There are not words to adequately express my thanks as I look back over the first year of the Me.Now. Movement. A year ago, I was an idealist with no experience managing a website or writing blog posts. Today, I am a published author and award-winning speaker with a new daughter, midway through my MBA. Allowing myself to value ‘Me’, and to take action ‘Now’ has given me courage and opportunity I never knew before. And for those who have journeyed with me, I know the same is true for you.

With the new year fast approaching, I am eager to share that new opportunities continue to present themselves for our community! Podcast hosts, bloggers and event coordinators have started reaching out to me for interviews and speaking engagements for 2018. One particularly exciting development happened in late November 2017 when I was approached by two separate casting agencies for large-scale, national television production projects. While I’ve always felt comfortable behind a keyboard or on a stage, the challenge of preparing myself to talk in front of a camera was humbling and unnerving. I cannot share details of either project at this point, but I promise to update this group as soon as possible after I find out if either, neither or both opportunities choose to move me forward! 

To wrap up 2017, I am excited to revisit the 4 goals we set for this first year and happy to report that 3 of those goals have been met or exceeded. I will have to challenge us further to reach new heights in 2018!

  1. Grow the movement by 1 member per week in 2017.
    STATUS: Our Movement has grown to 78 active members and more than 100 followers. That is 340% above our objective! We’ve seen members change careers, grow families, start new businesses and achieve new healthy lifestyles. The message behind the Me.Now. Movement is stronger than ever because of the courage, commitment and community this group represents.
  2. Gain exposure for the Movement on 1 public media outlet in 2017.
    STATUS: The Me.Now. Movement has gained exposure in newsprint, multiple podcasts, and two separate news media interviews! It would appear that our original goal was not as aggressive as I had thought. Once the Movement’s mission was shared, it quickly grew momentum among those eager to build a better future.
  3. Generate $5,000 in income to grow the Movement in 2017.
    STATUS: Unfortunately, this goal was missed in 2017. With just under $4,000 generated, our Movement was able to grow considerably in terms of professionalization and promotion. Despite missing our financial target, I am confident that 2018 will come with new avenues to raise the capital we need to keep growing!
  4. Write 1 blog post a week on the Me.Now. Movement website in 2017.
    STATUS: Our weekly blog posts continued through October 2017, at which point a new opportunity arose to translate blog content into book publication. After a few discouraging obstacles, I was successful in getting ‘Everyday Espionage: Winning the Workplace’ published as an eBook with a limited print edition. Many of you reading this post have that hard-copy print edition in your possession. A second installment is already in the works for 2018 and I am excited to keep growing our Movement’s legacy! 

We are one year closer to where we want to be. Even though the destination is unclear, the progress is undeniable. I continue to find my inspiration from this group and from those of you taking risks and seeing achievement along side me. For all of you, I am grateful and humbled to call you friends. 

For those exploring the Me.Now. Movement, welcome. For those ready to commit to your journey, I commend you! And for those who trek every day through the fear and doubt of accomplishment, I and others stand beside you to lift you up and celebrate your success. Journey on.

One Life. No Compromises.



In November 2016, I founded the Me.Now. Movement to encourage people to pursue their passions and build a community of achievers. For many in the Movement, lives have already changed in incredible ways: jobs, finances, relationships, mental health. It appears that my own Me.Now. journey must now change also.

I was approached this week by a literary agency interested in converting my blog content into a book for publication. They have requested I provide an outline and a summary proposal to establish a target market segment and genre.  Also this week, a social media agency approached me to create a new brand – ‘Andrew Bustamante’ – as the foundation for multiple media content channels including podcasts, vlogs, ebooks and professional speaking engagements. They have tentatively booked me to be a guest on a national podcast that commands an audience exceeding 100,000 subscribers. To say I was overwhelmed with new opportunities would be an understatement.

In April 2017 I did a series on achieving our goals called the April Challenge. In that series I highlighted that goals have to evolve, to be given space to grow and change. I originally set a goal to blog for 52 weeks, and publish a new post every Friday. It appears that the time has come to let this goal evolve into something new – something bigger than it was intended to be. And as my goals change and I succeed alongside others in the Movement, I am awestruck by the power of this community.

I will continue to contribute to this blog regularly, but now on a monthly basis. I would also like to open the door for guest contributors from the Movement! If you want to inspire others by sharing your journey to live out your passion, please reach out to me directly. My success is not my own. My success is owed to all of you reading this.

The time is now for all of us.

See you next month!

One Life – No Compromises

 – Andrew Bustamante


An article for Pen-Chant Magazine and the Malayalee Association of Tampa.

Where did daring go? Whether a childhood game (‘I double dog dare you!’) or the character trait of an adventurous spirit, daring used to be something that people valued.

Today, daring is something many of us avoid in the hope that someone else will take the risk. Instead of one child daring another to climb a tree outside, both children sit indoors entertained by their parent’s tablet. Instead of one adolescent daring to stand up to a bully, that same adolescent bottles their frustration and seeks comfort in a virtual gaming world. Instead of daring to seek fulfilling work, career professionals drown dissatisfying work-lives in reality TV, social media memes and even substance abuse. It is important to remember that risk, rather than compliance, is what brings reward.

Our history and our future are written by those who dare to dare; the daring few who challenge the status quo with new ideas that carry the power to change paradigms. Civil rights, women’s suffrage, child labor laws and international human rights are incredible achievements owed to those who dared to challenge the norm at a time when no one else would. Personal computers, cellular phones, mobile internet and virtual reality exist today because of those who dared to believe science fiction could be made real.

I am a parent. And like many parents, I feel the pressure to protect and support my children. I feel a responsibility to mold them into contributing members of society. But the truth is that my understanding of society is limited to the present, and getting older by the minute. If I form my child to fit the world of today, then they will never be able to shape the world of tomorrow. If I am an example of compliance and conformity, then my children will learn to value compromise over courage. Like all parents, I have infinite faith in my children’s future. But the only way to give them confidence in their own future is to demonstrate for them the confidence I have in my own. I must dare to dare.

We no longer live in a time where information is limited. Media is unrestricted and takes advantage of freedoms that often harm as much as they help. While much of the curiosity and cause for daring can seem lost in today’s interconnected world, I would argue that the hostility, fear and anger present in our world demonstrates a unique need for daring. The world needs those who dare to dare for good; who dare to dare for knowledge; who dare to dare for freedom and courage and community. And the best way to inspire a generation of daring heroes is to be a daring example.

Our lives have been graced by those who dared to dare. If we hope to leave a better world for those who follow us, we must follow in daring footsteps. There is incredible potential for justice, innovation, community and technology still ahead of us. What we consider to be fiction and fantasy can become real if the right people dare to make it so. And it falls to each of us to inspire and cultivate brave, new generations that dare to dare.


A woman stood in front of me yesterday and said, “I want to quit school. What can you say to keep me in school?”

I told her that quitting is always an option, and it is a popular option. And when things get difficult and we get tired, the option to quit becomes even more appealing. But those who persevere through doubt become the hope for others. And hope can stand out.

I told her that something once inspired her to go to school, and that the ambition to finish is still inside her. When we quit, ambition does not go away. Instead, we leave it in darkness and look away. But ambition is like a light. And light can stand out.

The oceans are full of boats that travel near and far. And when night falls or storm clouds darken the sky, sailors seek a light on the shore to guide them home; to bring them hope. Each of us has the option to be the lighthouse that guides others or be the boat lost at sea. We all have the option to quit. We also have the option to stand out.


This week reminded me of a post I wrote back in January 2017 – Celebrate the Victories. My week was packed with new baby challenges, grad school finals, public speaking engagements and the routine joys of a day job. By the grace of a loving wife and good fortune, I have a few minutes to write this post before settling in for a weekend with the family and the start of a new graduate school semester.

It is easy to become overwhelmed by our desire to achieve, and to forget to celebrate the victories we have along the way. Such was the case for me this week, when I found myself stressed and panicked on Thursday afternoon, certain that I was going to fail one of the many obligations I had still ahead of me. And in that place of fear and doubt, my mind landed on the idea that even if I did fail to meet my goals this week, I had come so far already. Challenges and opportunities can equally be perceived as burdens or blessings. And when we forget to celebrate victories, we find ourselves increasingly burdened and decreasingly blessed.

While I felt buried by the opportunities facing me, afraid of failure and embarrassment, my fear lifted when I realized that the challenges I was facing were instigated by my own successes. Victories are important. They pick us up, give us perspective, and motivate us to keep persevering. Great achievements are not borne from fear and doubt but from courage and commitment. And realizing our potential and recognizing our accomplishments gives us the encouragement we need to continue forward in the face of fear.

Take stock of where you are. See what you have accomplished. And when you feel like your goals may be too far to reach, perhaps it’s time to stop looking forward and instead take a quick look back. Seeing the distance between where you were and where you are can often lift you up to where you want to be.


“Take the first step in faith. You don’t have to see the whole staircase. Just take the first step.”
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

I recently came across a statement by author and performance coach Jack Canfield where he expanded on Dr.King’s quote:

“Think of a car driving through the night. The headlights only go a hundred to two hundred feet forward, and you can make it all the way from California to New York driving through the dark, because all you have to see is the next two hundred feet. And that’s how life tends to unfold before us.”

In 2011 my wife and I decided we were going to adventure our way through northern Thailand to find and attend one of the most elusive cultural festivals in the world: Yi Peng. If you’ve ever seen a travel guide or sales brochure with the picture of a night sky full of floating lanterns, that is Yi Peng. Like all great cultural festivals, Yi Peng has suffered commercialism and cheap tourist knock-offs of the celebration can be found all over Southeast Asia. But there is still only one authentic Lanna Yi Peng festival and it can be found in Chiang Mai, Thailand on the night of the first full moon of the second month (‘Yi Peng’) in the Lanna calendar (November in the western calendar). And for anyone with the patience and willingness to roam through a city that doesn’t speak English, following strangers who look at your guide book photo and point toward a barren dirt mound on the outskirts of town, Yi Peng is waiting for you.

Jack Canfield’s visual of a car driving in the dark is powerful because we’ve all had that experience. We were all afraid of night driving when we first started driving, and we all see it as second nature over time. That journey in 2011 was one of the most rewarding drives in the dark I’ve ever taken. Like Dr. King notes, no great achievement is easily visible from the starting point. Sometimes we have to trust that the next step will become visible only after we take the first step. That first step into the unknown, that blackness just beyond the headlights, is always the hardest.

When you get to Yi Peng, you will see hundreds of strangers gather on the mount with you. The sun sets and darkness collapses around you. Then one by one, small candles ignite and large paper lanterns are handed through the crowd. Families gather together to unfold their lanterns and light the candles that hang at the bottom. They speak their prayers and wishes for a good year out loud and believe they are filling the lantern with the same. And as the candle glows brighter and the hot air fills the lantern, everyone releases their hopes into the sky. And for a while, there is no more darkness. The lights of a thousand dreams blanket the hill and fend off the darkness. As the lanterns float higher and get caught in strong breezes, they are swiftly carried away together to higher altitudes and faraway places. The light fades away and the darkness returns.

What Yi Peng taught me was that we do not need to find lights in the dark before we move forward. Instead, we need to be the lights in the dark that carry our dreams higher.


We can all relate to a child’s wonderment; where imagination rules and even mundane objects can bring hours of exploration and intrigue. While watching children discover the world around them has always been endearing for parents, a child’s curiosity also presents an important lesson for those pursuing success: Wonderment brings achievement.

Children are perseverance personified. They can be unwaveringly focused or infuriatingly obstinate without showing fatigue or hesitation. They seem to float from activity to activity with little regard for the outcome. Their lives stand as polar opposites to the frustration, exhaustion, and discouragement many of us encounter in our pursuit of personal and professional success. And time and again we find that children achieve incredible things almost by accident – they speak multiple languages, devise complex stories, construct and climb terrifying obstacles, and show genuine compassion at totally unexpected times.

If ever we wanted an example to model, let me offer children as that model. No, I am not proposing that we stop sharing, throw tantrums, or tell fibs about other children – though I would argue that many business and political leaders do exactly that. Instead I am offering that we emulate the way children imagine, explore and let themselves wonder without the expectation of a specific result. To a child, a toy may look and feel the same way every day but there are no limitations to how it can be used. They may see someone day after day but that does not negate that person’s value. Routine is never routine for a child, and there are endless variations to the standard.

Children do not care about intentions, purpose or utility. To them, every person, moment and object is potentially interesting and worthy of wonder. It is stunning how our perspectives change when we grow up. As adults, we prioritize our lives around intentions, purpose and utility. We choose certain people, moments or objects as worthy of our time and even begin to think that it is the responsibility of others to inspire our sense of wonder. With such selective criteria before we choose to put in effort, how do we ever expect to break free of our current routine?

There are many things that stand between us and our ambitions; we must not let ourselves be one of them. Let wonderment be a tool for change. Explore the world around you with the limitless curiosity and unbiased mind of a child. Even though it may seem hard to change the way you think, remember that you too were once a child. Wonderment brought you to where you are. Let it take you to where you want to go next.


In the eight months that I’ve been posting this blog, this is the first week I fear that I will fail to meet my Friday afternoon deadline. As I write, it still isn’t a guarantee. I have multiple work issues demanding my attention, a proctored mid-term for my master’s degree looming, and a beautifully pregnant wife that expects to go into labor any day. This is life in its naked glory – and everyone reading right now knows what life looks like when you strip it down.

Today my message is simple; we must give ourselves permission to try. We only stop trying if we permit ourselves to stop trying, so it stands to reason that we must also permit ourselves to keep trying. Today I am allowing myself to keep trying.

Instead of giving up and saying that my goal to post every Friday afternoon is too difficult this week, I’m going to try anyway. Instead of looking at the numerous obstacles ahead, I’m going to dare to try and navigate through them in time to reach the finish line. I don’t expect it will be pretty – I expect readers will find poor grammar, typos, and may even hate this week’s post. And if that is the case, I am genuinely sorry to disappoint. At the same time, if I can inspire even one person on the reading end of this page to give themselves permission to try, than the risks are worth it to me.

I am tired. My wife hasn’t slept well in weeks and the unborn baby she is carrying is measuring just under 9lbs. You can guess how tolerant she is of my work or school complaints right now. My 4 year old son is wonderful and equally a ray of sunshine and raging tornado every morning and every evening. Life is full of excuses and we can grab any one of them at any time. So my excuse for whatever outcome results from this post is that I… chose to try.  


Every child of the 80s knows and loves Sesame Street’s resident sugar fiend – Cookie Monster. For those without children, Cookie now goes by the name, ‘Veggie Monster’ and sings how, “A cookie is a sometimes food” instead of his classic, “C is for Cookie.” While the passing of an iconic cookie jar and endless cookie metaphors is sad, I fully support the growing movement to combat childhood obesity and type II diabetes. But whether its cookies or veggies, the fact still remains that monsters are out there who want to eat and eat and eat. And for anyone pursuing their goals, we must be wary of those monsters that eat up our time.

There seems to be a trend among bloggers to give practical tips on how to do things; a plethora of digital ‘How to’ manuals floating endlessly on the internet. In an effort to better serve the Me.Now. community, I offer this week’s post in ‘How to’ form. Please leave your feedback in the comments section below so I can understand if this is a format you enjoy! Without further ado, I present:

“How to avoid predatory priorities with 3 easy questions”

A predatory priority, also known as a ‘time suck,’ ‘succubus,’ ‘waste of time,’ ‘fool’s errand,’ ‘red herring,’ or ‘snipe hunt’ is a false priority that consumes time without providing any return for the effort. I call it a false priority because, had we recognized the predator for what it was in the beginning, we never would have given it our time and attention. Instead we have been captured by it – snared in its teeth and mauled by its constant churn. While hindsight is 20/20 and we know the trap when we are in it, experience as prey does not necessarily equate to prevention. I therefore offer the following questions as a checklist that we can use before committing to new activities, new relationships, or new projects. By asking ourselves the following questions and answering them honestly, we can recognize predatory priorities and escape them before they strike!

Question 1: Will this act/relationship/project bring me closer to my goals? Too often we answer this question with, “It can’t hurt to try!” And even after we learn that YES – it can absolutely hurt to try – we still find ourselves answering the same way again and again. If we want to avoid a predator, we first have to open our eyes and see it. When we lean on failed wisdom like ‘it can’t hurt to try,’ we are closing our eyes willingly and serving ourselves up for anyone or anything that wants to consume our time and resources. Instead, answer the question honestly. YES – this will bring me closer to my goals; NO – this will not bring me closer to my goals, or I DON’T KNOW – I need more information to determine Yes or No. Not knowing is a totally acceptable answer. It gives you the space to learn more without committing yourself to something you don’t understand and may not enjoy. Predatory priorities want you to commit in ignorance and feel obligated to stay even after you recognize the trap. Don’t give them the satisfaction; let them feed off someone else.

Question 2: Will this act/relationship/project introduce me to others working toward their own goals? Religious texts, cognitive research experiments, and dime-store horoscopes agree that ‘We become the company we keep.’  We’ve all seen it in our lives, usually peaking first in middle school and then again the first year of college. It happens in groups, in private, and even in public – we begin to take on the energy and the behaviors of those around us. While participating in something for entertainment purposes (a party, a multiplayer video game, a concert) can be enjoyable in the moment, we have to be careful that the moment does not turn into multiple moments that grow into a practice of being entertained. Entertainment is the worst kind of succubus and often hides itself by mimicking ‘quality time’ with others. Let me give you some examples: Facebook, Happy Hour, Night Clubs, Tailgates – while all of these things can be fun, I’m willing to bet that we do not have fun every time we participate. Even more, when our peers begin to expect our attendance, we feel pressured to keep attending. So we find ourselves spending time and resources responding to IMs we don’t care about, drinking drinks we don’t want to drink, and paying cover charges we don’t want to pay. Conversely, when you surround yourself with people working toward their own goals, you find yourself re-energized to put time and money into your own achievements and grow with the group.

Question 3: Will this act/relationship/project increase my energy or drain my energy? It’s the great family Thanksgiving Day meal question!! You know the feeling; that sinking stomach when you know that you are expected to show up, bring a dish, fake that the white meat isn’t dry, and smile your way through the over-sweetened candied yams. While family events are an easy example for this type of predator, the truth is that this scenario plays out much more often than just on holidays. We know instinctually what will energize us and what will drain us. Things that energize us are things ‘we like’ and things that drain us are usually things we ‘don’t like.’ It can feel both basic and revolutionary to abandon perceived obligations and strike out on your own. People might judge you, they might try to guilt you, they might even reject you, but that is how you catch a predator. Anytime shaming, guilting or judgment enters the game, you know you just cornered a beast. And nothing is more vicious than a cornered predator.

Keep these three questions in the toolbox; they are one possible rubric to help with day-to-day decisions. When we are courageous enough to consider these questions and answer them honestly, there is nothing that will keep us from our goals.

Predators prey on the weak by design. When we are strong, predators stay at bay. When the strong run together, we become even less appealing to possible predators. Run with us and see how far you can go.