What do I do for a living?

I get this question a lot and don't have the snappy answer people want, but let me try to break it down...

Growing up I wanted to be a chef and on sick days my daytime TV food show idols were Martin Yan and Graham Kerr. In middle school I became a full blown nerd and aspired to somehow work at Apple under the tutelage of Steve Jobs. Over the summer in between high school and college I interned at Astralwerks, home of US distribution for all my favorite electronic music producers at the time. I then went to Northeastern University to study marketing with the dream of having Mel Gibson's Madmen-type job from the film "What Women Want."

The only thing that remained constant was the changing of my interests. And when I left college I ultimately pursued none of the above.

Instead, I went the nepotism route and worked alongside my father selling real estate at a prominent Manhattan firm. If you asked me what I did at that time, I would have told you that I sold apartments. But that statement would have been quickly appended with a barrage of other interests to ensure that you understood my job was what made me money and not necessarily what I wanted to do for a living.

And as the world evolved over the eight years I worked there, my father and the firm remained stuck in past. The life I was living seemed less and less like one I wanted to have - so after much depression and deliberation, I quit. Despite not having a clue of what I would do next, for the first time in a long time I felt like myself again.

Ultimately, I wanted to follow my interests and get paid for it. Instead of a job, I wanted a passion. Although I didn't realize what was going on at the time, that passion ended up being personal organization. 

I used my newfound freedom to tackle my to-do list and cleaned out every square inch of my apartment - vowing to start fresh. Everything I didn't need got converted into money via eBay and everything I did was relocated to the most ideal location for access and usability. Instead of earning money through traditional means, I was recouping money I had already spent and getting organized in the process. Every day I could see and feel the changes I was making and it was incredible. 

Flashback. When I was a teen I read something to the effect of, "try to make $1 online in your sleep," and took it to heart. There was something magical about the idea of going to bed and waking up to money for something you already did. 

Shortly thereafter I started a small website that provided tutorials on using Apple Mac mini's as a media center. I remember spending a great deal of time getting the site up and running, but after the fact I didn't touch it for years and still made a small yet consistent amount of income through referral links. Additionally, I leveraged the website to reach out to brands - resulting in countless discounts and free products. I still remember the rush of excitement from running a small business and checking in on my commissions every morning before school.  I eventually shut the site down on my own volition as it was in a legal grey area - but lessons were learned and I saw the tremendous promise of affiliate marketing.

For the last few years I have tracked my life in a spreadsheet. It wasn't the goal, it was the by-product of organizing my life. Viewing the physical objects in my surroundings as line items on a chart put them on a common playing field and I began to view them differently. The less I owned the better I felt, and every time I had to make a purchase, I questioned if it was worth entering into the spreadsheet.

I then took a note from my teenage self and added a juicy layer of affiliate links on top so that I can earn commissions for sharing every aspect of my life. I'm not trying to 'influence' you to buy any of it, I'm simply presenting you with my reality and endorsing how I live.

...my job is to live well, learn as much as possible and report about it - at least for the time being.

LifestyleMatt Manhattan