Kick Monday’s Ass: Sir Steve, knight of the order of the donut (Dec 20, 2021)

It’s time to Kick Monday’s Ass…

“I’m sorry but I just don’t know what to pick!”

That’s what mom said to me late last week when I again proposed my idea: an “experience” for Christmas instead of gifts.

The idea came from me truly not wanting my family to buy me stuff (at least not physical things), because it’s just more stuff to pack in my car, or store somewhere and not use.

There’s only so much shit I’m willing to unload and reload at every stop, ya know?

I knew the only way to really drive the message home and make sure no one thought I was doing some weird false modesty no-presents-but-definitely-get-presents-or-I’ll-be-upset thing was to ALSO not buy presents for people.

So I did the only thing I could think of… I offered to take each of my family members on an adventure, and recreate a little of the magic of my travels, but together.

I’d been throwing out ideas for weeks when mom finally relented in frustration…
“I don’t know, that castle thing you found sounds cool.”

“Done,” I said, and called to make a tour reservation.

That’s how I wound up with my mom and stepdad at a random castle in the middle of the east Texas woods this weekend.

I’m not kidding. It was a castle. In Texas. Check it out:

It was guarded by an Irish Wolfhound named Avalon, and a dude who called himself Sir Steve, First Knight of the Order of the Donut (more on that later in the email).

On the royal refrigerator (LOL), we found a flyer for the local blacksmith shop. So when we left, we headed to town to make our own knives.

Again, not kidding. Here’s me and Bob getting ready to beat the shit out of some broken horseshoes.

Then yesterday my brother, his long-time girlfriend, and I drove into town to see the Houston Museum of Natural Science.

Naturally I decided I was a specimen worth studying and stepped into an empty display case (totally approved and encouraged by the gentleman on the right-hand side of the picture, who was a museum docent… lest you think I’m an uncultured asshole, which I probably am).

Then I dragged the two lovebirds to an Indian restaurant, solely to expose them to new flavors and a new experience. I ordered everything for the three of us, because they didn’t know what to pick.

“You’re in charge of ordering for me from now on,” she proclaimed as we were packing up the leftovers. “That was SO good!”

I had a blast, and that’s the cool thing about doing an experience as a gift – I got to enjoy it with them and make some memories to take with me on the road.

“I admit I thought it was kinda goofy when you first asked,” my mom later told me. “I just couldn’t think of anything to do. But then we went and that was SO much fun. I’m so glad we went.”

That’s the best Christmas present I could have gotten (that and all the silly photos). I can’t wait to do it again next time I’m home.

Last week on the podcast…

Amongst the goal-digging, hustle-and-grind entrepreneur culture, there’s some sage advice you don’t hear too often: take time to chill the F out.

My guest, Karla Amanda Brown, is on a mission to make rest a more common part of her life and business (not to mention her employees, and their clients too!).

Now that’s a mission I can get behind! Listen now to shift your perspective on how to make your business work around your life.

Section 42: Life, The Universe, and Everything…

My mom wants to hook me up with Sir Steve from this weekend’s castle jaunt. Sorry, I didn’t get a pic. Even if I did, it would feel weird to post it here.

Mom thinks I need a burly man, since historically my choices have trended toward the more nerdy types (can’t help it – I adore guys with Adam Driver faces).

I can forgive her since on the surface it makes sense… I make a living traveling around the country, consulting and writing while eating all the food I can.

Steve is a First Knight (woe be the person who calls him JUST a knight… it’s FIRST Knight) of the Order of the Donut. Mom is a pastry chef. It makes a weird kind of sense.

One might even call it… fate.

And yet…


Sorry Steve. Have fun defending the castle. Tonight I will eat a donut in your honor.

Marketing Minute…

This castle trip was brilliant on multiple levels. If you find yourself in the Houston area, it’s worth the drive. For $20 you get to wander around this man’s handmade castle and enjoy a brown bag lunch from the town bakery… which he also owns.

But the brilliant thing isn’t that he owns both the castle and the bakery… it’s that he makes you CHECK IN for the castle tour at the bakery.

And check-in time was conveniently mid-morning, right around the time most of us are feeling a bit peckish.

Almost every single person I saw checking in for the tour wound up buying pastries to take with them as they drove to the castle, which was about 10 minutes outside town.

Mr. Newman didn’t start out with an idea to build a castle and sell tours to make money. He started out simply wanting to live in a fucking castle (who wouldn’t??)… then as curiosity spread, he recognized the opportunity.

Local townsfolk were naturally curious and asked to drop by and see it.

At one point he thought about making it into an Airbnb, but now that the tour business is booming, he doesn’t need that Airbnb money (or the hassle of entitled overnight guests haggling for stars).

He simply lets a bunch of strangers walk through his house once a day, knowing they’ll go out and tell the tales of a wonderfully weird middle-of-nowhere castle and the brilliant baker who owns it.

On repeat this week…

Since we’ve got a clear theme running through today’s email, why not end with a silly song? For your listening pleasure, a song from a Mel Brooks movie: Men in Tights.

Rock on,

We’re men, we’re men in tights
We roam around the forest looking the forest looking for fights
We’re men, we’re men in tights
We rob from the rich then give to the poor, that’s right!




If you’re an aspiring freelancer who’s working up the courage to leave the day job… good news! I’m sharing all the things I WISH I’d known before making the leap so that hopefully your journey goes a little more smoothly than mine.

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