Benj the Builder

I talk a lot about the importance of getting out of your comfort zone. I have a firm belief that by doing so, that is where the real personal growth, enrichment, and satisfaction occurs in life. Personally, I’ve been working on it a ton, but there are still plenty of areas where I can improve. I tackled one this week. Let me tell you about it.

Previously, I have told you about my relationship with manual labor. It doesn’t interest me, I am no good at it, and it makes my body hurt. But from everyone I talk to, it often provides real satisfaction because you are doing something tangible and oftentimes meaningful.

I have a particular pal at work that holds me accountable.  Since I often recommend everyone get out of their comfort zone, he makes sure I do the same. So he challenged me, and I am so glad he did. This week, for the first time ever, I joined my co-workers to work on 2 Habitat for Humanity houses, and I want to tell you about some takeaways.

Leading up to the day, I was getting clowned left, right and center. “Bostic is gonna have to go buy some work clothes.” “I think he may show up in one of those caddie suits they wear at The Masters.” On and on. Yeah, yeah, yeah. I ended up showing up with my patented sweat pants rolled to my knees, which prompted my buddy to ask if I were wearing capris. (Eye roll.) Anyhow, none of that is of any importance to the amount of good work we did as a team that day. We painted the full interiors of 2 houses and fully sided a shed. We met the 2 future homeowners, who were gleaming with excitement and pride, and then we finished the day with a quick brew at a local brewery.

A5479ED4-B28F-4082-BA8C-1F92DAB4A0F2What the hell was I afraid of or nervous about? That I wasn’t a professional painter or sider? In retrospect, I have no idea. I had a fantastic day. Left fully excited for the new homeowners. Fully fulfilled by the work that had been done. And proud as can be of my teammates. I had passed up that opportunity multiple times in the past, and for what? Seriously, I have no idea.

What keeps you from getting out of your comfort zone? What keeps you from experiencing that fulfillment and personal growth that comes with conquering those things you may be afraid of? Listen, I wore double denim with pink Chelsea boots to work last Friday, and I was nervous about painting?That literally makes no sense.

So, baby steps. New foods. New activities. New challenges. New travels. New styles. Our own crazy little brains often talk us out of things for no good reason. I love seeing people grow personally. Me. You. Everyone. I’ll have another more wild and crazy example for you in a week or two. But in the meantime, challenge yourself to get out of that comfort zone, and let me know what’s up!

Have a great week.-Benj

Follow me on Instagram @anythingbutkhakis.

Follow me on Facebook @anythingbutkhakis.

If you would like to get my weekly blog
automatically in your email, subscribe on my website http://www.anythingbutkhakis.com.

 

Same Song, Second Verse

A little bit faster…yes! A little bit faster the second time around. Maybe that’s why I’m doing it again? Maybe not.

85A53699-A5C0-4F5C-A759-43F57E36CF4DSo first off, I am running the NYC Marathon again this year. Round 2. Why? Let’s talk it through together. Let me remind you of my experience last year .  I got no rush when I crossed the finish line in Central Park. Sure, it was cool, but it did not even move my proverbial needle. The real emotion was during the 4 hours and 32 minutes (and 12 seconds) leading up to the finish line, and even more so, the 4-5 months of training and racing leading up to that. I had never personally bought into the whole “the journey is the actual reward” line. Now, I am a firm believer because I have experienced it firsthand. A few years ago, I would have wanted to just flaunt the end result. Now, it truly is all about the hard work behind the scenes, which is an unbelievable metaphor for life and an unbelievable transformation for me!

Let me tell you how I feel right now on April 15, 2018. My right shin still hurts from the race 5 months ago. My right hip and pelvis still hurt from the intense arthritis that I have. So why, when I was invited by The Arthritis Foundation to run again in 2018, would I even consider? I took 3 days to mull it over. I polled some of you all to see if it would set any light bulbs off. Ultimately, it came down to the immense personal satisfaction and fulfillment that came with the journey last year. If I could replicate that again this year and in years to come, man that would be awesome! I want to point out that I didn’t say it was fun. Nor did it make me happy. Satisfied and fulfilled, which I have learned over the past year are so, so much more important to me.

708CEA8D-E6FA-4399-B775-6482786E4A7BWhat if this became my story? Guy who hates running overcomes terrible arthritis pain to run marathons in his favorite city in the world to raise money for the very disease that prevents him from doing certain daily tasks. What if this became my thing? What if starting last year, I run the NYC Marathon every year until the day that I die? Sorry…I am a dreamer. But what if…

What’s your story? What gives you satisfaction and fulfillment? Have you found it yet? Are you putting in the hard work? Are you enjoying the journey? I wasn’t. Let me say that again. I was not. I loved the headlines, not the work. Don’t get me wrong, I still love the headlines, but I have (and continue) to put in the hard, hard work on my self. I love the work now. I love walking down to the track and putting in the grueling work in the sun. I love what it represents. I love how it makes me feel. I love that I sleep so peacefully those nights. And when I am fulfilled, I am much more valuable to this world. So too, I bet, are you.

Last year’s race theme was “It Will Move You”, and boy did it. It also used these words: “ free, vindicate, empower, celebrate, change, reward, stun, impress, hypnotize, welcome, surprise, challenge, break, rally, support, transform, unite, energize, push, humble, dare, lift, excite, intimidate, feed, devour, inspire, connect, overwhelm, and entertain”. Here’s the thing: I personally needed a stern test, and it was.  It made me sick. It made me uncomfortable. It made me hurt. But of all the words I quoted above, I see these most prominently: “transform, energize, humble, and inspire”. At the ripe old age of 35, I am finally starting to figure myself out, and it is so very freeing (to steal the first word from above). And if running the NYC Marathon every year becomes a part of my journey, then you shall know where to find me every first Sunday in November.

IMG_4242Life is so exciting.  What’s your story? Start writing…

Have a great week.-Benj

Follow me on Instagram @anythingbutkhakis.

If you would like to get my weekly blog
automatically in your email, subscribe on my website http://www.anythingbutkhakis.com.

 

Wingate is on the Map

One of the top 5 questions I get these days is where my favorite place is to travel. If you follow along regularly, you know that Salt Lake City is my newest favorite. You also know that my old standby is New York City. I literally cannot get enough. But what I haven’t mentioned is my love for my hometown of Wingate, NC (population not much). It’s where I grew up. It’s where my parents still live. And it will always be home. I spent both days last weekend there for different reasons, and was reminded why it is such a gem. At the beginning of spring and fall, it is absolutely gorgeous. And the people. Oh, the people. Always a smile, a hug, and a hearty handshake.

40FDB1E2-B28B-4377-BB56-9D2E7DA25F95I’ve taken some super-memorable trips in my life, and specifically the past 18 months. But even the best of those don’t compare to my two favorite things about Wingate: playing the piano with my mom at my childhood home (yes, I know I owe you the completion of our duet) or spending a fall night watching Wingate Men’s Soccer (D2 National Champs 2016). You think I am exaggerating? Two years ago, I cut a vacation to NYC short to fly home and watch a Wingate Men’s Soccer playoff game in person. No joke.

DA7D3FA1-E9D8-48D0-B51F-4828C94E3102Wingate is an interesting place. It is about 45 minutes from Charlotte on the way to the beach. My high school won the State Basketball Championship here recently, of which I am very proud. It is very rural, and smells like farming. Its demographics run the gamut, which was crucial in my development as a human being. A nice mix of white, black, and Hispanic, among others. The age of the population leans a little older, but then the university population evens that back out. Oh yeah, did I not mention? The town has a world-class university smack in the middle. I received my MBA and played soccer there. The campus is absolutely beautiful. The athletic program is second to none. Ditto to the pharmacy school and other academic programs. There is a worldwide feel because the university has students from all over the world. I can literally pop in for a day and talk native Wingate-ese, or overhear one of 10 different languages.

054FCCDB-74A1-4D66-BD30-063D9CFFBE9DI know I always talk about the importance of experiencing the world. Broadening your horizons. Being a true citizen of the world, not just your own little community. But life’s a trip, no pun intended, because on the other hand, there are so many “wordly” people out there that would have no idea how to behave in my little ol’ Wingate. I say it all the time to anyone who will listen (my co-workers are tired of it). Growing up in this place was an absolute blessing, and I never want to lose the ability to interact and relate with my hometown or any other small town, regardless of where I live or travel to.

957EAC90-AC0E-4B2C-9FA4-9D9F5820F6ADOne of my primary goals in life right now is to be able to start and carry on a conversation with literally anyone on this planet. So as I continue on my travels of the United States and the world, I get as much satisfaction during the off weekends to hit up places like Wingate. Because as fun as some fancy-ass place in Miami may be, it is necessary, vital even, to understand that the farmer in Wingate is equally as important. So when I say broaden your horizons, yeah, I may be encouraging someone whose world has gotten a little small. But let it be known, I also want everyone to know the importance of places like Wingate. And how it has shaped my view of the world just as much as all of these other places. No better. No worse. Just different. And as I always say, different is good. Different is good.

Have a great week.-Benj

Follow me on Instagram @anythingbutkhakis.

If you would like to get my weekly blog
automatically in your email, subscribe on my website http://www.anythingbutkhakis.com.

Family, Friends, Fashion, and Futbol

Who is a friend or family member you haven’t seen in a while that lives somewhere else in the world? Another city? Another state? Maybe another country? Would you like to spend some time with them? Alright, let’s go.

7BF54350-D6AE-49B9-973D-058F3E4FD7E8Last week my family and I journeyed to Florida, but here is how it started. I was simply annoyed at the Charlotte weather. Cold, dreary, really all over the place. So I said, let’s go to Florida. Just a quick getaway to the Orlando area. Nothing wild and crazy. Once it was agreed upon, I texted my college soccer teammate Sergio who lives in the area to see if he and his family wanted to have dinner. Next thing I knew, we were invited to stay at his house for a long weekend.

E4903ABF-C736-4CB1-BB86-D5EE9921153AChristy then decided to text her childhood friend Mikey who is an animal trainer at Sea World to see if he and his family were around. Next thing I knew, we had a full day planned at Sea World with behind the scenes animal “meet and greets” with flamingos, dolphins, sea lions, and otters.

13DF0498-CC32-48E7-BA21-B7958865EF2EIt was Spring Break in Florida last week, and Sergio called me on Thursday while we were driving down to let me know that another family had been staying with them earlier in the week and was going to stay one more night. No problem. One thing: Sergio and his wife Dionne have 4 kids, and his friend has 6. Night 1=11 kids and 6 adults. It was like the Home Alone house.

AF4EA58E-4EE6-4F8A-9DEB-F1D40D944F63On the way down, we stopped at one of our favorite little towns in Florida called Saint Augustine.  Spent a few hours enjoying the town. Just a lovely, chill little place.

4F7252AF-6CD9-48D3-8D31-9F952B41EA52Friday was Sea World. I love animals, so it was very cool. We started the day with 4 adults and 3 kids, and finished with 5 adults and 5 kids as a friend of our friends joined the party. We had a great time, but I can’t even begin to tell you how tired I was after 10 hours of that. It was like running a marathon.

12DF3096-640D-496B-B10D-2774A632C598That night, Sergio and I were sitting on his couch discussing plans for Saturday.  He and I were going to Braves vs Yankees Spring Training, but he found out late that his younger son had a soccer game too. He mentioned his coach’s name, and I stopped him in his tracks. Coach Sephton? Yeah, he was on my Sunday League team here in Charlotte for years before he just moved to Orlando. We would have to stop by and say hello. Sergio and I then proceeded to talk until 3am. I do love a good conversationalist!

D97A7FE6-A45B-48BB-A4E9-0712BCB49D23Saturday was baseball. 80 degrees and sunny at the ESPN Wide World of Sports. I wore ripped jeans, and I currently have a very strange suntan on my legs. This was an event for me. My grandparents lived and died by the Atlanta Braves, and I had been wanting to get down to their Spring Training for a long time. As I sat there, I thought my late grandmother would be well pleased. We then popped over to the soccer game, watched, and said hello to Coach Sephton, who per usual, criticized me for wearing ripped jeans. Dionne ordered pizza on the way home, and Saturday night was going to be just chill.

Wrong! I’m a bit of a smack talker by trade, and I was keen to let the kids know that their dad and I could still beat them in soccer. Challenge accepted. And for the next 3 hours, we all played. And the neighborhood joined. And we played some more. It was really, really genuine happiness.

9E4485BD-2343-4F5A-A8E4-CC07A058F280Sunday we woke up, and I was reminded I am not 20 years old anymore. We said our goodbyes, and moseyed on home with a quick detour to Daytona Speedway for my son (lover of Cars) to see. (Two restaurant recommendations between Charlotte and Orlando: Duke’s BBQ in Walterboro, SC and Maurice’s Piggie Park in West Columbia, SC.)

9097A495-C9FF-4279-A131-C886A89CDA2EWhat’s the point? I felt like I was surrounded by fantastic people at every turn on this trip. It involved family, new friends, old friends, and complete strangers. If you had told me that the weekend would have played out as it did when I first thought about going to Florida, I would have said you were nuts.

So pick a friend or family member that lives out of town. See if they would like to catch up. And then go have a great new adventure and make some great new memories!

Have a great week.-Benj

Follow me on Instagram @anythingbutkhakis.

If you would like to get my weekly blog
automatically in your email, subscribe on my website http://www.anythingbutkhakis.com.

Driving 400 Miles to See my Dog

Ooh, I have an idea. I want everyone to pick something that you love to do. Maybe your favorite sport. Your favorite team. Your favorite band. Maybe you like to run races. Maybe you love food or wine or beer. You get the point, but the important thing is to pick something you personally love.

584D2676-1A99-454A-AC26-EC8EA92E1B45But, per usual, we have to put a twist in. Take whatever it is you love, and I want you to consider incorporating it into a trip. I could have run the Charlotte Marathon, but I ran New York City instead. I can go to a Hornets game any time I want in Charlotte. But watching them in Indiana and almost again in Toronto (damn you Winter Storm Whatever!) was totally unique. Kevin Hart is less than a mile from my house in a week, but I drove to Evansville, Indiana to see him instead. Is this practical? No. But anything but khakis isn’t about practicality. It’s about adventure, and if it is time for you to have some adventure, then give it a thought.

0C4F89EA-1EA4-4397-A716-90F634D7D72CDD5B805C-1430-47A9-995A-719363F6D276I flew to Salt Lake City to run a race. I drove to Washington, DC to visit my dog. That sounds insane, right? But all of this stuff got woven into super-adventurous trips. Meals at St Elmo’s and games at Madison Square Garden and conversation with everyone and shopping on Rodeo Drive and hoopla everywhere, often with family and friends. Maybe there are even some friends you haven’t caught up with in a while that you could visit?

8CDBDFD9-9E96-4202-ADA4-E4E2D444E58BHere’s what got this brewing. A few weeks ago, I’m talking to some buddies about Carolina Panthers 2018. I can look into the stadium here in Charlotte from my backyard. I walk to games. Why would I want to fly to Cleveland or Pittsburgh or Philly next year to watch them play? Wait for it…why not? Ya’ll know I love the Browns too, so a Carolina at Cleveland trip is already seriously a-brewing. And I have to give props to my friends…they came to me with this idea not vice versa.  I love it!

94FE7E8D-D19E-4A32-BFD6-080168E4FDE6I always try to put my money where my mouth is, so I am in Florida right now. Braves-Yankees Spring Training, among other things (coming next week). Had never done it. Had always wanted to. It was time.  So listen, get your wheels turning, both figuratively and literally. What do you love? How can you weave it into some really cool, unique, or meaningful experience in the near future?  Drop me a message and let me know what you are thinking. And if you are a Panthers fan, maybe I’ll run into you in Cleveland later this year, and we can chat over a Great Lakes Brewing Co. beer!

E3B54AB1-3F5E-44EA-9412-970EEBDE630CHave a great week.-Benj

Follow me on Instagram @anythingbutkhakis.

If you would like to get my weekly blog
automatically in your email, subscribe on my website http://www.anythingbutkhakis.com.

It Somehow Works

B3303CE1-75B6-4FFD-B7E0-5BC39705E67E

This week’s post topic was chosen by my Instagram Stories followers, and it was narrowed down to “A Day in the Life Of”. One caveat. As I have written before, no two of my days look alike, so I will normalize as best I can. You ready? Let’s go.

CBE78E34-9522-4F70-A2D5-95E058A2BC23I wake up at 6:45am. From 6:45 to 7, I check emails, the blog website, and Instagram and mentally prepare myself for the day. At 7, I go back to sleep with my son. We snuggle from 7 to 7:30. This is the favorite part of my day. At 7:30, the mayhem begins as my wife and he work to get out the door by 8 and me soon after. I drink a Mountain Dew every morning. (If I ever suddenly die, tell the coroner to check for excessive Mountain Dew.) I film a quick Instagram video for the blog, and then turn on gangster rap and sing at the top of my lungs for my 5 minute commute. I’m sufficiently hyped. I blaze into the office (I am a banker) and get straight to my to-do list. No coffee runs. No how’s the weather. On it. I get 90% of what I need to get done each day by lunchtime because I don’t horse around. I am uber-focused. So my top priority project and client-related items happen before lunch. At lunchtime, I either go grab something tasty (I work Uptown) with my co-workers and friends, or I go home. If I go home, I may take a hot bath, go for a run, or watch Stephen A. Smith (I love him!). The afternoon (unless I have scheduled client calls) is for projects, “desk work”, and the part of my job I love the most. Mentoring and helping my co-workers. I am currently mentoring 5 people either formally or informally, and this is really where I feel like I can add value to people’s lives. I have 2 goals with all of these interactions. Help them understand the big picture and that there is a massive world out there. Help them understand a “bigger” way to think. If they are smart and motivated, we can teach them to be good bankers, no problem. It’s the larger intangibles that can really affect their lives, and they oftentimes are not getting this anywhere else. I then check my to-do list for the day and make sure I am pleased with the progress. I make a to-do list for tomorrow. And then it is boys time. Recently, it has been darts and grapefruit vodka from 5-6pm. It’s good for the soul. Then I’m out.

70C41DD8-9207-4316-ACB2-037161539DE3B84C91F3-4A26-48E0-89DC-2399A6E469B26:30 to 8:30 is family time, in some way, shape, or form. I travel usually once every 3 or 4 weeks now. Christy is out of town once every 6 weeks. She also now has women’s group commitments 1 or 2 nights a week. So really, there is no rhyme nor reason to family time. But somehow, it works. If it’s boys night, we go to a Hornets game or have a Chick-Fil-A date. If it is full family, we go out to dinner half the time and stay in half the time (I cook a mean frozen pizza). Every other night a bath. Every night some kids movie and reading a book. That’s family time, however it looks, and some how, some way, we have molded a pretty incredible 3 year old.

572680F3-5E58-4481-93C5-308E5533D56CAt 8:30, it looks like I am just staring into my phone. But from 8:30 to 10:30, I am creating. Working on content. Studying behaviors. Thinking. Researching. Writing. Strategizing. Interacting. I usually have 5 text strings going. I may have a phone conversation with my friend and business partner Junior. I absolutely love it. It is fulfilling. I hope I am adding value to other people’s lives with the unique way I see the world, and I just love doing it. My phone then usually dies, which means it is time to go to bed. 8 hours sleep. Mandatory.

I want to point out a few things here. One: As a general rule, I do not waste time. I don’t spend any time watching the news, reading all the bad news on Facebook, or watching TV (minus sports). I have a firm belief that these mediums are ruining the way people view the world. I have been actually traversing the USA meeting actual people in actual places, and 99.9% of people are absolute gems. Two: I have a firm belief that real interaction with co-workers, friends, family, strangers, guys if you are guys, girls if you are girls, and alone time are all insanely important. My day typically includes all of these categories, and that is intentional. Do not discount these 3 in particular that so many are not doing: strangers, guy time (in my case), and alone time. Massively important.

And that is my day and a few of my thoughts. If I had to pick one word to describe my day, it would be intentional. I don’t meander. I run my day. It doesn’t run me. And there is so much, I mean so much, value in that!

Have a great week.-Benj

Follow me on Instagram @anythingbutkhakis.

If you would like to get my weekly blog
automatically in your email, subscribe on my website http://www.anythingbutkhakis.com.

 

 

Do Talk to Strangers

762761D9-36BE-4E7D-B6BC-483845A3C154Do you have any idea how interesting it is to wear a bona fide men’s hat these days? No, not logistically, although being 6’4″ and then adding 6 more inches is somewhat interesting when walking onto a plane. I’m talking about the conversations it starts. We’ll come back to that.

76719BA5-EAD8-42D0-84DB-9F2D02ED17CDOriginally, I was going to be in Toronto, Canada last week, but due to the extreme northeast weather, I ended up in Dallas, Texas. (I’m not even going to talk about that cluster, although I am basically a travel agent now.) You know what else I’m not going to talk about? How cool it was seeing Air Force One at the Charlotte airport. Or how good the Texas brisket was. Or how sobering exploring the JFK assassination site was.

BA870DC8-D0C4-4308-B98A-2BBF3B6D2D657C70C27A-0574-47D8-8F07-8AE078F1178AOr how neat it was to be atop the city with 360 degree views. Did I mention the brisket? I’m also not going to talk about the jalapeño margaritas. Or the FC Dallas soccer game. Or the personal tours of Cowboys and Rangers stadiums. Definitely not going to talk about seeing Dirk, Mark Cuban, and the Mavs up close and personal. That stuff was incredible, but let’s go next level.

42227A66-C929-4C18-8D39-EB90ECDBD9CA1BDD7A30-E14B-4B74-B0C9-7F082974CCCB8D0BDEFA-1E47-4EE9-994F-1D86CE0D2182FD6D3680-FA28-4802-8423-000EC8245576I want to tell you about the conversation with the lady from Bloomington, Indiana, where I just was a month ago. I want to tell you about the Friday Night Lights conversation with the rural Texas local. I want to tell you about custom making a hat with Cassie at House of MacGregor, and our Kentucky Derby conversation (where I also just was). I want to tell you about my conversation with Luke (friend, Wingate family, professional footballer) after the FC Dallas game. I want to tell you about local legend Michael Jones, who gave me a very cool tour at the JFK site for $10 cold hard cash. The accuracy of this “tour” is debatable. The once in a lifetime experience is not. I want to tell you about my Uber drivers Allan, Aaron, Angela, and John who advised me on my blog, social media, the suburbs of Dallas, American Ninja Warrior, keeping up with the Joneses, race relations, and parenting. And last but not least, I want to tell you about my new friend Victor, who gave me the ultimate experience of kicking field goals and catching touchdown passes on the field at Cowboys Stadium. (If you are not following my Instagram Stories, you are missing out.)

6B825FA5-AB60-455C-BDA7-AF31D76CDA60B0F5C19A-C2F9-448D-8306-A7D5313EA1EFI want to tell you the importance of getting out of your comfort zone. I want to tell you the importance of periodically leaving your inner circle and conversing with others. And I want to tell you the importance of visiting the real world instead of just the resorts, which is kind of just fantasyland.

I’m going to let you in on a couple of secrets.  My hats are great conversation starters.  So are my clothes.  I have quietly been building quite the list of new friends and acquaintances across the country with all of my travels.  Which makes me giggle when people inquire about me occasionally traveling alone.  Because really, it’s exactly the opposite.  I feel more in tune, more connected, and better able to communicate with ALL people because of how I do what I do.  And that’s really what I wanted to tell you.

Have a great week.-Benj

Follow me on Instagram @anythingbutkhakis.

If you would like to get my weekly blog
automatically in your email, subscribe on my website http://www.anythingbutkhakis.com.