Motivation Through Action

Hey there. It’s been a while, hasn’t it? Over a year, in fact. Man, where has the time gone. Oh! I guess I could answer that question. Since my last post, I:

  • Launched Panoplay
  • Made my first money on a business I started
  • Took a road trip to interview someone, visit friends, and surprise a band I know
  • Took a road trip for a music conference
  • Got my first grown-up job at a super awesome local start-up
  • Spoke on two panels at Minecon in Anaheim
  • Met and spoke with Steve Carrell about Minecraft
  • Had my first long-term relationship
  • Moved into my first townhome with a great friend of mine
  • Got my first car
  • Stopped doing a lot of the things that I used to love doing

*Record Scratch*
*Freeze Frame*

So, yeah, that last bullet point is not at all like the others. But I mention it because it’s the one that’s most relevant to me currently, and it’s the one that this post will ultimately address. But, as with all good action movies, you have to sit through some story build-up, cheesy emotion, downfall, and final rise. So, here goes.

The other night I was reading The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck by Mark Manson. It is a fantastic book that essentially teaches you how to care about the right things, and not let the other things get to you.

Hidden deep within one of the later chapters, Mark drops the following quote:

Action isn’t just the effect of motivation; it’s also the cause of it.

Now, I want you to read that again. Action isn’t just the effect of motivation; it’s also the cause of it. What does this mean? Essentially that in order to become motivated, you have to first do something. And once you’ve done something, the motivation will then arise, which will then lead you to acting on that motivation, thus motivating yourself more, and the cycle continues until you’ve conquered the world. Or started a business. Or cooked the coolest ratatouille.

As evidenced by my lack of blog posts over the past year, I’ve been struggling with motivation. Panoplay sort of faded into the depths of the internet after I lost the inspiration that had fueled me for over a year. The honeymoon phase of starting a business had faded and the reality that I wasn’t enjoying it anymore had set in. I’ll make another post soon about why I stopped, but it essentially boiled down to two things:

  1. Some of the people I was trying to help didn’t want to help themselves, which helped lead to the other thing, which was:
  2. I burnt out hardcore.

In retrospect, what it really boiled down to was I had turned Panoplay from something with a solidified goal and an endless fountain of motivation into a scattered bunch of ideas with no real knowledge of how to execute. I had surrounded myself with incredibly awesome people, but it didn’t change the fact that I wasn’t enjoying what I was doing anymore. So I stopped doing, and thus I lost motivation.

Though Panoplay in its fully launched form (after a year or so of build-up) only lasted a few months, I feel as though I got to experience a lifetime of opportunity in that short time. I made friends all over the country and world through Panoplay, I learned how to start a business, I learned how hard it is to balance life and work. Perhaps most importantly, I learned post-mortem that it requires action to maintain motivation, and that motivation will help you continue to act.

Panoplay stopped because I stopped working on it. Not for lack of people supporting me, either. The outpouring of support from my friends and family still makes me teary-eyed to this day just thinking about it. But because I no longer enjoyed it, I couldn’t bring myself to work on it, and thus lost motivation altogether.

And that continued. For the past year. My Minecraft mod, Tropicraft, has fallen out of date. I used to have a team of 6+ people from around the world working on it with me, and now it’s down to just me working on it when I have time and motivation. The particular struggle with this is that at this point, I’m just rewriting the mod over and over with each Minecraft version. It has lost its fun, and thus the intrinsic motivation I used to feel out of the enjoyment I got has long since faded away. This particularly hurts me because I take such pride in Tropicraft. It, like Panoplay, is something I poured my heart and soul into. At this point, it’s essentially a defining piece of who I consider myself to be. It helped me get where I am today, and I owe so much to it. Not to mention the hundreds of thousands of people that are still waiting for me to update it so they can enjoy their favorite mod again.

In addition to my lack of work on Tropicraft, I haven’t written on my blog. I haven’t written anything at all, really. It’s not so much writer’s block as just…a giant brain block preventing me from wanting to do anything. I have not exercised much. I have dropped a lot of the motivation I used to have for wanting to do the things I know I would love to do.

And that’s why the quote I mentioned above hit me so hard. Let me read it again for you. Action isn’t just the effect of motivation, it is also the cause of it. All of these things, Panoplay, Tropicraft, writing, exercising, they all suffer(ed) from a lack of action. Yes, there are always reasons for why things become less enjoyable. But as I read this quote over and over again, it felt like each of the things in my life I had stopped acting on all decided to hit me at once, as if to alert me to one simple thing:

I had stopped doing.

Sure, I have had little spurts of inspiration now and then, but I was relying on those spurts to push me to do the things I wanted to do deep down, instead of simply putting on my big boy pants and getting down to business. If I’ve learned anything over the past year, it’s that, as Mark said, you have to create the action that motivates you, so that your motivation can then inspire you to take further action, creating a positive feedback loop of awesomeness.

What Next?

The past few weeks have been quite the emotional rollercoaster for me. I almost let it get the best of me, as well. But it’s times like this that bring me back to Junior year of University, when I was able to climb out of the hole of misery and complacency that had consumed my life. I was able to overcome the parts of me that told me I wasn’t good enough or talented enough or smart enough because I simply started doing things.

 

There is no think, only do. – Yoda

I’m no Jedi Knight, but I am someone who believes that I can accomplish some incredible things if I set my mind to it. So I’m done sitting on the sidelines watching life pass me by. I’m through accepting that things are the way they are and that nothing can be done to improve them. And most importantly, I’m finished letting life kick randomly me into the adult I don’t want to become, so here’s to motivation through action.

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Why I am an Entrepreneur

The other night, my friend Ricky and I were discussing our mutual interest in startups when he asked me something along the lines of “Why are you an entrepeneur?”

I gave some sort of vague answer at the time about how I liked helping people and just couldn’t see myself not having the creative flexibility that working for myself allows, but the question has been on my mind, because that answer felt very wishy-washy to me. I’m sure a lot of people love helping others, but have little-to-no interest in entrepreneurship. And sure, plenty of jobs allow plenty of creativity. So, what is it then?

To preface my answer, I highly recommend checking out this illustrated poem. In this comic, a young man sets out for Ithaka, full of excitement and ready to explore all Ithaka has to offer. Along the way, he experiences strife,  adventure, challenges, and everything in between. He meets somebody special and she joins him as he finally reaches Ithaka, now an old man. He has a daughter, and as he approaches death, draws a map from Ithaka to Troy, where his journey began, signaling that life’s treasure is actually in Troy, not Ithaka where he believed it was when the story began.

The point of this poem is to illustrate that for the protagonist, the journey to Ithaka was the destination, rather than Ithaka itself. In a similar way, I feel that the journey of creating a successful business, for me at least, is not so much about the business I end up with in the end, but the things I do every day that build up to it.

It’s easy for me to forget why I started Panoplay sometimes. On days when only one person visits the website, or days when it seems like I’m the only one who really cares about what I’m doing, it’s easy to get discouraged. But those failures are part of the adventure; if I didn’t have these failures, the successes I eventually have wouldn’t seem nearly as spectacular.

“Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm” ~ Winston Churchill

I have no idea what tomorrow holds for me, and I guess that’s why I love what I do so much. Every day is a new adventure.

My Vision for Panoplay

About 9 months ago I started working on this project that was no more than a simple idea with a broad goal: to help independent music artists. While the ways in which I plan(ned) to do this have changed consistently through the development of the project, the end goal has remained the same. So let me tell you what I want Panoplay to become, and why you should care.

There are millions of artists out there you’ve never even heard of. Millions of artists you will never hear of. Many of these artists are incredibly talented, but because you and your friends will never discover them, they will never able to show the world what they are truly capable of. To me, that’s unacceptable.

Poorly cropped image I found here, sorry

Music discovery takes a lot of effort! If you want to find anything other than the artists that are already popular, you have to know which off-the-beaten-path blogs and websites to go to. A lot of people simply don’t have time to do this. On the flip side, as an independent artist, it’s equally difficult to know where to invest your time and money to maximize your chances of being seen. If only there were a solution!

PanoplayBanner_Red_Dark (1)

Next month, I will launch Panoplay. With Panoplay, I hope to spotlight over 120 independent artists per year. Here’s how:

“Pay-what-you-want” Packs


A pack is essentially a mixtape – so a collection of music sold at a “pay-what-you-want” price. Ever used Humble Bundle or Bandcamp? Just like that. You as a fan can pay anything for 20-30 high-quality songs, with bonus downloads for those who pay more than the average paid so far. There will be 3 new packs per month, and packs will only be for sale for one month each. 80% of every purchase is split between the ~5 artists in the pack and 20% goes to Panoplay. What will Panoplay use that money for?

Artist Interviews


There’s nothing like going out for drinks with a couple of down-to-earth musicians like Zach and Christian from The Antique Hearts. We shot some pool, had a couple rounds at several bars, and partook in some serious discussion about everything from what their definition of success for their band is to their most embarrassing moment in an interview. How cool would it be to get to know every artist on a personal level? You don’t get that from iTunes, you don’t get that from Spotify, and you don’t even get that from whatever interviews you typically find online.

antiquehearts

The Antique Hearts.

Artist Spotlights


On top of artist interviews that will be posted on the blog weekly, I want to do an even more specialized artist spotlight, where once a month we sit down with an artist who may not be featured in a pack and find out everything. Ok, maybe not everything, but enough to write a biography about them. We will have a specific page dedicated to this band or artist for an entire month, where users can read the biography and purchase their music.

Why you make a difference


Investing your entire life in your music is so risky that many artists are forced to give up after years of hard work rather than continue on, simply because not enough people know about them for them to be able to support themselves with their music. Panoplay will give them the chance to reach a large audience and truly prove to the world that they’re worth listening to.

Here is where I need your help. Panoplay is pay-what-you-want. This means you can seriously pay whatever you want. So if you really want to pay nothing, that’s your prerogative. But even a few dollars to an independent musician is huge. If you like their music, you can show your friends, who can also pay a few dollars. They pass it on, and within an hour suddenly dozens of people know about these artists who didn’t before. Imagine in today’s world of viral marketing how fast a talented act could spread? In fact, don’t just imagine, be a part of it. Be the reason that band down the street will be playing the Super Bowl in 10 years. Be the reason that kid you knew from Chorus in grade school is now touring around the world. Be the reason that local band playing at bars goes on to create someone’s end of the world song.

Be the reason.

Help Panoplay support artists by liking us on Facebook and following us on Twitter.

The Importance of Appreciating Growth

Remember when Led Zeppelin was just Jimmy Page struggling to keep the band The Yardbirds alive? Oh oh, remember that time Dave Grohl played his heart out in an audition to join this tiny garage band called Nirvana? (He sure does: http://i.imgur.com/lTpuIG6.jpg)

I went out for drinks the other day with a few really cool dudes from a local band by the name of The Antique Hearts. We were just hanging out playing pool, having a few drinks, when Zach, the lead singer, mentioned to me that people don’t appreciate growth anymore.

Now, obviously he didn’t mean that like “nobody appreciates when you grow up” but more like “nobody appreciates the process of growing up” anymore. It caught me off guard at first, but the more I thought about it, the more I realized the truth in his statement. In today’s society, we reward those who have the quickest solutions, the fastest answers, and the most efficient ways of getting from point A to point B. We reward those who grow up the fastest and leave one of the most valuable times of growth in our lives behind. In doing so, we’ve lost our appreciation for those who aren’t afraid to fail on their paths to success.

When was the last time you told yourself that it’s OK to be bad at something? When was the last time that you told yourself that you have to start small before you can make it big? It’s really not something most of us consciously think about. I’m certainly guilty of expecting greatness of myself without thinking I needed to put the work in. I surround myself with people that are better than me at coding, at socializing, at arbitrary different things, because I hope to learn from them. It’s easy to get discouraged when I look at them and see what I’m not, but that’s not the right way to look at it. Not at all. I have to make a conscious effort to look at these people who I want to learn from, and see my future self in them, and take small steps to get there.

It’s no different for aspiring musicians. If you think that you’re just going to pick up a piano and become the next Beethoven or Mozart by the end of the day, then you aren’t ready for the journey. There are different ways of going about beginning, but the key is that you don’t quit just because you aren’t where you wanted to be yet. On top of that, where you want to be will always change. There will always be people and things in your life that change your goals and who you want to become. But if you don’t appreciate where you came from and the process it took to get where you are now, then you’re going to find it very difficult to get where you want to be.

Look back at your past and think about something that you wish you had kept up with, but quit because you weren’t as good as your idol, or as talented as your favorite athlete, or as outgoing as your favorite actor/actress seems to be. It’s possible that in your rush to get old and mature as fast as possible, you saw what you wanted to be but convinced yourself you would never become that, so you quit. If that is the case, maybe it’s time to take a second look, see if you can’t start taking the small steps towards becoming what you always wanted to be, while remembering that failing along the way isn’t just acceptable, it’s encouraged.

Can you think of something in your life that would be much better if you or someone else had simply taken the time to grow a little bit more before attempting something? Let me know!

Your End of the World Song

Every now and then I like to ask people what they would listen to if the world were about to end, and they could listen to just one song.

A few answers I’ve gotten are:

  • Tim Hecker – Dungoneering. A very apocalyptic, ambient song that is just relaxing enough to calm your nerves, but eerie enough to remind you that the end is near.
  • Tahuna Breaks – Reflections. This is one of my all-time favorite songs. The lyrics are so strong, and the fact the chorus is “the world is ending soon” doesn’t make it tough to add to this list!
  • Rush – 2112. Besides being an epic classic rock track, this song is really long, so you at least postpone the end of the world for a little while, I guess.

No matter what someone’s answer is, every song chosen was created by a person or a group of people. That means there are millions artists in the world who created something so powerful that someone else would choose it to be the last thing they hear before the world ends.

In fact, the artists who will create the end of the world songs of the future are out there right now. They might be struggling to make ends meet while playing gigs on the weekends to keep their dreams alive, or maybe they’re starting to make a name for themselves in their hometown and are venturing outwards. Maybe they are world famous and known by millions! Whatever the current status of these artists, they all began the same way: talented but undiscovered.

Just think, out there right now, playing in some small town, could be a band whose music will change someone’s life so much that they will want it to be the last song they listen to before the world ends.

That’s what I want to do with Panoplay. I want to provide a way for artists to inspire people, and I want to inspire artists to inspire people. I want to allow a generation of undiscovered artists to show the world their talents. And maybe, just maybe, there will be someone out there who is so affected by the music they discover that they will choose it to be the last thing they listen to before they’re forcefully evaporated into space. Or maybe they will just really like it. Either way 🙂

So now that I’ve gotten that thought out, I’ll ask you all: What’s your end of the world song?

The Value of Patience

Sometime in Fall of last year, I conceptualized the very broad idea of a pay-what-you-want music website based on my love of Humble Bundle and Bandcamp.

Back in December of last year, I first pitched the idea to my talented musician friend Punchaface, who fell in love with it immediately. We would chat every night about the idea, solidifying the details and getting each other more and more excited about it. I then pitched the idea to a few more artists and my music-loving friends who all thought the idea was really cool and that I should go for it.

From January through May, development of Panoplay took a back seat to my studies, even though I still managed to squeeze out 20-30 hours of development per week.

Since then, I have been working between 8 and 14 hours every day of the week on Panoplay, and we are still so far from launch. I have learned everything from the various complications of working with lawyers to how to change which table row is highlighted using jQuery. We have gone through a complete redesign of the website, several changes in project contributors, and experienced the frustrations of expecting people to always email you back. There have been so many times when I have had to think past the struggles of today and visualize the successes of the future. So many times, in fact, that it has started to become repetitive and sometimes frustrating. Today, though, I finally got to see a screenshot of what my friend has been working on for the past month integrated with the new design.

And it was amazing.

It is the little things, like when an artist emails me back saying how excited they are to be a part of this, or when I see a screenshot of a new feature being completed, that really make this all worth it.

I’ve never worked on a project for this long without some sort of launch before, and nearly every aspect of this entire experience is a new one to me. It’s been slow-going even at the fastest pace I can possibly sustain, but that’s alright.

This is going to be awesome.

How do I blog

Salutations earthlings, creatures of the deep, and those whose existence is beyond my feeble comprehension! My name is Cory Scheviak, and today I invite you to join me on a journey of discovery, adventure, and countless mistakes as I document the process of launching the website of my first ever company, Panoplay.

Since I’ve never had a blog before, I’m going to loosely follow this very succinct guide on how to organize my first post.

1 – Who I am

me

^ that’s me

As I said, my name is Cory. I am also known online as ‘Cojo’ on IRC and ‘Cojomax99’ pretty much everywhere else. I have lived in Raleigh, North Carolina my whole life and recently graduated from NC State University with a BS in Computer Science with a concentration of Video Game Design. Here is a list of some cool things I have done / am doing:

  • Created a mod for the game Minecraft called Tropicraft with a handful of talented people from around the world. Tropicraft probably has something like 15 million or so downloads by now.
  • Spent last summer interning at TeacherGaming, LLC in Tampere, Finland. They are the creators of MinecraftEdu and KerbalEdu. If you’ve never been to Scandinavia during Midsummer, add that to your bucket list. It’s a truly life-changing experience.
  • Am currently developing the website and business for my company, Panoplay, which I hope will energize and inspire unsigned music artists around the world. More on this in section 2.
  • I visited 7 different European countries last summer. For someone who had never traveled alone outside the United States before, it was an incredible coming-of-age experience that gave me an entirely different perspective on life.

2 – Why I am blogging

A few reasons. First of all, I simply have a lot of things to say, and I’d like a place to say them. Through this, I would like to find the others.

That being said, I am also going to use this blog to write about the development of my company, Panoplay. Now, for those that haven’t heard of Panoplay, it is a website that will essentially sell “pay-what-you-want” mixtapes of music from unsigned artists that we compile on a weekly basis. I came up with the idea of Panoplay because of my friend who made music for Tropicraft. When I asked him how unsigned artists get their music and names out into the world, the answers I got were ‘sign to a record label’ and ‘pure luck.’ Neither of those are very helpful for those artists working for themselves. I want Panoplay to happen not just for music fans to discover awesome new tunes, but for the creators​, because artists who truly love what they do should be able to make music for a living​. Plain and simple. Talent should not be wasted simply because not enough people know about your gift.

As for numbers 3 and 4 on the ‘first blog post’ guide, I think I will leave #3 up to the future to decide. I expect many posts will be about the cool things going on with the business, several will be about cool things going on in my life, and a handful will be me quoting Shia Lebouf in his ‘JUST DO IT’ video. As for #4, I can always be reached on my Twitter page.

I look forward to posting a lot more in the coming weeks as the business gets closer to launch!