Nobody cares but you
The cold, hard truth is that nobody cares about what you do. You may yell, scream, object or disagree, but it’s true - nobody cares about you. Not even your spouse or family. Yes they do care, but not in a way that you care. Nobody cares. Even if they do care, it’s only for a short, fleeting moment. The only person who cares, is you. You care what you do, so go do it. And do it really well.
That, essentially, is this man’s message. This man is Ely Rodriguez. He’s been many things: a trumpeter in a popular Caribbean jazz touring band from Washington D.C., a teacher in an elite school attended by the who’s who of society and politicians’ offsprings, a club bouncer (despite his small stature, he is a no-nonsense guy not to be messed with), an art director in a prestigious school in San Francisco. Right now, he’s one thing, and he’s very good at it: he is one of the only two hand-sewn custom leather cycling bag makers in the world today; one is located in San Francisco (that’s Ely), and the other is in Japan.
He makes way more money as an art director in a prestigious school than he does a hand-sewn custom leather cycling bag maker operating solo half the time out of a small workshop and half the time from his home in San Francisco, but this is what he loves and chooses to do right now, and he is creating a craft and a profession that is uniquely him and that is, in high demand. His thoughtfully designed and intricately sewn leather bags are priced between $300 to $800, yet his customers don’t think twice about paying for his craft, because his bags are unmatched in quality and design.
There is no such thing as failure. Nothing you do in life is a failure - you are your own unique individual, and you may see and do things differently from another, but that’s entirely alright. You don’t have to conform or do things as another would. When one way doesn’t work out, you didn’t fail at it - you simply need to re-vision; in other words, to re-visit and re-align your vision.
Ely is open to possibilities. He is not stuck in the moment or stuck in his way. He could have, given the fame and respect he acquired momentarily in his career as a touring musician and as an art director. He has a clear vision on where he wants to be by a self-defined appointed time. In practical terms, he sets himself a realistic timeline to accomplish and exit each illustrious career or project. This way, he is constantly growing and progressing in life.
Besides a time-and-labor-intensive career as a custom bag maker, Ely is also a devoted husband and a father to a hyper intelligent and charming 9-year-old, whom he deeply loves. Far above the important values of knowledge and skills which all good parents teaches their children, Ely impresses upon his son just one value - compassion. If there is just one thing he wants his son to embody and practice, it is compassion. Ely believes that compassion will result in discernment, respect and love - a value far more critical in this current age of social and financial accomplishment. So what if you are a man of great accomplishment, building great products and up-starting a million-dollar company, but you have no compassion for people and no love in your heart for others who are in need?
Ely isn’t just a bag maker - he is a teacher of life. In our short conversation over coffee and pastry, I ‘caught’ these values in his words - values I’ve taken, personalized and made them my own:
- Nobody cares about you as much as you care about you. So go do what you care about.
- Don’t be afraid to do really good work, and charge confidently for it. Those who desire and demand your craft and service will pay for it. Don’t undersell yourself.
- Nothing you do in life is a failure. All you need is a RE-VISION.
- Be open to possibilities. Don’t be stuck in one thing. If one thing doesn’t work out, try another. Always be doing, learning and progressing.
- Be compassionate. In all that you do, and all that you are, be of service to another. Because you are not alone and you don’t operate alone. We need one another and we need compassion to get along, survive and thrive together.