The Journey Begins!

Hi everyone, and welcome to the “Leverage Blog”!

I would like to take a moment to introduce myself, and share, very briefly, how this idea came about, who we are, and why you should care.

My name is Michael, and I’m currently 26 years old — leading the editorial strategy at the largest independent marketing platform company in the world, living in beautiful downtown Indianapolis, with a great apartment, a few great friends, two parents that love me, and a lot to be happy about.

Why is it, then, that sometimes something just seems a little bit… off? What’s missing? Who’s missing? And what’s keeping me from attaining and fulfilling whatever it is?

The SUPER crazy thing is… I know this same EXACT sentiment is shared by almost every single “Millennial” guy I that know.

We’ll get to this phenomenon — and dig into similar issues — within the content we hope to publish going forward.

But for now, let’s back up for a second.

Who the heck are we?

We’re just a few Midwest boys — regular guys leading what I think are pretty regular day-to-day lives… just trying to be the best we can in every area we can. But we also feel like we can relate well to our general demographic, and have some things worth sharing.

I’ve been incredibly blessed with the friendship of Chris Fultz and Chris Ortega. While Fultz and I met freshman year of college at Butler University, it wasn’t until after graduation in 2014 that we re-connected and began what’s evolved into an amazing friendship. Chris and my friendship is based on an almost scary amount of shared interests — but an even greater amount of shared perspectives in almost every area of life… as well as nearly identical parallels in terms of where we both “are” in our lives.

Ortega and I connected more recently through work, and quickly found that we were aligned on some of the most basic and fundamental values that I believe are critical for a solid foundation of friendship — in addition to mutual interests, we shared an almost instant trust, a strong belief in one another, a mutual appreciation for the things that truly matter in life, and a similar outlook on today’s dating environment.

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I love both of these guys… they’re extraordinarily high quality gentlemen and it’s my pleasure to know them both. I hope they’d say the same about me! 🙂

As we’ve moved further along our respective journeys further down the path of adulthood (and of manhood), Chris, Chris, and I have found one thing to be true: it’s HARD out there!

We wanted to begin a forum where we could share our thoughts, voice our opinions, and dig into some of the tough issues that we believe today’s modern guy is also going through — but that he may not be able to talk about, find (genuinely helpful) content addressing, or have a place to articulate, fully express, and understand them.

We believe there needs to be a spot where these kinds of discussions can happen freely and openly, and we hope we can jointly start to fill that void.

So, all of that to say this: none of us out there are perfect. None of us claim to be.

But as “Millennial men,” we believe that we ALL share similar challenges, obstacles, misconceptions, stereotypes, hardships, issues, and questions when it comes to relationships, dating, style, and health.

Our hope is to peel back the layers — to dig into some popular (or unpopular…) topics which might be a little bit uncomfortable to explore.

While the content we will publish isn’t solely for guys (we absolutely hope women can find value in the topics we want to talk about), it is generally going to be geared toward the Millennial male demographic — after all, that’s sort of what qualifies us!

**NOTE: In several weeks/months, we plan to launch a podcast in tandem to supplement and hopefully actually transcend and expand upon the blog. Stay tuned!!!

We want to bring forth some perspectives that we think are more than warranted and necessary to start talking about/addressing today. Topics we hope to cover include (but aren’t limited to):

  • Relationships and dynamics of relationships
  • How people meet and meeting new people
  • Relationship issues — both platonic and romantic
  • Online dating and dating apps
  • Today’s dating culture
  • The shifting dynamics among society
  • Implications of technology on dating and meeting new people
  • Navigating the sea of apps out there — not just dating apps, but social media, too
  • Select health and fitness topics — techniques, tips, trends, etc.
  • Select fashion and style topics — dress, presentation, “high status,” and “10 guy” attributes

So, this isn’t going to be easy. But we hope it will be fun, valuable, and beneficial not just for us, but for you, too.

As a formal note — we’re going to HAVE to get “real.” We’re going to get vulnerable. We’re going to get personal, and may discuss topics that might seem touchy — but that we firmly believe need to be talked about.

Because we know that being a guy in today’s world is really, really hard… and the only way to have effective, progressive dialogue about some of these topics is to open ourselves up to talking about things that even we might be scared to dive into, explore, and admit.

If that doesn’t sound like your particular brand of tea, no problem! But if you’re ready to pull back the curtain, and explore some pressing topics, let’s do it — guys, we know what you’re going through, or at least can likely empathize. You’re not alone! We’re ALL in this together!

As my favorite musical artist Drake says in Successful:

…”Life change for us every single week, so
It’s good, but I know this ain’t the peak though…”

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Welcome to the “Leverage Blog” where we’ll share thoughts, ideas, discussion, and maybe even a few tips and pieces of advice on living life to it’s fullest potential — and overcoming these very real challenges of becoming and being a high-quality, high-status, highly successful, happy, fulfilled guy in today’s digitally-driven, hyper-connected world. Thanks so much for joining. We can’t wait to see where this journey goes.

You ready?

Yours in growth,

Michael J. Becker

“Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter.” — Izaak Walton

 

Why I’ll Never Live with Another Guy: 10 Lessons From Having Awful Roommates

With all the wacky ways to find potential roommates these days, it’s never a surefire bet you’ll end up getting along with the people you live with.

Being a good friend, as I learned, does not always correlate to being a good roommate.

In my four years of undergrad, I lived in SIX different locations.

It’s not that I was indecisive… I was forced to move out a couple of times because my living conditions really negatively impacted my livelihood.

Here are 10 things you haven’t thought about, but definitely should before you move in with a new person:

1. Don’t trust people who go through your things.

One day, when I returned from class, I noticed my roommates moved my furniture and other personal items around the room.

Here’s what I learned: Never leave anything of real value unattended until you completely trust your roommate.

Moved furniture or displaced personal items might annoy you, but it’s easily correctable with a firm discussion.

Sometimes things happen that are simply out of our control. Often, these things anger us, frustrate us or leave us wondering why someone else might decide to intrude on us in a certain way.

We may disagree or we may feel resentment, but keeping a calm head in these situations that make us feel violated will ultimately behoove us.

2. No matter how social you are, you don’t want to live in the middle of a constant party.

I’ll never forget one night when my roommate brought the party back to our dorm at 3 am… on a weekday. Here’s what I learned: I wasn’t into partying as much as I thought.

Sure, I loved to go out, and even stay out late. But there was a fine line where the party stopped, and I assumed it was drawn at our door.

When I laid down, I expected others to respect that. As ludicrous as I thought it was, they thought it was acceptable to bring friends back, turn the light back on and continue to socialize as I tried to sleep.

3. A small living space is a recipe for disaster.

Living with three other guys in a hot and congested supply closet turned dorm room wasn’t ideal from the start, but combine that with roommates who stayed up late watching TV, doing homework and listening to music, and you have a melting pot that will boil over.

Here’s what I learned: Not everybody likes to operate on the same schedule.

Ninety percent of the time, if you ask a roommate to quiet down, a reasonable person will likely attempt to accommodate you.

Though my roommates were not reasonable in the least, I learned that sleep was quite high on my hierarchy of needs.

Determine your priorities and decide whether you’ll be able to achieve those in the living situation you’re thinking of committing to.

4. When you look at your roommate and see the devil staring back at you, you have a problem.

Perhaps this was brought on by roommates who talked back, you know, in that tone that just screams, “I don’t really give a sh*t whether you’re happy… I’m going to do what I want.”

I almost couldn’t believe it. When I asked a roommate to make a simple adjustment to the angle of his desk light or to turn down the TV volume a few notches, my request was met with undue hostility and a refusal.

I learned I never want to be that kind of a person. If someone else in my company is uncomfortable, why wouldn’t I defer to the Golden Rule?

Part of our purpose in living is to help and enrich others’ lives.

I learned that considering others and ensuring everyone is comfortable is a pretty important thing.

And, you know, not wanting to tear off your roommate’s head.

5. There’s nothing worse than living in a pigsty.

There’s truly nothing worse than looking at your kitchen or dining room in your college house, then looking outside at your trash pile in the driveway and realizing they look the same.

I think my senior house was actually messier than the trash dump out by the curb the majority of the time.

That’s because my roommates often left stuff — dishes, beer cans and other garbage — all over the place.

They had no regard for the concept of cleanliness. Sure, I may have left the occasional unwashed dish in the sink for a day or two, but I’m talking gunk so thick lining our kitchen floor, it felt like walking on glue.

I’m talking a mattress in our basement covered in unknown fluids, clothing and dirt. I’m talking fleas in the kitchen and in the garbage.

I learned that I’m a cleaner person than I thought, and I finally understood why my mother went to such lengths to keep our family’s home so spick-and-span.

There’s nothing worse than living in a dump. Make sure you have roommates who respect the sanctity of a fairly clean house if that’s something you want.

6. Living with terrible roommates will reflect poorly on you.

Striving daily to better myself in every aspect wasn’t easy when I was constantly surrounded by grime and stink and crap.

If I invited over other guy friends to hang out, or perhaps women I was trying to impress, the last thing I needed was a trashed place to hang. Ideally, you want your living space to be an extension and reflection of you.

I learned that I wanted others to have a singular, classy, respectable view of myself. I learned appearances are important, especially when they’re God-awful.

What self-respecting girl or down-to-earth guy would want to be surrounded by a bunch of assh*les living in a sewer? Uhh... well, I know I sure wouldn’t!

7. Money will always be a touchy subject when living with others, even if you’re already friends and agreed on the terms of your rent and utilities.

How will you handle it when that friend, who is also your roommate, can’t get you or the landlord his or her rent?

What about a roommate who refuses to pitch in for a new table, food or other items?

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What will you do when roommates tell you they “don’t have time” to go down in person to the power plant to drop off a deposit?

Worse, what if this person is you? Don’t let it be.

Unfortunately, financial discrepancies are a quick way to lose friends and quickly build a wall of tension. I learned to strive for clarity on these issues.

Email works best. If you can, try to avoid being the point-person for any of the bills, but always pay your share on time, and offer to help meet your expenses.

8. Make no assumptions, and rule out nothing.

I remember when I was desperate to find roommates senior year; I would have have lived with anyone who wasn’t a serial killer.

Thus, the guys I ended up living with represented basically four complete different ends of a four-pronged spectrum. We just didn’t mesh.

I was so busy thinking about finding guys to live with, I never stopped for a second and thought about whether I really wanted to live with these guys.

And here’s what happened: I assumed these guys would respect my space, be clean and wouldn’t disregard the landlord’s policies by smoking weed or cigarettes in the house.

I really should have explored other living options that I hadn’t considered, like renting an off-campus apartment and living alone (which I ended up doing, while eating the rent I owed on my house).

Never rule anything out, and never assume that just because you’d do something one way, another person will also.

Interviewing a future roommate, even if it’s a best friend, will help to get some of these issues out in the open before anyone signs the dotted line.

9. If you start to feel physically, mentally and emotionally unhappy, your life won’t be livable.

This is how you know a change must be made. Sleep, a roof over a clean house, good people, respect and happiness are some of the most important things for me to lead a productive life.

When I felt so lost, and when these things were taken from me, I was pushed to the point of desperation.

I would have chosen a broom closet rather than spend another night in that dreaded dorm room or that hellhole of a house.

If you feel sick in this same way, you know you simply must put all of your cards on the table and make a change. Of course, the best way to avoid this is to make really good choices about how you’re going to live.

10. My crappy roommates did not even see the above issues as problems.

It’s impossible to sit down and have a civil conversation about an issue when the person you’re attempting to reason with disagrees that a problem exists at all.

My ex-roommates did whatever they wanted, with blatant disregard for others’ sanity.

To me, this is no way to live life. I wish for others to enjoy being in my presence, not despise it.

I highly encourage you to do your absolute due diligence in exhausting every possible living scenario for yourself so you can avoid the heartache I’ve described.

After all, home really should be where the heart is.â—ľ

This post originally ran on Elite Daily, here, in June 2015. It has modified for the Leverage Blog.