01 January 2020

2019: A Year of Unexpected Changes


With today being the first day of 2020, I am reflecting back on the year that just completed last night. Although 2019 was my first full calendrical year residing in Cincinnati, the theme that seems to run through my experience was a year of unexpected changes.

Disappearing Job
While I came into 2019 working for an experimental Jewish non-profit start-up, only a month and a half into 2019, my job went away, which was really tough for both my family and me. It came out of the blue and was really challenging to deal with that financial situation.

Getting into Real Estate
However, a week or two before I discovered that my job had been erased, I had already begun studying for my real estate license, since I believed that it would help me in that job. Now that the job was non-existent, I figured I should continue pursuing real estate, since it was something I had begun pursuing, so I finished my coursework, took the licensing exam, passed, and received my Ohio real estate license!
It should be noted that, before starting that job, real estate was never an interest of mine. Moreover, whenever anyone mentioned real estate, my eyes would glaze over out of disinterest over buildings: how is it intellectually interesting to discuss bricks and mortar?

Boosting Beer Blogging
In the middle of Passover, I thought to myself, having cleared out all of my beers prior to Passover, “I don’t need to spend money on beer; I can simply get it for free by blogging.” While I had begun writing for BierBuzz more than two years prior, the beers I received were ones I had accepted to receive from PR/marketing folks reaching out. I realized that, instead of being reactive, I could be proactive and begin reaching out for beer.
And beer I received, with beer coming in, and then even more beer arriving. A funny thing happened: I had to strive to keep up with my beer writing with what was coming in. I began to publish a post a day, Monday through Friday, and sometimes struggling to even keep up with all the beer arriving. It’s been very interesting these last 7+ months with reaching out to PR/marketing folks and been surprisingly going well, as breweries are happy to send out beer for marketing purposes.

Publishing BBYO Book
A couple of ideas had permeated my thinking, including not succumbing to “analysis paralysis”, which led me to not be afraid to pull the trigger on publishing a book of essays on BBYO history. I had actually spent a bunch of time in the summer of 2013 (prior to the birth of my third child) working on them and getting them ready for publication, but, for whichever reasons, I never published it at the time. This summer caused me to realize it’s now or never with the project. Moreover, it came at the 95th year of BBYO, so it should hopefully be helpful for those researching BBYO leading up to its 100th year.

Starting up JewishDrinking
Upon the return to school in the fall for my children, I was able to devote myself to real estate again and, through it, was exposed to the thinking/speaking of Gary Vaynerchuk and was inspired by him in many, many ways, including developing a niche and becoming an expert in a particular area.
While I had been thinking in November 2018 about doing new stuff with my rabbinic website, in January 2019, I decided to go ahead and created Textual Insights, where I posted writings on rabbinic literature, Biblical literature, and post-Talmudic halakhic literature. However, I realized I was mainly posting about a few topics, most of which were drinking-related. When I heard the Gary Vaynerchuk material, I knew I had to focus and create a separate website for Jewish texts related to drinking.
So, in September, I did it: I created JewishDrinking.com, intending it as the #1 English-speaking resource for Jewish drinking texts, wisdom, history, and more. However, after starting it, where I thought it would mostly be blog posts I would write up, along with source sheets, I quickly realized I would also need to do podcast and video content (even though the idea of podcasting did pop up for me earlier in the year).
Then another unexpected turn occurred: in an early discussion about target demographics, someone had mentioned targeting kiddush clubs. When I mentioned this demographic a few weeks later to someone else, they suggested creating a parashah sheet for kiddush clubs. So…that’s what I did: do something I had never imagined doing, creating parashah sheets.
I am excited to see how this new venture continues to develop!

Growing in Real Estate Career
A real estate intensive seminar in which I took part in the fall, Keller Williams’ BOLD, was helpful for me in my real estate career for numerous aspects, but the most fascinating thing occurred: I got more comfortable with reaching out to people. I became less scared/afraid of what would people say when I reached out to them, no matter how long it had been since last being in-touch with them. One instance was crossing paths with a local property manager who needed help with buying and selling multi-unit properties for out-of-state investors, which yielded me my first closings, which was great. I also realized that I have contacts out of state who are curious/considering investing in Cincinnati! I hope to continue reaching out to people whom I could help with real estate.

Looking Forward
With an unexpected set of developments and changes in my life in 2019, I am very curious as to what will happen in 2020 – I could never have guessed what would have happened in 2019, and am excited about how 2020 will turn out.

16 September 2019

Three Recent Significant Influences on My Thinking


There have been three recent significant influences on my life in recent months, which have been exciting, especially affecting my output of writing.

Moving Beyond “Analysis Paralysis”
The first of these three was moving beyond “analysis paralysis”. When I got into real estate, my real estate productivity coach said to get out of my head and to stop worrying about “analysis paralysis” and just go/do, even if I get something wrong, it’s still an opportunity to learn and improve. At first, I thought he was just saying that for me, but then I met with a mortgage loan person and I heard the exact same thing about real estate agents needing to really get away from this analysis paralysis and then go and do. Once I heard that from him, I realized that it has been such an unfortunately significant barrier to my actions, both in reaching out to people, as well as to my writing. There has been a lot that I’ve held back on over the years simply because I thought writing pieces of mine were not 100% perfect/ready for the public to see.

If I Need, Simply Revise
Following-up on the first lesson was, even if I put something out, I can easily go back and revise it. This idea actually occurred to me in reading about Rashi and medieval manuscripts, especially that “Authors never intended them as final statements but as snapshots of their current thinking, as works in progress.” If that was the case for medieval manuscripts, then all the much more so in the age of the Internet, when we can easily revise/edit/add what we’ve previously written. Paired with just doing and going beyond analysis paralysis, this is actually pretty powerful.

Gleaning from Gary Vaynerchuk
A third and much more recent influence has been the wisdom of Gary Vaynerchuk. While I had heard of him over the years, I avoided his material, even when people shared it with me. Two and a half weeks ago, my real estate productivity coach shared a talk of Gary Vaynerchuk’s, so I made sure to listen to it. Wow! It was so fascinating on a number of levels, but not the least of which was that he both offered critique, as well as offering suggestions to people. There is a lot of material of his that I have found fascinating, especially moving beyond fears of insecurity and doing what you’re good at. Post content and do lots of it is another of his pushes. While that’s been great, I also have found his suggestion to focus on one thing and become an expert in that. While I have not fully unpacked about my appreciation of his material, those are some key aspects.

Going Forward
Taking these three influences on me in recent months together has yielded an encouraged me, looking to both be more willing to reach out and talk to people, but also less scared about putting out material for consumption. And, moreover, putting out more material. Stay tuned….

03 September 2019

Weight-lifting with Rheumatoid Arthritis: I Dropped it For Awhile, But Returned to Lifting


When I first noticed I was getting rheumatoid arthritis, with my fingers curling and I couldn't move him well, I thought there was something wrong with how I was moving them, especially with regards to barbells and/or dumbbells, that it was somehow negatively affecting my hands and fingers, so I decided I would stop. However, once I went to see a rheumatologist who told me what was going on and had me on medicine, I returned to lifting weights.

lifting weights with rheumatoid arthritis
However, when one of the medicines I was taking was reduced to small doses,* I began noticing further deterioration of my joints, particularly my elbows and shoulders, causing me to have reduced physical abilities, which were quite noticeable (to me) particularly when lifting weights. At some point, due to this frustration of not being able to lift as much and having a general feeling of less strength in those joints, I felt the whole endeavor was fruitless. So, I stopped lifting weights only a few months after having returned to it.

Nearly a year later, though, I realized it wasn’t tenable for me, so I returned to it a little over a year ago. I realized I enjoy lifting weights and it is a part of who I am and, without it, I just am not as happy - physically, mentally, nor emotionally. Moreover, I've realized it is been beneficial in at least two ways: 1) just simply being able to lift up my children. It was a lot harder to lift up my kids when I was not lifting, as well as picking up other things around. 2) Another way in which it has positively benefited me has been specifically with regard to my rheumatoid arthritis. Going to the gym and lifting weights (as well as ellipticalling) gets my blood flowing and it helps especially my fingers to move more easily than without going to the gym and lifting weights. 

It has been greatly helpful and I hope to continuing to go to the gym and lifting weights, as well as ellipticalling to get in some cardio. For those of you who are despairing about lifting weights while experiencing your rheumatoid arthritis, it may be well worth considering, as I have found it to be beneficial for me.
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* The medicine was prednisone, which was fantastic, in general, and wonderful for weight-lifting, in particular. However, due to the dosage schedule getting gradually reduced, the effects for weight-lifting became negligible.