insurance design

Smoking Charges Ignite

Last night, Amy took Anna, our seven-year-old, to the dress rehearsal for her 2015 dance recital. I was left in charge of Will, our nine-year-old, and Ella, our three-year-old. What follows is a litany of the kids showing me that I exist in their world as a piece of tightly-spun twine, permanently...

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Sad Child


Our actions become our kids' reactions. Not exactly new. Not exactly Newtonian (pause while joke sinks in). But it's a truism all the same. ...

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Car radio

Piece of Sh*t Car Reprise

When I was in high-school, a popular song named "Ode to My Car," by Adam Sandler, spun regularly on the radio. No, it didn't. All foul-mouthed teenage boys wished such happy, unfiltered radio days would appear, but that didn't stop the explicit lyrics from making an impact, even if the song's plot...

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Advertise Here

We shall recognize that the people who achieve the most success are the ones being written about, not the ones doing the writing. About two years ago, I started sending query letters to the local newspaper, trying to get them …...

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Certain messes in life are unavoidable. If you get a DUI and your hair is sufficiently mussed or you manage to jam your finger into the nearest outlet just prior to the mug-shot, chances are you'll be a big-time celebrity some day. ...

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A Reasonable Explanation

Therapist: Take me back to the beginning. Tell me how it all got started, how you eventually wound up holding the bloody knife in the aftermath of your killing spree. I'm sure there's a reasonable explanation....

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That's a Mouthful

Waking up to the sounds of birds and (outside) insects is alluring, and when you have your second 10th cup of coffee and realize you are on vacation, and this auditory lovemaking is real, not the result of an ambitious-carpet-cleaning hallucination, you can finally relax, letting your bulk stress...

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Stupid Piece of ... Oh, That's Right

I'm a realist. I call things like they are, and if I look stupid in the process, well, so be it. ...

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Deadly Donuts

The morning started off good. Four eggs fluffed with a splash of milk, mixed with Parmesan and salt and black pepper and red pepper flakes and slathered with Cholula hot sauce; four ounces of Bob Evan's spicy Italian sausage (sorry for the smell, honey, luv ya) fried into the wonderful concoction;...

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When Did I Become a Pushover?

I've never thought of myself as the Ultimate Fighter type. As a kid, whenever the possibility of bodily harm came up, I tried to avoid confrontation. But if the issue was pressed, I could stand up and issue fake threats along with the best of them and hope that my manufactured bravado was enough to...

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As I Approach 30

I live in a small town. Colona, IL has a population of just over 5,000. As a jogger, this means I am usually only assaulted with exhaust fumes a few times whenever I decide to go outside to burn some calories. But as far as the type of people passing me on the roadside? Over this, I have no control....

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Filed Under on March 31st, 2011

Family Maxims #26

By Seth Kabala

We shall recognize that the people who achieve the most success are the ones being written about, not the ones doing the writing.

About two years ago, I started sending query letters to the local newspaper, trying to get them to bite on one of my article ideas and take me from the ranks of the unpublished to the published-in-such-a-small-publication-no-one-who-matters-will-care-but-oh-well-it-makes-me-feel-good.

Five months of persistent emailing got me an assignment: a profile of my sister’s graphic design business. I followed that with a regular beat of covering the Silvis, IL city council meetings (which I’m convinced was punishment for some crime I committed in another dimension or life that no one told me about), concert reviews, feature articles–all totaling to over 50 published credits in a little over a year.

I’m proud. I am. Despite my earlier comments, the Dispatch/Argus daily isn’t some high-school rag; it runs a circulation of over 45,000, and gets way more hits than this on its website, so it was actually a great platform from which to launch my journalism career, and based on comments from the editors, I feel confident that I could become a well-known feature writer in national markets.

One problem: I’m selfish. On the cusp of authoring mail-bag loads of queries to national magazines, my many credits providing ample evidence of my qualifications, I never got more than a couple in the pipeline. I found time for vocal, instrumental, and humor-writing development (as you can see), but I never got past the stage of idea kernels, far less than needed to convince editors to give you a job.

Aside from this, though, even if I’d been fortunate enough to have big-time writing assignments land in my lap (you know, like a Playboy feature that I got to know well ;)), I realized why I wasn’t making progress: my name was in the byline, not the copy.

How stupid is that? Why pass on doing something you’re good at to pursue something that’s as uncertain as what that Twinkie will do to your digestive system?

Because I’m after greatness, and you should be, too, and I think I’ve stumbled upon a formula for determining how influential a person is. If they’ve got more bylines than attributions, they have less cultural influence than they could.

Think about it. How many famous journalists, not counting columnists or tv personalities, do you know who are superstars? That many, huh? Pretty pathetic, right? We don’t care about the byline; we care about the content. About the people responsible for the content.

That’s why I excluded opinion people from my formula. These people are famous for who they are. For what they write, not for what they write down that other people said. See the difference?

Maybe you’re fine telling the world how great other people are. If you are, chances are you are not the boss.Chances are, you’re worried about what the boss thinks, and that’s okay, but only if you use that approval to catapult yourself past the boss so he has to kiss your ass, if you’re into that sort of thing.

I realize that the opportunity costs of reaching for greatness are huge. Bottom line: just because you can do something well doesn’t mean you should.

If you’re not struggling to get up to the next hand-hold of the mountain’s face, are you really trying? Be the content, not the recorder.


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Seth Kabala

About: Seth Kabala
Seth is an entrepreneur, writer, and musician. He lives with his wife and three children in Portland, OR.

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