happy accidents

YouTube decided I needed to meet Jeremy Fielding. For once, YouTube was right. I did need to meet Jeremy. The algorithm was trying to make me into a source of income, of course, but, by this happy accident, I found something I needed at the exact moment I needed it.

Sometimes we depend, not on the kindness of strangers but the happy accidents that let us meet those strangers and gain from them in ways neither of us could foresee.

YouTube “knows” I like to watch DIY videos, especially those involving woodworking. (Those who can’t do watch YouTube videos of those who can.) There are some awesome artists and crafters working wood on YT – Home Made Modern, Frank Howarth, Justin Chambers, and more – and I enjoy watching them turn rough boards, or even entire logs, into works of functional art.

So YouTube’s algorithm keeps feeding me these kinds of videos, and a lot of them are crap. I suppose it was a matter of time before I got fed a Jeremy Fielding video; he gets more than enough views to be channeled towards viewers like me. But this morning? Why this video, this morning?

Yesterday, I wrote a piece in a Facebook page I run, and I sent my brother a link to it. Aaron Barnhart is a long-time journalist who has seen, and written, a lot of good writing over the years. I wanted his feedback on the quality of my writing, or his reaction to it. His answer surprised me, but it was important: He told me, in effect, to think about marketing.

Today, 24 hours after posting the piece, it’s had a little over 100 views. One share. One comment. Yea, I need to think about marketing.

Now, I could simply write for the fun of it and hope that one day, I’ll get lucky and publish something that goes viral. Or at least viralish. But that is the functional equivalent of hoping that buying ten lottery tickets a week will result in a big payday. You can’t do anything about the lottery, except buy more tickets and hope real hard, but I can do something about readership.

I can market myself.

So my brother writes me this response this morning, and I’m pondering it, thinking I will take some time to “go through it”. Whatever that means. But before I get to the point where I have to figure out how I will go about figuring out marketing – really, my overall plan to write, do pods, possibly make money, etc, all of which demands building and growing an audience – I decide to “rest” and watch some YouTube.

Enter Jeremy Fielding and Mr Farm.

Fielding is not just an excellent woodworker; he’s an engineer. His niche on YouTube seems to be homemade engineering of everything. He’s built his own lathe and other power equipment using wood for most of structures. He shows others how he does things like engineer a clock, from wood, gears and all. But the video I was fed wasn’t about building anything in particular.

It was his process to get from need to goal to solution. He calls it “Dr Farm”, an acronym for:







So I took notes from the video, and then I used those notes to sketch out how I might apply “Dr Farm” to my situation. It worked surprisingly well, but why am I surprised? Rational thought applied to a problem should be the norm, and that’s all that Fielding has done: He’s taken his experience of applying rational thought to multiple problems and has distilled that into this framework.

(To which I’ve added ER – Expenses (there’s a cost to everything) and Resources (you usually already have some thing or things of use, even if it’s “just” your brain, experience, or talent – for “Dr Farmer”. I wonder what he’ll think about that?)

Turns out his model works well for me. My brain is not a logical brain; it synthesizes information, comes up with ideas (that are not necessarily well-connected to solutions), dances and sings and freaks out and runs away to hide. My brain is not an engineer’s brain, but it can appreciate them. With his framework’s help, I was able to get past the noise and distractions and develop the beginnings of a plan that is workable even for me.

Bonus: “Research” means I get to spend lots of time online and consider it productive!

Lots of people would call this “god’s guidance” or “the Universe leading me” or other nonsense. I would have done that years ago, but there are no non-physical forces at work here. My YouTube habits made seeing this video inevitable; for all I know, it’s appeared before and I just ignored it. But sometimes luck, which is simply chance combined with unwarranted good timing, is all that’s needed. It’s kind of a rare thing, so we notice when it happens and not when it doesn’t. (Damn, I did not bump into the love of my life at Winco yesterday. Again.)

Happy accident is more accurate than luck. I think I was bound to see this video in my feed sooner or later, and because of other circumstances, this morning was perfect. Life is a big and mysterious thing. Good things and bad alike flow from our mere existence. I want to celebrate and enjoy this happy accident.

And give my thanks to my brother (read him here), Jeremy Fielding, and the kids at YouTube for collaborating with me in the same way ants collaborate to build their nest, feed their queen, and propagate their species.

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