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Two Comedians and a Baby Running an Internet Company in the Garage.

Two Comedians and a Baby Running an Internet Company in the Garage.

Writtem by Guest Blogger Chris Mancini

The title is not an exaggeration. Last year, comedian Graham Elwood and I started comedyfilmnerds.com since we were so tired of trying to get work with web companies or any other company for that matter. So we thought we should just become competitors. Of course we were doing it all ourselves and on less than a shoestring. So everything took longer and the credit card balances went up for both of us.
Our goals were ambitious. We wanted to feature movie reviews and columns written by professional comedians, interviews and comedy CDs, DVDs and books available for sale along with movie downloads. We’re a mix of Filmthreat, Amazon and ITunes. So our site was cobbled together with duct tape and off we went. And then it crashed and didn’t work. Many times. That has mostly been corrected.
Audge was on maternity leave while we started everything. We were so excited. We moved my office into the garage and that was going to be the baby’s bedroom. At first I was disappointed but if anyone with children knows, to have a room detached from the rest of the house is much more awesome than either parent will let on to the other.
So every Tuesday Graham comes over and we play “internet moguls” in the garage. We have a blast. We laugh, work, and strategize. And then we try to slowly learn how to get people to come to our website.
But my wife’s maternity leave ended and she soon went back to work and I was suddenly a stay at home dad/comedian/author/filmmaker/web guy. It’s been tough, but we’re getting through it. We’re both working double shifts as we switch off from work and childcare duties and try and get a few hours of sleep in the process. Between working on the website, finishing the book and doing an occasional show there wasn’t been much time left.
So Graham and I shifted our website schedule to later in the day and my son Griffin was now part of the mix. He would be present at the reading of the minutes and have voting rights during board meetings.
So now Griffin is almost a year old, and it’s been about a year since we launched the site. But now Griffin is crawling and he won’t stay in the “bouncy chair” whileF Graham and I struggle and take an hour to try and add a jpeg image of a T-shirt to our online shopping cart.
There are times when Graham holds the baby as I look up a purchase order or find out who Doug Benson is supposed to make a CD out to. The first time I asked him I just flat out said, “Is that weird, that I’m asking you to hold the baby?” He laughed and said no, he has many nieces and nephews and much practice. So I gave Griffin to Graham and he instantly took to him and tried to rip his necklace off. I think it was made of shark teeth or something because Graham’s a surfer and they… all fight sharks, right?
Now you expect comedians to make you laugh, get drunk, hit on waitresses and pass out in a back alley of a club somewhere. OK, we’ve all done it. But it’s a weird picture to see two comedians taking care of a baby. It’s an especially weird picture for the actual comedians.
But here’s the thing: I’ve never been happier. I’m doing my own thing. Taking care of my baby, running a business and there is no one to answer to. If I’m going to learn how to use a website content management system and learn how to use Microsoft Accounting (and I’m still learning, very slowly), I’m going to do it for me, and not anyone else.
I’m sure our company would be making millions of dollars right now if we had things like a staff and a marketing budget. And maybe a new computer. But it is making a little money, thanks to the support of comedy and film fans, comedians, filmmakers, advertisers and other people supporting us along with one intern who is trying to figure out a nice way of telling us she’s too busy to help us anymore. And of course the support from OMM during my book release (PACIFY ME: A HANDBOOK FOR THE FREAKED OUT NEW DAD) has been amazing.
We’re in the middle of rebuilding comedyfilmnerds.com (we originally called it comedyfilmnerdsdotcom.com but it was screwing up navigation and links) and my son is getting bigger. I can see the growth in every part of my life right now, and it feels good. Having children changes your perspective for the better. WAY better. And starting my own business has changed it even more. I’m not “industry obsessed” or constantly “waiting for someone to call me back” anymore. And even if I’m having a bad day, Griffin smiles at me and then it simply doesn’t matter anymore. Now about that million dollars…

Chris Mancini is a comedian and author. His first book “Pacify Me: A Handbook for the Freaked-Out New Dad” is now available for purchase. Enter to win the book for FREE!

My Father, The Financial Genius

My Father, The Financial Genius

Written by Guest Blogger, Chris Mancini

Let’s face it, it hasn’t been a good year for the dollar. From being gouged at the gas pump to the financial markets all put collapsing, it makes me want to go into a large corporation at random and punch a CEO right in the face and then smother him with an actual golden parachute.

Then when you have kids, every time there is a food price increase due to higher fuel costs, it hits you exponentially. But there’s all that money you’ve put away for retirement, right? Right?

I work free-lance. I don’t really have a 401K. My wife, however, is a normal person. She does. Or, she did. Before our eyes we saw our balance that we… I mean my wife, worked very hard for years and year so it would hopefully grow into something we could use when we retired. Or at least blow on something stupid like a yacht painted with the slogan “Gas, Grass or Ass, No One Rides for Free”.

My wife and I knew very little about money and the “markets”, “401Ks” and “investing.” We really didn’t. So we learned the hard way, by making mistakes. Not a good way to learn.

Our generation learned nothing about money from our parents. “Put money in a savings account” was the long and short of our financial planning advice. I remember once my father asked me what a stock option was. Then I told him. He looked at me like I just tried to explain quantum physics.

But then I asked my father how his pension was doing. “Fine” he replied. “I don’t trust the stock market so all my money was in fixed.” Whoah. Stop right there. It was the wisest thing my father had ever said. That wily, wily son of a gun.

Obviously now this whole “knowing nothing” about money and the economy was all a ruse. My father was a financial genius and saw this coming a mile away. His money wasn’t in the market. He was safe. And since he’ll be retiring soon, he doesn’t have to worry about working another 100 years, like the rest of us. This of course made me both impressed and resentful.

But who do you turn to? Financial planners? They are nothing more than glorified bookies. We had one that was so moronic he actually got us into more debt. Thanks, I could have done that myself and saved $500.

So we had to learn about money on our own. But more importantly we have to teach our kids about money. We just have to. Things are too complicated and unstable. They have to know. Right after they get their $5.00 allowance tell them if they hold on to it for a year and keep it in the market then they’ll only have to pay capital gains taxes on it. Their response will probably be “But I just want to buy candy” which is certainly valid as well.

Recently our 401K (I can say “our”, we’re married) went down to a 30% loss. At least that’s something. Right now all you can hope for is a smaller negative number. But when my father comes to visit this Christmas, he’s buying.

Chris Mancini is a comedian and author. His first book “My Life is Over, A Handbook for the Freaked-Out New Dad” will be out next father’s day.


The Truth Behind the Mask

The Truth Behind the Mask

By Ally Loprete

They call me “supermom”.
That is because I am a mom, and I have super powers. How else would I be able to manage the chaos in my life and handle everything with a smile on my face without breaking a sweat?
Don’t believe me?
See for yourself: I have a very demanding 2 year old, and another on the way. I am the co-founder of a national organization that caters to 4500 recipients in 80 cities nationwide, and the CEO of a handmade jewelry company that I design and create. I am a leader, a motivator and a people mover, giving public seminars, volunteering to teach improvisation to inner city children, planning community events, writing guest blogs and articles to over 25 news sites, not including my own. I participate in my son’s pre-school twice a week, teach musical theatre and performance to 9 year old girls at a local dance studio, and still find time to run a household, go grocery shopping, prepare 3 meals a day and sleep. I do not have a nanny, rely on daycare, nor do I have any family close by (or even in the same state for that matter) to rescue me or my schedule.
That is why I am known as “supermom”.
But like any superhero, I have a secret identity. Behind the mask is a woman who struggles to maintain the balance of it all, has broken down on more than one occasion, exploded with Niagara Falls, water works hysterics, has turned to one too many bottles of wine in the middle of the day, screams at her husband “how DARE you ask me if you can hang out with the guys tonight???” and has made several “parenting” mistakes such as putting off a dirty diaper change to finish a blog- which resulted in a diaper rash for her infant son. Even as a superhero, I wonder how others are able to pull it off.
Look closer.
Is anyone really pulling it off?
What is this term, “supermom” really doing to our society? Does the term inspire, or intimidate? Does it put added pressure on the women of today that are trying to do it all?
The truth is I am no supermom.
I don’t have any super powers, and I certainly have a breaking point. The more women I speak to, the more I realize we are all very similar. Mothers today are simply amazing- but then again we HAVE to be. Of the women that I know that are working full time- or even part time- and raising a family and maintaining a household, none of them are doing it just because it’s fun for them, and they were looking for MORE in their lives. Most of us are doing it because it’s what is necessary for our families to survive in today’s world. Our families need us to try and bring in a supplemental income because one income is not enough from our husbands- not even those with college degrees and higher educations. It’s not their fault, and we certainly don’t blame them. It’s just the way it is these days.
Before you choose to let someone who seems to be able to do it all overawe you and minimize what you know you are capable of doing, LOOK CLOSER.
If there are days that you feel you are barely staying afloat, take a moment and look at the others in your very same pool treading water. Perhaps they are looking at YOU and wondering how you got YOUR superpowers. All the things that you accomplished today? You seem pretty amazing to me. I’d love to know your secret…
…or your secret identity. I think I might relate better to the woman behind the mask. The real person who falls down often, forgets to eat, lets the laundry pile up, and cries from the overwhelm. It feels better to unveil myself, come clean that I am not actually able to “pull it off” and laugh about it with others who often feel the same way I do. It’s a relief to know I don’t have to save the planet all on my own.
and again.
and again.

Before Our Milk Money

I was a working parent, and struggling with one of the most difficult years of my life. As much as I dreamed of winning the lottery and being able to spend time with my beautiful new baby boy, only 5 months old when I returned to my day job, I did not believe that I had a choice. I searched online often for the perfect opportunity that would make me stand up and go, “this is it! This is what I’ve been looking for! This is the perfect way to make money from home. Now I can quit!” But I never found it. It felt almost paradoxical that I was getting a decent middle income salary but I really only worked 10% of the time I was actually at my office- the other 90% just did my best to make myself look busy so that I wouldn’t be “found out.”
I needed the stable paycheck to pay for daycare. I grew to rely on that income, and not because I needed extra indulgences. Once we became parents, we cut out a lot of extras – going out to eat, we commuted in one car to save on gas, we gave up morning starbucks when the office coffee was just fine and free, and we stayed above water, but barely. So, believe me, it’s not as if I didn’t want to give up a posh lifestyle. With the cost of daycare, we were paycheck to paycheck and our incomes were the only stability we knew.

I was pretty convinced, even with all that internet searching that there was no alternative to this life. Although I found ads for millions of companies promising to give me EXACTLY what I needed, ironically, it was the very reason I didn’t feel that I could trust any of them. I wasn’t trying to be difficult and talk myself out of a good opportunity just because I was afraid. As a reasonably intelligent person, I know nothing was a guarantee, but there were just too many gray areas…the fine print that one doesn’t discover until AFTER you’ve already made the leap and are knee deep in your new “woops” career that will go nowhere and will eventually be shrugged off as, “well, I wanted to try.”

As a new parent, I couldn’t take that risk. Not when I had to think of my family. I’d made mistakes falling for the wrong get rich quick schemes before, and although it stung a bit, I would eventually get over it.

But this was different. I couldn’t afford a mistake this time. Not when I had a son, a mortgage, and job that gave me group health insurance.

It wasn’t until I was suddenly laid off and was forced into finding a new alternative that I saw things differently. With the severance I received, a bit of unemployment, and the daycare expense now non existent, I now had time to stay home with my son, at least for a little while – until I discovered what my next move would be. I had time to breath, even if only for a moment, and I wanted to take advantage of every second that I was able to stay with my son until the day I had to go back to a new job. I knew that day would come fast, but for the time being, I was just going to hug my son and breathe…just for a moment.

6 months later, I had a new viewpoint. After seeing my son flourish, my husband and I both feeling less stressed, time to actually spend weekends together rather than a frantic rush to finish laundry and grocery shop for the week, I called a family meeting and made a very important announcement.

“I am not going back to work.”

I didn’t care if I had to live in a cardboard box. I would never work for anyone else again, and leave my son. When I told my husband this, he stood there quietly staring at me, as if he was waiting for the punch line at the end of the joke.

Finally, he said, “Um, okay. That’s a nice thought, but…you can’t just DECIDE not to work again…”

Yes, I could. Every fiber in my being told me that I belonged at home with my son, and that if there was any way to make it work, I wanted to find it.

As a recent mother, I became intensely aware of the “maternal instinct” which fascinated me to no end. I had watched myself transform into everything a mother is supposed to be- even though a year later I was sure that there were things I wouldn’t be able to adapt to. I also learned in all my prenatal classes, how important our instincts really are when caring for a child, and how listening to them will almost always guarantee your best parental performance.
It wasn’t until this moment that I realized that extreme pain and turmoil I was in when I first dropped my son off at daycare to return to work after my maternity leave. This pain was unlike anything I’d ever known- and yet, I did my best to ignore it just to get through my work day. NOW, I was seeing in clearly- my instinct was shouting and pleading with me – “NO! Don’t leave your son. You aren’t ready and neither is he!” As much as I tried to avoid it, it followed me every where for an entire year. Once I went back to work, I couldn’t stand any “down time”. Infact, it made me crazy…so crazy that I’d walk in and out of every office asking if anyone needed any help with anything. I was afraid that if I stopped for a spilt second to think, my mind would take me to the one roomed home daycare where my child was growing up without me. So I kept myself as busy as I could to avoid that reality.

Yes, being at home with my son and living off of an unemployment check may have seemed irresponsible, but I was certainly earning that paycheck. And the more I thought about the kind of work that was involved in being a stay-at-home parent, the more it angered me that I wasn’t going to be able to keep that income flowing in. Didn’t I deserve it as much as anyone? Especially when I’d spent the last 5 years at my day job doing approximately 75% personal stuff, anyway?

NO! I wasn’t leaving my son again. I didn’t care what it took, I’d find a way to stay home. I’d even be willing to sell our house, our 2nd car, shop at thrift stores and garage sales. Nothing else mattered. I would not leave my son again. I knew, beyond any doubt that I would find the answer I so desperately tried to find on all my internet searches 6 months before. Because this time I HAD TO.
Literally keeping me up at night, I couldn’t shake the idea that there had to be others who were just like me, not knowing that it was possible to make a change and have a better life. It made me horribly sad to think that had I not been laid off, I’d still be working, surfing the internet and praying that the miracle answer would come save me. Ironically, my lay off was the answer to my prayers- even if only temporary. It brought me home to my son and showed me that I clearly didn’t belong anywhere but here. I began jotting down some ideas.

Although it’s easy to blame others, for the situation I was in- Bosses who should have promoted me, or been more flexible, allowing me to telecommute, better and more affordable daycares, politicians who didn’t spend our tax money in areas that would have helped better our situations, our government for not making paid maternity leave longer, my parents and inlaws for not being able to retire, move in from out of state and become permanent babysitters… the fact was, I didn’t know who to blame.

We live in a democracy, and what that means to me is that no one is allowed to tell me what career to have, or what role to have in my life. Although they may not be easy to find, there is always an opportunity to work, to make money, to seek a better education. We all know we can do anything we want if we put our mind to it, so then why aren’t we doing it? Why are so many of us struggling? What are we missing? These are the questions that kept me up at night.

I also couldn’t shake the feeling that others out there, just like me, even less fortunate than I- who weren’t lucky enough to be laid off, and might never have the chance to experience what I had- and be given the answer that I had. I wanted others to know that they did have a choice and despite their fears in leaving their stable cor
porate jobs, they had no idea that it was seriously necessary. Thinking that I might never have been given the gift of knowing what it was like to stay at home would bring me to tears.
I had to do something. Now that I was seeing things so much more clear than the year before, I knew I had to find a legitimate way to bring in a supplemental income, at least as much as unemployment would pay. I had to use my passion to help others.
But, what could I do? Somehow get everyone fired from their day jobs so that they could collect unemployment, too? No- obviously not the answer.

I want to not only help other parents have the opportunity to stay home with their children, but to help them realize that they are not wrong in wanting to do so. I want for other parents to be able to stop denying themselves the truth in what they deserved. I want them to know that they do belong at home with their children and their families deserve to flourish.
We have listened to politicians from every group talk about family values as if it was the one thing that was ripping our country apart, and yet there doesn’t seem to be any concern for the fact that the average educated family with two parents and at least one child need 2 incomes to survive. If family values are really what our country needs to get itself into a healthier place, then why isn’t there more focus on keeping children at home with their parents rather than at a daycare?

In my frantic search for some answers, I found that there were many people who felt the way that I did, and some very smart groups had already formed movements to get themselves heard. I encourage you to check out some of these groups: www.momsrising.org and www.moveon.org
That is a good place to start.
Welcome to my brain. It keeps going and going and going- like the energizer bunny. I am anxious to see if OurMilkMoney helps the situation the way I believe it will. But if it doesn’t… you can bet I will keep on tweaking until it does make some sort of impact. I won’t give up trying. None of us should. Our families are counting on us to save the world.

By Ally

By Working Together We Are Empowering Ourselves!

There is going to be times where we lose the momentum and we forget what we were working for, but right now we have it, and we feel the energy from all of you. It’s feeding itself. We can see very clearly what we are able to accomplish. This takes everyone’s support. We are giving memberships for only $25 for the year, because right now your passion and excitement is worth more than any amount of money. We will lead you in anyway that helps you stay committed to the over all goal, and your faith in us keeps us accountable – so we thank you for that. We need you just as much as you need us. If everyone does there part, we will succeed as a team.
We’d like you to do what you can to adopt our philosophy and our way of thinking. In this virtual world of intra-personal communication, we need to believe that there is a force that binds us all together. I believe it’s the love we have for our children…because, let’s face it, none of knew this kind of love until we became parents. It changed everything about who we are as people and what is ultimately important in our short time on this planet. No matter what you personal goals are for your family, what kind of house you want to live in, the monetary limit you’ve put on yourself to feel successful, we all have our children in common, and no one should ever be able to tell us how much quality time we are able to give to our families. No one’s priorities are more important than yours and your children’s. Sometimes we get confused by what we have to give up in order to have the things we need for our families. “I need to keep working at this terrible job because it allows me to pay for food and clothes for my children.” Throw out that way of thinking! You are in charge of your achievements. You are not in this alone. There are others just like you who are passionate about a real network to give you the support you need. Your team won’t let you down, because you are one of us, we know that you won’t let us down. By helping others, you will be helping yourself. It is your responsibility to recognize the opportunities in which you can contribute, and act on them. Then you can trust and know for certain that when you are in need, someone will be there to help you, too. So many of you have already done exactly that, and we are incredibly grateful to have found you. You’ve told us how excited you are about our mission, you’ve put your faith in us by asking to be a part of a website that doesn’t even exist yet, you’ve written blogs about us, you’ve passed out our fliers, and you’ve referred new members to us. You wouldn’t believe how it’s transformed us, every little thing you have done for us, we’ve noticed and taken it to heart. We are more excited now than even the day we came up with the concept for ourmilkmoney. You helped us bring our idea to reality and we will never forget you for it. It’s the yin and yang, and the balance of the universe. We believe that we can create any environment that we want and the more positive it is, the more inspired we will all be.
You have already pushed us beyond what we thought was possible with ourmilkmoney, and because of that we can’t contain our excitement for what lies ahead…whatever that may be. We haven’t bound you to any contract, you don’t HAVE to contribute in anyway, but we trust that you’ll bring something to the table when the time is right. You believe in us, and we believe in you. That is what sets us apart from other organizations, and that is why we will succeed beyond anything else.

Help us to show the world that it is possible to belong to a network that is based on a common goal, and trust in each other. We know that we will be rewarded for our integrity and our commitment to our families and each other. Your success means our success. We can’t do this without a team. YOU are our team. Congratulations on becoming a part of something that matters and may shape the world into something we can be proud of giving our children.