Ryan Hanley

author, speaker, marketing geek

Seth Godin, Steven Pressfield and the Power of Unplugged

An Unplugged Mind is an Open Mind.

I don’t unplug very often.

Whether that’s healthy or not, it’s true.

I check my email way too much…

I check my Twitter @replies way too much…

I check Facebook and Google+ and Blog Comments way too much…

I’m always plugged in.

I check on my phone and on my computer at home and my computer at work…

I’m always plugged in.

I check on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday… and Friday… and Saturday… and even Sunday.

I’m always plugged in.

Blogging Becoming Work

Over the last few months I’ve been producing some of my best content.  I’ve found my Voice.  I’m focused on Awesome and Value and You and when I’m not thinking about selling insurance my mind is laser focused on creating content for this blog.

I’m a happy blogger or at least I thought I was.

Lately it’s starting to feel like work…

Work I love… Work I want to do… Work I’m willing to lose sleep over… But work.

I don’t want my blogging to be work.

I want my blog to be Inspiration and Value and Relationships and Success and Being Awesome.

This is Content Warfare!

I didn’t have writers block…

I didn’t lack for content ideas…

I wasn’t struggling with traffic…

I wasn’t having design issues…

My problem was simple and solvable.

I hadn’t unplugged for over a year.

A year…

A year…

I hadn’t unplugged for over a year…

Ryan Hanley Unplugged

I returned from vacation two days ago… I had been unplugged for all five days I was away.  No Internet… No cell phone… No text message… No Facebook…


Ryan Hanley Unplugged…

It was freaking AMAZING…

Just my wickedly lovely wife,  my kindle, a frozen adult beverage and the soothing sound of rolling Caribbean waves kissing white sand beaches.

Heaven on earth.

No phone calls… No voicemails… No emails… No Facebook updates… No comments to reply to…


I literally felt my body and mind unwind.

I felt it.

The Noise

I read a lot of blogs.  I have over 40 blogs in my Google RSS reader and I probably receive another ten or so by email and that’s not counting the blogs that I run into through social media shares and blog commentors…

At a certain point the good intention of consuming the content of thought-leaders just becomes noise.

Now we should be focusing on which social network?

What’s that new SEO technique?

How should I tweak my blog design?

What’s the name of that new must have plugin?

It’s noise.

It’s awesome important content that very talented people spent good time creating…

…but stuffed together, it’s noise.

An Unplugged Open Mind

Being that I don’t unplug very often, I decided to fill my unplugged open mind with the thoughts and ideas of two men I respect and admire and two books I’ve had on my wishlist for a long time.

Poke the Box by Seth Godin

Poke the Box by Seth Godin

The War of Art by Steven Pressfield

I read them in that order as well, Poke the Box then The War of Art, completely by coincidence but I’m so glad I did.

The best part of being unplugged is a completely open mind…

At a rock concert, the message contained within these two books would be powerful, but on a beach, unplugged, able to focus completely on the words…

Well in that arena the ideas can change you as a person.

Seth Godin & Steven Pressfield on my Kindle

So like I said I started with Poke the Box… Being a huge Seth Godin fan (as so many are) I knew I was in for a treat but I didn’t realize quite how timely or provocative a piece of work I had chosen for my current situation in life.

Poke the Box is about Starting.

It’s about initiating… It’s about the hardest part of being success in any venture, let alone Online.

The first step.

With the different things I’m trying to do in my life I needed the “Stop Planning” kick-in-the-ass…

I highlighted 28 passages from Poke the Box on my kindle… Below are my five favorite:

  • “Human nature is to need a map. If you’re brave enough to draw one, people will follow.”
  • “I define anxiety as experiencing failure in advance…and if you have anxiety about initiating a project, then of course you will associate risk with failure.”
  • “If you have quality and they have quality and that’s all either of you offers, then you’re selling a commodity, and I’ll take cheap, please.”
  • “We rely on the disobedient few for innovation, but today, innovation is our only option.”
  • “The boundary is in her head, not in the system.”

Powerful stuff…

By the time I’d finished Poke the Box my brain was spinning and an insatiable desire for more had taken it’s grip upon me… Then came The War of Art.

The War of Art is about Overcoming Resistance. 

Resistance is the equal and opposite force to starting.

Resistance is what keeps us from integrating content marketing into our small business.

Resistance is what whispers in our ear that no one cares about our blog.

Resistance is why we “Work only on referrals…”

Resistance is the fear that lives inside us all helping us to NOT become what we were meant to be.

Was I created to sell insurance policies or help revolutionize the way an industry tells their story of value online?

Pressfield is epic and my unplugged mind was every bit tapped into his stream of consciousness

This is what I took from The War of Art:

  • “Most of us have two lives. The life we live, and the unlived life within us. Between the two stands Resistance.”
  • “There’s a secret that real writers know that wannabe writers don’t, and the secret is this: It’s not the writing part that’s hard. What’s hard is sitting down to write.”
  • “As artists and professionals it is our obligation to enact our own internal revolution, a private insurrection inside our own skulls.”
  • “Rule of thumb: The more important a call or action is to our soul’s evolution, the more Resistance we will feel toward pursuing it.”
  • “Resistance has no strength of its own. Every ounce of juice it possesses comes from us. We feed it with power by our fear of it. Master that fear and we conquer Resistance.”

More answers… more questions.

The Rub

I know this post isn’t a How-to or List of Steps to move your Online business forward…

I wanted to show you that I struggle too.

We all struggle…

…and we all struggle with the same things.

For what it’s worth and for as much as you’re personally able, I encourage you to unplug, clear your mind and focus on taking the first step towards the success you desire.

I think that Poke the Box by Seth Godin and The War of Art by Steven Pressfield are great guides and will be well worth any time you spend reading them.

But the power is in being unplugged.

Thank you and Good luck,

I am Ryan Hanley

SPEAK YOUR MIND: What will be your first step? How do you unplug? Where do you turn for inspiration? 

About Ryan Hanley

I help make sales easy through content marketing. My work as a marketing strategist, keynote speaker, and Amazon bestseller author will help your business establish authority, attract an audience and grow revenue. Hire me to speak at your next event or grab a copy of my new book, Content Warfare.

  • http://motorhard.com/ Tom Reber


    Thanks for the post. A solid reminder to unplug. I’ve found that I’m more creative and efficient in ‘non-vacation’ ways too. For example, when I’m on an airplane I usually just have a note pad and pen. Some of my best stuff happens in those couple hours. Or, when I make it a point to hit the gym regularly. I unplug for that hour or so and feel refreshed mentally as well as physically. When I drive my mind also feel more creative…I’m actually a better communicator when in the car!

    One goal for 2015 is to create a better flow to my day/week where I make space…


    • http://www.ryanhanley.com/ Ryan Hanley

      @tom_reber:disqus I’m with you on the notepad on the plane. The only crappy part is then having to type up my frantic scribblings… haha.

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  • http://ryzeonline.com Jason “J-Ryze” Fonceca

    Superstar… congrats on the break and revelations.

    Jackie Purnell went through something similar recently too!

    Both those books have been recommended to me many times (but are they just noise? :P)

    Speaking of noise, I’ve always aimed to have the stuff I publish at Ryze to be a refreshing BREAK from the noise.

    I dont talk about plugins + shit. 😉

    Anyway… ballsy post, love the path you’re on man. Keep ryzin’!

    • http://www.ryanhanley.com Ryan Hanley

      The break was amazing and inspiring… Got my head wrapped around a couple ideas I’d been pondering and life is good.

      You’re a unique cat… That is for sure buddy.

      Thanks for stopping by!


  • http://www.infocelebrity.net erda

    Hey Ryan!
    You go on vacation and come back with some awesome stuff. Love it. I need a holiday right now. I guess, a day to a wonderful beach resort is the way to go until you have something rolling already. It must be very refreshing on the brain.You sure got me thinking.

    • http://www.ryanhanley.com Ryan Hanley


      We all need to reset our brain on occasion… If you have the time and means I’d highly encourage it!

      Ryan H.

  • http://www.ryanhanley.com Ryan Hanley


    I don’t think you need to be in the Bahamas to unplug, clear your mind and re-energize. Even a few hours can help you to focus.

    Al the best,

    Ryan H.

  • http://www.internetentrepreneurconnection.com Hector Avellaneda

    Hey Ryan! I felt the same way you did after returning back from my cruise to the Bahamas earlier this year, man! Like you, it had been about a good year that I had unplugged and when I came back I had a completely new resolve for what I wanted to do and was just tons more inspired to work on my book and create the content for my blog! I was away for 7 days with no connection to the world and it was amazingly refreshing!

    • http://www.ryanhanley.com Ryan Hanley


      It’s wild how in that unplugged setting your mind is able to relax and some really cool ideas pop up… Because you’re not thinking of the day-to-day BS.

      Resolve is good way to describe it….

      Thanks dude

      Ryan H.

  • http://www.jackiepurnell.com Jackie

    As someone who has been unplugged for the last 7 weeks. I can vouch for the fact that not only does it fill you with creativity and clarity, but its an absolute necessity.

    10 years ago the concept of unplugging was not even in our vocabulary…my how things have changed.

    • http://www.ryanhanley.com Ryan Hanley


      Things have definitely changed. The fact that I can do everything I can do on my computer on my phone from anywhere is very different.

      And I bet those 7 weeks felt great.


      Ryan H.

  • http://blog.excellentpresence.com Harmony Major, TechAddict

    Absolutely unfathomable, this concept of unplucks-fing… I mean unflubbing, unflummox– wait, *what* is it again…? How does this newfangled idea work? Curious, indeed. On this, I must research. *rubs chin*

    Actually, I recently wrote an article about this very thing, but the flip side of it… so it’s pretty awesome now to read your intriguing parallel. There — “Information Gluttony is Killing Your Profit, Baby, UNPLUG” — I harped on about how we need to unplug, mainly from our constant obsession to “DEVOUR MORE,” so that we can reach greater heights… focus… profit. My point was more figurative: to quit being info sloth-hounds and, actually, *get* connected — but to what’s truly important. So here, I love that you’ve addressed the exact polar opposite: stressing the importance OF devouring more — but only once we’ve refreshed by unplugging from our literal technological environment. Two completely cohesive views presented in a starkly contrasting way, both of which express what is essentially the same thing… and so *not* all at the same time. Ha, I just love how the language works.

    And like you, once I finally do (literally) unplug, the first thing I want to do is read. (Well, the *first* thing I want to do is catch up on my DVR’d shows which I never watch, but *then* I want to read. 😉 Anyhoo, need to get back to my grind, but wanted to actually stop in and share this time. (I’d been here several times before, but as a wallflower. 😉

    If should there be any response here, I can’t promise I won’t read it from my Android, while blogging from the Dell, feverishly repairing the Thinkpad, buffering tweets w/my toes, proofing transcription under headphones, & mixing a new cover into eargasmic mellow goodness. Sorry.

    Hey, what was this article about again…? Oh, foo — unfluxing. Tell me more!

    • http://www.ryanhanley.com Ryan Hanley


      So glad you took the time to share your thoughts… I love it…

      I hope to some day be able to reach a level of plugged in that I can “Buffer tweets with my toes…” That is very impressive and a skill you should Market!!

      Thanks for chiming in this time… I look forward to the next!

      Ryan H.

  • http://brentmkelly.com Brent Kelly

    Dude, you go on vacation and come back with some awesome stuff. Love it. You bring up some great points and is a big part of where I struggle. I am tying to be much more intentional with my time. When I am working, I’m working; When I am chilling, I’m chilling; When I am being a dad, I’m being a dad. I try to consume so many things all at once that I never really focus and create like I should. Thanks for going on vacation:) I hope you had a great time.

    • http://www.ryanhanley.com Ryan Hanley


      No one has ever thanked me for going on Vacation before… I’m right with you. I tend to over extend myself and I really want to be more focused with my actions.

      I’m not a Dad yet so I’m hoping to have this down before I throw that in the mix as well…

      Thanks buddy and I’m looking forward to you joining Jason and on in IL…


  • http://www.ryanhanley.com Ryan Hanley


  • http://brettcohrs.com Brett

    I loved War of Art. I haven’t read Poke the Box yet. But I love starting things. It’s the pressing through resistance that nails me. I loved The Dip for that reason–so far my favorite by Mr. Godin (perhaps because I read it before I started getting his blog).

    I love this line: ‘Resistance is why we “Work only on referrals…”’ I had the conversation w/ a colleague recently, “I just like to work with people who call in. I don’t have to convince them of anything.” Wow.

    • http://www.ryanhanley.com Ryan Hanley

      Wow is right… And so many insurance professionals think that Online Marketing is playing around….?!

      What are you doing when you’re sitting in your office just waiting for referrals?


      Thanks Brett


  • http://www.ryanhanley.com Ryan Hanley

    You’re telling me!

  • http://www.onespoonatatime.com Paul Wolfe


    The Art Of War is one of my favourite books – one of only two books I have in physical, digital and audio formats. Steve Pressfield’s blog is also a blog worth reading regularly. (In fact I have a first edition copy! One of my prized possessions!).

    The book is equally valid for entrepreneurs, writers, bloggers, musicians, painters. It’s a book I read every 18 months or so….highly recommended to everyone

    Glad you had a cool break!


    • http://www.ryanhanley.com Ryan Hanley


      You’re right, War of Art definitely applies to all disciplines and activities not just the artistic.

      I hate to admit this but I’ve never been to Pressfield’s blog. I’m going to change that though.



  • http://inspiretothrive.com Lisa

    That sounds wonderful. I have not unplugged for that long. Maybe a day or two here and there over 2 years. Not sure I could do it for full week. But maybe if I went away to a wonderful beach resort I could. It must be very refreshing on the brain. I’d have to hire someone to do orders for the online sites I manage. You sure got me thinking :)

    • http://www.ryanhanley.com Ryan Hanley


      It definitely was a change to not think about all the digital stuff for 5 straight days… But if you can I think you’ll thank yourself for doing it.

      I’m completely recharged!

      All the best!

      Ryan H.

  • http://keithlaskey.wordpress.com Keith Laskey

    Great stuff Ryan. I just finished Crush It! last night and was thinking about what book to pick up next. I think you just answered my question. Although first I am going to cruise through Godin’s “The Dip”. Keep up the awesome work. Good luck to you, bad luck to the Bills.

    • http://www.ryanhanley.com Ryan Hanley

      Thanks Keith… The Dip is next for me I think as well.

      Appreciate the feedback!

      Go Bills!!


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