There’s no sense in working to no end, but even if you have no idea what your end goal looks like, at least multiply the moments leading up to it with whatever kind of music inspires you to go further.

Your end result may look different than you originally planned, but if the music leads you to go further then you should be proud that you can go as far as you can. Keep going.

Don’t stop.

And, now that I’m sufficiently inspired, I’ve got more work to do.

It’s gonna be a great night.

Photo Credit: Pixabay

Music Credit:

He who has never failed somewhere…

"He who has never failed somewhere..." Narration

by Tim Stiffler-Dean | Blog Posts Narrated

Writing can be a chore sometimes.

That is to say, when you’re in the middle of some great new discovery of self, writing can be an excellent way to spend your time, but when you’re putting all of your time and energy into your dreams and goals, writing can be a chore.

When your chores aren’t getting done, though, they tend to pile up.

I do enjoy writing. I enjoy the clattering of keys as I explore this ancient form of self-expression. I enjoy the sounds of epic music playing from my computer speakers and leading me into a mindset of adventure and grandiosity. I enjoy the silent satisfaction of re-reading what I had written and considering the edits that are needed to more accurately communicate my intentions.

Above all of that, I enjoy creating.

Which is why, for the last six months, I’ve been more silent than usual in my blog-formed ramblings.

You see, I have been busy creating.

Creating the physical representation of a great vision which I have had for nearly a decade now – opening a coffee shop.

My part in that coffee shop’s life, however, is now over, and at this time in my journey I am forced to concede that the title of, “Tim Stiffler-Dean, Coffee Shop Owner” is not meant to be.

Oh well. Life goes on. The Architect returns.

A Time For Silence

Whenever a big change in life happens, it’s important to take a step back and re-evaluate everything that has lead up to this moment. While one chess piece has been knocked off the board, other pieces have already been in play, and their potential energy should not be too quickly dismissed as useless.

I am now in the process of looking at these pieces and listening to how they want me to play the game.

And so it is that I find myself silent. No decisions to announce. No big new projects to show to the public. No major life changes to settle into. Just silent observations of the world around me, and the desires within me.

Writing helps the observing eye see clearly.

I have other dreams I could continue to pursue; like finally taking my book to print, or building on my project management system toolset.

I have friends whom I would love to support in their endeavors; like Sara and Aaron at Conceptopolis who are getting into the publishing game, or the many college-aged friends I have who are still running after dream careers.

I have small hobbies I should keep sharing; like spreading my love of good coffee with a chat bot, learning how to whittle wood into small trinkets and ornaments, or writing regularly on this blog.

I have relationships that I need to keep working on. I have music I want to write. I have websites that I envision building. I have passionate causes that will continue growing and moving with or without me.

I have a lot on my mind.

And so, I find myself silent.

Habits Being Formed

While I sit here, silently observing whatever is within and without, I must still make progress forward. In some direction, any direction, that will lead me away from this fixed location in time and space.

For your great reading pleasure (I know you’ve been waiting with bated breath for this moment), I give you my list of current activities. Though, if I’m being honest, this is more for me to re-read again in the future than for you to be engrossed with now.

  • I’ve taken back my position working from home as the developer at KrakenPrint, a custom book printing company based in Chicago. The team there has been gracious to me in immediately offering me my old job back after my work at the coffee shop ended. I’ll be building their internal systems of communication, operations management, and customer service over the next several months, and hopefully setting the company up on a great foundation from which it can grow.
  • I am staying in Nashville, TN, with my fiancĂ©, Leah, and continuing to get to know our new community here. It’s a beautiful city with a lot of beautiful people, and I am finding that a great use of my time is exploring this place as much as possible.
  • I have picked up a few books, using some old credit I had in my Amazon account, and have already started back in on my old reading habits.
  • I’m going to eat healthier and at home more often. No doubt it will strengthen my relationship with Leah, but it will also strengthen my lifespan and endurance during the hard times.
  • I will continue heeding some great advice from my friend, the owner of Vibe Coffee in Elizabethtown, KY, and limiting my consumption of the news and sensationalist media as much as possible. This is a hard thing to do, but I’ve found myself much more focused and clear-headed when I don’t fill my day up with the news. I’d like to keep it that way.
  • I am reaching out to old friends that I’ve lost touch with and getting to know them again. Relationships are important to me, and so many people have had an influence on my life. It’s important that I become better at keeping relationships strong, no matter the time or distance apart.

Most importantly, I’m going to be writing again. A lot.

It’s not a chore if you enjoy it, right? Especially not if it helps keep the mind focused, and with an audience that can hold me accountable to my desires for continued growth in work and play.

Stay tuned for more. Thanks for sticking with me.

Photo credit: Kolby Schnelli

Would you like to be featured in my book?

“Your stories are worth it. You are worth it.”

Those words say perfectly the message that I presented at my TEDx Talk last year, and I mean them.

That’s why I am opening up the opportunity for you to share your story in my newest book, Brewing the Way.

Why are coffee shops important to you?

That’s the question that many readers of Brewing the Way will be asking as they take a journey with me across the United States and around dozens of coffee shops that I have visited in the last decade. But I cannot answer this question alone – my perspective is limited and my words can only go so far.

I need your stories to help.

If you would like to be a part of the Brewing the Way narrative, and share your story with the world of coffee lovers and fanatics, then I would like to publish it as a part of my book.

All you have to do is fill out the form below. I’ll read your story and see if we can make it fit in one of the micro-chapters between each major chapter in the book.

It need not be long – just one to three paragraphs is all it takes. And even if you aren’t featured in the final publication, as a thanks for submitting your story I’ll share it on this website and across my social media accounts. Plus, if you’ll allow me, I’d like to send you a gift in the mail.

It’s easy and painless and has the chance to really make someone’s day.

Here are some examples of the types of experiences you could write about:

  • I found the love of my life (I really did!)
  • I was stressing about school and the local cafe was a place where I could relax
  • I found out about and became involved with a non-profit organization
  • A stranger bought me a cup of coffee and turned my day around
  • While I struggled with depression, my favorite coffee shop brought me peace
  • I got a great job offer and the people around celebrated with me
  • The barista gave me a bit of life perspective that helped me on my way
  • The shop’s uplifting atmosphere gave me the energy I needed to finish a project

Whatever it is, I want to read it. We all want to read it! Please take a moment to share your story by filling out the form below. Do it as many times as you’d like, and please do share! The more the merrier.

Still need some inspiration? Check out this short story from A.J. Searle:

My job likes to take me to a lot of cool places (okay, mostly all around Michigan). My favorite thing to do while I am out traveling is to visit as many local coffee shops as I can. I’ve learned so many cool things about the cities and gotten some incredible food recommendations along the way as well.

One evening I was in Rochester Hills, MI and I stumbled upon a great shop in the downtown area. I had had a long day of traveling and looked pretty disheveled, but I just told myself all I needed was a cup of coffee and spot to read a good book.

The minute I walked in, an older gentleman looked at me and had this slight smile about him. He walked right up to me and said, “I’m reading that book right now, can I buy a cup of coffee so we can talk about it?” I haven’t had someone speak to me that boldly since a Brown’s fan tried to tell me they had a shot at the Super Bowl this year!

Ed was a 68 year old man that had so much wisdom and love in his heart. We talked, laughed, and learned from each other and I left that evening feeling refreshed about
 life! Coffee seems to be a common factor among a lot of the incredible people I’ve gotten to know.

Ready to go? Here’s the form. If you need some help developing your story, that’s ok! Just send what you’re thinking and I’ll be happy to assist in finding the right words to fit your tone.

Introducing My First Book: Brewing The Way

This announcement is kind of a big deal (I’m so excited!!!!!), so here are the contents for convenient navigation:


The Announcement – Brewing The Way is coming soon!

I am pleased to announce that I am currently in the final phase of self-publishing my first book, Brewing The Way. This collection of true stories weaves a narrative about how coffee has profoundly affected my life and the lives of millions through its relatively short history as one of the most widely consumed beverages in the world.

It begins with the story featured in my TEDx Talk, which you can watch below, and continues through the past decade as I have gotten to know an enormous variety of people from different backgrounds, cultures, financial statuses, and religions. This book aims to tell their stories and show how simple acts of kindness, like when a person buys a stranger a cup of coffee, can very literally change people’s lives.

I have been working passionately in the food service industry for half of my adult life, and as a barista for nearly 5 years. I have learned so much along the way, and now I am excited to share some of those things that I’ve learned with all of you. I hope that while reading this book you’ll get to understand why coffee is important to so many of us, why I’m personally so passionate about serving it excellently, and why it will continue to be an integral part of our communities for many years to come (just as it has for many generations before us).

You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll become introspective and think about your own perspectives on life and the pursuit of happiness. That’s the goal I have when I hand someone a cup of coffee every day, and that’s the goal I have when I hand you this book later this year.

Oh, and to prove that this book is already nearing completion and will be delivered within the next several months, pre-orders are already live (details below). 🙂

Want a FREE Preview Chapter?

To show you what this book is all about, I’ve written a very short (true) story about my recent adventure in Chicago, IL and a train ride that absolutely blew me away. This story will NOT be included in the final book, and will only be available while pre-orders are live, so make sure you get it now before it goes away!

To get a digital copy (PDF), all you have to do is sign-up for the Brewing The Way email newsletter. I promise you won’t get spammed for signing-up. The newsletter is my way of sending announcements about the availability of the final book, events I’ll be speaking at on the subject of coffee and kindness, and any other major news relating to Brewing The Way.

All pre-order customers will also receive a printed copy of this book, signed by me, in the mail before the final book is even printed and released.


To sign-up (and get your copy of Chapter 0.1: The Journey Begins), just click the link below.

Sign-Up and Get Your Copy

Your Story Could Be Featured!

Throughout the book you will read dozens of stories submitted by readers like yourself who have come to find coffee as more than just a beverage, but as an opportunity to connect with the world around them.

Here’s one such story from my good personal friend, A.J. Searle.

My job likes to take me to a lot of cool places (okay, mostly all around Michigan). My favorite thing to do while I am out traveling is to visit as many local coffee shops as I can. I’ve learned so many cool things about the cities and gotten some incredible food recommendations along the way as well.

One evening I was in Rochester Hills, MI and I stumbled upon a great shop in the downtown area. I had had a long day of traveling and looked pretty disheveled, but I just told myself all I needed was a cup of coffee and spot to read a good book.

The minute I walked in, an older gentleman looked at me and had this slight smile about him. He walked right up to me and said, “I’m reading that book right now, can I buy a cup of coffee so we can talk about it?” I haven’t had someone speak to me that boldly since a Brown’s fan tried to tell me they had a shot at the Super Bowl this year!

Ed was a 68 year old man that had so much wisdom and love in his heart. We talked, laughed, and learned from each other and I left that evening feeling refreshed about… well… life! Coffee seems to be a common factor among a lot of the incredible people I’ve gotten to know.

This book is not just a series of stories told from my perspective, but from many different perspectives – and yours could be one of them! To submit your own story to be featured in the book, just fill out the form below.

Support This Project – Pre-order Your Copy Now

Ever since I made it known that I was going to be self-publishing this book, people have asked me if they can pre-order their copy to get it before anyone else.

I am so pleased to answer that, yes, finally, pre-orders are live. 🙂

With about 2 months to go before the book’s production cycle is complete, you are now welcome to pre-order your copy (in both paperback and eBook flavors).

Your early financial support of this project will go towards hiring a phenomenal Editor team that can help take it to a whole new level of quality and storytelling, finalizing the artwork and cover design, cover the up-front printing and shipping costs for each physical copy delivered, and make it easier to give my full attention to putting on the finishing touches during the final few weeks before release.

To thank you for supporting this project (and my dream of completing it), I’m including a few bonuses only for pre-order customers:

  • A FREE printed copy of The Journey Begins preview chapter will be signed and delivered to your door in the mail (PDF versions for those who do not want a paper copy)
  • Printed copies of Brewing the Way will be signed by the Author, and delivered straight to your door BEFORE sales go live for anyone else (Estimated Delivery – September 2016)
  • eBook and other digital copies will be delivered BEFORE even the paperback versions are shipped (Estimated Delivery – September 2016)
  • Access to private content only shared with other pre-ordering customers (my personal coffee cocktail recipes, brewing techniques, coupons from partnered coffee roasters, and more!)
  • Special invite to the book’s official launch party
  • Unique Tag on your #btw Profile page to show everyone you are an early supporter
  • “Name Your Own” pricing structure, where you get to choose what you’d like to pay for the book. I know, crazy idea, huh?

Ready to order your copy ahead of time? Click the appropriate link below.

Pre-Order a Paperback Version   –    Pre-Order an eBook Version

Thank You

Ever since I was a child I’ve wanted to publish a book. I remember sitting in my kindergarten class with my fellow students circled around me, reading the latest adventurous stories I’d come up with out of my own imagination.

I feel as though my life’s purpose is being fulfilled as I continue moving towards the completion and publication of this first book.

To all of you that have shown me such immense encouragement and support along the way, and especially to those of you who are pre-ordering the book now and voting for this endeavor with your wallets, I thank you so much.

I cannot wait to get this book in your hands. These are exciting times. 🙂

Albert Einstein: The Genius who was Nothing Special

Albert Einstein was not the man we often think of. He was not some magician, mad scientist, or unnatural superhuman who could use a larger percentage of his brain than the rest of us. Contrary to popular belief, we all use the same percentage of our brain as the man we compare all modern-day geniuses to: 100%.

That’s not the only thing you’ve got in common with this guy, though.

Often times when we think about Albert Einstein, we see the man in his later days with a smoking pipe in his mouth, a wild puff of hair on his head, and a tired look in his eyes, contemplating his greatest achievements and looking to the next great leap for mankind.

I bet he looks something like this in your mind right now:


This man that we see has already laid the groundwork for the atomic bomb, has already accepted his Nobel Prize for Physics, and most certainly has been teaching his Theories of Relativity to younger students that would succeed him in their genius.

The Einstein we see above is older, wiser, more experienced, and has more than earned the grey hairs that are standing up straight on his head.

That’s the point, though
 he earned those grey hairs. Through years of hard work, struggles, and plenty of failure he earned those hairs; and when we start to look at his life we realize he’s not that different from the rest of us at all.

A Lie: Only the “Special” Can Succeed

“Failure is success in progress” – Albert Einstein

How could a man that is often said to have lived with dyslexia, autism, schizophrenia, ADHD, and a dozen other mental illnesses, a man who achieved massive success throughout his life because of those so-called handicaps, have any understanding of what “failure” truly is? How is he qualified to speak on that subject at all? Or be quoted by millions to this day, just as I did a few sentences ago?

The quote from him up above loses nearly all significance if we come with a perception that Einstein was so entirely unlike us that he was bound to succeed from the start. After all, if Einstein was a genius from birth, or if he had a chemical imbalance (or, again, a mental handicap) that forced him to act in ways that geniuses typically act, then success isn’t found through failure at all
 it’s reserved for the people that aren’t “normal”. People that aren’t like the rest of us. People like Einstein.

When we look at Einstein’s photo, without even admitting it to ourselves or out loud, we recognize a man that was set apart from birth to change the world. As the fictional Teddy Roosevelt would say in the movie Night at the Museum, Einstein was one of those men that was born to be great. He was autistic, or dyslexic, or otherwise special, after all
 and we all know those people always end up being incredibly intelligent.

This statement couldn’t be further from the truth.

Besides the fact that there is no evidence that shows Einstein was ever mentally handicapped in any way (there are only hypotheses based on conjecture), it is also true that Einstein did not fail miserably as a child. He could speak and comprehend German fluently at a young age (many believe incorrectly, as I did, that he couldn’t speak well until he was 12), he was reading books at the age of 10 that would set the foundation for his explorations into vast worlds of scientific study, he could seduce women with ease, he was perfectly capable of scoring in the highest percentile of his classmates at school, and he completely killed it on the violin:

This heavily retouched photograph shows German-Swiss-American mathematical physicist Albert Einstein (1879 - 1955) as he plays a violin in the music room of the S.S. Belgenland en route to California, 1931. (Photo by Keystone/Getty Images)

This heavily retouched photograph shows German-Swiss-American mathematical physicist Albert Einstein (1879 – 1955) as he plays a violin in the music room of the S.S. Belgenland en route to California, 1931. (Photo by Keystone/Getty Images)


Yes, he did fail the entrance exam at Zurich Polytechnic Institute
 at the age of 15, a full year and a half before he was even technically allowed to join the program there. And yes, his application was rejected by the University of Bern, but only because he refused to send in a thesis paper with his application, which was an explicit requirement at the time.

He was absolutely incredibly intelligent, albeit stubborn, and in his life he met dreams that many of us could never imagine happening for ourselves.

Stop right there, though, and keep yourself from believing that this means he had a greater imagination than us “normal” folk, giving him the ability to dream bigger and therefore achieve bigger goals. If there is one thing Einstein likely understood better than anyone, it was that everyone had the ability to dream and achieve great things, but only a few of us would sacrifice the time and energy that was necessary to cross the finish line.

He knew that because, like all of us, Einstein put a lot of his life into his passion, the study of physics, before he received the payout that he so desperately sought after.

It took him years

16 years after Einstein began his great adventure in the world of science, he finally achieved his annus mirabilis (or his “miracle year”). 16 years! Many of us give up on our dreams after just a few months (or at most a few years) of not seeing grandiose applause, or we wallow away in endless negativity every time we are dissatisfied with our work.

But it was for 16 years Einstein dealt with trials, refusals, rebutting, and, I am sure at times, a great lack of hope. He experienced the struggles of normal human life with a full-time day job, a family that was struggling financially, and a turbulent romantic relationship (which his parents were staunchly against).

All of this, for 16 years, while trying to redefine how we all look at the Universe. Meanwhile, we find ourselves trying to redefine how we look at each of ourselves individually, and then quit after we hit a few roadblocks and fall over a few hurdles.

Einstein was similar to us because he experienced the human condition, he was not a deity after all; but he was different from many of us because he continually pushed forward towards his goals. Even after losing a child (born out of wedlock against their parents’ wishes), even after being rejected dozens of times for various jobs and positions in the scientific community that he applied for over the years.

He did not begin to taste success until more than 1/3rd of his life was behind him.

Then there’s this:

After his annus mirabilis, when much of the scientific community began to recognize his name and speak highly of him, Einstein still had to work for another 4 years before he was able to quit his day job as a paper pusher at a patent office, and begin to pursue future scientific discoveries full time as a Dr. of Physics.

Again I wonder how often we believe we stop growing in our careers, how often we believe we’ve “made it”, when people begin to call out our names and applaud our achievements, no matter how small or great those achievements are, and in all actuality we’ve only just begun the journey.

Let this sink in for just a moment: Einstein took 20 years before he could fully envelope himself in the scientific community as a career physicist.

Yet many people believe today that in order to be a success like Einstein, or this distant character in our minds that we call “Einstein”, we must be breaking through milestones and cementing ourselves in careers even before we reach our mid-twenties; that we have to have been born with some superhuman mental capacity or lots of money; or that we must absolutely know the exact day that we reach monumental success.

What is failure?

I often wonder how many times Einstein looked at his life to question his successes and failures. Until the age of 26, he hadn’t really achieved much of anything. He was a genius dreamer with an idea that only a few people believed in. Even in 1921 when he received a Nobel Prize in Physics, it was for his understanding and explanation of the photoelectric effect (the basis for quantum physics) and not his Theory of Relativity (which, even as a major contribution to science, wouldn’t be accepted by his scientific peers until later in his life), or even his papers defining E = mc2.

If that same thing happened today his supporters would be outraged and Einstein would probably get on Twitter to rant about how little respect he had from his peers. Instead, he continued to grow as a scientist and contributed over 300 additional papers to various journals and publications around the world.

According to Einstein, “Failure is success in progress.” Nothing is truly failure until we quit, and we only quit when we believe that the sacrifice of time that is required of us in order to see our dreams become reality is not worth that outcome.

Luckily for us, Einstein never quit following the vain passions of his 10 year old self.

At the age of 76, while he was writing a speech for Israel’s 7th anniversary that he would never have the chance to present, Einstein suffered a ruptured abdominal aortic aneurysm. When he died, Einstein left behind a legacy and a life that spoke about more than just scientific equations and theories of a physical universe; his life also told the story that we must all be prepared for a long journey towards success, a journey that might look and feel like failure for a massive portion of our lives, if we ever want to be written down in history as one of the great contributing members of the human race.

Einstein journeyed for years through a life full of failure; it’s because of those failures that we can now tell his stories that are full of success.

What’s your story gonna be like?

The Architect

Every so often, usually when things are going pretty great, my life starts to feel a bit out of control. Not necessarily in a bad way – just in a, “I have no clue what’s going to happen next” sort of way.

This is one of those times.

I have too many dreams, ambitions, goals, and projects that I’m working on all at once, and I don’t entirely feel secure in any of them.

It is at these times that most people start to realize they are overcommitted, and work to clean up their act a bit.

Normally my approach to this period in my life would be to continue wandering aimlessly in the same general direction, with the same general goals, until some of the pieces of this character I’m building named “Tim Stiffler-Dean” would start falling off. Thus, lightening the load a bit and giving me the boost to keep moving.

I would take that approach because I believed that these phases were inevitable. “Just keep swimming and wait for the break in the storm.” I would tell myself, “You’ll come out on the other side very different, but you’ll come out nonetheless.”

Often, after the period of insanity ended, I would feel a bit burned out, quit a few of the projects I was working on, and try to make a fresh start of things and get my feet under me again.

I don’t know if I can take that approach any longer.

It seems strange to me, when I look at the many examples of successful individuals in my personal life, that I have so many dreams and ideas that I try to pursue at the same time, only to come up with nil accomplished.

Other people have similar ambitious outlooks on life, and accomplish a lot of what they put their mind too… so what is it that I am doing so differently?

The key must lie in the blueprints

Architect Designs

I was reading an article recently from Michael Hyatt, called, “Why Not Architect Your Own Life?” In it he describes three elements that most architects keep in mind when designing a large structure. They are:

  • The Vision
  • The Priorities
  • The Actions

Architects begin with exploring their dream and drafting a vision of what they want to create.

The famous Frank Lloyd Wright, for example, wished to put on display the “soul of our own civilization” in his architectural designs, and that shows quite clearly in his many beautiful works of art. While Louise Henri Sullivan wished to build bigger and stronger buildings to emphasize the confidence of the US – he is now known as one of the Fathers of the Skyscraper.

From the vision, architects define very clearly what their limitations and priorities with the structure are.

Buildings intended for use as a school will differ drastically from those meant to be hospitals, even if both start with a similar architectural vision. Likewise, a bridge in the wetlands of Florida might not fare too well as an apartment in the mountainous regions of Argentina. Each structure has specific needs, and the architect must know exactly what those are.

Finally, after chasing down their vision and defining their priorities, architects lay out a list of actions to take to finish the construction.

They would not, for example, begin construction of a house by working on the roof. Neither would they pour the cement for a bridge before setting the substructure in place. When proposing the development of a project, they define the steps and timelines for putting all of the materials into place.

Then they act.

It is not enough to create a plan and then walk away as if the project is done. The vision is not realized! The priorities are not met! The actions have not taken place!

The architect must bring a team together, made of exactly the right people, and then ACT on their plan in order to accomplish it.

Becoming Your Own Architect


I, too, must follow this process to become an architect. Not of a building, however, but of my own life.

While I was reading this, it suddenly dawned on me: I’ve always had a general plan for what I wanted to do and who I wanted to be, but I never followed the architect’s steps to designing my own life.

  • I had the long-term vision, but not the short-term priorities to match up with it.
  • I had the long-term priorities, but no day-to-day habitual actions to see those priorities eventually met.
  • I had the daily activities and hard work ethic, but none that specifically matched the grand vision of the type of person I wanted to be.

These three things combined have only contributed to the labyrinthian lifestyle that I cyclically find myself living in.

The cycle must be broken.

This week I am giving myself an ambitious goal. I will continue to work hard on the tasks at hand, including the development of so many projects at Aether CS and the brewing of so much coffee at Kofenya, but I will also develop a full blueprint of what I want to see happen in my lifetime.

I will find out exactly who I want to become and create a vision statement. I will lay out my strengths, weaknesses, challenges, and goals as priorities within that vision. I will create a list of habits I need to build, activities I must add to my daily list, types of people I need on my inner team, and timelines I must press toward in order to achieve those priorities.

And I will act.

Then we shall see what type of life this architect can create.

I’m excited. 🙂

3 Easiest Tips for Creating and Remembering the Most Secure Passwords

When I describe my password habits to some people, they often act a bit confused:

  • I have a different, secure password for every website
  • I don’t memorize any of them
  • I never have a problem logging in

I’ve talked to many people over the last year about their password habits, and it’s amazing to me that so many people have bad password habits. Most people, even the techies that I know, have numerous online accounts that are so easy to break into that it’s surprising that they haven’t already. And for the rest of the masses that constantly forget their passwords, I’m always slightly embarrassed for them when they switch to a different computer and can’t log into their accounts.

Luckily, I have a few easy tips for keeping your passwords secure, unique, and easy to figure out when you forget them. Continue reading →

On Immovable Objects and Unstoppable Forces

I wrote this article 6 years ago today, but it got removed from this website in one of my many rebuilds of – it’s back now, in all of it’s original splendor. Enjoy.

What happens when an Unstoppable Force collides with an Immovable Object?

Over the course of time, our greatest minds (some not so great) have given this question a lot of thought. There have been dozens of answers provided as a means to put finality on this discussion, and while some are very good (others very funny), they’ve not satisfied my thirst for more knowledge on the subject. I’ve been pondering this question myself for some time, and was recently reminded of the question by Andrew Eddie and his wonderful tweet.

But why am I not satisfied? There are several reasons: Continue reading →

Podio for WP Plugin – Now In Development

I am pleased to announce that development for Podio for WP is now underway. While development will be officially running under Aether CS, I’ll be publishing updates, news, and changelogs here for people to review while we get it to a strong enough status that it can be released to the official WordPress Plugin Directory.

This first version of the Podio for WP plugin has two simple features:

  • Easy installation of the Podio PHP Client into your WordPress website
  • Write Podio functionality in the podio-for-wp.php file (in the plugin’s directory) instead of your theme’s functions.php file, allowing you to update your theme easily without losing any Podio integration.

Future versions of this plugin will include features such as:

  • Set your API keys into the app securely via a settings page in the WP Dashboard
  • View a list of your existing Podio Workspaces, Apps, and Fields with related Developer Keys
  • Automatically create new Podio Items in a specific App based on new posts published, contact form submission, GravityForm entries, WooCommerce purchases, and more
  • Get access to our knowledge base of tutorials and support articles for both Podio and WP development
  • Pull data back from a specific Podio App and display it on a page or post with a WP shortcode

This is just the beginning, but the AetherCS team is very excited about what this plugin will be able to do in upcoming releases.

Download Link: podio-wp

If you’d like assistance with setting up Podio, WordPress, or some custom integration between the two, please don’t hesitate to contact me and my team. More than happy to help.