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Nate Bagley, Creator of The Loveumentary, CEO of Unbox Love

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Nate Bagley, Creator of The Loveumentary, CEO of Unbox Love

City: Salt Lake City, Utah

Passion: Love

Website:  http://loveumentary.com/ 

Nate Bagley abandoned a successful career in Internet marketing to tour the US interviewing real couples in happy, successful relationships for his debut documentary, The Loveumentary, because he believes true love exists beyond Disney fairy tales and drama.

Nate’s passion to chronicle authentic romances has introduced him to all sorts of couples; rich, polygamous, atheist, high school sweethearts, arranged marriages and even a Georgia duo who’ve been happily married for 60 years.

His goal is to redefine expectations of what true love really is, and unlock the secrets of how to create it and maintain it through life’s highs and lows.

Nate’s quest - which began with a Kickstarter campaign - recently inspired him to design a new subscription box service, Unboxed Love, to help busy couples inject a fresh spark into their relationship by supplying them with everything they need for a spontaneous date night.

He is also planning to host the world’s first Lovecon, a weekend retreat for couples looking to “get away from everything to focus on strengthening their relationship and making their love more passionate and deeply connected” in the near future.

ON PASSION

I was frustrated from looking around at what the world was offering as far as real love and relationships; what people were saying was possible and accepting as the status quo, as normal, as happy. I just thought there’s got to be more than this. I started asking questions and the more I asked, the more answers I found and I fell down the rabbit hole.
I realized that if I kept putting it off, my life would be a blur of computer screens, cubicle walls, and meaningless meetings. For years I’d had this voice in my head telling me to pursue this thing I was insanely curious about... what makes the most ridiculously amazing, passionate, and lasting love possible? The more I ignored and put off the voice, the quieter it became. I loved that voice, and never hearing it again terrified me. So, I quit my job, and I set out on a love journey. Since that time, the things I’ve learned have deeply changed me and others. The world is starving for real, true love.

ON MASTERY

The hardest part was taking the leap and developing the courage to ask people to get involved. It’s really easy to pretend you’re doing something by buying all the gear, doing all the training and getting caught up in the details, but it doesn’t start until you actually do something, make an ask, publish something or put something in the world.
It was do or die, so I jumped on Facebook and said I was looking for couples in amazing relationships. I got a couple of responses, showed up at their houses and it’s just been a learning process from there.
Even strangers are nervous at first, but they tend to warm up once they realize you don’t have any ill intentions. I just want to hear people’s stories about what’s worked, what hasn’t, why and how they overcome their challenges.

ON TRANSITION

It’s still difficult to separate the forest from the trees. I don’t know where this project is going. It’s hard to know which lily pad to jump to, which opportunities to pursue, when and how they’re going to pay off. It’s scary to blow through your entire life savings for a dream and not know how you’re going to pay rent, where you’re going to be living, how you’re going to be feeding yourself. It’s a scary thing, but you have to be more driven by the passion for your cause than the fear that you have of failing.

ON FAILURE

I constantly fail to meet my own expectations, but the only way to eventually meet them is to keep doing things.
I know a lot of people who get really focused on not releasing their creations and passions to the world until they’re perfect, but it’s never going to be perfect. For me failure is a necessity for success. If you never fail that means you’ve never tried, and if you never try you’ll never experience success.

ON FEAR

My biggest fear is having to go back to a cubicle, taking steps backwards not forwards. That is honestly what terrifies me. I don’t know if this is exactly what I’m going to be doing for the rest of my life, but I know it will open doors and my fear is that I get complacent and take a step backwards, take a 9-5 job and be really comfortable in life. I don’t think I’ll ever make a difference if I do that, and that scares me.
I don’t beat myself up with guilt anymore. I had a real problem with shame and guilt growing up and I’ve really done a lot of work, research and studying on why those principles exist. I learned to accept my humanity, all of my flaws and really embrace them, and I think that’s really made a huge difference to my level of happiness.

ON MONEY

For a really long time I was the very definition of what Hollywood would make fun of: the 30-year-old guy, living in my parents’ basement without a full-time job, with no money because I’d burnt through my entire savings.
I’m a fiercely independent person and it’s been a really difficult journey. I’ve had to swallow my pride a lot and learn a lot of things about self-love, the fact that my situation doesn’t determine my worth and my value.
Personally and professionally it’s been a really big struggle, but the thing I’m most proud of in my life is that I persevered even though it was hard, and the fruits are really starting to show now and good things are happening.

ON SELF-LOVE

I think too many people mistake love as a feeling when it’s more a state of mind or an action.
Self-love means that you treat yourself with love, literally. If you love a friend or family member you’re willing to forgive them, encourage them and support them to go after their dreams, you never talk poorly about them, you build them up, you treat them with respect. There are a lot of people who don’t understand that those principles apply to themselves as well.
Self-love is key to living a healthy life and having a healthy relationship, and that’s where it all starts. You can’t give something that you don’t have; I can’t love you unless I have love for myself first.

ON INSPIRATION

Brené Brown is a really great example of somebody who, despite the natural tendency not to want to be vulnerable, stares vulnerability in the face and has done a lot of shame research. Her books are great and her TED Talks are great. Shawn Achor, he wrote The Happiness Advantage, which has really influenced the direction of The Loveumentary.
I’ve never really been exposed to divorce. Marriage and family have always been a huge part of my life, but whenever I asked people for details about what is it that’s so great about it, I always got these really generalized answers like, ‘you have to sacrifice a lot’ or ‘love requires a lot of work,’ and I want to know what’s the work? What’s the sacrifice? It’s hard for people to articulate what is second nature to them and that’s what made me passionately curious about what these couples specifically do that makes them so happy. That was my quest; what are these people doing differently?

ON SUPPORT

I get notes weekly from people who say an interview or a blog post of mine was exactly what they needed right now in their life, and that to me is better than any pay check. It’s knowing that there are other people out there that are struggling with what I’m struggling with, and being able to be the catalyst to finding those answers is the coolest thing ever. The community is invaluable.
I think you can learn something from everybody’s story. When it comes to relationships there is no best. There is always room for improvement and an opportunity for growth in a relationship, no matter how good it is. I’ve talked to a lot of people and the one thing I’ve learned is that there are as many versions of true love as there are people who experience it; there is no recipe, there is no one single true love relationship.

ADVICE TO THE COMMUNITY

Learn how to ask questions. Sometimes the hardest thing about a situation like this is not knowing the answer to something, and typically the only reason you don’t know the right answer is you don’t know the right question. When you get really good at asking questions, you get really good at finding the answers you’re looking for. It’s very rare to find somebody who became a master of their trade without training or help from somebody else, and most of the time getting that help requires asking so be willing to ask the right questions and hard questions to yourself and others.

Nate's Top Tip for Dating

People consistently look for what they can get out of a relationship, rather than what they can put into it.
We have this societal belief that if you care the most you have the least power in a relationship, so everybody’s always withholding, resisting, not opening up, not being vulnerable because as soon as you’re the one who loves the most you give the other person the power to break your heart, to damage you, and that’s just not how love works.
You can’t love without risk, you can’t love without vulnerability, you can’t love without the potential of hurt and when you go into it selfishly it’s never going to end well.
If you go into it thinking what can I add to this person’s life, how can I make their life easier, happier or better, be a positive influence in their life, that’s when a relationship works, when you find two people who share that mentality.
You have to be cautious in the way you make your decisions but when you find somebody that you get along with and want to give it a shot with, why hold back.

The Passion Co. is here to help you find and pursue your passions. Find out more about our upcoming programs here

Written By: Aoife Anderson

Photo Credit: Stacy Young

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Vicky Wang, Founder, A Modest Proposal

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Vicky Wang, Founder, A Modest Proposal

City: New York, NY

Passion: Cultivating Wonder

Website: www.amodestproposal.us

When I first spoke with Vicky, I was instantly awed by the clarity and conviction in her voice. She has such a knack for storytelling, it's not surprising she helps orchestrate proposals for a living. Yes, proposals: as in marriage proposals. She can't sleep the night before one she's planned because she's too excited. Meet Vicky Wang: she left the path of law, did some solo traveling then returned home to propose to her long-time boyfriend. Upon her return, she was given the opportunity to help a friend co-plan weddings. She's now found her calling as curator of fairy-tale romantic experiences through her company, A Modest Proposal. She finds inspiration everywhere, so you'll want to call her up for inspiration when you decide you've found the One.  

On Passion

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I live for those moments of wonder, and they can come from anywhere. It can be a meteor shower that illuminates a pitch-dark African sky, impromptu karaoke on a train in Europe, or a bar full of strangers in Iceland singing you Happy Birthday in their native tongue. Since wonder is so important to me, I am constantly on the lookout for it. I’ve discovered that marriage proposals are a great outlet for my passion, as I get to help people create their own moments of wonder.
Proposals are these luminous moments where one person says: you are the one I choose, and I’m putting it all on the line to ask if you will choose me in return. No matter how many proposals I help plan, I’m always in awe of that sentiment and commitment.
I decided to pursue proposal planning when I realized how excited it made me. I am an introvert by nature but when I plan proposals, all the shyness melts away and I become a completely different person because of the excitement.

On Mastery

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When I first started out, I had very little experience so I compensated for this by being overly prepared. Now that I’m more practiced, I’m still prepared but am also more comfortable with leaving room for spontaneity.
The most interesting part of proposal planning is the challenge of crafting a proposal that is unique to that couple. I’m always searching for ways to create new experiences. That’s where curiosity helps. If you’re curious, you’ll always be looking for the small yet meaningful ways to demonstrate a couple’s chemistry. I try to focus on those small insights and translate them into wonder-filled experiences. I enjoy my work so much that I can’t help but look at everything around me through the lens of a proposal planner: if I come across a neat idea or a cool location, I immediately make a mental note so that I can perhaps use it in a future proposal.

On Transition

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Like a lot of other history majors before me, I went to law school, thinking it would be an interesting and rewarding career path. It did not quite work out that way, as I slowly realized how unhappy legal work made me. But even with that unhappiness, the transition out of it was scary because I was leaving this very defined path for an alternative one that had no structure whatsoever. There were moments where I felt like I was in free fall. Something that I had to work on during the transition was not to be daunted by a fear of the unknown. It took time, but I learned that it’s important to be comfortable with being uncomfortable.

On Failure

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My biggest failure so far is my law school experience. It was frightening how much money was sunk into something I didn’t end up pursuing. After moving on from the law, I went through a phase where I felt paralyzed by my mistakes and constantly second guessed my decisions. It took a while to carve out a new path for myself.
I still worry about failure but now I also see the value of being a beginner. As adults, we don’t like to look silly or take risks that might result in failure, so that often hinders us from learning new things. When you look at kids, there’s no such fear — they are always looking at the world in wonder, learning, experimenting, and discovering. It sounds silly, but rekindling that inner kid again can help battle and shield you against your Goliath-sized demons.

On Fear

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I have a fear that what I do today is not as substantive as what I’ve thought I always wanted to do. Marriage proposals are very important for the individuals involved — they are the very definition of life-changing. That said, I’ve always had a strong desire to have broader societal impact; a conviction that came out of my childhood in South Africa during and after Apartheid. I saw injustice there firsthand and it stirred in me an inclination to rectify it. This is the reason I went to law school in the first place, and why I worked for the UN and other human rights organizations. However, after doing that work for a while, I realized I wasn’t ideally suited for it as a career and decided to do something more creative. Once the company is more settled, I still hope to do discrete projects for human rights organizations.

On Money

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I’m on a tighter budget now that I am focusing on my own company compared to when I worked in the corporate world, but I’m ok with that. I’ve learned to be more careful with my expenses and try to be resourceful enough to live a good life.

On Self-Love

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Starting your own business is a solitary endeavor. I’m still getting used to not being constantly surrounded by people but I’m learning to enjoy my own company. There’s a difference between solitude and loneliness and I embrace the time I have to myself and try to use it productively.
On days when I determine my own schedule, I walk everywhere instead of using the subway. Walking around the city helps me stay healthy but more importantly also helps to nurture my curiosity. I once took a two-hour walk, and on the way home I saw a man perform on a grand piano on the sidewalk, participated in an impromptu traffic light group dance, and came across a street with a row of houses that transport you to a picturesque village in Europe. Especially in a city like New York, with its endless possibilities and electric energy, staying open to the unexpected can lead you to new discoveries and hidden gems.

On Inspiration

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Staying curious is key to inspiration. Curiosity also extends to people and their stories: it’s learning the nuances in their relationships and their little idiosyncrasies that make them who they are. This is the basis for how I approach proposals. I had a client whose girlfriend loved spontaneity. So we decided to plan an anniversary around the idea of “choose your own adventure!” It begun with her meeting him at the airport and choosing between 2 envelopes that each contained a ticket to different destinations and at each stop, she was handed more envelopes that she could choose from. I loved that experience because it captured the personality of the couple but also embodied the sentiment that their relationship is an adventure – you choose your partner, make decisions along the way, and rely on each other’s strengths to make the best of situations, come what may.

On Support

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Looking back, I’m awed by the generosity of others. It’s almost serendipitous how I got my start in event planning. I was catching up with a friend and telling her about my new direction when she invited me to become a co-planner on weddings she was working on. Incidentally, she was a law student at the time and I had no idea that she planned weddings on the side. She took me under her wing and very generously shared with me everything she knew. She’s amazing. Had I not gotten experience with weddings, I might never have made the leap to proposal planning.
There have been numerous fairy godparents along the way. It’s important not to be afraid to reach out for support — it can come from the most unexpected places. I’ve been incredibly lucky and am looking for ways in which I can express my gratitude by passing this support forward.

Advice to the Community

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I used to believe that if you were cautious enough and drafted a perfect action plan, then you could not fail. However, this need for perfection is paralyzing and you never actually take that first step and end up failing by default. Don’t let the need for perfectionism and this idea of a perfect outline hold you back. Often times, a crappy first draft or attempt is the most important bridge between where you are now and where you want to end up.

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