What Is Your "Before" — and What Is "After"?

Also, read on for how to build a personal brand in six steps!

Here’s a nice question to ask yourself:

If you had to divide your life into two parts, what is before and what is after?

I'm doing something a little different with today's newsletter. I want to share a quick personal story with my answer to that question, which is very timely for me. This is why…

In May of 2015, my wife and I were sitting on the floor of our two-bedroom Brooklyn apartment. She was extremely pregnant with our first child, and we were in those final expectant days, when there was nothing left to do but wait for biology.

People had been telling us how much our lives would change — that once you have kids, you forget what it was truly like to not have them. So that dividing line was on my mind.

“We’re at the end of the Before Times,” I told her that night.

It was just such a weird thing to think about. It was like living in the past. Everything in our lives — everything we’d ever experienced! — was about to be contained on one side of a dividing line, while we crossed over to the other.

Soon it happened. The baby was born. Another followed a few years later. Our lives were indeed reshaped. Our careers evolved. And by 2022, we had fully outgrown the two-bedroom Brooklyn apartment where we started it all.

So this past weekend, we left. We found a larger home in another part of Brooklyn, a place large enough to grow into. Movers arrived at our apartment and did that crazy thing they do — transforming a home into bare floors and empty walls, leaving nothing but memories overlaid. (See my photo above.)

As I prepared to leave our apartment for the last time, I stood in the living room and looked at where my wife and I had sat on the floor eight years ago, contemplating the dividing line ahead.

That's when I realized: We had reached yet another dividing line.

We were once again at the end of the Before Times.

Our lives so far as parents would now be in a box, known as “before we moved.”

A moment later, my wife and our friend / neighbor / realtor Heather walked in. I told them what I was thinking, and we talked about it for a moment. Heather put it nicely: Our lives are full of dividing lines.

She’s right. That was one. This is another. More have come; more will come. They’re not the halves of our lives so much as the markers of growth.

As we transition from one to the next, we might spend time mourning the end of the Before Times. But here’s another way to see it:

The great fortune is actually to be at the beginning of the next divide, with so much still ahead.

So that's what I've been thinking today.

As we all go through our own changes, I hope it helps you pause and consider wherever you are in yours.

P.S. Unsolicited plug here for our friend and realtor Heather, who helped us out so much. If you’re ever looking to buy in Brooklyn, she is literally the best.

P.P.S. Beginnings may be nice, but our current beginning is lacking shower curtain rods, so that would be nice to fix. C’mon Amazon delivery, we’re waiting!

How To Be a "Thought Leader" in Six Steps

What Is Your "Before" — and What Is "After"?

I think the phrase "thought leader" is very silly. At first, I refused to use it.

Now I've made a kind of peace with it — because no matter what you call it, there is great value to being recognized for your ideas and insights, and building an audience (and earning money!) as a result.

How do you do it? Check out this piece from Wix, which profiled my "thought leader" journey and shared some really useful tips.

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Cover image credit: Jason Feifer