Friday, December 27, 2013

What I've Learned in Four Years of Bite and Booze

I started Bite and Booze out of boredom at an office job a little over four years ago. Since then I've found a way to be successfully self-employed, to eat and drink for a living, to travel around the country and even internationally now, and most of all, to be happy getting to do what I want to do. It hasn't been easy. Nobody ACTUALLY pays me to put a shrimp poboy in my mouth or drink a craft beer, so I've had to be more creative than that. What started as a blog and a hobby is now a full blown culinary multi-media conglomerate. The blog itself, which is what you are reading right now, has been the hub of it all.

I get asked fairly often what it is that I actually do for a living. Even by my dad. But I constantly find that question difficult to answer because I do different things every day. I stay busy. I'm never bored. I never don't have a to-do list. But it drives me. It makes me want to keep going.

To try to explain what I do, I created this diagram in Microsoft Paint:

I ran out of room. There's so much more that I didn't have a chance to list above. Like Jay Ducote's Louisiana Barbecue Sauce, for example. But you get the idea. It is all over the place. And that's what I love about it. Here's what I've learned:

1) I don't like routines. I don't ever see myself working in a job that can be defined by a routine again. I don't want to go through the motions. I am miserable if my week consists of getting up at the same time every day, having the same options for my pathetic lunch break, and then knowing exactly when I'm going to bed. I don't like predictability, and I enjoy the thrill of living one day at a time... and truly living each day. I liked college because each day brought different challenges than the next. I enjoyed teaching high school and coaching baseball because no day was ever the same, but the routine brought me down. I felt trapped. Later I came to despise the routine of a 9-5 office job. If you like it, then good for you. But I had to get out. I had to have more freedom. I needed to forge my own path.

2) I help people. It doesn't matter who or why. I say yes all the time. Maybe too much. But I also think that it is one of the biggest factors that has gotten me where I am today. I volunteer to help out non-profit organizations as much as I can. I take the time to speak to groups about pursuing dreams. I make every effort to be giving with my time. Although it is limited and has become more and more valuable to me if nothing else, I still like to give. And in the end, I think it has all come back to me and then some.

3) I found a way to be creative, and I learned to appreciate other forms of creativity. I can't sing. My feet don't know how to dance. If I tried to draw something you wouldn't recognize it. I'm not going to come up with the next great trick play on the football field or a top-selling app. But I've always been able to write. Seriously, way better than I could ever read. Somehow the two did not go hand-in-hand for me. Creative writing worked out. And then came cooking. Flavor combinations filled my mind. I created dishes in my head then learned how to put them on a plate. I appreciated the creative process behind it. And thus, I found out that while I can't do many artistic things very well, I can appreciate good creativity when I see it.

4) I've never stopped learning. That's what I've learned. Education is a life-long process. Don't be defined by your arbitrary college major. I got a degree in economics and political science. Then I got a masters degree in political science. I learned that I didn't want to be a politician or a political scientist for the rest of my life. I still have those pieces of paper hanging on the walls though. I never would have imagined that I'd wind up eating and drinking for a living. I don't think LSU offered that as a major. Perhaps the concept that stuck with me the most from all of college is Socratic Ignorance. Be smart enough to know that you don't know everything. Ignorant isn't a bad word. It just means you lack sufficient information to make a correct or informed decision. By no means does that mean you aren't capable of learning that information. You just don't know it at the time. So keep learning.

5) I can't do it all myself. I used to be almost able to. This whole job started as a hobby that distracted me very little from my day job. But even then I couldn't design my own logo without some help. I've had a lot of assistance along the way. Many people have contributed to the growth of Bite and Booze and my personal growth as well. I've had interns that have helped out tremendously. I couldn't have done it without my great sponsors, partners, and supporters that you can see in the column on the right. But now it is getting to the point that I'm drowning in my daily tasks while reaching out for the next big project. I need help. I'm not going to keep building Bite and Booze if I can't find a way to grow it. So if you're interested, or know somebody who might be a good candidate, I'm hiring. I need an assistant, but really I need so much more than that. I really need a mini-me. I need somebody so well rounded that they can have their hand in every aspect of everything that I do, and do it all well. Please send resumes to

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